Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category

Butterflies

Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona). I just found a second hand copy of Butterflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to Butterflies in the Boston-New York-Washington Region by Jeffery Glassberg and used it to identify this one. The fritillaries can be rather similar to each other.Here, for instance, is a Varigated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia), which on second thought isn’t all that similar at all…

I was pleased to see that Glassberg’s book had many photographs taken in Westchester Co., NY, where both the first and third butterflies pictured today were spotted.This one is a little harder to pin down. In our parts, the Satyrodes genus includes the Eyed Brown and Appalachian Brown. The differences are subtle, but I think this is the Appalachian Brown (S. appalachia). Took this photo with a flash because of the darkness of the woods.

Both of the Meadow and the Brown were firsts for me. It’s always a thrill to discover something you’ve never seen before.

Flyday

Three-spot Horse Fly (Tabanus trimaculatu). I kid you not.It’s the females who bite; I think this one’s a male. He has his father’s eyes, right?

More Purple Martins

Posh is the only word to describe the two Purple Martin housing units at the Great Swamp NWR Visitor Center. There are a dozen nest sites on each post. Not a single House Sparrow or Starling in the mix. And, whoa, were the martins busy. The martins glide more than our other swallows, and they are rather bigger. But it was the noise that was most arresting. (Here are some recordings from Cornell.) Blue Dasher is the prey here.Color is bee/waspy, but I’m not sure what’s for lunch here.There were still young to be fed.One of the red Meadowhawks has been captured by the… female on the right? (Haven’t honed my ability to separate the juveniles, of both sexes, from the adult females.)

Vespa Crabro

The last two summers, I saw solitary examples of a very large, yellow-abdomened wasp in Green-Wood. They moved constantly, never staying still long enough to be photographed. Last summer I identified them as European Hornets, Vespa Crabro; the species has been in North American since at least 1840.This summer, I finally found one hanging around. They will take larger prey, but this one caught and dispatched a Honey Bee (Apis mellifera; another Eurasian species). Worth opening up this image for a larger view if you have the stomach for it.They use their powerful jaws to chew up wood to make paper nests, rather like our Bald-faced Hornets. That means this bee got chomped up pretty quickly in those choppers.  The wasp is hanging by its hind two legs as it maneuvers the bee around with its other four legs. It was quick work.These Vespa live in nests of up to a thousand workers. I’ve only ever seen one at a time, but then, they generally hunt at night (which is unusual for wasps). Although big and scary looking — you wouldn’t want to be the bee here — they are “gentle giants” and are only aggressive in defending their nests.

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Everything but the sheet: Donald J. Trump is an avowed Nazi-symphathizer.

Toad O’clock

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) spotted by an eagle-eyed five-year-old on her family’s Westchester Co. property. This was just after we had all run into two other amphibians by the side of the house:Look how this one blends in.A Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus). Less than a foot away from the even smaller but more colorful:Itty-bitty Northern Leopard Frog Lithobates pipiens.

Red Meadowhawks

Obelisking meadowhawk of the Sympetrum genus. This abdomen-up position minimizes the amount of heat hitting the body.The Sympetrum are difficult to distinguish out-of-hand in the field. This could be the White-faced, Cherry-faced, or Ruby-Faced.This male was the only specimen seen at NYBG. The females are even harder to distinguish, but they all know the drill: the sex parts are all unique for the individual species. This dragon made many sorties and perched in multiple spots within a very short compass, but he always faced the pond.Another, this time on Staten Island. Note that segment 2 of the abdomen doesn’t seem as keel-like as the one in the first three pictures. Also the only example seen at this location. They seem to like the perch and foray style, unlike, say, the gliders, which are constantly on patrol in the air.

Humming

Only one hummingbird species is regularly seen here on the East Coast, out of some nineteen species found in North America north of Mexico. This is the Ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris). Only the male has the nominal incandescent throat, but the lighting often makes it look dark.Hummingbirds also eat mosquitos, spiders, bees, aphids, gnats, fruit flies, even small caterpillars. Here’s a female.This feeder was at the Great Swamp NWR Visitor Center. Remember, if you’re feeding hummingbirds, don’t use red dye. Frankly, I’m skeptical that cane sugar is a perfect substitute for flower nectar (out of a plastic container, no less): better would be to plant the flowers hummingbirds love.
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Yesterday, Nazis and neo-confederates marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the President of the United States refused to condemn them by name. Other Republicans — members of a party whose modern power is built on a foundation of racism — could clearly see how far they’ve descended into the filth; a few of them called out the — swastika-waving, Hitler-quoting, posing with Trump in photos — shits for what they are. But Trump, in his silence, his “many sides” garbage, pissed on the graves and sacrifices of the more than one million American casualties who fought fascism in WWII. What an abomination. What a depraved piece of immorality. What an encapsulation of the man who lets racist scum like Sessions, Bannon, and Miller, not to mention Nazi-wannabe Gorka, pollute the White House and dishonor us all.


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