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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Today in Prospect Park

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I walked passed the Litchfield Villa on my way towards the center of the park. The grass that borders the footpath is now dotted with blooming white clover. Lady's Thumb's bright pink flower spikes have recently added a splash of color at ankle height. I bent down to take a photograph of the fuchsia flowers and noticed a minute grass spider. He stood motionless at the opening of his tunnel web in an English Ivy leaf waiting for lunch.

Lady's Thumb (Polygonum persicaria)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Grass Spider (Agelenopsis spp)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about spiders-

In the woods near the Picnic House I heard the unhurried, unremitting “here-I-am, where-are-you” of a Red-eyed Vireo. Over the next few hours I heard at least two more singing as they remained hidden within the woodland’s canopy.

I didn’t really have an agenda when I walked into the park, I just wanted to see what birds, bugs and blooms were around. I ran into Steve Nanz in the Midwood as he looked for moths and other insects to photograph. We spent a lot of time together and he showed me how to locate moths hidden on the underside of leaves. The macro function of my camera is very limited but I was able to photograph a few species. Some of these tiny creatures that usually go unnoticed have amazing colors and patterns. The details of Venusta Orchard Spider was a big surprise. His abdomen is so silvery that the reflection from my flash made photographing him difficult. He is no larger than your computer’s cursor on this page.

Venusta Orchard Spider (Leucauge venusta)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Cranefly (Tipulidae spp)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

As we were looking for bugs I heard one of our Red-tailed Hawks calling from above the forest. I caught a fleeting glimpse of him as he descended into the trees at the north end of the Midwood. A few moments later I heard the chirping call of a young hawk from the trees at the top of the ridge that overlooks the woods. They are likely the family from the Ravine Pine tree nest.

At the Nethermead Arches a House Wren (who nests annually in the same street lamp) sang his happy, bubbly song. Not far from the bridge a Great Crested Flycatcher made a loud, clear “wheeep”. In a Linden Tree at the edge of the Nethermead Meadow Steve heard the wheezy, insect-like calls of a gnatcatcher. We eventually located the whole family from the nest in the Black Cherry tree as they foraged for insects in the linden.

As we were getting ready to leave the park Steve offered to show me a Baltimore Oriole nest. The hanging basket nest was constructed in a sycamore tree adjacent to one of the baseball field’s backstop. There was a little league game in progress but the oriole family seemed to ignore all the noise and activity. The adults frequently whistled and chattered as they approached the nest. There were three large hatchlings that virtually attacked the parents when they arrived at the nest with food. Sadly, I noticed one dead hatchling with its head sticking out of an opening in the side of the nest. Steve’s photos from earlier in the day didn’t show it so I assumed that it was a very recent casualty. I’ve only posted Steve’s photo of the nest as it is much better quality than mine...and less sad.

Baltimore Oriole and young

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

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Prospect Park, 6/18/2005
Great Blue Heron (Upper pool.)
Red-tailed Hawk (Midwood.)
Chimney Swift
Great Crested Flycatcher (Heard near Nethermead Arches.)
Eastern Kingbird (Upper pool.)
Red-eyed Vireo (Heard singing at Picnic House, Quaker Ridge & Payne Hill.)
House Wren (Nest in street lamp on Nethermead Arches.)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (4, Linden tree on Nethermead near Nethermead Arches.)
Wood Thrush (Heard singing in Midwood.)
Gray Catbird
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole (2 adults, 3 hatchlings in nest near baseball fields.)

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Pyralis Firefly (Photinus pyralis)

My first firefly of the year. SUMMER IS HERE!
(Photo credit - Rob J)

(Note: Some people have inquired about my use of "spp" in parenthesis after an item's common name. It just means that I don't know the item's species designation, only the genus.)

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