Courtyard White Pine

Courtyard White Pine, originally uploaded by Gavatron.

Via Flickr:
There are parts of Governors Island that make you think that its a bit of land that time forgot. The Coast Guard "left" the island in 1996 with all structures pretty much as-is.

That means this White Pine has had 16 years to grow as it pleases.

The juxtaposition between the apartment courtyard, the clipped grass and the White Pine looking like it could have been transplanted from a windswept Georgian Bay island struck a chord.

Hot millipede on millipede action?

Hot millipede on millipede action?, originally uploaded by Gavatron.

Behold what *might* be millipede sex.

As we were walking up Round Mountain, I noticed a millipede eating a small puffball. While I stopped to watch and try and photograph the event, another millipede sauntered up (not sure if millipedes saunter, but I digress) and started to feed as well. The two ended up touching at one point, and what you see here began to unfold.

My initial guess was that there was some sort of territoriality going on between the two, perhaps over the source of food. They loosely kept this embrace for five minutes or so, moving away from the fungi and down the log. Eventually, they decoupled and parted ways.

After returning home, and reading about millipede sex (which involves gonopods, modified legs around the 7th segment, two penises and transferring sperm packets) I think this was might have been what I was observing instead.

What big eyes you have…

What big eyes you have…, originally uploaded by Gavatron.

This is some species of March Fly, a soft-bodied dipertan (more closely related to mosquitoes, midges & gnats then, say, house flies). On my recent trip to the Adirondacks, they were all over the summit of Whiteface mountain the morning we visited (not really sure the significance of this).

What is particularly interesting about this genus of insects is that you can sex individuals by the size of their eyes. Males are visibly holoptic (meaning their the big compound eyes meet along the dorsal line) and females, well, not so much.

This is a dude.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, originally uploaded by Gavatron.

Things have been busy since mid-March with two funerals, a dissertation chapter, a paper for a conference and a chapter for a book. Got to go out birding for the first time in what feels like forever today, and boy was it great just to be out.

Earlier this week, I noticed Ruby-crowned Kinglets and saw this one today, so they appear to be making their way through Toronto right now.