Monday, August 29, 2016

I Love Pier 6

A wildflower meadow fills much of Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. 
It is equally tempting there to wander the flower-lined paths or sit among the blossoms. 
Insects and flowers go together. There is so much activity. Right now there are lots of monarch butterflies gathering nectar from milkweeds. 
And so many kinds of ladybugs you can hardly keep track. The ladybugs are feasting on aphids. The aphids are feasting on plants. 
There are thousands of bees of all kinds collecting nectar and pollen like this honeybee.  
A few mockingbirds are always there making a racket and sometimes swooping into the flowers to catch tasty insects. 
If you follow your curiosity you can have adventures and discover things. I stopped to look at the fruit on this tree. 
I think it's a kind of magnolia that will ripen to look like this one nearby. 
But see that smudge that looks like a bird dropping on the low left leaf? 
Close up it looks like this. 
It's a tiger swallowtail caterpillar! Click to enlarge. 
I find amazing things in the urban wildflower meadow at Pier 6! 
Iris Murdoch wrote in A Fairly Honourable Defeat: People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cardinals Doing Fine

Northern cardinals nest in the garden behind my condo every year; it's a good spot for them with trees, water, and food. They stop by my porch occasionally and I give them snacks of raisins and peanuts.  For the past few days the female pictured above has been going out of her way to make sure I see her when she visits; she flutters in front of the window or lands on the sill and looks in while chipping loudly. Click to enlarge. 
Not coincidentally, a male cardinal has been stopping by the porch with two big babies in tow. He feeds them mouth-to-mouth or flits around nervously while they feed themselves. The male and female haven't come to the porch together for a while. Maybe they are working different shifts. 
The male is easily spooked when the youngsters are with him and they all fly away when I try to photograph them so a don't have a 2016 family photo yet. But here is a picture of one of the baby porch cardinals from a previous year. 
Any questions? 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Butterfly Dream

Today was too hot for human comfort in New York, but the butterflies seemed undaunted. There were several monarchs like the one above in the wildflower meadow on Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. They reminded me of the famous butterfly dream of the Chinese philosopher Chuang-Tzu, which I've quoted below. 

"Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awakened, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man." 

 -Zhuangzi (c.3rd century B.C.): The Butterfly as Companion: Meditations on the first three chapters of the Chuang-Tzu, by Kuang-Ming Wu (1990).

Click on the photos to enlarge. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Day Off

I'm taking a break from blogging today to relax and celebrate my upcoming birthday. My relaxation plan so far is to drift from meal to meal like a jellyfish. I saw the one pictured here from the Brooklyn Shore of the East River. I think it is what they call a Lion's Mane jellyfish but I am too languid to find out more right now. Click on the picture to enlarge. I'll be back next Sunday. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Squash Vine Borer Moth

I found this stunning insect among the wildflowers on Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It's a  squash vine borer moth, Melittia cucurbitae. Click to enlarge. 
It is a day-flying clearwing moth with see-through hind wings.

The squash vine borer moth gets its name from its larval stage; the larvae are vine crop pests that eat the stems of squash, pumpkins, gourds, cucumbers, and melons. Adults emerge from their cocoons in summer (I saw this one on July 9th) after having spent the winter in the ground. Adult females lay eggs and the larvae that hatch from them burrow into stems where they eat and grow. Eventually the larvae burrow into the soil and spin cocoons. We see them again as adults the following summer. 

Gotta love those shaggy leggings!