The squirrel population at Boston Public Garden is quite high. At times, it feels as if there are two per square foot. Since visitors frequently feed the squirrels, they have become bold. When I visited Thursday morning, one came up, grabbed my leg with its paws, and then moved a couple feet away, staring at me. Among all the gray squirrels, though, one stood out.
I found this white-dotted prominent caterpillar (Nadata gibbosa) crawling across Meadow Road yesterday. A green caterpillar with an opaque, lighter green face, it is covered with white dots. This one had two brown patches on it, perhaps some sort of infection?
Can Southern magnolia trees survive in Boston? I thought not. Even the Arboretum’s own Bulletin of Popular Information, didn’t think so, saying in May of 1911 that Magnolia grandiflora is “not hardy at the north.” That changed in 1983, when a tree was planted behind the Visitor Center. More accessible, however, is a tree just off Meadow Road behind a red maple. Planted in 1998, this cultivar — Bracken’s Brown Beauty — is doing very well.
We came across two large black beetles yesterday just off the path around Jamaica Pond. The beetles were possibly engaged in the act of mating. If so, the female beetle was much larger than the male and her orange belly was showing.
Last week, we headed to Jamaica Pond at dusk to see if we could find any bats. Two friends with a bat detector joined us. This device picks up the echolocation calls that bats use to create an image of their surroundings in the dark.
We started detecting the bats around 9:30pm on the north side of the Pond near the old Pinebank mansion. The calls got louder as the bats approached us. We even managed to see a few, although it was too dark to take photos.
We climbed the stairs and proceeded to the baseball field. More bats!
Most of the bats called at around 30 kHz which, according to this chart, makes them big brown bats. This squares with Mass Audubon, which says that big brown bats prefer urban areas.
Thanks to Kieran and Sandy for teaching us how to detect bats.
I took photos of a wealth of natural life at the Arnold Arboretum yesterday. Among the birds, dragonflies, frogs, and plants, only one of the subjects was accessioned: Wilson’s spiraea (Spiraea wilsonii).
Jef led us on a walk along the banks of the Muddy River on a sunny, seasonal spring day. We first stopped to view some outdoor sculpture as part of the Through the Trees exhibition by studios without walls.
Jamaica Pond is finally ice-free! The wind coming off the water yesterday, however, did not feel like it. We took a walk as the sun set.
American coots were diving for vegetation and then squabbling once a coot was successful at obtaining some. It’s late in the year for the coots, which should leave for their summer breeding grounds in the Upper Midwest and Canada any day now.