The blog is back, with a new name, Wild Wingéd Ones, but with the same focus, nature in Hudson River Park.
It returns, not on the wings of eagles, but on the broad wings of geese, the tapered wings of terns, the scaly wings of butterflies, the membranous wings of wasps, the double pair of wings of dragonflies, and the single pair of wings of flies.
After a dismal spring of few bird migrants and a poor early summer of little variety and small numbers of butterflies and dragonflies observed, August began with a bang: the greatest variety of identified insect life I had ever seen in a two hour period in the morning at the park since I began observing in June 2005.
Nine butterfly species:
all-too-common Cabbage whites;
a few Red admirals, quite common this summer;
a Painted lady;
two Tiger swallowtails, a rarity, sharing the same butterfly bush inflorescense;
a Black swallowtail;
a Question mark, rare this summer;
an uncommon Summer azure;
and an unusual Spicebush swallowtail, seen once before.
The cry carries across the water. A cry reminiscent of a time when hickory-oak forests ran to the river’s edge and meandering streams mixed their sweet waters with the briny waters of the Hudson. The raptor springs from its perch on the side of the building, launching itself into the air. With spread wings and tail it powers itself above the pier, spiraling up over both land and water. To a contemporary human, the ascending bird of prey is an evocative sight, exemplifying a sense of the wild and the free. To a duck, or a pigeon, or any of the passerines, the rising peregrine falcon is an unwelcome sight, so as it climbs, barn swallows in twos and three harass the raptor, only to break off when the falcon achieves cruising altitude. Once there, the soaring peregrine displays its characteristic profile of sharply pointed wings and narrow tail. Then after making several wide circles, the falcon descends rapidly to return to its perch overlooking the river.
Posted at: 03:42 PM | 0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink
Walking along the edge of the lawn where it adjoins the lilies and the coneflowers, I sometimes see dragonflies cruising over the shrubbery or gliding low over the grass in their continual search for insects to be captured on the wing. The globe skimmers among them often glint golden in the sunlight, as they race back and forth over the greenery. The larger, stockier appearing saddlebags dragonflies, with their black bodies and black patches on the wings close to the body, generally appear dark against the sky, but in certain conditions may give off coppery sparks as they momentarily seem to hover in the sun’s rays. This morning, as I walk beside the green stalks of unopened lilies, a large dragonfly having patches of color on the wings glides over the plants slowly, circles, and hovers, as if preparing to settle on a lily bud. It descends to perch on a stalk growing on a small rise, so that the dragonfly as it lands is about level with my head. My first thought is of the familiar black saddlebags. However, the coloring strikes as not that of a black saddlebags and the behavior differs markedly from the constantly...
Posted at: 04:36 PM | 0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink
On my way from the south section of Hudson River to the north, I pass Pier 40, a massive 14 acre structure complete with three-story, rectangular building, surrounding open-air playing fields in the center. As I walk by, motion in the sky over a corner of a large, four-story building, across sevens lanes of heavy traffic, attracts my attention. There in the pale blue, sun-washed sky a black bird circles and flies at a second bird, of similar size. As I watch, the crow turns away, leaving the other bird alone. Immediately, I recognize the shape of a raptor, and when the bird spreads its wings to circle, I identify it as a falcon, perhaps a peregrine, by its pointed wings, and narrow tail. The bird flies along the top of the building, until it alights on the arched railing of a metal ladder running up to the roof on the outside wall. Observing the raptor perched on the railing, I note the heavy black sideburns,” that confirm it as peregrine falcon. This is my best view of a peregrine, although several pairs of these birds nest and breed on New York City’s bridges and skyscrapers. ...
Posted at: 04:30 PM | 0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink