Archive Page 4


Individual Monarchs seen in the last few weeks, with detail of the notched wings of one of them.
And one found dead, without an abdomen, which was probably eaten by something.


Brown-headed Cowbirds sure do like Chipping Sparrows for hosts in Green-Wood. The only other species I’ve seen parasitized in the cemetery have been Song Sparrows.

Wasp 1, Spider 1

I don’t see Rusty Spider Wasps often in NYC. Nor do others: there are only 15 observations of the species on iNaturalist for the city, nine of them mine.
And I’d never seen this before. I came upon this scene after she had stung this wolf spider (Tigrosa species) and watched her drag it backwards.
Up five and a half feet of a granite tombstone and over the top into the shrubbery on the other side. This is a wasp who hunts before digging out a nest site. She will deposit an egg on the paralyzed spider and then bury the evidence.
About 15 minutes later, some 50 yards from first scene, I came across this.
As I said, this is an uncommon wasp species here, so this could very well be the same wasp. Looks like the same species of spider as prey, too.
But the spider wasn’t fully knocked out.
And made a getaway. Or maybe not… I don’t know how long the wasp’s sting(s) need(s) to take effect.The spider definitely wasn’t going full speed ahead.

It’s lively out here.

Raven Update

Three yesterday.
A couple from earlier this month.

Raptor Wednesday

Red-tailed Hawk.
American Kestrel

Some Spiders, Etc.

Bowl-and-doily Weaver. She weaves a bowl-like web above a sheet web (the doily) and hangs upside down from the bowl. Rather distinctive.
But so is this one, and I have no idea what type of spider it is.
A Fragile Forktail stuck in spider silk. The damselfly escaped.
A wolf spider, Tigrosa something. This is a big spider for around here. I will get further into the story in an upcoming post, but let me start by saying that this is a new species for me, and I saw two of them within 15 minutes of each other. But then, I wasn’t doing the searching…

Fishing With…

I recently spent nearly an hour shadowing this young Great Blue Heron around the edge of Sylvan Water.
Of darting thrusts of the bill into the water there were many. Most were unsuccessful. But the haul was still eight small fry and four dragonflies.
(Except for the first two fish images, these are otherwise different fish.)
A pair of mating Blue Dashers. Dragonfly and damselfly males clasp the female behind the head in mating.
This male didn’t let go…
So both went down the gullet. I’ve seen Green Herons pick off dragonflies before but this was the first time I’ve seen a Great Blue snarf them up. A smaller bird might knock away a dragonfly’s wings as unpalatable, but a heron, used to swallowing live fish, isn’t finicky.

Five Wasps and an Entombment

The mud tubes of the Organ-pipe Mud-dauber Wasp (Trypoxylon politum) are a familiar sight amidst the nooks and crannies of Green-Wood’s mausoleums. But, you know, I’ve never seen one of the wasps here! So I’ve been checking this particularly rich assemblage to see if this space might be used again.
So I was surprised to come across this Hidalgo Mason Wasp (Euodynerus hidalgo) on August 2nd, stuffing a paralyzed caterpillar into the one of the tubes. Reuse!
Interestingly, this species, in the potter and mason wasp subfamily, usually nests in wood. I found a reference to western examples of the species that have been known to re-use such mud tubes made by other species, and one of the authors of that reference noted on my iNaturalist observation that “some species are highly opportunistic in their choice of nest sites.”
As the Hidalgo wasp was stuffing prey, this Metallic Bluish-green Cuckoo Wasp (Chrysis angolensis) was hanging around. As the binomial suggests, this is an introduced species. They are cleptoparasitic, laying their eggs in the nests of other wasps. I found one listing of their known targets, which didn’t include the Hidalgo, but perhaps that lists needs to be updated?
I’ve been regularly checking this mausoleum when I’m in Green-Wood. On August 10th, noting that the hole the Hidalgo was using was still open, I spotted this new mud conglomeration in another corner. The darker mud means this was just closed off.
This Yellow-legged Mud-dauber (Sceliphron caementarium) was too fast for me, but you can see that she has a roundish mud ball that she’s transported from a nearby source of mud. I waited to see if she might return for a better photo.
Well, no, but this Common Blue Mud-dauber (Chalybion californicum) appeared and promptly got stuck in not one but two cobwebs strewn about the columns. This species is known to reuse Organ-pipe Mud-dauber tubes. (The original makers don’t seem to, making fresh ones each year.)
The wasp pulled herself out of both sticky situations, but look at this small spider ready to eat for a week!
This blue wasp’s binomial suggests they hail from California, but they’re widespread across North America. I assume that Henri Louis Frédéric de Saussure, who named the species in 1867, did so after a specimen found in California. The species first seems to have been named in 1763, when it was considered to be in the Sphex genus.
One last update: the day after I saw the capped off Yellow-legged, it looks like this, with more mud balls added to the pile.

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Sparrow 1

House Sparrow shaking a dog-day cicada to edible pieces.

Paper Wasps

Last Saturday on the way to the farmer’s market, I noticed this Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest hanging low in a London Plane.
I’m seeing a lot of these wasps this year. This nest should get bigger in the next month. I’ll try to monitor it week by week.
Also last Saturday, in the Central Park of the Inner Borough, I saw a Common Aerial Yellowjacket (Dolichovespula arenaria) nest. The paper structure is similar, but the wasps are black and yellow. Bald-faced are all over, but this is only the second Common Aerial nest I’ve ever seen here in the city.
Of course, once the leaves fall and these big paper footballs are exposed to better view, the wasps have died off for the year (only queens overwinter) and it may be hard to tell which of these two species built it.


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