Published September 24, 2015
Tags: birds, Brooklyn, mammals, reptiles
A parent and young Woodchuck/Groundhog (Marmota monax). Here’s the youngster, perhaps 2/3rds the size of the adult, who is presumably the mother as males visit burrows to mate but don’t stay around. Both animals were mowing through the grasses, then this one found a nut or fruit. They are eating-machines this time of year, fattening up for winter hibernation in the ample hills — but not as ample as they used to be — of Brooklyn. A big old Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina).Giving me the beady eye. The length of neck here is arm-like, hence the serpentina. I’ll be damned if I know how a) this big reptile survives in this little pond, and b) how it gets out, which I doubt it can do, since the wall surrounding it is about 3 feet high.
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), look closer, maneuvers for a drink.
All in Brooklyn, and on an afternoon’s walk.
New York State has three native species of lizard: Northern Fence, Five-lined Skink, and Coal Skink. And one introduced species: the Italian Fence Lizard (Podarcis sicula). P. sicula evidently spread out from a release in Hempstead in 1967. The first time I ever became aware of them was when a photo of a Kestrel taking one to its Manhattan nest made the rounds of local birders some years ago. I’ve seen them in the cemeteries of Queens: they love stone walls. But they are quick and agile and hard to photograph. I finally got one in the digital camera at the New York Botanic Garden recently.
Found in the salad spinner after washing some organic lettuce. A Histeridae family beetle, also known as hisser or clown beetles, even though they don’t wear much makeup. They eat the larvae of flies.A late-blooming Prickly Pear (Opuntia), one of my favorite local flowers. A very beat-up Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele), a new species for me. They’re rare in the city; this was at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and seemed to be flying pretty well, considering.Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) also at JBWR.Our only brackish water turtle. Only the females come to land, to lay their eggs. This one was heading back to the bay, so presumably she had spent the night digging a nest. Considering most of the JBWR nests are plundered by Raccoons (introduced by the highway), best wishes to her. I thought at first this was a large, fast-moving ant, but it’s actually a Red Velvet Ant of the Mutillidae family. Pardon the common name, these are actually wasps and are supposed to have a fierce sting, leading to their alternate name of, head’s up, people, “Cow Killer.” (This is why we have a telephoto lens.) Females are wingless; the winged males look a little more waspy. The larvae are ectoparasites on other wasps, including Cicada Killer Wasps.
Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) peeking from the Duckweed and algae atop the perhaps deceptively named Lullwater in Prospect today.
Update: On second thought, and thoughtful suggestion, this is probably just another Red-eared Slider. All that yellow in the chin wouldn’t be on a Snapping T.