Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bee meets Beetle

A Japanese beetle and a brown-belted bumblebee on milkweed flowers. The bee is touching the beetle with a foot; they both drew back a second later. Click to enlarge.

"Summer afternoon -- summer afternoon; 
to me those have always been 
the two most beautiful words in the English language." 
Henry James

Sunday, July 20, 2014

East River Terns

In summer it is easy to spot slender aerodynamic terns diving head first into the East River to catch small fish. Common terns, Sterna hirundo, and Forster's terns, Sterna forsteri, are both likely sightings.

This Forster's tern is resting on the Brooklyn shore of the East River between dives. Click to enlarge. 
This is a common tern. The differences between common and Forster's terns are subtle and confuse many birdwatchers. Common terns have darker backs, bills more red than orange, and a less extensive black area at the tip of the bill. The feathers of the folded wings are noticeably darker.  

Tern Joke Time!

A German taxidermist walks into a sausage store, places his order, but then notices he has forgotten his wallet. All he has with him is a stuffed bird, which he offers in payment. The storekeeper agrees to take a tern for the wurst.

Why do terns fly in flocks?
Because one good tern deserves another!

A flock of terns flew over a marijuana club in Denver.
No tern was left unstoned!

A deckhand on the night shift of a cruise ship was assigned to clean mud from the links of an anchor chain. A big broom was the perfect tool to sweep away the mud, but a little tame bird kept landing on the broom and getting in the way. The deckhand repeatedly caught the bird and tossed it into the air but it came back again and again. The next morning the captain was shocked to see that nothing had been accomplished. “Not my fault,” the deckhand said, “I tossed a tern all night but couldn’t sweep a link!”

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Two Kinds of Coots

I was in London last week for a conference. My hotel was near Kensington Gardens, one of London's Royal Parks. I walked all over the gardens, saw the famous statue of Peter Pan, and sat by a pond watching the royal waterfowl. There were mute swans, tufted ducks, Egyptian geese, moorhens, great crested grebes, great blue herons, and abundant Eurasian coots.

Eurasian coot adult, Fulica atra. Click to enlarge. 
A Eurasian coot chick strikes the same pose. 
This is our local version -- the American coot, Fulica americana. Note the different features on the face. Ours has marks at the tip of the beak and on the forehead. 
And here is Peter Pan...