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Pignut and Other Colors

Your reds get talked about a lot during the fall, but let’s not forget the yellow of a pignut hickory.
Same tree, a different day, and later sunlight.
A bald cypress cultivar, I think.
Northern red oak.
Franklinia alatamaha.
Not found in the wild since the early 19th century, all specimens today are cultivated. Named after Ben Franklin by the Bartrams.
Sweetgum in the late afternoon.

The Eagle Has Taken Off

I saw the Bald Eagle in the white oak twice this week. I guess the bird saw me, too.
Eagle Power!

The silver band is a federal marker. I didn’t see the more readily readable state band on the bird’s left foot, but I’m assuming this bird is marked R over 7. Some have dubbed the bird “Rover 7,” but I don’t speak eagle so don’t presume to know it’s name. Also, I think naming wild creatures is a form of human arrogance that should be discouraged. The planet doesn’t belong to us.
It’s pretty common for a raptor to stretch out and excrete just before take-off. This one’s squirt hit the ground below with quite a crash.

Beauty and Slime

This was too high up, on a dead part of a big red oak, to get a better photo, but damn, isn’t it amazing? The Asian Beauty (Radulomyces copelandii) fungus is a recent introduction from Asia, with the first East Coast records in Massachusetts only from 2011. It seems to be moving fast. The Japanese name translates as “Hanging Needle Mushroom.”
Three days later, the stalactite-shapes had some nice caramelization… I guess time will tell if this becomes a problematic species.
Something that could use some caramelization? This is a slime mold, perhaps a Mucilago, on a wood chip pile. Scrambled eggs or dog vomit? Dog Sick Slime Mold is a contender for the ID here, actually.

That’s right, the orange bits are moving. They seem to be Vitronura springtails.Slime molds cover some territory as a term, as explained here. They used to be considered fungi but are no longer. Like animals, plants, or fungi, they are eukaryotes, but they’re not animals, plants, or fungi. They’re Protists.

Falcon Twilight

Last night, as sunset approached, I noticed something atop St. Michael’s at 4th Avenue and 42nd St. It was a Peregrine falcon.
At the same time, I saw something on the closer large antenna at 5th and 40th: it was another Peregrine! Double trouble, indeed! But it got better. The antenna Peregrine flew off and an American Kestrel male, who regularly perches on this antenna, showed up. Then the Kestrel left and the Peregrine returned.
Then the Kestrel showed up on the chimney pot, which is closer to 6th Ave. Both Peregrines disappeared.
While the Kestrel was on the chimney pot, a vocal Merlin flew up to the bare ailanthus behind the solar building, something like 100 feet from the chimney pot.
So, in approximately 35 minutes, I saw four members of the Falco genus, representing three species. It was amazing.

Morning edition 7:50 a.m.: a female and male American Kestrel have been seen together on the car service antenna and a TV antenna further up 40th Street.

More Eagle

This bird is just so majestic I’m going to put up more pictures.
Sounds like the best electoral turnout since 1900, with 66%. So approximately one-third of the nation opposes democracy since they voted for someone who stated, in advance, that he doesn’t want all votes counted if they’re not for him.

And wow, their lunatic fringe freikorps shock-troops, as evidenced yesterday in Detroit, are something else, ain’t they? Hannah Arendt had their number: “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi… but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”

Raptor Wednesday Come Hell or High Water

Well, well, well, look what I saw on Election Day.

In George Orwell’s 1945 essay “Notes on Nationalism” he makes the point that “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism.” No fucking way that a bunch of eagle-killers get to be called “patriots.”

This post was set up hours before polls closed Tuesday, hence the title.

I suspect this is the bird with the Connecticut band that has been seen locally off and on since the spring. Couldn’t see the legs, though. Certainly in the same white oak as my last sighting of the perched bird, though.

Emergency Nature

The patch of red peaking out!
The white patches on this one! Who says all birds (of a species) look the same?
One more Golden-crowned Kinglet today from a patch of three four six, it was hard to tell. “Kinglet” for their crowns, but also, it seems to me when I see them come leap-flying to within a foot of me as they patrol the grass for food, for their fearlessness, too. Or perhaps it’s just royal disdain.


As this is a referendum on autocracy, I voted against fascism.

People who vote for Trump after four years of Trump are voting for vicious, corrupt, irrational, monstrous authoritarianism. They are, through Fox-infected stupidity and/or white supremacist malignity, announcing themselves as fucking monsters enabling the dismemberment of American democracy.

People who vote for a third party candidate like Howie Hawkins are expressly stating that they don’t want to be counted in the anti-fascist vote. Utterly contemptible.

It’s been an education to watch this in real time, in our time. The policy of the Republican Party is that only votes for Trump should count. Trump has said he hopes his judges will stop the counting of ballots at midnight tonight. Typically, ballot counting can continue for days, sometimes weeks. This sexual predator’s alleged-rapist crony on SCOTUS says that such counting has the potential to “flip” elections — uh, duh? — and cites someone who says this is bad, but the legal scholar cited says precisely the opposite in the citation. (Was it Kavanaugh’s abject mediocrity shining through here — he was so eager to inhale Trump’s fart his clerks didn’t catch his errors in time — or was it rather just his fathomless contempt for law, boldly lying anyway, just like his master, the modern exemplar of the gosse Lüge?)

Trump is a lot of bullshit. He’s actually acutely weak in many ways, like so many bullies, but only if we stand up to this threats and bluster.

The real question is what do we do? In 2000, Republicans got away with stealing the election. That was a vital lesson for them. The Republicans on the SCOTUS stopped the Florida count. The first woman on the Court, S.D. O’Connor, later regretted that that naked partisan vote would be her legacy, but it was too late: idiot prince George Bush was in and the savage republic grew by leaps and bounds.

We have no tradition of the general strike. It’s been beaten out of American history. But we must have it if necessary.

Demonstrations will be essential. But they’ve got to be non-violent. The fascists want violence, it’s their cause, their essence, their language, and they will provoke it as an excuse for clamping down. They will also initiate it and blame us, while the corporate media’s death-spiral of both-sidesism will amplify that calumny. (Sadly, NPR is one of the most egregious of venues peddling the absolutely false equivalency of both-siderism. I’ve stopped listening.)

While the US military has no real tradition of intervention in domestic politics, and many retired generals have spoken out against a military coup, there is a vast network of federal police forces, some of them actually mercenaries, who have already proven to be something of a Praetorian Guard for Trumpism. Combined with the militarized police force klans in many American cities — their sadistic contempt for dissent on ample display this summer — and the paramilitary nativist/white supremaciast terrorist cells working at Trump’s beck and call, we’re really on the knife-edge. (The basis of Republican power, the backbone to oligarchy, is an entwined grotesquerie of fundamentalism, white supremacy, QAnon-insanity, and police nationalism, all extremely dangerous.)

Don’t look for leadership among the leadership of the Democratic Party. They’re temperamentally, institutionally, and historically unprepared to save democracy. It’s up to us. Let’s hope the vote against Trump and the GOP today is authoritarian-proof. Ecrasez l’Infame!

The Cache

For days now, a Red-bellied Woodpecker has been heard in the London plane tree across the street. The distinctive “quirrr!” announces his bird. But he doesn’t stay long. I hustled to the window with the camera a couple of times before just staking out the situation to catch these images.
The bird is caching acorns into a rotted-out knot. These look like the small acorns of the Pin Oak (Q. palustris), a common street tree here.
(It gives me inordinate pleasure to hear these bouncing off parked cars when they fall.)
This LP is blog-famous because it was the focus of so much American Kestrel activity until its upright branch, used as a mini-falcon perch, was felled in a storm in November of 2018. The Ks also used to cache their bird prey in a knot in this tree.
After this bird stored this acorn inside, with what seemed to be some care, another Red-bellied flew into the tree and chased this one off. Are they fighting over the cache?

Speaking of fighting over the cache… this is one fraught dawn of an eve, isn’t it? I think there will be a strong anti-Trump vote. He’ll lose by more millions than he did in 2016. Of course, as in 2016, the majority of voters don’t necessarily count in this savage republic. It’s down to a few states, even a few counties within those states…and a decades-long project to capture the courts, depress turnout and disenfranchise voters, and establish minority-rule Republican Party authoritarianism.

Let’s hope there are enough people with good sense and decency to overwhelm these Republican intentions.

Some Moths

This pandemic year, I have spent an inordinate amount of time chasing little flutters arising erratically from the grass. By “chasing,” I mean inadvertently flushing a moth and then watching where it lands, usually close by. Above is a Velvetbean Caterpillar Moth (Anticarsia gemmatalis).
The ubiquitous Green Cloverworm Moth (Hypena scabra), posed against some Orange Hobnail Canker on a twig. This moth is quite variable, with much lighter versions.
Another regular sighting, Celery Leaftier Moth (Udea rubigalis).
Forage Looper (Caenurgina erechtea).
One of the Tortrix moths (genus Acleris), found on a column of a mausoleum. My Halloween costume, obviously: cloak of the Royal House of Acleris. Evidently, you can’t tell this genus apart without examining the genitalia. So moving right along:
Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aurea).
Yellow-collared Scape Moth
(Cisseps fulvicollis). These last two are apt to be seen gathering nectar during the day.


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  • RT @JYSexton: The faith everyone has in the legal system actually holding Trump accountable despite generations' of that same legal system… 2 hours ago
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