Posts Tagged 'Green-Wood'

Spring Flies In

On Thursday, I saw two Phoebes in widely spaced parts of Green-Wood Cemetery. Clouds of insects were visible, too, so we know what these fly-catchers were hunting. The next day, when the temperature got close to 70, reports of Pine Warblers, usually the first warbler species of the year, came in from the cemetery as well. American Woodcock are crashing into the city, too, although I’ve yet to see one. This big fly was out and about, too.

Raptor Wednesday

A young Red-tailed launches into the air in pursuit of… a Canada Goose? No, really? Yes, really. There were a dozen geese herding up the hill above Crescent Water in Green-Wood. The hawk raised a gaggle and disappeared from my sight. Then it flew back to this tree, making another pass of the geese as it did so. After this, the hawk gave up on that idea, and flew the other way towards a trio of holly trees brimming with fruit and a big flock of American Robins. Suddenly there are two Red-tailed Hawks coming out of those hollies! The birds made more passes at the Robins, and the Geese. Nobody got caught while I was watching, but it wasn’t for lack of effort.The ponds at Crescent-Dell are now brimming with bird-feeders, so there are song birds all over. RTHs general hunt mammals, but they will eat whatever they can catch. Only, being so big, they are not the most agile or subtle of hunters, like falcons or Accipiters, who are more commonly bird-eaters.This RT was eyeballing one of the feeders. About this time, I noticed an adult RT perched above the Dell Water. Before it was all over, I counted three individual juvenile RTs perched above the Crescent Water as an adult circled overhead.

Hatchin’ Still

We began the winter with White-breasted Nuthatches, and as we near the end of it… three of them were working over this old horse chestnut, whispering amongst themselves. This one kept finding tidbits in this tree cave. On an hour’s walk in very chilly Green-Wood recently, I came across around a dozen of these nuthatches, a count surpassed only by the number of Canada Geese.
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I have a poem in the Winter 2019 issue of Clapper Rail, the magazine of the Brooklyn Bird Club. It’s about a bird.

Pupa Knows Best

Revisiting this pupa of what I think is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in better light and because I find it fascinating. If you look closely, you can see breathing holes on the segments. And the support filament that secures the lower end (or right third in the horizontal view) of the structure to the rock. This filament actually goes around the body like a string belt so that it is attached to the rock on both sides. (So different from this Monarch chrysalis.)

(Anniversary bonus: a Red-spotted Purple, uncommon around here.)

I stumbled upon this extraordinary reminder that the winter landscape, so seemingly barren, is one of tremendous potential. It’s stuffed with larvae and eggs. And buds, leaves, flowers, seeds and bulbs. We don’t see much of it, but it’s all waiting for the heat and the long days. So much life on the cusp.

So many hazards, too.
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A tanka I wrote for a friend:

The skunk cabbages
Are burning to live right now,
Hot spathes in the snow

While timberdoodles stay warm
Like other early spring hearts.

Gymnocladus dioicus

The distinctive bark of a young Kentucky coffeetree.The branches look dead in winter, bare of twigs, the buds hidden away. The genus name translates as “naked branch.”The high top of this older male tree looked amazingly shrubby.A nearby female was festooned with seed pods.The bark of a mature specimen.

Of trees and their memories: there’s a lecture on dendrochronology on Sunday afternoon at the Torrey Botanical Society meeting. Which reminds me that I wrote a short piece for JSTOR on dendrochronology’s origins.

If you go to the lecture, keep an ear out for Ravens! A pair was working on a nest last week on the very library building the lecture hall is in, but since then they seem to have transferred their allegiance to a nest across the road at Fordham U.

Red-tailed Hawk…

Continuing from yesterday… This yearling Red-tailed Hawk, which I’m pretty sure is the same one I’ve seen in this area of Green-Wood repeatedly, had recently eaten something.Swallowed the portion stored in the crop,and excreted.Then it started looking around the neighborhood.Next to this tombstone was an evergreen bush.Hawk just waded into it.And pulled out a dead squirrel stashed in there.

Is it, Earth-wise, all bad? Here’s a trio of WCS scientists who argue that if we can get through the present bottleneck… humanity, and our planet, can breakthrough to something better than the doom and gloom so many indicators point to. They’re optimistic…

“We suggest that lasting conservation success can best be realized when (a) the human population stabilizes and begins to decrease, (b) extreme poverty is alleviated, and (c) the majority of the world’s people and institutions act on a shared belief that it is in their best interest to care for—rather than destroy—the natural bases of life on Earth.”

…if we can just managed to hold on now. Keep conserving, keep fighting for our fellow species, keep fighting against the all-too-human enemies of life.

Raptor Wednesday — Birthday Edition

I almost walked into this Red-tailed Hawk before seeing it. I backed up and went around a handy mausoleum, used another mausoleum for cover, and ended up within ten feet. For nearly fifteen minutes, I got to watch.That’s food bulging in the bird’s crop. You can also see the stuffed crop pushing the feathers out in the first shot above. And this is blood on the bill, throat, and talons/toes. (You can click on these images to make them larger on your screen.)As I watched, the bird lifted up its head and swallowed the material stored in the crop. Gulp!More tomorrow…

I see raptors almost every day. Sometimes two, sometimes three, four, or more. As soon as it’s light, I look through the scope at the taller of the the two smokestacks in Industry City to see if there is a Peregrine up there. Most days there is; sometimes there are two.

When I was a boy in the 1970s, this would not have been possible — anywhere on the East Coast. DDT had eradicated the regional subspecies of Peregrine Falcon. It wasn’t until the 1990s that NYC had a vibrant population of Peregrines, all because of captive-breeding and introductions. Tom Cade led that effort at the Peregrine Fund. He passed away recently at 91. Thank you, Mr. Cade!


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