Saturday, July 05, 2008

Turtle mystery

Photos by Murray Head

Red-eared Slider covered with Duckweed -- Turtle Pond, 7/1/08

Mystery Turtle photographed on the grass of the North side of The Turtle Pond on Sunday [6/29].

The photographer noted:

I've seen hundred of turtles in the pond... all (now I know) red-eared sliders. It was a real treat to see [this one]. . It had just rained and this turtle besides being quite beautiful with a pleasant smile... did not have a single duck weed on it...As I recall it was about 10" long.

But what was it? I wrote Chris Lyons, a Bronx naturalist and asked if the June 29th turtle was possibly some kind of Red-eared Slider. He answered:

It's no kind of slider at all--it's unquestionably a box turtle, but I'm no herpetologist, and I'm not sure even one of them could make a positive call about the species on the basis of these photos--according to one field guides [I've looked at] , you need to look at the plastron (undershell), number of toes, etc.

Most likely it's an eastern box turtle, but it's a box turtle, no doubt, end of story. And I hope it's not the end of the turtle's story, because Central Park is not a friendly habitat for these guys. It didn't get there under its own steam--somebody let it go. People are weird--I saw a woman 'exercising' her box turtle in Inwood Park. She sat on a bench while the turtle kept trying to walk through a fence across the path from her. I didn't get the impression there was a really strong bond going on there. Pretty one-sided relationship, I'd think. ;)

Why Chris believes an Eastern Box Turtle didn't get to Central Park under its own steam:

There are Eastern Box Turtles that occur naturally in New York State, but they need lots of room and natural habitat--they are carnivorous when young, then turn vegetarian as adults--I've seen them eating mushrooms.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Lloyd and Sandy find a big moth

A few days ago Lloyd and Sandy Spitalnik found and photographed a sizable moth near Turtle Pond. This species has also been making appearances at the Moth Tree near the Boathouse during the last week, at least a week before any of the big Underwings are due to arrive [if they do arrive this year. Last year they were conspicuous by their absence.] This one is a Lunate Zale [Zale lunata] and its picture is above.

Hope for moths to come


HAPPY Fourth of July

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Seen by the Early Birders yesterday

Photos by Eleanor Tauber-- taken on Wednesday July 2, 2008

Flicker at Hernshead

Wild Turkey near Maintenance Meadow

Reminder: News relating to Central Park in the Dark can now be found at

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

One great day in the park

Photos taken on June 30, 2008 by

Red-winged Blackbird escorting Great Egret out of nesting territory

Baby Raccoons are showing up everywhere in Central Park-- I'd say in unprecedented numbers.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Creepy crawlies in the park

Note: Technical problems solved.]

Donna Brown sends this intriguing note and the photo above: [I'm not sure which gate she means when she says "screech owl gate." I have a feeling that's not an original Vaux and Olmsted name.]


The millipedes are spawning by the screech owl gate, and on the wall, on the ground-- It's pretty creepy crawlie.


Technical problems

A big problem with my blogging program, both with this page and with my new Central Park in the Dark page. Just when a lot of good things are happening! Hope to be back soon.

If you can get to my Home Page, you can click on the Central Park in the Dark Page and see this morning's NY Times review.I must admit it's pretty thrilling.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

New page on this website

In order to keep to the original mission of this page--providing a day-by-day look at nature unfolding in Central Park, I've added a new page to this website . Its URL is, and it can be accessed by clicking its link on the site's Home Page. Here you'll find various stuff connected to the new book, reviews, articles, publicity events etc. You can return to the Nature News by clicking on the words RETURN to HOME PAGE and then to Nature News.

And many thanks to Cal Vornberger, who helped attach the new blog to the website

***********Back to the Park***********

Meanwhile, the Central Park Mothers [rhymes with authors] have roused from their winter torpor. Soon there will be beautiful Underwings at the Moth Tree at 74th Street near the Boathouse. As for now, they are observing early arrivals at their black light set up in the Shakespeare Garden. For instance, above, Hypena [Plathypena] scabra. Hugh McGuinness, who identified it for me, calls it "the master of disguise".