Saturday, October 29, 2011

Metamorphosis or Myth?

My friend the photographer Murray Head is dubious. I will let him present his case to you and you can judge for yourselves:

Truth Out!

On Tuesday October 18 you reported a story entitled "Monarch of the Conservatory Garden." That story seems to support and perpetuate the "Metamorphosis" theory.

Now that idea has always sounded quite far fetched, so I went to the Conservatory Garden this afternoon [October 20] to do a little first hand investigation...and take a close look.

Now I am supposed to believe that this guy (a caterpillar)
goes to sleep...

and wakes up this!?

Just look at the number of feet, wrong color and
not a hint at wings... come on.

Then there is the "chrysalis"... from whence he magically emerges.
I asked a Conservancy zone gardener if he knew how it got there.
He did not! (I suspect it's a plant.)

Checking around I took a few more picture pictures...

I remain dubious.


All pictures today, except the last which was taken earlier.

Photos and captions by MURRAY HEAD

To be continued...

End of the Monarch story

To conclude the story so rudely interrupted by the storm: I received another e-mail with photos and captions from photographer Murray Head. It provides a perfect ending:

Hi Marie,

I returned to the Conservatory Garden this morning to see how far things had developed...

Oh No! He flew the Chrysalis! He's gone and I didn't have the chance to say goodbye.

Then I heard a voice chirp... "Look over there."

I did. He wasn't gone, he was... he was... Twins!...and they were soaking up sunshine & sipping nectar, preparing for their journey to Mexico.

In a little while, one rose up and said to the other..."Now it's time to go."

They took off and headed toward the French Garden where 2,000 Korean Chrysanthemums were blooming, as the girls danced around the fountain... on this perfect Fall morning.

Chirp... "Look up!"

I did... It was most certainly one of the twins... turning and heading south.

"Now look once more," the voice said to me.

I did, it was the other, and I said... "Goodbye."

The end of my story... just the beginning of theirs.


Photos and captions by MURRAY HEAD

Tomorrow: Rebekah's Cocoon story

Friday, October 28, 2011

Name that Duck

photo by Bill Schmoker

A few days ago the following query appeared on e-Birds:

Has anyone noticed this duck on Turtle Pond in Central Park: dark green to black head, puffy white "bib", and solid cinnamon-colored body (no remarkable features). Sorry I don't have a photo. Maybe a hybrid, but of what? It hangs out with the mallards there.
Gary Aspenberg
Ellen Michaels of
Ellen Michaels Wildlife & Nature Photos replied:
I believe the duck that he is speaking of is on the upper right of page 61 of the soft cover edition of The Sibley Field Guide To Birds. It is called a Domestic Mallard and has been in the park for a couple of months. Two months ago it was brown and white and now there is a greenish tinge on the head where it had been all brown.
Hope this helps,

PS from Marie-- You can find the Domestic Mallard on p. 89 of the big version of Sibley

Monday, October 24, 2011

WARNING! X-Rated photos

DOG STINKHORNS -- Mutinus Caninus
Photos by REBEKAH CRESHKOFF -- taken in Central Park on Sunday, October 23, 2011

from Wikipedia:
Mutinus caninus, commonly known as the dog stinkhorn, is a small thin, phallus-shaped woodland fungus, with a dark tip. It is often found growing in small groups on wood debris, or in leaf litter, during summer and autumn in Europe, Asia, and eastern North America. It is not generally considered edible, although there are reports of the immature 'eggs' being consumed.

PS from Marie: Talking about x-rated, one of the common stinkhorns you might also find in Central Park is the Phallus impudicus [see below]. When my sister and I were children, coming upon one of these while mushroom hunting with our father would send us into uncontrollable giggles.

Phallus impudicus