Friday, January 23, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, January 23, 2015:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Jan. 23, 2015
* NYNY1501.23

- Birds Mentioned

PINK-FOOTED GOOSE+
BARNACLE GOOSE+
MEW GULL+
THICK-BILLED MURRE+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Greater White-Fronted Goose
Cackling Goose
Tundra Swan
Eurasian Wigeon
KING EIDER
Common Eider
HARLEQUIN DUCK
Common Goldeneye
BARROW’S GOLDENEYE
Red-necked Grebe
EARED GREBE
American Bittern
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Ring-billed Gull
Iceland Gull
Glaucous Gull
Razorbill
Snowy Owl
Short-eared Owl
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
COMMON REDPOLL

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, January 23 at 7:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are MEW GULL, PINK-FOOTED and BARNACLE GEESE, EARED GREBE, THICK-BILLED MURRE, BARROW’S GOLDENEYE, KING EIDER, HARLEQUIN DUCK, BLACK-HEADED GULL and a COMMON REDPOLL incursion.

This Wednesday a 1st winter MEW GULL was spotted along the Brooklyn waterfront, where it spent several hours yesterday, but was apparently only seen sporadically this morning. This very brownish immature is the North American subspecies brachyrhynchus, whereas most New York records have involved the European form canus, called Common Gull. This bird has been frequenting the shoreline just west of the Ceasar’s Bay shopping center and has also been perched on the Kohl’s and adjacent buildings in the center. This site is just off the Belt Parkway; if eastbound on the Belt, park at the roadside parking area just before exit 5 off the Belt; if westbound, it may be best to get off at Exit 5 and work your way around to the shopping center area. Look for the Mew in the large flock of RING-BILLED GULLS that gather there. An ICELAND GULL was also there today.

The BARNACLE GOOSE was still being seen early in the morning at the goose overnight roost on the lake at Belmont Lake State Park through last weekend. Also in the large Canada flock have been a CACKLING and 4 GREATER-WHITE-FRONTED GEESE.

The PINK-FOOTED GOOSE and a GREATER-WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE were reported again Thursday in the fields along Doctor’s Path south of Sound Avenue, north of Riverhead, while Friday morning the PINK-FOOTED was still on Merritts Pond in Riverhead late in the morning.

Further east on Long Island a THICK-BILLED MURRE was spotted Tuesday around the inlet to Montauk harbor and was still being seen inside the inlet today, often in the vicinity of the Coast Guard Station off the west side of Lake Montauk as viewed from Star Island. A couple of ICELAND GULLS have also been near the west side of the west inlet jetty, with two HARLEQUIN DUCKS there Monday.

Back at Jones Beach West End, last Saturday 2 EARED GREBES were present in Jones Inlet off Point Lookout, with a RED-NECKED GREBE between the east and middle of the Point Lookout jetties. At least 1 of the EARED GREBES and the RED-NECKED GREBE were still being seen recently, and 2 HARLEQUIN DUCKS also continue there, but the female KING EIDER there has become even more elusive. A drake KING EIDER does remain at Shinnecock, seen with COMMON EIDERS usually near the large sandbar inside the inlet as viewed from the main inlet parking lot.

Besides the drake BARROW’S GOLDENEYE that has been just west of Sands Point Preserve, others uncovered recently include a pair returning to the south end of Lake Montauk, best viewed from South Lake Drive, and, on the north fork of Long Island, seen on Wednesday were a pair of Barrow’s at Mattituck inlet along the north shore and a drake seen 3 miles east of there off Duck Pond Road in Cutchogue, all these in COMMON GOLDENEYE flocks. The Mattituck male was just east of the east jetty off Baillie Beach today.

Two TUNDRA SWANS continue on mostly frozen Hook Pond in East Hampton, where up to 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE have also been present.

Two HARLEQUIN DUCKS continue at Point Lookout, and EURASIAN WIGEONS continue at several sites.

A BLACK-HEADED GULL was reported again from northern Manhattan along the East River Monday.

A GLAUCOUS GULL continues at Shinnecock Inlet, with an ICELAND GULL also there Monday. Another Glaucous was at Jones Beach West End Saturday, and another Iceland has been at Iron Pier in Northville.

70 RAZORBILLS were counted at Montauk Point Sunday, with 25 or so off Fort Tilden Tuesday.

A SNOWY OWL on Hick’s Island off Nappeague seems safer there than those being chased around the south shore of Long Island. And we mention two SHORT-EARED OWLS appearing late in the afternoon at the old Grumman Airport in Calverton, these just one of the reasons why this wonderful grassland should be preserved.

A nice invasion of COMMON REDPOLLS has begun this week, with birds appearing in numerous locations, with perhaps the largest flock the up to 50 plus near Tiana Beach along Dune Road west of Shinnecock Inlet. AMERICAN BITTERN is also regular along Dune Road.

An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and a NASHVILLE WARBLER continue at Massapequa Preserve, and two Orange-Crowneds were seen at Brooklyn’s Marine Park Tuesday.

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

I've been ignoring the ubiquitous American Herring Gull on this blog for too long. This common species is likely what most people are thinking of when they use the term "seagull". Abundant in the northeast, they have been expanding their Atlantic breeding range southward. European Herring Gulls are very similar and considered the subspecies larus argentatus argentatus. The Herring Gull group taxonomy is complicated and, apparently, controversial. You can read more about it on Cornell's "The Birds of North America Online" here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

Large Wind Turbine for New York City

The New York Times just published a piece on the large wind turbine now seen slowly rotating on the Sunset Park coastline:

In Brooklyn, Fertile Ground for a Wind Turbine
By TATIANA SCHLOSSBERG JAN. 15, 2015

Modern-day Don Quixotes looking to tilt at wind turbines can see their latest fearsome foe from far and wide: Lower Manhattan; Red Hook, Brooklyn; or the Gowanus Expressway.

In less than a month of operation, the first large-scale wind turbine to be installed in New York City, standing more than 160 feet tall, has produced enough energy to power two homes for over a year, or one 20-watt light bulb for over a century.

But this turbine, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, was built to help power a recycling plant on a pier at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. It is expected to provide 4 percent of the energy used by the plant, which is owned and operated by Sims Metal Management, an Australian company.

The plant, which has processed most of the city’s curbside metal, glass and plastic recyclables since opening in 2013, already fills 16 percent of its energy needs with solar power harvested from panels on its roof; the remainder of its power comes from traditional sources.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday for the wind turbine, which has been operating since Dec. 17, Thomas Outerbridge, general manager of the Sims plant, spoke about the sometimes arduous, four-year process of turning windblown dreams into reality.

“They say, ‘If you can do it in New York, you can do it anywhere,’ ” Mr. Outerbridge said. “And if you do it in Brooklyn, you can do it anywhere and you can be very cool.”

The Sunset Park turbine can generate up to 100 kilowatts of electricity. Its predecessors in the city, which help power residential or smaller commercial buildings, including the Whole Foods store in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, are one kilowatt, and typically about 20 feet tall.

Steady winds of at least 10 miles per hour are required for the new turbine’s blades to spin; the spinning stops when winds reach 55 m.p.h. In Sunset Park, the prevailing winds come from the west at an average annual speed of 11.85 m.p.h.

Steady winds can be difficult to find in New York, where breezes can blow at around 3 m.p.h. and gusts can rage at 30 m.p.h. The density of development in the city is another obstacle, alternately blocking or tunneling the wind. The Sunset Park waterfront’s wide-open nature makes it a prime spot for harvesting wind, said Nils Behn of Aegis Renewables, which installed the turbine there.

The push to bring the turbine to Brooklyn began in 2008, Mr. Outerbridge said, adding that he hoped the installation would give wind power and other forms of renewable energy more legitimacy in the city.

He said he first applied for a permit with the Buildings Department in 2010.

“The Buildings Department had a process set up for building-mounted turbines, but nothing for commercial-scale turbines,” he said. “It was bit of a learning curve for all of us.”

A spokesman for the department said it had developed a protocol for handling turbine permits in 2011.

While many wind turbine proposals attract opposition on aesthetic grounds, or because of their potential to cause damage to bird and bat habitats, Mr. Outerbridge said the Sunset Park project had received a positive response from the community as well as representatives of nearby Green-Wood Cemetery and the Audubon Society.

All told, the turbine cost $750,000 to build, and Mr. Outerbridge said he expected it to pay for itself within five years.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which awards grants for renewable energy projects, provided $130,000 toward the cost of the turbine. The agency has given out grants for 200 windmills in the state over the last eight years. So far, no other turbines are planned for New York City, said Mark Mayhew, a project manager for the agency.

Donna DeConstanzo, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that, although her organization was not involved with the Sunset Park project, “wherever you have an opportunity to generate clean, renewable energy in New York City, that’s significant and exciting.”

She added that solar power was a more viable renewable energy source in the city, but that New York offered many opportunities for harvesting offshore wind. Other wind projects have been proposed in the city, but none have yet materialized. Among the locations that have been suggested: the former landfill on Staten Island that is now Freshkills Park; New York Harbor; and the Atlantic floor, off the Rockaways.

Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, said at the ribbon-cutting on Wednesday that he hoped to add more renewable energy initiatives in the borough.

“Just like that slow-running F train,” he said, “we’re going to put wind power on the express track.”
...Read more

Monday, January 19, 2015

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, January 24, 2015 to Sunday, January 25, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, January 24, 2015, 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, January 24, 2015
Coney Island to Norton Point walk
Leader: Rob Jett a.k.a "The City Birder"
Focus: coastal species, waterbirds, gulls
Registrar: Janet Schumacher, email janets33@optonline.net or cell: 718-594-7480
Registration period: Jan 13th-22nd
Note: Coney Island shore walk. Distance to Norton Pt from Stillwell Ave terminus subway hub is about 1 ½ miles; limit 15 registrants.

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, January 24, 2015 (rain date January 25)
Croton Point Park
Leader: Paul Keim
Registrar: Anne Lazarus – amlazarus@outlook.com or 212-673-9059
Registration opens: Monday, January 12
Public transportation

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, January 24, 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, January 24, 2015, 8:45am – 3:45pm
Winter Eagles on the Hudson
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Join NYC Audubon for one of the most incredible avian spectacles in NY: a search for Bald Eagles wintering along the Hudson River. They gather to feed and rest on the frozen river by the dozens or even hundreds. We will travel in comfort, taking Metro North to Croton Point Park, where we will look for eagles near the train station before hiking up to Croton Point Park, which can also host wintering Short-eared Owls, Snowy Owls, Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, and other cold-weather specialties. The walk is about two miles over easy terrain. Dress for cold weather. Limited to 20. Meet at the clock in Grand Central Station at 8:45 for a 9:20 departure.
Round-trip Metro North fare ($19.50) not included in trip price. $53 (37)
Click here to register

Sunday, January 25, 2015, 12pm – 2pm
Winter EcoCruise
Guide: NYC Audubon Guide Meet at South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 and come aboard NY Water Taxi’s eco-friendly vessel for a winter adventure in New York Harbor! Look for harbor seals on the rocky shores of Governor’s Island and the more remote Hoffman and Swinburne Islands. Learn about the surprisingly diverse winter birds of New York City, including ducks, geese, loons, and sandpipers, many of which migrate south from the Arctic. See the Statue of Liberty and pass under the Verrazano Bridge. Dress warmly! . Limited to 90.
To register, contact New York Water Taxi at 212-742-1969 or www.nywatertaxi.com. $35 for adults; $25 for children under 12; $105 for family pack for 2 adults and 2 children

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, January 24, 2015
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, January 25, 2015
Birding: Winter Waterfowl at Comfort station near Eton Place and Richmond Avenue (in Willowbrook Park), Staten Island
11:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle. We offer birding programs…
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, January 17, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, January 16, 2015:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Jan. 16, 2015
* NYNY1501.16

- Birds mentioned
PINK-FOOTED GOOSE+
BARNACLE GOOSE+
COMMON MURRE+
COUCH'S KINGBIRD+ (not reported)
CASSIN'S KINGBIRD+ (not reported)
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Greater White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose
ROSS'S GOOSE
Cackling Goose
Eurasian Wigeon
Green-winged Teal (Eurasian form "Common Teal")
KING EIDER
Harlequin Duck
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE
EARED GREBE
Bald Eagle
Golden Eagle
American Oystercatcher
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Dovekie
Razorbill
BOHEMIAN WAXWING
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler

- 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, January 16th 2015 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are BOHEMIAN WAXWING, pelagic trip results, PINK-FOOTED GOOSE, ROSS'S GOOSE, BARNACLE GOOSE, EARED GREBE, BLACK-HEADED GULL, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE and KING EIDER.

Firstly a kingbird update. Unfortunately the last dates reported seem to be January 9th for the COUCH'S KINGBIRD in lower Manhattan and January 5th for the CASSIN'S KINGBIRD at Floyd Bennett Field.

Another nice passerine, a BOHEMIAN WAXWING, spent last weekend visiting fruiting trees near the Chandler Estate in Miller Place on north-central Long Island. The waxwing was usually in the company of robins and starlings so watch for flocking birds at fruit bearing trees.

A pelagic trip, sponsored by See Life Paulagics last Sunday from Freeport aboard the Captain Lou's Star Stream VIII got out over 40 miles and recorded 37 RAZORBILLS, 8 COMMON MURRES, and 87 DOVEKIES and among the gulls 2 ICELAND, LESSER BLACK-BACKED and 8 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES. Interestingly another COMMON MURRE was spotted inside Jones Inlet Sunday seen off Jones Beach West End Coast Guard Station. Also around the inlet an EARED GREBE was present Saturday and Sunday near the Point Lookout eastern jetty and a female KING EIDER was still in the Common Eider flock seen both off Point Lookout and off the Jones Beach West End jetty. Two HARLEQUIN DUCKS also continue around the Point Lookout jetties and 4 AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS were still in that area Saturday.

It seems the best bet now to see the BARNACLE GOOSE is to be at Belmont Lake State Park early in the morning before the geese fly out from their nighttime roost. Also roosting there have been 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED, 1 CACKLING and 3 SNOW GEESE. Once they leave the lake, usually beginning around 8:30am or a little after 9am the places to look for the BARNACLE would be at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale or on private Colonial Springs Golf Course on the east side of Wellwood Avenue north of the cemetery. The PINK-FOOTED GOOSE was seen last weekend along Roanoke Avenue north of Riverhead and should also be looked for along the east side of Doctor's Path south of Sound Avenue. The ROSS'S GOOSE was at the latter site last Saturday when a second ROSS'S was also spotted at Southaven County Park in Yaphank this latter may have been the same ROSS'S reported from Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley south of Route 27 on Sunday.

A drake BARROW'S GOLDENEYE continues with Common Goldeneyes off the Sands Point Preserve. The bird is usually off to the northwest from the preserve often fairly far out.

A drake KING EIDER spotted at Shinnecock Inlet last Saturday was still present today is usually with Common Eider north of the main parking lot at the inlet out near the sandbars. A GLAUCOUS GULL also continues at Shinnecock.

A BLACK-HEADED GULL was seen again at Riverside Park in northern Manhattan flying by the park late Thursday afternoon.

The Eurasian form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL remains on the small pond in Centerport. This pond on the north side of Route 25A on the west side of the Chalet Motel parking lot. A controversial wigeon neither a Eurasian or a hybrid also continues there.

Other GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE have been at Marratooka Lake in Mattituck Sunday and at Playland Lake in Rye this week. The latter location also hosting a CACKLING GOOSE plus a EURASIAN WIGEON on Wednesday. Other EURASIAN WIGEON remain at Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn and on the West Sayville Golf Course and other drakes were reported at Deep Hole Creek in Mattituck Sunday and at Massapequa Preserve today. A nice mix of birds at Massapequa Preserve include continuing ORANGE-CROWNED and NASHVILLE WARBLERS often seen together in the cattails north of the bridge over the stream at the Walker Street ball field entrance. A good number of BALD EAGLES are present regionally now and a couple of GOLDEN EAGLES have been reported so look at your eagles carefully.

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, January 16, 2015

Friday's Foto

It seemed all to appropriate that I spotted this "Duck Hawk" (Peregrine Falcon) perched at the edge of Gerritsen Creek, looking down on dozens of overwintering waterfowl. Sadly, this magnificent raptor was nearly eliminated from North America with only 325 pairs left by 1974. The use of the pesticide DDT caused severe egg thinning resulting in parents inadvertently crushing their own eggs. By 1968, there were no peregrines left East of the Mississippi River. The chemical's use in the US was banned by 1972 and captive breeding programs have helped significantly increase their numbers. Still listed as endangered in New York State they are carefully monitored and New York City now boasts the largest urban population of the world's fastest animal.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

A Record We Could Do Without

The following just appeared on the website "Live Science":

One for the Record Books: 2014 Officially Hottest Year
By Brian Kahn, Climate Central | January 05, 2015 09:02pm ET

It’s official: 2014 has taken the title of hottest year on record. That ranking comes courtesy of data released Monday by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the first of four major global temperature recordkeepers to release their data for last year.

The upward march of the world’s average temperature since 1891 is a trademark of human-influenced global warming with 2014 being the latest stop on the climb. All 10 of the hottest years have come since 1998.

The average temperature was 1.1°F above the 20th century average according to JMA’s data. That edges 1998, the previous warmest year, by about 0.1°F.

One big difference between 2014 and 1998 is that the latter was on the tail end of a super El Niño, which has the tendency to spike temperatures. In comparison, 2014 was the year of the almost El Niño.

Instead, record warmth in other parts of the Pacific as well as the hottest year on record in Europe were some of the main drivers in fueling the heat. Joe Romm of Climate Progress also notes that heat in Australia early in the year and California’s hottest year further contributed to the heat.

Seasonal temperatures also paint a picture of a planet that didn’t get a break. Spring, summer and fall were all record-setting hot. Last winter was the only season not to set a record, and even that was still the sixth-warmest winter.

JMA is one of the four major groups that use both ground measurements and satellites to compute the planet’s average temperature. The other three include NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. and the Hadley Center in the U.K. There are subtle differences in how they analyze temperature data, but there’s generally broad agreement, particularly the upward trend in temperatures over the past century.

The other groups are expected to release their data in the coming weeks and confirm that 2014 was indeed the hottest year on record. And some scientists think it could get even hotter sooner. Strong trade winds in the Pacific have likely had a dampening effect on the global average temperature by essentially allowing the ocean to store more heat, but those winds are expected to weaken in the near future as part of a natural fluctuation.
...Read more

Monday, January 12, 2015

The 2014 Shorebirds of Plum Beach

It was probably about 5 years ago when only three or four local birders made regular seasonal forays to Brooklyn's Plum Beach. That number jumped by quite a bit last year.

I learned about this shorebird stopover from my friend Shane Blodgett, one of those regulars. This remnant coastal dune and marsh habitat is a magnet for migrating long-distance travelers in need of feeding and resting. Typically, most birders around New York in search of shorebirds visit the protected habitats at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge's East Pond, 5 1/2 miles across the bay to the northeast. The year 2014, however, saw a shift in focus towards this tiny sand spit a stone's throw from Coney Island. Perhaps it was an increase in interesting observations at Plum Beach or motivation by a new crop of local birders to increase their Kings County life list, whatever the reason, the new attention resulted in an incredible species list by the end of the year.

Like Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Plum Beach is part of Gateway National Recreation Area (US National Park Service). Unlike JBWR, which is methodically monitored by rangers and park police, Plum Beach has been referred to by some rangers as "The Wild West" as there is little enforcement ever seen here. Protection for the migrating birds that use it as a resting/feeding stopover is nearly non-existent and these animals face a gauntlet of challenges:

- Until recently there was a large feral cat colony (although a few cats still persist).
- Kite surfers ply the waters at the edge of the beach during migration, chasing off bird flocks.
- Despite warning signs near the parking lot, illegal poachers can be frequently found harvesting shellfish on the exposed mudflats where birds are attempting to feed.
- At the protected inner marsh fisherman regularly use large nets to capture "bait fish".
- Every day dozens of dog owners illegally run their pets offleash allowing them to chase already exhausted shorebirds.

In spite of all the troubling conditions at Plum Beach, Brooklyn birders managed to tally an impressive 27 species of shorebirds. To put that in perspective, world renowned birding hotspot Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge counted 31 species of shorebird. The four species seen there that were missed by Plum Beach were American Avocet, Long-billed Dowitcher, American Woodcock and Wilson's Phalarope. I could be wrong, but I suspect that the woodcock was spotted along the wooded trail that leads to the East Pond and not actually at the pond. It makes me wonder how much more productive the shorebird activity would be at Plum Beach should the National Park Service made an effort to enforce the existing laws intended to protect the environment and wildlife in this national park.

On a more positive note, the highlight shorebird species observed at Plum Beach in 2014 was a Ruff. This Eurasian shorebird breeds in sub-Arctic and Arctic tundra meadows in northern Europe and Siberia and is known to occasionally stray into North America. This sandpiper has been seen around Long Island several times over the past 20 years, three times at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge since 2006. The individual seen and photographed by Bobbi Manian at Plum Beach was a first time sighting for Kings County.

I can't wait to see what we will find this year.

Below is last year's shorebird list from Plum Beach.

**********

Plum Beach 2014 Sightings (180 species +29 other taxa)
Shorebirds List:

1) American Oystercatcher
2) Black-bellied Plover
3) American Golden-Plover
4) Semipalmated Plover
5) Piping Plover
6) Killdeer
7) Spotted Sandpiper
8) Greater Yellowlegs
9) Willet
10) Lesser Yellowlegs
11) WHIMBREL
12) HUDSONIAN GODWIT
13) MARBLED GODWIT
14) Ruddy Turnstone
15) Red Knot
16) RUFF*
17) Stilt Sandpiper
18) Sanderling
19) Dunlin
20) BAIRD'S SANDPIPER
21) Least Sandpiper
22) White-rumped Sandpiper
23) BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER
24) Pectoral Sandpiper
25) Semipalmated Sandpiper
26) Western Sandpiper
27) Short-billed Dowitcher

...Read more

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, January 17, 2015 to Sunday, January 18, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, January 17, 2015, 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.

Sunday, January 18, 2015, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Birding: Winter Birds
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. Urban Park Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle. The Rangers offer birding programs throughout the year and are appropriate for all skill levels - beginners are welcome. Enjoy learning about the birds that call New York City parks home for the winter months. The tour will begin promptly at 11 am, and tours may vary in length.
Free

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday January 17, 2015
The NY State Waterfowl count
http://www.nybirds.org/ProjWaterfowl.htm
For more information at end of this year, 2014, contact Region 10 (Long Island) Coordinator: Ron Bourque, email ron.jean11@verizon.net
Focus: water birds and ducks survey of Brooklyn and western Queens locations
Contact for team setup: Peter Dorosh, Email Prosbird@aol.com or TEXT Message 347-622-3559

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, January 17, 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, January 18, 2015, 12pm – 2pm
Winter EcoCruise
Guide: NYC Audubon Guide Meet at South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 and come aboard NY Water Taxi’s eco-friendly vessel for a winter adventure in New York Harbor! Look for harbor seals on the rocky shores of Governor’s Island and the more remote Hoffman and Swinburne Islands. Learn about the surprisingly diverse winter birds of New York City, including ducks, geese, loons, and sandpipers, many of which migrate south from the Arctic. See the Statue of Liberty and pass under the Verrazano Bridge. Dress warmly! . Limited to 90.
To register, contact New York Water Taxi at 212-742-1969 or www.nywatertaxi.com. $35 for adults; $25 for children under 12; $105 for family pack for 2 adults and 2 children

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, January 17, 2015, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop between Moses Mountain and SeaView
Meet in the Nevada Avenue parking lot at High Rock Park. If you arrive late, walk to the first bend of the entry road, follow the Yellow Trail past Moses Mountain. Take the unmarked trail to the right toward SeaView where we will uproot the alien Devil’s Walking Stick and cut Oriental Wisteria vines. If you don’t have your own, Protectors will supply tools, gloves 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.

Sunday, January 18, 2015, noon to 2 p.m.
Where It All Began – Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve (1975 – 2015)
40 years ago three like-minded men decided that the unique freshwater wetlands and woodlands we know as Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve must be preserved from development. During the preservation of this unique blend of ecosystems those three men created Protectors of Pine Oak Woods. Join with Cliff Hagen to celebrate 40 years of Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and the preservation of Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve. Participants will gather in the Nature Center located at 2351 Veterans Road West. After a brief discussion, we will walk the trails, enjoy the quiet of winter woods and visit areas of the park currently pressured by development. Light refreshments will be available.
For more information call Cliff Hagen at 718-313-8591 or email chagen72@gmail.com.

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Queens County Bird Club
Sunday, January 18, 2015, 8am
Montauk, Long Island
Leader: Ian Resnick 917-626-9562
Meet at Montauk Point

MINI TRIPS: Break after lunch +/-
ALL DAY TRIPS: BYO lunch, dinner out. {optl}
WEEKEND TRIPS: Two + days / Overnight
MONTHLY MEETINGS: Presentation with speaker {except July and Aug}

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, January 17, 2015
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, January 18, 2015
Birding: Winter Birds at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
11:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle. We offer birding programs…
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, January 10, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, January 9, 2015:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Jan. 09, 2015
* NYNY1501.09

- Birds mentioned
PINK-FOOTED GOOSE+
BARNACLE GOOSE+
COUCH'S KINGBIRD+
CASSIN'S KINGBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Greater White-fronted Goose
Cackling Goose
Tundra Swan
Eurasian Wigeon
Green-winged Teal (Eurasian form "Common Teal")
KING EIDER
HARLEQUIN DUCK
Red-necked Grebe
Little Blue Heron
Bald Eagle
Northern Goshawk
Pectoral Sandpiper
American Woodcock
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Lesser Black-backed Gull
GLAUCOUS GULL
DOVEKIE
Razorbill
Snowy Owl (not reported)
Eastern Phoebe
House Wren
Marsh Wren
BOHEMIAN WAXWING
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Vesper Sparrow
Lincoln's 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, January 9th 2015 at 6pm. The highlights of today's tape are COUCH'S KINGBIRD, CASSIN'S KINGBIRD, PINK-FOOTED GOOSE, BARNACLE GOOSE, HARLEQUIN DUCK, KING EIDER, BLACK-HEADED GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, DOVEKIE and BOHEMIAN WAXWING.

There are spaces available on Sunday's pelagic trip out of Freeport if interested call See Life Paulagics at (215) 234-6805 < http://www.paulagics.com/site/ >.

The COUCH'S KINGBIRD, one of Manhattan's most celebrated current residents, continues in lower Manhattan at least through Thursday. Recently it has been most frequently found around and just east of the intersections of West 4th Street and West 11th Street with 4th Street going north/south in that area. As it does move around other locations to check would be Abingdon Square Park at 8th Avenue and Hudson and Bleecker Streets and along Washington Street between Jane and Horatio Streets.

The CASSIN'S KINGBIRD at Floyd Bennett Field was last reported from the community garden on Monday and it may not have fared well during this frigid spell as it had been showing signs of weakening even before this week.

The PINK-FOOTED GOOSE has been fairly consistently visiting the fields on the east side of Doctor's Path north of Reeve's Avenue and south of Sound Avenue since January 1st this north of Riverhead. Among the many Canadas have also been a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED and CACKLING GEESE. The BARNACLE GOOSE continues in the Farmingdale area seen either at St. Charles Cemetery off Wellwood Avenue or on the private Colonial Springs Golf Course just northeast of the cemetery. It has also been noted at the overnight roost at Belmont Lake State Park to the east where the geese, including up to four GREATER WHITE-FRONTEDS and CACKLING, leave fairly early in the morning depending on the conditions usually returning as darkness settles in.

The Southern Nassau Christmas Count last Saturday recorded 133 species highlights including 3 HARLEQUIN DUCKS, a female KING EIDER, a RED-NECKED GREBE, a PECTORAL SANDPIPER, displaying AMERICAN WOODCOCK, a LITTLE BLUE HERON, an immature BLACK-HEADED GULL, 3 RAZORBILLS, 2 NORTHERN GOSHAWKS, BALD EAGLE, EASTERN PHOEBE, 4 MARSH and one HOUSE WREN, 1 LAPLAND LONGSPUR, ORANGE-CROWNED and NASHVILLE WARBLERS at Massapequa Preserve and 2 COMMON YELLOWTHROATS. A SNOWY OWL at Jones Beach West End had been pushed around so much prior to the count that it could not be found count day. Two HARLEQUIN DUCKS and a KING EIDER are usually at the Point Lookout jetties the eider moving around with a flock of Commons. The BLACK-HEADED GULL hanging around Jones Inlet has been seen at the Jones Beach field 10 fishing piers and around the Coast Guard Station at Jones Beach West End.

Another BLACK-HEADED GULL, an adult, has been frequenting Setauket Harbor on Long Island's north shore. Two exciting reports were 4 DOVEKIES moving by Shinnecock Inlet early last Saturday and then a BOHEMIAN WAXWING spotted Thursday with Starlings and Robins in a yard in Miller Place on Long Island's north shore. Consistent with its name a BOHEMIAN could appear almost anywhere but usually doesn't.

Two TUNDRA SWANS were still on Hook Pond in East Hampton last weekend and 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were along Route 114 in East Hampton Sunday these sometimes seen around Hook Pond and a few other WHITE-FRONTS are also in the area. The EURASIAN WIGEON at the Mill Pond in Centerport has this week been joined by a Eurasian form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL. Among the several EURASIAN WIGEON present recently have been males off the Tottenville Train Station on Staten Island, at Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn, at Saint John's Pond in Cold Spring Harbor, at Mill Pond in Bellmore, on Patchogue Lake and two at the West Sayville Golf Course. Two RED-NECKED GREBES and 2 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were around Coney Island Creek in Brooklyn recently, the GLAUCOUS GULL remains at Shinnecock Inlet. There have been at least six reports of EASTERN PHOEBES since last weekend and a few ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS are also still being found while VESPER and LINCOLN'S SPARROWS were spotted at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island 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.

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday, January 09, 2015

Brooklyn's 2014 Bird Highlights

Another year of birding is behind us with lots of great avian experiences to reflect on and share with friends. Since Brooklyn is the patch where I focus most of my birdwatching I've decided to spend a few minutes recounting some of the more memorable county sightings. The birds mentioned range from "state rarity" and "first county record" to just scarce in Kings County.

January

The irruption of Snowy Owls into New York City that began at the end of November 2013 continued into 2014's New Year. The "Polar Vortex" of that season likely made these beautiful arctic owls feel right at home as they attempted to make a living within various habitats throughout the entire Northeast. In Brooklyn they were seen at Bergen Beach, Coney Island Creek Park, Dead Horse Bay, Floyd Bennett Field, Marine Park, Ruffle Bar and on the capped landfills at Fountain and Pennsylvania Avenues. They didn't begin to head back towards the arctic until the middle of March.

Red-necked Grebes are scarce during the winter in the coastal waters of Brooklyn. One or two are usually seen every year. However, 2014 saw a huge incursion of these medium-sized diving birds into our coastal waters. The unusually long period of cold weather froze over 92% of the Great Lakes. The Red-necked Grebe is one of several water birds that overwinter on the Great Lakes. This loss of habitat killed many birds and forced many other farther south. In 2014 rather than seeing one or two grebes along Brooklyn's coast birders were actually seeing flocks. The highest number came on February 18th when my friend Shane spotted 20 together off the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Red-necked Grebes were reported around the borough until the beginning of April.

Another excellent bird seen in Brooklyn in January was Cackling Goose. Not surprising it was spotted by human bird magnet Doug Gochfeld on January 4th in Coney Island Creek. A second one was observed at the end of November in Prospect Park by my friend Sean.

January is an excellent time to look at gulls, not just because there isn't much else to look at, but also because of their increased abundance and the likelihood of picking out a European vagrant or North American rarity. The running joke amongst my circle of local birders is that if a rare gull is around, our friend Shane Blodgett will be the one to find it. On January 24th he did just that, finding a Common Mew Gull on the Veterans Memorial Pier roosting among hundreds of the very similar Ring-billed Gull. That bird was seen for only three days.

Another really nice gull for the year was a young Iceland Gull. Initially spotted on the beach at Coney Island, it was seen along Coney Island, Coney Island Creek and Gravesend Bay for the duration of the month. A final sighting was reported on Prospect Lake in March.

Some of you may remember my crazy effort to chase a Brooklyn Glaucous Gull back on December 24, 2013. Ironically, that individual ended up remaining around the coast through the New Year and was even spotted at late as May 7th on Coney Island Creek by Heydi, Keir and I while doing a Big Spring Birding Day.

One final note about Brooklyn's January birds was the continuing presence of two young Red-headed Woodpeckers in Green-Wood Cemetery. While this beautiful woodpecker is occasionally seen passing through the area during migration, it is extremely rare for them to overwinter in the borough. During the fall migration an unusually high number of them were reported around the city. While doing a hawkwatch from the highest point in the cemetery on November 4th, I watched one red-headed as it flew in from the north, landing in a tree not far from my perch. In November the first year bird was still sporting brown feathers on its head, so it was really nice to watch this and a second cemetery bird developing their signature brilliant red plumage over the months. When the month of May rolled around and spring migration was in full swing the two Green-Wood Cemetery woodpeckers disappeared, presumably heading back north to find a mate and nest.


March

February was a fairly quiet month for rarities in Brooklyn, but March saw a good bird near the Verrazano Bridge. Unfortunately it was less than a one-day-wonder and more like a one hour bird. While birding from the Veteran's Memorial Bridge on March 5th, Shane spotted a Thick-billed Murre. Normally this is a species that is seen far offshore during pelagic birding trips. To his credit, Shane managed to take a few identifiable photographs before this small black and white bird disappeared.


April

On April 14th, while birding in Prospect Park, Jennifer Kepler spotted and photographed a Swallow-tailed Kite. The bird was flying high over the park's "Lullwater". To my knowledge, this was only the second record of this raptor of the southeastern United States. I'm not sure if this bird has been expanding its range farther north, but it seems ridiculously far from the expected breeding range.


May

May brings thousands (if not millions) of north-bound migrants through the County of Kings. Besides the annual wave of colorful singing birds it also brings hopes and expectations for a rare avian prize. Last year a few of the local birders got lucky and added a check or two to their lists. Here are the top honors.

While birding near the Maryland Monument in Prospect Park on May 2nd, my friend Keir looked up into the sky at exactly the right moment...when a Black-necked Stilt was passing overhead. Here is how he described the moment on his eBird checklist:

"Rare for Brooklyn and I think a first for Prospect Park. At around 7.30am at the Maryland Steps, Lookout Hill. I picked up the bird to the south, flying medium high towards the north. When I put my bins on it I was amazed to see a black and white shorebird with long bright trailing red legs! I knew instantly that it was this species. I got off two shots, the better of which is pretty bad but possibly acts as a record shot just based on shape."

Two days later, during a Brooklyn Bird Club lead trip to Green-Wood Cemetery, a Chuck-will's-widow was spotted resting in the open on top of a headstone. The next day it (or a different one) was heard calling in Prospect Park by Doug Gochfeld, Heydi Lopes and Sean Sime. They phoned me and I rode my bike into the park where I found the bird still singing loudly from the darkness of the park's Breeze Hill. I wrote about the experience here. This was actually the second time I'd experienced one of these rarely seen birds in Brooklyn and the first time I'd actually heard one.

Kites are rarely seen in Brooklyn, primarily because New York City doesn't fall within their range. It is for that reason that lightning striking twice for Jennifer Kepler seemed so unlikely. But strike it did on May 10th while she was birding in Green-Wood Cemetery and looked up to see (this time) a Mississippi Kite. The next day five birder's paths randomly converged at the Crescent Water, a pond in the cemetery. While discussing this unlikely bit of luck, I looked up only to spot a Mississippi Kite. That night I received a three word text of disbelief from one of the five that I still keep on my phone. Censored for this post, it simple reads, "A f*****g kite!"


August

Royal Terns are not so much rare in New York City as rarely seen in Brooklyn. This very large tern is primarily seen along the Gulf Coast and southern Atlantic Coast. Terns in general are known as wanderers and royals appear mostly on the south shore of Long Island regularly. 2014 saw sporadic appearances of between 2 and 3 of these impressive seabirds around Dead Horse Bay, Plum Beach and Coney Island beginning on August 10th with one late sighting on November 17th.

For reasons that will become obvious later in this blog, Plum Beach became the place to find unusual birds in 2014. While it has always been one of the best places to look for shorebirds in Brooklyn, a couple of other species shined a spotlight on this tiny spit of remnant beach on the bay. The first occurred on August 29th when Shane Blodgett sent out word that he was looking at a King Eider a short distance from the shore. I wrote a brief description of the event in this posting. Fortunately the bird stuck around for three days and was seen by several people. As far as I've been able to determine, this was only the third record of this large seaduck in Brooklyn.


September

September can be a month for unexpected vagrants species around New York City and last year one showed up. When my phone chimed with a bird alert on the 20th I was more surprised by the species of bird than by the person who found it. My friend Shane was at it again, this time he had spotted a Western Kingbird hawking for insects at the edge of the water in Calvert Vaux Park. Several of the borough's regular weekend birding warriors were relatively close by, so Shane kept an eye on the bird until we all arrived. This was the second record for the borough, the first being two years earlier, spotted by me in Prospect Park.


October

The month of October began with Shane Blodgett pulling yet another great rarity out of his bag of avian tricks. I was starting to think he had a menagerie of wild birds caged at home that he released during slow birding periods. This time it was a Northern Wheatear which he found foraging along the edge of the dunes at Plum Beach. Shane explained to me that the long stretch of sustained northeast winds at the time motivated him to look for possible vagrants from northeastern Canada, such as a wheatear. So I guess he didn't have this one in a cage at home. A first for Brooklyn (and NYC), this bird remained in the area for six days and was enjoyed by several dozen people.

Another relatively rare bird seen during the month was a Grasshopper Sparrow in Prospect Park. This lovely sparrow used to breed in the grasslands at Floyd Bennett Field, but is now quite rare around New York City, being observed in Brooklyn only three times in the past seven years. In addition to one seen in Prospect Park on the 20th an second was spotted in the recently created Brooklyn Bridge Park on November 13th by Heather Wolf. Declining numbers of this bird in New York State now have it listed as a species of "Special Concern".


November/December

Without question the big news for Brooklyn in 2014 came on November 15th when birder Kai Sheffield reported finding a Cassin's Kingbird at Floyd Bennett Field. This flycatcher of western North American rangelands and savannas winters from Southern California to northern Central America. It had only been seen in New York State once before in 2007 in Montauk. In fact, there have only been three other records of this species in the northeastern United States outside of New York. Needless to say, a lot of people went in search of the bird the following day. It wasn't until a week later that it was relocated at Floyd Bennett Field next to the community garden. Incredible, it has remained in that general area until as recently as January 5th. The current stretch of extremely cold weather will be a challenge for this bird's continued survival.

Not nearly as rare, but still a great find for Brooklyn in 2014 was a Le Conte's Sparrow. It was spotted by my birding-partner-in-crime Heydi Lopes on November 30th at Floyd Bennett Field. Ironically, she found it along a grassy stretch at the edge of Jamaica Bay where we had located one on October 6, 2012. I wrote about it here. Since that day we'd always referred to that area of the park as "The Le Conte's Spot". An extremely skulky, hard to see bird, the individual she found last year was extremely cooperative, sticking around for two days and giving really good views to several dozen lucky birders.

Then the Snowy Owls returned.

Cornell's eBird website lists Kings County as recording 275 species (+66 other taxa) in 2014. You can see the entire breakdown of species in bar chart format here.

Just one final note. I've purposely left a few shorebirds off this summary as I will be following up shortly with a posting just on the 2014 shorebird sightings of Plum Beach. Here's to good birding in 2015.
...Read more

Friday's Foto


Despite the title of this weekly feature, I decided to post a video clip rather than a still photo. The Snow Bunting is one of my favorite arctic visitors to Brooklyn during the winter months. Feeding primarily on seeds in low, stubbly grass habitats along the coast I enjoy watching their methodical, hyperactive feeding behavior ... which is not something that comes across well in a photograph. This circumpolar breeder related to longspurs is divided into four subspecies worldwide. While currently listed a species of "Least Concern" by the IUCN, the 2014 State of the Birds Report listed this U.S.-Canada Stewardship species as a Common Bird in Steep Decline.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

Could We Lose the Monarch Butterfly?

The following article is from the Washington Post:

The monarch butterfly might end up on the endangered species list this year
By Abby Ohlheiser December 31, 2014

After conservationists warned that the monarch butterfly's population is declining in a "deadly free fall," the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are reviewing a proposal to include it on the endangered species list, the federal agency announced this week.

Over the past 20 years, the monarch population has fallen by as much as 90 percent, according to the Center for Biological Diversity - one of the groups that petitioned the federal agency for a review. Monarchs are known for their distinctive orange and black markings, but also for their yearly, seemingly grueling, migrations. The butterflies fly thousands of miles from Canada, through the U.S., and down to Mexico, each year.

"This journey has become more perilous for many monarchs," U.S. Fish and Wildlife said in its announcement, "because of threats along their migratory paths and on their breeding and wintering grounds." A particular concern? The dwindling supply of the monarch caterpillar's only foods source: milkweed. In the Midwest, where the species breeds, the caterpillar's food source is increasingly doused in powerful pesticides used on industrial corn and soybean farms.


via NASA: "The white line indicates the boundaries of the reserve’s “Core Zone,” where logging is forbidden according to the Presidential decree that established the reserve in November 2000. This pair of images shows the affected area on March 22, 2004 (top) and February 23, 2008 (below). "

Also petitioning the agency for a review: the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and arguably the world's most established monarch butterfly expert, Lincoln Brower. Brower has been tracking the species for decades.

In an interview with the Washington Post earlier this year, Brower said that the "most catastrophic thing from the point of view of the monarch butterfly has been the expansion of crops that are planted on an unbelievably wide scale throughout the Midwest and have been genetically manipulated to be resistant to the powerful herbicide Roundup."

Brower also mentioned two additional negative factors on the butterflies' population: severe weather over the past few years, and illegal deforestation in the overwintering habitat for the adult butterflies in Mexico. Their habitat, the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, is protected, but still threatened by illegal loggers. The satellite imagery at right gives a good visual representation of the continued erosion of the habitat.

If the monarchs go extinct, Brower said, it would be "just like going into a museum and pulling a rare painting off the wall and destroying it." In the petition to protect the monarch, its advocates write that the monarch "has played a unique and prominent role in the imagination of our country, especially so for an insect."

Among other things, the petition reads, "millions of school children have reared monarchs in classrooms and learned about metamorphosis by watching the caterpillars transform." It is also the official state butterfly of at least seven U.S. states.

It will take the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services a year to review the petition for the monarch's inclusion on the endangered species list. The first step of that process is a 60-day information gathering process. Among other things, the agency will look for information on the butterflies' population trends, habitat requirements and genetics; its current distribution patterns; the monarch's "microclimate requirements;" and past and current conservation measures, the announcement says.

Once that review is completed, one of three things will happen: the agency might determine that protection is "not warranted" in the monarch's case. Or, if the data supports protection, the agency could propose protection under the Endangered Species Act. A third option places the species on a sort of waiting list, referred to by the agency as "warranted but precluded," meaning that officials will continue to evaluate the petition on a yearly basis.
...Read more

Monday, January 05, 2015

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, January 10, 2015 to Sunday, January 11, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, January 10, 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.

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Jones Beach, Long Island
Leader: Steve Nanz
Focus: Coastal winter birds and waterfowl, gulls, raptors
Car fee: $25.00
Registrar: Heidi Steiner-Nanz email heidi.steiner@verizon.net or call before 8 pm 718- 369-2116
Registration Period: Dec 30th -Jan 8th Mar 4 - Mar 13

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Jones Beach and Point Lookout
Leader: Richard ZainEldeen
Registrar: Sandra Maury – sandramaury39@gmail.com or 212-874-4881
Registration opens: Monday, December 29, 2014
Ride: $25

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Littoral Society
Friday, January 9 - Sunday, January 11, 2015
Montauk Winter Weekend
With our friends and partners at NYC Audubon, join us for a weekend of seals, seabirds and hikes on the shorelines and woods of Montauk during peak birding time. Visit the "Walking Dunes", historic Montauk lighthouse and bluffs, Camp Hero and Napeague forest and dunes.

Hikes and nature walks will be led by Chapter Director and noted naturalist, Don Riepe.

Trip Cost: $395.00 per person, double occupancy. $120 extra for single occupancy (total $515.00). If you would like us to match you with another same sex attendee for the double occupancy room rate, please contact us.

Price includes 2 nights at the stately Montauk Manor House (with heated pool and jacuzzi), 5 meals, 5 guided hikes and 2 evening programs.
For information and reservations call our Northeast Chapter Office at (718) 474-0896 or NEChapter@littoralsociety.org

Visit our Eventbrite page! montaukwinterweekend.evenbrite.com

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, January 10, 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

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New York City Audubon Society
Sunday, January 11, 2015, 9:30am – 11:30am
Winter 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.
Advanced registration is recommended, either online at www.wavehill.org, at the Perkins Visitor Center, or by calling 718-549-3200 x251. (Walks run rain or shine; in case of severe weather call the number above for updates.) Ages 10 and up welcome with an adult. NYC Audubon members enjoy two-for-one admission

Winter EcoCruise
Sunday, January 11, 2015, 12pm – 2pm
Guide: NYC Audubon Guide Meet at South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 and come aboard NY Water Taxi’s eco-friendly vessel for a winter adventure in New York Harbor! Look for harbor seals on the rocky shores of Governor’s Island and the more remote Hoffman and Swinburne Islands. Learn about the surprisingly diverse winter birds of New York City, including ducks, geese, loons, and sandpipers, many of which migrate south from the Arctic. See the Statue of Liberty and pass under the Verrazano Bridge. Dress warmly! . Limited to 90.
To register, contact New York Water Taxi at 212-742-1969 or www.nywatertaxi.com. $35 for adults; $25 for children under 12; $105 for family pack for 2 adults and 2 children

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, January 10, 2015, 9:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Protectors’ Annual Winter 10-Mile Greenbelt Walk
Come join others who enjoy a cold day outdoors. Ten moderate miles at a comfortable pace. We meet at the Greenbelt Nature Center, 700 Rockland Avenue at Brielle Avenue. Bring lunch and beverage and sturdy walking shoes. Dress warmly in layers. We go in all weather. Come see what the winter woodland has to offer: winter birds, bare forest trees, frozen ponds, evergreens and possibly some snow cover to detect deer visits, and always beautiful vistas.
For more information, call Dominic Durso at 917-478-7607 or Don Recklies at 718-768-9036.

Saturday, January 10, 2015, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve
Interested in writing about Nature? Join Gert Coleman to walk the trails, listen to the birds, and observe the wonders of old clay pits reclaimed by nature. Bring a notebook to record your thoughts. Meet in the visitors parking lot along Veterans Road West. Dress warmly.
For more information, call Gert at 718-356-9235 or e-mail gert.coleman@verizon.net.

Saturday, January 10, 2015, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Buck’s Hollow and Heyerdahl Hill
Located in the Greenbelt, Heyerdahl Hill is nestled in an impressive stretch of woodland, holding ruins of a stone home built in the 1800s and plants and trees rarely seen in urban woodlands. We’ll meet at the stone wall on Meisner Avenue, located by the intersection of Rockland Avenue and Meisner Avenue – http://goo.gl/maps/YP1HI. Parking is available along the road to Eger Nursing Home.
For more information, call John Paul Learn at 718-619-5051 or e-mail john.paul.learn@gmail.com

Sunday, January 11, 2015, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Long Pond Park
We’ll explore Long Pond Park, keeping an eye out for local White-tailed deer and for some of the recently planted reforestation areas of the park. Long Pond is an uncommon mixture of woodland and wetland, providing a peaceful home to a diverse range of wildlife. It is one of the truly idyllic areas in all of New York, covering over 100 acres. Meet for the walk at the corner of Eugene St. and Adelphi Avenue, right by the intersection of Page Avenue and Amboy Road – http://goo.gl/maps/UCsFg. Parking is available on Eugene Street.
For more information, call John Paul Learn at 718-619-5051 or e-mail john.paul.learn@gmail.com.

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Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Point Lookout
Leader: John Collins 908-581-4976 8am

MINI TRIPS: Break after lunch +/-
ALL DAY TRIPS: BYO lunch, dinner out. {optl}
WEEKEND TRIPS: Two + days / Overnight
MONTHLY MEETINGS: Presentation with speaker {except July and Aug}

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, January 10, 2015
Birding: Eagles at Payson Park House (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
9:00 a.m.
Winter is a spetacular season in which to observe bald eagles through New York City parks. Join us for this early morning program and enjoy learning more about their natural history.
Free!

Family Birdwatching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Looking for a fun way to spend time with your family outdoors? Join the Prospect Park Alliance for its monthly family bird watching tours.
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, January 11, 2015
Winter Birding at Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
9:30 a.m.–10:30 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!
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Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope