Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category


Swamp white oak leaves clinging on, regardless.

Out With A Bang

Our smallest woodpecker, the Downy, (Picoides pubescens) is also the boldest in terms of its tolerance of people.
Note how the inner eyelid closes on contact.
The red patch marks this as a male. This is a Kentucky Coffee Tree.
I’m usually long abed by midnight, so here’s a virtual “happy new year!” Anything better than this head-banging last one…


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) showing the yellow belly for a change. I’m assuming this is a female working towards adult plumage.

Sapsucking. The bird drills out holes to pool sap, which she eats, along with any insects attracted to the sap. (We’ve had some Diptera still flying in this mild Decemeber.) Yews (Taxus) are particularly well-tapped in Green-Wood.
But these holes were made in an exotic fir.
Interestingly, this Caucasian fir (Abies nordmanniana) was right next to another that was not riddled with holes like this.

Woodpecker Wednesday

A little woodpecker variety for the last Wednesday of the year. Above, a male Downy (Picoides pubescens), who pounded out a grub from a larch branch. These little woodpeckers will range through the borough.
This, however, is a Hairy Woodpecker (Dryobates villosus), which is uncommon in Brooklyn. This, from the middle of the month, is the only one I’ve seen this half of the year. Does look superficially similar to the smaller Downy. Hairy has a larger bill (note size of the bill in comparison to head), and lacks black spots on its outer tail-feathers.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) are fairly ubiquitous here.
We have one that visits a London plane across the street most days, always announcing itself with great rousing “chelps!” This is a rare look at the “red belly.”
Northern Flickers are everywhere during migration, but much less so at other times. I saw this Colaptes auratus the day before Xmas Eve.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) fragments.
More tomorrow.
This article, available for free until tomorrow (presumably end of the day tomorrow), is worth a look: The history of the plague (ye olde Black Death) is being re-written because of genetics.


A recent snowfall. All traces of it are now gone after a 60 degree Xmas Eve. But while it lasted, it was tracked up with all sorts of animal prints. In fact, I was amazed at the unseen but traceable activity in Green-Wood.
A lot of Eastern Grey Squirrel and Common Raccoon.
Big-foot Canada Geese here.
The distinctive hand-prints of a Virginia Opossum.
Found very near from where I came across a big dead specimen last January.

News came yesterday that Barry Lopez passed away. If you don’t know his work seek it out. You must read Arctic Dreams if nothing else. It will all be strange history to future generations.

Christmas with the Raptors I

The slope of the public lot in Green-Wood is sprinkled with trees. Cornered by two roads beyond the fence, it’s a cut-de-sac that has been favored for years by American Kestrels as a hunting ground.


A conifer is a good place to find Red-breasted Nuthatches now.
This fall’s big migratory wave of Red-breasted has long since passed through, and now White-breasted are more noticeable, but if you look and listen hard enough at the evergreen clumps, you may be rewarded with these little pointy birds.
This was a merged together thicket of eastern red cedar and
Chinese arborvitae. The bird was taking the arborvitae seeds into the dark shelter of the eastern red cedar.

Under Trees

A pellet expelled by…?
Something that eats insects.
You can just see the chevron-like markings of a Differential Grasshopper’s hind leg here. These are our biggest grasshoppers. American Kestrels eat them.
Another pellet, larger and without large chitin or bone parts. Found under another pine.
This time of year, conifers provide cover for raptors. These are wing feathers of a male Wood Duck who seems to have had a fowl fate.
This was a woodpecker.
A Blue Jay.
I will spare you the mammal scat. This is a clump of pine resin.
And this is a pepper, maybe a Scotch Bonnet? Under an out-of-the-way pine in Green-Wood like everything else pictured here. Question mark!

Raptor Wednesday

In two of these pictures, you have to search for the Red-tailed Hawk. The bird made two attempts to grab this knot-holed Gray Squirrel and did not succeed.
Raptor Wednesday, or, the Mammal’s Salvation.


I remember when I went to Montreal some years ago in the fall and saw lots of maples, silver especially, and lots and lots of dark splotches on the leaves.
These, however, are examples from right here in Brooklyn. This is Black Tar Spot (Rhytisma acerinum), an ascomycete fungi. It’s cosmetic, not existential.


Bookmark and Share

Join 660 other followers

Nature Blog Network