Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category



Bird of Many Feathers

Doing some quick internet searching, I see that songbirds can have from 1500-3000 individual feathers. Swans can have as many as 25,000.

Robber Flies & Dragonflies

A Holcocephala genus gnat ogre. Hey, I don’t make these names up, I just report them. Like the examples below, these are robber flies. Ommatius genus. Robber flies hunt and kill “insects of many orders” according to bugguide.net. In this case, a fly victim.Genus Efferia. Another captive fly.Here, the prey looks like a tiny wasp.

And now for some dragonflies. These are Great Blue Skimmers mating.Female Great Blue Skimmer.One of the meadowhawks.Female Carolina Saddlebags.Spot-winged Glider. It’s rare to find these perched. They seem tireless when flying, patrolling meadows and lawns for prey. This is one of the migratory species: the late summer generation will head south. Like with its Pantala genus-mate, the Wandering Glider, their hindwings are wider than other species of dragonfly, better adapted for frequent flying.
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The Republican assault on America comes in many blows. Trump’s environment-rapists are attempting to undercut public control of public lands. The Forest Service wants to revise its rules to bypass environmental impact studies for the benefit of loggers and miners. They are, of course, bullshitting about the intent of their sneak attack. Comments on this proposed rule change are due by Monday.

I excerpted this from a recent comment because I thought it was so spot on: “I am opposed to the U.S. Forest Services proposal to cut out public participation from the vast majority of its decisions. I want to have the ability to comment on decisions affecting places I care about in the future. The current proposal would fundamentally change the relationship between the U.S. Forest Service and the public, cutting our voices entirely out of how to manage these special places.”

Wasps II

These are roughly in size order:Great Black Wasp. These pictures do not convey the sheer giganticness of this species. They are big and fast, really moving between flowers. They hunt katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers for their young.The Great Golden Digger Wasp. Crickets, katydids, grasshoppers, beware.European Paper Wasp. Know them by their red/orange antenna. I’ve seen them take down Monarch caterpillars and feast on the adult butterflies, too. Black and Yellow Mud-dauber. Also known as Yellow-legged Mud-dauber. Spider-hunter.Two different individuals in separate places. Blue Mud-dauber or Steel-blue Cricket Hunter? There sure are a lot of these things… still working on figuring out this one.

Wasp Ascendency

Cicada-killer, whose name speaks for itself. A husky wasp that provisions its young with paralyzed cicadas, so really it’s the larva who kill the cicadas…Unknown. Possibly one of the Grass-carrying wasps of the genus Isodontia.Another Isodontia, possibly. Members of this genus use grass in the construction of their nests and prey on crickets and other Orthoptera.Humped Beewolf (Philanthus gibbosus), a bee predator.Unknown.Four-banded Stink Bug Hunter Wasp (Bicyrtes quadrifasciatus). I didn’t know there were stink bug hunter wasps.One of the Ichneumonn wasps. Says bugguide.net: “Ichneumonids are notoriously hard to identify: aside from the sheer number of species, there are numerous cases of distant relatives that appear almost identical. Any identification based solely on comparing images should be treated as suspect unless an expert has said there are no lookalikes for the species or group in question.” Note those leaf galls. Is this wasp an inquiline, a species that takes over other species’ galls for itself? By the way, the parasites themselves may be parasitized by other species.Ah, the old Four-toothed Mason Wasp (Monobia quadridens), with Carpenter Bee for scale. This big one hunts caterpillars for its young.

All the wasps on the blog. But wait! Tomorrow there will be a whole series of other wasps lately seen…

Raptor Wednesday

This is a young male American Kestrel. He brought some bird prey to this balustrade recently, and left it on the right hand corner. You can just see the lump. It was there for more than an hour as he flew here and here, perching here and there as well. Now, this building has been used as larder for two breeding seasons, but the falcons usually leave prey on the roof, under, I presume, the solar panels. The parapet prevents me from seeing the exact locations, but I suspect they know not to leave meat exposed. Too many sharp-eyed corvids about for that. Junior here probably has to learn the hard way.Another brightly spotty male. He zoomed past the Gothick entrance to Green-Wood, causing the parakeets to holler in fury. Perched atop a tree, he was the target of a Northern Mockingbird, who made several passes at him. Then he circled in ever widening circles overhead, moving off towards the northeast and actually chasing after a Chimney Swift, twice. Now, Falco cousins, the Hobbys, are supposed to be able to catch Common Swifts (Apus apus), which are bigger than our Chimney Swifts (Chaetura pelagica), but I think it would pretty unusual for an American Ks to catch a healthy CS. Another reason I think this was a young kestrel. Trying things out.

The last five mornings I’ve awoken to a Kestrel calling. The earliest was 5:30 a.m. Haven’t seen one, but the call is unmistakable.
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“The very serious function of racism … is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says that you have no art so you dredge that up. Somebody says that you have no kingdoms and so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary.”

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence.”

~ Toni Morrison, RIP.

Flower Fiends

Bumble/Tiger Swallowtail.A true bug, meaning an insect that sucks its food, and an unknown bee.
Another bee I can’t identify.Don’t forget the butterflies, fools for flowers, too. One of the sulphurs, I’ve never been able to distinguish them.Whoa, Nelly! Look at the patterning on this Oblique Streaktail (Allograpta obliqua)! Going to work on getting a better picture of one of these.Another flower fly, which reminds me that there’s a new field guide to flower flies of the NE.The invasive Sculptured Resin Bee, trouble for carpenter bees, whose nest sites they grab. Also a pollinator for kudzu.An unknown bee, or is it a wasp? Speaking of wasps, I’ll have more this week…

Genus Ardea

Two juvenile Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) and a Great Egret (Ardea alba) were hanging out at the same “water” in Green-Wood recently. Ardea is Latin for heron, herodias is Greek for heron. Alba is white. The egret was scarfing down small fry with abandon. Never saw either of the herons make a strike. (“Heron” and “egret” are basically interchangeable, but we’ll go with the common name distinction.)And the herons were much jumpier, stirred up by people and vehicles. Last year a juvenile here seemed quite unconcerned by people. Different experiences, different personalities.


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