Sunday, June 26, 2016

World Giraffe Day!

I took these photos of a pair of young giraffes at the Cape May County Zoo in Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey. Adorable, right? 
 World Giraffe Day was this past week on June 21st. You will recognize that date as the spring equinox and the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation, GCF, picked that day to celebrate giraffes, the animals with the longest necks, and to bring attention to the problems of protecting wild giraffe populations; the GCF works to preserve giraffe habitat and to identify and mitigate threats to them. And they raise money to conserve and manage giraffes across Africa.

Don't worry if you missed World Giraffe Day or didn't know about it; it started in 2015 so this is only the second one. You'll be ready for next year. Click here for Giraffe Day attire recommendation.

Click here for the World Giraffe Day Facebook page. 

Click here to read about giraffe conservation on the GCF webpage. 

Click on the photos to enlarge. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Linden Time Again

The linden tree, Tilia americana, is also called basswood, lime tree, white wood, and bee tree. 
Click to enlarge. 
This blog is normally about wildlife, but I'm taking a moment to praise the linden trees that are blossoming in New York right now. In a city not noted for smelling good, the event is a delightful occasion.

Linden trees smell fresh, green, flowery, and sweet -- a little like melon, a little like honey. The smell wafts hauntingly around the trees and spreads on warm breezes. It makes me stop and inhale. It smells so good that I look forward to passing each linden on my daily route, especially a big old tree on the northeast corner of Central Park West at 66th street; its flower-covered branches droop over the sidewalk and diffuse perfume all around.

Lindens are native to eastern North America. They are common in cities, suburbs, and forests, so a lot of places smell good right now. Closely related trees, also called lindens, grow throughout the Northern hemisphere. They are prized for their beauty. Their wood is especially valued by carvers -- linden wood decorates the great cathedrals of Europe. Linden leaves and flowers are used for perfumes and teas. Honey made from linden flowers has a light minty herbal taste that is renowned among honeys.

Aromatherapists use linden to "calm and relax the body and the mind." We could use more of that. We should plant more lindens.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Time to Smell the Roses

Brooklyn smells like roses this week. 
Well, maybe not everywhere -- but the parks smell great. I was home for a week-long stay-cation and I took a walk in nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park every day. The air was sweet with the scent of roses and I recommend a visit while they are still in bloom. And when you pause to smell them, take a look inside.
You might find a rose weevil, making holes.
Or a lovely half-green sweat bee.
Or maybe a honeybee with its pollen sacs full of yellow rose pollen. 
Or a Japanese beetle. Click on the photos to enlarge. 
Or even a pair of common eastern bumblebees double-teaming. 
There's lots more going on in there. Take a look. And a sniff. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Happy Memorial Day!

The Veterans Cemetery in Atlantic County Park in Mays Landing, New Jersey.  
Click to enlarge. 

Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking, 
Dream of battled fields no more. 
-- Sir Walter Scott

I will be back to blogging about urban wildlife next Sunday. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Tree Swallows

Tree swallows, Tachycineta bicolor, show up at my favorite wildlife refuge (Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge -- click on the name to read about the place) in spring and stay for the summer. They readily move into nest boxes like the one in the photo that are provided for them by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These birds prefer to nest near water, so the coastal refuge is a perfect spot for them. Click to enlarge. 

                                                                                                                                            Tree swallows spend most of their day flying in pursuit of small aerial insects, gliding swiftly through the air and twisting and turning artistically as their blue feathers flash in the sunlight. This haiku written in 1818 by Issa, one of Japan's foremost poets, recognizes the aerial exploits of swallow-kind:

gliding through the cloudburst
so cleverly...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Goose Reflections

I was watching a Canada goose family (Branta canadensis) and was impressed by how often they did exactly the same things at the same time and struck identical poses, especially the goslings. Congruent like the two above. 
Or symmetrical like these two. Click to enlarge. 
Apparently they get it from their parents! 
And here's a demonstration of the famous goose step.