The other evening I walked from Sunset Park to Grand Army Plaza, the last half mile through Prospect Park’s Long Meadow, which was surprisingly empty of the usual clutter of bipeds and canines. As I entered the park at 9th Street, past Layette and groom, I saw the horse-chestnuts and buckeyes anticipating conker-fall, and a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a bare branch of a pine tree surveying the landscape. On the Meadow itself I was infested with storms of tiny flies. They clumped in the air, whirling around themselves. (Above magnified perhaps 3x, along with my own tectonically-crinkly hide.)
They landed on my hands, bare arms, and shirt. Perhaps they fed on my sweat, for it was a devilishly humid sunset and I had zigzagged from 41st to 9th Streets and 5th Avenue to Prospect Park West (9th) in a hurry. What matters is that they did not bite me (I am a mosquito feeding-station.) No, I could have eaten them, like the Common Green Darner I saw plowing through them like an ice-breaker the ice, but I kept my mouth shut.
There are two comma or anglewing butterflies of the Polygonia genus we see regularly here in NYC. You can tell them apart when their wings are spread, but it’s subtle.But they often perch upright. So the namesake comma mark on the hindwing is the tell-all. Of course, this is hard to see in the field!The fabled question mark. You won’t be the first grammarian to say it looks more like a semi-colon.
This example is perched distantly on some Duckweed, in case you are wondering about the curious pebbly-look of the background.
Poanes zabulon,the Zabulon Skipper. A male.
You really have to get up close and personal to the skippers to tell them apart. And that usually takes some optical enhancement, although if you should find yourself sitting quietly next to a lot of pollinator-magnets they may be too busy to pay you any attention.
A female Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) through several layers of wild. There were at least seven on the Pools recently. Two of the males. All the males were out of their harlequin breeding feathers, in eclipse plumage, and looked like abashed clowns who had trashed an orphanage after wiping off the greasepaint.
It looks like this species is becoming a regular breeder in Prospect Park… if a couple of years can mean “regular.”
Two hundred and forty years ago today, the British and their Hessian swine-mercenaries walloped the still-loose conglomeration that was the Continental Army in Brooklyn. There’s a memorial in Prospect Park to the Maryland 400, troops who held the Old Stone House (the existing structure in J. J. Byrne Park is a recreation) down in the Gowanus while the rest of Washington’s soldiers made a pell-mell strategic retreat to Brooklyn Heights, and thence across the river. Geo. is supposed to have said “what brave fellows I must this day lose” about the sacrificial Marylanders.
Yet the British unaccountably did not press their advantage in Brooklyn. They occupied New York, but lost their opportunity of crushing the new American army right here. Big mistake. This, by the way, is also why we don’t have a national health system today.
Someone has laid a fresh wreath on the memorial in honor of the 400.
A pair of Blue Dasher dragonflies, concerned with their own history, were using the fence to tee up. This is the female.
A Common or Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle (Lucanus capreolus) male who didn’t make it. Found on the sidewalk next to Prospect Park. This specimen is about an inch long. Inhabitants of parks, suburbs, and hardwood forests, they’re mostly nocturnal. They feed on sap; those pincer-like mandibles are used to battle other males for territory. Dudes.
A wonderful manifestation of the wild city at night, sadly stomped by someone who probably didn’t notice. Or perhaps did: an exterminationist attitude runs strongly among some of the benighted, especially when it comes to “bugs.”