May 20, 2022

Sutton Place Parks

This afternoon I had to be on 1st at 56th, so afterwards I walked across to Sutton Place so I could visit the little parks there. There are five of them, pocket parks, but I only visited three of those.

There were quite a lot of weeds, most of them not very surprising.

But the best thing I found was Shining Crane's-Bill (Geranium lucidum) which is a pretty small geranium, a species I have never seen before anywhere.

There was also a mass of green aphids on the new growth of a Solidago species. I am not sure on the ID of the aphids.

Posted on May 20, 2022 22:28 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 9 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 07, 2022

Back to NYC for spring and part of City Nature Challenge

So... we got back to NYC very late on Saturday April 30th. I was expecting NYC to be noticeably more green after four weeks away in the tropics (the West Indies), and it does look a lot more like mid to late spring now than it did before we left NYC on April 2nd. Apparently the weather here in NYC was mostly cold and dry during the four weeks we were gone.

The two days after I got back, Sunday May 1st and Monday May 2nd, were the last two days of the global City Nature Challenge (CNC). I had decided to do my part by going iNatting the Freshwater Wetlands area of Randall's Island on the Sunday, and inatting in John Jay Park and Carl Schurz Park on the Monday. Steven Bodzin came with me on the Sunday outing. It was very nice, warm and sunny, although I don't think I found anything new, and there were not a lot of insects out yet.

Monday was on and off rain, mostly drizzle, so not great for iNatting, but not terrible. However, my foot was hurting a fair bit, so I could not walk all around in Carl Schurz Park, but I covered two areas.

I did OK in terms of getting a decent number of observations for CNC, and adding quite a few species to the Personal Bioblitz 2022 project.

On May 5th I went to the 106th Street area of Central Park with my old friend Pat Redding. It was nice to see her and the weather that day was also sunny and warm.

At home while I was away I entirely lost "my" usual flock of twenty Mourning Doves, but gradually they are coming back to the bird feeder, and now I have six of them.

The best organism I have found since I have been back is the spectacular "Tongues of Fire" rust fungus, Gymnosporangium clavariiforme, which I found lost of on a garden Juniper on my block of 77th Street on May 4th. My image of that species was featured on the front page of the New York Mycological Society email newsletter for Saturday May 7th.

Posted on May 07, 2022 17:07 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 2 comments | Leave a comment

April 24, 2022

Moths from the island of Nevis, West Indies, in April 2022

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As well as the butterflies I recorded, I did also manage to find a few moths on Nevis, so I thought perhaps I would try to list them here. Some of the IDs may be incorrect. And many are incomplete.

Towards the end of the list I have included several observations which may be duplicate species. Since I know so little, this was in the hope that someone more expert can tell me what is what.

The first group of small drab moths are from a grazing area inland a short distance, an area which is rich in Desert Horse Purslane and Alkali Heliotrope. The second group of drab-colored moths is from an area on the upper beach platform which has mostly Beach Morning Glory. I am assuming that at least some of the moth species that are present in each area are using the dominant plant(s) as a food species for their larvae.

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Genus Micrathetis
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112097747

Cabbage Webworm Moth maybe
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112098327

Crambid Moths
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111310654

Owlet Moths and Allies
.https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110576092

Hawaiian Beet Webworm Moth.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110516598

Genus Achyra
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110516657

Achyra bipedalis
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110588824

Achyra sp.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110711324

Bagworm Moths
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110839219

More Bagworm Moths
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112288768

Crambini
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110884120

Achyra bipedalis larva
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111309019

Spotted Oleander Moth
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111568129
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111701239

Triplex Cutworm Moth
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111701239

Genus Chrysoteuchia
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111973196

Genus Urola
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111973196

Triplex Cutworm Moth
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112207519

Eublemma recta Straight-lined Seed Moth?
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112207483

Crambid Snout Moths
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112207483

Genus Eublemma recta Straight-lined Seed Moth ?
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112207429

Genus Eublemma recta Straight-lined Seed Moth ?
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112207414

Genus Micrathetis
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112305554
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NOTE: If you look at my observations, you will see that some of the moths are photographed in situ on vegetation. Others were captured in a BioQuip child's butterfly net, then chilled until they were torpid, photographed, allowed to warm up, and then released to fly away.

Posted on April 24, 2022 17:17 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 23, 2022

An Earth Day Clean-up and Nature Survey at Fort Ashby, Nevis, West Indies

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NOTE: Many of the IDs in this journal post will need to be refined and corrected.

On Earth Day I recorded 80 species of organisms at Fort Ashby, near the coast in the Cotton Ground region of Nevis. You can consult the following link to a calendar page to have a visual sense of what I was able to see. All but the first two and last four images were taken at or from Fort Ashby:
https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/susanhewitt/2022/4/22
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Fort Ashby is a piece of land surrounding a coastal fort on the Caribbean Coast of Nevis. The fort was built in 1701 on a coastal point, near what was, in the 1600s, the original capital of Nevis, Jamestown. The fort was a simple stone structure, much of which remains intact. The design is semi-circular, and the outer wall, which faces towards the sea, still features four cannon.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426636

But due to slow coastal build up of sand in this one part of the coast, the fort is now 100 yards back from the edge of the sea. There is also now a lagoon pond that reaches from one side of the piece of land to the other side -- Fort Ashby has private property on both sides of it. The lagoon at Fort Ashby was, until recently, crossed by a wooden bridge, but that has now disintegrated, so currently there is no way to access the beach directly from Fort Ashby.

At some point in recent times, one of the walls of the fort was extended upwards with concrete, and the entire structure was given a mostly open-air roof, in order to convert it into a bar-restaurant. Then subsequently, when the lease expired, the restaurant was abandoned, along with three small residences nearby, and at least one other small building.

After the restaurant closed, the entire area of Fort Ashby was not maintained, and it had recently become extremely overgrown with vegetation. The area was also occasionally misused for illegal dumping.

The Nevis Historical and Conservation Society (NHCS) is now in the process of reclaiming the site and improving it, so that it can become a natural, historical, and educational attraction for both locals and tourists.

A Nevis friend of mine, Miriam Knorr of NHCS, asked me if I would volunteer at Fort Ashby on Earth Day. Although the rest of the NHCS team were doing much-needed physical clean-up of the site, Miriam asked me if I would use iNaturalist to record and photograph the nature of the area. I spent nearly four hours there in the morning, making 160 nature observations of what appear to be 80 species. The other NHCS volunteers collected and carried out abandoned trash (two entire truckloads) and cut down a vast amount of invasive vegetation, which will be burned. There were six Nevis Historical and Conservation volunteers, 10 youth-group volunteers, Jahnel Nisbet who is the director of NHCS, and myself, for a total of 18 volunteers.

More trash will need to be removed.

My iNat lists and photos will eventually be used to create such things as a leaflet and signage, once the Fort Ashby site is fully restored and ready for visitors.
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PLANTS..................................................................................
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GARDEN PLANTS, brought in and planted deliberately by humans (7 species recorded)

African Baobab
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421846
Bougainvillea
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426973
Common Lantana
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112422759
Glory-bower, Red Bleeding Heart Vine
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424461
Crinum -- Swamp Lilies
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421983
Fan Palms, Coryphoideae
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112422137
Mother-in-law's Tongue
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424855
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WILD PLANTS
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All from the Scrubland area:

WILD TREES AND BUSHES (8 species recorded)

White Leadtree
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423499
Sea Almond
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426863
and
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112422397
Indian Mango
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112422423
Neem
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423380
Noni (seedling inside the fort)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426242
Clammy Cherry
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421583
Shrubby Indigo
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421626
Sandbox Tree
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424955
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SOFT PLANTS WILD -- includes wildflowers and weeds (27 species recorded)

Coral Bells aka Coralita
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423484
Bush Morning Glory
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426991
Painted Spurge
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426919
Genus Lagascea
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423077
Asthma Plant
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423270
Tridax Daisy
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423537
Castor Bean
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424772
Blue Porterweed
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112422628
Gale of the Wind
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421238
Porknut thorn bush
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421292
Whitemouth Dayflower
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421321
Browne's Blechum
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421344
Common Fanpetals
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421381
Lion's Ear
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421417
Brazilian Bachelor's Button
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112422603
Scorpion's-Tail
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112422861
Caesar Weed
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112422910
Erect Spiderling
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423037
LIttle Ironweed
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423064
Lobed Croton
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423136
Asian Spiderflower
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423162
Legumes
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423307
Pyramid Flower
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423554
Graceful Spurge
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424090
Amaranths
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424167
Sacramento Bur
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424330
Common Fan petals
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112427305
Devils Horsewhip
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423740
and
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112427209
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Species found on or inside of, the Fort structure itself (8 species recorded)
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Bitter Panicgrass
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426526
Brown's Sword Fern
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426411
Dicot Tree, ID unknown
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426321
Small Dicot Tree with some red leaves, ID unknown
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426284
Noni seedling
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426242
Siam Weed, Chromolaena odorata
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426218
Cure-For-All
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426188
Spiny Fiddlewood
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426599
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Monarch Fern
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421927

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Plants growing near the lagoon pond (3 species recorded)

Nickernut
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112425732
Tree of Little Stars
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112425732
Beach Naupaka
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112425943
and
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426067

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FUNGI AND LICHENS (4 species recorded)
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Teloschistaceae
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426733
Common Lichens
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426481
and
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421786
Shelf Fungi
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112425249
Agaricomycetes
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112427047

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ANIMALS OF EVERY KIND........................................................
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MAMMALS, REPTILES, BIRDS (Only three species recorded so far)

Domestic Cow -- a cow pat left behind
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426086
Schwartz' Anole
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426764

Green Heron -- no photo possible, but the bird was both seen and heard.
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INVERTEBRATE ANIMALS
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INSECTS
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Butterflies (5 species recorded)

Cloudless Sulphur
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112427165
Cramer's Scrub-Hairstreak
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112427111
Tropical Checkered Skipper
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423405
White Peacock
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423576
Cassius Blue
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424820

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Other insects (9 species recorded)
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Band-winged Dragonlet, a dragonfly
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423685
Rambur's Forktail , a damselfly
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424036
Longhorn Crazy Ant
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112421707
Liriomyza a leafminer fly mining in a Bougainvillea leaf
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112427017
Cherrypie Leafminer in the Common Lantana leaves
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112422791
A leafminer in Nodeweed leaves
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424358
A Phytomyzinae leafminer in leaves of Sacramento Bur
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424632
Pit-trapping Ant-Lions
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426636
Australian Cockroach
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112425405
.

Bees and wasps (2 species recorded)
Western Honey Bee
Common on the Coralita
Stictia signata a species of sand wasp
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112427262
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Beetles (1 species recorded)
Beetle larva burrows in dead wood
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426687
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Other arthropods (4 species recorded)
Blue Land Crab
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112422335
and
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426838
Spinybacked Orbweaver
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112424411
Gall and Rust Mites
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426439
Eriophyes pluchea mites on leaves of Cure-for-all
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426041
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Humans

Carrying an abandoned Fridge out of the woodland took 6 people.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112425319

Metal debris to be removed
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112425358

An abandoned wheel
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112425405

One of the houses
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112426863

An abandoned door hanging (valance) from India
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112849690

Posted on April 23, 2022 11:28 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 16 observations | 4 comments | Leave a comment

April 21, 2022

Spiders from Saint Kitts and Nevis, April 2022

As an iNatter, when I visit somewhere I do my own bioblitz, and I try to make an observation of every species of organism that I come across. It is a bit haphazard as I don't deliberately search for any group other than seashells. However, I was able to find a few nice spiders while I was on this trip to KN, so I thought I would list them here. The IDs probably need some work.

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Genus Nigma
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110588781

Spiny Backed Orbweaver
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110681061

Genus Neriene
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110682378

Silver Garden Orbweaver
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110764863

Garden Orbweavers
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110765274

Spiny Backed Orbweaver
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110801556

Theraphosine Tarantulas
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111310654

Genus Cytopholis
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/1580145

Genus Clubiona Leaf-curling Sac Spiders
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111697509
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Posted on April 21, 2022 11:55 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 17, 2022

Why am I not observing more seashells on Nevis, West Indies?

Some seashell-oriented people here on iNat have noticed that I am not observing many seashells from Saint Kitts and Nevis. They may be wondering why.

I could certainly increase my species count if I observed more seashells. And no doubt add quite a lot of new things to the iNat database too. I know that I found over 100 species on Cockleshell Bay on St. Kitts during this trip, but not so many species on Nevis, as the shelling overall was not very good. The beaches were mostly very short of sand, and shells were generally very sparse. but why am I not photographing all the shells that I do find?

The thing is, I am working on writing a big checklist-style paper on the shallow-water marine mollusks of Nevis. Over the years since 1997, when I first started coming here, I have found about 600 marine mollusk species on Nevis (with a few extras found only on Saint Kitts) although a number of the micros I have found are not yet successfully ID'ed to the species level.

I currently have no idea where the paper will be published, or of course when it will be published. I am hoping it will be accepted by a peer-reviewed journal.

I have allowed myself over the years to make a few iNat observations of the more common shelled marine mollusk species here, but I don't want to do more than that, because uploading photos and data onto iNat counts in some respects as publishing the data. Therefore I don't want to undercut my own publication by pre-publishing more than a little info here on iNat.

I am hoping to acquire a few coauthors to help me get the paper together. If anyone would like to assist me with that aspect of it, please let me know. If you help in an intellectual capacity, your name will be on the paper as a coauthor when it is published.

I will also need help with photographing a shell of each ofl the species, many of which are very small. But simply organizing and checking all of the info that will go into the paper is a big task, and one that can sometimes seem quite overwhelming for just one person.

Posted on April 17, 2022 15:58 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 3 comments | Leave a comment

April 13, 2022

Butterflies on the island of Nevis, April 2022

Since 2020 this is our first visit to Nevis, Leeward Islands, West Indies, and we are staying at Oualie Beach Resort for four weeks, essentially the whole of the month of April. The hotel grounds are semi-wild and they support quite a lot of nature. We have been here almost three weeks so far, so with luck there is still time to see more species before we have to leave.

I did very well with the butterflies, and I managed to find several that I have never seen before at all, i.e. "lifers". The lifers are listed here with the common name in italics and slightly indented.

Here is a list of the 18 species of butterflies which I have observed so far during this visit in April 2022. This list does not include any of the moths that I have seen. I ended up making a separate journal entry with a list for moths.
.

Eighteen butterfly species seen in April 2022:
.

Great Southern White -- really large numbers of these, as usual.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111767850

Cloudless Sulphur -- several of these, as usual, but they are very tough to photograph as it seems that they usually won't ever sit still.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112427165

Little Yellow, lots of these in the grazing areas. Some are more yellow than others -- some look almost all-white on the topside.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111093496

Monarch, every so often I see an adult, and I also found several larvae. One iNat person thought the larvae were of the Southern Monarch, but I think that species only lives in South America?
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110395577
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111337578

Gulf Fritillary -- at the Rest Haven ruins north of Charlestown I saw several of these flying around, but I was not able to get any photos. This image is from 2019:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21910918

.. Long-tail Skipper -- a new species for me, very cool, and nectaring on Bermuda Rose, right outside our hotel room. April 5th, LIFER
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110499855

.. Hammock Skipper -- also very cool and a new species for me, also nectaring on Bermuda Rose, right outside our hotel room. April 12th, LIFER
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111238475

Monk Skipper -- two so far this visit. This photo from 2019:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/22324117

.. Dictynna Skipper -- saw this same species of small orange skipper twice.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/113018541 April , LIFER

Cramer's Scrub-Hairstreak -- three of these.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110979578

.. Columella Scrub-Hairstreak -- one only so far, new to me. April 10th, LIFER
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110965223

.. Angerona Hairstreak -- one only so far, new to me. Not many iNat records. April 9th, LIFER
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110839044

Miami Blue -- found once before in 2019.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110507313

Hanno Blue -- found once before in 2018.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/111697753

Cassius Blue -- found once before in 2018.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112305448

White Peacock -- found once before in 2018. This photo from Sanibel, Florida.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/76784179

Northern Tropical Buckeye --found once before in 2020.
This photo from 2020.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/40669014

Tropical Checkered-Skipper -- found once before in 2020
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112423405

.

Here are six other butterfly species that I have observed on Nevis in previous years. Rhey were all new to me at the time I saw them:

Banded yellow -- in 2018.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/11392414

Red Rim -- in 2018, and fairly far up the mountain.
No photo of this species as yet.

Fiery Skipper -- 2019
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21321379

Caribbean Scrub-Hairstreak-- 2019 on Majors Bay in St. Kitts
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/104665690

Florida Leafwing -- 2019
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21498942

Fiery Broken-Dash -- 2018
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/11772443
.

As time goes by (we leave St. Kitts & Nevis on April 30th), I may be able to add species to both of these two lists.

NOTE: If you look at my observations, you will see that some of the butterflies are photographed on flowers or otherwise in situ. Others were captured in a BioQuip child's butterfly net, then they were chilled until they were torpid, photographed, allowed to warm up, and then released to fly away.

Posted on April 13, 2022 16:55 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 8 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

March 01, 2022

Interviewed for the New York Times about iNaturalist

So, a New York Times reporter, Amy Harmon, whose beat is science and society, is interested in doing a story about iNaturalist. I think maybe she wonders if the pandemic restrictions pushed more people towards taking part in iNat, although iNat has been expanding so very rapidly over the last 10 years that it may be impossible to separate one cause from another.

Several different people Amy talked to suggested that she contact me, as an extremely active NYC iNat person. So she asked me, and because she wanted to go iNatting herself, and wanted to see me in the act of iNatting, I suggested we meet up near the Harlem Meer in Central Park, on Monday February 21st.

Of course mid-February is quite a poor time of year for iNatting, even in an area that can be rich in biodiversity at warmer times of year, but one can always find something to photograph.

So we had a pretty good time. We saw a bunch of nice birds, a few lichens and some green plants.

I suggested Amy also try to interview Misha Zitster, who could give her a different perspective, since he started on iNat in fall of 2020.

Posted on March 01, 2022 22:21 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 12 observations | 18 comments | Leave a comment

January 04, 2022

Elliptical Sportella: a small shell, but a big story

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When I am in Lee County, on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I usually stay on the beautiful barrier island of Sanibel, and I often go shelling at the southern end of the island of Captiva, near Blind Pass, on a beach called Turner Beach. These days I visit Sanibel and Captiva for three weeks in early December, my first visit to the area having been in 2011.

During my visit in December of 2017, on Turner Beach I was very fortunate to find a left valve of a small (maximum length circa 10 mm) rare, white bivalve called the Elliptical Sportella, scientific name Basterotia elliptica. The valve that I found was chipped and overall in poor condition, but because it is a rare and interesting species which was previously unknown from the area, the Sanibel Shell Museum curator, Dr. José Leal, wrote a small column about the valve three years later, in 2020:

https://www.shellmuseum.org/post/shell-of-the-week-the-elliptical-sportella

My 1917 iNat observation of that shell is here -- and yes, in reality this valve does have a hole in the middle of it, a hole which had been touched-up in José's photograph of the valve, but which is left visible in my photos:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/9235188

I was able to recognize the identity of this shell because I was fortunate enough to have found one valve of the species many years ago, long before I started recording observations on iNat. That was on a small beach outside the capital of the island of Nevis, part of the country of St. Kitts & Nevis, in the Leeward Islands, West Indies.

The Elliptical Sportella is in the same genus as another small white bivalve called the Square Sportella, Basterotia quadrata. That species is also quite uncommon, but not nearly as rare as its sister species. I also know the Square Sportella from having found that species on Nevis. And in December 2015 and 2016, I found a few valves of the Square Sportella on Turner Beach, Captiva, and that was another new species for the area. I also found several more valves of the Square Sportella this past December.

In 2020, Dr. José Leal wrote a note about my Square Sportella valves from 2015 and 2016 here:

https://www.shellmuseum.org/post/shell-of-the-week-the-square-sportella

Both these little clam species are called "Sportellas" because they used to be in the family Sportellidae, and the genus Sportella. The family they are in now is known as Basterotiidae, named after the genus Basterotia. The family Basterotiidae is in the bivalve order Galeommatida, along with another two families: Lasaeidae and Galeommatidae. All of the bivalves in the order Galeommatida are small white clams that most shellers are hardly familiar with at all.

When I visited Sanibel and Captiva in April/May of 2021, Turner Beach was closed off completely for at least six weeks for a major rebuilding of the jetty, and a restoration of the areas surrounding the parking lot, all of which had suffered severely from marine erosion and from too much uncontrolled human use. But fortunately for me, in December of 2021, when I visited Sanibel and Captiva again, Turner Beach was once again open and accessible.

No shell piles formed next to the Turner Beach jetty while I was visiting this past December, so instead I spent a lot of time examining small, sparse lines of drift shells, stretching from about one quarter mile north of the jetty, to about two miles north of the jetty. I wear good-quality knee and elbow pads made of neoprene with gel inserts. That is so that when I see promising-looking patches and Iines of small beach-drift shells, I can get down on my knees and elbows and crawl along, searching really closely, and wearing magnifying reading glasses.

I carry a quart freezer-quality ziplock bag, and also a two-ounce plastic flip-top vial filled with tap water. The tap water is there so that that any small shell that I try to put into the two-ounce vial drops easily off the surface of my finger. I also bring along a tiny 2 ml plastic flip-top vial for any interesting shell I might find that is really microscopic in size.

My hunting for interesting small shells went very well on every visit I made to Turner Beach in December 2021. I was able to find quite a lot of rarities of various species. And on December 9th 2021, at about 4:40pm, I found an adult-sized left valve of the Elliptical Sportella in good shape. I was very happy to see it.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/102790795

And a few days later, on December 14th 2021, at about 4 pm, I found an adult-sized right valve of the Elliptical Sportella in extremely good shape. I was super happy then, and I knew that Jose Leal would be very happy too.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/103157790

José was indeed happy when I brought all my batches of great little shells into the museum to give them to the collection.
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Posted on January 04, 2022 22:19 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 2 observations | 4 comments | Leave a comment

January 03, 2022

January 2nd trip to Inwood Hill Park, fungi, snails & slugs, moss

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Thanks to the New York Mycological Society, there was an outing to Inwood Hill Park yesterday. My old friend Caterina Verde (whom I first met 40 years ago when we were both living in a loft building on Leonard Street in Tribeca) picked me up on my block and drove me up to Inwood Hill. We spent about 3 hours there until our energy ran out. It was my first visit to that park, so I was totally psyched.

The weather was very warm and dampish, in the low 50s, as it has been now for several weeks, and therefore it was very good weather for fungi. I also asked the NYMS members if they would please look out for snails and slugs, because, in the process of searching for fungi, I knew they would be turning over dead wood, and therefore they would be very likely to find terrestrial gastropods.

As per usual for me, I found several fungi that are plant pathogens. Of course all of us found a lot of "regular" fungi. It turned out that many of the species of regular fungi I found were species that I had seen before elsewhere (Randalls Island and Central Park), but nevertheless, several species I observed were entirely new to me:

Cramp Balls
Warlocks Butter
Witches Butter
Crimped Gill
Auricularia angiospermarum
Little Nest Polypore

I also found an attractive and new-to-me species of moss. This moss was very distinctive-looking, which was a pleasant surprise, as so many mosses are impossible for a beginner to ID:

Common Pocket-Moss, Fissidens taxifolius

As for the mollusks, altogether we found one land-snail species and four land-slug species, thanks to so much generous help in searching by so many of the NYMS members:

Discus rotundatus, the Round Snail
Agriolimax reticulatus, the Milky Slug
Limax maximus, the Leopard Slug -- the first time I have encountered live specimens of that species in NYC
Arion hortensis, the Garden Arion -- orange sole
Hortensis-group Arion Slugs -- juveniles, but the foot mucus was colorless
Mesarion sp. -- the first time I have found Mesarion in the US

And one person found a cluster of gastropod eggs inside a decaying log. The eggs were somewhat large, so I suspect they were from Limax maximus.

All in all I had a wonderful time. It was really great to spend all that time with Caterina and the NYMS folks, and wonderful to visit Inwood Hill Park for the first time.
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Posted on January 03, 2022 14:00 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 36 observations | 6 comments | Leave a comment