Posts Tagged 'Prospect Park'

Eristalis tenax

An early flying Common Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax). An introduced species. A bee mimic. Their flight season is long, from mid-March to mid-November, but this was the only one seen this day a week ago.
***

Spring’s solace is dependent upon the winter, the bright awakening from cold and dormancy, the “green fuse” lit amidst the snow and muddy melt. We hardly had winter. It’s an early spring this year. Spring will always be early from now on. Until one day, only those who think early is normal will be around, and then early springs won’t be “early” any more.

There is nothing like a pandemic to reveal the brute monstrosity of our savage republic. The right-wing effort to shrink government down to such a small thing you could flush it down the toilet has turned out to overflow the toilet after all. Solidarity, what Margaret Thatcher once disparaged as society, must be our response.

COVID-19 is killing the elderly and the immune-compromised, mostly — but not exclusively. In South Korea, where they are testing broadly (as opposed to Italy, say, where they are testing those with symptoms, or the USA, where testing is STILL extremely rare) it’s people in their twenties who are showing the most cases. But they’re asymptomatic. So, while the young and healthy mostly do not have too much to worry about themselves, they’re carriers who threaten others. NYC’s bars have been packed. The stupidity will have more consequences.

Witches’ Broom

A hackberry tree, Celtis occidentalis. Notice the clumpiness in the canopy?
A slightly closer view of one fo the clumps. (They were all out of hand’s reach.) This is witches’ broom, a gall-like growth of branches sprouting in multiples. Hackberry is particularly susceptible. In this case, it seems to be caused by a combination of a fungus and a mite. I gather the mite carries the fungus…

It is thought to be:

“attributed to two agents acting together: a powdery mildew fungus (Sphaerotheca phytoptophila) and a minute, wormlike, eriophyid mite (Eriophyes celtis, synonym Aceria snetsingeri) about 200 microns long.”

The mite’s name has recently been changed to Aceria celtis.

Evidently there are strains of hackberries that are immune to it. People think it’s unsightly. People!

This specimen is in Prospect Park. There are two young hackberries outside our window here. You may remember that the city’s street tree survey insisted they were hawthorns. We fixed that. Just the other day I noticed that one of them had some witches’ broom in it. I don’t think the tree had any there last year. I’m not positive, but I don’t feel like they were there.

Raptor Wednesday

Cooper’s Hawk near the bird feeders. But, as you can see from that bulging crop, already full.
Juvenile. As this bird ages, the chest will transform into russet bars. The eyes get oranger and redder with age, too.
The bird was perched at eye-level about 20 feet off a path. After someone walked by, without spooking the bird, I cautiously walked down the path, too. A few more people passed me as I took photos, including one with a leashed dog. Coop don’t care — which is unusual, since Accipiters are fairly jumpy birds. But you know how digesting a big meal slows you down. And, of course, the park is packed with people, so the bird has probably spent a lot of time around us.

***

With much of the news entertainment corporations prostrate before Trump, and most Americans getting their information from little bursts of TV junk, it’s good to be reminded how fucking bonkers Trump is, and how his response to COVID-19 had been — and promises to continue to be — a disaster.

Also: Trump and his goons are trying to suppress a intelligence report that shows how the U.S. isn’t ready for a pandemic.

Weekend Birds

Two pairs of Wood Ducks on the Lullwater.
Male Belted Kingfisher above them. Have there been Kingfishers in both Green-Wood and Prospect all winter?
When the light hits a Common (ha!) Grackle just right, look out!
White-breasted Nuthatch.
Pied-bill Grebe.
Some Red-winged Blackbirds are back, and, more importantly, they are making noise.
Mallard and Ring-necked ducks on Sylvan in Green-Wood. Everybody else pictured here was in Prospect.
A trio of Golden-crowned Kinglets were withering and thithering.
Love the touch of red in their stripe of a crown. Impossible (?) to see with the naked eye.

Hedge Apple

For years I have read that Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) is also known as hedge apple and that it was often used as natural fencing, a living hedge as well as the source of very long lasting fence posts. I’ve never quite understood how this would work since the specimens I see are usually stately trees.
Until now.
This is a very shrubby plant, and clearly takes to sprouting back with a vengeance when cut. And it’s armored! William Least Half Moon on the thorns: “just the right length and strength to turn away fleshy creatures without lacerating them.”
This thicket is right across the path from a venerable double-trunked specimen that rains down softball sized fruits every year. Mowing and the paths have contained the spread of this over the years. But on the other side of the fence here, there are several saplings along the stream. The orange color of the bark is another good tell.

***

Notes from the class war: a golf course for the 1% next to Liberty State Park in New Jersey, kinda sorta visible from here, wants to expand into rare habitat.

Phoebe Again

The day after spotting an Eastern Phoebe in Green-Wood, I saw one in Prospect Park.Traditionally, one of the first migratory birds to show up here in the spring. This means they’re not coming from very far away. And as it gets warmer, some of them aren’t even leaving. This one made a dive down to the leaf litter and got something to eat, because it promptly wiped its bill on the branch it landed on. Snicker-snack!

Saw the Green-Wood Phoebe again yesterday. The bird is being very loyal to the Dell and Crescent Waters. There are flies about in temps of the low 40s.

***

Steve Pyne is a historian of fire. He calls our age the Pyrocene: a warmer, drier time of larger and more ferocious bushfires feeding off rampant development into areas nobody should live in, plus incredibly wrong-headed fire-management policies (which were developed for the logging and the real estate industries). Here he writes about the current firestorm horrors in Australia as a new paradigm. Here he is warning that the New Jersey Pine Barrens are ripe for a wildfire storm.

American Coot

Those toes, though.
Looks like some serration in the upper jaw…
And is this a tongue?

This bird, and a few others, were on terra firms because somebody was feeding them. And it looks like the feeders were not spreading bread, which is actually quite bad for waterfowl. Yes, the time-honored tradition of throwing bread scraps to ducks is deeply wrongheaded. It’s malnutrition as verb. “But they eat it!” Yes, and people eat McDonald’s garbage and mainline heroin. Liking something is no argument for its healthfulness. Endless industrial junk food manufacturers depend on this.

Bracket Fungus

Cracked Cap Polyphore is so intimately associated with black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) that the fungus’s binomial memorializes it: Phellinus robiniae. Hard to find the tree without the fungus. Right next to this black locust is another, and it also sprouts some of these shelf-like fungal growths.

N.B.: both of these locusts are still alive.

When Doves Sit

Mourning Doves: one of our earliest local — that is, non-migratory — nesters. Their rudimentary stick nests can be tucked into trees or your windowsill. Here’s another pair on our fire escape recently. One or two has been showing up there or on the roofline a lot lately. (These were photographed though window and screen.)There’s a great view from this fire escape, but it’s awfully exposed for a nest. It’s a good place to throw your coo, though.The eyes are closed while grooming. Safety first!Got to see the familiar cooing up closeThe beak is closed, the throat puffs up, presumably like a resonating chamber. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this before.

Dogs of Prospect, Again

I used to spend so much time in Prospect Park! It’s farther away now, but that’s not the reason I’m there so infrequently now.

Half a dozen Red-winged Blackbirds were burbling with Spring there the other day. A Song Sparrow was singing, tree buds were clearly on the edge of bursting, mosses waved their tiny spore capsules, and was that a Brown Thrasher???Overhead, a Red-shouldered Hawk, an uncommon sight anywhere in the borough. So far, so good, right?

Turns out this was the first time I’d been to Prospect since October. Had to make way for two trucks, two carts, and a police car on the walking paths. Our friend, who had come from Manhattan to ice skate, decided that the hideous pop music blaring from the speakers at the rink was so horrible she would skip the ice entirely. Across the lake from the rink is the Peninsula. We watched as two professional dogwalkers unleashed their packs there. The tragedy of the commons in action. Of course, that historical lesson is usually misinterpreted: elites engineered the destruction of the commons because they enclosed and dispossessed everyone/everything else; it was the first great act of privatization.

So at least ten dogs proceeded to run riot in a woodland area where dogs are always supposed be leashed. These guys probably do this every day. I doubt they’re picking up every last pile of shit their charges deposit in the woods. Remember, it’s called canine distemper. Dogs can be vaccinated against it, but they can also all spread it.

Just the day before, a bird-watcher had seen an unleashed dog kill a squirrel in the Vale. There’s virtually no enforcement of city leash law by NYPD or Parks Enforcement Patrol. Yes, that’s a link to an eight-year-old post, but all that’s changed since is that now there are more dogs and the dog-owners are more entitled.

The Parks Department and the neoliberal Prospect Park Alliance consider dog-owners to be good “stakeholders,” who will advocate for parks, or, let’s be more specific, parks as dog runs. Those who can afford to hire dog walkers are also potential funders. Private money must be catered to and the PPA prioritizes funders. Is this why the leash laws are unenforced? Anyway, this wild west of unleashed dogs sure succeeds in pushing me away from this public park.


Share

Bookmark and Share

Join 634 other followers

Twitter

  • RT @JuliaAngwin: This whole story is horrifying, and sounds like an abuse of power. And it raises a question: is it legal for NYPD to forci… 5 hours ago
Nature Blog Network

Archives