Saturday, August 23, 2008

An old moth story revisited

A few days ago I received an unexpected e-mail that read [in part]:

Hi Marie,

I happened to stumble across your website by way of this page : I know this is WAY after the fact but I thought you might want to know that the moth you identified as Paonias excaecatus is actually Amorpha juglandis >

Best regards,

Wow, a correction of something I'd posted three years earlier!

I followed the link to my website archives and found a photo [#1 below] taken by Nan Brodsky on June 13, 2005. I had gone through the one and only moth Field Guide and various internet sites and finally decided that it was a Blinded Sphinx --[see #2 below] I posted that ID on this website on June 17, 2005.

Then, three years later, when Lawrence wrote in to say the ID was wrong, I checked it out again. When I looked at a photo of the moth Lawrence was suggesting, I could immediately see that HE WAS RIGHT.

Better late than never. For the record, the moth in the photo Nan Brodsky sent in on June 14, 2005 is NOT a Blinded Sphinx. It is a Walnut Sphinx, [#3, below.] You can check it out for yourself.

#1. Nan's photo of her mystery moth taken on July 13, 2005

#2 The Blinded Sphinx, Paonias excaecatus. my ID, [photo from John Himmelman's website] posted on this site on June 17, 2005

#3. The Walnut Sphinx - Amorpha juglandis --from the Moth Photographers website

As Lawrence added in his e-mail, all the moths in this particular family resemble dead leaves when they are in their resting position.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Yesterday's star warbler

Photographer Ellen Michaels was on the spot yesterday, and took this picture of the Kentucky Warbler at 5:04 p.m.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Almost X-rated

Murray Head sent the photo above and wrote:

Hi Marie,

I heard your interview on the Leonard Lopate Show today.
I found it interesting that you do defend anthropromorphizing...
as long as it is tasteful.

Yesterday, as the sun was setting and in the shadow of the Romeo and Juliet Statue...I witnessed and captured the above moment.

I understand very little squirrel...
but I'm sure I heard her say:
"First, Tell me you love me."

And staying within the bounds of good taste...
I will not include any of the other
pictures of what followed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A cuckoo too and a PS

Photo by Eleanor Tauber

This is the second great bird sighting of today [Wednesday]. Eleanor Tauber reports via e-mail that on the Early Birder bird walk this morning [between 7 and about 9 a.m.] Karen Asakawa spotted a Black-billed Cuckoo in the Maintenance Meadow. Eleanor took the photo above.

PS Check out Bruce Yolton's site for a report of my interview earlier today on the Leonard Lopate radio show, and a link to hear it.

Great new warbler sighted and a PS

Photo by David Speiser--May, 2007

A Kentucky Warbler! Seen and reported early this morning by Jack Meyer. Every birder knows that this is a rare and wonderful sighting, and you can bet your bottom dollar the spot the bird was seen at -- the little meadow southeast of the Tupelo Tree -- will be full of yearning birders all day today.

The report was posted at 9:01 this morning [Wednesday 8/20/08] on Metrobirds, a rare bird listserv. For those of you that don't subscribe and wish to head for the park to try for the Kentucky warbler, here's the exact report:

Hi All,
Jack Meyer just found a Kentucky Warbler in Central Park. It is on the path behind the Tupelo Tree. This is in a field that is Southeast of the Castle. Good luck if you go,

PS Eve Levine posted a later report [on e-birds]:
At 12:41 the Kentucky Warbler (found earlier this morning by Jack M.) took a bath on the Gill side of the wooden bridge at Azalea Pond. (Earlier, around 9:30, it was pointed out to me by K. Wada just off of the path that runs from Azalea Pond to Laupot Bridge.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Believe it or not

Last week Chris Karatnytsky wrote to e-birds with an odd question:

An article about urban park rangers in the Metro section of today's New York Times (8/13/08, p. B6) describes a confirmed report of a boa constrictor eating a squirrel in the north end of Central Park. Does anyone have information about this?.Thanks.

Today came an answer from Regina Alvarez of the Central Park Conservancy that I, for one, did NOT expect:

There was indeed a boa and it was seen swallowing a squirrel. The Rangers removed the boa from the park.

PS from Marie
Just in case you're wondering, the photo was NOT taken in Central Park.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Last chance for the Cicada Show

We met at the base of Cedar Hill at 8 p.m. to watch the Cicada Show. This time Lloyd and Sandy Spitalnik had come with a lot of heavy camera equipment to properly document the process. But while a week ago there had been great numbers of cicadas everywhere in various stages of emergence, obviously the season was coming to an end. None to be seen at the usual trees near Fifth Avenue and 79th St. We searched and searched and finally at about 8:30 we found a single one just beginning to crawl up the trunk of a Beech Tree near the north end of the Model-boat Pond . Hurray!
By about 8:50 pm the brown nymph has crawled about three feet up and attached itself to the tree's grayish bark.

2. At about 9 a small slit appeared in the hard shell of the nymph case.. The photo below was taken at about 9:10 p.m.

3. At about 9:55 the cicada was almost entirely emerged, but the wing buds had not yet begun to expand. Now we could see two transparent shield-like structures just under the hind legs , part of the insect's noise-making apparatus. Now we knew our cicada was a boy -- only the males produce the characteristic cicada buzz. [Unfortunately Lloyd had to go home shortly thereafter]

By about 10:15 the newly-emerged adult cicada had attached itself by its claws to the now-empty case. The wings had almost completely expanded .

Now the insect would have to wait several hours on the tree while its wings hardened and dried. It would fly off in search of a mate sometime before dawn. But the most dramatic part of the process was over and it had been a long day. This was the moment everyone said good night to each other and the beautiful cicada and headed for home. Most of us still managed to see Michael Phelps winning his 8th gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.

Photos 1, 2, & 4 by M. Winn
Photo 3 by Lloyd Spitalnik