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Sunday, June 24, 2018

I Moved to Linden Avenue!

A blossoming linden tree. I'm pasting below a blog I wrote a few years ago about linden trees and flowers. Click the photo to enlarge. 
The American linden tree, Tilia americana, is also called basswood, lime tree, white wood, and bee tree. 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 tress 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 corer 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. 

I wrote a few other posts about linden trees after this one in past Junes. Click here. Or here. I really like linden trees. Then a funny linden-related thing happened. You'll see in the right hand side bar section "about me" that I added a June 2018 update. In short, I retired and moved out of New York City. I'm now living about 15 minutes from Center City Philadelphia, so there will be no lack of urban wildlife to discover. I am also close to the New Jersey Pine Barrens, which is full of interesting things. But the cool thing is  -- I moved to a street called Linden Avenue, and when the leaves on the winter street trees opened in spring I realized that the tree in front of my new home is a linden! And each of my close neighbors has a huge spreading linden out front, too. There are more up and down the block and they are all blooming right now so the air here is sweet with the smell of linden flowers -- fresh, green, flowery and sweet.  Like honey, melon, and limes. Ahhh. 




Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day!

Chincoteague wild ponies. Click to enlarge. 
"The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature."

                               -- Antoine-François Prévost

Sunday, June 10, 2018

June

A cabbage white butterfly on vetch flowers. Click to enlarge. 
I am appreciating June right now -- the hot sun, cool shade, little breezes, and scents of honeysuckle and privet. This butterfly reminded me of this line from Pablo Neruda's 100 Love Sonnets:

Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month 
of June trembled like a butterfly. 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sharpshooter!

Meet the Broad-headed Sharpshooter, Oncometopia orbona. Click to enlarge.
This large leaf hopper is called broad-headed for obvious reasons. There are a couple of competing stories about why it is called a sharpshooter. Maybe it is because it can defend itself by spitting a liquid stream of waste at an adversary, causing a diversion while making its getaway. Then again, it might be named for the magnificence of its accurate bullet-like long distance leaping powers. OR it just might be its stealthy way of disappearing like a military sharpshooter, tiptoeing to hide behind a tree to avoid detection when approached. 

I played a game of hide and seek with this one while trying to photograph her from behind or above. Every time I moved, she moved deftly to the opposite side of the stem and then froze, giving the impression she was tiptoeing -- or should I say tip-tarsus-ing? 

I say her, because what I noticed first about this bug was the bright white wings patches. Female sharpshooters of some species produce this stuff and then store it on their wings until they lay eggs. Then they scrape it off their wings to apply a protective coating to the eggs.


Well met, Ms. Sharpshooter!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Happy Memorial Day!

Beverly National Cemetery in Beverly, New Jersey. Click to enlarge.
Soldier rest! thy warfare o'er,
Dream of fighting fields no more;
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Morn of toil, nor night of waking. 

from Soldier, Rest! Thy Warfare o'er
by Sir Walter Scott 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Feisty Egrets

Here's a lovely snowy egret with gold feet on display and plumes blowing in the wind.  It's  in a great fishing spot near the outflow from a water gate at one of the ponds at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, New Jersey. 
It's a spot worth defending, apparently, and any unwary egret that gets too close gets chased.  The  one on the right looks cowed, doesn't it? "OK OK -- I'm going already!"
But egret #2 did not move fast enough and ended up getting a kwok-yelling, wing-beating, flying jump directed at him. 
Then a couple of others showed up and got the same treatment. "Go on, get out of here!"
Ok. Alone at last. Back to fishing. 
Until the next interloper arrived! 
There were interludes of unexpected synchronized flying. Very nice! 
Then finally alone again. This bird looks to me like it would grumble if it could. I'll bet  more challengers showed up after I left.