Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring at last...

Great egrets are here. Let the spring begin! 

I wrote a guest blog about northern cardinals for a blog called Tweets and Treefrogs; click here to see it

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sleeping Birds

Three ducks have settled down to sleep on the shore of the pond on Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, pictured here. They are near the left. Their heads are tucked into their back feathers. They can barely be seen. Click to enlarge the photo. Mallard ducks are famous for sleeping vigilantly; they can literally sleep with one eye open, using half of the brain. A row of sleeping ducks often has a sentry on each end, each keeping an eye out for danger. 

Gulls are dozing on pilings nearby in the East River as night falls on New York Harbor. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Last Blog of Winter!

Brant geese on pilings in the East River at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Click on the photos to enlarge. 
Click here to read a previous blog comparing brant geese, Branta bernicla, and Canada geese, Brant canadensis

The geese awake
"snow is melting!

Haiku by Issa, 1763-1827

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Duck Romance

On the left, a male black duck. On the right, a female mallard. 
The duck couple I wrote about two weeks ago was mating on the pond in Brooklyn Bridge Park again today, Sunday, March 10, 2013. Click here for the previous blog.   

I photographed some of their courtship postures last time. Today I took a few shots of copulation, which is brief and happens in the water. They ended their courtship displays with mutual head-pumping. Then she extended her head and got low and flat in the water.
The male stepped onto the female's back. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see her head below the surface. 

Grabbing her neck or feathers helps him keep his balance. 
He maneuvered his tail under hers to make genital contact. Above water we see a single thrust. 
It was over in moments. He stepped off. She floated up.  
She enjoyed some post-copulatory splashing. 
Ta Da! 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pretty Flies

Flies in the scientific family Calliphoridae come in a variety of shiny metallic colors, and have many common names:  bluebottles, greenbottles, carrion flies, cluster flies, and blow flies. Click on the photo to enlarge. 

"How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!" 

"...Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing; 

your robes are green and purple..."

from The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt. Click here to read it.