Seaside Dragonlet

Erythrodiplax bereniceThis is a female Seaside Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax berenice), spotted recently on Plumb Beach. This is the only American species of dragonfly that breeds in salt water, in this case probably the saltwater marsh tucked behind the beach. To be honest, I couldn’t see any of the handsome orange and black patterning on abdomen and thorax  in the bright sunlight. It was only after looking at the pictures later that I could identify.Erythrodiplax bereniceSo this makes for 16 species of dragonflies I’ve identified within New York City. This has all been by eye (and lens-enchanced eye); hardcore odonate-philes will net specimens. (Would definitely get a few more if I snagged ’em of the air and examined closely, but I’m guessing that would not be a pleasant experience for them.) All of these have been in Brooklyn except the Unicorn Clubtail. I have not explored Staten Island, the ode mecca of the city, nearly enough.

Common Green Darner (Anax junius)
Unicorn Clubtail (Arigomphus villosipes) *Bronx
Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna héros)
Common/Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simpliciollis)
Seaside Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax berenice)
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella)
Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata)
Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans)
Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)
Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea)
Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis genera)
Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia)
Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum)
Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina)
Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata)

Here are all my dragonfly posts.

And here are damselfly species I’ve IDed in NYC, a harder proposition since they’re generally so much smaller. (And when I say I’ve IDed them, that means I’ve often had help from the Northeast Odonata group on Facebook.)

Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis)
Azure Bluet (Enallagma aspersum)
Familiar Bluet (Enallagama civile)
Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum)
Citrine Forktail (Ishnura hastata)
Lilypad Forktail (Ischnura kellicotti)
Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)
Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis)

Check out this NYS odonate survey completed in 2010. 22 species of d & d were noted in Kings County (Brooklyn), an estimated 75% of what they thought there should be. The Seaside Dragonlet was NOT recorded on that survey, although it was in the historic records they consulted so they counted it.

Busy as…


Sunset Park Osprey

Pandion haliaetusWe’re at the limits of my optical abilities here, but it looks like the Ospreys nesting atop a light tower on the parking lot of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal have had at least one youngster. Note that spotty back; young birds have this scaling of the feathers. Pandion haliaetusPossibly two. One of these birds flew off while I was observing yesterday afternoon, heading for the bay.

I stumbled upon this new nest back in April. While Osprey nest at Marine Park and Jamaica Bay, this is the first time any have set up housekeeping along the Upper Bay-side of Brooklyn (since when, the arrival of Europeans?). What a success story Osprey have been after taking such a wallop from DDT! To encourage their recovery, many a nesting platform was set up along the coast. In fact, platforms were put up in Brooklyn Bridge Park and Bush Terminal Park not so long ago, although they’ve had no takers; they may be too close to civilization even for a species that shows such a high tolerance for humans. However, the vast, mostly empty parking lot this nest towers above shows the birds’ adaptability. The under-utilization of the SBMT is clearly working in their favor, if not Brooklyn’s economy.

Great Spangled Fritillary

Speyeria cybeleA name that should always be said in a W.C. Fields’ voice.Speyeria cybeleSpeyeria cybele.

Fruiting Bodies

mush1mush2mush3mush4mush5The shapes of these old mushrooms — some kind of bolete? — fascinate. They are split and cracked; some look as if they have been nibbled by somebody; others bored into by something. Age makes character.


MonardaAnd balm for your Monday.Monarda

Animal Sex

This essay in the Times on evolution happening before our eyes in cities is very much worth reading:

I reviewed Menno’s last book after running into him in Prospect Park a couple of years ago:

Backyard and Beyond

nnrIt turns out that one of the best ways to tell species apart is to examine their genitals. There’s an incredible variety of forms of male and female sex organs, even within the species gathered together in a genus, and so for years biologists have been separating, for example, beetles that otherwise look rather similar, into different species because their genitalia look and correspondingly work together completely differently. This holds true for humans and our closest relatives, the apes and other primates, as well.

It’s only been more recently that scientists have been looking at the reasons for all this genital variety. Menno Schilthuizen’s new book, published by Penguin, is a fascinating look at the evolutionary underpinnings of the “naughty bits,” which of course are only naughty in an absurdly Puritan culture like ours.

So they might not actually be naughty, but they sure are varied! I was continually…

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