On a 40F day, a single turtle is observed on the edge of the Sylvan Water. What’s this, though? Not a Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), by far the most common turtle across the city. I once counted 70 basking along the Lullwater in Prospect Park.

This is a Yellow-bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta). As their binomials, which are actually trinomials, suggest, they’re the same species. Both sliders are native to the southeast. The pet trade has spread them all over.

Please don’t get a turtle for a pet. It’s a wild animal. It shouldn’t be captive. I don’t think it matters that they’re bred for the trade: nobody should be making a profit off of them. Also, those shitballs on the sidewalk who sell them when they’re under 4″ are illegal animal traders, so report them.

So many of these impulse buys are then disposed of, if the turtles are lucky, in local fresh water far from their native region by irresponsible fools. It’s a great way to spread disease and screws the turtles who are supposed to be here. What the fuck is wrong with people who do this kind of thing?

Raptor Wednesday

Other (?) Kestrels:This one swooped across our path in Green-Wood, shot across 5th Avenue and disappeared behind the buildings there. It soon emerged with prey in talon. House Sparrow, I guess.We know there are at least two males in the area, because we’ve seen them either together or simultaneously. This shot, from earlier this month, shows a male on the linden so popular back in November. For comparison’s sake, the above is a picture from November. Looks pretty similar, no? Certainly looks like he has less peachy-russet on the breast than our next door neighbor. (Of course, this is why they band birds; we can’t tell apart as well as the birds themselves can.)If I may assume for a moment: he likes this tree because it gives him an almost eye-level view of the upslope fence and bushes against the fence that always seem to harbor some House Sparrows. He made a sortie while I watched. I don’t recall seeing one of these little falcons on the ground before. He looks huge here, but of course isn’t.


A Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica)A line of sapsucker holes. About 3/4″ deep, through the bark.These holes are chiseled out by, in our parts, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), who drinks the sugary sap and snaps up any insects also attracted to the sweet stuff.

Mammal Monday

Procyon lotor being diurnal? Questionable but not unheard of (other than being rabid, I mean). Still, a good rule of thumb with all wild animals is to keep your distance. I let my telephoto get close.

Underneath two hickory trees, and getting some of the last of the nuts I think.

Year of the Bird

This year marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which has rightfully been called one of the most powerful conservation laws ever.

Audubon, BirdLife International, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, & National Geographic* have all teamed up to celebrate this 100th anniversary with the Year of the Bird. The MBTA makes it “illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.” Here’s the complete text of the law as amended. [Many species of ducks, unfortunately, are allowed to be shot by hunters, who also continue to pollute the world with lead shot.]*National Geographic Partners, which publishes the magazine and the produces the awful NatGeo TV network, are majority-owned by Murdoch’s Fox empire, which means they also support those oligarchs and their politicians, from the Liar-President down the slime-shoot, who oppose conservation measures like the MBTA. As part of its rollback of everything Obama, the Trump administration has already weakened the Act.

Kestrel Check-In

Check.All these shots are from this week. The last two were on Thursday afternoon. I saw the female feed on small birds, presumably House Sparrows, twice within an hour. She’s packing in the food for egg-laying: remember, an American Kestrel egg represents 11% of the female’s body weight.For raptor friends, the scrape cam is on at 55 Water Street, where Peregrines have been nesting for years now. But now they have a new camera, in color for the first time. It’s like the 1960s! (This is a screen-shot, fyi.) I’ve been checking in around 6-7pm and have seen some mating, some eating, some moving of gravel, as human commuters hustle towards their ferries down below. Thursday, one was still visible at 9:30pm, presumably roosting the entire night. Riveting.

Even More Sharp-shinned

As I was preparing to head out the door last Sunday, the dawn of DST, I glanced out the window occasionally to see if the Kestrels would show up at the crack of dawn. They don’t set their clocks forward, after all. A bird whooshed into the London Plain across the street and hop-skipped-flew up to a perch, its back to me. The sun had not yet hit the tree. And it was not an American Kestrel. Here’s the female Kestrel in the tree later in the afternoon for comparison’s sake. It’s amazing that these birds are using the same tree to perch in.Dawn’s first arrival was a — if not, as I suspect, the — female Sharpie.By the time I got outside, the bird had flown, but as I descended the moraine towards 5th Avenue, I caught sight of her again. Now the sun was on her.What a difference the light makes in how she looks! (All these photo opportunities make me covetous of a camera with a real lens.)


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  • Daily Raptor: Red-shouldered Hawk over Green-Wood. 7 hours ago
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