24 de abril de 2024

Nature walk on Oualie Bay

When I don't go out on a visit somewhere, instead I walk around the hotel grounds. I try to find as many interesting organisms as I can to photograph, ranging from the hotel cat to a house fly.

Publicado el 24 de abril de 2024 a las 10:24 PM por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 25 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de abril de 2024

Going to the rich end of Cockleshell Bay on St. Kitts

Today I went on the 9 am water taxi across the Narrows to Cockleshell Bay with my good friend Nikki Johnson. She is a biology teacher and a very good shell hunter.

We stayed on Cockleshell almost 2 hours. The big rich patch of shell drift which has accumulated at the north end of Cockleshell Bay is still really quite good, although crawling around on that lumpy, shelly, rocky, gravely surface is far from easy or pleasant even using my knee and elbow pads. Next year I will bring thick linen pants and a thick linen shirt to help protect my arms and legs.

We found quite a good selection of species, although without checking my old list I don't know how many of the species we found today are new to the St. Kitts list. I hope at least a few of them are. I will ask Ed if he can ask the hotel office to print out a draft of the new St. Kitts paper when he finds it tomorrow.

Publicado el 20 de abril de 2024 a las 10:00 PM por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 15 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

The small beach at RestHaven is currently hard to reach

On Friday I went to the RestHaven Ruins, which are just outside Charlestown on the Old Hospital Road. If you can get through to the little beach there, there is often very good rarer-quality small-size shell drift washed up there.

However, the whole area has grown up a lot since last year with saplings, thorny acacia bushes and bull nettles, and it is now surprisingly difficult to make your way across the site. even just because of the extremely tough tall grass that grows there.

In the end, Nikki and I had to give up and go back to the parking lot by the Cholera gravyard, and then drive from there over to the old tennis courts.

From the tennis counts it was possible, although not super easy, to make your way down to the north end of the little sandy beach.

The shelling was pretty good once you got there, although by no means was it the best I have ever seen it. At its best it can be really mind-blowing in terms of richness and variety.

The worst thing was that we walked over a Fire Ant nest and so I got liberally bitten by Fire Ants all around my ankles. i got 20 bites just on my left ankle. They all have white blisters on them now. Yikes!

Publicado el 20 de abril de 2024 a las 09:49 PM por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de abril de 2024

Birds in my highly urban Backyard in NYC

Maybe it is because we are in spring now, but I have been seeing more birds in the backyard in the Upper East Side of Manhattan recently. The backyard here is not good habitat, very urban, no bare soil, no grass, no plantings at all-- it is all concrete and brick with three weed trees. There is one large Ailanthus tree, and a smaller one, as well as a medium-sized White Mulberry tree.

Further west in the backyards along 77th and 78th Streets there is a large stand of bamboo, a Saucer Magnolia, and an American Elm, as well as several more Ailanthus trees, one with quite a lot of ivy growing on it.

Blue Jay.
Saw one today, the first for a very long time.

Northern Cardinal.
I managed to photograph one today after failing to photograph the one that was in the backyard the two previous mornings.

Mourning Doves.
I usually see a few Mourning Doves each day. Back when I still had the bird feeder I got as many as 20 mourning doves each day. The coop board made me remove the bird feeder as it ended up attracting pigeons.

House Finches.
Yesterday I saw three of them in the morning. Two were males.

House Sparrows.
Not surprising to see a few of them.

Feral Pigeons.
Usually I get a couple of these in the mornings.

Publicado el 04 de abril de 2024 a las 07:13 PM por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 11 observaciones | 8 comentarios | Deja un comentario

13 de marzo de 2024

Ravens nesting at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

Yesterday, March 12th 2024, Ed and I took a taxi up to Morningside Drive north of 110th Street but south of 113th street, in order to try to see the pair of Common Ravens that have built (or rather added to) a nest which is on the shoulders of a statue of Saint Andrew at the back of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, up near the roof. Apparently the nest was first built by red-tailed hawks.

David J. Ringer had told us about the pair of Ravens the day before because he knew that Ed was very keen to see a raven, never having seen one in his life before.

I think Susan had not seen a wild Raven either, only captive ones in the Tower of London, many years ago. However, very recently, on February 4th, to our surprise, David and I heard a raven call when we were outside where Ed and I live, on 77th Street between 1st and York Aves, so we knew they was at least one Raven that is sometimes not far away from the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

When we got to the viewing spot on Morningside Drive, there were four birders already there with binoculars, including one with an impressive telephoto lens and camera. I knew one of the birders (Ken Chaya) from the days I usually spend in the fall (late October to mid November) in the Conservatory Garden French Garden photographing a wide variety of insects on the Korean Chrysanthemums, including a lot of flower flies. Ken Chaya is usually there with Mike Freeman, photographing the insects, especially the flower flies and butterflies.

It was difficult at first for Ed and I to work out which of the many statues was Saint Andrew, and also to be able to see the tangle of twigs on the statue's shoulders, but soon we started to see the two ravens, as they moved around, flying to the nest and out into the surroundings, including across the road into the park. We did not see them carrying any nesting materials.

When one of the birds lands on the nest, the bird tends to disappear because the space behind the shoulders of Saint Andrew is very deep. However sometimes you can see the tail of the bird sticking out to the side of the nest.

I get the impression that the construction of the nest is already finished, but no eggs have yet been laid.

At one point we heard one of the birds call, a loud " Kronk". The whole experience was great. I really thank David J. Ringer for letting us know about this!

After watching the Ravens for a while I walked down into the park and poked round a bit in order to make some spring observations of plants.

Publicado el 13 de marzo de 2024 a las 02:07 PM por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de febrero de 2024

Art imitates Life

Recently my husband Ed and I have been watching Resident Alien, a comedy/drama TV series which is currently streaming on Netflix, although it was originally made for the SyFy channel. The series is about an extraterrestrial who is disguised as a human, and is living in a small Colorado town.

A recent episode introduced a new character, an intelligent and respectable bearded man called Peter Bach, a UFO expert who hosts a very popular podcast called "Alien Tracker".

I should now explain that my husband Ed and I first met in 1988 when we were introduced to one another by John Keel, who was a very famous UFOlogist. John Keel wrote several books including one called The Mothman Prophesies. John Keel was also the person who first introduced to popular culture the concept of Men in Black as an UFO-related phenomenon. John Keel's book The Mothman Prophesies was subsequently made into a movie starring Richard Gere, who I also met and got to know a little bit because he and I both had the same Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Khyongla Rato Rinpoche.

I happened to know John Keel before I met Ed, because I had gone to a few meetings of The Fortean Society, a society that studies paranormal occurrences. Via the Fortean Society I had been given a VIP ticket to a fund-raiser at the nightclub "Tunnel". Ed was also invited to that same fundraiser by Larry "Ratso" Sloman, who at the time was the editor of National Lampoon Magazine. Ed was about to be featured on the cover of the magazine, and Ratso had brought along a dummy of the cover so that Ed could see how it would look.

So although Ed and I find Resident Alien very funny, including the character of the "Alien Tracker", I realized that Ed and I had been introduced to each other by someone so similar to the "Alien Tracker" that I suspect that character was probably originally based on John Keel.

And so without our own "Alien Tracker", Ed and I might never have met and might not still be together all these years later. So, when we watch "Resident Alien", do you think we are we laughing at ourselves and our own life, or not?

Publicado el 25 de febrero de 2024 a las 03:06 PM por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de enero de 2024

Looking at, and loading up, some old images from the 1990s

Back in the 1990s my (now) husband Ed and I had several fabulous vacations to the private island of Mustique, which is one of the Grenadines, a chain of small Caribbean islands between Saint Vincent and Grenada. I had discovered that to stay at the Cotton House hotel on Mustique in mid-April (the shoulder season) was just about affordable. We could choose MAP, Modified American Plan, which included breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner. If you stayed a week you got one extra day free. We visited Mustique in 1991, 1992, 1993, skipped a year, and then went in 1995, and 1996. Back then I made photo albums using the color prints of the photos from the vacations. The photos eventually included one or two rolls of underwater shots from a disposable underwater camera, and one roll of shots from a disposable 3-D camera.

I had not looked at those albums for many years, but yesterday I got the albums out again because I knew there were some interesting nature pics that I could, and probably should, upload to iNat.

It was a lot of work to get the images and the relevant data uploaded. First photographing the old color prints using my cell phone and the iNat app, then working out and putting in the correct name for the location, then putting the map pin in the correct place, then deciding what the date would have been, and putting that in, and finally working out the name of the organism.

Mustique was always on the expensive side, even in 1991, but In 1996 we discovered that the cost of staying at the Cotton House hotel in 1997 was going to increase rather steeply, and it was going to include some extra amenities that we did not care about at all (a monogrammed bathrobe, a CD player in your room, and the cost of drinks would be included in day rate, except for wine with meals), so we asked the hotel manager, who was French, whether he could suggest some other destinations in the Caribbean that we might like.

One place he suggested was Montpelier Plantation Inn on the island of Nevis, which was where Princess Di took her sons, the two Princes, when they were young. When I wrote and got a brochure about that hotel, the brochure also included a listing for a hotel called Golden Rock, which was described as being the place to stay if you wanted to see the African Green Vervet monkeys, thousands of which live on Nevis. My husband Ed is crazy about monkeys, so we decided to make our spring Caribbean trip in 1997 be a trip to Nevis. And 25 years later we are still going to Nevis each year.

I had also created photo albums of our first few Nevis trips, so I decided to go through those photos too.

Publicado el 25 de enero de 2024 a las 03:54 PM por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 9 observaciones | 6 comentarios | Deja un comentario

02 de enero de 2024

New Year 2024 starts with a bang!

It is a venerable tradition that the New York Mycological Society holds a Fungus Foray in Central Park every New Year's Day. This year's outing started at 12 noon on Monday January 1st, meeting up at Central Park West at 96th Street.

I had reminded my friends David Ringer, Misha Zitser and Steven Bodzin about it, because it had been quite a while since I had seen each of them, and I really value any outing I can take along with one or more of my favorite iNat NYC co-observers.

In the end, all three of those friends of mine came, plus about 40 other mycological members, that is, out of a total of about 3,000 members of NYMS. A senior member explained to me that there had been one New Year's Day when there was a foot of snow on the ground, and another year when the temperature was only about 6 degrees, but in both cases they got a good turn-out!

We entered the park near 'The Pool" and then we climbed the Great Hill and searched the woodland all around that area. The weather was in the low 40s, and it was mostly sunny. I was there for 4 hours and was very tired when I got home, plus my foot was hurting. But I did really great. I surprised myself.

I found nine new-to-me species, thanks to some help from the other iNatters. Among the 95 observations I made, I was lucky that I saw several animal lifers:

American Green-Winged Teal, thanks to David Ringer.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/195510938 1

Ground Wolf Spider, thanks to Misha.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/195510337 1

Metallus rohweri, a sawfly leafminer with no common name.

Pine Witches Broom Phytoplasma, but this might turn out to be normal epicormic growths on Pitch Pine.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/195510735 1

…And several of the fungi I photographed were new to me too: …

Merismodes anomala – looks like coral cups when you use some magnification
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/195509027 3

Peroneutypa scoria – little twig-like branches
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/195509235 2

Propolis farinosa – white oval marks
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/195509697 2

Hypoxylon perforatum – they look like little beige cakes
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/195509666 1

Plus, I finally paid attention to what is a new-to-me plant pathogen fungus, and new to NYC:
Raspberry leaf spot, Sphaerulina rubi
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/195510622 1

I was happy that Sigrid Jakob, who was leading the walk, told me that in 2023 I had added three new species to the MSNY fungus list for New York City, all of them plant pathogens.

And I was also pleased that I got to observe three slug species under logs: Limax maximus, a Mesarion species, and one Arion hortensis.

I was kind of surprised that I found a couple of small clumps of Allegeny Spurge, which I have seen only once before near the Reservoir.

We also came across a friendly lady who was walking her pet chicken in the park. What a nice hen it was, and you could pet its soft brown feathers.

All in all quite a tiring walk, but a lovely afternoon in the Park.

Publicado el 02 de enero de 2024 a las 07:26 PM por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 27 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de noviembre de 2023

Back to NYC again in late November

Well, coming back to New York after 16 days in Southern California was a bit of a shock. It is not really terribly cold, but chilly enough, and now there is apparently not much brand-new nature for me to see, whereas in California I was photographing at least one new lifer every day.

Yesterday Ed and I went to Central Park. First we got out at 102nd Street and 5th Avenue, in order to walk across to the Butterfly Gardens and find out whether there were any insects at all there, and then briefly we went over to the English Garden of the Conservatory Gardens.

I was hoping to get a sense for exactly where we are now in the fall season.

Plenty of plants are looking happy still, and some plant pathogens, but the only insects I could find in the butterfly gardens were one Large Milkweed Bug and a bunch of Oleander Aphids sitting on an old milkweed stem. I also saw something like a bluebottle fly flying, but I was not able to photograph it. There were, however, several pretty little Ruby-Crowned Kinglets flitting around in the largest of the butterfly gardens.

When I gave up searching the Butterfly Gardens and walked over to the Conservatory Garden, I discovered that all of the annuals in the English Garden had been pulled out already. And because the stairs and paths in the French Garden have been under construction for many months now, the staff had not planted any Korean Chrysanthemums there this year. This was sad, because if the Korean Chrysanthemums were there, they would still be in flower, and the nectar and pollen would be attracting countless flying insects, as they have done every year for the last several years, much to my delight. It is wonderful to be able to see so many different flying insects so late in the year. Hopefully I will be able to do that next year.

Publicado el 20 de noviembre de 2023 a las 10:10 PM por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 16 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de noviembre de 2023

Want to know how to ID your SoCal seashells?

Dear Folks,

I will be here at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, San Diego County, for a few more days, leaving at 9 am in the morning of Nov 14th.

I am staying at the Moonlight Beach Motel at 233 2nd Street. It is easy to find via the Encinitas Boulevard exit off of Highway 5.

If anyone wants to see some local shells and learn how to ID them, or wants to bring some of your own shells and ask me to help you ID them, I am willing.

Contact me here on iNat.

Susan Hewitt

P.S. Even once I am back in NYC I am willing to teach anyone how to ID shells.

Publicado el 10 de noviembre de 2023 a las 07:14 PM por susanhewitt susanhewitt | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario