Snow Goose

snow1A Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens) was on Prospect Lake today. They are not uncommon in Jamaica Bay during the winter months, but don’t visit interior Brooklyn very often. Chen caerulescensAmong the most abundant waterfowl on the continent, Snow Geese are often seen in huge numbers on fallow fields and wetlands.

Texas Testudines

Gopherus berlandieriTexas Tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri). Very fond of eating tender cactus fruit. scutesI also found the skeleton of one of these elsewhere and pulled off a few of the scutes to get some detail.Trachemys scriptaNice to see Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta) in their native region. Trachemys scriptaHere’s a recent hatchling, about the size of dollar coin.Apalone spiniferus emoryiTexas Spiny Softshell (Apalone spiniferus emoryi).Apalone spiniferus emoryiThis one was less than a foot long; they can get much bigger.

And another skeleton: Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata), I think.7



Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Tyrannus forficatusYowza! Kinda gobsmacking, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Tyrannus forficatusTyrannus forficatus is a backyard bird in Texas.Tyrannus forficatusWe say them every day. They’re the state bird of Oklahoma, too, where my mother was born. See it on the OK quarter. Tyrannus forficatusThe males have longer tails, and more intense coloring. Look for the orange underwings. And those salmon flanks!Tyrannus forficatusThe tail looks absurd, shameless showboating, and in the males the length is probably a marker for females, but these forked tails also make for sharp mid-air acrobatics, stalling and turning, just the thing for taking insects on the wing.Tyrannus forficatusIt’s Earth Day. Of course, here at Backyard and Beyond, every day is Earth Day. I hope you’re subscribing to these posts to celebrate with me.

Bill Strategies

Rynchops nigerBlack Skimmer (Rynchops niger) with Laughing Gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla).Recurvirostra americanaAmerican Avocet (Recurvirostra americana).Limosa fedoaMarbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa).Ajaja ajajaRoseate Spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja).Egretta rufescens, Himantopus mexicanusReddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) and Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus).Numenius americanusWait for it…Numenius americanusNumenius americanusLong-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus).Numenius americanusSome of the birds at an afternoon’s stop at the Hans & Pat Suter Wildllife Refugue in Corpus Christi.Numenius americanusYou know you can subscribe to these posts, don’t you, for free? I hear they are something of a welcome addition to people’s morning emails.

Brooklyn Update

PrunusWhen my plane descended into LaGuardia last Monday, there were a lot of gray/brown still-wintering trees in evidence. I’d just come from southern-most Texas, where spring was fully in motion, but things are stirring here, too.Polygonia interrogationisQuestion Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) amid the weeping cherries, which were throbbing with honeybees, and an occasional bumble.Bellamya chinensisThe nacreous heart of a Chinese Mystery/Trapdoor Snail (Bellamya chinensis). Who doesn’t like saying “nacreous heart”?Mergus serratorI don’t think I’ve ever seen a Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) out of the water. Note those large feet, set rather far back, and good for diving. Quiscalus quisculaTotally fell for the Great-tailed Grackles down south, but the Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) still has a place in my heart. Falco peregrinusYou may know that I live between two Peregrine falcon scrapes. (Geography is relative.) There is something going on in the 55 Water Street location, either a youngster already or an adult moving. And there this one — note the band/ring — is perched on the construction site across the street from the House of D. Keeping an eye on the home front amid the grooming.Gownus CanalThe Superfund Gowanus Canal. Habitat.Megaceryle alcyonA male Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) was fishing in that industrial toilet, diving for the little fish that come in with the tide. Prunus

He Xie

aiweiweihirshhorn2Ai Weiwei’s He Xie of 2010. At the Brooklyn Museum’s Ai Weiwei: According to What? exhibit, which just opened and runs through August 10th. The phrase “he xie” means river crabs — these are made of porcelain — and is also slang for the Chinese state’s censorship of the internet, because it sounds like the word for “harmonious,” as in the Communist Party/kleptocracy’s jack-booted “realization of a harmonious society.”

As consumers of the world’s corporatist authoritarianism — even academics now realize we also live in an oligarchy — it behooves us all to see this exhibit, which puts a decisive finish to the long-peddled nonsense that capitalism necessarily means democracy. aiweiweiSeen on 6th Avenue Friday night.


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  • Christened Hester; signed herself Esther; called Hetty; immortalized as Stella. 4 hours ago
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