Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category

Maryland Monument Dasher

wreathTwo hundred and forty years ago today, the British and their Hessian swine-mercenaries walloped the still-loose conglomeration that was the Continental Army in Brooklyn. There’s a memorial in Prospect Park to the Maryland 400, troops who held the Old Stone House (the existing structure in J. J. Byrne Park is a recreation) down in the Gowanus while the rest of Washington’s soldiers made a pell-mell strategic retreat to Brooklyn Heights, and thence across the river. Geo. is supposed to have said “what brave fellows I must this day lose” about the sacrificial Marylanders.

Yet the British unaccountably did not press their advantage in Brooklyn. They occupied New York, but lost their opportunity of crushing the new American army right here. Big mistake. This, by the way, is also why we don’t have a national health system today.

Someone has laid a fresh wreath on the memorial in honor of the 400.

A pair of Blue Dasher dragonflies, concerned with their own history, were using the fence to tee up. This is the female.

Megachile on Asclepias

MegachileLeaf-cutter bee on Butterfly Weed.

You can’t tell this when they’re in the air, or, frankly, very easily when they’re still, but bees have four wings (flies have two). In this photo, however, you can just see the smaller hindwing underneath the forewing on the right side here.

Red-Tailed Hawk Stalking

Buteo jamaicensisA young Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) patrolling the 5th Avenue entrance of Green-Wood. I would hazard to guess that it is wondering where that Eastern Grey Squirrel went.Buteo jamaicensis

Blue Dasher, White Tail

Pachydiplax longipennisYou have to get pretty close to see the white face on one of NYC’s most common dragonflies, the Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis). This is a male; as he gets older, his blue abdomen will get more powdery or chalkier looking. Such pruinescence, as it’s called, is caused by wax exuded from the animals’ cuticle. It’s seen on (mostly) males of many species of odonates, including spectacularly the Common Whitetail:Plathemis lydiaPlathemis lydia.

Snapper

Chelydra serpentinaSnapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina), the smaller of two seen in the water of the native garden at NYBG this weekend.

Note the spotless shell. Compare with another NYBG snap seen two years ago in the Discovery Center pond. Much more growth on the shell of that younger specimen. The huge beastie I’ve seen in Prospect Park’s watercourse a few times over the years has also evinced a spotless shell, which I attribute to chorine in the water (yes, it’s tap water). Here’s a little one in the Prospect Pools. Here’s a tiny one I found crossing the road a few years ago in Massachusetts.
Chelydra serpentinaShell length here 6-7″ long. Love the dinosaur thorns on the tail.

Traces of the Ice Age

striationsDon’t you just love these? These grooves are found along the path in the forest of the NYBG, and time and generations of feet have worn them down slightly. They’re glacial striations, gouged out by the rubble on the bottom the ice as it scraped across the hard surface rock.

These can be found in Central Park, too. But not here in the home borough, which is all glacial deposit–made up, come to think of it, with some of that Bronx rock.

Clearwings

Hemaris diffinisAnother critter hard to pin down. This is a Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis), named after one of its host plants and, more obviously, those see-through parts of the wings. This was moving quickly between honeysuckle blossoms, another of its caterpillar hosts, and proving hard to capture in the lens. Note that it mimics a large bee or wasp, sort of flying like one, too. Hemaris diffinisI thought at first this was a Hummingbird Clearwing (H. thysbe); it says here the species can be difficult to distinguish, but the legs on this specimen are definitely black, and that means diffinis.

Compare to the similar-sized Nessus Sphinx.


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