No mean forager and predator, the Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) will eat just about anything, from acorns and nuts to baby birds, from slugs to insects to carrion. Our local ones are missing out on the bonanza of the 17-year cicadas, which are concentrated in Staten Island. Central Park has seen a rapid rise of their population in the North Woods; they have few predators (the city is scant on coyotes, foxes, and fishers, etc.) other than Red-tailed hawks and the odd large owl.
Posts Tagged 'mammals'
Tags: birding, birds, mammals, Staten Island
A journey into the eroding underbelly of Staten Island.These were a surprise. Peacocks, screaming their haunting woman-in-peril scream on the grounds of the Seguine Mansion. Flannery O’Connor, who lived on a farm with 40 peafowl, said about the carrying voices of these birds, “To the melancholy this sound is melancholy, and to the hysterical it is hysterical.” From a block away, and not photographed, we watched a feral cat walk out into the middle of a lane of Seguine Avenue and sit there, that placid-seeming cat-sitting attitude, as a raccoon ambled across its bow. Ok, enough with Surrealism for now. Wolfe’s Pond, namesake of Wolfe’s Pond Park. Pairs of ospreys and Foster’s Terns were hunting here, and a pair of Mute Swans lorded it over everybody else. The southeastern half of the park seems to be technically closed, since Sandy, but we walked right by some Parks employees who said nothing to us; we’d come via the beach.And a rocky beach it was in places, with Laughing Gulls on it.Also a dead Northern Gannet. I wanted you to see how big this beak is.And at the other end of the hand scale, this (half) inch-worm was making its way… We saw, and heard no sign of Brood II, but our real mission here will be detailed tomorrow.
I don’t know about you, but I need a mammal break. Look at those little ears! The Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus) are out and about now that things have warmed up in the Ravine, Lullwater, and Midwood. One of the hundreds of reasons to keep your dogs leashed in those parts of the park where they are supposed to be on-leash ALL the time, like the Ravine, Lullwater, and Midwood.
Tags: Brooklyn, Gowanus, mammals
The northern, terminal end of the Gowanus Canal. Where we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. On Friday, a dolphin ended up in the canal, causing a media frenzy, including, evidently, a helicopter overhead, and the usual circus of social-media-alerted gawkers. (I was blessed to have missed it all.) The animal died in advance of plans to intervene Saturday morning. In retrospect, that seems rather predictable: it’s unlikely the animal was healthy to begin with, and the toxic sludge of the canal may or may not have been whatever the opposite of gilding the lily is. (One small consolation is that the animal was not around long enough to be given some stupid-ass cutesy-wootsie name.)
A Superfund site, erstwhile industrial gutter, the Canal is thick with heavy metals, petroleum variations, and much else. A young minke died here in 2007.
Yet there is still life on and around the canal, struggling on against our violations of the planet.
The other night at twilight, I saw at least thirty ducks on the portion of the canal above, the water still unfrozen (perhaps due to old antifreeze in the water). It was dark, but they looked to be all Mallards. In another section of the canal earlier this year, I saw three Black-crowned Night Herons hunting for the fish that come in on the tide. And overhead, there are always Ring-billed Gulls.
Tags: birding, birds, mammals, owls
It was as cold as a Titmouse on a bare oak branch that morning. The call came in from the Mammal Division. I’d fallen asleep in my suit, Kirkegaard propped against my noise. My tongue felt like it had been ground up for dog-food and probably smelled like that, too, but I shook off my hangover with three fingers of the good stuff and shelved my existential brooding. By the time I’d got to Central I was showered, shaved, and wearing an unstained clip-on tie. I felt like a freshly re-charged cell phone battery and I didn’t care who knew it.
The scene wasn’t pretty. Some joker had decapitate a White-footed mouse, Peromyscus leucopus to the lab boys, and left it lying under a pine.The dame who’d found the stiffening rodent was being calmed down by the social workers who pass as beat cops. She was as glazed over as a frosted cupcake. Her toy dog, dressed as expensively, was yipping in excitement. You and me too, kid.
“Poor bastard never knew what hit him,” said the Inspector, approaching to shake my hand and press a couple of flyers about the fall fundraiser into my palm.
“You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?” I asked.
“That’s why I called you.” She took a sip of her steaming soy latte. “We need a bird brain on the case.”
I tried some of her latte without asking about it. “Whew! Who cooks for you?”
“Lactose is for cows,” she said. “Cut the banter and give me your professional opinion.”
“Open and shut,” I said. “When in doubt, look up.”
So we did, into the pines above. A good place to hide for this kind of perp, who do their best work in night.
Half a dozen pairs of eyes looking up there, into more than half a dozen trees. But trust someone in the Ornithology Division to distinguish the cones from the Strigiformes. They don’t call me Falconeye Wills for nothing.“There he is,” I said. Straight up from the corpse. Barred owl. Strix varia to us nerds. And probably well-fed, taking only the protein-rich brain and leaving the rest for the scavengers.
See also all the jaw bones in owl pellets.
Tags: Brooklyn, Dead Horse Bay, mammals
The tooth on the left was found at Dead Horse Bay. I think it’s actually two fused together because of the four roots. This is what I photographed for my Mystery post early this month.
The one on the right was part of a horse’s skull found on the beach in Italy in the early 1970s.
Tags: Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, mammals
Tags: birds, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, mammals
I like to think of these as a herd of giraffe, heading towards the last watering hole of the day across the harbor in New Jersey.Brooklyn Bridge Park, where all these pictures were taken tonight, is scarce on mammals. This rat, a creature of the docks if there ever was one, was larger than it looks here.A barge being pulled out by a tugboat stirred up these gulls, most Ring-billed. They like the big, empty, and flat expanses of the piers as places to roost at night.A Common tern, on the lookout for the last meal of the day. There were three or four of these, making more noise than you’d think three or four birds could. Some Barn Swallows were also darting overhead in wild loops and swirls, making smaller noises. The water slapped the piers. Somebody somewhere was grilling. Earlier, the unmistakable skunkiness of pot wafted along the waterfront.I’m pretty sure I saw a blue star, and to the east the Moon was a day short of being as fat as a sturgeon.