Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Treehugger Tuesday

From Mother Nature Network website:

Popular pesticides cause major damage to bees, new study shows
Two decades after approving imidacloprid, the EPA is re-examining how this and other 'neonicotinoid' pesticides affect beneficial insects.
Russell McLendon
August 19, 2016, 6:20 a.m.

Using 18 years of data collected from 60 species of bees, researchers in England found that bees who frequent pesticide-treated crops have had more severe declines in population than bee species who forage on other plants, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. The study, researchers say, provides evidence that being exposed to a pesticide known as imidacloprid can cause major damage to bees.

In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned in a "preliminary risk assessment" that bee colonies could be in danger from imidacloprid — a statement that came 22 years after the EPA approved imidacloprid, one of five neonicotinoid insecticides increasingly linked to the collapse of bee colonies.

Imidacloprid is now widely used to kill crop pests, but it can also leave a toxic residue on plants pollinated by bees. The EPA offers a new threshold for that residue of 25 parts per billion (ppb), above which it says effects "are likely to be seen" in bees.

Bees have been dying in droves across North America and Europe for about a decade, a plague known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). Scientists have found several possible culprits, including invasive varroa mites and loss of natural habitat, but many also point to neonicotinoids and other pesticides as a likely factor.

Neonicotinoids were developed in the 1980s to mimic nicotine, a toxic alkaloid made by some plants in the nightshade family. They're popular partly because they have low toxicity to humans and other mammals, yet are powerful neurotoxins to a wide range of insects. After a patent was filed for imidacloprid in 1986, the EPA approved its use in 1994. Now marketed mainly by Bayer and Syngenta, it's sold in a variety of insect killers under brands like Admire, Advantage, Confidor and Provado.

Concerns grew during the 1990s and 2000s, especially after CCD broke out in 2006. The EPA began studying neonicotinoids individually in 2009, an ongoing process that includes the new imidacloprid report plus more updates due by 2017. The agency has tried to restrict some neonicotinoids in the meantime, with a proposal to not spray when crops are in bloom and a plan to stop approving new uses until risk reviews are complete. The European Union also temporarily banned the pesticides in 2013, as have some major cities like Montreal and Portland, Oregon.

"EPA is committed not only to protecting bees and reversing bee loss, but for the first time assessing the health of the colony for the neonicotinoid pesticides," says Jim Jones, assistant administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in a press release. "Using science as our guide, this preliminary assessment reflects our collaboration with the State of California and Canada to assess the results of the most recent testing required by EPA."

Imidacloprid may exceed 25 ppb in the pollen and nectar of certain plants, according to the EPA report, such as citrus and cotton. Plants like corn and leafy greens, however, either have lower residues or don't produce nectar. (A report by Health Canada recently listed similar distinctions in other crops, with potential risk found on tomatoes and strawberries but not melon, pumpkin or blueberry plants.

"Additional data is being generated on these and other crops to help EPA evaluate whether imidacloprid poses a risk to hives," the agency says. The insecticide's top U.S. crop is soybeans, but while the EPA notes soybeans are "attractive to bees via pollen and nectar," it describes their residue risk as uncertain due to unavailable data.


Soybeans are a big reason for recent growth in U.S. imidacloprid use. (Image: U.S. Geological Survey)

In hives exposed to more than 25 ppb, the EPA reports a higher chance of "decreases in pollinators as well as less honey produced." Less honey is bad, but fewer pollinators is worse. Bees pollinate plants that produce a quarter of the food eaten by Americans, accounting for more than $15 billion in increased crop value per year.

CCD has been most apparent in commercially managed honeybees, whose U.S. numbers declined by 42 percent in 2014. But there are also signs of trouble in wild bees, including rare bumblebees and other unheralded native species. These pollinators are important parts of their ecosystems, helping plants reproduce and predators stay well-fed, so losing them could be even costlier than we realize.

Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in January 2016.
...Read more

Monday, August 22, 2016

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, August 27, 2016 to Sunday, August 28, 2016:

Freshkills Park (Staten Island)
Sunday, August 28, 2016, 9:30am
Classic Harbor Line Tour
Cruise on the vibrant waterways of the Kill Van Kull and the Arthur Kill and into the heart of Freshkills Park in Staten Island on one of Classic Harbor Line’s luxury yachts. The AIANY and Freshkills Park planners host this special Classic Harbor Line tour; the only public water tour into the Freshkills waterway.
Sign up at EventBrite

Sunday, August 28, 2016, 10:00am
Nature Hike
Explore normally closed sections of Freshkills Park and learn about the history and ongoing progress of the landfill-to-park project. NYC Parks staff will guide visitors through the park and lead a discussion on the many topics surrounding Freshkills Park, including urban ecology, waste management, and park design.
The group will meet at Schmul Playground (at the corner Wild Avenue and Melvin Avenue) and shuttle into Freshkills Park from there.
Sign Up at EventBrite

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Gateway National Recreation Area

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 06/04/2016 to 09/03/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introduction to this fun hobby. Learn the basics of birding. Bring binoculars and a field guide or borrow them from wildlife refuge!
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/28/2016 9:30AM to 11:30AM
Camp Gateway Walk-up and Paddle
Try kayaking! Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservation required. Bring a snack, water and sunscreen.
Bus: Q35
Location: Floyd Bennett Field – Brooklyn, Seaplane Ramp
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: 718-338-3799

Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/27/2016 1:00PM to 3:30PM
Canarsie Walk-up and Paddle
Kayak tryouts for those who have never done it before. Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservations required.
Location: Canarsie Pier, Brooklyn
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: (718)338-3799

Saturday, August 27, 2016, 10:00AM to 1:00PM
Fall Migration Hike - Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free
Meet for a slide program and walk around the ponds to look for migrating warblers and shorebirds. Leader: Don Riepe. This is a partnership program with the American Littoral Society and NYC Audubon.
2 miles.

Every Sunday Weekly from 06/05/2016 to 09/04/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Fort Tilden Bunkers Walking Tour
Join a Park Ranger for an exploration of Fort Tilden's gun batteries, and find out about the fort's role in the defense of New York Harbor.
1 mile.
Location: Fort Tilden-Building 1
Fee Information: Free

**********

Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Sunday, August 28, 2016 - 9:00AM
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Shorebird Walk
Bring your muck boots as we will walk around the East Pond looking for shorebirds and other interesting migrants. Jamaica Bay is known for its world-class shorebirding.
Registration: 631-885-1881 or email aveblue@gmail.com

Directions: Belt Pkwy to exit 17S, Cross Bay Blvd South, and head south. After crossing the bridge, look for parking lot entrance on the right side, 1.25 miles from the bridge. Turn right at the traffic light and meet in the parking lot.

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Linnaean Society of New York
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Eastern Long Island Summer Specialties and Ocean Watch
Leader: Doug Futuyma
Registrar: Lenore Swenson — lenoreswenson@gmail.com or 212-533-9567
Registration opens: Monday August 1
Ride: $40

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, August 27, 2016, 8-10:30am
Prospect Park Bird Walk
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Meet under the arch in Grand Army Plaza. Join Gabriel Willow for a leisurely walk to get to know the summer bird residents of 'Brooklyn's Back Yard', beautiful Prospect Park. Although birding in the summertime in NYC can be a bit slow, Prospect Park has a wide variety of habitats that attracts a number of breeding bird species. We will explore the park's meadows, forests, and waterways in search of nesting waterfowl, green herons, barn swallows, yellow warblers, baltimore orioles, and some of the other species that call the park home. Limited to 15. $33 (23)
Click here to register

Sunday, August 28, 2016, 10am-1pm
Fall Migration Bird Walk
Guide: Don Riepe with the American Littoral Society
Days are getting shorter and birds are heading south. Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge for a hike around the east and west ponds and gardens to look for warblers, tanagers, shorebirds, and many other species. For info and reservations call (718) 474-0896 or e-mail: donriepe@gmail.com. Free

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Hempstead Lake State Park

All walks start at 9:00 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

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Urban Park Rangers
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Hallett Nature Sanctuary at Hallett Nature Sanctuary (in Central Park), Manhattan
11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
During these limited hours, visitors can explore the normally-closed Hallett Sanctuary at their own pace along the rustic trail.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, August 20, 2016

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, August 19, 2016:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Aug. 19, 2016
* NYNY1608.19

- Birds mentioned

BRIDLED TERN+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Virginia Rail
SORA
AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER
Whimbrel
HUDSONIAN GODWIT
MARBLED GODWIT
Stilt Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Lesser Black-backed Gull
GULL-BILLED TERN
CASPIAN TERN
Black Tern
Royal Tern
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Common Nighthawk
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
Bank Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Ovenbird
Worm-eating Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Nashville Warbler
MOURNING WARBLER
KENTUCKY WARBLER
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Canada Warbler
Bobolink

- 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, August 19th 2016 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are BRIDLED TERN, BLACK-HEADED GULL, AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, MARBLED GODWIT, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, GULL-BILLED TERN, CASPIAN TERN, SORA and a nice variety of warblers including GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, MOURNING WARBLER and KENTUCKY WARBLER.

Exceptional this week was a handsome adult BRIDLED TERN that came in to roost at the very celebrated tern colony on Great Gull Island last Saturday evening presumably heading back out to sea soon thereafter. Great Gull is located at the eastern entrance to Long Island Sound and northeast of Orient Point and Plum Island.

What was presumably the same sub-adult BLACK-HEADED GULL that had been present on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge back on the 7th was spotted again last Sunday out in Jamaica Bay by a kayaker birding the bay's islands. Also seen out there were an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER with a flock of Black-bellied Plovers and 2 GULL-BILLED and 7 ROYAL TERNS. Back on the East Pond at the refuge two MARBLED GODWITS appeared at the north end on Wednesday and Thursday morning 3 were present near Deadman's Cove. Hopefully these will remain for the Shorebird Festival on Saturday. A decent number of shorebirds on the East Pond last Sunday included a couple of female WESTERN SANDPIPERS along with a PECTORAL, 5 plus WHITE-RUMPED and 7 STILT SANDPIPERS. Good numbers of shorebirds have remained there through the week. A SORA continues its brief appearances along the East Pond's northwestern edge and a BLACK TERN has been seen sporadically since Saturday at the north end where 2 CASPIAN TERNS, an adult with a juvenile, also visited yesterday. On Wednesday 2 CASPIAN TERNS, perhaps the same two, were spotted at Piermont Pier in Rockland County.

At Jones Beach West End 17 species of shorebirds noted Thursday featured STILT, PECTORAL and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS in the dune pools between the Roosevelt Nature Center and the West End 2 parking lot. Also spotted along the edge of these ponds were a SORA and 1 or 2 VIRGINIA RAILS Thursday and this morning.

A report from Staten Island last Sunday mentioned a very brief visit by an HUDSONIAN GODWIT to the beach at Wolfe's Pond Park in the late afternoon.

On eastern Long Island 2 WHIMBREL were present Saturday on the ocean side at Tiana Beach off Dune Road west of the Ponquogue Bridge and 2 or 3 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were on the same beach through the weekend.

A quite decent number of migrants occurred in the region this week. Many arriving Wednesday and Thursday. Among the non-passerines have been the first few COMMON NIGHTHAWKS and both YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS. Among the passerines have been CLIFF SWALLOW and BANK SWALLOWS and some RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES and BOBOLINKS plus an array of reported flycatchers including single YELLOW-BELLIED and ALDER from Prospect Park and OLIVE-SIDED and ACADIAN in Central Park though as a caveat, in the Fall the empidonax group will seldom provide the appropriate vocalizations to confirm identity.

The variety of warblers reported for the week was rather impressive, about 23 species. The southbound movement does seem to be getting earlier each year. For the more unusual species no details were provided for a KENTUCKY reported last Saturday in Central Park where MOURNING has also been noted and a female GOLDEN-WINGED visited Prospect Park today as did a CAPE MAY. Others, generally in low numbers have included OVENBIRD, WORM-EATING, both LOUISIANA and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES the former getting scarce now, BLUE-WINGED, NASHVILLE, HOODED, NORTHERN PARULA, MAGNOLIA, BLACKBURNIAN, CHESTNUT-SIDED, BLACK-THROATED BLUE, PRAIRIE, CANADA and even one or two YELLOW-RUMPED plus the more widespread BLACK-AND-WHITE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, AMERICAN REDSTART and YELLOW.

The beginning of the hawk season is also upon us so enjoy visiting a local hawk watch site.

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, August 19, 2016

Friday's Photo

While nearly the size of a Green Heron, the Hudsonian Godwit is the smallest and least known of the world’s four godwit species. Like the other species, this large sandpiper's most prominent feature is its long, slightly upturned bill. As with most shorebirds, their diet primarily consists of insects, but also includes crustaceans, marine worms and mollusks. They nest in far northern Canada and Alaska near the treeline in mixed tundra and wetlands.

Scientists are only recently beginning to understand their long migration from the subarctic to southern South America. After the breeding season some Canadian breeders congregate on the southern shores of James Bay then fly at least 2,800 miles nonstop over the Maritime provinces and New England, over the Atlantic and to South America. Read more about their migration from The Center for Conservation Biology godwit study.

Their conservation status via the IUCN Red List is listed as Least Concern. However, there is little information on their population trends. Hudsonian Godwit is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats.

The most likely place to find a rare migrating Hudsonian Godwit around NYC is at the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

The Hudsonian Godwit's scientific name, Limosa haemastica, means, muddy and bloody, the latter presumably referring to the red coloration of their breeding plumage.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Treehugger Tuesday

From University of Washington's "Conservation Magazine":

America is becoming a kinder, gentler place (toward animals, anyway)
8/3/2016

Extraordinary as it might seem amidst the election-season rancor, the United States is becoming a gentler, more inclusive place—at least toward wild animals.

Nearly 40 years ago, ecologist Stephen Kellert conducted a landmark survey of American attitudes toward wildlife. Now researchers have repeated the survey; they found that people in the U.S. generally feel more kindly toward wild animals, in particular those species they once despised.

“The greatest differences were for historically stigmatized species,” wrote the researchers, who were led by environmental scientist Kelly George of Ohio State University and published their findings in the journal Biological Conservation. Among the up-and-comers are sharks, bats, vultures, wolves, and coyotes.

Much has changed since Kellert’s original 1978 survey. The loss of biodiversity has accelerated—not just the extinction of rare species, but the decline of once-common ones. More Americans live in cities and suburbs, where they’re ostensibly disconnected from nature. The science of animal cognition has produced overwhelming evidence for intelligence throughout the animal kingdom, and animal welfare went from a fringe to a mainstream concern.

The latter trend has raised hopes that, if people like animals more, they’ll do more for conservation—and in that regard, the new results are promising. Where people had, on average, felt neutral towards wolves and coyotes, they now feel positive. Sharks, bats, and vultures all vaulted from disliked to neutral or even liked. People are even a bit more welcoming to wasps, rattlesnakes, and rats.

The only species whose reputations dropped substantively are raccoons and swans, though people still quite like them. (For the record, domestic dogs remained America’s most-favored animal, while mosquitos replaced cockroaches as the least-liked.)

That it’s not only the usual charismatic fauna tugging public heartstrings is promising—and, noted the researchers, this change in attitudes is specific to wildlife. Attitudes toward domestic animals didn’t change substantively. It’s not as though wild animals are benefiting from the overflow of a change in heart toward, say, cats and dogs. Something deeper is happening.

George’s team doesn’t claim to understand the exact reasons for this change of heart. They do, however, point to research by social psychologist Michael Manfredo, who has found that Americans are shifting away from an ethos of domination and mastery over nature, instead viewing wildlife “as part of an extended family, and deserving of caring and compassion.”

The trick, says study co-author Jeremy Bruskotter, a conservation policy expert at Ohio State University, will be finding a way to tap into this burgeoning concern. At the state level, most conservation funds still come from sales of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses.

“I think that public support for conservation efforts, as well as efforts to increase the well-being of animals is very high — perhaps as high as it has ever been,” Bruskotter says. “But this won’t translate into more conservation until we have a funding model that isn’t so tied to consumptive forms of outdoor recreation.” —Brandon Keim | 3 August 2016
...Read more

Monday, August 15, 2016

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, August 20, 2016 to Sunday, August 21, 2016 (updated 8/2/16):

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens
Leader: Tom Stephenson
Focus: Peak of shorebird and sandpiper species
Car fee: $12.00
Registrar: Chris Laskowski, email celaskowski@yahoo.com
Registration Period: August 13th–August 18th
Notes: Trip capped at 16 participants; high tide is 11:24am

**********

Freshkills Park (Staten Island)
Sunday, August 21, 2016, 10:00am
Kayak Tour
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 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 tours are limited to participants ages 16 and over, in good health and with basic swimming skills. Be prepared to get wet! Space is very limited.

A $10 donation to the Freshkills Park Alliance is now required with kayak registration. This contribution will help the Alliance continue to provide this program.

Tickets go on sale August 7th. Location provided with registration confirmation.
Sign Up at EventBrite

**********

Gateway National Recreation Area

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 06/04/2016 to 09/03/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introduction to this fun hobby. Learn the basics of birding. Bring binoculars and a field guide or borrow them from wildlife refuge!
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/28/2016 9:30AM to 11:30AM
Camp Gateway Walk-up and Paddle
Try kayaking! Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservation required. Bring a snack, water and sunscreen.
Bus: Q35
Location: Floyd Bennett Field – Brooklyn, Seaplane Ramp
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: 718-338-3799

Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/27/2016 1:00PM to 3:30PM
Canarsie Walk-up and Paddle
Kayak tryouts for those who have never done it before. Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservations required.
Location: Canarsie Pier, Brooklyn
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: (718)338-3799

Every Sunday Weekly from 06/05/2016 to 09/04/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Fort Tilden Bunkers Walking Tour
Join a Park Ranger for an exploration of Fort Tilden's gun batteries, and find out about the fort's role in the defense of New York Harbor.
1 mile.
Location: Fort Tilden-Building 1
Fee Information: Free

**********

Great South Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, August 20, 2016, 9:30am
Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary
Leader: Annette Brownell (631-336-6790)
Call to RSVP and arrange carpooling (parking is limited) Directions can be found at WWW.LIHUMMER.ORG. It is expected of all visitors to do their homework and study the maps, directions, warnings and instructions at www.lihummer.org.

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, August 20, 2016
Jamaica Bay 23rd Annual Tom Davis Memorial Shorebird Walk
Leader: Sean Sime — seansime@seansime.com or 917-324-2735
Registration opens: August 8
Public transportation

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, August 20, 2016 7:30am – 5pm
11th Annual Shorebird Festival at Jamaica Bay with Gateway National Recreation Area and American Littoral Society
During the past 40 years, over 40 species of shorebirds (including rare and accidental vagrants) have been recorded at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s East and West Ponds from mid-July through October, with the greatest diversity and abundance usually occurring in August. We invite you to attend our tenth annual celebration at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, August 20. New this year: activities for the whole family with National Park Service. Click here to see a full schedule of events.

Free bus transportation from Manhattan to Jamaica Bay is available for NYC Audubon members at the Student/Senior level and up. Meet at 71 West 23rd Street at 6:30am. (We will return to 23rd Street by approximately 6pm.) Contact the office at 212-691-7483 x306 to reserve a seat.

For more information, contact NYC Audubon at 212-691-7483 x 306, the American Littoral Society at 718-474-0896, or Don Riepe at donriepe@gmail.com

Thursday, August 18, 2016 6:30-8:30pm (class)
Sunday, August 21, 2016, 10am-2pm (trip)
Shorebird ID Workshop
Guide: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC
Shorebirds are one of the most challenging groups of birds to identify, yet beautiful and fascinating once they can be distinguished. Learn to identify plovers and sandpipers (including "peeps") by learning behavior, field marks, and calls - then take a field trip to Jamaica Bay to practice your new skills. Limited to 12. $65 (45)
Click here to register

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Sunday, August 21, 2016 @ 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Discover Dragonflies with Paul Lederer
Cost: Free
Contact: Paul Lederer 718-354-9200
Dragonflies have been a part of the fauna of this planet long before dinosaurs roamed the earth. Learn about the identification, behavior and biology of these fascinating insects. Bring binoculars if you have them. Participants will meet at the Greenbelt’s Pouch Boy Scout Camp at 1465 Manor Road by the totem poles in the parking lot. For more information contact Paul at his cell phone 718-354-9200.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Hallett Nature Sanctuary at Hallett Nature Sanctuary (in Central Park), Manhattan
11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
During these limited hours, visitors can explore the normally-closed Hallett Sanctuary at their own pace along the rustic trail.
Free!

**********

Young Birders Club
Saturday August 20, 2016
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (Kings/Queens County)
Trip Leader: Tim Healy

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge—part of Gateway National Recreation Area—is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeastern United States and one of the best places in New York City to observe migrating species. Encompassing 9,155 acres, it has hosted more than 330 bird species—nearly half the species in the Northeast—over the last 25 years, making it a must-see for avian enthusiasts. In summer, Jamaica Bay supports breeding populations of more than 70 bird species, including breeding colonies of herons and other long-legged waders, nesting grassland birds and the largest concentration of beach-nesting birds in the Northeast.

The main target for this particular trip will be migrant shorebirds, as well as some nice resident birds: Glossy Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Boat-tailed Grackle, Clapper Rail, etc.

Bring tall waterproof boots, or old sneakers, expecting that said sneakers (and socks and pantlegs) will get quite muddy. There should be a place outside the visitors center where people can hose the mud off their sneakers, etc. afterwards, though since the access point for the East Pond we will probably be using requires a short drive, some trash bags to put the footwear in for the car ride back to the visitors center would probably be a good idea.

Watch your email Inbox for more details!

Permission form due by 8/12/16.
...Read more

Saturday, August 13, 2016

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, August 12, 2016:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Aug. 12, 2016
* NYNY1608.12

- Birds mentioned

BROWN PELICAN
SORA
Piping Plover
WHIMBREL
Stilt Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Royal Tern
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Ovenbird
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
MOURNING WARBLER
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
Canada 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, August 12th 2016 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are BROWN PELICAN, BLACK-HEADED GULL, WHIMBREL and other shorebirds, SORA, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, MOURNING WARBLER and other warblers.

Another relatively uninspiring week did provide another BROWN PELICAN report. This a bird flying just off Halsey Neck Beach east of Shinnecock Inlet last Saturday afternoon. Direction was not specified.

A nice find on the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge last Sunday afternoon was a subadult BLACK-HEADED GULL roosting with mostly Laughing Gulls on the western pond edge south of Deadman's Cove the gull eventually flying south off the pond. Also on the East Pond a SORA was spotted Monday along the phragmites edge at the north end where a GULL-BILLED TERN was also present Saturday. The continuing high water on the East Pond presumably a contributing factor. The number of shorebirds using the pond, even at high tide, has remained somewhat low. One to three STILT SANDPIPERS have been present this week at the north end and an injured PECTORAL SANDPIPER visited the Raunt Sunday afternoon. A good number of SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS provided the bulk of the shorebirds on Sunday but seemed to move on by Monday. A report from today on the pond did indicate some improving numbers with a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 13 STILT SANDPIPER and 2 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS among the 16 species of shorebirds there. Hopefully the water level will sufficiently lower for the Shorebird Festival to be held on Saturday the 20th.

Another notable shorebird this week was a WHIMBREL on the flats at Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes on Monday. The other shorebirds there rather standard.

A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was in the field 2 parking lot at Jones Beach West End last Saturday and a couple of ROYAL TERNS and one or two PIPING PLOVERS were still at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn on Monday and perhaps later.

A trickle of landbird migrants this week was certainly topped by the YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER reported at the Maintenance Meadow in Central Park last Saturday. Always a good find in the city parks at any season. Also unexpected in Central Park was an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER on Monday. Other warblers during the week featured a MOURNING reported Thursday from Central Park as well as such species as OVENBIRD, LOUISIANA and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES, BLUE-WINGED, BLACK-AND-WHITE, AMERICAN REDSTART, YELLOW-RUMPED, CHESTNUT-SIDED, MAGNOLIA, PALM and CANADA.

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, August 12, 2016

Friday's Foto

Shorebirds are now heading south to their wintering grounds with huge numbers stopping to rest and refuel around NYC, most notably, at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The Least Sandpiper in one of the more common (and easily identified) "peeps" encountered.

The smallest of the world's shorebird species, they are not much larger than a sparrow. Their small size, distinctive yellow-green legs and feet make them easy to separate from the more perplexing ID of the similar Baird's, Semipalmated, Western and White-rumped Sandpipers.

Breeding in bogs, boreal forest, sedge meadows and wet tundra from Alaska east across northern Canada to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, they winter from the southern US through the northern half of South America. According to Cornell, "Eastern populations probably fly nonstop over the ocean from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and New England to wintering grounds in northeastern South America, a distance of about 1,800 to 2,500 miles". Their diet consists of small crustaceans, insects and snails. In spring on the Atlantic Coast they also feed on horseshoe crab eggs. The longer billed females supplement their diets with seeds of marsh grasses, including smartweed and panic grass.

The IUCN Red List lists their conservation status as "Least Concern". While their populations appear stable, they may have experienced declines over the last few decades. They are not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List. One of their biggest conservation concerns today is wetland degradation and destruction

Their scientific name, Calidris minutilla, means "grey-coloured water-side bird" mentioned by Aristotle and "very small".

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Recent Sightings Page Update

Just a quick note to let you know that I've fixed the Brooklyn eBird rarities gadget on the "Recent Sightings" page. Apparently there was a bug in the code.

Treehugger Tuesday

From Popular Science:

Nature Videos Make Prisoners Less Violent
Simple intervention could improve mental health of nature-deprived inmates
By Coby McDonald August 5, 2016

Imprisonment in America often means complete seclusion from nature. Take the case of the maximum security inmates at Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon: they spend 23 hours a day locked in 7 X 12 foot concrete cells. The only windows face inside the unit. Four or five times a week they can spend an hour in an exercise yard that is about twenty times smaller than a basketball court. From the yard, prisoners can glimpse the sky—the only "nature" they ever see. And this is typical.

Of course, prisons weren't designed for comfort, and one could argue that access to nature is one of many pleasures that convicted criminals forfeit. But mental illness is a growing problem in prisons, the impacts of which society at large bears when inmates are released. Solitary confinement (a staple of maximum security units) has been shown to cause mental health issues, or when preexisting, exacerbate them. And it turns out that isolation from other human beings might not be the only factor. Researchers in the field of ecopsychology believe that nature deprivation can also damage mental well-being.

That concept resonated with the administrators at Snake River who were struggling to address violence and suicide among their most troubled inmates. The superintendent of the prison, Mark Nooth, encouraged his staff to explore novel solutions.

In 2013, after consulting with a variety of experts, they created a library of 38 nature films that included ocean, forest, and river scenes. The films also included cloud fly-throughs, space images, and even a fireplace with burning logs. They installed a projector in one of the indoor exercise yards and painted the walls blue to improve resolution. Inmates were allowed to choose a nature video to watch during their usual recreation periods.

They called it the Nature Imagery Project, and it seems to be working.

"A basic tenet of the field of ecopsychology is that we need nature for our well-being, physically and psychologically."

Cellblock E of Snake River's Intensive Management Unit is divided into two nearly identical sides. Forty-eight inmates on one side were given access to the videos; those on the other were not. A year into the project, the administrators brought in a team of psychologists to assess the results. The team compared the two groups of Cellblock E inmates, poring over their disciplinary records, observing their behavior, and running psychological tests.

The results were striking. Inmates who watched the nature videos experienced reduced aggression, distress, irritability, and nervousness. And overall they committed 26 percent fewer violent incidents than those who didn't.

"A basic tenet of the field of ecopsychology is that we need nature for our well-being, physically and psychologically," clinical psychotherapist and lead author Patricia Hasbach told Popular Science.

Nature deficit disorder is a term coined by author Richard Louv to describe the impacts, particularly on children, of spending less and less time outdoors. It's fair to say that nowhere are humans more disconnected from the natural world than inside the maximum security unit of a prison. In recent years, numerous studies have suggested that exposure to nature, even just images, can improve mental well-being, lower stress hormones, and even speed up recovery after surgery.

Hasbach was impressed by the results at Snake River, especially the way correction officers had begun using the nature videos as a proactive intervention.

"They could see someone who was particularly agitated—maybe pacing or rocking or yelling out—and they could intervene early on," she says. "It helped deescalate those stress behaviors before they could lead to violence.”

Decreased violence means a safer environment for staff and prisoners alike, says Renee Smith, the behavioral health services manager at Snake River. In Oregon, 50 percent of all inmates receive some type of mental health diagnosis, she says, and the Nature Imagery Project gives the staff one more tool to help inmates manage mental health challenges.

"It's powerful for them to experience, even for a short time, a natural, therapeutic environment versus the usual four white walls of a prison cell," she says.

While Smith acknowledges that some might view access to nature films as a luxury convicted criminals don't deserve, she says that helping inmates regulate their emotions benefits everyone.

"We want to ensure that when they return to society and they're your neighbor, they can practice the skills we've taught them and know what treatments they should access," she says. "Hopefully they won't return to prison and there will be less victims in the community."

Snake River administrators were so pleased with the results of the Nature Imagery Project that they are expanding it to allow more prisoners to benefit. Hasbach and her colleagues believe that the project could serve as a model for prisons across the country. In fact, interested prison administrators in six other states have already contacted them. One even expressed interest in screening nature videos in break rooms to help reduce stress among staff members.

Hasbach will present the findings tomorrow at the annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Denver, Colorado.
...Read more

Monday, August 08, 2016

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, August 13, 2016 to Sunday, August 14, 2016 (updated 8/2/16):

Eastern Long Island Audubon Society
Saturday, August 13, 2016 – 8:00am
The Isle of Cupsogue
Get to Cupsogue before 8:00 am and it’s FREE PARKING! The trip to the shoreline will begin around 8:15 am. We will meet at the western end of the parking lot. Low tide for that day is 11:22 am, so we will take a comfortable walk of about 1 mile to the crossable mud flats, where we will see south-bound migrating shorebirds, and some summer residents as well. Bring sunscreen, water, and sand-walking/water-walking foot ware – or go barefoot! The crossing is mushy but not harsh on the feet. For more information, please contact Eileen Schwinn, the Trip Leader (various other ELIAS Members/Directors will also be in attendance!) by email: beachmed@optonline.net or call 516-662-7751. Heavy rain or severe weather conditions (high wind or lightning ) will cancel this trip. Binoculars are necessary, and scopes are helpful.

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Freshkills Park (Staten Island)
Sunday, August 14, 2016, 10:00am
Bus Tour
Learn about the past, present and future of Freshkills Park development during a guided bus ride through the park. Stops at the top of the park’s hills offer beautiful panoramic views of Staten Island. This tour departs from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George.
Sign Up at EventBrite

Sunday, August 14, 2016, 1:00pm
Bus Tour
Learn about the past, present and future of Freshkills Park development during a guided bus ride through the park. Stops at the top of the park’s hills offer beautiful panoramic views of Staten Island. This tour departs from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George.
Sign Up at EventBrite

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Gateway National Recreation Area

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 06/04/2016 to 09/03/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introduction to this fun hobby. Learn the basics of birding. Bring binoculars and a field guide or borrow them from wildlife refuge!
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/28/2016 9:30AM to 11:30AM
Camp Gateway Walk-up and Paddle
Try kayaking! Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservation required. Bring a snack, water and sunscreen.
Bus: Q35
Location: Floyd Bennett Field – Brooklyn, Seaplane Ramp
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: 718-338-3799

Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/27/2016 1:00PM to 3:30PM
Canarsie Walk-up and Paddle
Kayak tryouts for those who have never done it before. Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservations required.
Location: Canarsie Pier, Brooklyn
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: (718)338-3799

Every Sunday Weekly from 06/05/2016 to 09/04/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Fort Tilden Bunkers Walking Tour
Join a Park Ranger for an exploration of Fort Tilden's gun batteries, and find out about the fort's role in the defense of New York Harbor.
1 mile.
Location: Fort Tilden-Building 1
Fee Information: Free

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Littoral Society
Wednesday, August 11th - Monday, August 15, 2016
Cape Ann Whale Watch Weekend
The weekend includes three nights lodging in historic Gloucester, Massachusetts, an easy canoe trip on the quiet Ipswich River, a sunset cruise on the Essex River, a coastal hike, plus a lobster dinner at the Gloucester House. On the way back, we'll visit the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.
Cost: $425/person for double occupancy; single supplement is $180 extra.
For more information, please call (718) 474-0896; e-mail: donriepe@gmail.com

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, August 13, 2016, 9:30am-2pm
Shorebird Walk in Jamaica Bay, Queens
Guide:Gabriel Willow
Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. We'll search the mudflats and ponds for breeding herons and egrets, Forster's and Common Terns, Clapper Rail, and American Oystercatcher, as well as migratory plovers and sandpipers that will already be headed south. Limited to 15. $40 (28)
Click here to register

Sundays July 10, August 14, September 11, 9:30-11:30am
Summer Birding at Wave Hill
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. Walks run rain or shine. Ages 10 and up welcome with an adult. NYC Audubon members enjoy two-for-one admission. For more information, visit https://www.wavehill.org/events/spring-birding-10/

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, August 13, 2016 @ 10:00am – 2:00pm
Forest Restoration Workshop along the LaTourette bike path
Cost: Free
Contact: Don Recklies 718-768-9036 / Chuck Perry 718-667-1393
Note that this workshop is on the 2nd Saturday of the month.
Meet at the bike path entrance on the Old Mill Road (west of Richmond Hill Road) next to St. Andrews Church.
We will walk west along the bike path cutting invasive vines that stranger saplings along the trail (our 239th monthly workshop). If you don’t have your own, Protectors will supply the gloves, pruners and refreshments.
After the work session we will take a short walk over nearly trails.
Community Service Credits are available.

Sunday, August 14, 2016 @ 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Crooke’s Point
Cost: Free
Contact: Paul Lederer 718-354-9200
Maritime sand spits such as Crooke’s Point are dynamic topographical features formed and sculpted by water and wind action. Join naturalist Paul T. Lederer in a “talk and walk” where he will discuss the geology and human history of the site as well as the plants and animals that call this place home. We will meet at the Beach Center Parking Lot in Great Kills Park. To get to the Beach Center Parking Lot take Hylan Boulevard to Buffalo Street and drive down Buffalo Street to just where the dirt permit road begins.
For more information or directions contact Paul at his cell phone 718-354-9200.

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Urban Park Rangers
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Summer Birding at Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Naturalist Gabriel Willow contributes his extensive knowledge of diverse bird species and their behavior on these captivating walks through the gardens and woodlands.

Birding in Central Park at Belvedere Castle (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Come birding with the Urban Park Rangers in Central Park!
Free!

Hallett Nature Sanctuary at Hallett Nature Sanctuary (in Central Park), Manhattan
11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
During these limited hours, visitors can explore the normally-closed Hallett Sanctuary at their own pace along the rustic trail.
Free!
...Read more

Friday, August 05, 2016

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, August 5, 2016:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Aug. 5, 2016
* NYNY1608.05

- Birds Mentioned

Piping Plover
Red Knot
Stilt Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
WILSON’S PHALAROPE
GULL-BILLED TERN
CASPIAN TERN
BLACK TERN
Roseate Tern
Royal Tern
Black-billed Cuckoo
Acadian Flycatcher
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
BLUE GROSBEAK
Orchard Oriole

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, August 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are WILSON’S PHALAROPE, GULL-BILLED, CASPIAN and BLACK TERNS, and BLUE GROSBEAK.

A not terribly dynamic week was brightened by the one day appearance of a WILSON’S PHALAROPE Monday at the fairly full dune pools at Jones Beach West End; these ponds, located between West End parking field 2 and the Roosevelt Nature Center, also produced 5 STILT SANDPIPERS plus other expected shorebirds in moderate numbers.

With the water level on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge also fairly high all week, there have also been lower numbers of shorebirds than desired for this time of year. A PECTORAL SANDPIPER quickly visited the north end of the pond last Saturday and up to 9 STILT SANDPIPERS were also on the pond early this week, usually at the north end, where there is relatively little edge, so be careful if visiting there. Also at the Bay, a GULL-BILLED TERN visited the marsh south of the former West Pond last Saturday, when an ACADIAN FLYCATCHER was also still being heard south of the blind at Big John’s Pond. A BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was a highlight this Wednesday.

Out at Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes last Saturday a decent collection of 18 species of shorebirds on the flats north of the parking lot featured 2 STILTS and 3 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS and 15 RED KNOTS, as well as a ROSEATE TERN, and a BLACK TERN was the only reward for an ocean watch there.

One or 2 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS were present with other shorebirds at Brooklyn’s Plumb Beach from Saturday to Wednesday, when 2 ROYAL TERNS were spotted along the shore. A PIPING PLOVER has also been lingering there.

A CASPIAN TERN was reported Wednesday from Oakwood Beach northeast of Great Kills Park on Staten Island.

A BLUE GROSBEAK was still present Monday around the fields and grasslands at the former Grumman Airport in Calverton near the intersection of Line Road and Grumman Boulevard.

Some non-seasonal passerines have been showing up in local parks recently. Among these, the LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSHES and ORCHARD ORIOLES are presumably genuine southbound migrants, while the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES will probably linger for awhile, and others occurring like BLUE-WINGED, BLACK-AND-WHITE, MAGNOLIA and CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS are more likely floaters, just the early vanguard of things to come.

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

A relative of the tern, the Black Skimmer is one of only three bird species whose lower mandible is much longer than the upper. The other two are also skimmers - the African Skimmer (Rynchops flavirostris) and the Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis). They get their name from their unusual foraging method. Using a sense of touch to catch fish, they fly low over the water with their long, thin lower bill plowing the water. When they make contact with a fish, the bill snaps shut. While active during the day, this method also allows them to be crepuscular or, sometimes, nocturnal hunters. Their preferred habitat is mostly ocean beaches and tidewaters.

Breeding along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts; from Massachusetts to central Mexico in the east and in isolated areas from southern California to Ecuador in the west. They are year-round residents from the coast of North Carolina to Mexico. They appear to be expanding their range west.

In NYC, you can see a large breeding colony at Breezy Point, Queens. During the summer they can usually be seen feeding in numerous locations around the Rockaways, Jamaica Bay, as well as, periodically at Prospect Lake and the reservoir in Central Park.

While some populations seem to be decreasing, the IUCN Red List lists their conservation status as "Least Concern". Not currently federally protected, they are on several state lists, ranging from endangered in New Jersey to special concern in North Carolina and Florida. They are not on "The State of North America's Birds 2016" Watch List and have a relatively high score of "13". Read more about their conservation here.

Their scientific name, Rynchops niger, means "cut off bill" and "black".

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Treehugger Tuesday

From CNN:

Are fireflies flickering out?
By Sara Lewis

Updated 6:20 PM ET, Sun July 31, 2016

"Sara Lewis is a professor of evolutionary ecology at Tufts University, and author of Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies (2016, Princeton University Press). The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers."

(CNN) We're well past the Fourth of July, but my dreams are still illuminated by the spectacles of two summertime icons: fireworks and fireflies. Strikingly juxtaposed, one light show explodes boisterously, so full of crackle and boom, while the other sparkles in eerie silence.

Each year our firework displays seem bigger and more spectacular. But many firefly populations seem to be flickering out.

Fireflies! For centuries, their beauty has inspired wonder and delight. Why do these creatures seem so magical? Maybe it's the way they instantly transport us back to once-upon-a-time summer evenings spent chasing their silent sparks across the lawn. Maybe it's the way fireflies' resplendent displays can transform our everyday landscapes into places ethereal and otherworldly.

Whatever the explanation, in cultures around the world fireflies elicit a nearly mystical reverence.

More than 2,000 different firefly species are spread across the globe, gracing every continent except Antarctica. In the United States and in other countries firefly ecotourism is flourishing, and people are venturing out into the night to admire their dazzling displays.

It's a heartwarming trend, since nowadays we seem to spend much too much time plugged into our digital devices and too little time engaged with the natural world. Yet even as firefles encourage more and more people to reconnect with nature's magic, their populations are endangered by human activities such as habitat loss, light pollution and pesticides.

Fireflies thrive in fields, forest, marshes, and mangroves. But these wild places steadily succumb as waves of development replace them with shopping malls and shrimp farms, parking lots and palm oil plantations.

Light pollution, a well-known disruptor for many nocturnal animals, poses a singular threat for fireflies. Because their courtship rituals rely on detecting luminous signals, fireflies are especially sensitive to background illumination. A recently published study of the courtship habits of European glow worms revealed that the bright halos surrounding streetlamps discourage flying males from seeking out their sedentary females. So those female glow worms who display their wares near streetlamps end up entertaining fewer suitors.

Pesticides also pose perils for fireflies. During their lengthy juvenile stage, fireflies actually spend several months living underground (or, in certain cases, underwater). Broad-spectrum insecticides like malathion and diazinon can accumulate in soils and waterways, and at high levels these indiscriminately kill insects, including beneficial ones.

Juvenile fireflies are especially harmed when these insecticides are sprayed on lawns and gardens. The systemic herbicide 2,4 --D is used to kill broad-leafed weeds, yet it's also toxic to earthworms, a dietary staple for baby fireflies. Fireflies are thus directly and indirectly harmed by overuse of pesticides.

And there's another, more insidious threat: commercial harvesting from wild firefly populations. Most people are surprised to learn that, for decades, U.S. fireflies were harvested en masse to extract their light-producing chemicals, and that this practice is still going on. Japanese fireflies, harvested for their luminous beauty, were nearly extinguished from the country during the early 20th century. Today, Chinese fireflies are at risk from commercial harvesting.

Chinese theme parks have recently been releasing many thousand wild-caught fireflies, which make a popular but short-lived attraction, as the adult insects soon expire. And online sales of wild-caught fireflies have also skyrocketed in China. During the romantic Qixi Festival in August 2015, millions of live fireflies were harvested from wild populations and turned into love tokens.

Are we then doomed to a world devoid of fireflies? Not immediately. Although populations overall are surely waning, we still have plenty of places where these magical insects thrive.

So how can we ensure these silent sparks will stick around for future generations to enjoy?

We can become more proactive about conserving firefly populations. Decades ago, Japan established several national monuments to protect firefly habitats. In both Thailand and Malaysia, firefly sanctuaries along mangrove rivers now safeguard prime ecotourist sites. In Taiwan, two firefly species enjoy legal habitat protection.

Such conservation efforts are expanding worldwide. In 2010, international experts gathered in Malaysia to craft a document known as the Selangor Declaration on the Conservation of Fireflies. To preserve firefly populations, they said, habitat protection must be the top priority.
Science lovers enthralled by crazy glowing jellyfish

The United States has 120+ different firefly species, with southeastern states hosting the greatest diversity. Here, though, fireflies have yet to secure any special privileges. Some species are common and widespread, and at present they don't seem to need protection.

But others, such as the unique Blue Ghost fireflies (Phausis reticulata) of DuPont State Forest in North Carolina, and the synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus) found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, are rare. These fireflies are distinctive in both their behavior and their ecology. Their idiosyncrasies restrict them to certain habitats and also make them more vulnerable to extinction.

Why not consider setting aside a few places where fireflies thrive? Working with local, state, and national conservation organizations, we could begin by establishing firefly sanctuaries and management plans for existing ecotourist sites. We could identify and protect biodiversity hotspots known to support many different firefly species. And we surely could prohibit commercial harvesting of wild fireflies.

More than just summertime icons, fireflies offer each of us the gift of wonder and an infallible formula for falling in love again and again with nature. Who among us would remain unmoved if we lost these stunning ambassadors for Earth's natural magic
...Read more

Monday, August 01, 2016

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, August 6, 2016 to Sunday, August 7, 2016 (updated 8/2/16):

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Sunday, August 7, 2016, 8am – 9am
Early Morning Bird Walk: Early Migrants

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, August 6, 2016
A Local Shorebird Tour
Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: Renowned locations in Brooklyn and Queens for shorebird and sandpiper species
Car fee: $12.00
Registrar: Peter Dorosh, Prosbird@aol.com or text only cell 347-622-3559
Registration Period: July 30th–August 4th
Note: High tide is 11:54 am

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Freshkills Park (Staten Island)
Sunday, August 07, 2016, 10:00am
Park to Park Bike Ride
Bike the Greenbelt’s Multipurpose Trail and Freshkills Park’s New Springville Greenway!
The bike ride begins on Signs Road and Park Drive North and heads south along the New Springville Greenway. The Greenway stretches just over 3 miles, primarily paralleling Richmond Avenue on Freshkills Park’s eastern edge.
Near the southern end of the trail, at Richmond Avenue and Forest Hill Road, the bike ride will connect to the Staten Island Greenbelt‘s Multipurpose Trail, which heads east towards LaTourette Park and spans 2.6 miles.
This is a round-trip bike ride of about 11 miles. Street parking will be available near the meeting location of Signs Road and Park Drive North.
For more information:

DOT Bike Map
Staten Island Greenbelt Trail Map

The Greenbelt Multipurpose Trail is a gravel path, so bikers should be prepared for the change in surfaces.
Bring your own bicycle (and helmet). Ages 14 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Free.

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Gateway National Recreation Area
Saturday, August, 6, 2016, 8:30pm to 10:00pm
Star Gazing
Join the Amateur Astronomers Association for public stargazing at Parking Lot A. Telescopes and binoculars are provided, but you may also bring your own.
Location: Great Kills Park Lot A

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 06/04/2016 to 09/03/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introduction to this fun hobby. Learn the basics of birding. Bring binoculars and a field guide or borrow them from wildlife refuge!
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/28/2016 9:30AM to 11:30AM
Camp Gateway Walk-up and Paddle
Try kayaking! Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservation required. Bring a snack, water and sunscreen.
Bus: Q35
Location: Floyd Bennett Field – Brooklyn, Seaplane Ramp
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: 718-338-3799

Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/27/2016 1:00PM to 3:30PM
Canarsie Walk-up and Paddle
Kayak tryouts for those who have never done it before. Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservations required.
Location: Canarsie Pier, Brooklyn
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: (718)338-3799

Every Sunday Weekly from 06/05/2016 to 09/04/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Fort Tilden Bunkers Walking Tour
Join a Park Ranger for an exploration of Fort Tilden's gun batteries, and find out about the fort's role in the defense of New York Harbor.
1 mile.
Location: Fort Tilden-Building 1
Fee Information: Free

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New York City Audubon Society
Thursday, August 4, 2016, 6:30-8:30pm (class)
Saturday, August 6, 2016, 10am-2pm (trip)

Shorebird ID Workshop
Guide: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC
Shorebirds are one of the most challenging groups of birds to identify, yet beautiful and fascinating once they can be distinguished. Learn to identify plovers and sandpipers (including "peeps") by learning behavior, field marks, and calls - then take a field trip to Jamaica Bay to practice your new skills. Limited to 12. $65 (45)
Click here to register

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NYC H2O
Sunday, August 7, 2016 at 10am
Ridgewood Reservoir Tour with Matt Malina
NYC H2O is offering free tours of the Ridgewood Reservoir to community members and the public.

The Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park is a 50+ acre natural oasis that straddles the border of Brooklyn and Queens. Built in 1859 to supply the once independent City of Brooklyn with high quality water, it became obsolete with the addition of new reservoirs in the Catskills in the 1950’s and was decommissioned in the 1980’s. Since then, nature took its course in a perfect case study of ecological succession. A lush and dense forest has grown in its two outside basins while a freshwater pond with waterfowl sits in the middle basin.

Join us to explore this incredible natural resource in the heart of NYC. Please make a reservation. Cost is free.

We will meet in the parking lot at 1 Vermont Place.

Where
Ridgewood Reservoir - 1 Vermont Place, Brooklyn, NY 11207 - View Map

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, August 6, 2016 @ 9:15am – 3:45pm
Protectors’ Annual Summer 10-Mile Greenbelt Walk
Cost: Free
Contact: Dominick Durso 917-478-7607 / Don Recklies 718-768-9036
Park and meet at the end of Staten Island Boulevard, a block off Ocean Terrace, just above the Petridies Campus.
We will make a loop through almost all of Protectors’ original, moderate 10 mile walk (and then a bit more to get back to 10).
Wear comfortable boots or shoes, and bring lunch and an adequate beverage.
For more information call Dominick Durso at 917-478-7607 or Don Recklies at 718-768-9036.

Saturday, August 6, 2016 @ 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Long Pond Park
Cost: Free
Contact: Clay Wollney 718-869-6327
Participants wil look for evidence of animal life, particularly reptiles and amphibians in the wetlands and woods of Long Pond Park.
We will also look for bird life, examine the geology of the area and observe evidence of past human use of the area.
Meet beside Public School 6, on Page Avenue & Academy Avenue.
For more information phone Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327

Sunday, August 7, 2016 @ 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Discover Dragonflies with Paul Lederer
Cost: Free
Contact: Paul Lederer 718-354-9200
Dragonflies have been a part of the fauna of this planet long before dinosaurs roamed the earth. Learn about the identification, behavior and biology of these fascinating insects. Bring binoculars if you have them.
Participants will meet at the Greenbelt’s Pouch Boy Scout Camp at 1465 Manor Road by the totem poles in the parking lot.
For more information contact Paul Lederer at his cell phone 718-354-9200

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Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, August 6, 2016, 8:30am – 1pm
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Meet at visitors center
Leader: Corey Finger 518-445-5829

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Sullivan County Audubon Society
Sunday, August 7, 2016, 9 - 11 am
Field Trip to find butterflies and birds at Wolf Brook Multiple Use Area
Meet at 9 am at The Trading Post in Rock Hill
Call Leader Renee Davis at 482-5044 before 7 pm for more information
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Saturday, July 30, 2016

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, July 29, 2016:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* July 29, 2016
* NYNY1607.29

- Birds Mentioned

BRIDLED TERN+
SANDWICH TERN+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Cory’s Shearwater
Great Shearwater
AUDUBON’S SHEARWATER
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel
LEACH’S STORM-PETREL
BROWN PELICAN
Whimbrel
MARBLED GODWIT
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Roseate Tern
Royal Tern
Acadian Flycatcher
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT
BLUE GROSBEAK

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, July 29, 2016 at 7:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are BRIDLED and SANDWICH TERNS, BROWN PELICAN, AUDUBON’S SHEARWATER and LEACH’S STORM-PETREL, MARBLED GODWIT and other shorebirds, BLUE GROSBEAK, and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT.

A fisherman working the eastern edge of the Ambrose Channel last Saturday was surprised to see a SANDWICH TERN not far off Breezy Point, Queens.

Another fishing boat much farther out south of Shinnecock Inlet Sunday encountered an AUDUBON’S SHEARWATER and an immature BRIDLED TERN as well as a few GREAT and CORY’S SHEARWATERS, over 100 WILSON’S and 2 LEACH’S STORM-PETRELS.

Last Monday afternoon 2 BROWN PELICANS were spotted in Shinnecock Bay east of the Ponquogue Bridge but could not be relocated on subsequent days.

The previous Saturday a MARBLED GODWIT was seen flying west by the Ponquogue Bridge and was later seen again that day off Dune Road in the vicinity of Tiana Beach but has not been reported since.

Shore birding at Cupsogue County Park at the western end of Dune Road in Westhampton Dunes produced single WHIMBREL and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER plus a few ROYAL and ROSEATE TERNS last Sunday along with the more expected assortment of birds.

Jones Beach West End has recently contributed PECTORAL and WESTERN SANDPIPERS, and another PECTORAL was at Heckscher State Park today. Also note that there are a number of long-billed SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS present in the area now.

At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge recent rains have added water to the East Pond, and a moderate number of shorebirds there have included some STILT SANDPIPERS. An ACADIAN FLYCATCHER was still singing there south of Big John’s Pond last Saturday.

In Westchester County on Monday 2 CASPIAN TERNS and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL were on the flats next to the Croton train station adjacent to Croton Point Park.

A BLUE GROSBEAK was briefly seen at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn Wednesday, and BLUE GROSBEAKS have also apparently bred successfully out in Calverton in the fields by the former Grumman Airport near the intersection of Grumman Blvd and Line Road.

A YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT was heard singing Tuesday morning near the Goethals Bridge Pond on Staten Island.

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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Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope