Sunday, September 13, 2009

Feller Expedition Finale

I apologize for the long delay in getting this final entry posted from last night.

En route to Cunningham Park, driving at 50 mph along Horace Harding Boulevard (the service road for the Long Island Expressway), Mike heard a loud buzzing coming from a six-foot-wide strip of unmowed turf grass and weeds between the service road and the gabion* wall above the LIE. Mike could hear the high-pitched buzzing right through the low rumble of tractor trailer tires and the whine of passenger car engines. Sounds to me like a Neoconocephalus cone-headed katydid, or maybe Orchelimum vulgare, but I'll have to follow up with Mike to see if we can get a certain ID.

At 57th Avenue and Cloverdale Blvd, Mike stopped to listen to chorusing snowy tree crickets and a greater angle-wing.

At Cunningham Park, Mike picked up his most diverse chorus: lesser angle-wing, greater angle-wing, fork-tailed bush katydid, jumping bush cricket, and true katydid.

Forest Park yielded true katydid, field cricket, and greater angle-wing.

Then, Bronx ambitions stymied by impending illness, the Feller Expedition (i.e., Mike) called it a night, headed home, and fell asleep with the windows thrown open, drifting off to a snowy tree cricket lullaby...

*a type of retaining wall consisting of rocks enclosed in woven mesh (I include this definition because I had to look it up when I read Mike's e-mail, but maybe my knowledge of civil engineering is just not up to speed)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Katydids of Queens

First stop in Bayside near Mike's house yielded only field crickets. At Crocheron Park (still Bayside), Field Crickets and the sought after Northern True Katydid were calling. Next stop was Alley Pond Park. Listening from the perimeter of the park at 233rd and 67th Avenue, Mike heard the same singers as he heard from inside: Northern True, Jumping Bush Cricket, Field Cricket, and Lesser Angle-wing. He also reports seeing Spring Peepers (which are not crickets or katydids, but chorus frogs!) clambering up the trunks of sweetgum trees, as well as many other usually overlooked creatures of the night, such as millipedes and slugs...

Next stop Cunningham Park!

The count is on!

8 P.M. and the Feller Expedition (AKA Mike Feller) is out the door of his home in Bayside, Queens, ears perked. First stop will be a spot nearby where he recalls hearing Northern Trues. Unfortunately, Mike is not feeling well (possibly coming down with the flu) so his planned blanketed coverage of The Bronx and Queens may not pan out, but whatever sites he samples will provide valuable data.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weather trouble?

Well, the weather is not looking good at all for tonight. Raindate Saturday night looks a bit more promising. Ah, the vagaries of field work!

Keep an eye on the Cricket Crawl web site for an official weather decision from CC Central.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

In the Spirit of Darwin

Well, the night of the Big Apple Cricket Crawl is almost upon us--barring a weather crisis--and all around the City the excitement is palpable. The members of the Feller Expedition must rely on all their self discipline to stay focused on their preparations and pretend not to notice the awed stares of ordinary New Yorkers as the team moves about the City making certain everything is ready. (OK, I admit I'm just guessing about some of this since I'm down here in Maryland and at the moment don't actually even know who's in Mike Feller's courageous crew...But I did GROW UP in The City That Never Sleeps and I DO know Mike, although we've been out of touch for eons--in fact, he hired me as a naturalist fresh out of college, many many moons ago, after somehow convincing his supervisor that my knowledge of natural history was more important than what I wore to my interview, a feat of persuasion for which I will always be grateful.)

Mike is Chief Naturalist with the NYC Parks Department (Natural Resources Group) and has an excellent knowledge not only of critters (sensu lato--I include plants here, Mike), but also of the natural and somewhat natural and not-so-natural areas of New York City. So if anyone knows where to find some nice big choruses of Pterophylla camellifolia (Northern or Common True Katydid) it would be Mike.

One concern: Mike is apparently not a big fan, or at least not an undiscriminating one, of 21st century technology (back when I worked with Mike, there WAS no 21st century--we still thought the 20th century was cutting edge--so this is just hearsay). Although he may have been exaggerating when he claimed in an e-mail to have no idea what a blogger is, I am nevertheless slightly nervous that he will remember to grab his pith helmet, but forget his cell phone (critical for our real-time data acquisition, Mike!) when he leads his team out into the darkness tomorrow. So, Feller Expedition, please make sure at least one of you has a phone and the phone number to leave me voice mail keeping me apprised of your adventures.

OK, let's all try to catch a few Zs while we can...