Recent Birds

All the evidence pointed to nesting American Oystercatchers in here. Keep your dogs on leash!Brand new Starlings have been everywhere.A fledged Chipping Sparrow. Hardly looks it, but could fly.Quiet while the parent was foraging nearby, but loud when the parent was near.Here’s another, some days later.And another…Common Grackle fledgling. Yellow Warbler: one of the few warbler species to nest within the city. Judging by their songs, they’re nesting all over Jamaica Bay, but usually you only get a glimpse of them. Heard one in Green-Wood, too, recently.


It’s hard to see through the intervening plants, but this terrapin is just starting to dig a hole for her eggs. We were on the path. This is an excellent example of why people need to stay on the path out at Jamaica Bay, as well as Salt Marsh Nature Center where Killdeer and Oystercatchers nest in the grasses. These are places where humans don’t need to be the priority.It took just under half an hour for the whole excavation, laying, burial. Her back feet are surprisingly long. She extends them way back to paddle back the sandy soil she first dug up. All done, she headed back to the bay. She never sees her own eggs.

Unfortunately, the road and bridge connecting these formerly isolated pieces of land in the bay mean the Wildlife Refuge is crawling with raccoons. The raccoons eat the vast majority of Diamondback Terrapin eggs laid here.

More about these Diamondback Terrapins.

Three Common Brooklyn Damselflies

In my experience, these are the three most common Brooklyn damselflies. Eastern Forktail male. Beware that Rambur’s Forktail and Furtive Forktail males also have variations on this green thorax/blue end segments coloring. Fragile Forktail male. The broken green lines on the thorax, upside down exclamation points in this case, are unique. Not sure where this “Fragile” name comes from, since I see this species all over the place. Seems like a tough little critter to me.This is a female Forktail — you can just see the exclamation points. Note that the scale is different for all these pictures. The Forktails (Ischnura genus) are small, running from just under an inch to nearly an inch and a half long depending on the species.Here’s a Fragile ovipositing, dipping her abdomen under water to lay her eggs. Familiar Bluet male. Several of the mostly-blue bluets of the Enallagama genus can only really be told apart by their cerci. These are the structures at the end of the abdomen. They use these to grasp females during sex. Only male and females of the same species “fit” together. Attached to him just behind her head, she can bend forward to attach herself to his second abdominal section, the location of his genitalia.Behold, the “wheel” of mating. There are two damselfly nymph husks on this vertical twig. After hatching, damselfly larva become fierce little aquatic predators. They molt as they grow underwater. Given the date these were spotted, early June, these must have overwintered in Sylvan Water before emerging on a warm day to break out as the adult, flying form. See the green eyes of an emerging adult? It will have to harden off and develop some color over the next few hours.Looks like a brand new Fragile Forktail, soon to start clearing the air of tiny insects. (Click all images to fill uyp your screen.)

Sunset Park Chimneys

Chimney Swifts may be heard more than seen. Especially from the sidewalk, with its narrow view of the sky. But that chittering call of their’s is here, there, everywhere.They’re quite a challenge to photograph. Even more difficult is catching one entering or departing the chimney they are roosting/nesting in. Here’s the second Swift-active chimney within two avenue blocks of the homestead.

From last summer. I haven’t yet confirmed that this one is being used this year. A trio around it isn’t proof enough for me; need to see one enter or emerge.

On Swift culture (no Jonathan here).

More Insects

The Common Sootywing. The Kaufman guide says “flight is slow and close to the ground” but I beg to differ with the first characterization. This was about the tenth I’ve seen in various places before I could get a photo.Black Swallowtail, another mover, if not shaker.This is a Great Blue Skimmer, another case where the description of the adult male gives us the common name. This is the female. This photo makes her look smaller than in real life. The larval Asian Ladybug (they seem to have dropped the “multicolored” in the common name; what’s distinguishing about them is that they are variably spotted in the adult form).

No photo, but on 6/2 I spotted a Two-spotted Ladybug in the same Brooklyn Bridge Park patch I first found them in in 2012. I also wrote about them for Humans & Nature.

Raptor Wednesday

The male of the local pair. One hell of an efficient bird-killer. These pictures were taken through the window at some distance, but you get the idea. This is the female kestrel going after a Red-tailed Hawk who made the mistake of cruising through the neighborhood. She chased the big buteo high above the park. Loudly!

On Monday, it rained all afternoon. Both of these falcons were out and about, getting absolutely soaked, but they do have young to feed and neither rain nor whatever else can get in the way of that. So, even after a good soaking Monday, they both bathed yesterday. Apres le bain, grooming. This lintel is out of the wind. When you watch these birds long enough, you see how they get tossed all over by the wind when they perch out in the open. Now add a House Sparrow in the talons to the mix. It becomes quite a dance of balance to hold the prey, maintain a perch on a narrow pipe edge, and pluck.


At least five male Red-wing Blackbirds were all over this Common Grackle at Jamaica Bay. In the last picture, one is quite literally riding the CG out of the town. Nobody says “get off my lawn” quite like a Red-winged Blackbird. Backyard and Beyond has a friend who was chased out of a swamp once by one of these birds, which didn’t seem to care about any of the other humans there at the time.Here’s another showcasing his control of his red shoulder patches. He can make these almost disappear or he can puff them out like stiff epaulets. Is this the boss of the ‘hood? Typically, several females with have nests with one dominant male in a patch. However, there may be more than one father of a female’s clutch of eggs, since less dominant males spend more time on subtlety than show…


Bookmark and Share

Join 582 other followers


Nature Blog Network