Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn Bridge Park'

B.B. Cuckoo

The Black-billed Cuckoo is relatively elusive, which is surprising for such a long-tailed creature. “Sluggish and secretive” says Cornell’s All About Birds about Coccyzus erythropthalmus. I was surprised on Friday when a popped into eye-level view at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

I see the Yellow-billed (C. americanus) more often — and that isn’t that often. Both species are great devourers of caterpillars and tend to congregate around outbreaks of tent, fall webworm, and Gypsy moth caterpillars.

The Black-billed’s specific epithet erythropthalmus means “red eye,” although, of course it’s not the eye itself that is red but the lining.

But why “cuckoo”? “Coccyzus” refers to the famous Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), but our New World birds are unrelated to the Old World one. They also aren’t brood parasites like that Cuckoo so famously is. That Cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species, like our Brown-headed Cowbird, and gave us everything from “cuckoldry” to metaphors of humans being the animal that doesn’t make its own nest (Thoreau, Holmes).

But evidently the cuckoos of the Americas were thought to sound a little like the Cuckoo… which really does sound like a cuckoo clock. The name imitates the bird’s sound so well that it’s found in classical Greek (kokkux), modern Greek (kukkus), Latin (cuculus), Italian (cuculo) French (coucou), German (kuckuck), Swedish (gök)… and, taking us down the Indo-European road, Sanskrit (kokila).

Spencer: “The merry Cuckow, messenger of Spring.”

And the famous round:

Svmer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu
Groweþ sed
and bloweþ med
and springþ þe wde nu
Sing cuccu

Our cuckoos are declining, due to our chemical/neurological war on life. In the UK, theirs are disappearing; ditto.

Yesterday, there were half a dozen mantids in the asters on Pier 6. It was short-sleeve weather, but Honeybees were the only obvious prey. There were, however, a pair of Monarch wings tucked away in the folds of the flower stems, suggesting someone snagged a butterfly. (Sighted about ten living Monarchs yesterday fluttering and gliding in what increasingly seems like a Sisyphean task.)

Last night a cold front plowed through, dropping down 25 degrees from yesterday’s high. I wonder what the mantids did? The Monarchs?

I submitted this image to iNaturalist, which has an automatic ID function. For this very picture, the machine gave me one option: American asters. Um, ok, but…

By the time the robots are as good as us, there won’t be any more bugs.

Look No Further For Groundcover

Where have all the flowers of spring gone? Long time passing….

Pier 1 at Brooklyn Bridge Park has a rather spectacular understory layer in its seventh year. From the top left: Celandine-poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), and wild ginger (Asarum canadense). And hiding their lights under their bushel of leaves: Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum).
*

I like these so much I’m repeating it: Articles of Impeachment for Trump.

Heather’s Birds

UnknownMy friend Heather Wolf’s Birding At The Bridge has just been published. This handsome volume detail’s Heather’s adventures watching and photographing birds in Brooklyn Bridge Park over the course of a couple of years.

BBP is where I first ran into Heather. She was carrying her long lens, which is what you really need to get such close-ups of birds. (And these things are the size of half a bazooka, and weigh as much.) And then I ran into her some more. For here was somebody visiting BBP much more than I was when I lived in Cobble Hill. (Well, she lived two blocks closer…)

This is a great example of “patch birding,” visiting the same spot over and over again through the seasons to see the changes, the cyclical arrivals and departures, the unexpected appearances, with discipline and commitment. Winter of course makes it a commitment, but I’ll let you in a secret: being outside in winter is unbelievably invigorating; and one of the wonderful things about the city is that there’s usually some hot chocolate near at hand. Sure, there’s less to see in winter, but there’s always something to see. I hope Heather’s book (which covers all the seasons) inspires more people to get out in nature during winter to look around.

You’ve got to always be worried about color reproduction, a tricky thing in publishing, especially since plumage is so important. Well, the pictures look great here. This is a little gem of a book. And that’s not the hot chocolate talking.

In The Rain

sunflowerAster-family something.
TradescantiaSpiderwort (Tradescantia).
AmelanchierJuneberries (Amelanchier) green1

Wild Thing: You Make My Heart Sing

Sanguinaria canadensisThe woodland floor, even in a microscopic sample, is a wonderland. The little bit of wonderland at Pier 1 at Brooklyn Bridge Park is currently aflutter with wildflowers, spring’s advance guard, taking advantage of the sun before the trees shade the ground. Some are already abloom, others are readying to bloom, yet others are just emerging from layers of old brown and tan leaves. Hurry up, Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is peaking right now.Sanguinaria canadensis

Caltha palustrisWoodland Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) is popping.tritRue Anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides. The only one we saw.Podophyllum peltatumMayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), which emerges like an umbrella before unfurling, is coming on. The two-leaved versions are the ones with the flower, and then fruit, at the joint of the stems.TrilliumAnd look, a Trillium! But which one?

Balcony Perch

AccipiterI saw a pair of Pigeons, but my companion saw something else in their general vicinity. We were down below the rise of the Heights in Brooklyn Bridge Park, looking up to where the swells live. The hawk was perched on the top balcony, facing in, but with that wonderfully flexible neck glance backwards and sideways and all around the town, as well as the harbor. Was anybody home in that apartment? What a view they would have had!Accipiter AccipiterAn adult Accipiter. But was it cooperii or striatus? I had a tough time with this bird. The Accipters are one of the harder bird identification problems. Seemed like a straight-edged tail with relatively thin white terminal band on it (Sharpie). But the head sure looked darker than the back (Coop), at least in most of my pictures. AccipiterThe bird made a quick sortie out over the park and back into the trees beside this building, its tail looking very straight-edged. A single bold Starling gave it the what-for.

I called it, tentatively, as a female Sharpie. But let me be the first to admit that identifying the species is not the be-all and end-all of the experience.

UPDATED: Readers beg to differ. See comments below.


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