Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category

The One, The Many

In fact, you almost always see Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura) in pairs, year-around.A herd of Rock Doves (Columba livia), not quite as denim-y as they looked that day.


The sound of a single leaf
scrape-skittering across the road,

Or the sound of hundreds,
dry susurrations and crinkly waves,
crumpling beneath the feet,
parting before the bow of the shins:

I’ll take both those paths.


Quercus macrocarpa, the bur oak, is supposed to have the largest fruit (macro carpa) of all North American oaks. This acorn is in a 1.5″ long mossy cup. One of the species’ distinctive, pinched-waisted leaves on the plate, too.

The plate was purchased by my parents in my natal Japan. How about these apples, from friends in the Catskills?We ate them cooked up with onions and butter.

Kestrel Wednesday

I walked by the Kestrel perch the next day, on the off-chance he would be there. Nope. But I was on a round-trip errand, so when I returned, there he was. Not the same branch, but the same linden.
This time I was on the avenue, meaning rather closer to his height on the tree that stemmed up from the slope below. There is quite the valley, I mean for Brooklyn, between 35th and 36th Streets, the dip in the even larger one between the 20s and 40s on 5th Avenue. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a stream somewhere underground there, running towards the bay.
I observed from the other side of the fence for some 20 minutes. Then he took off with a spring upwards. Flew northwards, cut sharply eastward into the cemetery until I could no longer see him.

That touch of red streaking on the top of the head….

Yesterday, I heard a Kestrel while I was working. Looking outside, I saw a male, perhaps this same one (it’s about seven blocks to the tree), perched on an old TV antenna. HE made two dives down onto a roof. I think he may have captured something, because coming back up to the antenna, he bent his bill down to his toes a couple times, as if eating. But what was for lunch??? Then he flew off to yet another derelict TV antenna across the street, then up to some other type of antenna to perch for several minutes. I doubt anybody has a working TV antenna anymore (not to be confused with the dish antennas that also sprout from many a roof here). So they just jut there, accidental perches for colorful little falcons.


Paper can be strong stuff, but it’s all relative. The exterior coating of wood-pulp paper made by Dolichovespula maculata hornets, who scrape dead trees (or fence posts!) with their mighty jaws, has been stripped off by the weather. Horizontal layers of comb are revealed within. And still-capped larvae probably all killed by the freeze.

The Bald-faced Hornet does not over-winter in the nest and won’t re-use it again next year. Instead, the sole survivor of the colony, a fertilized queen, takes her genetic treasures into hiding, under bark, in attics, holes in trees, etc., to await the spring.

With the fall of the leaves, these large nests clumping in trees mark the presence of creatures that were around us all summer long. Yet  I, for one, don’t often see the actual wasps themselves.


The female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) was tick-purring at Valley Water again recently. This time I got some better photos and got to listen to her for some minutes.

(Long-time readers may recognize the hedgehog galls glimpsed on the leaves of this oak, and also that the tree has gotten a bit taller in four years.)She also favored the ornamental cherries and the young Tuliptree stationed around the water like sentinels. I watched her make one dive into the water, an unsuccessful attack. She chortle-burbled up to a tree after that.

Some hand-held motion picture action:

I’m glad I’m not a fish.

Spider Update

On Wednesday, Araneus diadematus ate brunch.

Judging from the size and shape of the mummified-in-silk prey, I’d say it was a fly. The temperature was already near 50 that morning and would rise up to 60 in the afternoon. Diptera weather! There were also two gnats stuck to the web, but these were so small they hardly seemed worth the effort to eat after all the juices sucked out of the big fly.Which was reduced over a few hours to a gnarly ball of gristle.

In three months of sporadic observation, we’ve only seen this spider eat once.


Bookmark and Share

Join 504 other followers

Nature Blog Network