Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn'

The Butterfly International

Was it my imagination or where the (Red) Admirals in Sweden redder? Vanessa atalanta is found all around the northern hemisphere and is often the last butterfly seen flying in the fall.This birch sap leak was attracting them all at the edge of the ljung (heath).

We also saw our old friend the Cabbage White in its native continent, too. But it paid to look closer: this one on inspection turned out to be Pieris napi, the Green-Veined White, Rapsfjäril.

Meanwhile, in the Bronx…This Monarch was having some trouble, dragging her wings like a wet prom dress. She didn’t seem to be able to fly and was crawling around the leaves as a wasp harried her. The wasp actually took off a piece of wet, damaged wing.Nearby, a caterpillar was at the start of pupation. Also in the NYBG, this Calastrina genus blue was quite obsessed with a small bird turd, coming back to it repeatedly and allowing me to get my phone in its face. One of the “Spring Azure” complex, rather late in the year?Green-Wood, meanwhile, was busy with Painted Ladies and several other species, including this skipper slurping up some nectar. And a Monarch caterpillar was still growing strong.

Winter Memories, With Spring and Fall Not Far Behind

Ok, this last one was in May…

Alas, I have no pictures of Swedish owls. In coming days I will be posting about our adventures in southwestern Sweden on a Wings Birding tour with a wonderful guide named Evan Obercian. We looked for a Tawny Owl that had been heard around a church in Malmö. No luck.

A local man — who turned out to be related to the fellow who reported the owl two nights previously — walking a Shar-Pei asked if we had heard about the Eagle Owls in an abandoned limestone quarry nearby. He basically pshawed when someone mentioned the Great Horned, for the Eurasian Eagle-owl (Bubo bubo bubo) is the largest owl in the world. You bet we hotfooted it off in search of the berguv. Evan told us that the species has taken up residence in Sweden in relatively recent times, almost always in quarries, which can provide the cliff-side nesting spots they like so much.

Well, long story short, as the sun set we found the pipe the birds were known to use, but saw not a feather (unless you count those being plucked in mid-air by a Hobby disemboweling a song bird). Thus it often is with owls. But, as Evan noted, the owls were probably watching us…

Current Lepidoptera

And even more butterflies. This is a Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus). Mostly southern, but makes forays as far north as New England. First spotting of this species for me, in Green-Wood.Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillar. This is the one that gets on your parsley; the earlier instars or stages are black with a white splotch in the center, making them look somewhat like bird turds. Behind a fence on a lot in Red Hook, where several Killdeer, a couple of Semipalmated Sandpipers, and a Semipalmated Plover were patrolling the mud of a stalled development project. Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) on a sidewalk in Brooklyn Heights.And another, this time in Coffey Park, winking its wings in some sun-spotted shade.A Red-baned Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) found with swarms of bees and wasps on a non-native aralia at the NYBG. This is another mostly southeastern butterfly species that strays up into our parts (but I supposed all these reference books are old; planetary warming means species are moving north.Same pollination frenzy. This Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) looks species-perfect on the outside, except for some ragged edges to the wings.But looks rather like an “intergrade” between Red-spotted and its co-specific White Admiral, which is generally found further north (I’ve never seen one). Here’s another I spotted some years ago in Prospect with more purple.

Painted Ladies

There were more Vanessa cardui butterflies around the Green-Wood Buddleja planting than I’ve ever seen in one place in New York City.Really nice to see so many individuals of slightly different sizes and color intensity.What is up with this hanging out on the stone or tarmac?

Sceliphron caementarium

What the well-dressed mud-daubing wasp is wearing: black and yellow.The Black and Yellow Mud Dauber builds a mud nest. Trypoxylon politum, the Pipe Organ Mud Dauber, is almost all black and builds pipe organ-like nests.Here’s another gathering mud. Her left antenna is broken off. She does not seem to get much mud per trip. This must make for a lot of back and forth! It helps if the nest is nearby. This particular wasp flew off faster than I could follow. But another nearby (this is damn good mud!) flew fifteen feet away from the murky pond. The rusting iron cap on the urn on the left shelters her nest. The metal juts out on this side, making for a wasp-sized passage. She’ll seal up her eggs in mud cells in there, along with the entombed paralyzed spiders she has provisioned the larval wasps with. The specific epithet caementarium means mason, or builder of mud walls. Some years back, I had one of their nests in my old Cobble Hill backyard.

Cicada Killer

Every August you’re practically guaranteed to see poor soul someone jump and shout in terror when they see a Cicada Killer Wasp. Sphecius speciosus are big; over an inch, and tend to fly low when they’re not scouting out trees for cicadas to capture.You need a big wasp to take home a big bug. It’s a wrestle.

Papilio glaucus

Now, that’s a flag. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.Another specimen. This one was working so close to me that I could put my phone next to it to measure the wingspan: slightly longer than 5″. Open up this image to get a sense of the magnificence of life scale. Note that one of the swallowtails is missing: it may have ended up in a bird’s beak.


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  • Sharp-shinned, Red-tailed, & Broad-winged dominating Chestnut Ridge and State Line Lookout hawk watches this gorgeous day. 3 hours ago
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