June 18, 2024

Birds in my highly urban Backyard in NYC, part 2

The first one of these reports was posted on 4th April, 2024.

We are now in mid to late June, and there are far fewer birds in my backyard.

I see occasional mourning doves and feral pigeons but basically no other birds. I am surprised because the white mulberry tree is currently heavily in fruit, and so I would expect to see a lot of robins and other fruit-loving birds.

I should ask my bird-loving iNat friends what they think is going on.

Posted on June 18, 2024 04:21 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 2 comments | Leave a comment

June 17, 2024

Roosevelt Island Community Garden

Ed and I spent a few hours on Roosevelt island yesterday, almost entirely in the Community Garden, which is open on weekend days only, from April 15th to October 15th.

Not many butterflies -- lots of small whites, one Monarch, one Painted Lady. Also honey bees, eastern bumble bees and brown-belted bumblebees. I saw a few dragonflies but got no photos of them -- they were too fast.

There were Physa acuta in the little pond, and also quite a few tadpoles, although I don't know if the tadpoles were frogs or toads. There are always interesting waterside plants around the pond here.

Interesting terrestrial weeds in the garden included Crowdippers, Chameleon plants, Common Cinquefoil, and numerous others.

As for birds, I only saw robins, northern mockingbirds, and sparrows.

Posted on June 17, 2024 01:31 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 24 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 27, 2024

Hoping soon to go out iNatting with one or more of my iNatter friends

@djringer , @catverde , @steven-cyclist , @zitserm ...

Soon I hope to go out to Randall's Island, the Wards Island part of it. DONE NOW for the Fish Count.

I also intend to go over to the Community Garden on Roosevelt island via the tram and the free R.I. bus. DONE NOW but... the garden is only open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from April 15th to October 15th.

Possibly I want to check out the Butterfly Gardens in Central Park, (meet up at 5th Ave and 102nd Street) although I am thinking maybe it is still too early to find any interesting insects there. DONE NOW, but basically no interesting insects at all -- too early in the year.

Ed and I might also take the express bus up to Riverdale to visit Wave Hill Garden, or maybe the other express bus to the Bronx Zoo.

Please let me know if you have any interest in one or more of these destinations, or perhaps other destination(s).

best wishes,


Posted on May 27, 2024 06:19 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 16 comments | Leave a comment

May 26, 2024

Planning my Encinitas trip for October/November

Having recently got back to New York City after four weeks in the Caribbean, I find that people are often asking me if I am going away on a trip this summer. But during the summer months I concentrate on being in my local free public swimming pool (John Jay Pool on 77th Street next to the River) every day for an hour or two, and also on recording/observing NYC's wild nature during its peak season as best as I can.

I also try to plan for my next big trip, which is to Southern California around Halloween time, for two or three weeks. My destination is room 108 at the Moonlight Beach Motel, in Encinitas, San Diego North County. I have a few old friends who still live in the area, and way back in 1970/71 I lived in La Jolla and Pacific Beach for two years, so SoCal still feels a bit like home to me.

Technically the hotel does not allow you to book any particular room in advance, but last year I was able to get away with doing that, so I am hoping it will work out this year too.

We don't rent a car for that time, but I use the inexpensive local buses that go south and north along the coast road. I also walk a fair amount and occasionally take a taxi. I hope my left foot has healed enough by then that it allows me to walk quite a lot.

Of course I have some favorite beaches. I also have two favorite local thrift stores as well as various favorite local parks and wild places.

On Sundays I try to get to the local Farmer's Market in order to buy local produce because our hotel room has a kitchen, and I usually make three meals a day.

Posted on May 26, 2024 01:54 PM by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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 my friend 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 my 2022 Fort Ashby report for NHCS:

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 in fact 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 to look through.

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 gorgeous flowering waterlilies. The air between the pond and the "ceiling" was filled with clouds of 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 those cattails 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 would be 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 Nikki and I got in the car and she drove us 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 (Nikki and Monty, plus Ed and Susan) ate lunch at Yachtman's Grill, which was really excellent.


More than 83 species so far

First visit shown on this page:

Second visit shown on this page:

Third visit is shown on the lower half of this page:


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

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

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

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.

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
Cassius Blue --

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

Rambur's Forktail, a mated pair

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

Physidae -- alive in the pond right under the duckweed

Virgin Nerite
Found an empty shell on the drive that goes beside the pond.
I remember that many years ago this species lived by the pond. and back then a planorbid also lived in the pond.

MARINE GASTROPODA -- empty shells from the beach there
Rosy Keyhole Limpet
Lottia limpet
Stocky Cerith -- maybe, very worn
Moon Snails

MARINE BIVALVIA -- shells from the beach
Corrugate Jewelbox
Pennsylvania Lucine
Atlantic Strawberry Cockle
Even Prickly Cockle
Calico Clam
King Venus
Purple Venus Clam
Atlantic Kitten's Paw
Atlantic Bittersweet Clam
West Indian Cardita
White Bearded Ark
Turkey Wing
Nucleus Scallop -- several valves
Common Caribbean Donax -- a great many valves
Eared Ark
Florida Tivela

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



Agricales, gilled mushrooms -- one species


Country Almond
Indian Mango
White Cedar
Coconut Palm
Royal Palm -- planted

Twisted Acacia
White Leadtree
Turkey Berry
Sea Grape
Castor Bean

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
Marsh Fleabane
Teasel Gourd
Asian Spiderflower
Giant Milkweed -- a few very young plants near the main road
Cuban Jute
Brazilian Bachelor's Button
Rough Cocklebur
Stinking passionflower

Water Lettuce
Spotted leaf Water Lily
Southern Cattail

Brownseed Paspalum
Guinea Grass
Numerous other grasses

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 is very good at finding unusual seashells.

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 good-quality knee and elbow pads. Next time I come I will also 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 lists, I don't know how many of the species we found today are new to the overall 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.

but for us, when we were 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. When it is at its best it can be really mind-blowing in terms of richness and variety.

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

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