Animal Sex

This essay in the Times on evolution happening before our eyes in cities is very much worth reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/24/opinion/sunday/evolution-is-happening-faster-than-we-thought.html

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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Migrating Gliders

Pantala hymenaeaYou may wait a long time before one of these gliders comes to a stop. Both the Spot-winged (Pantala hymenaea) and Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens) dragonflies seem to spend their whole working day in the air. These are the constantly moving yellow to golden dragonflies that are now being seen above our meadows and grassy swards. Their zig-zaggy dance is hypnotic.

I think we have more Spot-winged than Wandering, but I don’t net the critters out of the air, so I can’t say for sure. Whichever, Green-Wood has been a good place for them recently. A dozen or more at a time, clearly onto something edible which we can’t even see. And if you look in the distance and the light is right, there are even more. At eye-height or above, or lower. Moving, moving moving.

But perhaps if you’re doing something else, you’ll catch one taking a break. We were underneath a Persimmon tree. This Spot-winged slipped under the canopy to perch above us: it was taking shelter, out of sight of predators and… well, not this paparazzo.Pantala hymenaeaThis is only the second time I’ve ever seen one of these perched. The spots (really more like fat commas) on the hind wings  are close to the body and fairly subtle, almost impossible to see in the air. (Clicking on these images will open them to a larger version.)

Both of these Pantala species are migratory.

Young Cardinal

Cardinalis cardinalisIn a Dogwood.

Something to Wash Out The Hate

IMG_9037If you’re still recovering from the shameless exhibition of fear and loathing that was the finale of washed-out TV personality Donald Trump’s grotesque career — that tirade in search of a balcony, that harangue for a meaner, nastier America — then this one’s for you.

Two species of bees, two species of wasps, one skipper… but of course it was impossible to get more than a semblance of all the activity in one frame.

Stump

stumpWhen I spotted Brian Nash Gill’s Woodcut recently, I was intrigued. A few days later I came across this character-laden stump in Green-Wood.

Of course, this isn’t a print, it’s just a picture with the “Noir” filter on my iPhone camera.

The Dragons Are Hunting

IMG_8947The shed exuvia of an Odonata. Dragon- and damselflies spend their larval stage underwater. These voraciously predatory nymphs climb up on reeds and other vertical structures, anchor themselves, and begin to break out and unfurl their wings, harden off, and then take to the air, leaving these ghostly husks behind.Perithemis teneraA male Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera), our smallest dragonfly. Some damselfly species are actually longer. Erythemis simplicicollisA male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis), I think; the tell-tale wing markings are obscure here and I’m rusty…

Bull

Lithobates catesbeianus…Frog (Lithobates catesbeianus).

And bull! too, to the repulsive display of nativism, racism, ignorance, and unparalleled mendacity at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.


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