Posts Tagged 'Green-Wood'

Green Heron Junior

Butorides virescensMy eyes were intent on the edges of the pond, alive with damsel- and dragonflies, so I didn’t see this young Green Heron (Butorides virescens) until it darted away on foot. It didn’t go very far, though. I watched it for a long time as it stalked back and forth along the pond. Butorides virescensThe heavy streaking on the white breast is characteristic of a young bird’s plumage, but the real giveaway here is all the downy fluff still blowing about on the head. Butorides virescens Where was the nest? The parents? Was it already on its own? It hadn’t developed much fear of humans yet; I was about fifteen feet from it, another civilian walked by as I stood there. It was working on its hunting skills:Butorides virescensGrabbing an Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) from the air.

The Prospect heron nest we were watching last month failed. I heard there were several young one day and the next nothing. Raccoons or rats may have gotten to them. It was a very low nest, not as high as they usually build them. As always, the city is a tough neighborhood to raise your young.

Morning Stretch

IMG_5694Upward-facing turtle, with a keen eye on the photographer.

Alarms will sound

I was struck by the extraordinary amount of bird noise I heard all around me. It’s late in the breeding season, so the territorial and mating songs are mostly done with for the year, but the air was still full of bird calls. Cardinals, Starlings, Mockingbirds, at the least, coming from several trees around me. And then I noticed the cause of all the ruckus:Buteo jamaicensisA Red-tailed Hawk perched overhead. One Mockingbird made repeated forays nearby, flashing the white stripes on its wings, buzzing loudly, and landing just about two feet from the bird on the edge of the bare branch the hawk perched on. The hawk seemed to pay no attention to all the fuss. Here it does some belly grooming amid the hullabaloo.

Flying Now

Vanessa carduiPainted Lady (Vanessa cardui). I’ve posted previously about separating these from the similar American Lady butterflies (Vanessa virginiensis); from this view, the four big wing spots mark the Painted; two big spots the American.Enallagma signatumOrange Bluet (Enallagma signatum) male. Small and slender, but striking when you see it: at Green-Wood’s Sylvan Water. Enallagma signatumAt the nearby Valley Water, the Orange Bluets were mating. Anax juniusCommon Green Darners (Anax junius) were also reproducing there. Here the male continues to hold the female as she deposits eggs. I have seen females of the species depositing eggs on her own, sans the grip.ThorybesNorthern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades). Enallagama civileI wish there was a special place in hell for the people who just toss their butts any- and everywhere (take a look down street gratings some day). This Familiar Bluet (Enallagama civile) male seems to be less censorious. CercerisA couple of Cerceris genus wasps were hanging out on some rogue squash plants on the edge of the Long Meadow.Pholisora catullusCommon Sootywing (Pholisora catullus) hitting the light just right on pollinator-magnet Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).


heronsGreat Egret (Ardea alba) and Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) aligned in Woodlawn. The Great Egret was quite vocal when it flew: a guttural barking. No songbirds these. Note that these two birds are in the same genus: “egret” and “heron” are basically synonyms; the Latin “ardea” means “heron.”Ardea albaIn Green-Wood. The correspondence between the white feathers and white petals of the water lilies, the yellow bill of the bird and the yellow centers of the flowers, gave me much to contemplate. gbhThe Great Blue a little later, when I turned around and saw its silhouette away up there.

Dragonfly Days of Summer

Plathemis lydiaMale Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia). Very distinctive. Here’s another view of another:Plathemis lydiaThe tail is slightly bluish, actually. Great example of pruinosity, the waxy bloom (can be blue, gray, or white) on mature odonates, especially males.

Dragonfly season is upon us. During this weekend wanderings in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Green-Wood Cemetery, and Woodlawn Cemetery, I saw Blue Dashers, Eastern Amberwings, Green Darners, Black Saddlebags, Carolina Saddlebags, and the three species pictured here.Libellula pulchellaTwelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) male.Arigomphus villosipesAlways exciting to see something I don’t recognize. A male Unicorn Clubtail (Arigomphus villosipes). Check out those cerci at the end of the tail. “Typically mud-bottomed lakes and ponds” says Paulson on this species’ habitat, which is right on: various carp were splashing in the murk of Woodlawn Lake.


Turdus migratorius

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

Green-Wood is Red-Head Country

Melanerpes erythrocephalusThe Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) who came to stay? An unusual species for Brooklyn, this bird over-wintered in Green-Wood, and quite locally, too: this is the same tree — snags are perfect habitat for them — I photographed it in back in January. Melanerpes erythrocephalusYou can see how the red feathers of the head have really come in since January, as the bird has aged out of its first year plumage. Not completely, but getting there. The mature birds look like flags, solid bands of red, black, white. Red-headed males and females look alike, by the way, which isn’t the case with our other, more familiar woodpecker species (Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Yellow-bellied, and Northern Flicker).Melanerpes erythrocephalusThis species was not recorded as breeding in the city in either the first or second state breeding bird atlases. Those surveys, in fact, generally showed a substantial decrease in the species in the state over the twenty years between surveys, after what is presumed to have been a big drop off since the 19th century. Bull cites an 1881 report of “great numbers” of these woodpeckers, outnumbering the Northern Flickers, at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn; but “nothing remotely resembling these fall flights has been reported in the northeast since the early 1880s.” It is always startling to be reminded that not only were there more species, but the numbers of species we know were greater before our time. (There are records of recent breeding on other parts of Long Island.)Melanerpes erythrocephalusWho doesn’t love a redhead?

Hairy Nest?

Picoides villosusA female Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus). Less common in our area than the smaller but otherwise very similar Downy Woodpecker. I find that the best way to differentiate these species is to look at the bill/head size ratio. Note how this bird’s bill is almost as long as her head; the Downy’s bill length is smaller than its head length.Picoides villosusAnyway, it was with some surprise that I saw this bird fly to this hole. I didn’t know they nested in the city of five boroughs. Picoides villosusThe 2nd Atlas of Breeding Birds in NY State, surveyed in the mid-Oughts, had a confirmed Hairy nest in Brooklyn (Prospect Park), but the first (mid-1980s) had none in NYC. cavityThis bird was probably just scouting this hole and cavity, which she went all the way into. No sign of a male in the ‘hood at this time. It’s too early for young ‘uns, but the woodpeckers are definitely carving up the trees in preparation (this hole does not look all that fresh). Melanerpes carolinusFor instance, this Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus), pecking out a cavity at a nearby tree.

After yesterday’s depressing post, you may wonder how I can go on. Because I must! B’damn, that’s what makes me human, I think. Says that optipessimist Samuel Beckett, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”


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