Scuttling Across the Floors of Silent Seas

Holy ancient seabeds, J. Alfred Prufrock! Remember when I stumbled upon some fossils in a rip-rap bulkhead holding the bay in abeyance? Well, here are some more, at another city location. (This archipelago is much stone-girt.) These rocks are even more littered with the detritus of millions of years ago.

I haven’t been able to find out where these boulders came from. They aren’t local: “The Bronx is gneiss but Manhattan is full of schist,” (not fossiliferous), as the geological wag had it, and Queens and Brooklyn, westernmost Long Island, are glacial deposits. The lighter tan rock above was an anomaly in this rip-rap, perhaps from an entirely different source.

Raptor Week Day VII

A feather from a Northern Flicker blows around this Cooper’s bill.


In case you missed it, I have new Medium piece up on the Davis/Wiener history of L.A. in the Sixties. It’s not about hawks–but the next one will be.

Raptor Week Day VI

More hyper-local American Kestrels. These are about a 1/3rd of an avenue block away. They’re acting like it’s April!

One avenue block away, several minutes earlier. The female has food here.

A few blocks away in Green-Wood…

Male chasing a Red-tailed Hawk.

On a linden with a view. Red-tailed Hawks and Coopers Hawks perch up here as well.

Raptor Week Day V

From a distance: the large-headed silhouette of a small falcon. This tree on a hill is Merlin country in the winter months, but the last time I saw something up there a few weeks ago it was an American Kestrel. This time, by the time I hustled up closer, the bird was gone. A couple of other birders had seen where it went.

To a nearby Tuliptree.

A couple of days later, back on the usual tree.

Raptor Week Day IV

From two long avenue blocks away… hence the muddiness of these images. A Peregrine has been perching of a morning atop Mike’s Spike, not an unusual winter habit for this species. The first image, of a Peregrine in flight, looks like another bird, a juvenile this time; class of ’22.

The fifth of five straight mornings.

A juvenile perched closer to the Raptor Observatory (our apartment)…but unfortunately during a rain so the pictures leave much to be desired.

Raptor Week Day III

Incoming! I was watching a Merlin from some distance and saw it fly off. Merlins may perch hunt, returning to the same perch after a foray. So when this raptor came back to the tree, I assumed it would be the Merlin again. The photos, of course, tell a different story.

A mature Accipiter. Reddish eyes, reddish or russet horizontal striping. Small, so either a male Cooper’s or a female Sharp-shinned. (The Merlin and the Accipiter weren’t in the tree at the same time, unfortunately, for a nice size comparison.) The head seems smallish in comparison to the bulk of a Cooper’s head though. The round (Cooper’s) versus straight (Sharpie) tail distinction is unclear to me. It’s a hard call, but I think Sharpie.

Raptor Week Day II

Neighborhood American Kestrels.

Winter heat inside. frigid temps outside = lens distortions.

Raptor Week Day I

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Raptor-mas! This is the same Red-tailed Hawk in flight, the light playing some changes on looks.

This one, born this year, has a full crop and is enjoying some post-prandial sunshine and passing jet noise.

Another day, elsewhere in Green-Wood: possibly the same heavily-marked juvenile being harassed by a Jay.

Now an adult RT, being swooped upon by a bold Northern Mockingbird.

Raptors Eight Days a Week

Raptor Week 2022 begins with this dino-soaring Cooper’s continuing to dine on a Northern Flicker.

Textbook Twigs

Chambered light brown pith: Eastern Black Walnut (Juglans nigra).

Chambered dark brown pith: Butternut (Juglans cinerea).

Walnut/Butternut. Pith description detail from Woody Plants in Winter by Core and Ammons.

Chambered pith is unusual. Here’s a White Oak (Quercus alba) twig for comparison. Core and Ammons describe Quercus as having “pith moderate, continuous, star-shaped in cross section.” (I could not get a good enough cut for a cross-section.)

But… All these twigs were found on the ground. When I snapped the oaken one, I found something inside.

Larval something. Hymenoptera, I think. 5mm long.

More than one.

This may be how they got into the twig in the first place, or else these are the exit holes of their brethren.


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