Posts Tagged 'Prospect Park'

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.

Purple Gallinule

An immature Porphyrio martinica, pretty rare for our parts, has spent the weekend in Prospect Park. Essentially a tropical species, Purples are found year-around in Florida, the Carribean islands, and parts of Mexico. The specific epithet tells you as much: this purple waterhen is named after Martinique. They have been known to get as far north as southern Canada.When mature, the back will be green, the head, throat and belly this purple-blue; the beak red, the forehead shield a pale blue that often looks white. The green is starting to come through nicely already, depending on the angle of light.Note the very long toes: this bird walks on water… well, on vegetation in the water, anyway. The bird was foraging actively, close to observers (several to many), and occasionally put on some real speed by dashing for thicker cover, especially when it had something in its mouth. I wasn’t able to determine what those prizes were. They mostly eat plants but will scarf up some invertebrates, too.This is the first one I’ve ever seen. Brooklyn has provided quite a lot of my life birds.


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