Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category

Morning’s Heronry

Nycticorax nycticoraxJust before Bush Terminal Park opened yesterday morning, we had a trifecta of herons. There were three Black-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) the adult above, and two juveniles.Nycticorax nycticoraxOne of the youngsters stuck around as parent and sibling (?) flew off “kwoking” to this Cottonwood:Populus deltoidesThis tree also hosted a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) — barely seen at center left — and, presently, this Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea):Nyctanassa violacea.

Ant Farm

antsAnts herding a flock of aphids. The ants protect the aphids from other predators and harvest the aphids’ sweet honeydew for themselves. The aphids go about their business sucking plant juices. Just another day in Brooklyn.

Monarchweed

Danaus plexippusThis Monarch was doing pretty well, considering the chunk taken out of its wings.

(Backyard and Beyond is not on summer vacation: B & B has lately moved from the Back 40 after ten years residence and is the process of unpacking in Sunset Park, in the midst of a home-made renovation and this enervating heat. Stay tuned for more frequent posts as August melts into September.)

Bombus

BombusBombusThis large, handsome bumble bee was thoroughly probing the Hostas in Green-Wood. BombusNow, I find bumblebee identification difficult. There are four or five species that have yellow abdomen, and none of them are commonly seen here. I narrowed it down to Bombus pensylvanicus or B. borealis (but we are a bit south of its range) or B. fervidus.

The Xerces Society’s pdf “Bumble Bees of the Eastern U.S.“, for instance, assumes you have a specimen under a microscope. “Midleg basitarus with distal posterior corner sharply pointed” runs a typical line. I have a field guide… uh, somewhere, so that’s no help. Finally, I submitted one of these pictures to Bugguide.net: and the verdict was Bombus fervidus, Great Northern Bumble Bee.

Webworm Parent

Atteva aureaThe Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aurea) is distinctive. For one thing, it was working in daylight and most moths are nocturnal. Also, with its small wings tightly rolled, it doesn’t look like your typical moth; it’s one of the ermine moths. Its nominal host plant, Ailanthus (The Tree that Grows on Roofs), is originally from Asia, but this species is native to southern Florida and the Caribbean. There it originally fed (in its caterpillar stage) on Paradise Trees (Simarouba glauca). Somewhere along the way, it jumped to Ailanthus and spread north.

Frog, Rock, Turtle

IMG_3716This downward-facing turtle was king of the hill.IMG_3724This frog wanted a piece of the action.IMG_3722And this was one determined frog.IMG_3723It made several attempts to…well, what, exactly? Dislodge the turtle? In theory, the right amount of force applied to the fulcrum here should have knocked off the much larger turtle. IMG_3736But the turtle’s steadying feet made for an impregnable bastion.IMG_3728Meanwhile, and this was somebody else’s storyline, a young House Sparrow landing on all the nearby rocks and the other basking turtles briefly landed here. The turtle seemed to pay no more heed to this than it did the kamikaze frog.IMG_3730A state of equilibrium? IMG_3719But wait. Another rock. Another turtle. Another frog.IMG_3720

A Better Way To Plant

Green-WoodThis patch of native meadow in Green-Wood Cemetery was a revelation on a recent afternoon when it was absolutely pulsing with life as numerous species of butterflies, dragonflies, bees, wasps, and beetles gathered pollen and nectar and munched on plants and each other. Green-WoodI gather it’s an experiment. I hope it thrives, and that those burying their dead here and elsewhere see the relevance and importance of such landscaping and start demanding it. The old-fashioned lawn of a cemetery is no more conducive to life than a suburban lawn and comes from a similar era and ideology. But if you do decide to go the burial route, forest burial and meadow burial should be options for an age with much more concern for ecology and fostering habitats. Sure, direct access to a tombstone is made more difficult, if not impossible, in this kind of situation, for relatives. So I assume that family members had to give permission for this, if there were still any on record for this crowd. And yet what a beautiful thing to visit: flowers in bloom through the summer, grasses heavy with seed in the fall, winter’s stubby potential. While we were there, the animals were buzzing as a breeze blew up the Harbor Hill Moraine and cicadas and Mockingbirds staked out their territory.
meadowSuch a difference from the fake flowers often stuck in front of graves. meadowmeadow7


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