Posts Tagged 'NYBG'

Darners

The mosaic darners of the genus Aeshna are some of our largest dragonflies. There are 20 similar looking species in North America, so they can be a bear to identify. This looks like a Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa), photographed recently in Westchester Co. They run about 2.9″ long.

Shadow Darners can be seen well into the fall. They are one of the last Odonata flying around here. The only other time I’ve seen one was in late October.

Our usual darner is the 3″-long Common Green Darner. Migratory, they can sometimes be seen in good numbers over meadows this time of year.

But our biggest darner is the 3.4″ Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros). That link is to the time I watched one lay her eggs in rotting wood in Prospect Park.I don’t run into Swamp Darners often. Recently, though, we found this dead one in the NYBG on the bridge over the Bronx River. Talk about ol’ blue eyes.

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.

Franklinia

A late summer bloom. Isn’t the flower rather reminiscent of a camellia? In fact, the Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha) is in the same family, Theaceae, as the camellias, along with as its fellow natives Stewartia and Gordonia.. But this North American native is presumed extinct in the wild; it hasn’t been spotted since the early 19th century.This one is in the NYBG’s Native Garden. All known living specimens today are presumed to be ancestors of the seeds collected by Willian Bartram in 1773. Bartram and his father John found them a few years earlier on a not very large tract on the Altamaha River*. It’s still not known why they disappeared in the wild. Was it climate change, over-harvesting by collectors, or the introduction of a pathogen via the cotton production that took over the region?

William Bartram wrote about “This very curious tree”: “we never saw it grow in any other place, nor have I ever seen it growing wild, in all my travels, from Pennsylvania to Point Coupe, on the banks of the Mississippi, which must be allowed a very singular and unaccountable circumstance; at this place there are two or three acres of ground where it grows plentifully.”

*Somewhere in its wending way, the Altamaha lost the extra “a” of Bartram’s day, which is still represented in the species name.

Flyday

Three-spot Horse Fly (Tabanus trimaculatu). I kid you not.It’s the females who bite; I think this one’s a male. He has his father’s eyes, right?

Just Ds

Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis).These were found around the Bronx River in the Thane Forest at the NYBG. They get a good distance away from the water, for damselflies. All the above are males. The tan one is a juvenile. Here’s a brown form female. A blue form female. Complicated, eh? Add the juvenile female, and you have five basic versions of this one species.

And so small.For instance, you know how small duckweed is, right? This is a male Skimming Bluet (Enallagma geminatum); they run from about 0.8″-1.1″. Male clasping female right behind the head. He will hold her while she oviposits. First time I’ve seen this species. You can just see the distinctive wavy line on segment two. These were in the pond at the end of Wetlands Trail.Male Azure Bluet (Enallagma aspersum), in the duckweed-free Native Plant Garden. Neon blue at both ends. The Garden is overrun with fans of Dale Chihuly’s corporate-friendly glasswork and missing the real fireworks. (A week later, by the way, there was only one Azure Bluet to be seen of the dozens and dozens seen earlier.)

Nests

Green Heron, evidently abandoned. A rather loose collection, looking precarious, like a Mourning Dove’s, but larger and twiggier.Red-winged Blackbird.  Lots of grassy-sedgy material in these whirling constructions.Fierce defenders of their breeding areas, RWBBs will go after anything that gets in their space, including much bigger birds like Red-tailed Hawks. As I approached this lake, one chased off a Green Heron. A friend in Illinois was recently attacked by a RWBB. The ones around these nests just yelled at me.Oops! Baltimore Oriole male leaving nest after dropping off some chow.

*
Anil Dash put this very well in one-two tweets yesterday:

“We don’t have effective registration of firearm sales only because gun advocates want to preserve the ability to shoot federal officials.”

“That’s not conjecture, that’s the stated reason. Hunting & self-defense are not compromised by registering firearm sales.”

Case in point, Raul Rand, while running for President last year, shared this tweet from one of his lunatic fringe allies: “Why do we have the Second Amendmenment? It’s not to shoot deer. It’s to shoot at the government when it becomes tyrannical!”

Douglas-cones

This color! Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) cones start out red. As they mature through the spring, they turn this surprising and delightful purplish.Then they green as the chlorophyll comes into its own. In the fall, they will dry out and turn tan-brown, opening to release up to 50 tiny seeds per cone. A tree has to be about 20 years old before it starts producing cones, and the more mature trees produce more. This UC site has a lot more information about this species.

The three-pointed bracts sticking out from the scales of the pendulous cones are distinctive.

These photos are from way out of the native range of this wonderful tree, in the New York Botanical Garden. Here’s a little something I wrote about them on their native slopes.

And in a throwback to Thoreau Thursdays, here’s a fine thought-provoking review of Walls’s new biography of Thoreau.

Wood Thrush

If the rich fluty yodeling of a Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) hadn’t alerted me, I probably wouldn’t have noticed their nest.You can just see the top of the bird’s head here, rusty orange, with white eye-ring.And the heavy spotting on the breast.

Tis the season. Clutch size for this species is 3-4. The eggs are blue/bluish, slightly paler than the classic Robin’s egg blue. Incubation is done by the female and lasts 13 days. The species is declining across its range; one factor may be acid rain, which leaches calcium from the soil, resulting in decreases of calcium-rich invertebrate prey needed during breeding. As a side note, this was in the Thain Family Forest in the NYBG, which boasts that it’s the last old growth patch in NYC: the yellow signs of a recent pesticide application were still up.

*
I was recently reading some of Stephen Jay Gould’s essays — from his famous monthly run in Natural History, which have thankfully all been collected — and thought, wow, here is a voice sadly missed. What else I’ve read of him so far, The Mismeasure of Man and Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale ad the Nature of History, are richly rewarding; and now I intend to go deeper. This appreciation by Matthew Lau concurs.

Trilliums and Trilliums

These were some of the native trilliums in the New York Botanic Garden earlier this month.

The seeds of these plants are distributed by ants, who are attracted to the lipid- and protein-packed elaiosomes (“oily body”) on the seeds.

Like all wildflowers, these beauties are best left alone. Picking the flower can kill the whole plant. In some states, taking trilliums (in general, or particularly rare and endangered species, depending on the state) is illegal. It’s a pity that such laws have to be made. It’s freaking 2017, already!

Sigh, so it is. Here’s how the loose cannon in the White House is smashing the ship of democracy to smithereens. And here he is compromising intel sources by boasting of it to… the Russians.

How many deaths will Trump’s willful ignorance and arrogant incompetence lead to?

Whole Birds

Was there some grumbling about Tuesday’s bird-parts photos? Here’s an Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) to tide you over until you get outside.And a Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica).One of my favorite warblers. A Veery (Catharus fuscescen), our least marked thrush.Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), our most-marked thrush.Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea), le rouge et le noir.


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