Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Treehugger Tuesday

New York Bans eWaste Curbside Disposal

From the Gothamist:

It Will Soon Be Illegal To Throw Your E-Waste In The Trash

What are you supposed to do with your heaping pile of disused iPhone chargers? Putting them in the trash feels wrong (and it is), but letting them rot in desuetude in the corner is just a waste of valuable apartment space.

The law currently allows New Yorkers to fling these items on the curb, but all that will end on January 1. Yes Virginia, recycling your old microwave will be a pain in the ass, but remember that the Earth is burning and this is the least you can do. Also, you'll be fined $100 if you're caught.

You can bring your crummy electronics to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Best Buy, Staples (which will not take TVs) or the Gowanus E-Waste Warehouse, and apartment buildings with more than 10 units can enroll for a free pick-up service. The city also regularly holds e-recycling events if you're somehow lucky enough to live nowhere near a Best Buy.

The Department of Sanitation website also helpfully adds that you can also SELL your used items.

If you'd prefer that same information delivered via video, that option is available:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of December 20, 2014 to December 21, 2014:

Please note that the scarcity of trips next weekend is due to the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, December 20, 12 PM – 1 PM
Introduction to Birdwatching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, December 20, 2014
115th Christmas Bird Census
http://conservation.audubon.org/programs/christmas-bird-count
Compiler: Rick Cech, Assisted by Paul Keim
Comments: As of Dec 15th, teams are full. If you have not already signed up for the Christmas Count, but would like to participate, you can join teams leaving from the Prospect Park Boathouse at 12 noon. They will be in the field for about 2 hours.
The count dinner is held at the Prospect Park Audubon Center (Boathouse). Help and assistance is needed for dinner setup. The coordinator is Heidi Steiner-Nanz, email heidi.steiner@verizon.net to get details.

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, December 20, 2014, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop at the Gretta Moulton tract in High Rock
Meet in the Nevada Avenue parking lot at High Rock. If you arrive late, walk to the first bend of the entry road and follow the Yellow Trail to the Green Trail. We will be working by Manor Road where we will remove invasive vines from shrubs and saplings. If you don’t have your own, Protectors will supply gloves and pruners (and refreshments). After a two-hour work session we will take a short walk over nearby trails.
For more information, call Don Recklies at 718-768-9036 or Chuck Perry at 718-667-1393.

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Old Mill Road
We’ll stroll along the multi-use trail next to Fresh Kills, below the hills of LaTourette Golf Course, and return along the Blue Trail. From the remains of colonial structures to the Hessian Spring and the remains of Ketchum’s Mill, we will take a look into the influence of man and nature on the ecosystems bordering the Fresh Kills estuary. Parking is available at the end of Old Mill Road, behind St. Andrew’s Church.
For more information, call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Buck’s Hollow and Heyerdahl Hill
Walk a 3.2-mile loop in one of the wild valleys in New York City. Learn about the ecology of serpentine barrens. Meet at Meisner dam at Meisner Avenue and Manor Road. Parking is available along the road to Eger Nursing Home. Rain postpones the event to the same time on Sunday, December 28.
For more information, e-mail Hillel Lofaso at hillel5757@gmail.com or call 718-477-0545.

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
North Mt. Loretto State Forest
From phragmities marshes to mature forests, we will observe a variety of ecosystems as we search for evidence of animal life from deer and raccoon to rabbits and muskrats. Traces of the geologic history and human influence of this diverse area will also be seen. Meet at the parking lot for North Mt. Loretto on Amboy Road in Richmond Valley.
For more information, call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

**********

Staten Island Museum
Saturday, December 20, 2014, ALL DAY
Christmas Bird Count
Location: Staten Island Museum, 75 Stuyvesant Place (Round up)
Free/Donations welcome

In conjunction with the National Audubon Society, members of the Museum's Section of Natural History will venture forth, no matter what the weather, in an attempt to count every bird on Staten Island. Organized teams will go to designated areas during the day/night to count birds and meet at the Museum later that night for a round up and tally of results.

For further details on participation, contact Ed Johson at 718.483.7110.
...Read more

Friday, December 12, 2014

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, December 12, 2014:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Dec. 12, 2014
* NYNY1412.12

- Birds mentioned
BARNACLE GOOSE+
COMMON GROUND-DOVE+
CASSIN'S KINGBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
TUNDRA SWAN
EURASIAN WIGEON
Common Eider
HARLEQUIN DUCK
Bald Eagle
Northern Goshawk
Red Knot
Western Sandpiper
BLACK-HEADED GULL
ICELAND GULL
Lesser Black-backed Gull
GLAUCOUS GULL
SNOWY OWL
Blue-headed Vireo
Orange-crowned Warbler
Vesper Sparrow
Lapland Longspur
Indigo Bunting

- Transcript

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44(at)nybirds{dot}org.

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

To report sightings call:
Tom Burke (212) 372-1483 (weekdays, during the day)
Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, December 12th 2014 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are COMMON GROUND-DOVE, CASSIN'S KINGBIRD, BLACK-HEADED GULL, BARNACLE GOOSE, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, TUNDRA SWAN, HARLEQUIN DUCK, EURASIAN WIGEON, SNOWY OWL, GLAUCOUS GULL and ICELAND GULL.

New York's second state records were both still present last weekend but there have been no late week reports of either. The COMMON GROUND-DOVE last Sunday spent much of its time in the high winds walking on the pavement along the northern edge of parking field 2 at Jones Beach West End on either side of the lot's central exit though mostly along the edge east of the exit. It was doing the same on Monday but has been looked for unsuccessfully since. The CASSIN'S KINGBIRD at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn was still frequenting the picnic area just south of the community garden last Sunday but that is the last day reported.

The immature BLACK-HEADED GULL continues in Westchester County where it is spending most of its time at Five Island Park in New Rochelle. The Black-headed does visit the Warwick Treatment Plant on the right side as you enter into the park thus sometimes not visible until it and the accompanying Ring-billed Gulls fly around. Other times it feeds around the edges of the island with the parking lot or roosts on the island just west of the lot. The entrance to Five Island Park is on Le Fevres Lane off Route
1. Another location to check if necessary would be Premium Millpond to the east in Larchmont viewable from Prior Manor Road.

A BARNACLE GOOSE has been seen Wednesday through today with Canadas at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale located between Wellwood Avenue on the east and New Highway on the west. In the past a Barnacle with accompanying Canadas has often spent the overnight at Belmont Lake State Park to the east.

Activity in the Jones Inlet area has been interesting this past week. An immature NORTHERN GOSHAWK was noted at West End today by the Fisherman's Road and in front of the Roosevelt Nature Center. Three immature BALD EAGLES were spotted high over Point Lookout today. Two SNOWY OWLS were at West End last weekend and four HARLEQUIN DUCKS and a good sized flock of COMMON EIDER have been around the inlet. The HARLEQUINS often off the Point Lookout jetties. Recent shorebirds have included RED KNOT on the Coast Guard bar and WESTERN SANDPIPER on the West End jetty roosting with Dunlin and Sanderlings. Landbirds have included seven Longspurs with Snow Buntings and Horned Larks in the swale off the West End 2 concession building. One larger pale Longspur last Sunday needing more scrutinizing to determine whether it too was a LAPLAND. A VESPER SPARROW was at West End Friday.

Several local drake EURASIAN WIGEON include birds at Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn, at Hummocks Pond in Larchmont, at Grant Park in Hewlett, on the Mill Pond in Sayville, on Mill Pond in Setauket and three on Patchogue Lake last Saturday.

Single GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE have included one at Dix Hills High School West at Wolf Hill Road and Melrose Road today, one off Daniel's Lane in Bridgehampton last Sunday and another Sunday at Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk with five Snow Geese, three TUNDRA SWANS were on Hook Pond in East Hampton Sunday and a GLAUCOUS GULL was at Shinnecock Inlet last weekend. Noted at Montauk Point last Sunday were ICELAND and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS.

Recent birds in Alley Pond Park in Queens featured BLUE-HEADED VIREO Monday and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER today and an INDIGO BUNTING was in Rye yesterday so hopefully some great birds will continue to linger for the Christmas Counts. This period beginning Sunday. Please call in highlights of regional counts for inclusion ihere.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday's Foto

With each cold front comes the possibility that a winter owl species will appear around Brooklyn and the rest of New York City. At grassland habitats, such as Floyd Bennett Field or any of the city's capped landfills, look for Short-eared Owls. Like other "eared" owl species (i.e., Great Horned Owl or Long-eared Owl), the ears are merely tufts of feathers. Feeding primarily on small mammals, this widespread owl can be found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Short-eared Owls have a distinctive, erratic flight frequently described as "moth-like". They are currently listed as "endangered" in New York State possibly due to a loss of grasslands and other open habitats.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Treehugger Tuesday

Breakthroughs in Solar Energy Production

From the website io9:

Solar cell efficiency is nearing 50%. Australian scientists have set a new record by converting more than 40% of sunlight that hits solar panels into electricity. These panels could eventually be mounted on roofs, which current have a 15-18% efficiency rate. And in Germany, scientists converted 46% of light into electricity in a lab, a new record for PVC efficiency.

Monday, December 08, 2014

2014 Christmas Bird Count Info

The 115th Christmas Bird Count begins on Sunday, December 14th, 2014, and runs through Monday, January 5th, 2015.

Click here to see an interactive map of all Christmas Bird Count locations in North America, Central America, South America, Hawaii and Antarctica.

Below is a list of the Christmas Bird Count areas in New York City and Long Island. If you'd like to participate, please contact the individual coordinating that area by email. For a complete list of all New York State count circles click here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Count Code Count Name Contact Email Phone
NYCA Captree L.I. Patricia Lindsay pjlindsay@optonline.net 631-666-7624
NJLH Central Park (Lower Hudson NJ/NY) Susan Elbin selbin@nycaudubon.org 212-691-7483
NYQU Queens County Corey Finger 10000birdsblogger@gmail.com 518-445-5829
NYQW Quogue-Watermill L.I. Steven Biasetti sbiasetti@eastendenvironment.org


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Count Code Count Name Contact Email Phone
NYBR Brooklyn L.I. Mary Eyster maryjoeyster@gmail.com
NYNN Northern Nassau County Glenn Quinn g1545q@gmail.com
NYSI Staten Island Seth Wollney seth@sethwollney.com


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Count Code Count Name Contact Email Phone
NYCS Central Suffolk County L.I. Eileen Schwinn beachmed@optonline.net
NYSM Smithtown L.I. Richard Gostic rgostic@optonline.net


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Count Code Count Name Contact Email Phone
NYBW Bronx-Westchester Region Michael Bochnik BochnikM@cs.com


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Count Code Count Name Contact Email Phone
NYOR Orient L.I. Patrick Hanly pat@mattpres.com 631-312-0824
NYSN Southern Nassau County L.I. Shai Mitra Shaibal.Mitra@csi.cuny.edu

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of December 13, 2014 to December 14, 2014:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Family Birdwatching, 3–4 pm
Learn how to identify common birds that populate the Park in the winter months.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Ducks of Kings County
Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: primarily duck species, along with other bird species
Car pool: $12.00
Registrar: Peter Dorosh, Email Prosbird@aol.com or TEXT Message 347-622-3559
Registration Period: Dec 2nd- Dec 11th

**********

Littoral Society
December 13, 2014, 5pm-9pm
Holiday Party
Join us in presenting our second annual "Coastal Conservation Award" to the NYC Dept. of Parks' Jamaica Bay/Rockaway Parks Recovery and Resiliency Corps. At the party there will also be a showing of a trailer to Dan Hendrick's "Jamaica Bay Lives", a year-long documentary film on the history, ecology and beauty of the bay.

Before the Party there will be a nature hike at the nearby Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge at 3pm.

Location: American Legion Hall on Crossbay Blvd.
in Broad Channel (located 1/4 mile south of the refuge).

Cost: $75 includes buffet dinner

Buffet includes:
beer and wine, appetizers, desserts, plus an Ugly Auction (bring items if you have), a Silent Auction (good stuff), door prizes (more good stuff) and a FLAMENCO DANCE PERFORMANCE.

To pay by check: Make out to ALS and send to American Littoral Society, 28 West 9th Road, Broad Channel, NY 11693.

To pay online go to: alsholidayparty.eventbrite.com
For more information call (718) 474-0896 or e-mail: donriepe@gmail.com
Ride: $25

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Sunday, December 14, 2014, 9:30am – 11:30am
Fall Birding at Wave Hill, The Bronx
Guide: Gabriel Willow With Wave Hill Meet at the Perkins Visitor Center. Naturalist Gabriel Willow contributes his extensive knowledge of bird species and their behaviors on these captivating walks. Wave Hill’s garden setting overlooking the Hudson River flyway provides the perfect habitat for resident and migrating birds. Ages 10 and up welcome with an adult.
Reservations recommended, online at www.wavehill.org, by calling 718-549-3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Severe weather cancels; for updates call 718-549-3200 x245 by 8am the day of the walk. NYC Audubon members enjoy two-for-one admission

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, December 13, 2014, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Great Kills Park
Join birder Anthony Ciancimino for birding at Great Kills Park. There should be a nice amount of wintering waterfowl and shorebirds on the mudflats and surrounding areas. After checking those areas, we will check the fields by the playgrounds for Horned Lark and Snow Bunting. Meet in the first parking lot, just off of Hylan Boulevard. We will then carpool to the beach front parking lot.
For more information, call Anthony Ciancimino at 347-401-3619.

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
December 14, 2014
Alley Pond Park

All walks start at 9:30 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
Any questions please Call Joe at (516) 467-9498.
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Winter Wildlife Viewing at Albert H. Mauro Playground (in Flushing Meadows Corona Park), Queens
9:00 a.m.
This time of year is perfect to spot migrating birds and waterfowl which will call our parks home for the winter.
Free!

Inwood Owl Prowl at Seaman Avenue and Isham Street Entrance (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
4:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Bring the whole family as you roam the winter woods in search of owls with expert naturalist Mike Feller.
Free!

Sunday, December 14, 2014
Birding at Ridgewood Reservoir, Queens
9:00 a.m.
Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in New York City.
Free!

Winter Birding at Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
The Hudson River valley hosts an impressive diversity of bird species, even during the winter months. Explore Wave Hill’s tranquil gardens and woodlands with naturalist Gabriel…
Free!
...Read more

Friday, December 05, 2014

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, December 5, 2014:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Dec. 5, 2014
* NYNY1412.05

- Birds Mentioned

BARNACLE GOOSE+
COMMON GROUND-DOVE+
CASSIN’S KINGBIRD
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Cackling Goose
Eurasian Wigeon
KING EIDER
Common Eider
HARLEQUIN DUCK
Red-necked Grebe
American Bittern
Black Vulture
Rough-legged Hawk
American Oystercatcher
Marbled Godwit
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Ring-billed Gull
Razorbill
Mourning Dove
SNOWY OWL
Long-eared Owl
Horned Lark
Orange-crowned Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
Lapland Longspur
Snow Bunting
Henslow’s Sparrow
LE CONTE’S SPARROW

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44nybirdsorg

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]
Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, December
5, at 6:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are COMMON GROUND-DOVE, CASSIN’S KINGBIRD, LE CONTE’S SPARROW, BLACK-HEADED GULL, BARNACLE GOOSE, SNOWY OWL, HARLEQUIN DUCK, KING EIDER and more.

Despite the weather both the COMMON GROUND-DOVE and the CASSIN’S KINGBIRD have continued in our area, but if you haven’t seen them, don’t put it off much longer. The Ground-Dove at Jones Beach West End has become quite elusive, but continues to occasionally be seen around the NE corner of parking field 2 through Thursday. It was spotted Sunday near the West End turnaround as well, so it continues to move about that area, sometimes with accompanying MOURNING DOVES, but does seem to return periodically to the NE section of Lot 2.

The CASSIN’S KINGBIRD at Floyd Bennett Field was still present today. It has been seen most consistently around the picnic area south of the Community Garden but also occasionally frequents the Garden itself. Once it wanders off it becomes very difficult to find, so the best strategy seems to be to wait around the picnic area, keeping an eye also on the many perches in the Community Garden, which is off Aviation Boulevard.

It almost seemed like déjà-vu all over again, but with changes in species and location. Back on Sunday, November 23rd a richly colored HENSLOW’S SPARROW was found at Riis Park and was enjoyed by many as it ran through grasses there through Monday. Then last Sunday at Floyd Bennett Field a beautiful LE CONTE’S SPARROW was expertly uncovered as it too ran through low vegetation, also staying to Monday to the delight of many. Can’t wait to see what will show up this Sunday,

Other birds around Floyd Bennett Field this week featured 3 BLACK VULTURES overhead last Friday, LONG-EARED OWL, and 2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS last Friday, with one Saturday.

At Jones Beach West End, 2 HARLEQUIN DUCKS around Jones Inlet are most frequently seen on the Point Lookout side along the jetties, where a decent flock of COMMON EIDER also remained. The MARBLED GODWIT is still visiting the bar off the Coast Guard Station at high tide with AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS. A SNOWY OWL flying along the West End dunes last Saturday landed near enough to an AMERICAN BITTERN to cause the Bittern to relocate elsewhere, and also on Saturday three LAPLAND LONGSPURS were with SNOW BUNTINGS and HORNED LARKS in the swale off the Field 2 Pavilion.

In Westchester County an immature BLACK-HEADED GULL was found on Friday the 28th at Premium Mill Pond in Larchmont. It was relocated on Sunday, spending most of its time at adjacent Five Islands Park in New Rochelle, where it was still being seen today. The park entrance is off Route 1 on Le Fevres Lane, and the bird is usually with RING-BILLED GULLS feeding around the edge of the pond, especially on the east side. If not there, also check Premium Mill Pond to the east from Pryer Manor Road.

A BARNACLE GOOSE was seen on Miller’s Pond in Smithtown late last Saturday morning but not since. Scattered CACKLING GEESE included 6 on the fields and golf course at Van Cortland Park last Sunday.

Off Montauk Point last Sunday were a female KING EIDER with many COMMON EIDER and 4 RAZORBILLS.

Recent EURASIAN WIGEONS have been at Jamaica Bay’s East Pond, Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn, Grant Park in Hewlett, the Centerport Mill Pond, and Hommock’s Park in Mamaroneck. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK has been at the landfills along the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, and several reports of interesting species from RED-NECKED GREBE to ORANGE-CROWNED and WILSON’S WARBLERS hopefully forebode good things for the upcoming Christmas Bird Count season.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126, or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript

A Rare Sparrow for Brooklyn

Brooklyn is on a roll this year. In addition to the "uber" rarities seen around Kings county in 2014, my birding buddy Heydi just spotted a very scarce sparrow.

In early-October of 2012, while walking a rarely birding section of Floyd Bennett Field, I spotted a Le Conte's Sparrow. I posted about it here. This skulking sparrow is rarely seen during migration, primarily due to their mouse-like behavior. This was one of only a handful of sightings for this species in Brooklyn. The section of habitat next to the water forever became known as the "Le Conte's Spot" ... well, to Heydi and me anyway.

Last Sunday history repeated itself when Heydi spotted another one in that area. This individual, however, was much less skittish and over the course of two days put on a great show for dozens of people. When I got to see it there were around 20 people circled around its preferred feeding spot, being cautious not to step on it:



When I tell my non-birding friends or family that I saw an incredibly beautiful sparrow, they usually look at me like I have two heads. Then I show them a Le Conte's Sparrow. Here are a couple of photos of the bird at Floyd Bennett Field taken by my friend Sean Sime. Enough said...


...Read more

Friday's Foto

The Hermit Thrush is one of only three thrush species likely to be found around Brooklyn during the cold winter months. The other two hardy species are American Robin and Eastern Bluebird. Feeding on bittersweet and other berries during the winter, they are easily identified by their habit of slowly lifting their rusty red tail. They can frequently be heard making a soft, "chuck" call when hidden within a shrub or low in the understory. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources list their conservation status as "Least Concern" as their populations have been rising since 1966.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Treehugger Tuesday

Major Germany Utility to Change to Renewables

The following article just appeared in the New York Times:

With Spinoff, German Utility E.On to Focus on Renewable Energy
By Stanley Reed
December 1, 2014 8:33 am

LONDON — European and German policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions are making life difficult for traditional power generation companies and forcing them to change.
In the most radical move yet, E.On, one of Germany’s largest utilities, said on Sunday that it would gradually leave the conventional electricity generation business of coal, nuclear and natural gas power plants and retain its renewable energy and distribution businesses. The company said it would start the process now and present a plan to spin off most of the unit that held the conventional power generation to shareholders at the annual meeting in 2016.

“We are seeing the emergence of two distinct energy worlds,” the company’s chief executive, Johannes Teyssen, said on a call with analysts on Monday.

Mr. Teyssen said that E.On was convinced that utilities would need to decide whether to focus on renewable energy like wind and solar power and related businesses or to stick to power generation that produces greenhouse gases.

“We see this as an extremely brave but progressive move by E.On,” John Musk, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in London, wrote in a research note for clients on Sunday. “It will provide investors with two focused operations, with two simple strategies and two separate investment opportunities.”

Analysts noted that E.ON was putting its riskier businesses, including nuclear and other conventional power generation as well as oil and gas production, in the new unit while keeping in the main company steady earners such as distribution of power and gas to industrial and retail customers as well as the government- subsidized renewable operations.

By making the move, the company is saying, “you’ve made our business extremely risky, so we are going to put the risky parts in a separate company,” said Deepa Venkateswaran, an analyst at Bernstein Research in London in an interview. Ms. Venkateswaran compared E.ON’s gambit to the creation of a “bad bank” to hold risky assets at a financial institution.

E.On’s share price rose about 5 percent in afternoon trading on Monday.

Mr. Teyssen said that the new energy businesses were so different from the old energy world that it was difficult for companies to run them both well. He said that narrowing the focus would make E.On and the new company it was creating “faster and more agile.” He also said that these companies would be more attractive merger and acquisition partners.

European utilities are struggling with sluggish demand for power as well as with competition from electricity generated from renewable energy sources. Renewable energy has reduced the power prices that utilities receive and has undercut the competitiveness of some traditional power plants, including those fired by natural gas.

The utilities and other heavy energy users are being pressed by mandates like the European Union’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.

German utilities like E.On have been squeezed particularly hard by the sweeping transformation in energy use in Germany known as Energiewende being pushed by the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel. These policies include the most ambitious and costly effort in Europe to bolster renewable energy, as well as a phasing out of nuclear power stations.

E.On and others are struggling to adapt, with some shutting down both nuclear and gas-fired power plants and curtailing their investment budgets. This has created concerns that Europe may face an electricity crisis in the coming years.

E.On said it would be taking an additional €4.5 billion in writedowns this year on top of €700 million previously announced, leading to a substantial loss for 2014. In 2013, the company reported a profit of €2.5 billion on €122 billion in sales.

E.On’s strategy will be watched closely by German rivals like RWE and other European utilities trying to cope with similar problems.

E.On said that over the next year, it would lay the foundation for a new company, as yet unnamed, that would include E.On’s nuclear, coal-fired, gas-fired and other conventional power stations in Europe and Russia. That company would also hold the oil and gas production in the North Sea and in Russia and its wholesale gas business, which buys from Gazprom in Russia and from other sources under long-term contracts.

The new company would inherit most of the company’s liabilities for decommissioning its nuclear plants, in Germany and Sweden. It would also hold the hydropower business.

E.On itself would keep the renewable energy business, which is mostly wind power, as well as its wholesale and retail power units, where it hopes to nurture a growing business in providing technology for energy efficiency. E.ON would retain all of the company’s outstanding bonds.

Ms. Venkateswaran, the analyst, estimated that of E.ON’s €9.3 billion in pretax profits in 2013, €4.4 billion would be from units under the new company while nearly €5 billion would come from the greener, more predictable businesses. She said that remaining company would probably be assigned a higher valuation by investors because it is less risky.

E.On plans to retain a minority stake in the new company for several years and eventually sell it down. The company also said it was selling its businesses in Spain and Portugal to Macquarie for 2.5 billion euros, or about $3.1 billion, and that it was putting its North Sea oil and gas business under review.

RWE has already reached an agreement to sell its oil and gas production in the North Sea and elsewhere.

A version of this article appears in print on 12/02/2014, on page B5 of the NewYork edition with the headline: German Utility's New Focus.
...Read more

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of December 6, 2014 to December 7, 2014:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Introduction to Birdwatching
Every Saturday, noon – 1 p.m.
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

Pop-Up Audubon: Prospect Park Geology
Every Saturday and Sunday, noon – 4 p.m.
Join the Prospect Park Alliance for nature education programs that explore different areas of Prospect Park each month.

Nature’s Helpers, 1–2 pm
Spend time enjoying nature, while helping to keep the Park clean. Learn about mulching, and how it makes the Park green and healthy. Tools, garbage bags and trash grabbers will be provided.

Nature on the Go!, 2–3 pm
Ever wonder about the history of the Park’s varied landscapes? Did dinosaurs ever roam this land? Join the Prospect Park Alliance for a hike around the Park to view some of its important geologic features. Participants will learn how to use a hand lens and identify different types of rocks.

Family Birdwatching, 3–4 pm
Learn how to identify common birds that populate the Park in the winter months.

Sunday, December 7, 2014, noon – 4 p.m.
Early Morning Bird Walk: Twelve Birds of Winter
Sunday, December 07, 10 a.m. – noon
Not everyone flies south for the winter. Join the Prospect Park Alliance to spot Prospect Park’s most common winter birds during their busiest time of day. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

Nature on the Go!: 2–3 pm
Learn about the nature that is all around us. A naturalist leads children and families to areas near the Audubon Center to discover the flora and fauna in the Park.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Brooklyn Gull Tour
Leader: Dennis Hrehowsik
Focus: primarily gull species, waterfowl, raptor and winter passerines seen during tour
Car fee: $12.00
Registrar: Mike Yuan, email (preferred) mjyuan@gmail.com
Registration Period: Nov 25th - Dec 4th

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Rye Playland and Environs
Leader: Tom Burke
Registrar: Louise Fraza – louisefraza@yahoo.com or 212-534-6182
Registration opens: Monday, November 24 Ride: $25
**********

Littoral Society
December 6, 2014
Waterfowl Workshop (10am-1pm)
Meet 10am at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife refuge center . A slide presentation followed by a walk around the refuge to observe the different species of waterfowl.
To reserve call (718) 474-0896; e-mail: donriepe@gmail.com.
With NYC Audubon. FREE

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, December 6, 2014, 9am – 3pm
Van Trip to the Winter Waterfowl Workshop at Jamaica Bay
Register for our van trip to the winter waterfowl workshop, and get to Jamaica bay the easy way. Transport by passenger van.
Bring lunch and water. Limited to 12. $28.50 (20) Click here to register

Sunday, December 7, 2014, 10am – 11am
Birding for Families in Central Park
Guide: NYC Audubon Offered by the Central Park Conservancy Meet at the Dana Discovery Center (inside the park at 110th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenues). Bring the kids and visit one of New York City’s richest bird habitats. As a family, learn how to spot and identify our feathered neighbors in their natural surroundings. Binoculars can be borrowed from the Dana Center. For weather cancellation information, call 212-860-1370.
Limited to 20. Age 5 and up. Free

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, December 6, 2014, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Acme Pond
Acme Pond is a diverse ecosystem, located on the north side of Hylan Boulevard and Wolfe’s Pond Park. This walk will take us through hiking trails in some of the most idyllic woodlands in all of New York City, leading to a view of the freshwater pond. We will meet at the corner of Seguine Avenue and Herbert Street. Street parking is available on Herbert St. and in parking lots off of Herbert Street. http://goo.gl/maps/59dvC.
For more information, call John Paul Learn at 718-619-5051 or e-mail john.paul.learn@gmail.com.

Sunday, December 7, 2014, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Best of the Blue Trail to the Cropsey Overlook
Join Hillel on a late autumn walk to the Cropsey Overlook through the woods of the central Greenbelt. Pass ponds and kettle holes and marvel at how ice formed this landscape ages ago. Meet at the High Rock Park parking lot at the top of Nevada Avenue. Rain postpones the event to the same time on Sunday, December 14.
For more information, e-mail Hillel Lofaso at hillel5757@gmail.com or call 718-477-0545.

Sunday, December 7, 2014, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve
Protectors’ initial project has been feeling pressure by development lately. The approved build-through of Englewood Avenue and the proposed build-through of the West Shore service road have shown that no property is truly protected. Come stroll along the trails of a combination of ecosystems, such as sand barrens, wetlands, and ponds, and a beautiful park to explore in any season. Meet at the parking lot for the park at 83 Nielsen Ave – http://goo.gl/maps/N5bcq.
For more information, call John Paul Learn at 718-619-5051 or e-mail john.paul.learn@gmail.com.

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Montauk Point
Leader: Rich Kelly 516-509-1094
Meet at the Point before 8am

Notes
MINI TRIPS: Break after lunch +/-
ALL DAY TRIPS: BYO lunch, dinner out. {optl}
WEEKEND TRIPS: Two + days / Overnight

Trip Etiquette
Please register for trips

1 - Register. Let leaders know you're coming!
2 - Car pooling or skipping requires planning
3 - Be advised if there are last minute changes or cancellations. These cannot be communicated to unknown persons.
4 - Be on time! Most trips begin birding by 8am!
5 - Please arrive before the starting time so we do not waste precious early morning bird activity.
6 - Plan your travel time.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Flora and Fauna Tour of Inwood Hill Park with Author Leslie Day at Payson Park House (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Come take a bird, mammal and plant walk with author Leslie Day in Inwood Hill Park.
Free!

Birding: Owls at Isham Street and Seaman Avenue (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
5:00 p.m.
Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in New York City.
Free!

Sunday, December 7, 2014
Birding for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Experience the coming of fall in Central Park when it becomes a precious bird habitat and migration hot spot!
Free!
...Read more

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday's Foto

The Cassin's Kingbird in not typically found in New York State, in fact, the above individual at Floyd Bennett Field was only the state's 2nd record. This tyrant flycatcher breeds in southern California and from Montana south to southern Utah and Southwest. They winter in southern California and Mexico. Like other kingbirds, they are known to aggressively mob hawks and owls.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is an early, holiday edition of the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Wednesday, November 26, 2014:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Nov. 26, 2014
* NYNY1411.26

- Birds Mentioned

COMMON GROUND-DOVE+
CASSIN’S KINGBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

TUNDRA SWAN
EURASIAN WIGEON
American Bittern
Marbled Godwit
Purple Sandpiper
Horned Lark
Eastern Bluebird
LAPLAND LONGSPUR
Snow Bunting
Wilson’s Warbler
HENSLOW’S SPARROW
DICKCISSEL


If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44nybirdsorg

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]
Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Wednesday,
November 26th at 6:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are CASSIN’S KINGBIRD, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, HENSLOW’S SPARROW, TUNDRA SWAN, EURASIAN WIGEON, DICKCISSEL, and LAPLAND LONGSPUR.

Now that’s like it should be! Last Saturday word of the rediscovery of the CASSIN’S KINGBIRD at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn spread very quickly by phone, internet and texts, and by mid-afternoon dozens of birders were enjoying this 2nd New York State record. Many more arrived on Sunday, and the Kingbird very obligingly spent much of its time in the picnic area south of the Community Garden off the west side of Aviation Blvd. First seen briefly at Floyd Bennett on Saturday the 15th, the bird remained undetected through the entire cold week only to be re-found in the same general area it was initially seen in. Both Saturday and Sunday it did wander about a bit but returned to the Community Garden area, even spending some time on Tuesday in the Community Garden itself. Based on some excellent photos taken, one of its main food items seems to be Yellowjackets, so this current weather event will probably have an adverse impact on its stay. For those unfamiliar with Floyd Bennett Field, the entrance is off Flatbush Avenue just north of the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge; take the first left off the entrance road onto Aviation Boulevard and proceed a short distance to the Community Garden on the left.

This weather change will also presumably impact New York’s second COMMON GROUND-DOVE, still being seen Tuesday but recently becoming much more elusive at Jones Beach West End. Last Saturday the bird spent much of its time along the northern edge of the West End 2 parking lot between the center exit and the eastern end, whereas previously it had been more inclined to feed in the vegetation near the eastern entrance and exit roads.

A bonus find on Sunday was a richly colored HENSLOW’S SPARROW nicely spotted at Riis Park along its border with Fort Tilden. The Sparrow frequented a goldenrod patch and the adjacent shorter vegetation in a field just south of the SW corner of the golf course on the east side of the dead end road separating the two parks. Often very hard to find or see as it ran around like a vole in the grasses, the Henslow’s was nevertheless also enjoyed by a number of birders Monday, and some decent photos were obtained, though certainly not of the caliber of those of the Ground-Dove and Kingbird.

Other birds at Floyd Bennett included a LAPLAND LONGSPUR Saturday on the cricket field and a decent number of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, down from the previous week but still frequenting various open areas, including the field south of the Community Garden. Riis Park on Sunday also provided a flyby LAPLAND LONGSPUR and an AMERICAN BITTERN hiding in vegetation around the Henslow’s field.

At Jones Beach West End up to five LAPLAND LONGSPURS were present Saturday in the swale in front of the West End 2 pavilion, joining some HORNED LARKS and a flock of 40 or so SNOW BUNTINGS, while on Sunday a DICKCISSEL was photographed along the western edge of Lot 2. The MARBLED GODWIT was present again Tuesday morning on the bar off the Coast Guard Station after having been seen on a bar out in Jones Inlet Monday afternoon, and PURPLE SANDPIPERS are back on the West End jetty.

The Brooklyn EURASIAN WIGEON was seen again Sunday at Bush Terminal Piers Park west of 1st Avenue between 44th and 50th Streets.

Among the lingering landbirds, a WILSON’S WARBLER was still at Kissena Park in Queens Tuesday.

With all the birding effort concentrated on western Long Island, our only report of note from out east involves two TUNDRA SWANS on Hook Pond in East Hampton last Saturday.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126, or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

- End transcript
...Read more

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Treehugger Tuesday

From the website "Click Green":

Next Stop for a Sustainable Future with the UK's First Poo-fuelled Bus
by ClickGreen staff.
Published Thu 20 Nov 2014 12:13

The UK's first ever bus powered on human and food waste has taken to the road today which engineers believe could provide a sustainable way of fuelling public transport - cutting emissions in polluted towns and cities.

The 40-seater Bio-Bus, which runs on gas generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste that's unfit for human consumption, helps to improve urban air quality as it produces fewer emissions than traditional diesel engines.

Running on waste products that are both renewable and sustainable, the bus can travel up to 300km on a full tank of gas generated at Bristol sewage treatment works – a plant run by GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water.

This week GENeco became the first company in the UK to start injecting gas generated from food waste and sewage into the national gas grid network and at the same time installed a gas refuelling plant for the bus.

GENeco general manager Mohammed Saddiq said: “Through treating sewage and food thats unfit for human consumption we're able to produce enough biomethane to provide a significant supply of gas to the national gas network that's capable of powering almost 8,500 homes as well as fuelling the Bio-Bus.

“Gas powered vehicles have an important role to play in improving air quality in UK cities, but the Bio-Bus goes further than that and is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself.

“Using biomethane in this way not only provides a sustainable fuel, but also reduces our reliance on traditional fossil fuels.”

The Bio-Bus can travel up to 300km on a full tank of gas, which takes the annual waste of around five people to produce.

Using the annual waste generated from one bus load of passengers, would provide enough power for it to travel a return journey from Lands End to John O’Groats.

The first passengers to get on board the Bio-Bus today were visitors to the UK who were commuting from Bristol Airport to the historic city of Bath.

Bath Bus Company, which is operating the service, said the bus was greener for the environment and added that it was extremely pleased to be using the Bio-Bus for its rapidly growing A4 service from Bath to Bristol Airport via South Bristol.

Collin Field, engineering director, at Bath Bus Company, said: “Up to 10,000 passengers are expected to travel on the A4 service in a month, which is available not only for airport travel, but also local journeys along the route through Saltford, Keynsham, Brislington, Knowle and Hengrove.

“As part of the RATP Dev UK group, this represents RATP Dev's involvement in the latest of a number of initiatives to gain experience of alternative fuels, with sister companies also experimenting with different alternatives. The information we gain, will be shared with other group companies across the UK and Europe.

“The timing of this initiative could not be more appropriate as we approach 2015 when the City of Bristol itself becomes European Green Capital. With so much attention being directed towards improving air quality generally, the public reaction to the appearance of this bus on a service between a World Heritage City and an airport will further focus on the potential for this particular fuel.”

Melanie King, Bristol Airport’s environmental manager, added: “Sustainability and surface access are key areas of focus for us and we welcome new technologies which could reduce the environmental impact of getting to and from the Airport. With Bristol set to be European Green Capital in 2015, this is one of several exciting initiatives we hope to be involved with over the course of the year.”

Bristol sewage treatment works treats around 75 million cubic metres of sewage waste and 35,000 tonnes of food waste, collected from households, supermarkets and food manufacturers, every year.

Through the anaerobic digestion process, 17 million cubic metres of biomethane is generated a year at the Bristol plant – the equivalent of meeting the power needs of 8,300 homes. A newly built state-of-the-art gas plant injects the gas into the grid.

Charlotte Morton, chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), said: “GENecos Bio-Bus is an excellent demonstration of biomethane’s unique benefits; decarbonising areas other renewables can't reach. A home generated green gas, biomethane is capable of replacing around 10% of the UKs domestic gas needs and is currently the only renewable fuel available for HGVs.

“The bus also clearly shows that human poo and our waste food are valuable resources. Food which is unsuitable for human consumption should be separately collected and recycled through anaerobic digestion into green gas and biofertilisers, not wasted in landfill sites or incinerators. The Bio-Bus will also help to demonstrate the true value of separate food waste collections, which are now obligatory in all other regions, to the English government.”

The Bio-Bus has received backing from a number of businesses including the manufacturer of the bus, Scania, as well as companies including Roadgas, CNG Services Ltd, Dampney’s Agri Environmental, Trant, Grontmij and AIR Decker.

In 2010 GENeco powered a car on biomethane produced during the sewage treatment process. The Bio-Bug was used in various trials to see how viable it was to power a vehicle on sewage gas.
...Read more

Monday, November 24, 2014

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of November 29, 2014 to November 30, 2014:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Introduction to Birdwatching
Every Saturday, noon – 1 p.m.
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

Pop-Up Audubon: Prospect Park Geology
Every Saturday and Sunday, noon – 4 p.m.
Join the Prospect Park Alliance for nature education programs that explore different areas of Prospect Park each month.

Nature’s Helpers, 1–2 pm
Spend time enjoying nature, while helping to keep the Park clean. Learn about mulching, and how it makes the Park green and healthy. Tools, garbage bags and trash grabbers will be provided.

Nature on the Go!, 2–3 pm
Ever wonder about the history of the Park’s varied landscapes? Did dinosaurs ever roam this land? Join the Prospect Park Alliance for a hike around the Park to view some of its important geologic features. Participants will learn how to use a hand lens and identify different types of rocks.

Family Birdwatching, 3–4 pm
Learn how to identify common birds that populate the Park in the winter months.

Sunday, November 30, 2014, noon – 4 p.m.
Join the Prospect Park Alliance on Thanksgiving weekend for family-friendly activities at the Prospect Park Audubon Center. Explore the Center's exhibits starting at noon, and enjoy hourly programs starting at 1 pm.

Blooming Naturalist: 1–2 pm
So you think you're a naturalist? Enjoy this introduction to bird watching series. Using fun games and activities, learn what makes birds so special in a different lesson every week!

Nature on the Go!: 2–3 pm
Learn about the nature that is all around us. A naturalist leads children and families to areas near the Audubon Center to discover the flora and fauna in the Park.

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, November 29, 2014, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Park Bird Walks, The Bronx
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics.
For more information, please call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

Sunday, November 30, 2014, 10am – 11am
Birding for Families in Central Park
Guide: NYC Audubon Offered by the Central Park Conservancy Meet at the Dana Discovery Center (inside the park at 110th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenues). Bring the kids and visit one of New York City’s richest bird habitats. As a family, learn how to spot and identify our feathered neighbors in their natural surroundings. Binoculars can be borrowed from the Dana Center. For weather cancellation information, call 212-860-1370.
Limited to 20. Age 5 and up. Free

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Grand Jones Beach
Meet at Coast Guard Station at 7:15 am
Leaders: Rick and Linda Kedenberg 917-435-2359

Notes
MINI TRIPS: Break after lunch +/-
ALL DAY TRIPS: BYO lunch, dinner out. {optl}
WEEKEND TRIPS: Two + days / Overnight

Trip Etiquette
Please register for trips

1 - Register. Let leaders know you're coming!
2 - Car pooling or skipping requires planning
3 - Be advised if there are last minute changes or cancellations. These cannot be communicated to unknown persons.
4 - Be on time! Most trips begin birding by 8am!
5 - Please arrive before the starting time so we do not waste precious early morning bird activity.
6 - Plan your travel time.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Bird Walk with NYC Audubon at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.
NYC Audubon experts lead the way as we marvel at quirky but logical bird behavior and delicate feathers in exquisite patterns. Bring binoculars if you have them and wear sturdy…
Free!

Birding: Waterfowl at Salt Marsh Nature Center (in Marine Park), Brooklyn
10:00 a.m.
Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in New York City.
Free!

Sunday, November 30, 2014
Birding for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Experience the coming of fall in Central Park when it becomes a precious bird habitat and migration hot spot!
Free!

Nocturnal Wildlife at West 100 Street and Central Park West (in Central Park), Manhattan
5:00 p.m.
Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in New York City.
Free!
...Read more

Friday, November 21, 2014

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, November 21, 2014:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Nov. 21, 2014
* NYNY1411.21

- Birds mentioned

WHITE-WINGED DOVE+
COMMON GROUND-DOVE+
CASSIN'S KINGBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Eurasian Wigeon
HARLEQUIN DUCK
Red-necked Grebe
American Bittern
CATTLE EGRET
AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER
MARBLED GODWIT
ICELAND GULL
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Parasitic Jaeger
SNOWY OWL
Blue-headed Vireo
Cliff Swallow
Eastern Bluebird
Wood Thrush
Orange-crowned Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Savannah Sparrow (subspecies "Ipswich Sparrow")
Lapland Longspur

- Transcript

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44(at)nybirds{dot}org.

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

To report sightings call:
Tom Burke (212) 372-1483 (weekdays, during the day)
Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, November 21st 2014 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are COMMON GROUND-DOVE, CASSIN'S KINGBIRD, WHITE-WINGED DOVE, SNOWY OWL, HARLEQUIN DUCK, CATTLE EGRET, AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, MARBLED GODWIT and ICELAND GULL.

The COMMON GROUND-DOVE, now with its tail almost fully regrown, was still at Jones Beach West End Thursday continuing around the eastern entrance and exit to West End parking field 2 but usually in the grassy areas bordering the entrance road especially. It has also taken to foraging along the cement edges of the entrance road and the parking lot itself.

Another second New York State record, a CASSIN'S KINGBIRD, was spotted and photographed midday Saturday along the entrance road into Floyd Bennett Field. Unfortunately word of this kingbird could not begin circulating until after dark and many birders searching on Sunday were unrewarded. It seems a number of rare flycatchers recently have not been publicized timely. Is this a problem with the family? Or the fact that there are too many alternative and very localized information dissemination systems? We need a consistent centralized method to get the word out quickly not in increasingly fragmented ones.

Two WHITE-WINGED DOVE sightings last weekend might conceivably have involved the same rapidly traveling bird. The first White-winged was spotted Saturday at Fort Tilden, the second Sunday along Dune Road between West Hampton Beach and Quogue. Neither was reported the day following observation.

A SNOWY OWL was noted at Jones Beach last weekend and there have been a couple of other sightings recently so be on the alert for them but don't expect an incursion like last Winter's.

The drake HARLEQUIN DUCK was at the Jones Beach West End jetty Sunday and on Wednesday a pair of HARLEQUINS was present along the easternmost jetty at Point Lookout bordering Jones Inlet. Also in the Jones Beach area last Saturday the MARBLED GODWIT was on the bar off the Coast Guard Station and one immature LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL continued in the West End 2 parking lot. An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was at West End Sunday and a LAPLAND LONGSPUR stopped by the West End 2 lot with Horned Larks today.

Other birds at Fort Tilden last weekend included RED-NECKED GREBE and CLIFF SWALLOW on Saturday and a PARASITIC JAEGER offshore Sunday.

In Brooklyn a drake EURASIAN WIGEON has recently been at Bush Terminal Piers Park located west of 1st Avenue between 44th and 50th Streets and an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER visited Plumb Beach last Saturday. Other interesting city birds have featured a WOOD THRUSH lingering in central Manhattan, WILSON'S WARBLER Thursday and BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER last Saturday in Kissena Park in Queens and a few BLUE-HEADED VIREOS. Well over 40 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were at Floyd Bennett Field on Sunday.

Out on eastern Long Island a CATTLE EGRET was seen on a horse field on the north side of Further Lane in East Hampton Monday and an ICELAND GULL was off Fort Pond Bay in Montauk on Sunday. Other birds seen along Dune Road west of Shinnecock Inlet Sunday included AMERICAN BITTERN, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and "Ipswich" SAVANNAH SPARROW.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday's Foto

New York's official state bird, the Eastern Bluebird until relatively recently faced an uncertain future. The introduction of the European Starling and the English House Sparrow during the late-nineteenth century negatively impacted the bluebirds breeding success due to these species taking over nest sites. During the 20th century, loss of nesting habitat and increased use of harmful pesticides contributed to more population declines. In recent decades, however, better wildlife management practices and the construction of bluebird friendly nestboxes by organizations such as the New York State Bluebird Society have helped this bird species bounce back.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Brooklyn Rarity

Unfortunately for myself and my birding buddy Heydi, this particular bird falls under the category of "you-should-have-been-here-10-minutes-ago".

Last Saturday, November 15th, I spent about an hour or so just after dawn birding the edge of Gravesend Bay and Coney Island Creek at Coney Island Creek Park. It wasn't very birdy, so by 8am we left and headed east to Floyd Bennett Field.

To avid birdwatchers November in New York is known as the month when rarities and western vagrants tend to appear in our area. Storms and strong west or south-west winds might carry a directionally challenged bird our way. An arctic blast could also help propel denizens of the north into the northeastern tri-state area. This theory guided our birding decisions on Saturday and we convinced ourselves that if we planned our route carefully and searched methodically we might locate, say, an unusual flycatcher, waterfowl, owl, or, who-knows-what. Floyd Bennett Field, with its large grasslands, coastline and wooded areas seemed to be a good choice for our treasure hunt.

We spent around 4 hours birding the grasslands, cricket field, North 40, Raptor Point and Ecology Village. We even walked down the south shoreline, under the Gil Hodges Bridge to Dead Horse Bay and back along Dead Horse Trail. Most of the expected seasonal birds were present, but we failed to spot any roaming vagrants from the west or north.

I had to leave by around noon and Heydi offered to drive me to the train station. As we were driving towards the main entrance on Floyd Bennett Blvd I noticed a guy with binoculars near a chainlink fence that borders the north side of the road and a large stretch of grassland habitat. I didn't recognize him as one of the local birders and joked that he was birding in "our" spot. The remains of a defunct roadway runs though the field here from the community gardens in the north, to the small ranger station at the park's entrance. I've never seen anyone birding this location other than myself and Heydi.

Flash forward to just after 9pm Saturday. My wife and I just walked out of a play in downtown Brooklyn and I turned my phone back on. The following email forwarded from my friend Doug popped up in my notifications:

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On Saturday, November 15, 2014, Kai Sheffield wrote:

Hi Andrew,

I was hoping for your thoughts on a bird I saw today at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. I'm fairly confident it was a Cassin's Kingbird, but was hoping for a second opinion before I post it to eBird. Photos are at the link below:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/123166253@N05/sets/72157646979944483/

A few notes:

-The bird called once, making a "ka-PEW!" sound. It matched the Cassin's Kingbird call sound on my Audobon bird app very closely and didn't sound anything like the Western or Tropical Kingbird calls.

-It had a concentrated white patch on its throat and a medium-dark gray head. The throat patch indicates Cassin's rather than Western, which seems to generally have whitish cheeks and less sharp contrast on the throat. This bird did not have whitish cheeks.

-It had a whitish fringe on the end of its tail feathers, but no white on the outer side edges, potentially distinguishing it from Western Kingbird. At one point I saw the bird fan out its tail and didn't see any noticeable white on the outer side edges.

-The whitish edging on the upper wing coverts was fairly distinctive. This seems to indicate Cassin's over Western.

-The bill did not look particularly large. A number of the photos show it in profile. This seems to rule out Tropical and Couch's which have quite heavy bills.

-Forehead was relatively dark, again indicating Cassin's over the other Kingbirds.

-Behavior: it dove to the ground and onto the branches of a low bush several times. It also bobbed its tail briefly a couple of times.

-Depending on the lighting, the gray on the bird's head and upper breast looks lighter than some photos of Cassin's Kingbirds. However, this could be due to a combination of lighting and the bird having worn plumage.

-I observed it for about 30 minutes from 1130 a.m. to 12 noon, then lost it and wasn't able to relocate it.

Would really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!


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Just a brief note about the people in the email chain. Andrew Farnsworth works for Cornell and is one of the regional moderators for their eBird website. He was about to get on a plane in Argentina, so copied my friend Doug Gochfeld, who is the Brooklyn moderator for eBird and birder extraordinaire. Needless to say, emails, texts and phone calls began to fly. I couldn't believe our bad luck of being at the opposite end of Floyd Bennett Field when this guy Kai spotted the kingbird.

This would be only the second sighting of a Cassin's Kingbird in New York State and a first for New York City. Here is the report for the previous sighting from The New York State Avian Records Committee for 2007:

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Cassin’s Kingbird (Tyrannus vociferans)
2007-57-A/B One, intersection of Gloucester Ave. & West Lake Drive, Montauk, Suffolk, 13 Oct (Shaibal S. Mitra, Angus Wilson; ph S. Mitra, A. Wilson)

This handsome kingbird was discovered by Andy Baldelli as it hawked insects along the roadside. Realizing that it was not the more likely Western Kingbird (T. verticalis), Baldelli phoned Shai Mitra and Patricia Lindsay, who were out on Fire Island, and they quickly relayed the exciting news to others. Angus Wilson was able to rush to the spot, where he was joined by Karen Rubinstein, Barbara Rubinstein and Vicki Bustamante. After a few minutes of waiting, the kingbird reappeared and the tentative identification as a Cassin’s Kingbird was confirmed. Major field marks included the brilliant white malar and chin, deep gray breast and head, deep bill with a distinctly curved culmen, and absence of white edging on the outer tail feathers of the square tail. More phone calls followed, and a caravan of birders from all over Long Island and the New York City area braved the fearsome Hamptons summer traffic, reaching the spot in time for stunning views of the bird as it perched on the roadside fencing or sallied forth to collect insect larvae from the ground or flying insects on the wing. In the late afternoon, the kingbird was flushed by a Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) and vanished into private property, where presumably it went to roost. Extensive searches the following morning and on subsequent days failed to relocate it. Passing motorists were puzzled by the assembly of cameras and suspicious looking characters spread in a phalanx along the street, and those who stopped to ask ‘who the celebrity was?’ were quickly shown the funny little yellow and green visitor. A short feature by local reporter Russell Drumm with a photograph by Angus Wilson appeared on the front page of the East Hampton Star. Color photos by Shai Mitra appeared in North Am. Birds 62(1): 190 and The Kingbird 58(1): 47 and cover.

Cassin’s Kingbird inhabits arid to semi-arid open habitat in southwestern North America and breeds as far north as Montana. The northernmost breeders are strongly migratory (Tweit and Tweit 2000), and records from eastern North America have increased in recent decades. Florida had its first record in Dec 1988 (Sykes et al. 1989) and accrued twelve accepted records through 2008 (Kratter 2009). Elsewhere east of the Mississippi River, the species has been recorded three times in Massachusetts (Eastham Town Hall, 21 Oct 1962; Monomoy, 9 Oct 1965; and Whatley, 2 Nov 2002); twice in Ontario (specimen Grand Lake, Achray, 4 Jun 1953; Britannia 19 Sep-9 Oct 1970; see Crins 2003); and once in Virginia (Eike 1978).


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Cory, Shane, Heydi and I arrived at Floyd Bennett Field on Sunday morning just after sunrise. Our grogginess only slightly bolstered by a shot of cautious optimism that we'd relocate the Cassin's Kingbird. It was much colder than the previous week and I was glad I'd thought to layer up with winter gear. We immediately began to spread out, carefully making our way across the field. At the southwest corner a flock of Eastern Bluebirds began to stir, feeding on the tart berries of several Autumn Olive trees near the fence-line. Within a few minutes it became clear that there were a few dozen bluebirds in the flock. At one point Shane and I counted a total of 44. More would be seen throughout the morning with my final tally being around 60. While I always enjoy seeing bluebirds, I really wanted the kingbird.

Floyd Bennett Field covers 1,358 acres, more than 1 1/2 times the size of Central Park. This map will give you an idea of the challenge facing the dozens of birders who made there way to this national park on Sunday in search of a Cassin's Kingbird. There were so many pairs of eyes searching for this bird, it's hard to believe that he'd be able to slip by unnoticed. Although, that is exactly what happened. Shane gave up at around noon. At 1:20pm I sent a note to the NYS bird list that Heydi and I had thrown in the towel. Ultimately, nobody was able to relocate this rare western flycatcher who was probably already booked on the overnight flight back to Arizona or Mexico.

UPDATE:

The kingbird was relocated the following weekend and has been present at the picnic area on the south end of the community gardens for over a week. It was last reported on Thanksgiving in the afternoon.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Treehugger Tuesday

A Ferret returns from "Extinction"

National Geographic just published a piece on a captive breeding program intended to prevent the Black-footed Ferret from disappearing in the wild:

Once Thought Extinct, North America's Rarest Mammal May Bounce Back
The black-footed ferret is returning to prairies, but it still faces steep challenges.

by James Owen
for National Geographic
Published November 17, 2014

The black-footed ferret, North America's rarest mammal, is returning to the western prairie 35 years after being declared extinct.

The comeback trail for Mustela nigripes began in 1981, when a ranch dog with a dead ferret in its mouth led to the rediscovery of a remnant population near Meeteetse in northwestern Wyoming. (See stunning pictures of the rarest animals on Earth.)

The last 18 survivors of that population formed the seed stock for a captive-breeding program that reintroduced the species to its former range at 25 sites from southernmost Canada to northern Mexico. Yet numbers in the wild remain low—fewer than 500, according to Peter Gober, recovery coordinator at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in Carr, Colorado.

A major hurdle is disease, particularly sylvatic plague, a flea-borne infection that appeared in North America in the early 1900s. Because the disease is non-native, the black-footed ferret—a member of the weasel family—has no natural resistance; neither does its prey, the prairie dog. (Related: [Video] "Why Do Prairie Dogs Do 'The Wave'?")

Prairie dogs are "pretty much all the ferrets eat," Gober says. They also "provide shelter, because the ferrets make use of their burrows.

"There are quite a few prairie dogs in the West still, despite the fact that they've been reduced by 90 percent plus since historical times," he adds. "The problem is that they fluctuate wildly, due to drought and because of this plague."

The reintroduced ferret populations mirror these fluctuations. They "come and go" like "lights blinking on a Christmas tree," Gober says. (Read about how scientists decide what species to save.)

Repopulating ferrets over a wide range of their old territory helps manage the risk of disease, but that requires access to suitable land with plenty of prairie dogs. "There's a lot of raw habitat out there, but it's degraded," Gober says. Such habitat is typically found on livestock ranches, where historically prairie dogs haven't been welcome. Because they compete with cattle for grass, millions were exterminated during the past century.

Wealthy landowners like media mogul Ted Turner are already on board with the program, but accommodating the ferrets' increasing need for habitat will require financial support for the ranching community in return for tolerating significant numbers of prairie dogs.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so far has provided about a million dollars to a dozen landowners in Colorado, and hopes to expand the program to other states.

New hope also comes in the form of a recently developed vaccine to combat sylvatic plague.

Meanwhile, Gober and his colleagues in Colorado are breeding some 250 black-footed ferrets annually.

The team watches for signs of inbreeding due to the small size of the original genetic pool from those sole survivors found in Wyoming. But evidence from the field suggests that the ferret has been pulled back from the brink of extinction.

Watch the video here.
...Read more

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