Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cardinals Doing Fine

Northern cardinals nest in the garden behind my condo every year; it's a good spot for them with trees, water, and food. They stop by my porch occasionally and I give them snacks of raisins and peanuts.  For the past few days the female pictured above has been going out of her way to make sure I see her when she visits; she flutters in front of the window or lands on the sill and looks in while chipping loudly. Click to enlarge. 
Not coincidentally, a male cardinal has been stopping by the porch with two big babies in tow. He feeds them mouth-to-mouth or flits around nervously while they feed themselves. The male and female haven't come to the porch together for a while. Maybe they are working different shifts. 
The male is easily spooked when the youngsters are with him and they all fly away when I try to photograph them so a don't have a 2016 family photo yet. But here is a picture of one of the baby porch cardinals from a previous year. 
Any questions? 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Butterfly Dream

Today was too hot for human comfort in New York, but the butterflies seemed undaunted. There were several monarchs like the one above in the wildflower meadow on Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. They reminded me of the famous butterfly dream of the Chinese philosopher Chuang-Tzu, which I've quoted below. 

"Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awakened, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man." 

 -Zhuangzi (c.3rd century B.C.): The Butterfly as Companion: Meditations on the first three chapters of the Chuang-Tzu, by Kuang-Ming Wu (1990).

Click on the photos to enlarge. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Day Off

I'm taking a break from blogging today to relax and celebrate my upcoming birthday. My relaxation plan so far is to drift from meal to meal like a jellyfish. I saw the one pictured here from the Brooklyn Shore of the East River. I think it is what they call a Lion's Mane jellyfish but I am too languid to find out more right now. Click on the picture to enlarge. I'll be back next Sunday. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Squash Vine Borer Moth

I found this stunning insect among the wildflowers on Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It's a  squash vine borer moth, Melittia cucurbitae. Click to enlarge. 
It is a day-flying clearwing moth with see-through hind wings.

The squash vine borer moth gets its name from its larval stage; the larvae are vine crop pests that eat the stems of squash, pumpkins, gourds, cucumbers, and melons. Adults emerge from their cocoons in summer (I saw this one on July 9th) after having spent the winter in the ground. Adult females lay eggs and the larvae that hatch from them burrow into stems where they eat and grow. Eventually the larvae burrow into the soil and spin cocoons. We see them again as adults the following summer. 

Gotta love those shaggy leggings! 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Happy Parents' Day

National Parents' Day is the fourth Sunday in July -- that's today!  Here's an American robin feeding its hungry chick for the occasion. Click on the photo to enlarge. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Some New Urban Wildlife

When I went outside yesterday to look for some urban wildlife around Brooklyn Heights, I was overwhelmed by an apparent irruption of wild Pokemon creatures like the Doduo pictured above. Click to enlarge for a better look. 
This Clefairy was just hanging out on a street corner. Looking at me. 
And I saw this Polliwag who looked like he might be up to no good. 
This Zubat flapped at me. 
A Staryu was hanging out at Brooklyn Borough Hall Plaza. 
This little wild Eevee was frolicking in the Metro Tech gardens. 
In the same garden -- a Rattata in the grass. 
There were lots more of these things in the neighborhood -- dragons, snakes, rhinos, cats, monkeys, octopus and other fabulous forms. If you go out to hunt for them, which I and apparently thousands of other New Yorkers think is fun, try Pier One at Brooklyn Bridge Park where there are often active lures. On Saturday night it was like Times Square down there. For now at least, the Pokemons seem to be everywhere. Like this guy, below, (or is it these guys, below) in my local supermarket.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Goats at Work

Four goats are at work eating weeds in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It's a big improvement over lawn mowers of the more common sort. This guy is on the job right now. The name on his collar says Hector. Click to enlarge. 
Here's another one. His collar (from a different photo) says Horatio. They are nubian goats. The park hired them for their eco-friendly ways and their climbing skills to trim the steep slopes of the noise-attenuating berm at the Pier 3 uplands. 

I've seen them a few times from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade when they are on the east side of the berm. Can you see them in this photo? Follow the line of the crane down to the crest of the hill. Goats are a big surprise in this setting for people who are not expecting them. 
Here is a more magnified shot from the same vantage. The other two goats are called Minnie and Eyebrows. They all spend their nights in a shed and they are on the job every day, munching away inside a fenced enclosure. 

Go take a look at them if you are near. But don't feed them or they won't do their job as well and don't disturb them -- just look. They are way cool! 

Mmmm... tasty weeds.