Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn Bridge Park'

Duck Out of Water

Aythya valisineriaI don’t remember the last time I saw a Canvasback (Aythya valisineria). Whenever it was, the bird was in the water. This bright male surprised me on the rocks of Pier 4 at Brooklyn Bridge Park this afternoon. Aythya valisineriaFrom a distance, with a few Gadwall around him in the water and on the rocks, I didn’t think the white blob was alive. There’s lots of weird stuff floating in the harbor, after all, and catching on the rocks with the waves and the tide. Then I tried to remember which ducks were so white. Aythya valisineriaBut once he pulled his head from under his wing… this dark sloping forehead and long tapering bill are distinctive. And so, obviously, is that white “canvas” back (and, out of the water, belly).Aythya valisineriaAnd those eyes! Beautiful and mesmerizing.

This is one of our largest diving ducks. They are usually found in rafts with other Aythya genus ducks like the Scaups. When I posted this bird on the NY state bird list, a correspondent in Ithaca told me there were 50 of them up there amid thousands of Redheads, another duck not so common in NYC waters. I would like to see that.

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Gull’s Eye

Larus delawarensisThat’s not lipstick. Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis), the most common gull in the city.

Insistent Kinglet(s)

I have had two run-ins with Ruby-crowned Kinglets recently in Brooklyn Bridge Park. These birds are called kinglets because they are little kings, fearless creatures. They are the birds I’ve always gotten closest too; or, put another way, they are birds that have always gotten closest to me. Easily within hand’s reach. They have other concerns.

One was circling the little pond on Pier One on a chilly late afternoon.The crown, or crest, is also why they’re called kinglets. You often don’t see this since they can control its flaring. This bird had a thin line of scarlet running back along his head. It looked like a wound in the greenish gray of the plumage, cut into the brain. The bird was moving quickly, circling the pond, reed-to-reed, searching for food. December: invertebrate prey is rare. But there are egg masses and larvae in cocoons. It looked like this bird got three somethings in the several minutes I watched him. One sure sign was the wipe of the bill on both sides of a branch, cleaning the goo off. It took a lot of moving, though, to get that food.

The other sighting was more surpassing. This bird’s crest was vast, filling most of the top of his head. He was flying up against the very reflective metal of the Jane’s Carousel sign. Repeatedly. He was, in short, being territorial, trying to chase off another particularly persistent male Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Um, which was of course himself. I’ve heard of similar cases, but this was the first time I’ve seen this.

Now, testosterone in birds is usually a seasonal roller-coaster. Breeding season brings a surge of the stuff, which is associated with song ability and territory-staking. There shouldn’t be as much in winter (gonads, which are unneeded weight outside of the breeding season, physically shrink substantially in many migratory species). But this boy was hopped-up, flaring with ruby/scarlet/red. I generally take the Prime Directive in my interaction with nature, i.e. leaving it alone, but this seemed like a case where some interruption would be appropriate. This bird was spending a lot of energy bouncing off a slab of an unnatural mirror-like surface (I’ll bet the maker never thought of this possibility), energy better spent on food-searching on a very brisk day just a few minutes before sunset. The bird actually flew off before I waved it away, though.

VLB in BBP

Pyrrhalta viburniTwo of the gardeners at Brooklyn Bridge Park showed me the evidence of Viburnum Leaf Beetle that they were hunting down. The pits in the twig are egg cavities, dug into the tree by the mature beetle. The tiny larvae can just be seen.

The destructive invasive beetle is rampant through most city parks, but is so far kept at bay in BBP, which has multiple species of viburnum growing. Here’s what the damage looks like when it runs wild.

Still Hanging On

In early November, I found four adult Two-spotted Ladybeetles (Adalia bipunctata). Adalia bipunctataAnd without looking very hard. I just stood under the tree and looked up.Adalia bipunctata

Early Stages

larva1This is some kind of Lacewing larva. It was found predating under the Catalpa leaves, where the ladybugs are still to be found, too, deep into October. larva2On the rocks below the trees, a lady bug pupa.

Still Going Strong, But Hurry Up!

IMG_4439These 2-spotted ladybug larvae were still active on Thursday. Time to pupate, kids!

Now, here’s something I’m not so sure about: Pupation and eggs generally seem to be set on leaves. These leaves will shortly fall to the ground, many to blow away to who knows where (into the harbor in some cases, in this situation). This seems a real chancy way of surviving the winter. Are there special end of season approaches to getting the genes through the cold months?


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