Posts Tagged 'Virginia'


A pellet of pieces of shell and pebbles. Found on a pier on the Piankatank, along with some other samples that had been smushed and otherwise dissembled. Diameter of a quarter and quite round. Who do you suppose chucked it up? Grebes, Kingfishers, Loons, Osprey out there: but they’re all fish-eaters.

Roof Bird

Pavo cristatus, the Indian Pea Fowl. Big bird, helluva big voice. The only places I’ve run into these beasts (you should see their spur claws!) in NYC is in Prospect Park, where several boom from the zoo, and occasionally get loose, and on an old estate on Staten Island, near Princes Bay, where you can hear them several blocks away.

Atalantycha bilineata

Two-lined Leather-wing, also known as Two-lined Cantharid. One of the soldier beetles. This is one of the earliest Cantharids to emerge in the spring, evidently. Found from Nova Scotia on down. This one spotted in Virginia three weeks ago, where/when not too much else was flying.

According to Wikipedia, soldier beetles (Cantharidae) were called such because one of the first described had the colors of a British Redcoat.

New Point Comfort

What’s all this, then? At the limits of my telephoto. An observation platform at the tip of Mathews County, poking into the Chesapeake. And out there, a dead cetacean of some kind being recycled.Bald Eagles were nearby. Posted one is older, but not quite in full adult plumage.There was another juvenile on a nearby island.But it was the gulls who were doing most of the work. Overhead, a few more eagles.
And another Baldie at a great distance, on a sandbar. So it always pays to scan the horizon. On some pilings out there, an unusual but rather unmistakable silhouette: Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis).



In Ye Olde Colonial Williamsburg, we found some curious trees.These are pollarded Sycamores. They’ve been pruned back in the canopy to promote denser branching and foliage, and to control height and reach (good for urban areas). The practice is at least two millennia old. The English brought it with them to the Virginia colony.Rather Entish in silhouette, eh?
Somewhere in here I also wrote about coppicing, another tree-management strategy. Ah, here it is!

Muckle Turkle

The Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum). This species is endangered here in New York State, where they are only found on the non-NYC parts of Long Island. (Habitat destruction, car wheels, the usual work of H. allegedly sapiens.) A fair number were in the Pitch and Tar Swamp at Jamestown Island, Virginia, where I took these pictures last week. These are the first Muddies I’ve ever come across.They’re small turtles, about 4 inches long when fully grown, and just under 5″ for the record-breakers. And have they got a lot of neck! Evidently, they’re sometimes mistaken for young Snappers, but the practiced eye will disabuse that notion. I read that they’re the only mud turtle in most of their range and have a strong tolerance for salt water, so can be found in brackish marshes and the like.

I tried to turn one of the numerous examples in that turtle paradise into a Stinkpot (Sternotherus odoratus), a.k.a., Common Musk Turtle, but I failed. That’s a species I still haven’t seen. They are supposed to still be on Staten Island.

Time Flies


It’s already been a week since we returned from Virginia, where the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) were present in force. Nests had been claimed and birds were mating repeatedly. Check out the Route 301 bridge over the Potomac: as co-pilot, I spotted six nests near it (three were right over the road on sign towers, two on the MD side, one on the VA side) as we sped by at 55mph.These photos are of a pair at the Rappahannock River Valley NWR unit near Tappahannock. (Eat your sushi from the head down. That’s a piece of nesting material around the toes.) A couple more were overhead, as was a trio of cavorting Bald Eagles.

Meanwhile, in NYC, I haven’t yet seen an Osprey yet. But they have been sighted by others (I get my 411 via email). We know from some satellite-tagged birds at Jamaica Bay that it takes about two weeks for them to fly up from Colombia (others go further, some are closer during our winter).  A report from the Bronx said that a pair chased off some Bald Eagles who were examining a long-time Osprey nest near Pelham Bay. I’m keeping an eye on the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, where a pair of Osprey unexpectedly nested last year.


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