Field Trip Report, Marine Park, September 2023

Torrey Botanical Society Field Trip, Marine Park

I just finished [2023-10-28] uploading the last of my photos and iNaturalist observations from the Torrey Botanical Society field trip to Marine Park on Saturday, September 16. I had a huge backlog of photos from my 2nd trip to the Adirondacks this year (warranting its own blog post), and I’m slowly catching up.

Mud fiddler crab (Minuca pugnax)

Our Trip Leader was Priyanthe Wijesinghe (cradling the handsome crab above), Torrey Council member, and keen iNaturalist observer of Marine Park: roughly 75% of his iNat observations are from that area of Brooklyn. As often occurs with Torrey field trips, there were several heavy-hitter botanists attending. Some more of us — myself included — could be considered more general naturalists. Altogether, on iNaturalist we documented 130 different species (taxa) that day, only 47 of which were plants.

For my part, in my observations of the day, I documented 37 plant species (80% of the total), and 78 overall (60%). Even more exciting for me, 13 of the species were new to me! (On iNaturalist, at least.) A good part of that is the benefit of having so many keen and knowledgable observers on-hand to point out and identify interesting organisms.

Autumn olive (Eleagnus umbellata)

The other is the unusual habitats accessible in the park, mostly sandy shoreline meadows and salt marsh. And, as our visit was timed to coincide with low tide, we had access to things washing up on the shore, as well. Each of these habitats presents its own challenges and opportunities for organisms to survive and thrive. So there are many specialists that won’t be found outside of such areas, making them critical for sustaining the biodiversity of New York City.

Salt Marsh Meadow

Here are some of the species that I first photographed that day, most of them habitat specialists. This list is likely to change as identifications are corrected and refined.

Moon jellies (Aurelia) Pickleweed (Salicornia) - very salty

Meta: Blog Comments

The collective texts of the generated spam comments to my blog sometimes resemble poetry. Each line in this “poem” is the complete text of a single spam comment.

from a printed book, reproduction

monuments related to deep

antiquities. These are the

Egyptian papyri works of art.

At the same time, many antique

handwritten books were made,

One of the most skilled calligraphers

Of his works, he is especially famous

the best poets of his era and

which is carried out by the printing

The most common form handwritten by the author.

handwritten synonym

written on the parchment was scratched out

Meta-Meta: This is the first post published since I activated and configured the ActivityPub plugin on the blog. I already published this as three Mastodon posts, broken up for text limitations. Hopefully this shows up on its own!

Saturday, August 12, Wave Hill, Bronx: Bees, Butterflies and Blooms

Toxomerus marginatus on NOID Asteraceae, Wave Hill, June 2021

Saturday, August 12, join me at Wave Hill in the Bronx. I’ll be leading two Native Pollinator Walks, part of their Bees, Butterflies, and Blooms weekend of events. My walks will step off at 11am and 1pm from the Perkins Visitor Center, where the gift shop is located.

I’ll be staffing their Pollination Station information table between walks.

For a list of all that weekend’s events, Saturday and Sunday, August 12th & 13th, see:

Wild Garden, Wave Hill

Brooklyn CNC 2023 Events and Locations

City Nature Challenge (CNC) 2023 is happening at the end of this month, from Friday, April 28, through Monday, May 1. Since 2019, I’ve been a Brooklyn “Borough Captain” for New York City’s participation.

This year, there are events happening all over Brooklyn on both Saturday and Sunday of CNC. All events listed here are free and open to the public. Some may offer, or recommend, registration.

Groundhog (Marmota monax)

You can find a complete list of all New York City CNC 2023 events on the official iNaturalist Project.

Continue reading

U.S. Firefly Atlas

The Xerces Society, in collaboration with the IUCN SSC Firefly Specialist Group and New Mexico BioPark Society, has launched the Firefly Atlas project:

Lucidota atra, black firefly, found on milkweed along my driveway, 2022-07-05

The Firefly Atlas is a collaborative effort to better understand and conserve the diversity of fireflies in North America. Launched in 2022, the project aims to advance our collective understanding of firefly species’ distributions, phenology, and habitat associations, as well as to identify threats to their populations.

Although the Atlas tracks all species described from the US and Canada, we are currently prioritizing efforts for a subset of 13 threatened and data deficient species found in three focal regions of the US: the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Southwest. These priority regions were chosen based upon having a high number of threatened species and/or a high number of data deficient species. – What is the Firefly Atlas?

Continue reading

2023 NYRP Tree Giveaway

The annual New York Restoration Project Tree Giveaway starts in a month. This year, they’re offering the largest variety of native tree, and some shrub, species I’ve seen yet.

Consider the mature size of each species. The larger trees will grow too large for most urban yards. I highlighted shrubs and smaller tree species that max out at no more than around 50′ high and wide, without considering existing vegetation, outdoor structures, etc. Your conditions will vary!

Oxydendrum arboreum, Sourwood, Tree Giveaway, Compost for Brooklyn

Shrubs and Smaller Trees

Larger Trees

Advance registration is mandatory. You select your preferred species when you register. Note that each location will only have 6-8 species. Some locations, especially smaller sites, are already “sold out” of some species.

Here are this year’s Brooklyn sites and pick-up dates.

Related Content

2008-10-14: Tree Giveaway this Saturday in Sunset Park
2010-04-08: Put Down Roots: Million Trees NYC Tree Giveaway


New York Restoration Project Tree Giveaway

Who Cares About Honeybees, Anyway?

Originally published as a Guest Rant on Garden Rant, November 4, 2009. Recovered from the Internet Archive. I replaced the photo snapshot with a link to the high-res photo on Flickr. I’ve replaced archive links with current, active links where possible. Those that have since link-rotted are noted.

Subgenus *Agapostemon*, male, on NOID *Helianthus*, perennial sunflower, along my driveway, August 2009

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been making the news rounds for a few years now. It’s old, if still current, news. Dire outcomes from the loss of honeybees have been proffered. For example, PBS recently introduced an online “ask the expert” feature with this:

Since the winter of 2006, millions of bees have vanished, leaving behind empty hives and a damaged ecosystem. [1]

Really? The ECOSYSTEM?! Did they not notice that honeybees aren’t part of the ecosystem?

Honeybees are livestock. They are animals which we manage for our uses. We provide them with housing and maintenance. We even move them from field to field, just as we let cows into different pastures for grazing.

Perhaps, if CCD can neither be prevented nor cured, disaster would come to pass. However, the underlying cause would not be the loss of the honeybees but our dependence on them as a consequence of unsustainable agricultural practices.

The old ways of farming include hedgerows, uncultivated areas between fields. The biodiversity of these patches provide substantial habitat for native pollinators, as well as other beneficial insects. When even these rough “unproductive” patches of land are cleared, we set the stage for the patterns that have come to dominate agriculture: more herbicides, more pesticides, more machinery. All of these also damage the soil food webs that support both soil fertility and agricultural ecosystems. Although manufactured inputs provide temporary relief, they reduce the ecological functions of the land, requiring more and greater inputs to achieve the same effect. This is the definition of addiction, and it’s a clear sign that this way of doing business is unsustainable.

Why do we need to ship and truck pollinators around? There are plenty of native pollinators to do the job, where we haven’t decimated their habitats. There are 4,000 species of bees alone in North America. 226 species are known in New York City. Many of them visit my gardens in Flatbush, Brooklyn; some have even taken up residence [2]. Many native bees are ground-dwellers which need only some open ground in which to dig their nests. When every patch of ground is cultivated, plowed under or paved over, native pollinators disappear. Suddenly, we “need” honeybees for pollination.

I care about the honeybees. I like my honey and beeswax candles. I support efforts to legalize beekeeping in New York City. But not at the expense of the biodiversity that is all around us, even in the city, if only we care enough to look for it, value it, and nurture it.

Dig Deeper

The Great Pollinator Project [original link defunct]
North American Pollinator Protection Campaign
Saving [Honey] Bees: What We Know Now [About CCD], NY Times, 2009-09-02


[1] Ask “Silence of the Bees” Expert Dr. Diana Cox-Foster, PBS Blog [original link defunct]
[2] “Cellophane Bees Return”, 2009-05-02 [sic, correct date below]

End of original guest rant.

Related Content

Cellophane Bees Return, 2009-05-09 [cited in the Notes above]
Bee Watchers Needed in NYC (and a rant), 2009-06-09 [This was the original blog post which led to the Guest Rant]

All my Bees posts


Standing Still 2022: From Darkness

Maybe I am more like Demeter, weeping for the hold darkness has over others, while reaching and hoping for a time when we can bring everyone back into the light.
Standing Still 2021: Demeter Waiting

Green-Wood Cemetery, early November 2022
I write again for the solstice. The sun “stands still”, as do I.
I continue to grieve for the many lost to darkness, their own and others’. Though amplified over the past several years, it’s not new in my lifetime. From civil rights in the 60s to trans rights in the 20s, resistance and liberation are always met with hatred and violence.

Grieving Angel on Headstone in Trinity Church Cemetery

Out of that grief, I am resolute.
I resist.
I will not quench joy.
I will not subdue celebration.

I will not hide our light from darkness.

Striped green sweat bee (Agapostemon) visiting Vernonia noveboracensis flowers in my front yard, 2022-08-31

Related Content

All my past Winter Solstice posts:

  • 2021: Standing Still 2021: Demeter Waiting
  • 2018: Standing Still in 2018
  • 2016: Standing Still 2016
  • 2015: Standing Still
  • 2014: The Sun stands still
  • 2010: From Dark to Dark: Eclipse-Solstice Astro Combo
  • 2009: Standing Still, Looking Ahead
  • 2008: Stand Still / Dona Nobis Pacem
  • 2007: Solstice (the sun stands still)