Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category

The Tigers of Wrath?

True, they look more like lionesses. I stumbled on this in Green-Wood recently. It’s on the backside of the tombstone for Leon Golub and Nancy Spero, twentieth century artists. I just happened to be passing.

Green-Wood has more real animals than artistic representations of them. This is one of the most notable:This bear marks the gravesite of William H. Beard, a 19th century artist famed for, well, his dancing bears and the “bull and bears” for the sharks of Wall Street. This metal beast was a tribute by Dan Ostermiller and dates to 2002. Can’t say I like it.Meanwhile, in the shadows and rather less bear-bastic:By a strange coincidence, the ground in front of these twins was littered with white feathers. Somebody had been feasting on a “white dove,” actually a homing pigeon, a domesticated form of the Rock Pigeon (Columba livia). Captive bred for such horror shows as weddings, these birds are sitting ducks for raptors.

Ravens & Red-Tails

Three times in the last month I’ve seen Common Ravens and Red-tailed Hawks chasing each other over Green-Wood. From an excellent source, I heard of another aerial ruckus visible overhead while I was elsewhere. The last time was last Sunday. We saw a pair of ravens this time. Then a few minutes later in the distance, one of the big corvids and a big buteo started going after each other. Sometimes the raven chases the hawk. Sometime the hawk chases the raven. This time it was pretty much the raven chasing the hawk out of the cemetery.

Raptor Wednesday

This Red-tailed Hawk in Green-Wood picked up a songbird and took into a pine to pluck. The prey was tiny, possibly a kinglet, hardly seemed worth the effort, and yet…In the top picture, you can see some feathers blowing off to the right. A clump came down to me.Same area, earlier. There were two, sometimes three RTs overhead at one point.

These big Buteos are not renown as bird-hunters, but they can mix songbirds as well as pigeons in with their more typical mammalian prey. Flexibility in diet must be one key to their adaptability to human environments.

Winter Wrens

When last we saw a Winter Wren in these pages, it was dead and being devoured by a Tufted Titmouse. But I’m sure you didn’t think I’d leave it at that. Here are two Troglodytes hiemalis foraging in proximity. These things are tiny: 0.3 – 0.4 oz (8-12 grams).Insect-eaters, mostly, but they’ll also scarf up juniper and other berries in season.Another day, very near the above location in Green-Wood.Another day, some distance away. There were two here as well. The upturned tail is characteristic.Once lumped with the Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), North American populations were split away into two species. The Pacific Wren is T. pacifius. On the 2010 split, from the 51st Supplement to the AOU Checklist of North American birds: “Formerly included in T. troglodytes (Linnaeus 1758)[Eurasian Wren], but here considered specifically distinct on the basis of differences in vocalizations (Kroodsma 1980, Hejl et al. 2002) and mitochondrial DNA (Drovetski et al. 2004). Formerly considered conspecific with T. hiemalis but separated on the basis of the absence of free interbreeding and maintenance of genetic integrity in their contact zone (Toews and Irwin 2008).”

In 2016, the American Ornithologists’ Union changed its own name on merging with the Cooper Ornithological Society and is now the American Ornithological Society (AOS).

Mushroom Monday

These long-format (16:9 aspect ratio) images look better on the big screen, so click on them once to expand.
Usually I shoot 3:2,the old 35mm film standard; sometimes I crop these down for detail. I’m sure you’ll see some 1:1 images around here soon (sounds just right for a woodchuck portrait).Meanwhile, more stinkhorns! This time Phallus impudicus.They — ok, it was her niece — say Darwin’s daughter Etty would edit these out of the garden, for some reason…

Something completely different, although perhaps not completely different:

“As with the societies we live in, the planet we have inherited from our ancestors, and the one we are making now, is a social construct, shaped physically and culturally by the perceptions, values, aspirations, tools, and institutions of societies past and present. These social structures and processes have changed across generations as the cultural practices and institutions that produced them have evolved. In the Anthropocene, Earth’s ecology changes with us. Environmental change is social change, and social change is cultural change.” Erle C. Ellis on a democratic vision of the biosphere.

Colors of the Season

Blackgum.Sweetgum on a cloudy day. (At least three different trees.)Sweetgum, with late afternoon sun.A subtle meadow for the finish.

Last Insects?

It’s definitely autumn. Yet there are lingerers in the freakish-now-normal mildness. On Wednesday, for instance, I was quite surprised to see a Monarch Butterfly vibrating by on my lunchtime walk in Green-Wood. At first I thought it was a leaf, as one would this time of year. Further exploration also turned up a skipper in a still-blooming patch of buddleia. There were also a half dozen bumblebees, a few honeybees, and a fly or two. In addition, there were a couple of Green Darner Dragonflies. Oh, and nearby, a bat in the air! There were, however, many fewer birds than there were on Sunday, the last time I was there. I photographed this madcap Japanese maple on Sunday. While doing so, I saw some movement under its branches. Another late butterfly!It came out for the sun. A Red Admiral. An adult like this, presuming it made it past the gauntlet of Phoebes, will hibernate through the winter. The northern reaches of this species’ territory are too cold, however (still?), so they head south. Could this one be going further south or will it try to over winter here?


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