Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category



Mniotilta varia

Black-and-white Warblers are quick-moving bark-foragers. They are one of our more common warblers, but they are hard to capture without a flash.
The binomial: the genus means moss-plucking, since they may use moss (and horsehair and grasses) to line their nests. Species epithet varia means varied, for the plumage.
Small bird, big tree. With a black throat and black lores, this is a male. Females have white throats and grayish lores.

The Secret Parts of Fortune

The Gray Catbirds have returned! I didn’t see a single one on Saturday, when I was scouting out species with a vengeance. On Wednesday, the next time I was in Green-Wood, I saw them in clumps of half a dozen each. Spring’s southern winds come raining catbirds.
Dumetella carolinensis, a study in gray. Then, surprisingly, they have a brick red vent. It’s hard to see this. It’s just barely glimpsed under the tail in these pictures.
Perched on Trifoliate Orange (Citrus trifoliata), a spiny thicket of an exotic ornamental with inch long spines. The bird’s genus name Dumetella means “small thicket,” so apropos.

Raptor Wednesday

Every once and a while, an Osprey scouts out Green-Wood’s Sylvan Water, the largest body of water in the cemetery. Just in case.
There certainly are fish in there. This one is entirely too small for an Osprey, but intriguing nonetheless. What is it?
Of course, that fish is perfect for a Kingfisher. This one was spotted earlier in the day than the Osprey. Heard first, actually, which is typical.

Now this one is more Osprey size. It was found in G-W last September. Just like this, at the mouth of the drain. Swam upstream from the bay through the combined sewage-outflow system the city absurdly still uses? I doubt it.
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Worth reading: on Science-ism.

Heather Lady

Do you see it?
A small lady beetle. Chilocorus bipustulatus: Bugguide goes with “Heather Lady Bug”; iNaturalist with “Heather Ladybird,” its English name. Glossy enough to see my silhouette in its elytra.
This species is native to western Eurasia. According to Bugguide, it’s been introduced around the world to combat scale insects. These beetles are now naturalized in the San Joaquin Valley. iNaturalist shows pockets of them around New York, the Bay Area, and Vancouver: great port cities all. First time I’ve seen one. Mine is the third Brooklyn record in iNaturalist.
On a hemlock.
Something is crawling around on the creature. Mites, scales?

Bugguide notes that they don’t survive cold winters. So we should expect to see more of them?

Parkesia motacilla

Louisiana Waterthrush.

One of the 80 or so observations I entered for the City Nature Challenge on Saturday morning. Most of these were old friends. I’ll share one of the new ones tomorrow.

Some Trees a-Leafing

Shagbark hickory.
Walnut.
Gutta-percha tree.
European beech.
Black willow.
Pin oak.
Willow oak.
White oak.
Not sure which oak…perhaps swamp white or black.
Northern red oak.
Pignut hickory.

Naked Branches Budding

The branches of Kentucky coffeetrees look dead in winter. No buds. Gnarly indecipherable leaf scars. But they are showing signs of life now.
Gymnocladus dioicus: the binomial tells you a lot of what you want to know. The genus means “naked branch,” referring to the stark lack of twigs. The species name means the tree is dioecious, that is, the male and female flowers are on different trees. This one, judging from the complete lack of the very obvious seed pods on the ground, is a male.

The common name refers to the history of this native North American tree’s seeds being roasted as a coffee substitute. I see one source that says it’s less satisfying than chicory for java junkies.


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