27 de mayo de 2023

iNatting on Roosevelt Island again -- lots of introduced species and invasive species!

Six days after my last visit, I went to Roosevelt island again. In my neighborhood before I left, I saw Sibthorp's Pennywort introduced from Southeast Asia, and the pretty Thyme-leaved Speedwell, which is introduced from Europe, and which today was all in flower.

Then on Roosevelt island I had to get off the Red Bus a bit further south than I had planned to, and I noticed the Broad-leaved Helleborine, an invasive orchid species from Europe and Asia, in two different places: a flower bed in "Manhattan Park", and also in a wild patch by the roadside a bit further north than that.

In the Community Garden I was happy that I got to photograph lots of Miquel's Mazus, native to Japan and China, an invasive plant that I saw on my last visit here, but which I had not photographed until now.

I need to tell the community gardeners that they have the Red Lily Leaf Beetle, native to parts of Europe and Asia. It is an invasive pest that the gardeners should try to control as best as they can, as it absolutely devours all species of Lilium, and it is spreading like crazy in our part of the northeast.

I also took more images of the Bukhara fleeceflower, an introduction from Asia. In one of the small ponds in the community garden was the Water Foreget-me-not, which is an introduction from Europe.

The Barley Powdery Mildew fungus was new-to-me.

I got to see the Tuxedo cat again in the exact same place that it was in last Sunday. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/163041093
If I see it a third time I may try to give it a kitty treat and try to pet it.

This time however, we did not see the Groundhog or the Fowlers Toad.

Publicado el 27 de mayo de 2023 por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 23 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

22 de mayo de 2023

iNatting on Roosevelt Island

I had a great time yesterday, May 21st, iNatting on my 75th birthday. Ed and I went to Roosevelt Island so that I could have what was only my third exploratory visit there, and my very good iNat friend Misha came too.

I wanted to visit the Roosevelt Island Community Garden. We took the free red bus to the Octagon stop which is the last stop not very far from the north end of the island. For the Community Garden stop you stay on that bus, because the stop you need is the first one on the way back, opposite the fire station.

Once we got to the main entrance of the Community Garden, I noticed there was a big, mostly empty, vacant lot at the dead end of that small street. We asked the young man who was presumably guarding the lot if we could go in to see if there were any interesting plants there, and he said yes.

It turned out to be a pretty good location with a lot of cool wild plants and some nice birds singing. The most exciting organisms we saw were a groundhog running across the gravel-covered center of the lot, and a very cute little Fowlers toad that Misha spotted sitting on the ground at the northeast end of the lot. We also saw four cats, some of which I suppose may have been feral.

After we had spent quite some time in the vacant lot, we went next door to the Community Garden. It is a very pretty garden, but I was surprised that there were not more insects there. The most interesting insect I saw was a Narcissus Bulb Fly. The only butterflies were two or three Cabbage Whites. As for mollusks, there were Physa acuta freshwater snails in the nice little ponds there and two Cepaea nemoralis land snails in the cuttings basket. There were lots of gorgeous fragrant roses and peonies in full flower in the garden plots.

As for plants, the best thing I found was a big Bukhara Fleeceflower creeper growing wild at the entrance to the vacant lot. I had never seen that species before, and it is somewhat rare in NYC. I also saw, but did not photograph, Miguel's Mazus (very pretty and new-to-me) growing rampant in some of the garden lots, and it turns out that is invasive here in the northeast, so I need to go back and photograph that, as I assume it counts as wild in NYC.

The three of us walked back to the tram along the western coast of the island, and Misha rode with us on the tram to the Upper East Side. Having had a very late night the day before, Misha was tired and went home, but Ed and I went up to Hummus Kitchen (2nd Ave between 83rd and 84th) for dinner with our friend Tom Kleh to celebrate both Ed's birthday (which took place while we were on Nevis in March) and mine too.

Publicado el 22 de mayo de 2023 por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 30 observaciones | 7 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de mayo de 2023

City Nature Challenge 2023: New York City, the observation days

Most years here in New York City, the weather during the annual global City Nature Challenge is considerably less than ideal! Spring in New York City is unfortunately not like fall in New York City, which generally has nice sunny warm dry weather lasting for several weeks.

I always say that April here is often cold and rainy, and this year that has been totally true. When Ed and I came back from Nevis, West Indies in late March, at first we had a bunch of nice warm sunny weather, including three days of 90º, but more recently that changed over to chilly wet weather. Recently we have had weather in the low to mid 50s instead of what the average daily high temperature is supposed to be at this time of year here in NYC, which is 66º

The observation part of the City Nature Challenge lasts four days, a four-day weekend from Friday 28th through Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th, to Monday May 1st. The Friday was completely overcast with no rain, but chilly. The Saturday it poured with rain all day and was cold too. The Sunday was also heavily rainy and cold all day. There were big puddles everywhere. On the Monday we got to see the sun on and off, but it was still quite cold, although it did not rain at all, thank goodness.
The first day of the Challenge, on Friday morning, I walked the Esplanade in my neighborhood from the Con Edison building up to the beginning of John Finlay Walk at Carl Schurz Park. Then at 1:30 pm I went over to the Little Hellgate Salt Marsh at Randall's Island, where I met up with Sara Rall from New Jersey, and we iNatted there for almost 2 hours. I have wanted to meet Sara for several years. Then I went home because my feet were hurting. Total of observations I made on Friday: 407.
The second day of the Challenge, on the Saturday morning I went to Carl Schurz Park and walked around in a lot of that park except for the inland areas. Near the 90th Street Ferry stop I saw a couple of policemen, and a vast amount of fire department folks with all kinds of rescue gear including one guy in a red scuba suit. They were all at the edge of the East River looking over and down onto the rocks there. I went home early with wet shoes, wet socks, and feeling cold from not wearing enough layers, otherwise I would have stayed out longer and made more observations. Total of observations I made on Saturday: a measly 162.
On the third day of the challenge, Sunday, I dressed warmly using many layers including several tops and leggings made of wool, and of cashmere, topped with waterproof jacket and pants and rain boots. I walked all the way round the Reservoir in Central Park. Then I went over to the Cherry Allée area of Carl Schurz Park. Total of observations I made on Sunday: 402.
On Monday, the fourth day, the last day of the Challenge, Ed and I went to Randall's Island, starting at the eastern end of the turquoise 103rd Street footbridge, then walking up to the little Ward's Island beach, which I searched, then through the woodland area near there, and up the footpath on the south side of the Salt Marsh. Then Ed and I walked through the freshwater wetland woodland area till we came out on Central Road where the bus stops opposite the main Icahn Stadium entrance. Then we took the bus back to 125th street in Manhattan, and managed to get a taxi. On 77th Street I climbed into the flower beds in our building's front garden, where I turned over wood pieces and rat traps in order to see and record all the garlic snails, the striped greenhouse slugs, and some millipedes and earthworms. Total of observations I made on Monday: 303.
My overall total number of observations in New York City during City Nature Challenge was 1,327. My overall total number of species I found during those 4 days in NYC was 294.

The following statistics could change, as people are still both uploading and ID-ing their observations and will be until 9 am on Monday 8th May, but right now I am ranked at number 2 in total number of observations in New York City during City Nature Challenge 2023, and also ranked at number 3 in total number of species found during City Nature Challenge 2023: New York City. As far as the Battle of the Boroughs goes, Manhattan is leading. I currently rank as number 1 in Manhattan with 1,273 observations of 293 species.

Publicado el 03 de mayo de 2023 por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 45 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de marzo de 2023

Visit to Nevis and St. Kitts, February and March of 2023

This year we went to Nevis quite early in the year because I really wanted to take a non-stop flight not only traveling to Nevis via St. Kitts, but also coming back home again to NYC. If we could get a non-stop for our return to NYC, we would not have to change planes in Miami, which is unpleasant, difficult, and time-consuming. When you go home from Nevis via Miami, the trip from St. Kitts to JFK takes 8 hours, as compared to 4 hours if you are fortunate enough to be on a non-stop flight. For the end of this trip I booked us onto the last possible non-stop return flight back to NYC, which occurred on Saturday March 25th (presumably this counts as the last day of the winter tourism season) and because we wanted to stay on Nevis for 4 weeks, that meant we needed to start our vacation on Feb 25th.

I expected Nevis to be all dried out, as the winter drought is usually still going on at this time of year. However, we were fortunate that Nevis had had a lot of rain over the course of about 3 weeks before we arrived, so everything, including the wild hillsides, looked quite lush and green, and there were a lot of weeds and wildflowers in bloom. There were several that I had not seen before, including the Yellow-flowered Waterhyssop shown further down this page.

The Oualie Bay Area, where we stay, had seen some changes since last year's visit: the very large rough pasture between the hotel and the main road was completely and thoroughly fenced off with barbed wire, except for one entrance near what I call "the laundry barns" of the Oualie Beach Hotel. However, a few feral donkeys and a flock of local sheep were able to find their way into and out of the pasture using that one entrance.

Major road work was being carried out on this part of the main road (the main road is the road which encircles the island). In the Oualie area, the road is being widened, in most places it is being raised, although where it goes over a steep hill with poor visibility it is being lowered, and also it is being resurfaced. This process has temporarily made the road very unpleasant to walk along. The workers seemed to be using a mixture of crushed rock and concrete mix, which was dumped on the surface, steam-rollered in place, then watered, and allowed to sun dry, and set. Then about 4 inches of asphalt was laid down on top of the crushed rock mixture. When the work is completely finished, I hope there will be somewhere on both sides of the road for pedestrians to walk, because currently the edges of the the new road are just like small messy cliffs. If you accidentally drove off the road, you car would roll for sure.

There is a small herd of beautiful and friendly brown cows which are are usually to be seen wandering around next to and in around the hotel. The cattle are owned by John Yearwood, who also half-owns the hotel, but during this visit they were not around at all. Because the roadwork would have been dangerous and unpleasant for the cattle, John currently has had the herd pastured in a field some distance away, to the east of Lovers Beach.

The two kitchen cats that usually grace the hotel with their presence had been cut down to one by a sad accident. I was told by one of the staff that Bandit got run over when he was crossing the road, but another staff person said the cat was accidentally poisoned. The one surviving cat, Smokey, was impossible to find most of the time, so unfortunately we had very little cat contact until quite late in the trip, when Smokey realized that we were an asset because we had brought with us a bag of delicious kitty treats with catnip in them.

The local wildlife, such as the insects, including the butterflies and moths, was interesting because it seemed to be a somewhat different line-up of species to what is here when we are on Nevis in April or May. For example. I twice saw a Zebra Longwing near the hotel.

I managed to find a few new species of plants, as well as several new Lepidoptera, and plus, searching for new-to-the-list shells on St Kitts produced a decent number of positive results for me.

It is too early for the Neem trees to be fully in flower, and the beach morning glories only have very few flowers out this early. The Flame Trees have no sign of flowers yet at all at this time of year.

Publicado el 10 de marzo de 2023 por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 19 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de febrero de 2023

Birds in and near South Padre Island, Texas

In January we spent a week on South Padre Island, Texas, and in the Rio Grande Valley nearby. I saw a lot of birds, especially water birds. Although everywhere I went I saw Great-tailed Grackles -- lots of them!

Here is a list of the water birds I saw on January 24th in the SPI Birding and Nature Center and Alligator Sanctuary:

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks
Blue-winged Teals
Northern Pintails
Great Blue Herons
Roseate Spoonbills
Mottled Ducks
American Coots
Mallard hybridized with Mottled Duck
Tricolored Herons
Common Gallinules
American Widgeons
Great Egrets

Elsewhere by Laguna Madre I saw:

Brown Pelican
Snowy Egret
Double-crested Cormorant
American White Pelican
Common Loon
Laughing Gull
Forster's Tern

Birds I saw on Jan 23rd in the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, and the Sabal Palm Sanctuary were:

Green Jay
Audubon's Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Common Nighthawk -- so many scattered feathers -- one must have gotten preyed upon.
Northern Shoveler
Greater Kiscadee
Turkey Vulture or Black Vulture

Publicado el 14 de febrero de 2023 por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

31 de enero de 2023

Insects on and near South Padre Island, Texas

I made observations of a few insects on SPI and nearby in January 2023 while I was there for a week. It was relatively cold and windy, so sadly there were very few butterflies out and about. However, here is a list of what insects I did see:


Pyramid ants

Spotless Ladybeetle

Ochrimnus carnosulus, a Seed Bug

Genus Cochliomyia

Pentacora sphacelata, a Shore Bug

Marmara opuntiella, leafminer on prickly pear.

Red Harvester Ant

Toxomerus marginatus

Queen butterfly

Fiery Skipper

Sarcophaga sp.

Lepidoptera (moth)

Ochrimnus lineoloides, a Seed Bug

American Cockroach, in the condo

Red Imported Fire Ant

Southwestern Dusky Grasshopper

Little Yellow

Umbrella Paper Wasp

Anastrepha sp.


American Dog Tick

Lema pubipes new to the iNat database and new to BugGuide too.

Winged and once-winged insects -- a leafminer

Leafminer on Physalis


Publicado el 31 de enero de 2023 por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Dune vegetation on South Padre Island, Texas

I photographed many of the plants that had grown well on the dunes in South Padre Island, Texas. Here is a list of some of them:

Sea Oats

Spoonleaf Groundcherry

Beach Croton

Erect Pricklypear

Beach Morning Glory

Seaside Bluestem

American Snoutbean

Texas Palafox

Scarlet Pea

Partridge Pea

Beach Evening Primrose

Wild Cowpea

Largeleaf Pennywort

Southern Seaside Goldenrod

Parietaria sp.

Southern Goldenrod

Brazilian Pepper

Publicado el 31 de enero de 2023 por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Weeds by the roadsides in South Padre Island, Texas

I was interested in the weeds that grow on SPI, most of which were new to me. Here is a list of some local weeds that were growing on the roadsides near where we were staying. A few were familiar to me, but not most of them:

Tridax Daisy

Straggler Daisy


Bur Clover

Black Medick

Camphor Daisy

Braced Fanpetal

Texas Palafox

Whitemouth Dayflower

Eastern Black Nightshade

Bermuda Grass

Coastal Sandbur (or some other closely related sp or spp)

More species of weedy plants all growing in a vacant grassy lot next to Padre Blvd and further north than the previous list:

Southern Goldenrod

Whitetop Sedge

Silverhead --Blutaparon vermiculare


Parralena -- Thymophylla pentachaeta

Turkey Tangle Frogfruit


Publicado el 31 de enero de 2023 por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Wild plants in Port Isabel, Texas, 4th Street, north side of Route 100, at edge of Laguna Madre

I took particular interest in the wild plants that were growing on the salty flat area up above the beach on Port Isabel, 20th January 2022. here is a list:

American Century Plant

Spanish Dagger

Sea Ox Eye

Sea Purslane

Alkali Heliotrope

Annual seep weed

Shore grass

Shell Mound Pricklypear

Virginia Glasswort


Carolina Sea Lavender

Camphor Daisy

Honey Mesquite

Christmas Berry

Closer to the parking space that was near the road and near a house:

Common Sow Thistle

Bur Clover

London Rocket

Common Lambsquarters

Saltmarsh Sand Spurry

Dwarf Verbena


A few of these plants were familiar to me from other places I have visited, but the majority of these were new species to me.

Publicado el 31 de enero de 2023 por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Crabs seen during our southwestern Texas trip

I found several crab species in Texas, some live, a few dead and some only their burrows:

  1. Thin-striped Hermit Crab, many live ones, inside gastropod shells. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/147133172
  2. Atlantic Ghost Crab, many active burrows

  3. Blue Land Crab (only some active burrows)

  4. Mud fiddler crab, one live one

  5. Mud crab, small one live

  6. The Western Gulf Stone Crab, an adult, dead (Similar appearance to the Stone Crab on Sanibel)


Publicado el 31 de enero de 2023 por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario