#nature

Island Hopping

Governors Island is just a short ferry ride away from the Isle of Manhattan, and definitely a summer destination (as well as a spring and early fall place to visit). It has an absolutely incredible view of the Statue of Liberty!

The view from the west side of Governors Island, Aug. 6

The view from the west side of Governors Island, Aug. 6

There is a lot of nature there, particularly birds and flowers, but good bugs, too! The island has very few cars (only official and vendor motorized vehicles allowed), lots of bicycles, and many pedestrians. Slowly but surely, more and more touristy places to spend your money are popping up on the small island. But in advance of the total commercialization that will probably deprive Governors Island of its charm, I've been visiting and documenting the nature there. On August 6, I walked around the island photographing wildlife and avoiding people. I offer here An August Nature Walk on Governors Island.

For the last two years, a pair of yellow-crowned night herons have been nesting on the island. The babies this year are so delightful.

Yellow-crowned night heron youngsters, Governors Island, Aug. 6

Yellow-crowned night heron youngsters, Governors Island, Aug. 6

GI 1500 8-6-2017 130P.jpg
GI 1500 8-6-2017 140P.jpg

The first stop of my walk was just west of the castle, where I saw a banded common tern. I watched it for a while, and you can see the flight in the video.

On a building across from the Harbor School, a mother herring gull watched over her kids, occasionally squawking at them. Below, on the ground, two youngsters ran around, stretched or slept. I shifted my focus between the gulls and the heron nest.

Mama Herring Gull, keeping watch

Mama Herring Gull, keeping watch

A baby herring gull, hanging out below Mom

A baby herring gull, hanging out below Mom

A very balletic baby gull

A very balletic baby gull

After leaving the Harbor School area, I walked south along the west shore and found least sandpipers exploring the rocks.

There are flowers to be found everywhere you look on the island, not only in the Urban Garden (which I didn't visit on this trip) or the garden in front of the Harbor School.

And I saw lots of bugs, but focused on the butterflies, including a very beautiful skipper, a monarch butterfly, a cabbage butterfly, a painted lady and a battle-scarred spicebush butterfly (I think, but am not sure).

This butterfly has seen better days, but has survived. Harbor School garden

This butterfly has seen better days, but has survived. Harbor School garden

The island will remain accessible through the end of October. I will go back, I hope several times, and hope to have lunch those days at Little Eva's.

A Hunter in the Ramble

There was a lot of hawk action on January 18. Part 6 of Hawky New Year! shows a first-year red-tailed hawk at Bethesda Fountain, then another young hawk hunting a squirrel near the rustic shelter in the Ramble. The hawk was flying around us as we fed the birds, and eventually swooped down right by me as it grabbed the squirrel. It ate half on the ground, then flew to a tree near the Oven and finished off the rest. There was also a Cooper's hawk in a tree over the Oven.

Young red-tailed hawk in the Ramble, Jan. 18, 2017

Young red-tailed hawk in the Ramble, Jan. 18, 2017

The alertness of the red-tailed hawk as he ate has been noticed with all the young first-year hawks we've been seeing with their prey. It's one thing to catch the dinner, another thing to eat it without having it stolen by another hawk.

There is some graphic hawk dining in this video.

The first two photographs are of the young hawk at Bethesda Fountain. The next photos are of the young red-tailed hawk who caught the squirrel. The last photo is of the Cooper's hawk above the Oven.

Flitter-Flutterers

I don't usually think of October as a time for butterflies, but this October has been quite wonderful to see all sorts of them. I offer here two flutterbys: a monarch and a buckeye, with videos and photos.

Shakespeare Garden in Central Park is a wonderful place to look for butterflies. There is often great sunlight, and lots of milkweed to attract the monarchs. I saw a perfect monarch butterfly on Oct. 12 — no rips in the wings, or any other damage to this gorgeous flitterer.

Monarch butterfly  (Danaus plexippus), Shakespeare Garden, Oct. 12, 2016

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), Shakespeare Garden, Oct. 12, 2016

The video is set to the second half of Dance of the Hours by Ponchielli (the first half was used in the buckeye butterfly video). If you haven't seen the prequel to this monarch video, check out Monarch Wannabes.

 

On October 7, I got to photograph a buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia Hübner) at Conservatory Garden in Central  Park.

Common buckeye, Conservatory Garden, Oct. 7, 2016

Common buckeye, Conservatory Garden, Oct. 7, 2016

I am in the process of a much longer video, to be included in my Contemplate This series of videos. My effort in this series is to create videos that you can put on your computer when you want to relax, and just watch relaxing, soothing images set to nice music. A couple are in the works, and my butterfly video will feature quite a variety of butterflies over four years.