Et In Arcadia Ego

Serpent Saturday

The highly variable Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis. Twelve sub-species are listed at EOP; my venerable 2nd ed of Peterson’s lists six, with three color variations for the Eastern (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis).
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A co-worker from back in the day is making a sign-a-day to encourage voting. Give her site a visit.

I wish I was seeing more such engagement by artists and designers. We need to popular-front the hell out of this situation.

Least Bittern III

The first time I saw a Least Bittern was on Padre Island, Texas. It was a brief glimpse, the bird jumping from one clump of reeds to another. The second time was strange: the bird was high up in a tree in Prospect Park.Third time is a charm of a cliche, but what a sighting! Note those long toes. The bird, a juvenile (no dark crown), stilt-walked above the water by grabbing nearby foliage. They don’t have to wade like other herons.This was up at Montezuma NWR, where a fellow bird-dog called me back twice to make sure I spotted the bird, since it kept scooting back into the reeds.The binomial Ixobrychus exilis can be broken down nicely: the genus name might be translated as “reed boomer” and exilis simply means small. A Green Heron, a larger bird than the Least, seen a few minutes earlier nearby.

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In New York? Today is the last weekday you can register to vote for the vital primaries held on September 13th.

A Patch of Mayapples

I’ve never seen so many Podophyllum peltatum fruits. This patch was up in the Finger Lakes region this past weekend.They aren’t quite ripe. When they are, they should smell “fruity” and weigh down the plants to the ground, according to Carol Gracie’s Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast. She also notes that an Asian Podophyllum species is harvested for cancer-fighting drugs — but not sustainably.Who eats this golfball-sized fruit? Turtles and deer. Whenever I see a wild fruit like this, I wonder if there were once other creatures who ate it, too.

Raptor Wednesday

A Red-tailed Hawk in the Bronx. This is one of the family of three fledglings seen earlier.

Over the weekend, saw about a dozen Red-tailed Hawks on a road trip to Ithaca. Almost all were perched on phone poles. One was sitting atop a Cornell U dorm. Another was circling below a cloud of Turkey Vultures at Taughannock Falls.

At the Stewart Street Bridge over the Fall Creek gorge, I noticed this nest in plain view. Further research revealed it to be a Red-tailed Hawk nest….No sign of the hawks, since it’s already post-fledgling. The poison ivy beginning to turn red reminds us that fall is coming.

A side-trip to Montezuma NWR revealed half a dozen osprey, including what was probably a new family of four overhead and loudly vocal. In the far distance, a Bald Eagle was identifiable from its white tail. A younger eagle, without the white head and tail feathers, was perched nearer. In between bouts of searching for a Least Bittern, I saw it in the air over the water.

Meanwhile, at the famed Sapsucker Woods, I was unable to identify a falcon and one or two buteos. I lost the falcon while eating lunch; can’t have the binoculars collecting potato salad, you know.
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On New York’s pay-to-play system, or how real estate is master of us all. Out-of-staters, just remember this when the dreadful Andrew Cuomo starts putting out feelers for a Presidential run in 2020.

Marine Park

Hot and fecund summer comes at you and doesn’t let up. My camera bursts with photos after a walk, an exploration, an adventure. Time barrels along, even though the humidity seems to want to slow it down. These are all from a trip three weeks ago to Marine Park on Brooklyn’s southern edge.A nice little example of the Spartina alterniflora and Geukensia demissa relationship.This dense wet muck soil would be anoxic without the fiddler crabs burrowing into it. They’re the third leg (claw?) of the salt marsh’s grass/mussel/crab trifecta.But be careful, little crabs, the Great Egret stalks at low tide.Even murkier, a Yellow-crowned Heron does the same.It’s also time for shorebirds to start thinking/feeling about heading south. This yellowlegs was grooming and resting. Greater, methinks, not Lesser.Overhead, fledgling Barn Swallows were being fed in mid-air. A half dozen take a break; there’s also a Tree Swallow at the top.The caterpillar here is probably destined for the next generation of Red-winged Blackbirds.

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The post-truth reactionary regime is already going strong: half the states are lying about abortion. 

Mammal Monday

Rat on the rocks.


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