Archive Page 2


September 17th. I noticed this chrysalis hanging by silken threads in the doorway of a mausoleum. I thought it was Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
September 18th.
Parenthetical: there was a spider right next door.
September 21st. I don’t know what’s going here. Breached by something?
October 5th.

For the first time, the wealthiest Americans paid a lower overall tax rate last year than the middle class. Why? Decades of tax cuts. The rise of tax dodging. And the Trump tax cut.”

The Morning Sun

Saturday dawned at 49F, the coldest day since some time back in the early spring. A small huddle of Palm Warblers were exploring Bush Terminal Park with me.
A couple of hours later, I spotted this White-crowned Sparrow in Green-Wood.
Earlier, when I entered G-W around 9:30, it was still cool but the sun was out. There wasn’t much insect activity yet: I saw a few flies and heard a cricket. So this was noticable: these Eastern Yellowjackets were already up and about, streaming in and out of their ground nest under a funeral monument. Good morning back at ya, ladies!

Colonial Sea Birds Feeling the Heat

Warmer oceans=fewer fish=starving birds. This is a report from Alaska, where it’s been a bad year for North Pacific pelagics.

Nine years ago when I was Iceland, we went to a famed Atlantic Puffin nesting site. But it had been abandoned since the last time this tour group was there. Some locals we ran into said there just weren’t any fish offshore anymore.

I took the photo above on the Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast of the UK, in 2015. Censuses on the islands mark 2003 as the peak year of breeding Puffins (55,674). In 2018 there were 43,956 pairs, actually up 9% from 2013. Five year censuses were the norm, but concern about shrinking food sources have lead them to begin yearly ones.

More Puffins.
More Razorbills.
More Common Murres.

Bees &

Eastern Carpenter Bees “robbing” nectaries. Instead of crawling up into the tubular flowers and getting smeared with pollen, these two are cutting directly to the chase.

The facts have come flying in the last week, but this we know: the President of the U.S. has been soliciting foreign states to investigate his political rivals. On the White House lawn, he boldly went so far as to do it on live TV. Looks like he bartered away Hong Kong, too, for his legacy. What an unparalleled piece of shit. And still swarming with the immoral, authoritarian, ethics-less maggots of the GOP. (No offense to actual maggots.)

But this is far from all. Here’s an snapshot of the high crimes and misdemeanors of the most corrupt and contemptuous-of-America President this country has ever seen.

Butterfly Reprise

What a year for butterflies! All these were seen in the last two weeks. I’ve now seen 28 species in Kings County, according to iNaturalist. Plus one skipper, oh those bedeviling skippers, only identified to genus level.

I meant to post this yesterday, but I screwed up the scheduling. It was 94F on Wednesday and the butterflies were busy. Yesterday dawned at 55F and the temp didn’t stray much from there all the daylight hours. Definitely not butterfly weather.

Nighthawk Wednesday

Not quite Raptor Wednesday, but a good excuse to explore the nighthawks. They are not raptors, but their physical similarity in flight to hawks, specifically falcons, at dusk and dawn gives them their name. Perched, they look nothing like raptors. And perched is where you will find them during the day, if you find them.
This is a Common Nighthawk, Chordeiles minor. The City Birder spotted this one in Green-Wood over the weekend. He gave me the location and description of the bird’s perch: three o’clock on the horse chestnut by the…. Trouble was, there were three horse chestnuts in the immediate area. Four pairs of eyes circled these trees slowly before I noticed the bird pretending to be a part of the branch.
The white marks on the flanks is a tell in our parts, helping to separate these from the local nightjars.

Here’s Eastern Whip-poor-will in Brooklyn.
Here are a Common Pauraque and a Lesser Nighthawk in Texas.
Here’s a Chuck-will’s-widow in Manhattan.

Nine members of the nighthawk/nightjar or Caprimulgidae family are found in the U.S. and Canada, some only on the edges of Texas and Florida. “Nightjar” comes from the English name of a bird that sounded jarring. Choate wonders if the verb “jar” didn’t enter English because of the bird. The OED says the word is probably imitative in origin. (“Jar” the noun comes from the Arabic via the French.)

The family name harkens to another common name, goatsuckers, which stems from the very mistaken belief that they suckled at goats. Aristotle spread this slander, but he probably wasn’t the first.
They actually eat insects. Our unrelenting chemical warfare against insects has contributed to a dive in Common Nighthawk numbers. Habitat loss and the demise of the flat gravel roof in urban areas, which they used to nest on, haven’t helped.

Under the Lilac Bush, Again

Remember the Wasp Lilac? Cicada-killer Wasps and a few other wasp species, but mostly Cicada-killers, were sucking the sap from this one bushy specimen in Green-Wood. Well, more than one lilac, actually, since the one nearby was also being suckled at.
A month later, I happened to look again, and now it’s the turn of the European Hornets.
Vespa crabro is another big, burly wasp. I usually see one or two patrolling places with lots of pollinators. They are rather generalist when it comes to prey.
And they also clearly like the sugary stuff.
Cleaning. The fastidiousness of big killers like these is something to see.
Those mouth parts! These are serious jaws. And that tongue, at least I think it’s the tongue, looks very hairy.


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