Sunday, September 07, 2008

Biological Mysteries: What's the Bite? What's the Beastie? What's that Bird? Plus Rose of Tulsa with her Local Hawks

All photographs by Donegal Browne
What insect, Arachnid, or whatever causes hematological phenomenon of this kind? Take into account that the photograph was shot some days after the bites were received.

Some spider bites can cause blood reactions but so far I've not found a photograph or a person that can ID this particular reaction.

Here's what happened. Near dark, a woman was mowing her lawn. Her thigh began to itch intensely under her jeans and there was a bit of a stinging feeling now and again. She finished mowing, went inside, and the next day in the shower discovered that not only had she been bitten by something three times in a row but the bites, approximately 1/2 inch in diameter each, had produced at their periphery, "bruises". Originally these looked like the kind of thing caused by intensely broken capillaries created in the skin by sucking on it, ie. hickies.

And ideas?

This little beastie, found near a brook in the Peekskills of New York State is ? I'm throwing out a vague guess due to the length and shape of the tail, that it's a young snapping turtle of some description. But which one?

And here is the little guy's environment.

And what about this bird, photographed from the platform of the Peekskill Train Station very near the Hudson River? He was at quite a distance but I noticed him because he was making a repetitive call. It made me rather think of a duck with a cold. And it was similar in intensity and cadence to a fledgling beg. Therefore as it rather looked like a Crow, I thought perhaps it was a fledgling Crow.
Yes, late in the season but things haven't gone all that well for avian babies this year in some parts of the country so there has been a good bit of repeat clutching after disasters this season for many species. But, you know what, the call had no similarity to a Caw, whatsoever. Then again Crows make many vocalizations besides Cawing.

Besides look at the ridge/fringe of feathers in the neck area.

Also the tail length in ratio to the wingtips seems more like a juvenile than an mature bird.

See the small black area at the tip top of the steel lighting fixture near the apex of the pole? That's our bird.

Then he just sat there for a few moments.

Looked up with focus and began his vocalizations with a vengeance once again.

Then he repeated his call toward the river.

Next he called to the sky over the river.
With the train pulling in, I could still see him going for it and interestingly that fringe of feathers round his neck looked very much like that on a Common Raven.
What do you think?
KJRH Forum Hawkwatcher Rose Culbreth could hardly drive down the road, or go to the store for seeing Red-tailed Hawks in Tulsa. Here is her report of her first close look at a mature Red-tailed Hawk:

I've hit the motherload. Two, Yep that is Two, Hawk sightings in one day!! I was driving between Sheridan and Memorial on 110th and from the side of the road on the ground a huge redtail flapped up and above my car. It flew to the top of a light pole and perched there. As I was trying to get to Conrad's before the Purple Hull Peas ran out, I did not stop and study it. It was an adult though, beautiful red tail.

So this evening, I am heading up to Whole Foods, by the longest route possible from my apartment, which is via Skelly Drive just north of I-44 and 51st at Harvard. Over to the right, on the Bridge that both Catgirl and KCActionphoto have taken pics of, there sits, another Huge Red Tail. I believe this one to be Gwen, the adult female, mom to Sebastian and Viola. Neither of which I have seen in several weeks. I am buzzing down Skelly towards Periora, gaze off to my right just in case I see a Hawk and there she is, perched up on that bridge, pretty as you please.

I pulled into the parking lot about 1/2 block west of the bridge and slowly edged my car around until I was parked parallel to the curb at the end of the bridge. It was maybe, what 15 feet, perhaps 20 to Ms Gwen. She sat and looked at me while I just starred at her. She is molting most definitely, or else she has a bad case of feather rot. She looked for a few minutes, then flapped, hopped to the closer rail to look at me some more. At one point, I got a really good look at her as she turned around so I could see the rest. She definitely has a lighter patch of feathers on the back of her head. And a brilliantly deep red tail.
I have not seen a hawk that close before. At least not an adult that is. She is huge.
As I needed things from the store for dinner, I only stayed about 15 minutes, and when I started my car up to drive off, even that near to her, she never moved, but rather just watched carefully as I drove away.

Rose Culbreth
Have you noticed that once you really start keeping your eyes open and being in the moment, that you just cannot avoid biological mysteries and discoveries in your daily life? I mean sometimes they just jump out and, well, bite you. D.B.


Sally said...

I have experienced whatever bit this lady! I thought at the time that the bruising was from MY intense scratching response to the bites, especially since I am not as young as I used to be and bruise much more easily now. Mine did not develop nasty little dark necrotic areas in the center of the bite, so I didn't think it was a spider, but I have no clue what bit me, either. Sorry!

Karen Anne said...

I just had a thought - don't some biters inject a blood thinner? Although I don't know how that would produce bruising to the side.

Maybe it had big feet and pinched :-)

If it was one critter, why three bites?

Donegal Browne said...


Always grand to hear from you. Also excellent to hear that at least someone else has gotten the bites and been mystified by them as well. And that it isn't just some kind of individual anomoly. I asked if there had been anything that might have caused the bruising beyond the bites and got a negative response. So there it is, still a mystery.

Donegal Browne said...

Hi Karen,

Some hypothesize that a row of bites like that occur when the biter is stuck within clothing or or other position in which biting defensively seems in order. Others say it's because the biter finds the recipient particularly delicious.

I go with the first thought.