Archive Page 3

The Weavers

May 8th The beginnings of a Baltimore Oriole woven nest in a London Plane. I’ve noticed that the nests here in Green-Wood are often made up of human-made materials—plastics, ribbons, fibers—and that they don’t break down over the winter—indeed, even several winters—like ones made out of plant materials would.

Here, judging by his nearby presence, is the proud papa to be.

Le Rouge et le Noir

It is the breeding time of year, when smaller birds dare to go after the much bigger, sometimes in teams, other times solo as in this case.

A rough day for the fishes

Opening wide before partially submerging, this Double-crested Cormorant

snagged breakfast as a swallow zoomed by in the foreground.

On the second of two plunges into Prospect Park Lake, this Osprey

came up with prey

Within one minute along Sylvan Water in Green-Wood, this Great Egret

caught one

two Bluegills.


Quite a bit of garbage going into this Robin’s nest. Maybe too much? Six days later I walked by again and saw no further evidence of construction.

Here’s a more traditional nest, very grassy.

We can’t see the mud lining.

Cherry Petal Scenery


A reminder that I also write for JSTOR Daily, where recent topics have included possums, rocket sex cults, anointing of kings named Charles, and the strange posthumous career of Albert Einstein’s brain.

Deer Vomit & Honeybees Again

The cutting down of this mature Sycamore Maple resulted in a plethora of sap, which in turn feeds a slime flux of incredible colors.

This is a fungus, or rather several fungi, including yeasts, and probably some bacterias. (Deer Vomit is the common name for Fusicolla merismoides, which may be a species complex, but there may well be other fungal species represented in the mix.)

It looks like mozzarella, cheddar, and Velveeta were all mixed together. It sort of has the consistency of cold mozzarella on a pizza.


In the news: A couple of Honey Bee hives were recently added to the roof of the Brooklyn Museum as if it was 2000. Against all the science, the mistaken notion that these farm animals represent a victory for biodiversity continues to go strong. The word is getting out, though, in bits and pieces: this month’s Anthropocene Magazine reports on a study in Montreal charting the decline of indigenous bee species as the honeybee population explodes.

Raptor Wednesday

All at once, two high-soaring Buteos…

…good ol’ 10-A…

…and the nest-keeper.


Brown-belted in Blueberry.

One of the numerous Nomada bees. Dark red with dandelion yellow markings are distinctive looking, but members of this genus are quite hard to identity. There are at least 288 species on the genus in North America north of Mexico.

Speaking of things hard to ID. Less than 20% of sawfly larvae have been identified. (The adults also aren’t easy, either.) Sawflies are classed along with the bees, wasps, and ants; they’re wasps without wasp-waists. This looks like a caterpillar—the larval stage of moths and butterflies—but this actually has seven prolegs (the stubby tubular legs in the back). Caterpillars have five or fewer prolegs. There are other differences—those eye spots, for e.g.—but this is the handiest, if you can see them….

Can’t see ’em here at 4mm long.

That black-headed larva was inside one of these leaf folds.

Trembling Aspen leaves. This is another sawfly, I think. Perhaps Euura popuella. If so, only the second U.S. observation on iNaturalist.

And now, a folded, scrunched, rolled maple leaf, tied down. As with the above case, there were numerous examples, so I thought exploring one of them wouldn’t be dreadful:

This time, a caterpillar.

Case Bearer

While scouting for my first Bugging Out insect walk at Green-Wood Cemetery this year yesterday, I tried to photograph these tiny encased caterpillars dangling from silk lines from a Japanese Larch. When I brought the group by, there weren’t as many visible, and a couple of the attendees spotted them before me. They’re about 5-6mm long.

It looks like this a caterpillar of the Larch Case-bearing Moth, Coleophora laricella. The larvae clip off the ends of larch needles, burrow into them, and use them as protective cases. Perhaps they get wind-tossed out of the branches and work their way back up on their safety silk line, or else they’re repelling down?

Setophaga citrina

The first of two flies this female Hooded Warbler caught and ate under a Yew while I watched.

The second. Impressive catch. Unlike, say, a larval something like a caterpillar, an adult fly can, well, fly.

Behind-the-scenes making-of documentaries of documentaries are popular nowadays. Here’s a look behind the magic of Backyard & Beyond:

A typical image from this nature stake-out…


Bookmark and Share

Join 686 other subscribers
Nature Blog Network