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Hickory Yellow

Traditionally, red leaves get most of the glory in the fall*, but don’t forget the yellows of beeches and hickories in the sunshine. A sight on the Jerome Wetlands Trail in Van Cortlandt Park: giant and youngsters of different Carya species. (Reproduced a little too orange above by the phone camera, though.)This image, with a camera camera, looks more like it. But there is no substitute for the human eyes.

*This weekend, many a leaf in Green-Wood came down in the cold snap green, as if fall hadn’t happened.

Autumnal Thoughts

Forests are fragmented, wetlands are drained, the great anthropogenic extinction continues. Insect populations are plummeting. Life itself is under assault in the name of capital. Meanwhile, botanical gardens, of all places, are clear-cutting woodlands for parking lots. And of course, gangster oligarchs run riot across the planet, polluting and looting between occasional bouts of pissing philanthropy on the lucky peasantry.
And always there are more dead birds, billions and billions killed by toxins, habitat destruction, glass, cats, power lines, and all of the above. But you don’t often run across these ephemeral corpses.

For instance, very few of all the birds every banded have ever been seen again. All this evidence is dispatched by the armies of eaters of the dead.
They should go on strike, these bacteria, grubs, scavengers. Let the corpses pile up. That’ll show us, right? Why should it? After all, the piling up of human corpses in war has never managed to scare us off of war.

Ah, nuts!

“Filbert? Filbert? Where is that boy?”Turkish filbert or hazelnut (Corylus colurna). Shell and two halves of another.

The frilly husk, or bristly involucre to the hort pros, of the nut dries out to a gnarly, tentacled beauty. I was late this year and found only two twisted, nut-less examples under this Green-Wood tree, so here’s one from my wunderkammer:


Is this an art project on Green-Wood’s Valley Water?

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? It’s not like ignorance and stupidity are new enemies. They may be the oldest enemies of all. But ignorance (not knowing) and stupidity (not wanting to know) are incredibly empowered now and very readily exploitable by forces directly affecting all our futures, and the world’s. Here’s a dead-end Trump drone I think we can safely say is typical of the Fox-poisoned bubble: “Trump’s probably the most diligent, hardest-working president we’ve ever had in our lifetimes. It’s not like he sleeps in till noon and goes golfing every weekend, like the last president did.”

Except, of course, all the evidence suggests Trump has a very short attention span and he has spent almost every weekend of his Presidency golfing. You may quibble on the interpretation of Trump’s know-nothing fidgetiness, but the unprecdedented hours of golfing are fact. In this case, rare for journalism, the reporter did tell the guy he was simply incorrect on the golf matter, but the guy shrugged it off. He probably still thinks Obama is a Muslim, too.

What can we do about people who are so malignantly misinformed, who seem so incapable of critical thought and self-reflection? Among other things, they look like they’re going to elect fundamentalist-fascist Roy Moore to the Senate.


The National Museum of Copenhagen is filled with flint tools from the pre-metal millennia. This stuff makes for very sharp edges. The stone of Europe’s Stone Age, flint stones were also used to start fires and spark guns into the 19th century. The Baltic beaches were littered with nodules of this dark chert. It’s a finely-grained quartz, not, as I first thought, obsidian (which is volcanic glass). This fist-sized and rather knuckle-like piece was my Swedish souvenir, found on a beach in Malmo. Here’s the verso and recto of a piece I split on the Northumberland coast a few years ago when my dearheart said the original piece was too large to carry back on the plane.The white coating here is typical. According to this site, “The thick white crust, the cortex, is not made of chalk, but of fine-grained opaline silica.”

Raptor Wednesday

A couple of species of raptors have been called Chicken Hawks, so the name isn’t very definitive.I’m using it here for this Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) because there are actually chickens in a yard next to this building in the Bronx. Roosters, too (technically illegal because of the noise, but law isn’t much enforced in the Bronx).I was alerted to the presence of this bird because a Kestrel (Falco sparverius) was screaming at it as it dive-bombed the perched (and much bigger) bird. Kestrels are sometimes called sparrow hawks, which aren’t to be confused with the Sparrowhawk of Eurasia (another Accipiter).

There’s supposed to be a “Scream-In” tonight to bewail the Trumpstate. What an astonishing waste of time.

After the Woodcock Storm

On Saturday, I couldn’t help flushing more than two dozen “mud bats,” or American Woodcock (Scolopax minor), in Green-Wood Cemetery during an hour’s walk. On Sunday, although we spent nearly three hours there and covered a much greater extent of the grounds, we only only found three. One of them, though, allowed us to observe it closely. We were walking down slope, and I just happened to glance to the right: the bird was less than a dozen feet away and it did not rocket away as they often do when stumbled upon. The second of the day was nearby and it shot up and took off with the whistling sound they make when flying while we were photographing this one.

It’s election day. Very low turnouts are expected in New York and New Jersey. Democracy dies locally.


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  • Came for the Pollinators Working Group, delayed by spectacular Peregrine air show over Borough Hall. 4 hours ago
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