Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category


Fish Crows, by the sound of them, harrying the male American Kestrel.
They did not seem to be making much of an impression.

In other media, I didn’t do one of my listening tours this year because of you know what, but I did talk to WNYC’s Amy Pearl about listening to nature.

Plants & Things

American Sweetgum seed pods getting larger.
European Beech nuts.
While we’re on the beech, a mess of woolly aphids. Note, by the way, the downy hairiness on these leaves!
Black cherry in bloom.
Being farmed by a Nomada bee (I think).
Peach leaf curl, caused by a fungus.
Aromatic sumac.
Feeding a Silver-spotted Skipper.
And a Fraternal Potter Wasp. This past winter, I found two of the mud pot nests these wasps make in this patch.

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A Bee-y Slope

Now, I know some people will freak out over a lot of bees flying around at ankle-height in the spring sun, but if you make sure you don’t step on any of these mounds, you’ll be fine.
Not because they’re going to attack you, but because it’s quite rude to stomp on somebody’s nest. (More on ground-nesting bees.)
This male House Sparrow kept swooping in to grab bees. Possible feeding these Rufus-backed Cellophane bees to his young?
In the same patch, I found these Nomada genus cuckoo bees. Suspect they were looking to lay their eggs inside their cellophane bee host’s nests. First time I’ve ever seen these. Turns out the taxonomy of this genus is confusing. Genus level is the best even the bee mavens of iNaturalist can get to with a picture. They’re smaller than their honeybee-sized hosts.
There were also some flies hanging out here. This one is perched above a nest. Pretty suspicious; doing some further research to find out what they’re up to.
Not a typical bee fly, though.

Raptor Wednesday

In a London plane tree across the street, the American Kestrel male stashes prey. The nesting kestrels used this same spot two years ago, too.
These last two pictures are from the same day, but different caches. Both, obviously, bird. Note that the kestrels will eat their prey’s feet, swallowing with the toes pointed outwards, for obvious reasons…

Here They Come/Here They Come/Here They Come

Yesterday morning the “bronk!” of a raven lifted my eyes to the window. They were passing right over the building. Four of them! Another followed from another angle. Looks like the class of 2020 is on the wing.
Two of them landed on St. Michael’s for a brief perch above their domaine.

A hour or so later I heard through the grapevine that the five of them were spotted in Green-Wood. Last year around this time I ran into a family of six in Green-Wood. In 2016, I had my first view of that year’s family in early June.

(Post title of Laurie Anderson: “Strange angels/singing just for me”)


Saw my first “ode” of the year on May 7th. Both damselflies, of which this is one, and dragonflies are members of the Odonata order. This one looks recently emergent. It was flying weakly, characteristic of a newly emerged adult, getting used to operating those four wings.
This one is easier to identify: a Fragile Forktail spotted on Monday. Second damsel I have seen this year. Never mind the name: I see this species all over the place, in many different habitats. They’re small but seem to be as tough as the proverbial nails.

It’s been a cool May so far. The waters need to warm up to inspire more Odonata nymphs to emerge and shed their aquatic life for the skies.


Sometimes they land right in front of you. Magnolia Warbler.
Other times, most times, not so much. Bay-breasted Warbler.
Rather more typical view… Wilson’s Warbler, named after pioneering ornithologist Alexander Wilson.
And sometimes, termites reproductives, the winged ones, emerge, and the songbirds fly right overhead hawking them out of the air. (As I was trying to count Cape May Warblers, a Rudy-throated Hummingbird got close enough to me for me to hear its wings.)
American Redstart.
Two different Blackpoll Warblers. “Poll” old word for head. One of the farthest flying migratory warbler species.

All spotted yesterday amid the rain/reign of Swainson’s Thrushes in Green-Wood.


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