Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

Effects of "Nature Deficit Disorder" on Children

Author Richard Louv author of the best selling book "Last Child in the Woods" researched the long term effects of depriving children of play in natural environments. From his website:

Last Child in the Woods

In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.

This new edition reflects the enormous changes that have taken place since the book was originally published. It includes:

- 100 actions you can take to create change in your community, school, and family.
- 35 discussion points to inspire people of all ages to talk about the importance of nature in their lives.
- A new progress report by the author about the growing Leave No Child Inside movement.
- New and updated research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder has spurred a national dialogue among educators, health professionals, parents, developers and conservationists. This is a book that will change the way you think about your future and the future of your children.
...Read more

Monday, March 02, 2015

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, March 7, 2015 to Sunday, March 8, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, March 7, 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
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Prospect Park
Leader: Rafael Campos
Focus: winter passerines migrants, early Spring migrants, waterfowl, raptors
Meet: 7:30 AM at Grand Army Plaza Park entrance "Stranahan Statue"
Note: Daylight Savings Time begins

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, March 7, 2015
New Jersey Hotspots
Leader: Robert Machover
Registrar: Kathleen Howley – kathleenhowley@gmail.com or 212-877-3170
Registration opens: Monday, February 23
Ride: $40

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, March 7, 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, March 7, 2015, 10am – 5pm
Winter Birds of Sandy Hook, NJ
Guide: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC
Sandy Hook, a spectacular barrier island at the northernmost point of the NJ coast, hosts a variety of species including Arctic-bound migrants and harbor seals that lie on the beach to warm up in the sun. Other possible sightings: loons, sea ducks, snow buntings, and horned larks. Bring lunch, water, and binoculars. Transport by passenger van included.
Limited to 12. $96 (67) Click here to register

Saturday, March 7, 2015, 10am – 1pm
Central Park Winter Walk II
Guide: Gabriel Willow Meet at Central Park West and 72nd Street.
Some of the best sightings await hardy nature-lovers willing to venture out in winter! Several species of owls can be seen in Central Park for example, but generally only in the colder months. "Winter finches" such as Pine Siskins, Redpolls, and Crossbills have also been found at the feeders or in conifers in the park. Observing the adaptations for cold-weather survival among Blue Jays, Titmice, and other resident species is fascinating as well. Warm up after the walk with a hot chocolate by the fireplace at the Loeb Boathouse.
Limited to 15. $36 (25) Click here to register

Sunday, March 8, 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

Sunday, March 8, 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, March 7, 2015, noon to 2 p.m.
Conference House Park (Herb and Weed Walk at Conference House Park)
Herbs, weeds, and other plants are greening up as the sun grows stronger. Join herbalist Gert Coleman for a walk along the beach and through the paths and gardens at Conference House Park to identify wild, edible, and cultivated medicinal and culinary plants. Meet in the parking lot at the end of Hylan Boulevard.
E-mail gert.coleman@verizon.net for more information.

Sunday, March 8, 2015, 10 a.m. to noon
Black Horse Ravine/Buck’s Hollow
Don’t miss this opportunity to explore a unique, natural ravine with mature woods and streams. One of the few places Sugar Maples are found on Staten Island. Easy, level terrain. Meet at the top of Roanoke Street at Brielle Avenue.
For more information, e-mail Hillel Lofaso at hillel5757@gmail.com or call 718-477-0545.

Sunday, March 8, 2015, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Old Mill Road
Participants will gather at the end of Old Mill Road behind the Church of St. Andrew located at 40 Old Mill Road. We’ll stroll along the multi-use trail next to Fresh Kills, below the hills of LaTourette Golf Course and return along the Blue Trail. From the remains of colonial structures to the Hessian Spring and the remains of Ketchum’s Mill we will take a look into the influence of man and nature on the ecosystems bordering the Fresh Kills estuary.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Queens County Quack Attack!
Leader: Corey Finger 518-445-5829
Meet 8:00am at South end of Baisley Pond - parking lot across from August Martin High School

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

Trip Etiquette
Please register for trips

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

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Birding: Winter Birds at Park Drive and Clove Road (in Clove Lakes Park), Staten Island
11:00 a.m.
We offer birding programs throughout the year, but now is a great time of year to observe species which live in NYC Parks during the winter.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, February 28, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, February 27, 2015

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Feb. 27, 2015
* NYNY1502.27

- Birds Mentioned

PINK-FOOTED GOOSE+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Snow Goose
Canada Goose
EURASIAN WIGEON
HARLEQUIN DUCK
BARROW’S GOLDENEYE
Red-necked Grebe
NORTHERN GOSHAWK
Red-shouldered Hawk
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK
Willet
Wilson’s Snipe
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-Backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Horned Lark
LAPLAND LONGSPUR
Snow Bunting
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, February 27 at 6:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are PINK-FOOTED GOOSE, BARROW’S GOLDENEYE, HARLEQUIN DUCK, EURASIAN WIGEON, NORTHERN GOSHAWK, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, and LAPLAND LONGSPUR.

With the weather continuing to wear down both birds and birders, a few good birds do nonetheless continue in our area. The rarest of these is perhaps the PINK-FOOTED GOOSE in Riverhead, still present Wednesday with CANADA GEESE on a sod field on the east side of Doctor’s Path. The flock is often found in this complex of fields south of Sound Avenue between Doctor’s Path and Route 105, and Greater White-Fronted and Cackling Geese should also be looked for there.

Joining the female BARROW’S GOLDENEYE still present Thursday on the pond at Moravian Cemetery off Richmond Road on Staten Island and the drake presumed to still be present off or just west of Sands Point Preserve was another female BARROW’S GOLDENEYE spotted inside Fire Island Inlet last Saturday, the flock of ducks there also containing a HARLEQUIN DUCK, which was still there Tuesday.

Immature NORTHERN GOSHAWKS were reported last weekend both from Jones Beach West End and farther east along Ocean Parkway around Gilgo to Cedar Beach, and the timing of the sightings would indicate that, as previously suspected, two different birds are involved.

Excellent numbers of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS are also present now, seen hunting over most appropriate open marshy areas. Several are along the entire length of Ocean Parkway from Jones Beach West End to the east, as well as along the Meadowbrook Parkway and Loop Causeway, and at least three have been seen at Floyd Bennett Field, with one or two at numerous other sites. A weather-related increase in the number of RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS has also been noted, the same weather conditions also producing an influx of LONG-EARED, SHORT-EARED and NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS.

A drake EURASIAN WIGEON continues at Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn, and other drakes were seen again on the Arthur Kill on Staten Island Sunday and at Connetquot River State Park Wednesday, with a fourth drake present for the last two days off Rye Beach just south of Playland Park in Westchester County.

A GLAUCOUS GULL was spotted again at Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn Saturday, and a Sunday search for the Mew Gull only yielded an adult LESSER-BLACKED GULL around the Caesar’s Bay shopping center.

Also in Brooklyn, a WILSON’S SNIPE continues at the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center, a RED-NECKED GREBE was still on Gravesend Bay Thursday, where an ICELAND GULL also continues to hang out, and two LAPLAND LONGSPURS were with HORNED LARKS at Floyd Bennett Field Sunday.

Hundreds of SNOW GEESE were in Jamaica Bay off Big Egg Marsh on Sunday.

At Jones Beach West End ten LAPLAND LONGSPURS were present in a large flock of HORNED LARKS and SNOW BUNTINGS on the lawn next to the Coast Guard Station last Saturday, and 29 COMMON REDPOLLS were counted there Sunday. Another Redpoll flock was noted at Nickerson Beach west of Point Lookout Thursday, and a surprise at Point Lookout last Saturday was a fly-by WILLET.

For information on or to sign up for a twelve-hour pelagic trip out of Brooklyn on April 11 visit the See Life Paulagics website at www.paulagics.com or call them at 215-234-6805.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734 4126, or days except Sunday 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, February 27, 2015

Friday's Foto

New York City's resident Red-tailed Hawks have begun their spring courtship with the females accepting or rejecting their mate's choice of nest locations. Listen for pairs as they make their familiar down-slurred "kee-eeeee-arr" call. Watch for them circling and talon grabbing in mock aggression. There has been as many as four confirmed nesting pairs in Brooklyn, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were many more.

A Frozen Brooklyn

Reading this article in Popular Mechanics on the history of windchill inspired me to post some recent photos of birding in the frozen wasteland known as Brooklyn:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

From the "Environmental News Network" website:

Center for Biological Diversity launches new Environmental Health Program
February 21, 2015 07:47 AM

The Center for Biological Diversity today launched its new Environmental Health program, greatly expanding its capacity to protect wildlife, people and the environment from pesticides, rodenticides, lead, mining, industrial pollution, and air and water pollution.

“The future of people is deeply intertwined with the fate of all the other species that evolved beside us,” said Lori Ann Burd, the program’s director. “This new program will work to protect biodiversity and human health from toxic substances while promoting a deep understanding of the connection between the health of people and imperiled species.”

The use of toxic pesticides has been linked to the decline of monarch butterflies and native pollinators, as well as reproductive harm and kidney damage, among other diseases, in humans. Lead poisoning is a serious problem for species like California condors and golden eagles, and even at low exposure rates lead can cause serious harm to children, including damage to their brains and nervous systems.

“We all rely on a clean and healthy environment to provide the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food that nourishes us,” said Jonathan Evans, the Environmental Health program’s legal director. “The more we protect the incredible wildlife that surrounds us from the rampant onslaught of pollution, the better we leave this earth for future generations of both wildlife and people.”

Two key areas of focus for the program will be:

- Reducing pesticides that threaten people and wildlife and working to ensure dangerous pesticides stay out of our food and away from schools and national wildlife refuges.
- Protecting air and water quality, including tackling toxic soot pollution and battling destructive suction dredge mining.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
...Read more

Monday, February 23, 2015

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, February 28, 2015 to Sunday, March 1, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, February 28, 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, March 1, 2015, 8 am – 9 am
Early Morning Birdwalk: Gulls Galore
Think all gulls are the same? Take another look by joining the Alliance to explore the Park’s nature trails and discover all the different species of gulls in Prospect Park. Rain or shine. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.
Please note that this tour leaves promptly at 8 am.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Fort Tilden Winter Birds
Leader: Dennis Hrehowsik
Focus: Coastal birds, dune species and waterfowl, gulls, raptors
Car fee: $12.00
Registrar: Bobbi Manian, email Roberta.manian@yahoo.com
Registration Period: Feb 17th - Feb 26th

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday — Sunday, February 28 – March 1
Montauk Weekend
Leader: Joe DiConstanzo
Registrar: Dale Dancis – ddancis@gmail.com or 212-724-3269
Registration opens: Monday, February 2
Ride: $80

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, February 28, 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, February 28, 2015, 10:30am – 4:00pm
Snow Birds of Floyd Bennett Field and Fort Tilden
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Winter brings many rare birds to NYC that can’t be found here at any other time! Perhaps most exciting are the “snow birds”, such as snow buntings and snowy owls, of the Arctic tundra that can occasionally be found in tundra-like habitats further south, . We will travel to the abandoned runways of Floyd Bennett Field (America's first municipal airport) in search of these and other winter visitors (such as horned lark, American tree sparrow, and rough-legged hawk). We will then head to Fort Tilden and Breezy Point to look for wintering ducks, grebes, loons, and other seabirds along the beaches.
Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $97 (67.50)
Click here to register

Sunday, March 1, 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, February 28, 2015, Noon to 2 p.m.
Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve
Join Gert Coleman to walk the trails, identify leaves and plants, and observe the wonders of old clay pits reclaimed by nature. Bring a notebook to record your thoughts. Meet in the parking lot by the Visitors’ Center at 2351Veterans Road West.
For more information participants can e-mail gert.coleman@verizon.net.

Sunday, March 1, 2015, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Reed’s Basket Willow Park
Discover this hidden natural park in Dongan Hills. We’ll visit the three bodies of water in the park and stroll through the woodlands. Although none of Reed’s basket willow still grow near the swamp from which the park gets its name, the woodlands and stream is still home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Meet at the Spring Street entrance in Dongan Hills at the corner of Spring Street and Medford Road.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Barnegat Light, NJ.
Leader: Ian Resnick 917-626-9562

CANCELLED

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

Trip Etiquette
Please register for trips

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

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, February 28, 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, March 1, 2015
Early Morning Birdwalk: Gulls Galore at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
8:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m.
Think all gulls are the same? Take another look by joining the Prospect Park Alliance to explore the park’s nature trails and discover all the different species of gulls in Prospect Park.
Free!

Birding: Owls at Alley Pond Park Adventure Center (in Alley Pond Park), Queens
4:00 p.m.
Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle. Learn about the basic biology and habits of these fascinating nocturnal raptors.
Free!
...Read more

Friday, February 20, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, February 20, 2015:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Feb. 20, 2015
* NYNY1502.20

- Birds Mentioned

PINK-FOOTED GOOSE+
GYRFALCON+
MEW GULL+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Greater White-Fronted Goose
Cackling Goose
EURASIAN WIGEON
Green-winged Teal
GREEN-WINGED TEAL, Eurasian form
BARROW’S GOLDENEYE
Red-necked Grebe
Black Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Goshawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Greater Yellowlegs
Wilson’s Snipe
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Iceland Gull
Glaucous Gull
SNOWY OWL
Short-eared Owl
Horned Lark
BOHEMIAN WAXWING
Orange-crowned Warbler
Lapland Longspur
Snow Bunting
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, February 20 at 7:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are MEW GULL, PINK-FOOTED GOOSE, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, BLACK-HEADED GULL, BARROW’S GOLDENEYE, Eurasian form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, EURASIAN WIGEON and SNOWY OWL, plus an extralimital GYRFALCON.

The first winter MEW GULL, of the western subspecies brachyrhynchus, continues its presence in Brooklyn, though its whereabouts 99% of the time is unknown. For a few minutes Thursday it was seen on rocks just south of BJ’s Wholesale Club, which is just a quarter mile southeast of the Caesar’s Bay Plaza shopping center area, where the previous sightings have occurred. The gull soon flew up over the nearby Belt Parkway and disappeared. Somewhere nearby it has a site where it comfortably spends much of its time.

The PINK-FOOTED GOOSE in Riverhead also remains elusive, but here the problem usually is to pick it out among the few thousand CANADA GEESE using the rolling sod fields located south of Sound Avenue between Doctor’s Path on the west and Route 105 on the east, as the PINK-FOOTED is often fairly well hidden among the Canadas and crevasses in the fields. A GREATER-WHITE FRONTED and CACKLING GEESE are also present there.

The Jones Beach West End BOHEMIAN WAXWING was still present in the median near the turnaround last Saturday, but we have nothing confirmed since then. A decent gathering of LAPLAND LONGSPURS at West End included 9 counted Wednesday among a large number of HORNED LARKS and SNOW BUNTINGS. A flock of 20 plus COMMON REDPOLLS continues to roam the West End, and a NORTHERN GOSHAWK was reported there again Wednesday, with a SHORT-EARED OWL there Monday.

A SNOWY OWL was still at Floyd Bennett Field last weekend.

An immature BLACK-HEADED GULL was spotted Sunday afternoon at Five Islands Park in New Rochelle, this perhaps the same bird previously at that location into last December. It has not been relocated during the week.

The drake BARROW’S GOLDENEYE was still present a little west of the Sands Point Preserve last Saturday, and a female type BARROW’S continues on a pond at Moravian Cemetery on Staten Island, this just north of Richmond Road.

A male Eurasian form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL was seen with American GREEN-WINGED TEAL Wednesday through today at Brookville Park in Queens, this along the west side of Brookville Boulevard.

A drake EURASIAN WIGEON remains at Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn, this site also hosting one of the several RED-NECKED GREBES lingering along the Brooklyn and Manhattan waterfront.

Birds at the Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park in Brooklyn this week included the lingering WILSON’S SNIPE, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, a SHORT-EARED OWL Tuesday, BALD EAGLE and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. Quite a few ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS have been pushed further south by the snows, and a good stretch to see multiple ROUGH-LEGGEDS recently has been Ocean Parkway from Jones Beach West End to Cedar Beach, but they could be encountered almost anywhere.

Single GLAUCOUS GULLS were spotted at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island Thursday, on Governor’s Island on Wednesday and around the fishing pier in Mt. Sinai Harbor Monday, while an ICELAND GULL continues along the Brooklyn waterfront, with another at Huguenot Avenue Beach on Staten Island Thursday.

Four BLACK VULTURES were spotted over 72nd Street and the West Side Highway in Manhattan last Sunday, and a COMMON REDPOLL continues to visit the Ramble feeders in Central Park.

The ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was still surviving in the cattails at Hempstead Lake State Park Thursday, and a LAPLAND LONGSPUR was at Robert Moses State Park last weekend.

Check the internet for updated information on the GYRFALCON in Ulster County.

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

The Rough-legged Hawk comes in two plumage variations known as "dark morph" and "light morph". Pictured here is a typical light morph. Found in the northern reaches of the northern hemisphere, they breed in arctic and subarctic regions. Not normally found around New York City, during "irruptive" years they can be observed as large numbers move far south of their winter range in search of food. This is one of those years. Look for this medium-sized raptor hunting over open fields by hovering in place, similar to the much smaller kestrel. In Brooklyn, check for them at Floyd Bennett Field, Marine Park, Plum Beach or the capped landfills at Fountain and Pennsylvania Avenues.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

Monarch Recovery Strategy

The following article was just published in The Guardian:

US Launches Plan to Halt Decline of Monarch Butterfly

$2m to be spent on growing milkweed and other butterfly-friendly plants along main migration routes from Minnesota to Mexico as population slumps by 90%

The Obama administration and conservation groups launched a plan on Monday to halt the death spiral of the monarch butterfly.

The most familiar of American butterflies, known for their extraordinary migration from Mexico through the mid-west to Canada, monarch populations have plummetted 90% over the past 20 years.

Fewer than 50m butterflies made it to Mexico last winter – a fraction of the population once estimated at 1bn.

Those numbers mirror the sharp declines of honey bees in recent years.

“We need to turn that around,” Dan Ashe, director of US Fish and Wildlife Service, told the Guardian. “If you look at the 20-year trend definitely monarchs are at risk of vanishing.”

The USFWS will spend $2m (£1.3m) and work with the National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to grow milkweed and other butterfly-friendly plants along the monarchs’ main migration routes from Minnesota to Mexico.

The initiative aims to restore more than 200,000 acres of habitat through the spring breeding grounds of Texas and Oklahoma and summer breeding areas in the Corn Belt, tracking closely to the I-35 highway from Austin, Texas to St Paul, Minnesota.

There are also plans to promote wildflowers such as goldenrod and aster along pipeline and electricity lines.

Monarch populations have fallen precipitously over the past 20 years because of changes in farming methods, and the destruction of milkweed that is the caterpillars’ main habitat.

The idea is to get populations back up to 1bn.

Monarchs showed a slight rebound this year, because of good weather. “That’s a sign we haven’t yet reached any disastrous tipping point,” Ashe said. “If the habitat improves, if we make more habitat for them, then the population still seems to have the ability to respond.”

The Centre for Biological Diversity went to court last August to seek protection for the monarch under the endangered species act. Ashe said the petition presented “substantive evidence” for such protections, and the government was studying the case.

The centre welcomed the new initiative – but said protecting the monarchs would be far more effective.

“I think it’s great that this voluntary stuff is going to happen,” said Tierra Curry of the Centre for Biological Diversity. “But if the monarch does get protected that will open up a lot more funding to protect habitat.”

She went on: “It’s going to take a massive amount of investment and a massive amount of milkweed to reverse the decline.”
...Read more

Monday, February 16, 2015

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, February 21, 2015 to Sunday, February 22, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, February 21, 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
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Sunset Park Neighborhood Birding Tour
Leader: Peter Dorosh (347-622-3559 text only)
Focus: winter passerines, ducks, waterfowl, gulls
Itinerary: This long winter walk will pass through the cemetery, then Sunset Park after the cemetery exit at 4th Ave, before heading northwest to the coast to the new Bush Terminal Pier Park. An option if continuing will be the former Army terminal Pier 4 eight blocks west along 1st Avenue. At least 3.5 miles walking. Nearest train afterwards will be the R line at either 45th or 53th or 59th St stops.
Meet: No registration necessary. Meet 8 am at the Greenwood Cemetery's east entrance, Prospect Park West Avenue and 20th Street. Nearest subway: F train to 15th St/Prospect Park, walk 3 blocks west on Prospect Park West Avenue to GWC meeting site.

**********

Littoral Society
Saturday, February 21, 2015, 09:00am
Winter Water Fowl and Seal Walk
Bring your binoculars and join us on a trek to coastal estuaries and ponds for a look at the seals and water fowl that over winter at Sandy Hook. Afterwards return to our headquarters and warm up with snacks and toasty beverages.
Call to reserve.
Where: Building 18, Sandy Hook, NJ
Time: 9:00am
Cost: $5

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, February 21, 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, February 21, 9am – Sun, February 22, 7pm
Winter Waterfowl Weekend at Montauk
Guide: Gabriel Willow The gatherings of sea ducks around Montauk Point are the largest winter concentrations in New York State; the Christmas bird count on Montauk Point consistently tallies from 125 to 135 species, one of the best totals in the Northeast. Species that come to feed on the Point’s rich kelp and mussel beds include common and red-throated loon, common eider, all three scoter species, bufflehead, common goldeneye, great cormorant, and red-breasted merganser. Harlequin duck and king eider also occur here regularly during the winter.
Accommodations at Daunt's Albatross in Montauk. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $300 ($25 single supplement)
Click here to register

Sunday, February 22, 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, February 21, 2015, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop on the Blue and Red Trails
Meet in the Nature Center parking lot at Rockland Avenue and Brielle (additional parking at the Recreation Center nearby). We will remove invasive shrubs and vines from the triangle between the Blue and Red Trails close to the Department of Parks restoration project at Rockland Avenue. Protectors will supply tools, gloves and refreshments. After a two-hour work session (our 222nd monthly workshop), we will take a short walk over nearby trails.
For more information call Don Recklies at 718-768-9036 or Chuck Perry at 718-667-1393.

Sunday, February 22, 2015, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Winter Beach Walk (Page Avenue to Lemon Creek)
Beachcomb the winter shoreline to discover what the tides have brought in and take a look at the characteristics of the shoreline in the harsher winter conditions. With any luck we may also see signs of life in the form of seals, ducks and other winter waterfowl. Participants will gather at the beach along the southern end of Page Avenue where it meets Ottavio Promenade.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Black Dirt Region
Leader: Arie Gilbert (917) 693-7178 (contact for car-pooling info)

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

Trip Etiquette
Please register for trips

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

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Birding: Eagles at Payson Park House (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
9:00 a.m.
Winter is a spectacular season for observing Bald Eagles in New York City parks.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home.
Free!
...Read more

Friday, February 13, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, February 13, 2015:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Feb. 13, 2015
* NYNY1502.13

- Birds mentioned

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

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
Cackling Goose
Eurasian Wigeon
KING EIDER
HARLEQUIN DUCK
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE
Red-necked Grebe
American Bittern
Bald Eagle
Northern Goshawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Clapper Rail
Wilson's Snipe
LITTLE GULL
Bonaparte's Gull
Iceland Gull
Glaucous Gull
Razorbill
BOHEMIAN WAXWING
Orange-crowned Warbler
Lapland Longspur
Common Redpoll

- 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, February 13th 2015 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are MEW GULL, THICK-BILLED MURRE, PINK-FOOTED GOOSE, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, LITTLE GULL, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, KING EIDER, HARLEQUIN DUCK and more plus an extralimital GYRFALCON.

Despite the weather a pretty decent week for birds. A second MEW GULL was spotted Monday in Brooklyn. This bird is a year older than the first Winter bird not seen this week around Cesar's Bay shopping mall. The gull appeared on Veteran's Memorial Pier with a few hundred Ring-billed Gulls and was nicely photographed before it flew off into New York Harbor. The pier is off the Belt Parkway north of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.

A few THICK-BILLED MURRES were noted during the week. There was one at Brooklyn's Coney Island Creek off the Leonard Kaiser Pier Thursday morning, another off Lemon Creek Pier on Staten Island Wednesday, one swimming west on the ocean off Tiana Beach west of Shinnecock Inlet on Sunday and 2 around Montauk Point last Saturday.

The PINK-FOOTED GOOSE north of Riverhead was seen Saturday, Sunday and Thursday in the large Canada Goose flock that gathers on the fields bordered by Doctor's Path on the west, Sound Avenue on the north and Route 105 on the east. A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED and CACKLING GEESE have also been noted there.

A BOHEMIAN WAXWING, perhaps the bird wandering around Long Island since January 9th, was seen Thursday near the turnaround at Jones Beach West End where it lingered at least to this morning. Other West End birds during the week featured the immature NORTHERN GOSHAWK plus 2 HARLEQUIN DUCKS last Sunday. The HARLEQUINS at the West End jetty but if not there check the jetties at Point Lookout across the inlet. Another nice bird was an adult LITTLE GULL with one BONAPARTE'S GULL off the restaurant at Montauk Point last Sunday morning. Over 20 RAZORBILLS were also counted there among the many Common Eider and scoters.

The immature female type BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was still on the pond at Moravian Cemetery north of Richmond Road on Staten Island yesterday. A EURASIAN WIGEON also remains off the Tottenville train station. Another EURASIAN WIGEON continues at Brooklyn's Bush Terminal Piers Park where 2 were again seen Thursday along with a RED-NECKED GREBE. While on the north fork of Long Island a drake EURASIAN WIGEON remains at Deep Hole Creek in Mattituck.

At Brooklyn's Marine Park recently have been 1 or 2 of the several ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS now present in the area with WILSON'S SNIPE, CLAPPER RAIL and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER last weekend there. Other ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS have been seen fairly regularly at Floyd Bennett Field and especially along Ocean Parkway from Jones Beach West End east to Cedar Beach. Also in Brooklyn a GLAUCOUS GULL was seen again Sunday at Bush Terminal Piers Park and an ICELAND GULL continues in the vicinity of the Cesar's Bay Mall.

Single LAPLAND LONGSPURS were at Floyd Bennett Field Saturday and Robert Moses State Park Sunday and a flock of up to 30 COMMON REDPOLLS were around Jones Beach West End at least to Thursday. Three GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were still on Belmont Lake State Park Tuesday.

On eastern Long Island a drake KING EIDER remains in the Common Eider flock that is usually just inside Shinnecock Inlet best viewed from the north end of the main parking lot. An AMERICAN BITTERN continues along Dune Road west of the inlet.

Over 100 BALD EAGLES were seen along the Hudson River from George's Island Park north to Bear Mountain Bridge last weekend so not surprisingly they have also been seen at numerous other locations as well.

As an extralimital note: an immature pale gray-phased GYRFALCON has been present recently in Ulster County. Check the Internet on the New York list on http://birding.aba.org for updated information.

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

Mew Gull (Larus canus brachyrhynchus) photo by Heydi Lopes
Periodically, a single Mew Gull will make its way to coastal Brooklyn. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website there are "three distinct forms that are sometimes considered different species." They breed in northern Asia, northern Europe and northwestern North America. Individuals that have been seen in NYC in the past have all been of the European race, or Common Gull. What makes this year's sighting so unusual is that it was the first northwestern North American species to be observed in New York. The name "Common Gull" doesn't refer to their prevalence, but rather their use of short pastures for foraging in the winter. That habitat is also known as "common land".

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My Birding Patch

I believe the concept of "patch" birding came about as a way for an individual to become intimately familiar with the seasonal ebb and flow of the wildlife in their neighborhood. It also helped scientists track small changes in the status and abundance of species. Originally it likely meant a literal tiny patch of habitat, such as ones yard, but that has expanded a little especially in urban areas. During my first several years of birding I seldom strayed from my local park, Prospect Park. Regular readers of this blog have probably noticed that I rarely bird outside of the borough of Brooklyn. Twenty something years later I've made it a point to learn as much as I can about when and where to find the seasonal birds in a slightly larger patch...the county of Kings. So where am I looking for birds in Brooklyn right now?

If I spent a single, winter's day in Prospect Park, on average, I would tally around 60 species of birds. When Prospect Lake isn't frozen that number could be a little higher as a nice mix of overwintering waterfowl can usually be found there. A good number of the winter songbirds could be counted filling up on seeds at the Brooklyn Bird Club feeders on Breeze Hill. Occasionally, you might spot an interesting northern specialty, such as Pine Siskin, Common Redpoll or, rarely, Evening Grosbeak. Similar species would be found in nearby Green-Wood Cemetery. It's a bit limiting for me so I tend to mainly bird Prospect Park when spring migrant songbirds are on the move, otherwise I spend much of my cold weather birding along the littoral zone.

Brooklyn is surrounded by water (sort of), so it makes sense to spend time birding those areas. Granted, it can get a little unpleasant standing at the edge of the shore in blustery weather, but the pay off sometimes makes it well worth the numb toes or frostbitten fingers. So what birds could possibly make this "worth it"? First, there's the abundance of gulls. The vast majority of the gulls seen along the coast will be the holy trinity - Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. With a little patience and perseverance, though, you could be rewarded with Bonaparte's, Black-headed, Iceland, Lesser Black-backed or Glaucous Gulls. And if you are really lucky (or named Shane Blodgett) you could find a rare Mew Gull amongst the thousands of Ring-billed Gulls. The Northern Gannet, a large seabird which looks similar to gulls, but is more closely related to cormorants, can also be seen off the Brooklyn coast.

Alcids, the family of seabirds which include puffins, are also rare visitors along the Brooklyn coast. I've seen Thick-billed Murre three times around the borough and have also observed Razorbills and a single Dovekie.

While the above alcids are rare, and I wouldn't expect to see them every winter, it doesn't hurt to look. From the rare to the abundant, if you want to see a variety of waterfowl, Brooklyn's waterways have got them in spades. So far this year 25 species of ducks have been observed in my patch. I haven't seen all of them yet, but close. There are also lots of loons, grebes and cormorants. Several years ago we had a rare Western Grebe off of Coney Island. Feeding among the crags in the rock jetties overwintering Purple Sandpipers are an annual presence. Other shorebirds that sometimes prefer Brooklyn's refrigerated coast to a tropical winter far south of NYC are Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Yellowlegs, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Dunlin and Wilson's Snipe. American Woodcocks occasionally stay through the winter at Floyd Bennett Field, Marine Park or Green-Wood Cemetery.

Just a short distance up from the high water line the habitat and bird species change a little. Tangles of grasses, small fruit-bearing shrubs, vines and small trees provide food and protection for a variety of sparrows, finches, woodpecker, thrushes, nuthatches, blackbirds and hardy Yellow-rumped Warblers. These birds seem to thrive in places like Floyd Bennett Field, Dead Horse Bay, Canarsie Park and Marine Park. On open fields Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, American Pipits and the occasional Lapland Longspur feed on stubbly grass. These vigilant birds seem to realize that they are open targets for the dozens of raptors who are also on the look out for a good meal. They are constantly looking around while feeding. Last Saturday we tallies the following raptors at just Floyd Bennett Field: Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk (2), American Kestrel and Merlin.

The past two weekends had stretches of weather that weren't ideal for birding, but that rarely discourages me. On Saturday, the 7th, I lead a trip to Coney Island and Coney Island Creek Park for the Linnaean Society of New York. Bird activity was a bit slow, but we still managed to see a few good birds, as well as, some Harbor Seal sightings. The highlight of last Sunday was watching a pair of Rough-legged Hawks hunting over the grasslands at Floyd Bennett Field. One was a dark morph plumed individual and the other a light morphed. I've seen this northern raptor in Brooklyn several times over the last 20 years, but this was the first time I'd seen two together. Read more about Rough-legged Hawks here.

I'm still deciding where I'll be going for frostbite this coming weekend, but here is a list of Brooklyn's coastal areas including remnant marshes and creeks. Hendrix Creek is a good spot for a nice variety of waterfowl as the water treatment plant at that location prevents the water from freezing.

Brooklyn's Winter Coastal Hotspots

Upper Bay (mostly pier birding)
Gravesend Bay
Lower Bay
Jamaica Bay
Coney Island Creek
Sheepshead Bay
Gerritsen Creek
Dead Horse Bay
Mill Basin
Paerdegat Basin
Fresh Creek
Hendrix Creek
Spring Creek

**********

Date: Feb 1, 2015 - Feb 8, 2015
Locations: Bush Terminal Piers Park Coney Island, Coney Island Creek, Dreier-Offerman Park, Floyd Bennett Field, Green-Wood Cemetery
Species: 68

Brant
Gadwall
EURASIAN WIGEON
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveler
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Greater/Lesser Scaup
Long-tailed Duck
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Purple Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
ICELAND GULL
GLAUCOUS GULL
Great Black-backed Gull
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Snow Bunting
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Tree Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Purple Finch
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, House Sparrow
...Read more

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

Tuna and Mercury

The subject of mercury in fish probably shouldn't be news to most people, but the University of Michigan just published a piece about how levels in Yellowfin Tuna has actually been on the rise:

Mercury Levels in Hawaiian Yellowfin Tuna Increasing
Contact Jim Erickson

ANN ARBOR—Mercury concentrations in Hawaiian yellowfin tuna are increasing at a rate of 3.8 percent or more per year, according to a new University of Michigan-led study that suggests rising atmospheric levels of the toxic substance are to blame.

Mercury is a toxic trace metal that can accumulate to high concentrations in fish, posing a health risk to people who eat large, predatory marine fish such as swordfish and tuna. In the open ocean, the principal source of mercury is atmospheric deposition from human activities, especially emissions from coal-fired power plants and artisanal gold mining.

For decades, scientists have expected to see mercury levels in open-ocean fish increase in response to rising atmospheric concentrations, but evidence for that hypothesis has been hard to find. In fact, some studies have suggested that there has been no change in mercury concentration in ocean fish.

By compiling and re-analyzing three previously published reports on yellowfin tuna caught near Hawaii, U-M's Paul Drevnick and two colleagues found that the concentration of mercury in that species increased at least 3.8 percent per year from 1998 to 2008.

A paper about the study is scheduled for online publication in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry on Feb. 2. The other authors are Carl Lamborg of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, now at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Martin Horgan.

"The take-home message is that mercury in tuna appears to be increasing in lockstep with data and model predictions for mercury concentrations in water in the North Pacific," said Drevnick, an assistant research scientist at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment and at the U-M Biological Station. "This study confirms that mercury levels in open ocean fish are responsive to mercury emissions."

Drevnick and his colleagues reanalyzed data from three studies that sampled the same yellowfin tuna population near Hawaii in 1971, 1998 and 2008. In each of the three studies, muscle tissues were tested for total mercury, nearly all of which was the toxic organic form, methylmercury.

In their re-analysis, Drevnick and his colleagues included yellowfins between 48 and 167 pounds and used a computer model that controls for the effect of fish body size. Data from 229 fish were analyzed: 111 from 1971, 104 from 1998 and 14 from 2008.

The researchers found that mercury concentrations in the yellowfins did not change between the 1971 and 1998 datasets. However, concentrations were higher in 2008 than in either 1971 or 1998. Between 1998 and 2008, the mercury concentration in yellowfins increased at a rate greater than or equal to 3.8 percent a year, according to the new study.

"Mercury levels are increasing globally in ocean water, and our study is the first to show a consequent increase in mercury in an open-water fish," Drevick said. "More stringent policies are needed to reduce releases of mercury into the atmosphere. If current deposition rates are maintained, North Pacific waters will double in mercury by 2050."

Yellowfin tuna, often marketed as ahi, is widely used in raw fish dishes—especially sashimi—or for grilling. The Natural Resources Defense Council's guide to mercury in sushi lists yellowfin tuna as a "high mercury" species.

The research by Drevick and his colleagues was supported by the University of Michigan, the Fonds de recherche du Quebec–Nature et Technologies, the National Science Foundation and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

*********

One bird species population decline that has been linked to mercury in the environment is the Ivory Gull. According to BirdLife International "…concentrations of total mercury in eggs of Ivory Gulls collected from Seymour Island, Canada, have steadily increased since 1976 to levels which are now among the highest measured in seabirds (Braune et al. 2006), which may have had a long-term effect on breeding productivity (C. Miljeteig in litt. 2007)." Read about Ivory Gull conservation efforts here. In 2007 one of these beautiful gull showed up on the Hudson River just north of the city. I posted about it here and here.
...Read more

Monday, February 09, 2015

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, February 14, 2015 to Sunday, February 15, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, February 14, 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
February 14th-15th, 2015
Overnight Weekend: Montauk Point and East End, Long Island
Leader: Rob Bate
Focus: Winter birds of various habitats, waterfowl and winter flocks
Car fee: $100.00
Registrar: Bobbi Manian email Roberta.manian@yahoo.com
Registration period: Jan 2nd - Feb 5th

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, February 14, 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, February 14, 2015, 10am – 1pm
Central Park Winter Walk
Guide: Gabriel Willow Meet at Central Park West and 72nd Street.
Some of the best sightings await hardy nature-lovers willing to venture out in winter! Several species of owls can be seen in Central Park for example, but generally only in the colder months. "Winter finches" such as Pine Siskins, Redpolls, and Crossbills have also been found at the feeders or in conifers in the park. Observing the adaptations for cold-weather survival among Blue Jays, Titmice, and other resident species is fascinating as well. Warm up after the walk with a hot chocolate by the fireplace at the Loeb Boathouse.
Limited to 15. $36 (25) Click here to register

Sunday, February 15, 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)
Sunday, February 15, noon to 2 p.m.
Blue Heron Park (1975 – 2015)
Following our successful effort to preserve Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve Protectors of Pine Oak Woods sought another project for our newly formed environmental organization. Protectors hosted a community meeting during which Jack and Lois Baird and Howard Fisher made impassioned arguments for the preservation of freshwater wetlands and woodlands located in southeast Annadale. Collaborating with the Bairds and Howard Fisher, Protectors helped the newly formed Friends of Blue Heron Park achieve its goal to preserve those precious woodlands. Join with Elaine Croteau to celebrate 40 years of Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and the creation of Blue Heron Park. Participants will gather at the Blue Heron Park Nature Center located at 222 Poillon Avenue.
For more information call Elaine Croteau at 718-698-6056.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Birding: Winter Birds at Ridgewood Reservoir, Queens
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!

Great Backyard Bird Count at Queens Botanical Garden, Queens
11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Great Backyard Bird Count
Saturday, February 14, 11am to 1pm Join QBG for the 18th annual bird counting event. Our results will be added to those submitted from around the world. Meet…
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home.
Free!
...Read more

Friday, February 06, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, February 6, 2015:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Feb. 6, 2015
* NYNY1502.06

- Birds mentioned
BARNACLE GOOSE+ (not reported)
MEW GULL+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
Cackling Goose
EURASIAN WIGEON
Common Eider
HARLEQUIN DUCK
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE
Red-necked Grebe
Bald Eagle
NORTHERN GOSHAWK
Rough-legged Hawk
Wilson's Snipe
ICELAND GULL
GLAUCOUS GULL
Razorbill
Long-eared Owl
Common Raven
Horned Lark
American Pipit
Orange-crowned Warbler
Palm Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
LAPLAND LONGSPUR
Snow Bunting
Rusty Blackbird
Boat-tailed Grackle
Purple Finch
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin

- 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, February 6th 2015 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are MEW GULL, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, HARLEQUIN DUCK, EURASIAN WIGEON, NORTHERN GOSHAWK, GLAUCOUS GULL, ICELAND GULL and LAPLAND LONGSPUR.

The immature MEW GULL continued its elusive and somewhat mysterious presence in Brooklyn reappearing last Sunday afternoon around the playing fields next to the Cesar's Bay shopping center after having gone unseen since the previous Monday. It was also reported there Monday and Tuesday afternoon including in the large parking lot at the shopping center where many Ring-billed Gulls gather and are occasionally fed. Whether the afternoon appearances are tide or time related has not been determined. This site is off the Belt Parkway just west of exit 5. The ICELAND GULL also continues there.

Also in Brooklyn the number of drake EURASIAN WIGEON at Bush Terminal Piers Park climbed to two last Saturday with both also present Sunday. Single GLAUCOUS and ICELAND GULLS were also still at that site Sunday. Another ICELAND has been around Coney Island Creek in Brooklyn and a couple of RED-NECKED GREBES continue along the Brooklyn / Queens shoreline. At Marine Park in Brooklyn there was WILSON'S SNIPE and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER this week.

The Fort Tilden sightings last Saturday included a RAZORBILL and 5 COMMON REDPOLLS with 3 LAPLAND LONGSPURS there today with many HORNED LARKS and SNOW BUNTINGS. Other REDPOLLS continue to be seen especially along the south shore of Long Island with up to 20 at Jones Beach West End, Robert Moses State Park with 8 PINE SISKINS and 30 at Smith Point County Park in Shirley last weekend. Additional weekend REDPOLLS included 18 in Springs and 11 at Orient State Park with one also continuing at the feeders in Central Park.

On Staten Island an apparent immature female BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, a bird provoking some discussion as to its identification, has recently been on a pond at Moravian Cemetery north of Richmond Road this area just east of High Rock Park.

At Jones Beach West End an immature NORTHERN GOSHAWK was seen a few times last weekend cruising the various pine groves. This may or may not be the same immature GOSHAWK also noted as far east as Tobay along Ocean Parkway. Three HARLEQUIN DUCKS and some COMMON EIDER also continue at Jones Inlet. The HARLEQUINS moving between the West End jetty and the jetties off Point Lookout. Also at West End 5 LAPLAND LONGSPURS were present Saturday together with many HORNED LARKS and SNOW BUNTINGS along the exposed grassy areas in the median or at the Coast Guard Station field and other species noted last weekend included AMERICAN PIPIT, PALM WARBLER, CHIPPING SPARROW and FIELD SPARROWS. A GLAUCOUS GULL visited the Jones Beach field 10 fishing piers Sunday where 2 BOAT-TAILED GRACKLES were also present.

A dead LONG-EARED OWL along Ocean Parkway last Sunday indicates they are around somewhere and 2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS were at Robert Moses State Park Wednesday.

A check at Belmont Lake State Park Wednesday morning found the 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, a CACKLING GOOSE and an immature ICELAND GULL but there was no sign of the BARNACLE GOOSE.

The Hudson River is in good shape with numbers of BALD EAGLES now and many are also being seen away from the river including one along with a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK along Dune Road west of Shinnecock Inlet Wednesday. Other recent sightings have featured a number of widely scattered COMMON RAVENS, some RUSTY BLACKBIRDS inhabiting some still open local wet areas and just a few PURPLE FINCHES.

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.

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