Posts Tagged 'Sunset Park'


A hackberry drupe. Can we call it a “hack”? It is surprisingly smooth at this stage of unripeness, and extremely difficult to photograph. This is through a 10x loupe.

Other names for the tree include nettletree, sugarberry, and beaverwood, but why hackberry? One source says the Scottish “hagberry,” for a Eurasian bird cherry (Prunus padus), is the source of this name; hackberry is also a name for the cherry.

The genus name Celtis was Pliny’s lotus tree, so that’s no help.

You can rest easy, since my corrections to the Street Tree map have been accepted. You may remember that when I first saw the map I naturally looked up the two trees right below my apartment. They were mapped as Hawthorns. They are now rightfully recorded as Hackberries.

Raptor Wednesday

The absences must be marked as well as the presences.

Last spring, a pair of Osprey nested on this very tall light post above the parking lot at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. Barely a twig remains.

To my knowledge, this was the first such nest on the New York Bay edge of Kings County. (You’d have to go back to before it was Kings Co., perhaps). Osprey definitely nest along the south coast of Brooklyn, at Marine Park, and into Jamaica Bay, which Kings shares with Queens County. (Two weekends ago, we saw a minimum of five different Osprey at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.)

The SBMT pair had at least one youngster. What happened then? The adults would have flown south by September or October. The fledgling, if it survived, would have as well, but with no experience of migration to call upon. A bird’s first year is its most dangerous. Older birds are survivors in every sense, and much wiser.

I know of Osprey from Nantucket and Jamaica Bay whose migrations have been satellite-tracked to Colombia. It takes about 14 days of flying to make the trip from NYC, and roughly the same time to fly back. Some may fly further south, some not as far. Paired birds split up in the fall, then reunite, if all goes well, on their return to the nesting site in the spring.

With so many hazards along the way, it’s remarkable that any return year after year. But of course, some don’t.

Trump will need no other epitaph than Rebecca Solnit’s.

Bipunctata in Sunset Park

Two-spotted Ladybug (Adalia bipunctata). Back in 2012, I reported to the Lost Ladybug Project that I found some of these critters in catalpa trees in Brooklyn Bridge Park. From the LLP, I learned that mine was the third New York State record for this species, and the only one in NYC. There was much rejoicing.Yesterday, I found them down the street, in some street tree swamp white oaks (Q. bicolor) on 5th Avenue here in Sunset Park. These trees are still young enough that I can reach into their leaves and branches. The invasive Harmonia axyridis like these same trees.

There is some color variation in the Adalias, as you can see (and the black ones have four spots…). Like many a living insect, these lady beetles are hard to photograph. They also seem to have a loose grip on the leaves; they’ll often fall off if I touch the leaf intending to turn it toward the camera, but luckily they can fly. Not so the larval stage of the species; these gator-like forms have a good grip and steady jaws.

Naturalist Notes

Viola canadensis, a native violet.It was cool, so this Robin (Turdus migratorius) was hunkered down on those blue blue eggs.A Red Velvet Mite of the family Trombidiidae. Predators of the leaf-litter zone, as large as a blood-gorged tick and, being mite-y, rather looking like one.So many vocal White-Throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) in the Ramble!And a recent sunset.

Raptor Wednesday

As I glanced out the window one fine morning…
There was a zoom here and a zoom there and a Cooper’s Hawk on patrol took a fairly longish break, for a Cooper’s Hawk, on a fire escape, to watch the local Starlings and Rock Doves and Sparrows recover from their fright.

Not a bad shot of the tail here, considering the distance. Note the lack of white borders at the dark bands; a young Goshawk would have those.

I hope you’ve been paying attention to the Gavin Grimm story. He’s a profile in courage we can all use.

Raptor Wednesday

Sometimes all you get is the general shape of the critter. The big-headed American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), for instance. Other times, you take your best shot. I thought this might be a Kestrel, too. But it sure was spending a lot of time up there, a behavioral characteristic I haven’t seen so much with Kestrels. I hustled the half kilometer downhill to get a better view. (Still a crappy photograph, but better than nothing.) Much darker, more heavily streaked.Merlin (Falco columbarius)! So I’d been seeing this shape up there off and on from 2/20. Had it been a Merlin the whole time? The last time I definitely saw a Merlin was New Year’s Day. There have been a few ebirds sightings in the borough since then. And this past weekend there were two in Green-Wood!

Oak Galls

gall1The mighty oaks and their galls are an endless source of curiosity. This particular type, a hard, fruit-like structure, is created by a tiny wasp, which essentially irritated the tree into making them for their larva.
galls2Clever boots! The trees are Swamp White Oak (Q. bicolor), according to the Street Tree Map. (I’m waiting on some leaves to see if I can confirm that.)gall3The wasp’s exit hole. I think these are Disholcaspis genus gall wasps. D. quercusmamma perhaps? (Why, yes, a translation of that would be “oak breasts.”)


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