Posts Tagged 'Jamaica Bay'

Recent Birds

All the evidence pointed to nesting American Oystercatchers in here. Keep your dogs on leash!Brand new Starlings have been everywhere.A fledged Chipping Sparrow. Hardly looks it, but could fly.Quiet while the parent was foraging nearby, but loud when the parent was near.Here’s another, some days later.And another…Common Grackle fledgling. Yellow Warbler: one of the few warbler species to nest within the city. Judging by their songs, they’re nesting all over Jamaica Bay, but usually you only get a glimpse of them. Heard one in Green-Wood, too, recently.


It’s hard to see through the intervening plants, but this terrapin is just starting to dig a hole for her eggs. We were on the path. This is an excellent example of why people need to stay on the path out at Jamaica Bay, as well as Salt Marsh Nature Center where Killdeer and Oystercatchers nest in the grasses. These are places where humans don’t need to be the priority.It took just under half an hour for the whole excavation, laying, burial. Her back feet are surprisingly long. She extends them way back to paddle back the sandy soil she first dug up. All done, she headed back to the bay. She never sees her own eggs.

Unfortunately, the road and bridge connecting these formerly isolated pieces of land in the bay mean the Wildlife Refuge is crawling with raccoons. The raccoons eat the vast majority of Diamondback Terrapin eggs laid here.

More about these Diamondback Terrapins.


At least five male Red-wing Blackbirds were all over this Common Grackle at Jamaica Bay. In the last picture, one is quite literally riding the CG out of the town. Nobody says “get off my lawn” quite like a Red-winged Blackbird. Backyard and Beyond has a friend who was chased out of a swamp once by one of these birds, which didn’t seem to care about any of the other humans there at the time.Here’s another showcasing his control of his red shoulder patches. He can make these almost disappear or he can puff them out like stiff epaulets. Is this the boss of the ‘hood? Typically, several females with have nests with one dominant male in a patch. However, there may be more than one father of a female’s clutch of eggs, since less dominant males spend more time on subtlety than show…

Recent Birds

Eastern Willet.Red-winged Blackbird female.Tree Swallow male.The male was perched above this nest box with a female boldly covering the entrance.Red-breasted Mergansers.Yellow-crowned Night-heron.

House Wren.

Monarch Monday

Some of the dozen Monarch caterpillars (Danaus plexippus) seen feasting on swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) in the Bronx recently.  This was my highest ever count to this date, although to be fair I’m much better at spotting them now. Good to see some action on one of the other milkweeds besides A. syriaca.In Queens a few days later: a trio of Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars (Euchaetes egle) were on the same plant as two Monarch caterpillars. These colorful and hairy milkweed specialists, not done any justice by this photo, are, like Monarchs, walking advertisements for tasting bad. Nearby on another milkweed was a Fall Webworm caterpillar (Hyphantria cunea). This species, which makes tent-like webs in trees and so is often confused with Gypsy Moth, is a generalist: will eat practically anything. Milkweed, too? Speaking of eating. Here’s a nymph Spined Solder Bug (Podisus maculiventris) feasting on a Monarch. This was one of the dozen Monarchs seen in the Bronx. The rest were alive, but life’s a risky business.

Have you thought much about civil disobedience?

Ischnura ramburii

Wednesday is traditionally Raptor Day here at B&B. Damselflies are quite the airborne predators, so….

This one is an immature female Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii), spotted at Jamaica Bay with numerous others of her species. I’ve seen a male away from the Bay, in Green-Wood once. Several of the Ischnura genus have orange colored immature females.

Michel Edmond de Sélys Longchamps (1813-1900), a Belgian considered the founder of odontology, named this species after Jules Pierre Rambur (1801-1870), a French entomologist.

I wonder how many times Kavanaugh has committed perjury so far? His opening statement yesterday was full of them. While judges can be impeached for lying, this seems unlikely as long as we put all our hopes in corporate Democrats. The long march of the right to capturing the judiciary is almost complete. For generations, these corporate, fundamentalist fascists will try to stifle the will of the majority of us. It’s going to be a hell of a fight.

Milkweed Continues

Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) on common milkweed pod.

This I learned: a note in Evan’s NWF Field Guide to Insects and Spiders says this species has been used extensively in physiological experiments. Easy to raise, they were also used to test insecticides from the 1940s. Carolina Biological Supply sells them for uses in experiments “from biochemistry to behavior.”

My favorite among the McCain hagiographies was the ex-GOP operative — with second thoughts about her party’s direction now that it’s too late — who envisioned McCain joining Aretha Franklin in heaven’s “freshman” section! Pretty good ascension for a man who voted against MLK. Jr. Day, rarely saw a war or bloated defense budget he didn’t like, and tirelessly fought against sanctions against apartheid in South Africa.

Blue On Blue


Two Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) were cutting across the parking lot repeatedly. They were gathering nest material: Seems awfully late, doesn’t it? Many species have already fledged this year. Others are well into incubation. But Cedar Waxwings are very late nesters: they want their young to be hungry around the same time as summer’s fruits and berries ripen. A Diamondback Terrapin nesting at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. She comes ashore, clambers towards some sandy soil, and starts digging a hole with her back feet before laying her eggs and covering them up. We saw more than a dozen in the waters, crawling around, or in the hands of Hofstra’s Jamaica Bay Terrapin Research crew. These terrapins, the only local turtle species that lives in briny water, have, like many turtle species, temperature sex determination. That’s right, the sex of the wee baby turtles is determined by temperature. Read more about JBTR research.

I also had a fantastic Independence Day with the terrapins (hey, it’s not their fault some idiots built JFK on their breeding grounds) some years ago.

Raptor Wednesday

Red tail feathers coming in! This Buteo jamaicensis looks like it was one of last year’s fledglings. They don’t get their brick-red tails until they’re a year old. Also a good view of the cummerbund-like belly-band that most of our best-dressed eastern Red-tailed Hawks sport.


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