Return of the Winter Moth

Heavy fog rolled into Boston on the evening of Thursday, December 5. A thick blanket of darkness lay over Jamaica Pond.

Jamaica Pond in fog
Jamaica Pond in fog

Unusual warmth accompanied the fog, and winter moths (Operophtera brumata) were out in force. I saw one on a shrub covered in Christmas lights. Continue reading

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In Search of a Mandarin Duck

Late Saturday afternoon, we walked around Leverett Pond in Boston’s Olmsted Park, in search of a mandarin duck. I had heard this duck was on the loose from The Rambling Brambling.

Mallards abounded in the area; we saw 140 of them. Three male ring-necked ducks swam past us in a line.

Ring-necked duck
Ring-necked duck

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Meeting on the Cambridge Street Overpass

Over 120 people packed the Jackson Mann Community Center in Allston Tuesday night for a public meeting on the reconstruction of the Cambridge Street overpass. This was the second public meeting on the project — the first had taken place on June 17 — although both meetings were scheduled after the project was at 100% design. I attended this meeting because I occasionally bike over the overpass to get from Jamaica Plain to Harvard Square, risking my life in the process.

The organizers appeared to have been caught off-guard by the attendance. Folding chairs were added to accomodate more people. A lack of microphones and speakers meant that each person had to speak loudly to be heard by all.

A packed hall for the meeting on the Cambridge Street Overpass.
A packed hall for the meeting on the Cambridge Street Overpass.

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Arboretum: Birds and Winter Fruit

Now that fresh fruit is no longer available, birds have taken to picking off what is left on the trees. Sometimes a frost or two helps soften fruit, making it more palatable. I saw a few birds visiting some fruit trees this Friday.

Cedar waxwings were all over a Korean mountain ash (Sorbus alnifolia), picking off the fruit.

Cedar waxwing eating fruit of mountain ash.
Cedar waxwing eating fruit of mountain ash.

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A Fall Walk in the Arboretum

I went for a brief walk in the Arboretum today. After a couple of nights where the temperature had dropped below freezing, this afternoon was bright and sunny, hitting 60 degrees. A breeze over the meadow carried with it countless cottony seeds.

Meadow at the Arboretum
Meadow at the Arboretum

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Arboretum: Robins, Sparrows, and Finches

The sun and its warmth made for a very pleasant bird walk this morning at the Arnold Arboretum. Most of the birds we saw were along Willow Path or near the ponds. Every species except one can be found the entire year in our area.

The only exception, white-throated sparrows, moves north to breed during the summer.

White-throated sparrow
White-throated sparrow

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Mount Auburn Cemetery: Turkeys and Vireos

We took a walk through Mount Auburn Cemetery Thursday morning. We would go long stretches without hearing any birds and then, suddenly, we’d be in the midst of a birdstorm. One of the easiest birds to find was this wild turkey, whose gobble we could hear at a distance.

Head of male wild turkey
Male wild turkey

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Arboretum: Pale Green Assassin Bug and Pickerelweed

On Friday, I ran across a bug that looked like a red, green, and yellow shrimp. Resting on a witch hazel leaf with its posterior and head held high, this insect reminded me of a katydid nymph. v belov on BugGuide identified it as the nymph of a pale green assassin bug (Zelus luridus).

Pale green assassin bug nymph
Pale green assassin bug nymph

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