Rock revealed at low tide with at least two kinds of barnacles

Other specimens from the same low tide beach:
These are on metal, so the rust red gives it a nice Martian tinge.

In the UK? Today’s the GE!

Raptor Wednesday

This glorious smokestack is the throne of Peregrines. I’ve seen them up here often during the past couple of winters. Not so much during spring and summer, however, when, presumably, breeding keeps them busy. I can see this ‘stack from the home front, but these shots are from much closer, the playground next to Sunset Park High School.
That playground is at 3rd Avenue. The school itself fronts 4th Avenue.
Which is where this male American Kestrel is perching. Right across 4th is an entrance to Green-Wood Cemetery. The expanse of russet on this bird’s chest, with the minimal black dots, suggest that this may be the same bird seen regularly from the apartment, a.k.a View From The Moraine.
Much closer to home, and typically the play ground of the local kestrels, the pipes on this roof also make a good place for an Accipiter to briefly park. Male Cooper’s, I think.

Shore Dinner

I watched as this Herring Gull dropped this Hardshell Clam (quahog) one two three times before the shell broke apart.
The meaty deliciousness within went down the hatch pretty quickly.
Note the flecks in the eye.
The shelly remains.
Nearby was this half-eaten fish. Possibly Atlantic Menhaden.
When I returned about 45 minutes later, the remains were not being wasted.

Holly Month

These two tads, both at the base of the same massive beech, seem to have survived the demonic weed-whackers.
They are located about 200 feet in a straight line from this very spectacular American holly (Ilex opaca).
This damage may come from the larvae of a fly in the Phytomyza genus.
The big boy pictured above had no berries. Here’s another tree that was so loaded with them I thought it might be a European holly, but Green-Wood’s tree finder marks this one also as the native I. opaca. Which would make the leaf damage here the work of the Native Holly Leafminer P. illiciola?

All this month, the NYC EcoFlora project is documenting hollies in NYC. All the Ilex species are included. As always, they’d prefer wild or spontaneous grown specimens instead of cultivated ones, but you can add any that you see to iNaturalist. Here’s a guide to the species.

Sunday Thoughts

Last week I touched on Carl Safina essay about our moral obligation to the natural world. Since reading that piece, I’ve read Jedediah Purdy’s This Land is Our Land. In it, I find him citing Montaigne, who argued, in Purdy’s words, “that it was possible for a kind of humane and egalitarian affection to flow between people and the nonhuman world.”

Montaigne: “There is a certain respect, and a general duty of humanity, that attaches us not only to animals, who have life and feeling, but even to trees and plants. We owe justice to men, and mercy and kindness to other creatures that may be capable of receiving it.”

There is, Montaigne wrote, “Some relationship between them and us, and some mutual obligations.”

Purdy is most instructive on the history of environmentalism. The impetus was in the beginning an elitist one. Teddy Roosevelt and Madison Grant, for instance, wanted landscapes preserved so they could hunt big game and prove their East Coast manhood. Native Americans were removed from national parks. Further down the social scale, John Muir was as genteel racist as they came.

In the 1960s and 1970s, following Silent Spring, Earth Day, and the Nixon era environmental laws, the environmental justice movement began. The generally all-white conservation groups had paid little attention to poor and generally non-white people who bore the brunt of air and water pollution, leeching landfills, lead paint, toxic run-off, and the like.

Also in the 1960s-1970s “legal liberalism” emerged. This was a law-driven agenda: use the courts to affect change, on all fronts, of course, not just for the environment. Already by the 1970s, however, the activist courts of the brief window the the 1960s were retreating back into their traditional role as defenders of wealth and power. The long reactionary counter-revolution that has resulted in a majority of Republicans/fundamentalists on the Supreme Court and Federalist Society shock troops elsewhere on the federal judiciary has only cemented the precariousness of the legal avenue.

The mobilizations of the many that culminated in Earth Day were defanged by the lawyers, and the institutions, and the middle-class and wealthy donors that funded them. A movement was reduced to membership, which is a completely different thing, one that diminishes engaged citizenship.

The process reminds me of the self-disarmament of the coalition that first elected Obama. Here were fired-up door-to-door troops, a national grassroots organization of committed and optimistic voters and organizers. But party organizations always work to suppress people power and reduce citizens to consumers; they are a threat to their position (and, notably, jobs). Instead of taking on the work at the local, state, and national level to push back against GOP authoritarianism, gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc., the so-called professionals, the allegedly smartest guys in the room, etc., sloughed off their supporters, mothballed their vaunted organizational database. The adults are now here, they seemed to say, and no, we won’t push back against the Wall Street robbers (who we went to school with), or Bush’s war criminals, or the ever more monstrous national security state, or the archaic anti-democratic system in which the millions of more Americans who vote for Democratic Senators then Republicans ones don’t matter.

With SCOTUS now in the hands of the corporate fascists for a generation or more, with the slavemasters’ Senate impossibly gerrrymandered, with Trump rampaging across the Constitution, a host of Obama-ites flocked… to work for Uber or corporate shill Pete Buttigieg, the consultant class’s standard bearer. Along with the Big O himself, they’re dedicated to defeating the only systemic-challenging candidate (Sanders) and even the mildly reformist one (Warren).

Viny Attachments

Red tendrils are hairy, so scary.
Well, perhaps not as memorable as “leaves of three, leave it be” as a mnemonic for identifying poison ivy, but there you go. The climbing form of Toxicodendron radicans loves a good tree.

The USDA’s animal-killing division, named Wildlife Services in a touch of the Orwellian, wants to know what to do about all the supposedly destructive birds in New York State. They’ve had complaints about half the species found here. Their options for “bird damage management” range from doing nothing to killing everything. Here’s the draft report. Unfortunately, the comment period is already closed. Gives a good sense of the bureaucratic mindset, though.

Obviously, we’ve created some problems by introducing species that have become invasive. Management — stewardship would be a better word — is unfortunately necessary in the Anthropocene because the wild is very much in our hands. But look at their list of offending birds… it’s deranged.

It was a dry and rustling day

I let my ears do the walking. Rowdy Blue Jays lead me to a Cooper’s Hawk moving from branch to branch within the thick confines of a yew.

The tapping of Downy Woodpeckers and the clucking of Red-bellied Woodpeckers rang through the leaf-stirring wind.

A dry susurration, a crinkly crunch. (The annual up-to-the-calves-in-leaves self-portrait.)


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