Four Sparrow Marsh this early summer day, at low tide. While most everybody else in town was celebrating Gay Pride and the state’s passage of marriage equality (late Friday night, and about time, too), a few of us were being tormented by “mischievous and annoying insects.” I shouldn’t have loaned my head-covering mesh to friends visiting Alaska this weekend. An absolute gauntlet of the little bloodsuckers had to be run through to get to the marsh this morning. Through sedges, grasses, creepers, chest-high mugworts and higher phragmites, and much else ~ this was, after all, a New York City Wildflower Week [extended] walk, and I’m happy to report that there was a thriving mix of species of plants, shrubs, and trees. (See comments for Elizabeth’s list of things seen. See Marielle’s photos here.)
The marsh itself was mosquito-free. And tranquil-looking… but don’t let looks deceive you. Salt-marshes are one of the most productive of ecosystems, nursing fish and many invertebrates, filtering water and absorbing storm surges, pumping blessed oxygen into the air, providing food for everything from bacteria to mammals.
Green with two species of spartina, ringed by phragmites, studded with the keystone ribbed mussels, soft and hard shell clams, mud snails, fiddler crabs, and plentiful little fish in the rising tide. Is this Brooklyn? Yes, it is. A Forever Wild remnant of the salt-marshes that once ringed Jamaica Bay and much of the city. (JFK, LGA, EWR and TEB were all built on salt marshes). But “Forever Wild,” a Parks Department designation without much legal pull, doesn’t mean all that much unless we fight for it.One of a quartet of eastern willets (Tringa semipalmata), this one loudly picketing our presence, perhaps because we were close to a nest (they are salt-marsh breeders), or maybe just on principal. After all, they don’t see too many humans there. On the adjacent upland area, which some people want to turn into yet another parking lot (may they be staked down for the mosquitos), we saw, in addition to the usual suspects, an unexpected male indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea). That was worth pausing for amidst the daredevil skeeters.
There are seven mosquito bites on my forehead. Which makes me seven-spotted, like this ladybug, Coccinella septempunctata.
All my Four Sparrow Marsh posts can be read here.