Posts Tagged 'Plumb Beach'

Sand Crab

Emerita talpoidaThe Atlantic Sand Crab (Emerita talpoida) is also known as the mole crab and the sand flea (confusingly, since there are, in fact, amphipod sand fleas).Emerita talpoidaThese streamlined animals are, at any rate, crustaceans. As Sarah Oktay explains from the place I first came across them, they are surf-zone specialists, and pretty important in that harsh habitat. Emerita talpoida

Seaside Dragonlet

Erythrodiplax bereniceThis is a female Seaside Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax berenice), spotted recently on Plumb Beach. This is the only American species of dragonfly that breeds in salt water, in this case probably the saltwater marsh tucked behind the beach. To be honest, I couldn’t see any of the handsome orange and black patterning on the abdomen and thorax  in the bright sunlight. It was only after looking at the pictures later that I could identify this one.Erythrodiplax bereniceSo this makes for 18 species of dragonflies I’ve identified within New York City. This has all been by eye (and lens-enchanced eye); hardcore odonate-philes will net specimens. (Would definitely get a few more if I snagged ’em of the air and examined closely, but I’m guessing that would not be a pleasant experience for them.) All of these have been in Brooklyn except for three. (I haven’t explored Staten Island, the ode mecca of the city, nearly enough.) Updated 6/4/18.

Common Green Darner (Anax junius)
Unicorn Clubtail (Arigomphus villosipes) Bronx

Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa) Staten Island
Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna héros)
Common/Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simpliciollis)
Seaside Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax berenice)
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella)
Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata)
Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans)

Need ham’s Skimmer (Libellula needhami) Staten Island
Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)
Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea)
Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis genera)
Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia)
Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum)
Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina)
Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata)

Here are all my dragonfly posts.

And here are damselfly species I’ve IDed in NYC, a harder proposition since they’re generally so much smaller. (And when I say I’ve IDed them, that means I’ve often had help from the Northeast Odonata group on Facebook.)

Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis)
Azure Bluet (Enallagma aspersum)
Familiar Bluet (Enallagama civile)

Skimming Bluet (Enallagma geminatum)
Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum)
Citrine Forktail (Ishnura hastata)
Lilypad Forktail (Ischnura kellicotti)
Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)

Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii)
Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis)

Check out this NYS odonate survey completed in 2010. 22 species of d & d were noted in Kings County (Brooklyn), an estimated 75% of what they thought there should be. The Seaside Dragonlet was NOT recorded on that survey, although it was in the historic records they consulted so they counted it.

On Plumb Beach

IMG_3902Plumb Beach is off the Belt Parkway between Sheepshead Bay and Flatbush Avenue. The Parks Dept.’s website calls it Plumb; Parks Dept. signs on site call it Plum; it is supposed to be named after Beach Plums (Prunus maritima). It has a unexpected history, although perhaps not for Brooklyn’s wild edges, capped more recently by tragedy. In the supposedly more savage natural world, it is one of the premier places for Horseshoe Crabs in the spring. It was surprisingly quiet on a recent late afternoon. But that may have been explained by an enormous NYS Envirnonmental Police vehicle and armored-vest (!) wearing rangers on patrol.Danaus plexippusMonarchs (Danaus plexippus) are starting to show up on the shore in preparation for flightward south.Leucophaeus atricillaThis Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) is already well out of breeding plumage. Charadrius semipalmatusThere were two Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus) scoottling along the shore. Other notable birds were pair of Oystercatchers passing offshore and two Snowy Egrets rising briefly from the marsh.sharkA two-foot “sand shark” as I would have called them in my youth, missing a big chuck from the side of the head, the gills. Fraternal or by-catch? Holler if you know the species.

Tomorrow’s Beach

shellsMasses of these tiny clams were on their way to becoming Plumb Beach.


I could spend the rest of my life beach-combing.
You never know what will turn up. Previous discoveries have included an enormous leatherback turtle and a piece of whale vertebrae, although, admittedly, neither of these was in the New York Bight/Hudson River estuary system region. This small fish was. I found it, quite desiccated, on Plumb Beach, which is unfortunately cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by the Bay Shore Howlway, making it difficult to get to on foot/public transportation, but not impossible.

This is a northern pipefish, Syngnathus fuscus. Related to the sea horses. This is one of those species of fish where the males have a brood pouch, into which the female deposits her eggs for fertilization and incubation.
As stated, you never know what you’ll find. The same beach had this evidence of sharp and sophisticated urbanity, although it could just as easily have come from a ship, since that’s how we got a lot of our rats to begin with. Check out those choppers! Rodents are characterized by their continuously growing incisors, which necessitates constant gnawing to keep them manageable.

Horseshoe Crabs

I wrote about the Atlantic horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus last week, before I got a chance to head out to the city shore to look for some this year. So that was theory, this is practice, at Plumb Beach.
And practice can be hands-on. If you should happen to see a horseshoe crab wrong-side up and obviously still kicking, be a good sport and turn it over. They are absolutely harmless to you, so don’t be afraid of them. Don’t use the telson, or tail, however, which is very delicate and easily damaged (it’s got sensors to tell day from night); just use two hands on the outer edge of the main part of the shell (the helmet-like prosoma) and turn it over.

Note the slipper shells, Crepidula fornicata, hitching a ride.

And on top, barnacles as well as slipper shells. Another of the crabs had a cluster of blue mussels growing on it. Plowing through the sand of the littoral, and further out at sea, the tank-like bodies are home to many other species.
That’s the mouth right there in the center. This is a female, since it’s lacking the modified pedipalps/hooks that the male has instead of a first pair of walking legs.
That’s the smaller male on the back attempting to do his ancient duty. He grabs on with his pedipalps.
You may want to open this image up for a better view. I think that’s a horseshoe crab nest there in the upper middle of the image. After laying her eggs, the crab then looped the loop on the lower right, and headed back to the sea.


Bookmark and Share

Join 686 other subscribers
Nature Blog Network