Breeding Birds

The third edition of the New York State Breeding Bird Atlas project is underway. So far I’ve submitted observations to ebird of American Kestrels mating and Common Ravens carrying nesting material.

One of them, anyway.
I almost always hear these big corvids before I see them. One of their most common calls is a “ha-rupp” grunt-like noise that makes me thinks of pigs (admittedly, I haven’t been around too many pigs). Then I’m all ears, looking all around.

A historical note: it was January 1, 2015 that I first saw a pair of Common Ravens canoodling here in Brooklyn. They’ve have nest here ever since. Well, so we think. They’ve been observed gathering nest material, gathering food, and flying with their young. Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever found the nest. Which is damn surprising.

Class of ’19.
Class of ’16.

I’m Easy Lichen Sunday Morning…

When hunting lichens, it’s important to blend in. Stalking wild Lecanoromycetes is made all the easier by wearing appropriate camouflage. Lichens are slow, but they can see you coming.
Glad to see the professionals agree!

Back in December, my partner Molly and I discovered a very rare-for-the-city Usnea lichen. When another Usnea genus lichen was found in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx not so long ago, it was worthy of being written up in the Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. This was because it was the first record of the species here in NYC in almost two centuries.

So we contacted the proper authorities, in this case Dr. James Lendemer at NYBG. This week James and one of his PhD students, Carly R. Anderson, came to collect a sample of this tiny beard lichen.
(Like the famous flag-raising at Iwo Jima, this is actually a re-posed picture because snipping a bit of lichen is a pretty quick operation…).

The reason for the sampling: there are two possible species this could be, and you can only really tell via DNA analysis. At least for specimens in the city, which don’t seem to get larger and more characteristic as they might elsewhere. (I wrote about lichens and their nemesis, air pollution, here.)

Since the specimen is located on private property, we contacted more proper authorities. Always get permission for taking samples, kids. In this case, Sara Evans, Green-Wood’s Manager of Horticulture Operations and Projects, gave James the OK and joined our expedition.
Also along for the ride were some of my hazelnut flour brownies (this recipe, but with a touch of salt) for snacks. Excellent moral support for a rainy day expedition by the BEF, or Brownie Expeditionary Force. This trio of rich Nutella-y squares didn’t make it back…

Stay tuned for the Species Reveal Party!

A Grab-Bag of Wintery Sights

In a not very wintery winter.*
A moth to be here, found on the underside of a piece of bark shed by the tree. (This is the outer side of the bark, but it was upside down on the ground.)
Another moth (I think) cocooned on a shingle oak leaf.
A mess o’ mantids.
This poison ivy has worked its way through this conifer and sprouted out at the top. Close up of some of the berries: birds love these things in winter.

For every season: raccoon prints in concrete.

*As it happens, I usually write these posts in advance. Today is probably the coldest morning this year so far: 18F at 7:30 am EST. Going to enjoy going out!

And some meat for thought. The meat industry should be vilified. It’s monstrous. And getting worse, thanks to the death cult of the GOP and their Orange Ghoul cult leader. The industry has literally gotten the OK to put more excrement into the food system.

But meat per se, that’s another matter. Consider Monbiot re-thinking his call to veganism.

St. Valentine’s Hawk

Prunus serotina

There are still, after all these years, parts of Green-Wood I’ve never been. I came across this massive black cherry only recently.
It was after a big wind and bits of the scaly bark and branches were scattered about.
The mature bark is very different from the younger stuff from way up there.
Turning over the loose pieces on the ground, I found a Nabis genus damsel bug.
And a springtail! (And something even smaller I can’t tell what).

Raptor Wednesday

Passing Bald Eagle.
Coasting Red-tailed Hawk. On Saturday, there were four overhead at the same time.
Merlin. I regularly saw them late last year, but this was the last time I spotted one, back in the middle of January.
American Kestrel male perched on this 1960s vision of a future telecommunications center.
Female and male on the chimney pot.
The chimney pot on the right, in context. Car service antenna in center, another hot spot for perching kestrels.

February Blooms



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