Posts Tagged 'Staten Island'

Fragile Forktails

Ischnura positaA mature female Ischnura posita. Ischnura positaAn immature female. Inch-long damsels, these. Eat more mosquitos, ladies!

Ischnura positaA mature male. The exclamation mark on the shoulder is tell-tale for this species, but it can fade with age.


“Creeping along the endless beach amid the sun-squall and the foam, it occurs to us that we, too, are the products of sea-slime.” H.D. Thoreau on Cape Cod.

I walked from the Lemon Creek Fishing Pier to Conference House Park along the Raritan Bay shore of Staten Island recently. Mt. LorettoThe red glacial till of the cliffs were pockmarked with old Bank Swallow nests.beachThe beach was shelly in parts, seaweedy in others.summerSurprisingly few people were to be seen over the couple miles of beach on a summer weekend. IMG_6695Fishermen had plundered through, though, leaving this four-footer to the maggots.Erythemis simplicicollisAlong the phraggy edges past the cliffs of Mt. Loretto, some Odonates patrolled. This is a female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis).Great Beds LightGreat Beds Light, in Raritan Bay, off the southwestern tip of Staten Island. Named after the great beds of oysters once found there. The beach had a good number of oyster shells on it, so there are still some, but there’s been no oyster harvesting from the great estuary that surrounds New York City in nearly a century. The Billion Oyster Project is trying to change that.Great Beds LightOspreys have nested on top of the light. rocksThis marker on the rocks near the entrance of the Arthur Kill has been taken over by Double-crested Cormorants. rocksThey’ve crowded their nests onto all the available horizontals.Conference HouseThis is the view from the 1680 Billopp House, now known as the Conference House because of the unsuccessful peace parley held here in 1776. We can pretend there isn’t an industrial watercourse right on the other side of those trees and imagine the view not so different 300 years ago.Platanus occidentalisThere are some magnificent American Sycamores on the grounds; that’s my 20″ long backpack for scale.


Sterna hirundoA Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) was raising vocal hell. Then it started to fly straight at me, arrow-like. I instinctively flinched as it passed over head. No fool I. The bird spun around, and returned for another strafing. I’ve been here before. This kind of dive-bombing is classic nest protection strategy for terns; that little black head and red bill coming at you means business. The business is simple enough: they want you to get away from their eggs or young. The Commons’ cousins the Arctic Terns (Sterna paradisaea) will buzz even closer, and sometimes actually whack you in the head; they will also shit on you in a coup de grâce we probably shouldn’t take for editorializing, or should we? It is best to wear your backpack on your head when you’re near an Arctic Tern breeding colony, as in, say, Iceland, where swarms of them are like big angry bees overhead.Sterna hirundoThis past weekend seemed rather late in the season for a nest — in our immediate area, I know of Common Tern nests on the unused piers on Governor’s Island — but there was a fledgling to protect on the beach. I couldn’t get a photo of that particular young one, who was loudly squawking for eight-to-ten square meals a day (fish, plucked from the water). Further up the beach, though, this bird, which I think was another individual, was fairly amenable to being photographed. Sterna hirundoThe adult in the top photo is still in full breeding plumage. It’s winter look will be more like this youngster, although both feet and bill will be dark.


Charadrius vociferusA Killdeer blends in nicely with these beach pebbles along the southwest shore of Staten Island.Charadrius vociferusBut note this binomial: Charadrius vociferus. I heard three of them long before I ever saw them.

Locust Borers

Megacyllen robiniae…making more Locust Borers (Megacyllen robiniae). This wasp-like longhorn beetle feeds on goldenrod and lays its eggs on Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) trees, into which the larvae bore…

Yellow Bear Crossing

Spilosoma virginicaYellow Bear caterpillar (Spilosoma virginica), a.k.a. Virginian Tiger Moth. The very long hairs here are key to identifying this species, since they can be quite variable in coloration, starting cream to yellow and darkening with age, some becoming black. We saw a few of the older ones as well on the paved trails at Fresh Kills Park Sunday.

This was the third or so annual “sneak peak” at the erstwhile landfill transforming into the city’s newest park:Fresh Kills

Rough Stinker

BrochymenaOne of the Brochymena genus Rough Stink Bugs. I think this may be an instar of B. quadripustulata, since it has the four spots or bumps, but the shield pattern isn’t quite like an adult’s (yet). These stink bugs are cryptically colored to blend in with bark, but they really stick out on a leaf. A true bug, meaning they are suckers, living on sap of a range of tree and shrubs. But also preying on other insect larvae and pupae, so some species are considered gardener-friendly, a natural defense.

Plus, if you smoosh ‘em, you’re gonna regret it.


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