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IMG_9461This large wind vane on a building on Hanson Place and South Elliot is one of the delights of downtown Brooklyn. It is a sight rapidly being overshadowed by the generic glass towers rising rising around the neighborhood, which make the borough look like Anywheresville.

Three things:
1. This actually does move, which, for a roughly 5′-6′ arrow, is kind of impressive.
2. Why is it slightly bent?
3. I did not have my camera when a Peregrine Falcon, which had been flying around the tower of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, landed on the rooster.

Here is your correspondent–not, I trust, your corespondent–looking up on the way to a dinner party. peregrine1Keep your eyes on the sky!

Trio of Dragonflies

Libellula pulchella12-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) male.
Plathemis lydiaCommon Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) male.
Erythemis simplicicollisEastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) male.

What’s up with all the males? They’re patrolling territory, in this case the ponds of Green-Wood, while females generally only show up to these sites when they want to mate. Otherwise the females are over the fields and meadows, at the edge of the woods, “across the river and through the trees”….

Brooklyn Long-horns

Melissodes bimaculatusThis black bee was a real brawler, tackling each flower like a linebacker, rolling up and over the flower parts until it was upside-down.

Note the long opera-glove-like sleeves of pollen on the hind legs. These legs have more hair than the other two sets, and these pollen packs are rather larger than you see on most bees who do this (leaf cutter bees, for another example, store pollen on the underside of their abdomen); this and the antenna helped me identify this one. Two-spotted Long-horned Bee, Melissodes bimaculatus. It is supposed to be common in the east, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen/identified one. This is one of the solitary bee species, not social like the non-native honeybees or partially social like some bumblebees.

Over two hundred species of bees have been found in NYC, but honeybees and several species of bumblebees are the most commonly recognized. Yet when you look closer, there’s so much more going on. This one was all over the flowers outside my apartment building.


Sassafras albidumSassafras albidum drupe on its pedicel. Such sassy colors!

This should be eaten by a bird, the single seed within spread elsewhere, hopefully to germinate into one of these lovely three-leaf-type trees.

This wonderfully aromatic plant–from the roots to the leaves–was long used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes. It was also one of the major colonial exports back to Europe, for it was reputed to work on the pox! (It didn’t, but what-evs.) In addition, it was the original source for root beer, since banned as carcinogenic, and filé powder. To paraphrase a certain spider, “Some Tree!”

Sunset Park Elm

UlmusAn overcast view of the great elm during this week’s sweltering heat. The leaves are dark, dark green now. That’s the gilded city of Oz to the distant right. (Don’t forget you can click on these images to get larger versions.)

More Beetlemania

Sehirus cinctusThis tiny beetle is Sehirus cinctus, the White-margined Burrowing Beetle. 4-6.5mm long. There were several on the very hairy leaves of what looks like Stachys something or other.

Adult females of this species care for their young, which is fairly unusual in the insect world. Plenty of insects provision their young, but most aren’t around to feed them directly. Wasp mothers, for instance, who feed their young with paralyzed spiders die before they see their next generation. But let’s not get sentimental. Different strategies for different folks.

These beetles can sometimes swarm on your ornamentals, but they are harmless feeders on the seeds of mint family plants, so leave them alone. And for the planet’s sake, don’t spread the poisons of pesticides/insecticides: that shit harms beneficial insects and ends up in the water and, surprise, surprise, you, too. Sehirus cinctus

Common Terns

Sterna hirundoThe southern end of Prince/ss Bay* ends at a fresh water stream just before the aptly named Red Bank. This gravel beach is the backdrop for these Common Terns (Sterna hirundo). The eroded terminal moraine provides nice camouflage, at least for the above bird’s bill.Sterna hirundoYoungster demanding food. Constantly. Some of the adults were bringing freshly caught fish and dropping them nearby, trying to get the young to work for it.

*A curious naming feature. Old maps plainly says “Princess Bay.” Yet the community is Prince’s Bay, as codified by the PO and the SI railroad station. Let’s just call it an ambiguously gendered location.


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  • Finished shape-shifting masquerade of The Confidence Man, convoluted & confusing, gnarly, funny, horrifying, so damn American! #ReadingYear 9 hours ago
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