Posts Tagged 'Prospect Park'

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.

Common Nighthawks

Chordeiles minorIt’s been a difficult week. But one of the highlights was on Thursday, when a friend and I went into Prospect Park in the late afternoon. Just before sunset, we were in the Nethermead. Overhead, the chittering of many Chimney Swifts was heard as the little birds darted all over the sky taking their last meals of the day. And then suddenly, nighthawks! Chordeiles minor are much larger than swifts, with long pointy wings and long tails, making them look somewhat falcon-like. But their fast, loopy, erratic flight is all their own. I counted seven at once, whirling through the air as they gobbled after insects in the aether. Another group of birders counted twice that many over time. These photos are mediocre, but hopefully hint at the setting sun’s under-lighting of the russety undersides of the birds, and their distinctive wing patch-stripes.Chordeiles minorThey are on the move now, to their wintering grounds in South America.

A quintessential summer evening bird, this is a species in decline. It’s one of the species mentioned in this excellent op-ed by the head of the Cornell Lab. A must-read.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Myiarchus crinitusAlways a nice surprise to get a good look at a Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus), since they are usually at tree-top level. I thought this might be a migrant, and it may well be, but it should be noted that there are breeding records for the species in Prospect. They are the only cavity-nesting flycatcher in the U.S. The bright sun is making its neck look too white; the birds are more gray in the feather.

Orange Is the New Bluet

Enallagma signatumA male Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum) in the afternoon sun.

Spotted (or Not) and Streaky

Actitis maculariusSpotted Sandpipers (Actitis macularius) — no spots once they’ve moved out of their breeding plumage — are patrolling the edges of fresh water bodies now during migration. Parkesia noveboracensisAlso along the watery edges these days are Northern Waterthrushes (Parkesia noveboracensis).

Downy Heron

Butorides virescensOne of a trio of young Green Herons (Butorides virescens) on a snag in the Lullwater this week. This one was sitting: I’ve never seen a heron sit before.

It was a month ago that I saw this fledgling Green Heron in Green-wood. That bird looked a little older.

I wonder if this trio is a result of a late-nesting pair or a second brood? At least two pair were nesting in the Lullwater area in May, making for a nice long Brooklyn breeding season for this species.


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