Saturday, August 12, 2006

Pale Male in repose

August 12, 2006

Pale Male spent the early evening on Friday, just north of Cleopatra's Needle, which is west of the Metropolitan Museum.


The photo and text are from Bruce Yolton's blog.
Check it out for more pictures of our hero

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tote that barge

From Regina Alvarez, Woodlands Manager of Central Park:

Hi Marie -

I thought you might like to see a photo I took of a cicada killer wasp with its prey, laboriously crawling up a lamppost.

Hope all is well.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

A clairvoyant confirms the ID of last night's katydid

In my posting earlier this morning I wrote that nobody had tried to identify the katydid species I needed help with on August 8th. BUT...I hadn't checked my morning's website e-mail. There I found the following note, from Jan Lipert:

I'm pretty sure this is your guy: Fork-tailed Bush Katydid

As it happens, the Fork-tailed was Nick Wagerik's tentative ID for the katydid that landed on our sheet last night [See previous post]. Since I saw both katydids I can say that the one I photographed on 8/4 and posted on 8/8 was quite a bit smaller than last night's critter. That's why I identified the earlier insect as a Drumming Katydid. It was really tiny, something you can't see in a close-up photograph. The Field Guide to Grasshoppers, Katydids and Crickets by Capinera, Scott & Walker [a good book] gives its length as 14-19 mm.

Congratulations to Jan Lipert for having the uncanny powers to identify the future katydid correctly as a Fork-tailed Bush Katydid, whose length is 40-56 mm, according to the same Field Guide. And thanks, Jan. for providing a better photo, above, than the one I took on the sheet at the Shakespeare Garden.

Mothers put up light in garden for butterfliers

The insect-attracting "Black Light" , with moth
Shakespeare Garden = 8/9/06

Last night was the annual picnic of the New York chapter of the North American Butterfly Association - locally known as the Butterfly Club. Many Central Park birdwatchers and moth lovers are members of the butterfly club. Indeed, last year the CP Mothers presented a well-attended slide show, The Moths of Central Park, to the Butterfliers. After all moths are Lepidopterans too, morphologically indistinguishable from butterflies, though in most cases moths are nocturnal, and butterflies have a little knob on the end of their antennae]

The Mothers agreed to put up their black light in the Shakespeare Garden after dark, as a featured event of this year's picnic. Below are some of the highlights of the moth part of the evening. [The picnic part took place at Turtle Pond.]

A Greater Black-letter Moth --Xestia dolosa on sheet, with a micromoth, [probably Callima argenticinctella] --8/9/06

A Katydid [possibly a Fork-tailed Bush Katydid]

PS Many readers identified the green orthopteran I posted a few days ago as a katydid. No one was brave enough to try to narrow it down to a species. My own guess: A Drumming Katydid - Meconema thalassinum. This is an introduced European species first discovered in the U.S. in 1957, and now extending its range.

A female Eastern Pondhawk [Erythemis simplicicollis]
This large dragonfly landed on our sheet, and thence on a hand.

The owner of the hand: James Smith--age 3. James is the youngest and one of the most exuberant members of the Central Park [non-maternal] Mothers, along with his equally enthusiastic older brother Aidan, aged 6, and his father and mother, David and Paula Smith [age unknown, but definitely young]

All photos by M. Winn

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Latest up-to-the-minute moths plus moths during the heat wave: It was so hot I forgot to post the report.

Sweetheart Underwing - 8/8/06 --9:24 pm

Sweetheart Underwing - 8/8/06 -- 1 minute earlier

Yellow-banded Underwing - 8/7/06 10:30 pm

Yellow-banded Underwing, with wings closed --8/7 -10:13pm

Though New York was in the grips of one of the worst heat waves in its history, Central Park still offered rewards to its stalwart nature lovers. On August 3, with the temperature approaching 100 degrees, Nick Wagerik, the only one of the Central Park Mothers [rhymes with authors] at the tree at 9 pm, found a beautiful new-for-the-season Underwing Moth, The Locust Underwing.

The night before, Noreen O'Rourke, alone at the tree at 10 pm, found another beauty, the Yellow-banded Underwing.

Now on to the present: On August 5, 2006, another new and delightfully named Underwing arrived. It was one of two that look so similar alike that we couldn't be sure which it was: either the Youthful Underwing, or The Bride.

On August 6 and 7th, another new one -- the Once-Married. Also, the Yellow-banded returned and posed for pictures. It appeared at 10:13 pm but wouldn't open its wings to reveal the yellow band on the hind wings for what seemed like forever. Until we saw the yellow band we couldn't be absolutely sure what it was. Finally, seventeen minutes later, it deigned to show itself in full splendor. A Yellow-banded!

The other heat-wave visitor, the Locust Underwing, is a much less frequent visitor, having been seen at the moth tree only once before. That was on August 3, 2004. It probably won't be seen again this year. Or ever. It wasn't photographed two years ago -- none of us had cameras then. I've included a picture from the internet. Note that it has many more black bands than any of the other Underwings. In fact it is not really on the same family -- the Catocalas. It is an Euparthenos.

On August 8th - last night, in fact --a big Underwing arrived, one we'd been eagerly awaiting: The Sweetheart. A breathtakingly beautiful moth. It was quite high up in the tree, as you can see in the un-zoomed photo. Photographed with the close-up lens it loses some of its beauty. .

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

And now for something completely different


You may have missed this important news in early July, so we present it here for your enlightenment.

Last month's launch of NASA's orbiting space shuttle "Discovery," was complicated by the discovery of some whitish splotches on the shuttle's black-colored right wing after the launch. NASA officials stated that these appeared to be "bird droppings."

If correct, this means that these bird droppings withstood (1) intense and regular Florida thunderstorms, (2) a powerful launch during which 300,000 gallons of water were sprayed at the shuttle's main engines, and (3) a thrust upward through Earth's atmosphere. (During the launch, Discovery went from 0 to 17,500 miles per hour in under 9 minutes.)

This example offers new appreciation for the "out-of-this-world" durability of bird droppings. Apparently, despite a reentry temperature of as much as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the bird poop made it all the way back from orbit on 17 July, albeit a bit charred!

- - - - - -

an excerpt from
August 2006

This Birding Community E-bulletin is being distributed through the generous support of Steiner Optics as a service to active and concerned birders, those dedicated to the joys of birding and the protection of birds and their habitats. You can access an archive of our past E-bulletins on the website of the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA):

and on the birding pages for Steiner Optics

Six Invertebrates & 1 mammal

Someone! Please identify this orthopteran
Photo by M Winn 8/4/06

Cicada Killer Wasp emerging from her tunnel
Cedar Hill, 8/4/06 Photo by M. Winn

Yellow-Gray Underwing -- Moth Tree 8/4/06
Photo by M.Winn

Oldwife Underwing at Moth Tree, 8/5/06
Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

A spider [sp. unknown] wrapping a live beetle [ sp, unknown] caught in the web
Cedar Hill, 8/5/06 Photo by M. Winn

The Red Squirrel
Locust Grove, 8/6/06 Photo by Bruce Yolton