Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category


An Edgeworthia something or other, with very small flies. These wee gnats or midges have come out in force on warmish days all month, and even back in February.

Something Berberis — a mahonia. This was very active with various flies in the park last week. There was one bee-mimic, one honeybee, and a mess of flesh flies. I wouldn’t say the flowers stink of rot, though. Not like paper whites, a nauseating stench which make me think of Baudelaire translating Poe under the influence of opium in an Egyptian tomb.

Both of these plants are exotics, as are so many of our early bloomers from forsythia to all the bulbs. Here to note that flies also serve… as pollinators.

USNS Comfort being escorted through Upper New York Bay yesterday morning. With a total patient capacity of 1000 beds, including 80 ICU beds (maybe they’re making more?), it’s helping out the hard-hit city.

A city which has allowed several hospitals to be shut down for residential real estate developers in the decades I’ve lived here.





Three varieties or species of Viola here, in flower-size order, smallest to largest.

Raptor Wednesday

Through the new year, sightings of Merlins, or at least a Merlin, were pretty regular here from the #ViewFromTheMoraine. Then, after a single sighting in January, nothing until last Saturday in Green-Wood.
It could be that I just haven’t spotted any. More likely is that more of them are on the move now and passing through.
Merlins are known for perching a long time in the same place. (Born to physical-distance in a pandemic?) While I was there, an Eastern Phoebe landed at the top of this ginkgo tree. The Merlin eyed it. The Phoebe then moved on it, and so did I, but the falcon was still there when I left.

Ed Yong on what we know about this new coronavirus.

Timber! It’s Timberdoodle Season

Saw six on my last excursion out three days ago. As is typical, they saw me first and bolted. Social distance geniuses!
Here’s another. A crappy photo, but giving some suggestion of the gorgeous russet belly.

The View From Here

I hope everybody staying inside as much as possible has something to look at outside.

If I may say so, the view from here is one of the best damn ones in the city, especially considering its price. I recently wrote about hawk-watching from the living room for the Clapper Rail. But there are also more mundane species to be seen every day, mundane in the non-pejorative sense.

Across the street, two-and-a-half story rowhouses with gentle bow-fronts face us. The mouldings on these are runways for Grey Squirrels. The roofs themselves are their highways. They may be nesting underneath the roof deck over there, or inside the curiously plastic filled air-conditioner cage a few houses over. The mammals invariably jump onto a garden tree, leap from that to a street tree, and hit the sidewalk running.

The air-conditioner cage — a metal frame to contain the A/C unit, currently absent — also seems to have House Sparrow nests on both sides. When a squirrel arrives, the sparrows fly off, but they soon return. An abandoned window box also seems to sport a House Sparrow nest underneath or behind it. Squirrels will also perch on that, eating. A few houses over, there’s a window air conditioner that provides some cover for Mourning Doves below, but I see no evidence yet of a nest. Not that Mourning Doves leave much evidence; their stick nests are absolutely minimal.

Our fire-escape, meanwhile, hosts cooing Mourning Doves mostly, but also the occasional Starling, feral pigeon, and House Sparrow will show up. Once we had an escaped POW parakeet. Interestingly, the Kestrels have rarely used this perch, even though the view is excellent. Once, though, the male left some prey there, returning later to take it.


Tucked in.
Deep embedding. That’s a squirrel snout visible in this floor-through.
Two hours later, this Great Blue Heron was still there.


Non-biting midge bigger than your average fly,
characteristically holding his forelimbs out in front. The feathery antennae are reminiscent of some moths. Probably cold, letting me get the phone camera close up.


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