Friday, July 03, 2015

Friday's Foto

Despite its "common" moniker the New York State Department of Environment Conservation has list the status of the Common Tern as "threatened" in the state. Like many other bird species, this tern was almost wiped out in the early 20th century by plume hunters. Current issues causing decline include competition for nest sites by Ring-billed Gulls and increased human activities along their preferred breeding habitat - coastal beaches. One locally successful annual colony is on the unused Yankee Pier at Governor's Island on Buttermilk Channel. I posted about it here, here and here. NYC Audubon will have a Tern Festival here on July 19, 2015.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

A Dangerous Game

From the filmmaker who brought us the exposé You've Been Trumped comes a closer look at the eco-impact of golf courses that only serve a tiny fraction of wealthy players.

A Dangerous Game is the explosive documentary from filmmaker and investigative journalist Anthony Baxter (You've Been Trumped), which examines the eco-impact of luxury golf resorts around the world. Featuring exclusive interviews with Alec Baldwin, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Donald Trump, the film takes viewers on a globe-spanning journey to a World Heritage site in Croatia; the extravagant desert city of Dubai, the explosion of new but supposedly illegal courses in China and back to the filmmaker's native Scotland, where Donald Trump continues his controversial building.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, July 4, 2015 to Sunday, July 5, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, July 4, 2015, 12–1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
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

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, July 4, 2015
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, July 4, 2015, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt 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, July 5, 2015, 7pm – 9pm
Sunset EcoCruise to the Harbor Heron Islands: Hoffman and Swinburne Islands
Guide: Gabriel Willow With New York Water Taxi
Meet at South Street Seaport's Pier 16. We're excited about this summer's ecocruises; we’ve expanded our explorations of the City's island rookeries to three different locations! Depending on which weekend you choose, cruises may visit the fascinating Brother Islands, the large egret and cormorant colonies on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, or the great expanses of Jamaica Bay. Whichever your destination, you'll experience the wonders of New York's famous harbor at sunset and see some of the three thousand herons, egrets, and ibis nesting on these urban island treasures. To learn about specific cruise dates and register, visit New York Water Taxi online or by phone at 212-742-1969. Limited to 140. Pricing varies by destination.

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Fort Drum, Perch River, and the Adirondacks
Leader: Arie Gilbert 917-693-7178
Description:
We are expanding the terrific Adirondacks trip to venture into areas with other much sought after birds and environments.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Park at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 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.
Free!

Sunday, July 5, 2015
Early Morning Birdwalk: Taking Wing at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
8:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m.
This is the time of year when young birds outnumber adult birds. Join us in search of fledglings as they test their wings!
Free!

Plover Day at Beach 59th St and Boardwalk (in Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk), Queens
11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
Discover one of New York City's endangered species: The Piping Plover! Partake in family-friendly games, crafts, and educational activities to raise awareness of this amazing shorebird.
Free!
...Read more

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Recent Blooms

Here's a short slideshow of some recent blooms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, June 26, 2015:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Jun. 26, 2015
* NYNY1506.26

- Birds mentioned

WHITE-FACED IBIS+
ARCTIC TERN+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

CORY'S SHEARWATER
GREAT SHEARWATER
MANX SHEARWATER
Northern Gannet
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Willet (subspecies "Western Willet")
White-rumped Sandpiper
Roseate Tern
Royal Tern
Red-headed Woodpecker
Yellow-breasted Chat
SUMMER TANAGER
Grasshopper Sparrow

- 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, June 26th 2015 at 6pm. The highlights of today's tape are WHITE-FACED IBIS, ARCTIC TERN, MANX SHEARWATER, GREAT SHEARWATER, CORY'S SHEARWATER and SUMMER TANAGER.

A nicely marked adult WHITE-FACED IBIS was still being seen today at Captree Island where it moves around with up to 20 or more Glossy Ibis eating in the marsh north of the roadway. The ibis are probably better seen towards high tide when they become more concentrated there. If you visit this site, located just west of the Robert Moses Causeway before the Jones Beach turnoff, please note that Captree Island is a private community so park off the roadway before the entrance to the community and obey the no parking signs.

ARCTIC TERNS continue to visit Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes though appearances have been sporadic recently. On Thursday on the late morning rising tide a first summer Arctic remained on the flats for quite awhile joined for a short time by a second summer Arctic. At least 4 ROSEATE TERNS also visited the flats along with some more expected terns and some lingering shorebirds including a "Western" WILLET. On Wednesday 2 ROYAL TERNS were reported in Moriches Inlet just west of the Cupsogue flats with another in Shinnecock Inlet Tuesday but no Royals were found Thursday. This species much more common along the south shore in later summer.

Small numbers of shearwaters continue to appear along Long Island's south shore. Last Saturday there were 6 or more CORY'S SHEARWATER and one GREAT SHEARWATER off Cupsogue while the late afternoon produced at least 8 GREAT plus a CORY'S off Shinnecock Inlet the Greats following returning trawlers up to the inlet mouth for some very nice views. On Sunday about 6 CORY'S were noted off Robert Moses State Park with 7 off Smith Point County Park in Shirley Tuesday and on Wednesday the only MANX SHEARWATER of the week was reported off Cupsogue. Shinnecock Inlet Thursday afternoon provided at least 2 each of CORY'S and GREAT SHEARWATERS, 2 NORTHERN GANNETS and ROSEATE TERN.

Two WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS were noted at Shirley Marina County Park last Tuesday and YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was seen on a nest on Governors Island on Tuesday. The male SUMMER TANAGER was still singing at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay on Sunday unfortunately apparently still unmated.

Some interesting birds in Westchester County recently have featured a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER continuing at Muscoot Farm in Katonah, a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT at Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining Thursday and GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, hopefully nesting, at Croton Point County Park.

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, June 26, 2015

Friday's Foto

The tiny Piping Plover is currently listed as endangered in New York State and threatened Federally. Besides the threats to adult birds on their coastal breeding grounds, their miniscule offspring are mobile nearly immediately after hatching making them frequent victims of avian predators, feral cats and beach vehicles. Learn about conservation efforts from the American Birding Conservancy here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

Unlikely Story of Conservation in Florida

I recently heard the following story on National Public Radio:

Gambler-Turned-Conservationist Devotes Fortune To Florida Nature Preserve
June 17, 2015 4:53 PM ET

You might think you know what frogs sound like — until, that is, you hear the symphony of amphibians that fills the muggy night air at Nokuse Plantation, a nature preserve in the Florida Panhandle.

There, about 100 miles east of Pensacola, a man named M.C. Davis has done something extraordinary: He has bought up tens of thousands of acres in the Florida sandhills and turned them into a unique, private preserve.

In the largest block of privately owned conservation land in the southeastern U.S., Davis is restoring ecosystems that agriculture and timbering have destroyed.

"I'm a self-proclaimed, devout conservationist," Davis says. "I've been dedicated now for about 20 years."

Davis is thinking 300 years into the future with his wildlife restoration project, even though he knows he doesn't have much time left. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in November.

From Gambler To Unlikely Conservationist

Davis grew up poor in the Florida Panhandle, and he just wanted to get away.

"I grew up with five other people in 300 square feet in a wore-out trailer on a dirt road," Davis says. "I was trying to get out to town and make some money. I spent half my life doing that, and I spent the other half getting back in the woods, you know?"

So he set out to make his fortune through gambling.

"I was hustlin' around gambling from about the time I was 16 until I was 30," Davis says. It was his primary income.

Eventually, he started buying land and mineral rights, and he made hundreds of millions along the way.

Now, 70-year-old Davis proudly calls himself a tree hugger. He's in love with this land.

I ask Davis to show me one of his favorite spots on his land. We ride out through the woods in a golf cart to a bog of carnivorous pitcher plants with trumpets glowing a vivid yellow.

Davis has bought up 54,000 acres of land — mostly from timber companies — and he's restoring it to a longleaf pine forest, which is a rich center of biodiversity.

About 40 million acres of longleaf pines once covered the South, but by the 1930s that original longleaf forest was all cut down — lost to timbering, and lost to memory.

"I'd never even heard the word longleaf," Davis says.

So how did this committed capitalist become a conservationist? He says it all started 20 years ago in a traffic jam.

"It's drizzling rain, and I was sort of just sort of frantic with exasperation," he says. "Stuck in traffic, and I looked up, and I saw on the marquee of the high school, 'Black Bear Presentation.' "

Davis pulled out of traffic and went inside.

"I hate to confess to this," he says. "I didn't know Florida even had black bears at the time."

He heard the passionate pitch, and it changed his life. He started reading books by environmentalists and had an epiphany: He should dedicate his fortune to nature.

Davis spent some $90 million snapping up land for conservation. To restore the forest to the way it was centuries ago, he had 8 million longleaf pine seedlings planted.

And with all of this, he's creating an ecological hotspot, filled with wildlife. Davis has spotted eagles, ospreys, bobcats, foxes, raccoons, armadillos.

A Haven For Threatened Species

The most recent arrivals come not by paw or wing, but in Rubbermaid tubs stacked in the back of a white Chevy Suburban. Inside are 11 newcomers — gopher tortoises. The great diggers have top shells that are patterned with gorgeous amber hexagons.

Gopher tortoises are listed as a threatened species in Florida. Many were killed for their meat, and others have suffered from habitat loss. This batch was rescued from a subdivision under construction hundreds of miles away. These tortoises would have been buried and died.

Biologist Matt Aresco, who is director of Nokuse Plantation, handles one of the new arrivals: It's an adult female that weighs about 6 pounds.

"You're probably only the third person she's ever seen in her entire life," Aresco says. "She's probably been around for about 40 years at least."

We head out to the center of the preserve with the new tortoises in tow.

"All of the trees you see are longleaf pines that were planted in 2005," Aresco says.

Those pines started as 10-inch seedlings. Now they're about 20 feet tall with long, bright green needles clustered like pompoms. They look like trees you would find in a Dr. Seuss book.

One by one, Aresco sets the tortoises at the entrance to a burrow. These newcomers bring the total of gopher tortoises released into the forest at Nokuse Plantation to 4,043.

Just The Beginning Of A 300-Year Project

Over at the pitcher plant bog, Davis looks out at his land as a heavy rain starts drumming down. He says all of this work — tortoise by tortoise, seedling by seedling — is just the beginning of a 300-year project.

But Davis is all too aware that his own time is limited.

"Not a lot different from most folks," he says. "I'm dying, as we all are. It's well advanced. It's not anything. There's 300-something-thousand people right now in the United States that have fourth-stage lung cancer, so hey, it's just nature's way."

He says he's confident he has a solid team in place to carry on this work after he's gone.

"That is the purpose," he says. "If there's such a thing as being perpetual — this will be here. No matter how stupid our species gets and how much it degrades this, it will start over. But I'm hoping that we're capable of leaving some huge biological warehouses that — if and when our country fails, and all of them do sooner or later — that hopefully the impacts wouldn't be total. That nature just doesn't have to start from scratch."

Davis says he's leaving nearly all of his millions to this conservation trust. His money will also go to the environmental education center he created that thousands of Florida schoolchildren come through every year.

"I can't change people your age," he says, "but give me a fourth-grader."

And at that idea, Davis smiles.
...Read more

Monday, June 22, 2015

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, June 27, 2015 to Sunday, June 28, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 12–1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
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, June 27, 2015
Staten Island Dragonflies and Odonata
Leader: Seth Wollney
Registrar: Sandy Paci, email sandypac56@gmail.com
Registration Period: June 16th - June 25th
Focus: the rich diversity of dragonflies and damselflies

**********

Freshkills Park Alliance (Staten Island)
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 1:00pm
Naturalist-Led Hike
Join us for a June hike lead by a naturalist working alongside the FkP Development team! The name of the naturalist and the flora and fauna expected will be updated closer to the event date. This program includes moderate to steep elevations. Water, bug spray, and comfortable shoes recommended. Space is limited, ages 10+. Free.
Meet shuttle into the park at Schmul Park (Wild Ave and Melvin Ave)
Sign Up at EventBrite

**********

Littoral Society
Sunday, June 28, 2015, 10:00am - 01:00pm
Butterflies of Jamaica Bay
Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center for a hike around the preserve. Butterflies and other insects play an important role in the enviroment as plant pollinators. Over 70 species of butterflies have been identified at the Refuge. Learn about their behavior, biology and how to identify them. Kids Welcome. This is an American Littoral Society/NYC Butterfly partnership program. Registration required.
Location : Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Center
Contact : NE Chapter, (718) 474-0896

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, June 27, 2015
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, June 27, 2015, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt 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, June 28, 2015, 7pm – 9pm
Sunset EcoCruise to the Harbor Heron Islands: Hoffman and Swinburne Islands
Guide: Gabriel Willow With New York Water Taxi
Meet at South Street Seaport's Pier 16. We're excited about this summer's ecocruises; we’ve expanded our explorations of the City's island rookeries to three different locations! Depending on which weekend you choose, cruises may visit the fascinating Brother Islands, the large egret and cormorant colonies on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, or the great expanses of Jamaica Bay. Whichever your destination, you'll experience the wonders of New York's famous harbor at sunset and see some of the three thousand herons, egrets, and ibis nesting on these urban island treasures. To learn about specific cruise dates and register, visit New York Water Taxi online or by phone at 212-742-1969. Limited to 140. Pricing varies by destination.

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Sunday, June 28, 2015, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Discover Dragonflies with Paul T. Lederer
Dragonflies have been a part of the fauna of this planet long before dinosaurs roamed the earth. Learn about the identification, behavior and ecology of these fascinating insects. Bring binoculars if you have them. Participants will gather at the Blue Heron Park Nature Center located at 222 Poillon Avenue.
For more information call Cliff Hagen at 718-313-8591.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Park at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 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.
Free!

Sunday, June 28, 2015
Birding: Shore and Wading Birds at Salt Marsh Nature Center (in Marine Park), Brooklyn
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle.
Free!
...Read more

Friday, June 19, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, June 19, 2015

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* June 19, 2015
* NYNY1506.19

- Birds Mentioned

WHITE-FACED IBIS+
LONG-TAILED JAEGER+
SABINE’S GULL+
ARCTIC TERN+
SANDWICH TERN+

(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Common Eider
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Cory’s Shearwater
Great Shearwater
MANX SHEARWATER
Northern Gannet
Glossy Ibis
AMERICAN AVOCET
Willet
WHIMBREL
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Least Tern
CASPIAN TERN
Black Tern
Roseate Tern
Common Tern
Forster’s Tern
Royal Tern
Black Skimmer
Parasitic Jaeger

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, June 19 at 7:00
pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are SABINE’S GULL, LONG-TAILED JAEGER, WHITE-FACED IBIS, SANDWICH and ARCTIC TERNS, AMERICAN AVOCET, MANX SHEARWATER, WHIMBREL, and CASPIAN TERN.

Breezy Point was certainly the place to be Thursday evening. First an immature SABINE’S GULL appeared along the shore, slowly drifting east, and then an adult LONG-TAILED JAEGER flew over, taking its time as it moved west towards Rockaway Inlet. Joining these two sensational birds were also a ROSEATE and two BLACK TERNS and two immature LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS among the assemblage of terns, gulls and BLACK SKIMMERS out there.

A WHITE-FACED IBIS was identified Thursday and was still present today at Captree Island, this the same location where one was present last spring for much of May and into June. Please note that Captree Island, located just west of the Robert Moses Causeway before the Jones Beach turnoff, is a private community. If you visit there, be sure to park off the roadway before the entrance to the community. Search the marsh north of the roadway for the WHITE-FACED among the roaming flock of GLOSSY IBIS.

ARCTIC TERNS have been showing up recently at the most reliable site on Long Island’s south shore for this species, namely Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes, where an entrance fee is charged. The productive flats, most active on the rising or falling tides, are north of the parking lot. Last weekend single adult and immature ARCTICS on the flats Saturday were followed by two almost full adults Sunday, though none were seen there Wednesday. A bonus Sunday was a non-breeding plumaged SANDWICH TERN, joining a couple of BLACK and ROSEATE TERNS as well as an adult CASPIAN TERN that flew off to the east. A ROYAL TERN was noted at this site Saturday afternoon, these all complementing the few FORSTER’S and LEAST TERNS and BLACK SKIMMERS plus numerous COMMON TERNS using this site. Among the various shorebirds on the flats, the most unexpected were a WHIMBREL Sunday and a lingering “WESTERN” WILLET. Care definitely needs to be taken in separating the various age groups of ARCTICS from the similar COMMON TERN plumages.

A sea watch off Cupsogue Wednesday morning produced three or more lingering CORY’S SHEARWATERS and three NORTHERN GANNETS, while a watch off Shinnecock Inlet late Wednesday afternoon found at least 7 GREAT SHEARWATERS outside the inlet but occasionally following returning trawlers right up to the inlet mouth. Also at Shinnecock were a distant PARASITIC JAEGER, two or more ROSEATE TERNS and 24 COMMON EIDERS, 2 BLACK SCOTERS, and a LONG-TAILED DUCK.

Another nice pelagic was a MANX SHEARWATER spotted late Sunday afternoon off Breezy Point. MANX is often seen off the south shore of Long Island in late afternoon, and like this bird, flying east to west, contrary to the normal Shearwater direction of movement. Like most pelagics, they tend to be more regular the farther east you go. Proven pelagic observation sites include Robert Moses State Park field 2, Cupsogue County Park, Shinnecock Inlet, the East Hampton to Amagansett beaches and Montauk Point, but don’t forget Breezy Point, where a WHIMBREL flew by last Saturday. A ROYAL TERN was reported at Jones Beach West End Wednesday.

Last Saturday a breeding-plumaged male AMERICAN AVOCET visited Piermont Pier in Rockland County. An adult CASPIAN TERN also stopped by there late in the day, but neither was seen Sunday.

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

More on Brownsville Hawks

I promised Bobby that I'd check on the pair of young hawks that he just released in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He was a little concerned as he hadn't seen any of the adults after he turned them loose.

I headed over to Brownsville this morning. The closest train stop is Saratoga Avenue on the "3" line. From there it is about a 1/2 mile walk to Frederick Douglass Academy. The Rockaway Avenue station is actually closer, but it is currently closed for major renovations. The block on the south side of the school holds some basketball courts and an under-construction playground. There are lots of mature deciduous trees on that block, so I checked them all for the hawks before getting to the High School. No sign of adult or fledgling red-tails.

Standing across from the High School I began scanning the edge of the roof for the young raptors. I even checked the nest, in case they decided to go back in search of their parents. No sign of them there. One block to the east is the grade school. That is where I spotted the first of the two youngsters. The building is about half the height of Frederick Douglass Academy's roof, so it must have been an easy glide for what appeared to be the less developed of the two hawks. He still needs to grow in a lot of head and neck plumage, so looks very funny in a gangly kind of way. On closer look he seemed to have a full crop, which means he is eating. I doubt he is hunting on his own yet, so the adults must have found him and brought him food. After a few minutes I headed off to search for his sibling.

I decided to continue walking east, reasoning that the first bird took off to the east, so maybe the second one did, as well. As I walked along Blake Avenue towards Rockaway Avenue I caught a glimpse of the chimney on the abandoned PS 125 building (found an intriguing article about this huge structure built in 1900 here). Perched on the south-west corner was an adult Red-tailed Hawk. The fenced off property at the back of the building is an overgrown understory shaded by several massive deciduous trees. It seemed like a really good hunting ground.

There is a small workout area and playground adjacent to the hunting ground. Two teens were working out and I walked towards them to get a better view of the adult hawk above. We started talking, I told them about the hawks and gave them my bins to look at the parent perched on the chimney. After a few minutes one of the teens mentioned that they had seen one earlier in the low branches of the trees. He also said that it looked like it was having trouble balancing on the branches. Hmmm, sounds more like one of the youngsters. I had to convince them that just because they are huge, doesn't mean that they are the adults. Then he said, "I think that's him across the street."

Across Rockaway Avenue, in the parking lot for Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center was the older of the two fledglings. He was doing a decidedly unbalanced young raptor impression of Philippe Petit on the telephone line that runs along the back edge of the building. Three mockingbirds were doing their best to try and knock the hawk from his clumsy tightrope performance. Despite his ungainly style, he seemed unperturbed by the aggressive songbirds. Once he made it to safety of the telephone pole bracket he relaxed for several minutes. Unfortunately, the mockingbirds continued their assault:



He eventually took off flying west and I found him wandering around on the roof of a two story home on the corner of Blake and Chester. As I was watching, the owner of the home and his wife came and walked to their car. I told them about the hawks and pointed out the youngsters. They didn't seem to care, but not in a bad way. More like in a New-Yorker-so-what-else-is-new kind of way.

From Chester and Blake Avenues I could actually see the nest, both fledglings and the adult on PS 125 without having to move (If you pause the video at 00:07 you can see the adult on the chimney in the background):



When I was heading back to the train station I passed some teens playing basketball across from the High School. One of them spotted my bins and asked me if I knew about the hawks. I said yes and we had a brief discussion about Red-tailed Hawks in Brooklyn. He seemed really excited about this little bit of wildlife in Brownsville. After I put away my bins, showed him some of the photos that I took that morning. I also reassured him that the hawks were only a danger to rats, pigeons and the like. The raptors actually had more to worry about us humans than the other way around. I also explained that the young hawks aren't very wary when they first learn to fly and that if he ever saw them walking around near the street he could just gently herd them away. It's an interesting neighborhood for a family of Red-tailed Hawks, but there seem to be several areas where trees are concentrated, plus I noticed a good number of pigeons on the apartment buildings. It could be a fun experience for the residents of Brownsville if they choose to pay attention.
...Read more

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Summer Ear Birding

Every year in early spring I tune up my ears, preparing for the north-bound rush of migrating songbirds. You may have read some of my postings on the subject. Unfortunately, my focus on songbirds has kept me from paying much attention to a whole other group of important bird vocalizations. I realize that it isn't fall migration yet, but I thought I'd take a few minutes on these frequently overlooked summer bird sounds.

We may only just be closing in on summer, but many long distance migrant shorebirds are already finishing up there brief breeding season. During the month of July we see the beginning of the south-bound "Fall" migration. One shorebird group known as "peeps" are notoriously difficult to identify. With a little bit of practice with the vocalizations, though, it might make the process a little bit easier. Often an unknown shorebird flies overhead, but we can't be certain of the ID. If it is calling it could make it much less of a challenge.

My go to resource for learning bird vocalizations has been the Peterson "Birding by Ear" series. That said, here are the tracks you should concentrate on (note that on the west coast there is a Western series):

Name Album Disc # Track #
Shorebirds: Pairs More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 1
Shorebirds: Plovers More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 2
Shorebirds: Whistlers More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 3
Shorebirds: Peepers More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 4
Shorebirds: Other More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 5
Shorebirds: Terns More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 6


If you have a favorite resource for learning shorebird vocalizations, let me know and I'll post it here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Brownsville Red-tailed Hawks Update

Here's an update on the two juvenile Red-tailed Hawks rescued from Brownsville, Brooklyn last week.

Bobby and Cathy Horvath were able to gain access to the roof of Frederick Douglass Academy yesterday (the nest is on an air conditioner of the buildings facade). They released the young hawks where their parents will be able to reconnect with them. Here are a couple of photos and a video of the release:




Another Brooklyn Red-tailed Hawk Nest

I received an email from my friend Bob's wife the other day. She had news about a nesting pair of Red-tailed Hawks in Midwood, Brooklyn:

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From: Robert
Subject: RE: New Neighbor in West Midwood
Date: June 14, 2015 9:38:37 PM EDT

Pic taken on Rugby Road just north of Ave H.

According to neighbors, nesting in tree on Argyle just north of (Avenue) H.

This is bigger of two. Able to fly about 3 house lengths now. Still calling mom for food. About a month old, according to neighbors that have been watching and have actually become a little blasé about it.

This is Bob's wife - btw. Not a birder but I got so excited when I heard about them. And then saw him/her. Took many pics. Saw mom but too quick for pic.

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It is uncertain why two of the seemingly most desirable Brooklyn locations were vacant this year, but two new, less than ideal spots were successful. To give you an idea of the unlikely surroundings for this particular Red-tailed Hawk family, here are a couple of Google Earth images:


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

Assault on the Migratory Treaty Bird Act

From National Audubon Society's website:

Against the ‘Bird Killer Amendment’
Everything you need to know about the latest assault on keeping birds alive.

By National Audubon Society
June 12, 2015

Last week, the House was tasked with passing a fairly routine appropriations bill—meaning, a piece of legislation that allows the federal government to stay open (vs. shut down). And pass it they did—but not before Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) slid in an amendment that would prohibit the Department of Justice from enforcing one of the most important bird protection laws in the nation.

We’re talking about Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which you may have heard of recently because U.S. Fish and Wildlife just announced they’re going to be updating how it’s enforced. But Duncan’s amendment would stop the MBTA dead in its tracks right now, by preventing the Department of Justice from actually enforcimg the critical law that saves millions of birds’ lives each year. Audubon’s VP of Government Relations immediately christened Duncan’s addition the ‘Bird Killer Amendment,” noting that not only is it completely unnecessary, it would leave birds wide open to uncontrolled slaughter.

Here’s what you need to know about the bill:

It’s not a law yet.

Yes, the House has passed the bill with the amendment attached, but the legislation still has a long way to go before it’s made into a law. The Senate may not include the language in its version of the bill, and if it is passed with the amendment included, the executive branch can still veto the bill.

If passed, the amendment could hamstring the MBTA.

The MBTA is one of the oldest and most important laws on the books, when it comes to saving birds. But if it can’t be enforced, it can’t do much good.

“If Duncan’s amendment had been law during the BP disaster, those responsible for the largest marine oil spill in history would have faced no prosecution for causing the deaths of an estimated one million birds,” Daulton said. “Allowing this amendment to become law is tantamount to an avian slaughter free-for-all.”

(Want to know more about the MBTA and what it does? Check this out.)

You can help fight the Bird Killer Amendment.

Write a letter to your lawmakers.

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• The American Bird Conservancy also has a website petition here.
...Read more

Monday, June 15, 2015

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, June 20, 2015 to Sunday, June 21, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, June 20, 2015, 12–1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
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

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, June 20, 2015
A Memorial to Jean Bourque: Nature of Floyd Bennett Field
Meet 8:30 am at the south entrance parking lot, accessible by the Q35 bus http://tinyurl.com/June20thJbourque
Leaders: Steve Nanz/Jerry Layton (insects, dragonflies, butterflies), Marielle Anzelone (plants, botany), Peter Dorosh (general)
Registrar: Peter Dorosh Prosbird@aol.com (preferred) or 347-622-3559 text only
Registration Period: June 9th - June 18th
Note: This trip celebrates the memory of Jean Bourque whose love of Floyd Bennett Field was her great joy. Jean, who passed away in June 2014, will be remembered best for the plants and habitats she nurtured and loved and birds and nature that thrived upon them. This walk will focus on plants, insects, birds and overall nature. This event is celebrated in conjunction with NYC Audubon and the National Park Service The Q35 bus (which goes to the south Floyd Bennett Field entrance) stops in front of the Target store near Brooklyn College. Nearest train to the Q35 is the IRT to Brooklyn College (last stop.)
Leader profiles:
Marielle Anzelone http://www.popupforest.org/ , http://nycwildflowerweek.org
Steve Nanz http://stevenanz.com
Peter Dorosh http://prospectsightings.blogspot.com/

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Freshkills Park Alliance (Staten Island)
Jun 21, 2015, 12:00pm
Kayak the Creeks
Join the Freshkills Park Team and Kayak Staten Island for a kayaking experience like no other! Kayak along the Fresh Kill and see the site from a different perspective. This three hour excursion will take you into the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge and up close to some of the varied wildlife that calls Freshkills Park home.

Kayaks, life vests, and brief safety training will be provided. Kayak events are currently limited to participants ages 16 and over, in good health and with basic swimming skills. Be prepared to get wet! Space is very limited. Email freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov if you own a kayak and wish to participate in this program with your personal kayak.

Location provided with registration confirmation
Sign Up at EventBrite

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, June 20, 2015
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

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, June 20, 9am – Sun, June 21, 6pm
Bashakill, Neversink, and Sterling Forest
Guide: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC
Look for breeding American bitterns, cerulean, hooded, and golden-winged warblers, and more at these three great birding areas. An overnight stay will facilitate being in the right spot at the right time. Bring lunch for the first day, binoculars, and a spotting scope (if you have one). Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 10. $280 ($56 single supplement)
Click here to register

Saturday, June 20, 2015, 8am – 5pm
Breeding Birds of the Hudson Highlands
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Join Gabriel Willow on a day-long trip to some of the most exciting & beautiful birding locations in the Hudson Valley - Doodletown Rd., Constitution Marsh, and Indian Brook Farm (in Fahnestock State Park). We'll look for uncommon breeding warbler specialties at Doodletown, such as cerulean, hooded, blue-winged, golden-winged, and worm-eating warblers; We will then head to the Constitution Marsh Audubon Sanctuary to explore a brackish marsh along the Hudson River. They have a beautiful boardwalk and are home to breeding wood duck, bald eagle, least bittern, marsh wren, and more. After a picnic lunch by the banks of Indian Brook, we will drive to Indian Brook Farm, which has extensive grasslands and highbush blueberry stands. These habitats have breeding Field and savannah sparrows, bobolinks, and indigo buntings.
Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $129 (90)
Click here to register

Saturday, June 20, 2015, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt 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, June 21, 2015, 7pm – 9pm
Sunset EcoCruise to the Harbor Heron Islands: Hoffman and Swinburne Islands
Guide: Gabriel Willow With New York Water Taxi
Meet at South Street Seaport's Pier 16. We're excited about this summer's ecocruises; we’ve expanded our explorations of the City's island rookeries to three different locations! Depending on which weekend you choose, cruises may visit the fascinating Brother Islands, the large egret and cormorant colonies on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, or the great expanses of Jamaica Bay. Whichever your destination, you'll experience the wonders of New York's famous harbor at sunset and see some of the three thousand herons, egrets, and ibis nesting on these urban island treasures. To learn about specific cruise dates and register, visit New York Water Taxi online or by phone at 212-742-1969. Limited to 140. Pricing varies by destination.

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, June 20, 2015, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop at the Gretta Moulton Tract in High Rock
Meet in the parking lot at High Rock Park, 200 Nevada Avenue. If you come late, walk to the first bend of the entry road and follow the Yellow Trail to the Green Trail to our working location by Manor Road where we will root out Multi-flora Rose growing along the trail. If you don’t have your own, Protectors will supply gloves and pruners (and refreshments). After a two-hour work session (our 226th monthly workshop) 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, June 20, 2015, 1 p.m. to 3 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.

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Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Mianus River Gorge
Leader: Eric Miller 917-279-7530
Meet: 8:45 at lot

Sunday, June 21, 2015, 9am – 12pm
Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside, for beginners
Leader: Lisa Scheppke 347-531-3019
Meet: 9am at lot

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

Trip Etiquette
Please register for trips

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

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Park at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 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.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, June 13, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, June 12, 2015:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* June 12, 2015
* NYNY1506.12

- Birds Mentioned

BLACK-NECKED STILT+
ARCTIC TERN+
LONG-TAILED JAEGER+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Gadwall
Common Eider
Hooded Merganser
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Red-necked Grebe
Cory’s Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
MANX SHEARWATER
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel
Northern Gannet
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Black Vulture
Bald Eagle
SANDHILL CRANE
Whimbrel
Red Knot
White-rumped Sandpiper
Dunlin
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Least Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Roseate Tern
Common Tern
Royal Tern
Black Skimmer
Parasitic Jaeger
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Barred Owl
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Common Raven
Cliff Swallow
Brown Creeper
Winter Wren
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
Prothonotary Warbler
SUMMER TANAGER
BLUE GROSBEAK
Pine Siskin

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, June 12 at 6:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are BLACK-NECKED STILT, SANDHILL CRANE, LONG-TAILED JAEGER, ARCTIC TERN, MANX SHEARWATER, SUMMER TANAGER, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER and BLUE GROSBEAK.

A couple of nice local rarities appeared last weekend – first a BLACK-NECKED STILT was spotted last Saturday in the marsh at Shirley Marina County Park, where it lingered at least through Sunday. This marina is just west of the William Floyd Parkway before it crosses the bridge to Smith Point County Park.

Then on Sunday two SANDHILL CRANES appeared in Napeague, seen around Napeague Pond off Lazy Point Road and later several times in flight as they moved around that area, the last sighting Monday morning as they were flying towards Route 27.

Seawatching has recently become more rewarding, this week’s finds topped by an immature LONG-TAILED JAEGER identified as it moved east off Amagansett early Saturday morning; also counted there were 18 RED-THROATED and 11 COMMON LOONS, 22 NORTHERN GANNETS and a few Scoters.

Some NYC pelagics included a SOOTY SHEARWATER and a late CASPIAN TERN migrating by Riis Park Monday afternoon, followed by a MANX SHEARWATER moving west past Breezy Point Wednesday afternoon. Also at Breezy Point Wednesday were a WHIMBREL and four RED KNOTS among a handful of shorebirds, with a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL there Thursday.

But pelagics do improve as you move east on Long Island. Recently off Robert Moses State Park CORY’S SHEARWATERS and SOOTY SHEARWATERS have been seen daily, with a peak of 24 CORY’S Monday, when 2 PARASITIC JAEGERS also moved by.

An earlier PARASITIC JAEGER and a WILSON’S STORM-PETREL were off Democrat Point Saturday, joining a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER and four ROSEATE TERNS out there.

Another pelagic was a WILSON’S STORM-PETREL seen close off Nickerson Beach west of Point Lookout on Wednesday, but the highlight at Nickerson has been the nice collection of Terns there recently. A couple of ARCTIC TERNS have been identified – an adult Monday and an immature Tuesday and Wednesday, these usually roosting among the large numbers of COMMON and LEAST TERNS and BLACK SKIMMERS present in the colony there. One or two GULL-BILLED TERNS there are also probably nesting, and other visitors have included a couple of ROSEATE and BLACK TERNS during the week and an early ROYAL TERN present on Tuesday.

Another ROYAL TERN was on the flats at Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes on Wednesday. Earlier in the week at Cupsogue 2 adult ARCTIC TERNS plus ROSEATE TERN were seen on the flats last Sunday, with a PARASITIC JAEGER offshore, while an immature ARCTIC was on the flats yesterday. Another GULL-BILLED TERN was reported out east at Napeague last Sunday.

Among the rarest of our local nesters, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER continues to sing near the entrance to Connetquot River State Park, where the male PROTHONOTARY WARBLER was last noted back on the 5th – we hope its disappearance was only related to its inability to find a mate. A male SUMMER TANAGER was still present Sunday at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, and BLUE GROSBEAK has returned to a traditional site along Route 51 in Eastport.

Interestingly late occurrences include three COMMON EIDER off Rockaway Beach, Queens, Sunday and a RED-NECKED GREBE still off Staten Island last Saturday. YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS appear to be nesting on Governors Island in New York Harbor.

Last weekend the Greenwich-Stamford Summer Bird Count, including much of eastern Westchester County, recorded 137 species. Among the highlights were GADWALL and HOODED MERGANSER, BLACK VULTURE, nesting BALD EAGLE, a few lingering shorebirds, including DUNLIN, some BLACK-BILLED and YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS, a few pairs of BARRED OWLS, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, scattered COMMON RAVENS, CLIFF SWALLOW, BROWN CREEPER, WINTER WREN, 18 species of Warbler, and count period PINE SISKIN.

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
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