On a blooming goldenrod, the only visible flower around, a single bumblebee. It was warm enough yesterday for invertebrates, but they have damn few places to feed. This bee did seem a little sluggish, but it was roused by the proximity of my phone camera, and buzzed a short distance away, and then returned as soon as I retreated. (But what are those running down the wire fence, eggs?) This wasp, too, was moving slowly, practically crawling along the sidewalk.
But here was something moving swiftly: a small bird being chased by a Common Raven. At first, I thought it must be a Kestrel, a species I’ve seen go after much bigger birds over its territory; sometimes the tables are turned and the larger bird chases away the little falcon. But binoculars revealed the bird here to be a pigeon. And a second raven joined in the chase. (This must be the pair I’ve seen here since the beginning of the year.) I’ve never seen ravens go after prey before; generally, they are scavengers and carrion-eaters. The chase was dramatic enough to stop a soccer game as the players watched the aerial acrobatics. The pigeon shot into an open-air staircase in the old warehouse, and the ravens followed it in, as if they were all flying into tunnel. After a few minutes, no more than five, the ravens emerged. Had they caught and eaten the bird in that time? Was it squab for Thanksgiving? That didn’t seem like enough time, but then I don’t know how ravens would eat a fresh bird. Raptors pluck away feathers with their down-curved bills and then rip up pieces of flesh with same, but ravens don’t have such bills. Well, whatever happened in there, it was thrilling as always to see these huge corvids, toughing it out in a non-traditional landscape.
Published October 5, 2015
Tags: bees, Fort Tilden, insects, plants
The cold snap combined with the rain took the bees by storm. They were clustered to various late summer blossoms Friday and Saturday, stunned if not lost. But yesterday, the air warmed, and by afternoon the sun was out. The goldenrods at Fort Tilden were alight with a few of these hardy little beasts. Note the pollen smeared everywhere. The pollination year comes to an end, but the last of this year’s bumblebees soldier on.
A Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa genus. A redhead.
This large, handsome bumble bee was thoroughly probing the Hostas in Green-Wood. Now, 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.
Published August 19, 2014
Tags: bees, birding, birds, Brooklyn
An Eastern Kingbird in Green-Wood. Flying insect eaters, Kingbirds will bank and swerve like crazy while attempting to get at bugs making evasive maneuvers. Here’s a big bee who didn’t escape.
Published July 26, 2014
Tags: bees, flowers, plants
Flying between these absurdly large flowers of hybrid rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos), this bumblebee was practically glowing yellow from all the pollen.But note how the wings remain mostly clean. Bees are hairy, the hairs statically charged to help pollen stick to them. Of course, you wouldn’t want your wings to be laden with pollen or anything else when you fly.