Posts Tagged 'Bronx'

Spider Update

On Wednesday, Araneus diadematus ate brunch.

Judging from the size and shape of the mummified-in-silk prey, I’d say it was a fly. The temperature was already near 50 that morning and would rise up to 60 in the afternoon. Diptera weather! There were also two gnats stuck to the web, but these were so small they hardly seemed worth the effort to eat after all the juices sucked out of the big fly.Which was reduced over a few hours to a gnarly ball of gristle.

In three months of sporadic observation, we’ve only seen this spider eat once.

The Spider Who Stayed Out in the Cold

This large Araneus diadematus orb-weaver has been living outside a Bronx living room window for nearly three months now. That included the last of summer, when a large window fan blew out towards her, making the web bounce like a trampoline.

The web spans the breadth of the window. When she isn’t in its center, hanging face down, she-spider is tucked up into the top right of the storm window frame, with two legs on the web to keep in touch. She prefers the night, which of course is never that dark here in the city. We only once saw her wrapping some prey… or was it an egg case?

Bits of leaf and plumed seeds, however, were often seen stuck in the usually rather tatty web. The first big, but brief, freeze, didn’t seem to faze her. On the 16th, when the video below was shot, she was devouring the lower right quarter of the web, having taken out the lower left earlier that day. The silk proteins, crazy strong material as you probably know, can be recycled this way.

Then she disappeared. The web too. But then, last Tuesday, there she was again! A Thanksgiving miracle!

The Cross Orb-weaver, so named because some to them have a cross-shape on their abdomen, is a cosmopolitan species. They were evidently imported from across the Atlantic some time past.

Lifespan doesn’t jump out in online material about this species: six to twelve months, evidently, for orb-weavers. The male, by the way, is much smaller, and, when attempting to mate, approaches gingerly so he doesn’t get eaten.

Hmm, perhaps, given the times (well, all times) women should take a lesson from that.

And here’s another moving view on my Instagram.

Update: the spider is still going strong today, Tuesday 11/28/17.

Fungus Boroughs

Graffiti

The tag of a bark-boring beetle, or something similar…?

Raptor Wednesday

Old faithful: Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). You will see these all over the city, as often perched upon a human edifice as in tree.

The guard at Woodlawn Cemetery’s Jerome/Bainbridge Avenue gate said there’s frequently a Red-tail atop this chapel’s steeple. Further into the grounds, I heard a Common Raven making that distinctive knocking sound they sometimes favor in their repertoire. I started moving towards the sound even though it was obviously distant. Just as I heard the last of it, I saw two more Red-tails in a conifer. After something more than an hour’s exploration, I exited by the same way I’d come in, and there was the steeple hawk, still in the sun.

So, three RTHs on Thursday.

On Friday, a pair were wafting around in the wind swooshing up the moraine at Sunset Park. I watched them in the cold park for perhaps 15 minutes, and then saw them a few times from the windows of the View From The Moraine the next hour. When they face the wind and seem to hang still in the sky, their tail and wings are constantly adjusting to the force of the wind.

On Saturday, there were three individual hawks over Green-Wood. The first of the day was one of this year’s fledglings; they won’t get their eponymous red tail feathers until they’re a year old or so. The other two were both adults.

A pair of Common Ravens were heard and seen as well. That was my first definite sighting of a Brooklyn Raven pair in a while.

On Sunday, a large flock of pigeons erupted into the air above a crowded Washington Square Park and then a RTH floated mid-tree height to a perch. I was watching it as three youngsters with a camera seemingly named after Richard Leacock approached. They wanted to ask me some questions about art for a School of Visual Arts project. What kind of questions about art? Well, for starters, what is art?

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.

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’s assaults on America. What an astonishing waste of time.


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