Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, New Jersey (near Atlantic City). The walk takes several hours for those of us who constantly stop to take photographs and to identify birds and butterflies. There were many many pairs of damselflies mating in the marsh grass that day.
It is not immediately obvious (to us) what is going on during damselfly and dragonfly sex. Here are the basics: An amorous male begins by producing sperm from genitalia at the tip of his abdomen (tail). He transfers the sperm package to receptacles under his belly. Then he goes off to find a female.
When he locates a likely mate, he grabs her by the head with hooks on the end of his abdomen; his claspers fit precisely to females of his species. The claspers-to-head position is called a mating chain. Sometimes they fly while connected like this.
Click here to see a halloween pennant dragonfly mating wheel in a previous blog post.
And from the obscure trivia department. The damselfly has a very nice name in Dutch -- it's called a waterjuffer.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Sunday, October 21, 2012
|The common copper butterfly, Lycaena phlaeas. Click to enlarge.
Its forewings are orange with black spots and a gray border; underneath they are similar but lighter colored. The hind wings are gray above with orange patches at the rear; underneath they are lighter gray with black spots and a zigzagged orange line at the edge. As is typical for members of the butterfly family Lycaenidae, the common copper has black-and-white ringed antennae and its eyes are outlined with white.
|Striped antennae and white-ringed eyes!
Whence do you come?
I know not, I ask not,
Nor ever had a home.
Where do you go?
Where the sun shines,
And where the buds grow.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
|Not the image that comes to mind when you picture New York City, is it? This is Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The refuge office is on Cross Bay Boulevard in the New York City borough of Queens. Click on the photo to enlarge.
|You can see the distant Manhattan skyline from the gravel paths of the refuge. The tallest building is the New World Trade Center.
|You can get there on the NYC subway -- another surprise! From my Brooklyn neighborhood it takes about 40 minutes to get to Broad Channel station, about a mile from the refuge. The last half of the ride is above ground. Take the Mott Avenue-Far Rockaway bound A train. Click here to check the schedule with the MTA's trip planner. Step out of the station and walk straight to Cross Bay Boulevard. Turn right. Continue to the refuge entrance on the left side of the road.
|Then relax and walk around the West Pond. The trail takes you for a 1.6 mile stroll through woodland and marsh.
|Yesterday I saw cormorants, great egrets, ruddy ducks, mallards, song sparrows, kinglets, mute swans, Canada geese, and large flocks of brant geese. But the real stars were the yellow-rumped warblers.
|The yellow-rumped warbler, Setophaga coronata, is also called the myrtle warbler. The picture above explains its common nickname butter butt.
|The trail has nicely placed benches for a mid-hike picnic lunch.
|The autumn foliage is perfect now, too. :-)
Sunday, October 7, 2012
|Fiddler crabs in the salt marsh. Click to enlarge.
The fiddler crabs in the photographs live in the muddy salt marsh at Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge on the New Jersey shore near Atlantic City. At low tide they forage for bits of decayed plant material. When the tide comes in, they retreat into underground burrows, plugging the entrances with mud. They stay holed up there until the tide goes out. If you watch the mud flats as the water withdraws you will see holes appear and crabs emerge. From spring until autumn, at least. But when the weather gets too cold for them, fiddler crabs retreat into their burrows, plug them up, and stay out of sight until spring. The ones at Forsythe will do that soon -- the high temperature in Atlantic City today was only 57 degrees.
They remind me of a hippie song from the 1960's by Donovan Leitch -- The Tinker and the Crab. In part:
...Down where young gulls dance
Driftwood lying, drying for the fire
Yellow beak and sleek
Now the gulls are crying, flying higher
Out from the sea came a little green crab
Taking the sun
The morning being very drab
Old rusted cans
Pebbles 'bedded in the sand
Stand and stare