Tentative IDs

Wildness forensics continues: we found this skull in a kettle pond on the top of Highland Park. I think it’s raccoon: note those molars and check out this PDF to see what you think. On Cypress Ave, we found another mammal, this time definitely a raccoon, that was road kill.

In nearby Machpelah Cemetery, where we paid a visit to the great Harry Houdini (he didn’t answer our knock, however), we found:Lesser celandine, Ranunculus ficaria, or pilewort (yeah, good for piles according to folk medicine). (Noticed that this is all over Prospect Park, too.)A violet, Viola spp. Perhaps a dog violet?A close up showing the flower’s lure to pollinators. Step into my parlor, my pretties. Remind me to take some photos of the leaves too, since that can help with identification.

Un-pictured, because they were too fast for me: Italian wall lizards! We saw three, and were willing to take bets there were lots more. I’ve been looking forward to running into them. While there are no native lizards in New York, this species is found in the city because they’ve spread out from an introduction on Long Island in the late 1960s. I’ve heard they are all over the Rock Garden at NYBG, and a while back I saw a picture of a Manhattan kestrel bringing one home to provision its young. Personally, however, I’d never seen one in the scales before. A quiet cemetery with lots of stone surfaces, and plenty of hidey-holes from falling-to-pieces masonry, not to mention the nice warm sun, seems to present the perfect habitat. But watch out for those falcons! Earlier, we’d seen either a merlin or kestrel flying parallel to the moraine with something long and skinny dangling from its claws….

Along with the woodchuck in Green-Wood, this is turning out to be a spring of lovely discoveries in cemeteries.

5 Responses to “Tentative IDs”


  1. 1 Xris (Flatbush Gardener) April 23, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I’ve never seen a lizard at the BBG Rock Garden.

    The Ranunculus, however, is a pestilence there. Highly invasive.

    • 2 mthew April 23, 2011 at 11:33 am

      NYBG twitted this week that the Rock Garden was full of sunning lizards. Sun is the key, probably also lack of crowds.

  2. 3 Xris (Flatbush Gardener) April 23, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I ❤ lizards. That's a reason to go. 😉

  3. 4 emc April 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    A few years back we had a mating pair of kestrels regularly perching on an antenna in view of our kitchen window, often with lizards clutched in their talons, which they’d eviscerate right there on the antenna..it was amazing…I didn’t know that we had lizards around here (I’m in Sunnyside, right near cemeteries), and to this day I still haven’t seen any roaming free of a bird’s beak…thanks for the vicarious thrill of sighting one!

    • 5 mthew April 25, 2011 at 11:57 pm

      You’re welcome. I bet they are all over the cemetery belt. I love how the kestrels nest in 19th century cornices and perch on 20th century antennae, which our roofs are still full of (waiting for hurricanes I guess).


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