Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Solstice Spineless Wonders

     What happens when you plan to go birding but you forgot your binoculars? (d'oh!)

     You look at the things right under your nose. Inverts! They are just as fun to look for and observe as birds and many people keeps butterfly and moth lists just as birders keep bird lists. So today, I looked at the crawly, fluttering, and buzzing creatures in Calvert Vaux Park in Brooklyn before work... and then after work, got in my last volunteer session of horseshoe crab monitoring at Plumb Beach.
Fiddler crabs are really fun to watch as they work on their burrows that they always seem to be so darn proud of!

They also scuffle when neighbors, especially other males, get to close. They wave their claws like men waving a disgruntled fist at someone they don't like.


Their backs look like they have a big goofy smile on them.

This park is very full of European species like starlings and house sparrows, which ironically are a lot less common on their home turf.

A fun metallic Green Bottle Fly... these are the flies who like dead things and poop. While gross, their actions are important as their maggots help get rid of that gross stuff.

A fun little cricket- found a lot of these guys. I love their camouflaged eyes!

I love these flashy guys- a common buckeye!

A Clouded Sulfur Butterfly. The best part about insect watching is they are solar powered, in the morning many bask in the sun providing great chances to observe!

I believe this is an eastern tailed blue as it had the teeniest little tail off the back wings.
AND THEN.... after work, we had an early high tide to monitor horseshoe crabs at Plumb Beach! Here a lucky male has a female, buried in the sand. 
No head lamp needed when high tide falls at 6:17pm on the longest day of the year...


This is the end of their egg-laying season, so it was surprising to still see quite a few and manage to get some in our quadrats!

When the female gets into the sand, and the male with his tight grip, the waves are no big deal.

Eggs were in the water, from snails and horseshoe crabs. Not a peep was seen, but the laughing gulls were gluttons with the feast all to themselves.

Some scenic spawning... looking out at Dead Horse Point, Gil Hodges Bridge and the Rockaways. 
Woohoo, recovered a tagged male! One from this season!

Check out the micro habitat on the back of that female!!!!

Those Mussels have a great gig-- they get to be more mobile than the average mussel!

I was super stoked to get a mating pair in my quadrat! And also to be able to wear sandals... that is until we saw the bloated dead rat and condom in the water-- Plumb Beach is not for the faint of heart.
And so ends the first day of summer and my last session of horseshoe crab monitoring-- I look forward to next year!