30 de agosto de 2022

The summer drought

The drought continues... We need rain desperately, not just in New York City, but in most of New York State.
Yesterday, I found out that there was a wildfire ravaging the Minnewaska State Preserve in upstate NY.

So far, 30 acres of land have been scorched by the wildfires in Minnewaska and the firefighters are still trying to contain the fires:
https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2022/08/29/firefighters-assail-30-acre-wildfire-at-minnewaska/

According to that article, eight other fires are raging in New York State.

Over here, in NYC, despite the withered plants in Cunningham Park and Alley Pond Park, I continue to seek and find beauty and solace in nature. I've been spending a lot more time observing insects and spiders. Recently I found a really cool spider, the Eastern Triangular Cobweaver, in the pine stand at Alley Pond Park. Last night, I saw an Eastern Triangular Cobweaver dragging a dead carpenter ant. The Labyrinth Orbweaver is another spider that I've been observing in that same area. I also see many Spotted orbweavers at night, methodically crafting their giant orbs.

Ingresado el 30 de agosto de 2022 por zitserm zitserm | 2 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de agosto de 2022

Wild sarsaparilla, spiders etc.,

The leaves of the Wild sarsaparilla are starting to turn yellow gradually. The recent drought no doubt has played a significant part in this. Some of the leaves are still mostly green but they are showing yellow mottling, like stars in the sky. This yellow green quilt of colors is a welcome sight on the dry, brown leaf litter. I walk through the woods, with slow and careful movement, so as to avoid running into spider webs and damaging them, or getting a spider in my face. In the past, I've nearly run into large Spotted orbweavers - their webs can be five feet or even more in diameter, and the hairy spiders themselves can be almost an inch long. During the day, the Spotted orbweaver will often hide inside a curled up leaf, near the orb, but at night, they will situate themselves in the center of the orb and wait for insects to get trapped in the sticky web. They build their webs often across narrow trails and then sit in the center, often at about the same height as my face. That's actually the main reason why I turn on my flashlight when I walk on narrow trails at night. If I'm not walking on a narrow trail, I will often turn off my flashlight, so as not to needlessly disturb the birds, and so as not to ruin my chances of sneaking up on a chirping katydid.

As I explore the sarsaparilla patches, I am careful to side step the poison ivy, which somewhat resembles and blends in with the Wild sarsaparilla. Similar looking plants often grow near each other - perhaps that's nature's way of reminding us to always be extra observant. This becomes especially important if one is foraging for wild edibles - one cannot afford to be careless in such endeavors. I am enjoying the sweet smell of fallen leaves and the dried out ferns, among them the aptly named Hay-scented fern. The drought that we've had here for the past month and a half has certainly been damaging to the forest dwellers, and I am wishing for rain each day, but despite that, as I walk, I find pleasure in the sounds of the dry leaves crunching under my feet and the sweet smell permeating the air. In the span of about half an hour this morning, I saw five species of spiders - a Spotted orbweaver, a Spined micrathena, an Arrowhead orbweaver, an Orchard orbweaver and a Basilica orbweaver. These are the regular species that I see in these woods most days - every now and then I stumble upon a new species, like the Green-legged orbweaver, which I found last week. Each day in the woods leads to new surprises!

Ingresado el 23 de agosto de 2022 por zitserm zitserm | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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