Sunday, February 28, 2016

Restless Hawk

I saw this immature red-tailed hawk last week in Central Park. 
It was inspecting tree holes. 
I think it was inspired by the spring weather to think about making a nest. 
It picked up sticks and carried them, put them down again. 
Click to enlarge. 
When I left the hawk it was standing with its foot on a newly collected stick --
almost ready to start building.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Butterfly Break

Tired of grey February skies? Here's a nice butterfly from warmer and brighter times last year. It's an American Lady, Vanessa virginiensis. Its upper side is black and orange with white spots and a touch of purple in some of the spots on the hindwing. 
From below it looks like another butterfly altogether: pink and beige and purple with a spider-web-like net of white lines. The two large eyespots on the hindwing distinguish it from the similar closely related butterfly, Vanessa cardui, the painted lady, which has a row of four small eyespots there. Click to enlarge. 
Here is the underside of a Painted Lady for comparison. Note four eyespots on the hindwing.  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

How Cold Is It?

The cold earth slept below;
Above the cold sky shone;
And all around,
With a chilling sound,
From caves of ice and fields of snow
The breath of night like death did flow
Beneath the sinking moon.

The wintry hedge was black; 
The green grass was not seen;
The birds did rest
On the bare thorn's breast,
Whose roots, beside the pathway track,
Had bound their folds over many a crack
Which the frost had made between... 

by Percy Bysshe Shelley -- from The Cold Earth Slept Below

It's that cold! It was a record-breaking -1F last night in Central Park. Meanwhile on my Brooklyn porch, the birds at the feeder have their feathers maximally puffed up and their feet tucked in. Here are my two favorite raisin eaters posing on the planters.

The northern mockingbird. 

The winter robin. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Bees in the Snowdrops

I took a walk in Central Park one afternoon last week -- the warm day just before the snow day. Some of the little hills there were covered with snowdrop blossoms. Beautiful. Click to enlarge. 
Looking closer I saw honeybees. February honeybees! I pictured them peeking out of their hive wishing for spring, deciding the day was surprisingly tolerable, and venturing out to find snowdrops. I simultaneously pictured myself as a bee, but staying in, putting my six feet up, and eating last summer's honey. 
You can see a ball of yellow pollen in the pollen sac on this bee's rear leg. Mmmm… snowdrop pollen. Now that's a rare delicacy!