Posts Tagged 'Prospect Park'

Sympetrum Meadowhawks

Sympertrum vicinumThe red meadowhawk dragonflies are difficult to identify in the field, since several members of the genus Sympetrum look rather similar.Sympetrum vicinumBut I figured these out because of the legs. These are Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum), in some sources called Yellow-legged; other meadowhawks have black legs. They’re small: 1.3″ long. Sympetrum vicinumTheir colors, especially the bright males, rival fall’s leaves.Sympetrum vicinum“Typically the last species on the wing northern climes,” says the Stokes guide, although it was a balmy 80 when I ran into them in Green-Wood this weekend.

Twilight’s Last Gleaming Wood Ducks

sunset1We’ve been having some magnificent sunsets lately. This was last night, from the Nethermead. Aix sponsaWhen I crossed over Payne Hill, I found a mess of Wood Ducks still at the far end of the Upper Pool.

I went hoping for a repeat of the previous night’s phenomenon, which I heard about from two witnesses: masses of dragonflies at sunset. I saw one Common Green Darner, so I guess I missed the migratory flight. There was a lone Common Nighthawk as consolation, though, rollicking over the Long Meadow.

Coincidental Juxtaposition

A flash of yellow in a flock of House Sparrows caught my eye in the Nethermead. The bird quickly flew back down to the ground from its temporary perch. Melopsittacus undulatus, no? Buteo jamaicensisThe same day I saw four Red-tailed hawks kettling above the Lake. Later, one flew low over the Nethermead. And then later still, another flew across the Long Meadow and landed on this fence. Could have been six different birds, since hawks are moving now.

Webs

web1A complex of webs connected to a seven-foot-long horizontal piece of spidersilk. web2Remarkable. A view from the side of the complex, showing another web, making for one large and three satellite webs.web3The only spider in evidence was sucking on dinner.

Chestnuts

Castanea dentataAmerican Chestnuts (Castanea dentata). Be careful handling these burrs, or pods: the spines are v. sharp! Castanea dentataMost of the nuts produced by these young trees are scrawny, undeveloped things, quite fibrous inside, but they still seem to disappear into the maws of the squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis).Sciurus carolinensisThis one was vocally displeased with my poaching of the two plumpest nuts.

Yellow Bear

Spilosoma virginicaYellow Bear caterpillar (Spilosoma virginica), sometimes known as the Yellow Wooly Bear. Compare with one I photographed last year: they come in a great range of colors. According to Wagner, the pale early instars are gregarious, the older instars wonder lonely as a cloud. (I may have hopped-up Wagner’s description a bit.)

Katydids

OrchelimumThe trees are alive with the sound of music. At night. Katydids and crickets stridulating away, rubbing the pegged “file” of one wing against the ridge-like scraper of the other to produce those clicks, tisps, buzzes, etc. Each species has a distinctive sound: it’s the males marking their territory and calling to the females. Bonus fact: The ears of katydids and crickets are usually located on the foreleg tibia.

You know where our ears are. We’ll hear a great chorus of arthropod fiddlers in Prospect Park tonight on our Night Listening Tour. I haven’t run across many katydids in the light of day, but here’s one, two, and three other examples.

The specimen picture above was spotted on a milkweed leaf. I thought at first it was a grasshopper. Grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids are all members of same family, Orthoptera, so there are similarities. What makes this a katydid, however, are the very long antennae and the very long ovipositor (out of focus). I think this one is in the genus Orchelimum, the great meadow katydids, a.k.a. gladiator katydids.


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