Posts Tagged 'reptiles'

The Temp is Too Damn High

Trachemys scriptaIt’s getting so that “unseasonable” is no longer an appropriate word for never-ending autumn. This is the new seasonableness. On Friday, which set records around the region for high temperatures in a year shaping up to be the hottest on record, two Red-eared Sliders were sunning themselves in Prospect Park.Tamias striatusA couple of Chipmunks were out and about. This one stuffed a hickory nut into it’s right cheek and lopsidedly zipped down into a hole to store it for later.ChrysopidaeAnd the next day, a Green Lacewing (Chrysopidae) flitted through the air before resting on this cherry in the Flatbush Gardener’s patch.

Brooklyn: It’s Not Just for Hipsters

Marmota monaxA parent and young Woodchuck/Groundhog (Marmota monax). Marmota monaxHere’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. Chelydra serpentinaA big old Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina).Chelydra serpentinaGiving 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.
Archilochus colubrisA Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), look closer, maneuvers for a drink.

All in Brooklyn, and on an afternoon’s walk.


Podarcis siculaNew 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.

Frog, Rock, Turtle

IMG_3716This downward-facing turtle was king of the hill.IMG_3724This frog wanted a piece of the action.IMG_3722And this was one determined frog.IMG_3723It made several attempts to…well, what, exactly? Dislodge the turtle? In theory, the right amount of force applied to the fulcrum here should have knocked off the much larger turtle. IMG_3736But the turtle’s steadying feet made for an impregnable bastion.IMG_3728Meanwhile, and this was somebody else’s storyline, a young House Sparrow landing on all the nearby rocks and the other basking turtles briefly landed here. The turtle seemed to pay no more heed to this than it did the kamikaze frog.IMG_3730A state of equilibrium? IMG_3719But wait. Another rock. Another turtle. Another frog.IMG_3720

Everywhere You Look

HisteridaeFound 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.OpuntiaA late-blooming Prickly Pear (Opuntia), one of my favorite local flowers. Speyeria cybeleA 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.Malaclemys terrapinDiamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) also at JBWR.Malaclemys terrapinOur 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. MutillidaeI 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.

Snout’s Up

Chelydra serpentinaSmall-to-medium-sized 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.


Trachemys scriptaThe all too-common Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta). Note those neck line patterns. TurtleOn the same day, close by, was this specimen. This one differs by having the yellow line go up past its eye.TurtleAnd by having an oval shape on the neck. Missing, too, is the red stripe behind the eyes which give Red-eareds their name. The stripe can fade with age, but this one is not so large/old. Still, I can’t figure out what species this could be if not a RES.


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