Archive Page 2
Tags: birds, Brooklyn, Prospect Park, trees
A good walk in Prospect Park with Ken Chaya, who always adds immeasurably to my knowledge. This young Red Oak (Quercus rubra) was holding on to its youthfully large leaves.A particularly nice spread of “knees” of a Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum). It was once thought that these projections from the roots were pneumatophores, helping the tree breath in the swampy habitat they are native to, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of this. Now the thought is that they are for stability and support.This looks like it came off one of the Accipiters. We did see a Cooper’s high over the Ravine. A single Swamp Sparrow and half a dozen Fox Sparrows were noted, as well as Goldfinches, Purple Finches, White-throated Sparrows, and the usual suspects. Ken thought this was an Elm Oyster (Hypsizygus tessulatus). It was certainly high up on the tree, which is a characteristic of the fungi.Ok, this Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) was some 2000 feet away, but still, it made for a falcon species trifecta over an 8-day week.
A pod of the American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) on a recent bright day.These little nuggets came out the mouth-like openings of the pod, so I assumed they were the seeds. But I was wrong. Later, walking with tree-maven Ken Chaya, we knocked another pod. The winged seeds, or samaras, are seen here with more of the tiny nubby bits. What those nubby bits are, exactly, neither of us are yet sure.
Tags: books, Nantucket
Heading towards ‘Sconset on the Milestone Road will take you past the Middle Moors, which are nicknamed “the Serengeti” on Nantucket.This nickname is probably the result of too many nature documentaries and the lesson that they usually teach: nature exists somewhere else and is exotic, something to sit back and enjoy from your living room without having to put up with foreigners and suspect plumbing. In fact, though, these 400 acres are maintained in coastal heathland and sandplain grassland, both rare habitats on the island and elsewhere. This landscape is exotic enough and doesn’t need external referents, thank you very much.
Once sheep grazed this area, making sure nothing ever grew very high. Left untended by those Mesopotamian herbivores (bought in after whaling lost its preeminence for the island economy in the mid 19th century) or, now days, human wielding mowers and fire, the land would quickly become a dense scrub thicket. Habitats are always in flow. Why should we stop them? In this case it’s largely because of the Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) and some other invertebrate and plant species that make this rare habitat home. Did you catch that reference to “Mesopotamian herbivores”? I picked that up in George Monbiot’s Feral, where he rages against sheep as the “white plague,” an invasive species which has devoured the British Isles and remains the main obstacle to re-wilding. Monbiot argues persuasively, because he calls up the science, that the British Isles, particularly the wet western edges of Wales and Scotland, used to be lush rain forest. Temperate rain forest, like our Northwest, which often takes second place to the glories of tropical rain forest, but are just as rich and wonderful. (The skirts of Dartmoor felt like rainforest when I trod under them last year.)
This is a very interesting book. I will admit to be bogged down in the initial chapters where the author seemed to be in the midst of mid-life crisis and an urge to find his inner animal and challenge the elements. Written very well, but I can take that or leave it. But his ultimate point kept me through to the far more exciting later chapters: we need to re-wild, largely by letting it alone, our world.
Tags: birding, birds, Brooklyn, Green-Wood
Today is “Giving Tuesday.” The vast range of options suggestions the desperate straits of our world, as does the fact that these entities have to go a-begging. (Philanthropy, a system in which the very rich set socio-political agendas while avoiding taxes, is the flip side of the day.) As you ponder such things, consider giving a friend a subscription to this blog. It may brighten up their mornings like I know it does some of yours’. Click on “Subscribe” on the upper right. Add their e-mail address. ALERT your friend(s) that they will get a confirmation email to which they have to say yes.