Posts Tagged 'Great Swamp'

Dragons/Damsels

Remember the Sympetrums? Devilishly confusing meadowhawks. This a female; possibly a Ruby or Cherry-faced.The Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis) male is uniquely patterned with purple and blue. They are also called Violet Dancers.A male has a female in tandem flight position, either pre- or post-mating. This is another species I’m seeing for the first time this summer; spotted in Westchester Co.

A bonus in the archives: looking over some of my old posts, I realized I had never identified this specimen from Arizona:Mexican Amberwing (Perithemis intensa). Here’s our Eastern Amberwing (P. tenera) for comparison:Some differences: Eastern has smaller, redder pterostigma (the colored panes on the leading edges of the wings); Mexican lacks markings on top of abdomen. These are both males: Eastern’s graspers, at end of abdomen look much lighter.

More Purple Martins

Posh is the only word to describe the two Purple Martin housing units at the Great Swamp NWR Visitor Center. There are a dozen nest sites on each post. Not a single House Sparrow or Starling in the mix. And, whoa, were the martins busy. The martins glide more than our other swallows, and they are rather bigger. But it was the noise that was most arresting. (Here are some recordings from Cornell.) Blue Dasher is the prey here.Color is bee/waspy, but I’m not sure what’s for lunch here.There were still young to be fed.One of the red Meadowhawks has been captured by the… female on the right? (Haven’t honed my ability to separate the juveniles, of both sexes, from the adult females.)

Humming

Only one hummingbird species is regularly seen here on the East Coast, out of some nineteen species found in North America north of Mexico. This is the Ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris). Only the male has the nominal incandescent throat, but the lighting often makes it look dark.Hummingbirds also eat mosquitos, spiders, bees, aphids, gnats, fruit flies, even small caterpillars. Here’s a female.This feeder was at the Great Swamp NWR Visitor Center. Remember, if you’re feeding hummingbirds, don’t use red dye. Frankly, I’m skeptical that cane sugar is a perfect substitute for flower nectar (out of a plastic container, no less): better would be to plant the flowers hummingbirds love.
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Yesterday, Nazis and neo-confederates marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the President of the United States refused to condemn them by name. Other Republicans — members of a party whose modern power is built on a foundation of racism — could clearly see how far they’ve descended into the filth; a few of them called out the — swastika-waving, Hitler-quoting, posing with Trump in photos — shits for what they are. But Trump, in his silence, his “many sides” garbage, pissed on the graves and sacrifices of the more than one million American casualties who fought fascism in WWII. What an abomination. What a depraved piece of immorality. What an encapsulation of the man who lets racist scum like Sessions, Bannon, and Miller, not to mention Nazi-wannabe Gorka, pollute the White House and dishonor us all.

Hemaris thysbe

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth.I love watching these creatures at work. They are almost constantly in motion, never landing on flowers like bees and butterflies, and moving quickly between different flowers. I’m surprised these phone pictures came out so well. Although the moth is throwing its own shadow over its legs, there are bits where you can see that the legs are white, which nails down the species identification.

Unlike most moths, these are diurnal. There were a few working the bumblebee heaven of Monarda behind the Visitor Center at Great Swamp NWR. By a nice coincidence, at least two hummingbirds were dipping into a feeder on the other side of the center.

Barely Glimpsed Birds

This is a natural history blog, not a photographic one. I try to use my best pictures for illustrative purposes, but my PowerShot SX50 definitely isn’t a SLR with a long lens. Sometimes I get a fine shot. Often not. You’ll notice few in-flight images here, for instance. And sometimes I get shots for reference’s sake only: what was that bird, or flower, or insect? So here are some recent less than great photo opportunities that still have, I think, some educational value.A Piliated Woodpecker (Hylatomus pileatus) in Great Swamp NWR. You can hear them — oh, can you hear them, their maniacal laugh resounding through the woods — and you can sometimes see them. Big as they are, though, they’re generally elusive.Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus) at Marine Park Saltmarsh Nature Center, another elusive species that usually lurks amid the reeds and grasses. So not one to pose too long. There were two; perhaps they’re setting up a nest? There are nesting records for Jamaica Bay and Staten Island. The Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) stand out, but how those little ones in front of them? Click on image to make it larger. The peeps sure blend in, rather better than at the beach. Semipalmated Sandpipers (Calidris pusilla), I think: their legs are barely visible, but don’t look yellow (which could turn them into Least Sandpipers).A bathing Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera). The two wing bars, not visible here, and the line through the eye of the yellow face and head are the “tells” here. A male American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) is unmistakable even without a head.You’d think an orange and black bird would be easy to see, but male Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula) are often best revealed by their song.

Snake in the Moss

Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon). Saw a half dozen basking off of the boardwalk. This common snake, second only to the Garter in abundance regionally, is, like that species, somewhat varied in form. You can see stripes on this youngish one, but most Great Swamp specimens look very dark and unmarked (as they dry in the sun, the scales tend to look more uniform). This is one of the snake species that give birth to live young, one to three dozen itty-bitty snakes.
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This Tom Tomorrow cartoon encapsulates it all well: Trump’s bullshit and his refusal to admit it was his bullshit.

May Day

Some mammals for Monday and May Day.Did you ever wonder why they, and we, are called mammals? I have to admit I never did until last week.
Linnaeus came up with the term Mammalia in 1758, from the Latin mammae, meaning the breasts. This we all know. Yet everything else Linnaeus named is based on male characteristics. His botanical system, for instance, is based on the male sex parts of plants. So why not the hairy quadrupeds and bipeds with three ear bones, fur, four-chambered hearts, etc., too? Why not John Ray’s term Pilosa (hairy animals)? Or, sticking with the milk part, the Lactantia or Sugentia, both of which mean “the suckling ones”? Therein lies a tale which I’m writing for work. We shall return to this question.
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I like the return of May Day as a radical holiday. Get out there and smell the flowers while you act up.


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