May 15, 2024

2024, this year's Lepidoptera on the island of Nevis

.
I did not do really great with the butterflies on Nevis during this year's visit, but I did pretty well on the moths.

Some of the identifications may need correcting:

...................................................................................................

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/207270518 -- Spotted Oleander Moth, larva.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/207270699 -- Spotted Oleander Moth, larva.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/208155987 -- Cucumber Moth

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/208948351 -- ? moth of some sort ?

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/210333706 -- Great Southern White

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/212967258 -- White Peacock

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/212967728 -- White Peacock

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213139360 -- Diamondback Moth

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213193171 -- Gulf Fritillary

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213426736 -- Monarch, larva.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213802720 -- Hieroglyphic Moth

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213967969 -- Little Yellow

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/214216269 -- Hieroglyphic Moth

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/214442044 -- Owlet Moths and Allies

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/214584800 -- Lesser Wax Moth

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/214673837 -- Green Cutworm Moth

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/215494137 -- Fall Armyworm Moth
.................................................................................................................................................

Fourteen species. Thanks for help anyone can give me with correcting/refining the IDs.

Posted on May 15, 2024 07:21 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Fungi on the island of Nevis, 2024

My friend Misha last year asked me to record as many fungi as I could on Nevis. I did not do so well back then, but I did better during this year's visit, perhaps because the island was getting more rain than usual at this time of year.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/207770424 -- Helminthosporium

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/207819631 -- Rim lichens

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/207820209 -- Flowerpot Parasol

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/207918444 -- Green-Spored Parasol

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/207965626 -- Panaeolus antillarum

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/207966424 -- White Mold

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/207990359 -- Green-spored parasol

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/207990449 -- Green-spored parasol

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/208953256 -- Milky Conecap

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/209313060 -- Purple-Spored puffball -- delicious when young.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/214441950 -- Green-spored Parasol

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/214441826 -- unknown fungus growing out of wood

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/209313103 -- Purple-Spored puffball

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/214443108 -- Orange Bonnet

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/214673417 -- Green-spored Parasol
..................................................................................................................................................

Posted on May 15, 2024 06:43 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 8 comments | Leave a comment

May 01, 2024

2024 Nature Survey at Nelson's Spring, Nevis, KN

NOTE: This report is not finished yet -- it is currently still a work in progress.

During this year's 2024 visit to Nevis, I asked Miriam Knorr of NHCS (Nevis Historical and Conservation Society) if there was something I could do to be helpful around the time of Earth Day. Miriam replied that it would be great if I would go iNatting at Nelson's Spring in order to create a similar survey to the one that I carried out at Fort Ashby in 2022. These surveys are designed to help NHCS by gathering information that will advance their work on Nevis.

Here is the 2022 Fort Ashby report:
https://www.inaturalist.org/posts/64478

Nelson's Spring is a large freshwater spring on the eastern coast of Nevis in the Cotton Ground area. The spring has created a fairly large freshwater pond which, perhaps surprisingly, backs right up against the beach on the east side. Admiral Lord Nelson, the great British naval hero, while he was still a young naval officer stationed on Nevis, used the Spring to provision all British ships with freshwater as they were sailing past. The Spring is still used as a source of drinking water on Nevis.

I first saw Nelson's Spring more than 20 years ago when it was shown to me by the late Jim Johnson. It was one of the most glorious natural areas I have ever seen in my life, breathtakingly beautiful, and extremely rich in species. Jim first showed it to me from the beach side, where we opened a wall of living vegetation, like opening the curtains on a stage a little bit. The pond was bathed in dim light with a "ceiling" composed of the interior of the canopies of numerous coconut palms. It looked as you might imagine a fantasy nature church would look. The surface of the pond was covered in flowering waterlilies. The air between the pond and the "roof" was filled with numerous colorful butterflies and dragonflies in flight.

Unfortunately, many years after I first saw the pond, for some unknown reason, earth-moving equipment was brought in and all the trees and bushes were cleared from the entire area. Then, after that, cattle were brought in to graze the grasses. This resulted in the entire area becoming very degraded, trampled, disturbed and polluted. What a shame. Also a species of invasive cattail was introduced somehow, and it spread like wildfire throughout the entire area.

Finally, just a few years ago, NHSC decided to do what they could to try to rescue the area, to see if they could restore some of its original beauty and richness. It was my job to try to help out with this process by doing an iNat survey.

On Thursday May 2nd, Nikki and I went into town to go to The Market to buy fruit and veggies for meals for the final 10 days that Ed and I are here on Nevis. Then we went over to the beach at the RestHaven ruins to see if any interesting shells had washed up there since the last time we looked there. After that, we drove north on the main road until we came to Nelson's Spring. If you look towards the ocean there, the freshwater pond is clearly visible from the main road as the road curves around through a 90º bend. We parked the car on the southeastern side of the area not far from the Yachtmans Grill, and got out and started to walk around the eastern edge of the nature preserve, making observations of all various organisms as we went. After an hour or two I got tired and hungry, and the old injury in my left foot started to hurt, so we got in the car and drove back to the hotel at Oualie.

On this first iNat visit I was only able to survey a small part of the Nelson's Spring natural area. I intend to do at least one more visit before Ed and I leave Nevis on May 12th.

So, the next day, Friday May 3rd, both Ed and I got in a taxi and went to Nelson's Spring, this time starting making observations near the ocean on the south side. We stayed two hours.

And I am glad to say that Nikki and I made one more visit on Monday May 6th before all four of us ate lunch at Yachtman's Grill, which was excellent.

...............................................................................................................................................................

RESULTS OF THE OVERALL SURVEY:
More than 83 species so far

First visit shown on this page:
https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/susanhewitt/2024/5/2

Second visit shown on this page:
https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/susanhewitt/2024/5/3

Third visit is shown on the lower half of this page:
https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/susanhewitt/2024/5/6

ANIMALIA:

BIRDS:
Gallinule -- one adult and three chicks
Magnificent Frigatebird -- two out over the ocean
Western Cattle Egret -- several
Red-talled Hawk -- one in immature plumage

MAMMALS:
Domestic Sheep -- droppings, and a live herd
Domestic Cattle -- droppings

FISH:
Fish in the small stream and under the duckweed in the main pond.

INSECTS:
Western Honeybee
Fly (very small)
Beetles: Omophoita albicolis I saw at least two of them
Conotelus sp -- living inside the trumpet of a morning glory flower
Spined Assassin Bug -- One got trapped in the insect net when I was trying to catch a butterfly. Nice bug!
True bugs:
Brachyplatys subaeneus I photographed one.

LEPIDOPTERA/BUTTEFLIES:
White Peacocks -- many
Small yellows -- many
Cloudless Sulphurs -- several
Blues -- several
Green and yellow caterpillar on unknown plant
Gulf Fritillary -- several near the ocean
Monarch -- several seen not far from the ocean
Straight-line Seed Moth -- one in rough grassland near the pond

ODONATA
Banded Dragonlets -- several
Also a clear-winged species of dragonfly, somewhat greenish in color, and larger than the Dragonlets.

Damselflies;
Rambur's Forktail, a mated pair

CRABS:
Land Crabs -- burrows seen
Atlantic Ghost Crabs -- burrows seen
Blackbacked land crab -- shed claw casing

MOLLUSCA:
FRESHWATER GASTROPODA:
Physidae -- alive in the pond right under the duckweed
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/212968574

BRACKISH WATER GASTROPOD:
Virgin Nerite
Found an empty shell on the drive that goes beside the pond.
I remember many years ago this species lived by the pond.

MARINE GASTROPODA -- empty shells from the beach
Rosy Keyhole Limpet
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213281142
Lottia limpet
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213219369
Stocky Cerith -- maybe, very worn
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213219418
Moon Snails
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213820414

MARINE BIVALVIA -- shells from the beach
Corrugate Jewelbox
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213219318
Pennsylvania Lucine
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213219224
Atlantic Strawberry Cockle
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213219035
Even Prickly Cockle
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213219138
Calico Clam
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213218986
King Venus
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213218933
Purple Venus Clam
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213218862
Atlantic Kitten's Paw
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213218799
Atlantic Bittersweet Clam
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213218723
West Indian Cardita
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213218671
White Bearded Ark
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213218634
Turkey Wing
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213218577
Nucleus Scallop -- several valves
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213218525
Common Caribbean Donax -- a great many valves
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213218388
Eared Ark
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213218525
Florida Tivela
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/213224390

BRYOZOA:
Sargassum Sea Mat -- A little bit, on the beach washed up

.........................................................................................................

FUNGI

Agricales, gilled mushrooms -- one species
..............................................................................................................

PLANTAE

TREES:
Country Almond
Neem
Indian Mango
White Cedar
Coconut Palm
Royal Palm -- planted

BUSHES/SMALL TREES
Twisted Acacia
White Leadtree
Turkey Berry
Sea Grape
Castor Bean
Coinvine

SOFT PLANTS AND WEEDS
Coral Vine
Trailing Daisy
Tridax Daisy
Bellyache Bush
Herb of Grace, in the lawn in boggy areas
Creeping Tick trefoil
Turkey Tangle Frogfruit
Little Ironweed
Goatweed
Marsh Fleabane
Teasel Gourd
Asian Spiderflower
Giant Milkweed -- a few very young plants near the main road
Cuban Jute
Nodeweed
Dayflowers
Brazilian Bachelor's Button
Rough Cocklebur
Stinking passionflower

FRESHWATER PLANTS
Duckweed
Water Lettuce
Spotted leaf Water Lily
Southern Cattail

GRASSES
Brownseed Paspalum
Guinea Grass
Numerous other grasses

BROWN ALGAE
Sargassum -- one small piece washed up

Posted on May 01, 2024 01:56 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 27 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

April 24, 2024

Nature walk on Oualie Bay

During my vacation trip to Nevis, when I don't go out on a special visit somewhere, instead I walk around the hotel grounds on this bay of the northwestern part of this tiny island. I try to find as many interesting organisms as I can to photograph, ranging from the hotel cat to a house fly.

Posted on April 24, 2024 10:24 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 25 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

April 20, 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 time i come I will wear 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.

Posted on April 20, 2024 10:00 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 15 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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 old days there was a flock of goats who lived there, and they made very good paths through the whole area, paths about 1 foot wide.

Trying to cross the area we walked over a fire ant nest, and I got bitten on my left ankle 20 times. Ouch!

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!

Posted on April 20, 2024 09:49 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 04, 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.

Posted on April 04, 2024 07:13 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 11 observations | 8 comments | Leave a comment

March 13, 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 I 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.

Posted on March 13, 2024 02:07 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 7 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 25, 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?

Posted on February 25, 2024 03:06 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 25, 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.

Posted on January 25, 2024 03:54 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 9 observations | 6 comments | Leave a comment