Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category

Raptor Wednesday

Osprey over the water… the Valley Water in Green-Wood.
These birds will be abandoning us soon, some heading as far as South America.

On Monday, I had simultaneous Peregrines on St. Michael’s and, for the first time since the spring, on the Industry City smokestack. Consistently over the last five years, they abandon the high view of of the smokestack post during the breeding season, but come back in the fall and then are seen with great frequency during the fall-winter-spring.

That two-year-old Bald Eagle from New Haven was seen well again in Green-Wood this past Saturday by others. The bird’s black band reads R over 7 to a good telephoto lens. I looked on Sunday but didn’t see the bird.

Here’s my post about R7 from April.

Witch Hazel Trifecta

A busy picture of American witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) and associated gall-makers.
Witch Hazel Cone Gall, created by a aphid (Hormaphis hamamelidis).
Spiny Witch Hazel Gall, created by another aphid (Hamamelistes spinosus).
Interesting that the spiny galls run larger than the plant’s actual fruit capsules.
Ant near the fruit, and that could be a winged-form aphid on the gall.
Another ant on the left and the rare-for-these-parts Widow Yellowjacket (Vespula vidua).
But wait, there’s more! This splotch seems to be is the work of the Witchhazel Leafminer moth caterpillar Cameraria hamameliella, which eats, or mines, between layers of the leaf.

Mushroom Monday

My boot, at bottom of image, is almost exactly one foot long.
An enormous example of Berkeley’s Polypore (Bondarzewia berkeleyi).
Another large polypore, Black-staining (Meripilus sumstinei).
Details of the Black-staining.


dewy grass
wet-bellied woodchuck
good morning

I come across woodchuck/groundhog holes in Green-Wood with some frequency. (Good to keep at least one eye on the ground there, lest you miss a grass-clutching moth or a one-way trip into the underworld…) But I hadn’t seen an actual Marmota monax for some time until last weekend.
A typical sighting…. They are out and about now, foraging as the acorns, hickories, walnuts, and crab apples fall.
“Whistlepig” is a name you come across in the literature. Has anybody out there in readership land ever heard one whistle?
Last Monday, I had a close encounter. Turned out the entrance to the den was right here.
Your nose would be a bit dirt-smutched if you lived underground, too.
Anthropomorphizing here, but this strikes me as a skeptical look, and, well, wouldn’t that be justified?

Some New (To Me) Species

Someone has been chewing on this elm sapling… Elm Leaf Beetle (Xanthogaleruca luteola).
White-crossed Seed Bug (Neacoryphus bicrucis).
Oecanthus genus common tree cricket; species can only be told apart by examining their antennae bases.
Trepobates subnitidus water striders
Clustered Midrib Gall Wasp (Andricus dimorphus) on white oak.
Black-bordered Lemon Moth (Marimatha nigrofimbria). Had seen before, but only at night, so the lemon-color was quite washed out.
I didn’t get great shots of this Euodynerus genus potter/mason wasp, but an iNaturalist curator seems to have seen enough to ID it as E. crypticus. And since he is one of the authors of the excerpt below, from the “Identification Atlas of the Vespidae (Hymenoptera, Aculeata) of the northeastern Nearctic region,” you’ll get no gainsaying from me:

“Euodynerus crypticus can easily be recognised by colour characters alone. It is the only Euodynerus in the northeast lacking black markings on the scape and pedicel (in other species upper surface with a black streak, rarely very reduced in E. annulatus and E. castigatus), largely ferruginous pronotum, with ferruginous area extending to pronotal hind corner (in other species pronotum black posteriorly except, very rarely, in E. annulatus), largely ferruginous scutellum, ferruginous spot rarely interrupted medially (in other species scutellum black, or black with yellow spots, or black, yellow and ferruginous; very rarely with two ferruginous spots in E. auranus and E. castigatus) and lacking distinct apical fascia on female tergum 2, i.e., apical fascia ill-defined, brown or amber, sometimes yellowish brown (in other species yellow apical fascia always well developed).”

SEVEN months reporter-asshole Bob Woodward has been sitting on tapes in which Trump says he down-played the pandemic, thus committing tens of thousand of Americans to death and setting up a partisan fight over basic public health. The corrupt authoritarian is also a génocidaire.

And you know this won’t matter a bit to Trump’s 60 million plus voters. They’d sell their own children to this orange-pancaked Moloch. Indeed, most of them already have.

Raptor Wednesday

Spotted belly and thick black band on the outer edge of the tail.
Blue wings, strong black band again. Male American Kestrels.
Streaky belly, only a thin black band on the edge of the tail: female American Kestrels. The topside of her wings are also reddish, but we can’t see this from below.

Even More Galls!

Andricus incertus on swamp white oak (Q. bicolor) acorn. (All the below are on various swamp white oaks as well.)
A cluster of Oak Rough Bulletgall Wasp galls (Disholcaspis quercusmamma). Note the ants and bee.
Bald-faced Hornet and Asian Lady Beetle, too. In fact, I found several with lady beetles on them. Are the galls extruding something sweet to eat?
This one is out of the ordinary, if any of these extraordinary gall structures can be called ordinary. Andricus quercusstrobilanus. (You’ll be noticing a number of these things don’t have common names.)
Oak Rosette Gall Wasp (Andricus quercusfrondosus).
And fresh versions of the same.

Mammal Monday

Dirty squirrel digging up an old nutty something or other.

More Galls

This is Andricus capillatus, a Cynipidae gall wasp like all these specimens today, on a white oak.
Round Bullet Gall (Disholcaspis quercusglobulus), on the same white oak. This magnificent specimen of a tree is on a slope, with one branch sweeping down below eye-level, which is essential when searching for these things.
Here’s another Round Bullet Gall, from a previous year (and again, the same white oak). These are quite woody and persistent. Notice the exit hole. The wasp cut its way out.
Inside is the cocoon.
The empty cocoon. The wasp had to get out of here before cutting through the gall structure.
Millimeter scale.
Acraspis pezomachoides, same tree. Pea-sized.

Remember, the tree itself forms these galls in response to the irritation of the wasp. What fascinates me is how each species of wasp forces a characteristically differently-shaped gall.


The shed exoskeleton of a nymph dragonfly. I suspect this is Common Green Darner.
Nearly 50% smaller, and more commonly found by your correspondent, this could be Amberwing or Blue Dasher, our two most common dragonflies.

Both damselflies and dragonflies begin their lives in the water before emerging into the air and breaking out of these exoskeletons into the adult winged form. Some species can emerge in the same year they’re born; others overwinter and emerge the next year; still others take several years to go through their nymphal stage.

The fascist rumor machine is now harping on a magic number: only 6% of COVID-19 deaths are really due to the virus, the rest from other causes. Straight from Q to Trump, whose verbal derangements are duly reported by the media even as he spins crackpot theories and plucks lies out of his ass with wild abandon.

As of August 31, the official death count in the U.S. is 183,733. This is actually an undercount. Here’s an excellent explainer of why this has been the case.


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  • RT @albamonica: President Trump just now in the Rose Garden: "We're rounding the corner." VP Pence moments earlier: "The American people… 1 hour ago
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