Posts Tagged 'Sunset Park'


Yesterday was the first day it felt like fall, more than three weeks past the equinox. And then it dropped to 41 overnight. This morning the radiators were gurgling.

Locally, not many leaves have turned yet, but these, fallen from a Nyssa sylvatica (Black Gum, Black Tupelo), are in the mood.This Eastern Phoebe was a pleasant surprise in Green-Wood, which was otherwise bird-quiet. Two Red-Tailed Hawks circled overhead, a passing airplane between them. Later, walking home down 5th Avenue, I saw a Cooper’s Hawk gliding with the wind, back towards the cemetery.

Radar last night showed a lot of bird movement. Migration ain’t over yet.
Late afternoon.

Just before sunset, I saw a lone Chimney Swift over Sunset Park. The day I’ll see no more for the year is the real beginning of winter. Temps will be in the high 70s again by Thursday…

Meanwhile, Trump will lie about any and every thing, every single day. What a mendacious piece of shit.

Tyrannus tyrannus juniors

Yesterday I noticed a large corvid being chased by something small. I couldn’t get on either of them quick enough tell who was who, but afterwards I noticed an Eastern Kingbird perched on one of the London planes lining the northern edge of Sunset Park. Could this have been the pursuer? They don’t call them Tyrannus tyrannus for nothing. Some minutes later, I saw the whole family. Some snapshots were the result. Above: adult on the left, fledgling on the right.Kingbirds aren’t uncommon in parks, especially perched over water or meadows, but I don’t recall seeing one from the home windows. Above are the two fledglings. They chirped incessantly for food, their pink-red mouths marking their hungry maws. (This was on the plane tree across the street; the same branch has also hosted mating Kestrels.) Youngsters above and below.


Our only marsupial, the Virginia Opossum, Didelphis virginiana, commonly called possum, is plenty familiar with the city. But, being nocturnal, they aren’t seen all that often. This one seems to have lingered past sunrise, at a favored food source: the garbage pails.Remember, these critters are highly resistant to rabies. If they’re snarling at you it means you’re too damn close. And they will faint from stress, the famous “playing possum” trick.


Would there were an antidote to political rabies! That most overrated of Senators, John McCain, yesterday achieved a notoriety even worse than inflicting Sarah Palin on the nation. It’s traditional not to speak ill of the dead (evidently they can’t hear you), so let me get this in now while there is still life in the old bastard.


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.


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