Check out City Birder Tours, and Green-Wood sponsored tours on their calendar pages here.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

A Christmas Bird Count 18 Years Ago

This Saturday will be my 19th year covering Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field for the annual Christmas Bird Count. It will also be my first as the team leader. I thought it might be fun to look back at my experience from the first year. Unfortunately, it appears that I didn’t write anything down in 1999, but I did manage to locate my report from the second year. Before my involvement, the entire 1300+ acres was covered by just Ron Bourque and his late wife Jean. In 2000 there were four of us on the team. On Saturday we’ll finally have enough birders on our team to adequately cover our entire area (Floyd Bennett Field, Dead Horse Bay and Four Sparrow Marsh). Maybe we’ll find something really cool. Note that on my species list I used the old common name “Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow” as it wasn’t changed to Saltmarsh Sparrow until 2009:

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SUBJECT: Dead Horse Bay, Floyd Bennett Field, Four Sparrow Marsh
DATE: Saturday, 16 December, 2000
OBSERVERS: Ron Bourque, Jean Bourque, Mike Higgiston, Rob Jett
REPORTER: Rob Jett

For me, the annual Christmas Bird Count is the symbolic conclusion to another year of birding. While I will probably spend a few more hours tracking down this winters avian residents before the end of the calendar year, the CBC stands out as more than just another day outdoors with my binoculars. I want to know everything there is to know about birds and to be able to predict the unpredictable. The consummate hunter knows not only where to find his prey, but also, when to look. There is always an element of luck involved with our type of hunting but the "count" gives me an opportunity to see if I've learned anything over the preceding year.

Saturday’s bit of luck was the fact that weather predictions were off by about six hours and we didn't have to spend the day walking around in open fields in the drenching rain. On the downside, many of the expected seasonal species were seen in very low numbers.

Mike and I started off at Four Sparrow Marsh. The inner marsh was virtually deserted. As we approached the opening near Mill Basin we flushed a Common Snipe which zigzagged low towards the Belt Parkway bridge. The ground was extremely soft due to the recent rainstorms and, unlike the snipe, we had to step carefully. The habitat near the shore is a landscape of windblown grass and mussel shoals sprinkled with generous amounts of bottles, Styrofoam, driftwood and derelict recreational boats. Scanning the grass we found a small group of low feeding sparrows. In the group there were at least a couple of Song Sparrows, one or two Swamp Sparrows and a couple of other unidentified, very evasive sparrows. A close watch from our respective dry, flotsam platforms finally revealed that there were two Sharp-tailed Sparrows in the flock. I took a step off my piece of wood in an attempt to flush the birds towards Mike and promptly lost my right leg in knee deep muck. I imagined the birds amusement as they stayed put on their safe island only a few yards away watching me struggling to pull myself back onto my perch.

Before we returned to the car I had the silly notion to try and tramp a trail through the towering forest of Phragmites in the field just west of the marsh. Mike positioned himself atop a tall mound of wood chips and prepared to track whatever came flying out. I may have felt like a Cocker Spaniel but within the first ten feet a fluttering, whistling Woodcock shot straight up like a pheasant and headed towards the back of the reeds. For some strange reason I began barking.

We met Ron and Jean back at Floyd Bennett and Ron decided we should start looking for owls. Mike and I headed straight to the section were we located a couple of Saw-whet Owls last year. No luck, but Ron caught up to us after having just flushed a Barn Owl. We didn't see it but continued looking for signs of other owls. I meandered away from the others and began checking a small section of pines. As I walked I unconsciously scanned the soft, spongy ground beneath the conifers for signs of an owl roost. Something higher up caught my attention. At eye level I noticed a small, white downy feather trapped in the needles on the end of a branch. It fluttered ever so slightly in a light breeze that wafted through the pines. I thought that maybe a raptor had plucked it from its hapless prey or perhaps a bird had been preening further up the tree. My eyes continued following upward in the feathers likely trajectory and stopped at a Barn Owl perched near the top of the pine.

Back on the grasslands it was time to spread out and walk the entire length of every field. As expected Savannah Sparrows were common but meadowlarks seemed to be missing. A familiar sound was approaching us and I searched for the source. "Pip-pit, pip-pit, pip-pit, pip-pit", an American Pipit was heading our way and flew by just over our heads. As we came to the end of the second to last field Mike shouted for our attention. A Short-eared Owl flew up from its roost near the edge of the runway. A few crows immediately descended on the owl in an attempt to "run it out of town". The Short-eared didn't seem that concerned about the crows as it eventually stopped and perched on a small nature refuge sign at the side of the road. When the crows did get too close the owl always seemed able to effortlessly maneuver itself above its pursuers.
Ron was becoming increasingly concerned that he hadn't seen any meadowlarks yet. We talked in depressed tones about their rapidly declining numbers and how years ago one local naturalist predicted that by the year 2000 they'd be extinct. At the last field we checked Mike spotted a lone meadowlark. Then it was joined by seven more birds. We were overjoyed as we watched the flock of bright yellow birds pass in front of us; their halting, staccato wing beats trying to evade our sights. But our aim was true, our trigger fingers at the ready with pen and checklist and we "got" our birds.

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Floyd Bennett Field/Four Sparrow Marsh - 1 2/1 6/00

Horned Grebe
Great Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Brant
Mute Swan
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Mallard
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk (Floyd Bennett Field)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin (Floyd Bennett Field)
Peregrine Falcon
Ring-necked Pheasant
Common Snipe (Four Sparrow Marsh)
American Woodcock (Four Sparrow Marsh)
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Dove
Barn Owl (Floyd Bennett Field)
Short-eared Owl (Floyd Bennett Field)
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
American Robin
European Starling
Northern Mockingbird
American Pipit (Floyd Bennett Field)
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Tree Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow (Four Sparrow Marsh)
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark (8, Floyd Bennett Field)
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow
...Read more

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Treehugger Tuesday

From NYTimes.com:

Trump Drilling Plan Threatens 9 Million Acres of Sage Grouse Habitat
Coral Davenport
Dec. 6, 2018



A plan to roll back sage grouse protections is expected to be finalized in 2019.
Credit Dan Cepeda/The Casper Star-Tribune, via Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday detailed its plan to open nine million acres to drilling and mining by stripping away protections for the sage grouse, an imperiled ground-nesting bird that oil companies have long considered an obstacle to some of the richest deposits in the American West.

In one stroke, the action would open more land to drilling than any other step the administration has taken, environmental policy experts said. It drew immediate criticism from environmentalists while energy-industry representatives praised the move, saying that the earlier policy represented an overreach of federal authority.

“This is millions and millions of acres of Western land that stretch across the spine of this nation,” said Bobby McEnaney, an expert in Western land use at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. “With this single action, the administration is saying: This landscape doesn’t matter. This species doesn’t matter. Oil and gas matter.”

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, an association of independent oil and gas companies based in Denver, said in an email, “These plans will conserve the sage grouse without needlessly stifling economic activity.”

The plan is the latest in a series designed to promote more oil and gas drilling on public land in support of what President Trump has called a policy of American “energy dominance.” Last December, Mr. Trump signed a law that opened the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, and the administration has since moved with unprecedented speed to allow exploratory work to begin there. In January, the Interior Department proposed opening up almost the entire American coastline to offshore drilling.

Last December, the administration also slashed the size of two major national monuments in Utah, reducing Bears Ears, a sprawling region of red rock canyons, by 85 percent, and Grand Staircase-Escalante to about half its former size, with the intent of opening the land to drilling and mining. But that move opened up only two million acres, compared with the nine million acres in the sage grouse decision.

The opening of great swaths of land and water to drilling could become tough to reverse once companies start leasing the land or sinking rigs into the ground, Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School, said. “It’s a major step,” he said. “It’s practically irreversible once you have the commitment of these lands to industrial uses.”

In reducing protections for the sage grouse, which has been a candidate for endangered-species protection in the past and has habitat in 10 oil-rich Western states, the government would be freeing up land that oil and gas companies have long thirsted after.

Under a plan put forth in 2015, during the Obama administration, oil and gas drilling was banned or limited in 10.7 million acres where the bird lives, under a stringent designation known as “sagebrush focal areas.” Known for its distinctive mating dance, the land-dwelling grouse has seen its numbers sharply decline in recent decades.

In cases where drilling was permitted in the habitat, it came with restrictions such as bans on drilling during mating season. The Obama plan also limited construction of drilling infrastructure, such as pipelines and roads, in sage grouse habitat and required companies that drill in restricted areas to pay into a fund to preserve and protect other habitat areas.

The new Trump proposal, which is expected to be finalized next year, would limit that highly protected area to 1.8 million acres and eliminate the requirement that companies pay into the habitat preservation fund, although companies could pay into it voluntarily.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, which published the proposal, said the new plan would not strip away all protections of sage grouse habitat. It would remove the “sagebrush focal areas” designation from the nine million acres, but she said it would leave other conservation measures in place.

“Taking away the ‘sagebrush focal area’ protection would be removing just one of multiple layers of protection,” said the spokeswoman, Heather Feeney. There would still be buffer zones banning the destruction of sage grouse habitat near nests, and drilling and mining companies would have to apply for waivers to destroy habitat.

Environmentalists, however, said that would amount to a major weakening of environmental protections, and noted that it might be relatively easy for companies to receive the waivers from an administration that is actively promoting new drilling.

“It’s true that there are still some conservation measures in place,” Nada Culver, a lawyer with the Wilderness Society, said. “But now, if a company says, ‘I don’t want to comply with those protections,’ then the Interior Department can just give them a permit that says, ‘Go ahead, you’re allowed to destroy the habitat.’”

States could opt to keep the Obama-era protections in place, and could also require companies to pay in to similar state-level funds. At least two states, Montana and Oregon, are expected to keep the protections in place, but other states, including Idaho and Utah, plan to follow the loosening of the federal rules.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who would implement the revised sage grouse plan, has repeatedly said that the new plans would not harm the bird. “No one loves the sage grouse more than I do,” Mr. Zinke said in response to a question in 2017.

Environmentalists have dismissed that claim, calling the rollback of the sage grouse protections a gift to the oil and gas industry. “It’s hard to pretend at this point that Zinke is a steward of America’s public lands,” Mr. McEnaney said.

Experts on endangered birds also criticized the proposal’s scientific underpinnings, echoing a criticism of the Trump administration’s approach toward the use of data and research in policy proposals.

“Today’s announcement is not based on any new science that changes the picture of what biologists regard as absolutely necessary to keep sage grouse off the endangered species list,” John W. Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, said. “The Department of Interior is disregarding its own best available science.”

Government watchdog groups were critical of the role played by Mr. Zinke’s deputy secretary, David Bernhardt, in drafting the sage grouse plan. People familiar with the yearlong process say that much of the substantive work was performed by Mr. Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist. Since his confirmation to his position last year, Mr. Bernhardt has attracted criticism that his work creates a conflict of interest, given that he oversees proposals that could directly benefit his former clients.

As a partner in the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Mr. Bernhardt lobbied for the oil companies Cobalt International Energy and Samson Resources. His legal clients have included the Independent Petroleum Association of America and Halliburton Energy Services, the oil-and-gas extraction firm once led by former Vice President Dick Cheney.

In March, a group of oil companies, including the Independent Petroleum Association of America, wrote to Mr. Bernhardt to thank him for his work on actions “that rescinded and revised mitigation policies that far exceeded statutory authority.” The groups also listed policies they hoped that Mr. Bernhardt would change, including the Obama sage grouse plan.

“Many of Bernhardt’s former clients stand to benefit from this plan,” said Jayson O’Neill, deputy director of the Western Values Project, a nonprofit public lands advocacy group.

However, Mr. O’Neill and others acknowledge that since loosening the environmental restrictions would most likely benefit hundreds of companies and numerous industries — not just Mr. Bernhardt’s former clients — it is difficult to claim he was acting with the specific intent to help the former clients.

Ms. Feeney, the spokeswoman for the Interior Department, declined to make Mr. Bernhardt available for an interview.

In a statement released Thursday, Mr. Bernhardt said, “We know the successful conservation of the greater sage grouse requires the shared stewardship vision of the states, private citizens, landowners and federal land management agencies including those within the Department of the Interior.”

Some environmentalists pointed out one case in which the Trump administration’s actions could, in the long term, actually make drilling more difficult on sage grouse habitat: if the population declines so much that the bird gets placed on the endangered species list.

“It’s ironic,” said Mark Squillace, an expert on environmental law at the University of Colorado Law School. “If the species is listed, it will trigger all kinds of federal actions.”
...Read more

Monday, December 10, 2018

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, December 15, 2018 to Sunday, December 16, 2018:

City Island Bird Walks
Sunday, December 16, 2018, 8:30am
Hunter Island for Waterfowl and other Surprises
Meet at the Orchard Beach Parking Lot, in the NE Corner
I’m hoping for some sun and a beautiful morning. We’ll loop through Hunter Island for whatever we can find. By this time there should be some ducks. If you have a scope, please bring it.
If you have any questions, email me, jack@cityislandbirds.com
Please be aware that there is public transportation, but I cannot pick up anyone at the station. If you want to come by subway, email me, and I will give you directions.

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center
Meet at the Reflecting Pool at the Leon Levy Visitor Center
Included in All-Garden Pass
Get Tickets

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, December 15, 2018, 9am – 3pm
Van Trip to Winter Birds at Jamaica Bay
Register for our van trip to American Littoral Society's Winter Birds at Jamaica Bay (see description above) and get to Jamaica Bay the easy way—by passenger van! Bring lunch and water. Limited to 12. $68 (48)
Click here to register

Saturday, December 15, 2018, 10am – 1pm
American Littoral Society: Winter Birds at Jamaica Bay
Guide: Don Riepe with American Littoral Society and Gateway National Recreation Area
Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center for a slide program on winter birds and wildlife followed by a walk around the ponds and gardens to look for late fall migrants and early winter birds. Learn about bird migration, survival, and adaptation to cold temperatures and look for owls, hawks, finches, and waterfowl.
For information and reservations, contact Don Riepe at 718-474-0896 or donriepe@gmail.com. No limit. Free

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, December 15, 2018, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve
Explore the unique pine-oak woodlands and wetlands of this iconic park and wildlife adapted to this pine barren ecosystem. As a child this was one of my favorite places on the South Shore. In those days, Clay Pits Preserve was hidden away among the surrounding woodlands. Over time, human development has closed in making the preservation of this park even more essential.
Meet at the parking lot for the park located at 2351 Veteran’s Road West.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Jones Beach West End 2

From the Southern State Parkway, exit onto the Meadowbrook State Parkway south. After entering Jones Beach State Park, exit right (west) into the West End. Continue west to West End 2 parking lot; we meet in the northeast corner of the lot.

From the Wantagh State Parkway, travel south. Upon entering Jones Beach State Park, exit at Bay Drive and continue west to West End 2 parking lot; we meet in the northeast corner of the lot.
Directions via Google Maps

Bird walks led by a member of SSAS are conducted nearly every Sunday morning from late August through early June. Walks are open to the public and are free of charge. We especially encourage youngsters to attend.

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.


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Urban Park Rangers
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Animal of the Month Club: Northern Cardinal at Prospect Avenue and Brentwood Avenue (in Allison Pond Park), Staten Island
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers as we discuss the Northern Cardinal. This vibrant bird can be seen and heard in our parks throughout the winter season.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, December 08, 2018

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, December 7, 2018:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Dec. 07, 2018
* NYNY1812.07

- Birds Mentioned

BARNACLE GOOSE+
MEW GULL+
VARIED THRUSH+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
Cackling Goose
Canada Goose
TUNDRA SWAN
EURASIAN WIGEON
Red-necked Grebe
MARBLED GODWIT
Razorbill
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Ring-billed Gull
ICELAND GULL
GLAUCOUS GULL
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
BOHEMIAN WAXWING
Purple Finch
Red Crossbill
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin
Evening Grosbeak
Orange-crowned Warbler
Vesper Sparrow
Baltimore Oriole

(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

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

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

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings! This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, December 7, 2018 at 9:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are MEW GULL, VARIED THRUSH, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, BARNACLE and GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, BLACK-HEADED, GLAUCOUS and ICELAND GULLS, TUNDRA SWAN and EURASIAN WIGEON, MARBLED GODWIT and winter FINCHES.

Among the nice finds this week was an adult MEW GULL spotted and nicely photographed on Brooklyn Army Terminal Pier 4 Monday afternoon. Roosting among a large congregation of GULLS, including many RING-BILLEDS, the group eventually took flight, and the MEW has not since been relocated, though it could easily be in the area.

Late Wednesday morning a male VARIED THRUSH was spotted near Brooks Pond at Cloves Lakes Park on Staten Island. The Thrush made appearances in that area a few times during the afternoon but could not be refound on Thursday.

Another interesting report was a BOHEMIAN WAXWING heard as it flew by Stillwell Woods Park in Syosset last Saturday morning.

A BARNACLE GOOSE was still present Thursday north of Riverhead off Route 105 just south of the Northville Turnpike, and another was noted first on Monday in Southold on the North Fork just north of Sound Avenue, with presumably the same bird again today just west of Wells Road and south of Route 25, both BARNACLES moving around in large flocks of CANADA GEESE.

A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE is back in the Rye-Port Chester area of Westchester County, this Goose in prior years moving around with CANADAS between several local golf courses and ponds, including the lake at Playland Park in Rye, where it has not yet been seen this year.

Among some CACKLING GEESE reported locally were singles at Hendrickson Park in Valley Stream since Sunday, one on Mill Pond in Sayville Saturday, and another at Caumsett State Park Tuesday.

A TUNDRA SWAN was spotted on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Monday, and a drake EURASIAN WIGEON was still at the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center today, with another continuing on the ponds at the Cemetery of the Resurrection on Staten Island.

An adult BLACK-HEADED GULL was spotted Thursday on the bar off the Coast Guard Station at Jones Beach West End, where two MARBLED GODWITS were still lingering at least through last weekend.

An immature GLAUCOUS GULL was still hanging out at Triton Lane in Hampton Bays today, and an ICELAND GULL again visited Prospect Park Lake last Saturday.

A small number of RAZORBILLS have been off Montauk Point recently, and RED- NECKED GREBES this week were noted at Pelham Bay Park and the Salt Marsh Nature Center.

Among the incursion of winter Finches, many of the PINE SISKINS and PURPLE FINCHES have moved through our area, while RED CROSSBILLS, EVENING GROSBEAKS and now a few COMMON REDPOLLS continue to make irregular appearances as their numbers continue to build to our north. RED CROSSBILLS this week included eleven at Cedar Beach in the Mt. Sinai area, while single EVENING GROSBEAKS were reported from Stillwell Woods Park Saturday and at Jamaica Bay Monday, and two COMMON REDPOLLS were located in Sunken Meadow State Park last Saturday.

ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS locally included two at the New York Botanical Garden Saturday, one on Randall’s Island to Monday, another at Oakland Lake in Queens Monday, and one continuing in Central Park’s north end.

A VESPER SPARROW was in Alley Pond Park Tuesday, and other late passerines, with Christmas Bird Counts in mind, have included a BLUE-HEADED VIREO in Prospect Park and a few EASTERN PHOEBES, BALTIMORE ORIOLES, and lingering WARBLERS – let’s hope!

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or call Tom Burke at (914) 967-4922 and leave a message.

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

- End transcript
...Read more

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

The Christmas Bird Count is Coming!

Frank Chapman (June 12, 1864 – November 15, 1945) was an American ornithologist, conservationist and the creator of the now annual Christmas Bird Count. Intended as a form of protest against the Christmas day "side hunt" in which teams competed to see how many birds they could kill, Chapman decided instead to count birds. One hundred and eighteen years later it has become the longest running citizen science survey in the world. You can learn more about the history of the count here. If you'd like to participate in this year's CBC, check this link to a map to find information for your area. Below is the info for New York City:

Saturday, December 15, 2018
Brooklyn (Kings)
Bobbi Manian
roberta.manian [AT] gmail.com

Sunday, December 16, 2018
Lower Hudson NJ/NY
Kaitlyn Parkins
christmasbirdcount [AT] nycaudubon.org
212-691-7483

Queens County
Corey Finger
10000birdsblogger [AT] gmail.com

Sunday, December 23, 2018
Bronx-Westchester Region
Michael Bochnik
BochnikM [AT] cs.com
hras.org/bwcbc.html
914-953-7409

Click here for a complete listing for New York State.

Treehugger Tuesday

From the website "Treehugger":

Australia slashed plastic bag use by 80% in 3 months – here's how
Melissa Breyer
December 3, 2018

After a few big players entered the ring, the environment was spared some 1.5 billion plastic shopping bags in under 100 days.

This is remarkable, and a model for other countries around the world. After two of Australia's largest supermarket chains decided to nix single-use plastic shopping bags, the country saw an 80 percent drop in plastic bag consumption across the nation in the first three months of the ban, reports the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

According to The Guardian, Woolworths began prohibiting all single-use plastic bags from all stores nationwide on June 20th; their competitor, Coles, did the same on June 30th. It has been estimated that each chain was responsible for around 3.2 billion bags every year.

AAP says that the two supermarket giants stopped offering single-use plastic bags after years of campaigning by environmental groups and consumers. The press agency notes that while not all shoppers were on board (because, of course, heaven forbid the inconvenience of sparing the planet from being choked by plastic) (sorry) (not sorry), many other shoppers were in strong support of the initiative.

According to the National Retail Association (NRA), after just three months there was an 80 percent drop in the consumption of plastic bags across the country.

“Indeed, some retailers are reporting reduction rates as high as 90%,” said David Stout, Manager of Industry Policy, Research & Projects at the NRA.

Stout explained that the widespread prohibition also opened the door for smaller retailers to do the same, since the risk of losing customers over it has now been minimized. Noting that, “Obviously the best thing for smaller businesses is to either engineer out the bag completely or have the customer pay ... they should be able to consider that strategy without fear of backlash.”

Stout's words feel like they are coming from some kind of alternate universe, given the lobbying by industry associations in the U.S. to ban plastic bag bans. Stout goes on to say that he's hopeful that the big retailers continue to push for a more sustainable industry and to explore banning other single-use items.

“Everyone delivering things in a package need to take responsibility for what they deliver it in,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a lot more pressure on all of us to be more aware of what we consume.”

Given the success seen in Australia, may the rest of us follow suit.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Upcoming Bird and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, December 8, 2018 to Sunday, December 9, 2018:

Bedford Audubon Society
Saturday, December 8, 2018, 8:00am - 12:30pm
Read Sanctuary /Marshlands Conservancy
A favorite birding trip among members – main targets are waterfowl and loons on the Sound, Great Horned Owls, and lingering songbirds.
Depart Bylane at 7:15am or meet us at the boathouse on Playland Lake at 8am.
Easy-Moderate.
Please register with Susan at info@bedfordaudubon.org or 914.232.1999.
See more details

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Jamaica Bay Refuge
Leader: Chris Laskowski
Focus: winter species, fresh water ducks and other waterfowl
Car fee: $12.00
Registrar: Chris Laskowski celaskowski@yahoo.com
Registration Period: Dec 1st – Dec 6th
Please review our trip guidelines here: http://brooklynbirdclub.org/information-registration

Saturday, December 8, 2018, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Prospect Park: Birdwatching for Beginners
Leader: Cyrus Baty
Birdwatching for Beginners meets at the Prospect Park Audubon Center at The Boathouse at 12 noon. Bring binoculars if you have them; otherwise, binoculars are available for loan.

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Feminist Bird Club
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Fort Wadsworth
Leader: Jose

All walks follow the ABA Code of Birding Ethics

An inclusive bird watching club dedicated to promoting diversity in birding and providing a safe opportunity to connect with the natural world in urban environments while fundraising to protect the rights of all womxn, non-binary folks, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

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Gateway National Recreation Areas
Sunday, December 9, 2018, 10am — 12pm
Explore the Mysterious Back Woods at Fort Tilden
View Details

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Great South Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, December 8, 2018, 9:00am
Montauk
Leader(s): Bob Grover (516-318-8536), Ken Thompson (631-612-8028)

Meet at Lighthouse parking lot. Latecomers can still join in the vicinity of the restaurant overlook. Directions: Route 27 to 27A to end.

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Green-Wood Cemetery
Sunday, December 9, 2018, 7:15am - 8:45am
Birding in Peace
Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean that there aren’t interesting birds to discover in Green-Wood. For some bird species that migrate south after the breeding season, Brooklyn is their Miami during the cold months. Spend the early morning exploring the cemetery, looking for overwintering waterfowl, nuthatches, woodpeckers, sparrows, finches and any half-hardy birds that decided to stick around. By February we’ll see some of the early north-bound birds beginning to trickle back into the area.

Before our gates open to the general public, birding expert Rob Jett leads these peaceful Saturday/Sunday morning walking tours to discover the many birds that call Green-Wood home. Green-Wood’s official birding checklist is available to pick up from the security guard at the main entrance on 25th Street or to print here. Comfortable footwear is recommended.

$10 for members of Green-Wood and BHS / $15 for non-members

Click here for our inclement weather policy.

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Hudson River Audubon Society
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Pelham Bay Park
Meet at 8 AM in the far left corner or the large parking lot. We will search the woods for Fox Sparrows and the sound for waterfowl.
http://www.hras.org/wtobird/pelhambay.html

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center
Meet at the Reflecting Pool at the Leon Levy Visitor Center
Included in All-Garden Pass
Get Tickets

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Sunday, December 9, 2018, 8:00am – 10:30am
Intro to Birding: Bird Walk in Central Park
Guide: Tod Winston
Are you curious about "birding" but don’t have much (or any) experience? Come on a relaxed winter walk to some of Central Park’s hotspots to go over birding basics and see sparrows, finches, ducks, and more. Binoculars available. Limited to 15. $36 (25)
Click here to register

Sunday, December 9, 2018, 9:30am – 11:30am
Winter Birding at Wave Hill, Bronx
Sundays, December 9, January 13, February 10, and March 10, 9:30-11:30am
Guide: Gabriel Willow with Wave Hill
Meet at the Perkins Visitor Center. The Hudson River valley hosts an impressive diversity of bird species, even during the winter months. Come explore the beautiful gardens and woodlands of Wave Hill and observe the hardy birds that spend the winter in this urban oasis. Walks run rain or shine. Ages 10 and up welcome with an adult. See www.wavehill.org for admission rates. NYC Audubon members enjoy two-for-one admission

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Hempstead Lake State Park
From the Southern State Parkway, take Exit 18 (Eagle Avenue) south to Field 3 (use second park entrance and make an immediate left turn.)
Directions via Google Maps

Bird walks led by a member of SSAS are conducted nearly every Sunday morning from late August through early June. Walks are open to the public and are free of charge. We especially encourage youngsters to attend.

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.


**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Animal of the Month Club: Northern Cardinal at Forest Avenue and Silver Lake Park Road (in Silver Lake Park), Staten Island
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers as we discuss the Northern Cardinal. This vibrant bird can be seen and heard in our parks throughout the winter season.
Free!

Sunday, December 9, 2018
Winter Birding at Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
9:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
Explore Wave Hill’s tranquil gardens and woodlands with naturalist Gabriel Willow to observe birds in their winter habitats.

Birding: Waterfowl at Salt Marsh Nature Center (in Marine Park), Brooklyn
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Our Urban Park Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle. Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels. Beginners are welcome.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, December 01, 2018

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, November 30, 2018:

RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Nov. 30, 2018
* NYNY1811.30

- Birds Mentioned

BARNACLE GOOSE+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
Snow Goose
Cackling Goose
Canada Goose
TUNDRA SWAN
EURASIAN WIGEON
Common Eider
MARBLED GODWIT
BLACK-HEADED GULL
ICELAND GULL
GLAUCOUS GULL
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Eastern Phoebe
American Robin
European Starling
BOHEMIAN WAXWING
Cedar Waxwing
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Blackpoll Warbler
Baltimore Oriole
Red Crossbill
Common Redpoll
Evening Grosbeak


(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

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

Compilers: Tom Burke and 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, November 30, 2018 at 9:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are BOHEMIAN WAXWING, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, BLACK-HEADED, GLAUCOUS and ICELAND GULLS, TUNDRA SWAN, EURASIAN WIGEON, MARBLED GODWIT, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER and winter finches.

Early Thursday morning a single BOHEMIAN WAXWING was spotted and recognizably photographed as it flew with a few AMERICAN ROBINS past Crab Meadow Beach in Fort Salonga. A species noted for its irregular wanderings, BOHEMIANS are now appearing well north of us in irruptive numbers, with a good flock even in Kingston, Ulster County yesterday. With large numbers of CEDAR WAXWINGS still moving in the area, it could pay to watch for a BOHEMIAN in migrating flocks of CEDARS, though down here you are probably more likely to find one on its own or feeding with AMERICAN ROBINS or EUROPEAN STARLINGS in fruiting trees.

An adult GLAUCOUS GULL was seen Monday off Old Field Point north of Setauket, presumably the same bird in Conscience Bay a week earlier.

A large gathering of CANADA GEESE spotted last Saturday north of Riverhead also contained a BARNACLE GOOSE and three GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, as well as a CACKLING GOOSE and a Blue form of SNOW GOOSE. The BARNACLE was still present in the flock Monday, and the three GREATER WHITE-FRONTEDS were seen Sunday, one again Monday. This site is on the west side of Route 105, Cross River Drive, about half way between Route 25 to the south and the intersection with Northville Turnpike to the north.

Other CACKLING GEESE included two each at the West Babylon High School last Saturday and at Schmitt’s Farm in Melville Tuesday.

Two TUNDRA SWANS were in Georgica Cove in East Hampton last weekend; these birds should also be watched for on nearby Hook Pond.

A drake EURASIAN WIGEON was still at the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center in Brooklyn yesterday, and a male in transitional plumage was on ponds at the Cemetery of the Resurrection on Staten Island Wednesday and Thursday.

Odd for western Long Island Sound were seven COMMON EIDER last Saturday first seen off Playland Park in Rye and later off City Island in the Bronx; a single was also off Playland Sunday.

A young GLAUCOUS GULL found last Friday off Orchard Beach in the Bronx was seen on offshore islands there on Sunday, and another was reported off Triton Lane in Hampton Bays Wednesday.

Last Saturday an ICELAND GULL was spotted on Prospect Park Lake, with two different individuals then identified there on Wednesday, at least one continuing to today.

Two MARBLED GODWITS still present at Jones Beach West End last Saturday apparently moved across Jones Inlet to Point Lookout on Sunday but were back at Jones Beach West End today.

An adult RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was photographed at Hunters Island in Pelham Bay Park last Sunday.

Among the various winter finches still moving around as they look for places to settle into, single EVENING GROSBEAKS were noted last Sunday at Jones Beach West End and at Heckscher State Park, and nine RED CROSSBILLS were reported from Jones Beach West End the day before. A COMMON REDPOLL was heard moving over northern Westchester County today.

At least ten late EASTERN PHOEBES and four BALTIMORE ORIOLES were noted this week, as were a few ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS and other late WARBLERS, including OVENBIRD, NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH, NASHVILLE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and BLACKPOLL.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or call Tom Burke at (914) 967-4922 and leave a message.

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

- End transcript
...Read more

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Treehugger Tuesday

From "Earther":

The Best Way to Remove Invasive Species? Greedy Goats
Yessenia Funes
November 22, 2018

Connie Rieper-Estes likes to name her goat babies in batches. There are the cookie goats: Snickerdoodle, Biscotti, Nutter Butter, and Black and White Cookie. Before them came the ice cream-themed names: Neopolitan and Caramel Sundae. What better names to give a bunch of hungry goats?

But Rieper-Estes’ goats are more than your average grazers. The so-called Greedy Goats of Northwest Arkansas are a group of 20 whose job it is to travel around the city of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and eat invasive species. In Northwest Arkansas, that mostly includes bush honeysuckle and Chinese privet, the goats’ favorites.

“They’re not hungry goats,” Rieper-Estes told Earther. “They’re greedy goats. They’re out in the pasture before we take them to work, and we get them into the transportation by putting oats in there. Then, they eat all day.”

Rieper-Estes launched this business in 2015 after her initial three-goat herd began to multiply. She knew goats were effective at clearing brush and shrubs. (After all, she bought her first three to help clear blackberries from her property.) Out West, goats have become a popular fire suppression tool because they reduce the amount of natural fuel-like shrubs that help wildfire spread. To give you an idea of how in-demand goats have become for all sorts of purposes, HireGoats.com lists “goat service professionals” from around the country.

Still, it took Rieper-Estes some further research before realizing that her hungry friends could be a sustainable solution to removing invasive plants. They eliminate the need for toxic chemicals and energy-guzzling machinery that are often used to kill and remove plants. The goats also help fertilize the land with their droppings.

In Arkansas, the invasive species the goats like to eat can be especially detrimental because there’s no natural shrub layer in the state’s forests to compete with them, said Travis Marsico, the interim chair of Arkansas State University’s biology department. Their existence means fewer resources to sustain native plants on which local wildlife rely. The presence of Chinese privet, in particular, has been linked to slower canopy tree growth and potentially even tree decline and death.

“Possibly because there is no competition at this layer, these invasive species can come in and make a dense thicket, outcompeting native herbaceous plants,” Marsico wrote in an email to Earther. “This represents a huge problem for native species biodiversity.”

Luckily for native species like Virginia creeper and dogwood, this part of Arkansas has got goats on its side. Because goats don’t really eat stems, stalks, or roots, they’re not a one-and-done method of removing invasives. They are, however, an effective first step. Afterward, people must come in to finish the job and remove what’s left.

This is how a job typically goes: Rieper-Estes and her team survey the property a day or two beforehand, checking for any plants that are poisonous to goats, like azaleas. Then, they put up an electric fence that’ll surround the goats. Once it’s time to eat, Rieper-Estes takes about a dozen goats that voluntarily enter a minivan that transports them to the job site.

“There are a couple goats that never go,” she giggles.

The fence keeps them from eating anything they’re not supposed to and also protects them from someone’s annoying pet dog, for instance. These goats typically spend six hours a day working to clear a thousand square feet. Most jobs take about a week. Rieper-Estes likes to describe her job as “bringing her friends over to picnic in your yard.”

Greedy Goats now partners with the City of Fayetteville to remove invasive plants from Wilson Park every year. This was actually the goats’ first invasive-fighting gig in 2015, and it’s continued every year ever since. The goats have gone on to munch on nasty invasives for private homeowners and the University of Arkansas.

Goats as a weapon against invasive species are catching on around the U.S. There’s the Munch Bunch serving the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin that’s been around since 2015. In Maryland, Eco-Goats can come to the rescue. And for Greedy Goats, the work is just beginning. The goats will be back at the University of Arkansas next year to help clear out invasives again.

“The community loves them,” said Janis Partain, the biodiversity coordinator for the university’s Office for Sustainability, to Earther. “So that gives us an opportunity to educate the community and create awareness about invasive species when people stop by and talk to them.”

**********

Note that Brooklyn's Prospect Park has also been using goats.
...Read more

Monday, November 26, 2018

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, December 1, 2018 to Sunday, December 2, 2018:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, December 1, 2018
A Staten Island Tour
Leader: Seth Wollney
Focus: early winter species, raptors, ocean ducks, open field species
Car fee: $22.00
Registrar: Donna Evans devansny@earthlink.net
Registration Period: Nov 24th – Nov 29th
Please review our trip guidelines here: http://brooklynbirdclub.org/information-registration

Prospect Park: Birdwatching for Beginners
Leader: Cyrus Baty
Meets at the Prospect Park Audubon Center at The Boathouse at 12 noon. Bring binoculars if you have them; otherwise, binoculars are available for loan.

Sunday, December 2, 2018, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Prospect Park First Sunday Walk
Meets at the Prospect Park Audubon Center at The Boathouse, the first Sunday of every month except July and August. Leaders are members of the Brooklyn Bird Club. Bring binoculars.

**********

Green-Wood Cemetery
Sunday, December 2, 2018, 7:15am - 8:45am
Birding in Peace
By September, offspring of this year's nesting birds will be on their own. Returning warblers will be in their less flamboyant fall plumage. Large numbers of blackbirds, flycatchers, sparrows, vireos, and swallows will also be passing through. By October, waterfowl are returning, and we’ll look for raptors heading south. November will bring back our overwintering feathered denizens from the north.

Before our gates open to the general public, birding expert Rob Jett leads these peaceful Saturday/Sunday morning walking tours to discover the many birds that call Green-Wood home. Green-Wood’s official birding checklist is available to pick up from the security guard at the main entrance on 25th Street or to print here. Comfortable footwear is recommended.

$10 for members of Green-Wood and BHS / $15 for non-members

Click here for our inclement weather policy.

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Rye Playland and Environs
Leader: Tom Burke
Registrar: Louise Fraza — louisefraza@yahoo.com or 212-534-6182
Registration opens: Monday, November 19
Ride: $15 or public transportation

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center
Meet at the Reflecting Pool at the Leon Levy Visitor Center
Included in All-Garden Pass
Get Tickets

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, December 1, 2018, 9am – 4pm
The Freshwater Ponds of Long Island's South Shore
Guide: Tod Winston
Visit up to seven South Shore freshwater ponds that provide refuge to a surprising variety of wintering waterfowl—and great viewing opportunities to birders. Possible sightings include Hooded Mergansers, Green-winged Teals, Ring-necked Ducks, Northern Pintails, and Redheads. We’ll also make a short stop or two by the bay to look for loons, grebes, and sea ducks.
Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $94 (66) per trip
Click here to register

Sunday, December 2, 2018, 8am – 3pm
Birding Gems of Staten Island: Freshkills Park
Guide: Cliff Hagen
Come with NYC Audubon for a special opportunity to see Freshkills Park in transition from what was once the world’s largest landfill into an expansive park. Currently closed to the general public, the Park is home to rolling grasslands, tidal marshes, successional woodlands and a freshwater pond system, which host an array of breeding birds, butterflies, mammals, frogs, and turtles. Each autumn, migrant species abound as they travel along the Atlantic Flyway. Sparrows, Osprey, a collection of waterfowl, and lingering warblers seek refuge in the park. Overhead, raptors soar along the terminal moraine as they make their way south for the impending winter. Late-blooming flowers attract an assortment of butterflies and dragonflies.
Transport by passenger van from Staten Island St. George Terminal included. Limited to 12. $57 (40) per walk
Click here to register

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, December 1, 2018, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Richmondtown, Old Mill Road
Enjoy a stroll along the multi-use trail overlooking Fresh Kills with Ray Matarazzo. Walk back in time as you pass the famous Hessian Spring as it crosses the path and view Fresh Kills estuary as you work your way toward the remains of Ketchum’s Mill. Along the way observe traces of the past, examine the present woodland ecosystems and search for evidence of present inhabitants especially deer and other mammals.
Meet in the parking lot at the start of Old Mill Road, alongside St. Andrew’s Church.
For more information phone Ray Matarazzo at 718-317-7666.

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Montauk Point
Leader: Arie Gilbert (917) 693-7178

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Alley Pond Park
Take the Long Island Expressway west to Exit 29 (Springfield Blvd.). Turn left onto Springfield Blvd. south. Go five blocks and turn left onto 76th Ave. Quickly turn left into the 76th Ave. parking lot. We will meet at the far end of the lot. For a street map that shows the parking lot (and the entire neighborhood), go to www.nycgovparks.org/parks/alleypondpark/map (Google Maps labels it “Aarya park Parking lot"). For online directions, enter "76th Ave 11364" as the location.
Directions via Google Maps

Bird walks led by a member of SSAS are conducted nearly every Sunday morning from late August through early June. Walks are open to the public and are free of charge. We especially encourage youngsters to attend.

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.


**********

Urban Park Rangers
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Birding: Winter Waterfowl at Brookville Boulevard and Caney Road (in Brookville Park), Queens
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Our Urban Park Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle. Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, November 24, 2018

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, November 23, 2018:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Nov. 23, 2018
* NYNY1811.23

- Birds mentioned
BRANT
Lesser Black-backed Gull
BLACK-HEADED GULL
EURASIAN WIGEON
American Bittern
SANDHILL CRANE
MARBLED GODWIT
Short-eared Owl
EVENING GROSBEAK
Purple Finch
RED CROSSBILL
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin
LAPLAND LONGSPUR
Grasshopper Sparrow
American Tree Sparrow
DICKCISSEL
NORTHERN SHRIKE
Orange-crowned Warbler
Northern Parula
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Ovenbird

- 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

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

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, November 23rd 2018 at 9pm. The highlights of today's tape are BLACK-HEADED GULL, SANDHILL CRANE, NORTHERN SHRIKE, EURASIAN WIGEON, "Black" BRANT, MARBLED GODWIT, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, DICKCISSEL and winter finches including RED CROSSBILL and EVENING GROSBEAK.

Certainly the weather this week had an impact on the numbers and quality of rare birds encountered locally.

An adult BLACK-HEADED GULL, presumed to be a returning winter resident, was spotted Monday morning around the southwest portion of Conscience Bay north of Setauket. Unfortunately lack of public access makes viewing parts of the bay rather difficult.

Six SANDHILL CRANES were spotted Sunday heading west past the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch at the Butler Sanctuary in Bedford these presumably part of the influx noted moving into Westchester County late last week.

An immature NORTHERN SHRIKE was spotted last Saturday morning at the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center in Brooklyn, this possibly the bird seen 6 days earlier at Fort Tilden and so may be continuing in the area. A EURASIAN WIGEON seen again at the Salt Marsh Nature Center last weekend was just one of four noted this week. The others, all drakes, including one at Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown last Sunday, one again Wednesday on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and another on Avon Lake in Amityville today. Another interesting waterfowl was a "Black" BRANT seen again at Fort Tilden Thursday. This bird sometimes also on the adjacent Riis Park golf course.

Of the 3 or 4 MARBLED GODWITS recently seen on the bar off the Jones Beach West End Coast Guard Station at least one was still continuing there today.

A SHORT-EARED OWL paying a surprise visit to Randall's Island yesterday reminds us that as our wintering owls begin moving into the area we should all remember to exercise caution around these vulnerable visitors as continued harassment has all too often caused needless stress on these wonderful birds.

Some LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS continue in the area including 3 Tuesday at both Jones Beach West End and Robert Moses State Park with another at Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn Thursday.

A AMERICAN BITTERN was photographed in Prospect Park Wednesday.

The anticipation of winter finches this season continues to build and PURPLE FINCHES and PINE SISKINS have already arrived and continue to move through with small numbers of EVENING GROSBEAKS and RED CROSSBILLS joining the movement. Recent GROSBEAKS included one at a Wading River feeder Saturday, a flyover at Jones Beach West End Sunday and one at the north end of Central Park Monday. Jones Beach West End seems to so far have been the best place to see RED CROSSBILLS with up to 14 visiting the pines near the turnaround on Wednesday that same day finding 2 at Floyd Bennett Field. The very few COMMON REDPOLLS reported have been flyovers these including 2 at Fort Tilden Thursday morning but their numbers are quickly building up north of us.

A LAPLAND LONGSPUR appeared with Snow Buntings and Horned Larks at Smith Point County Park Wednesday morning and single DICKCISSEL reports featured heard birds at Jones Beach West End Sunday and at Conference House Park on Staten Island Monday. A GRASSHOPPER SPARROW was at Playland Park in Rye last weekend.

Joining several ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS lately have been such late warblers as 2 OVENBIRDS in Union Square Park Wednesday with a CAPE MAY there the day before, 2 NORTHERN PARULAS at Jones Beach West End last weekend and BLACK-THROATED BLUE in Central Park.

Recent influxes have included SNOW GEESE and AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS.

To phone in reports on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or call Tom Burke at (914) 967-4922.

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

- End transcript
...Read more

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Treehugger Tuesday

From Mother Nature News:

7 Reasons Why Arctic Sea Ice Matters
Russell McLendon
November 19, 2018, 11:30 a.m.

The vanishing veneer of frozen ocean isn't just vital for polar bears.

Ice in the central Arctic Ocean has thinned by more than 60 percent since 1975.

The Arctic hasn't been itself lately. Temperatures there are rising at twice the global rate, sparking an array of changes unlike anything seen in recorded history.

One of the most striking examples is the region's sea ice, which is now declining by about 13 percent per decade, with the 10 lowest seasonal minimums all recorded since 2007. In September 2018, Arctic sea ice tied for its sixth-lowest extent on record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

"This year's minimum is relatively high compared to the record low extent we saw in 2012, but it is still low compared to what it used to be in the 1970s, 1980s and even the 1990s," says Claire Parkinson, a climate change senior scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in a statement.

Arctic sea ice always waxes and wanes with the seasons, but its average late-summer minimum is now shrinking by 13.2 percent per decade, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And according to a 2017 study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, satellite estimates of Arctic sea ice may have been overestimated by as much as 25 percent, suggesting the meltdown is even more severe than previously thought.

Scientists widely agree the main catalyst is human-induced climate change, boosted by a feedback loop known as Arctic amplification. (Antarctic sea ice, meanwhile, is more buffered against warming.) The basic problem has become well-known even among laypeople, thanks largely to its compelling effect on polar bears.

But while many people realize humans are indirectly undermining sea ice via global warming, there's often less clarity about the reverse of that equation. We know sea ice is important to polar bears, but why is either one important to us?

Such a question overlooks many other dangers of climate change, from stronger storms and longer droughts to desertification and ocean acidification. But even in a vacuum, the decline of Arctic sea ice is disastrous — and not just for polar bears. To shed some light on why, here are seven of its lesser-known benefits:

*Click here to read the entire article*

Monday, November 19, 2018

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, November 24, 2018 to Sunday, November 25, 2018:

Bedford Audubon
August 25, 2018 through November 27, 2018, 9am to 4pm
Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch
Arthur Butler Sanctuary, Chestnut Ridge Rd., Bedford Corners, NY
The fall Hawkwatch starts Saturday, August 25! Join us at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch at the Arthur Butler Sanctuary on Chestnut Ridge Road in Bedford Corners every day from 9 am to 5 pm, weather permitting, to experience the miracle of raptor migration. Our data is combined with other Hawkwatch sites to create population and migration analyses that help us better protect raptors and their habitats.
See more details

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, November 24, 2018, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Prospect Park: Birdwatching for Beginners
Leader: Cyrus Baty Birdwatching for Beginners meets at the Prospect Park Audubon Center at The Boathouse at 12 noon. Bring binoculars if you have them; otherwise, binoculars are available for loan.

**********

Gateway National Park
Sunday, November 25, 2018, 11:00am
Fall Hike and Fort Tour
Location: Fort Wadsworth Visitor Center
Hike the paths of Fort Wadsworth. Bring binoculars and comfortable shoes. Reservations are required, please call 718-354-4655 to make a reservation and for more information.

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center
Meet at the Reflecting Pool at the Leon Levy Visitor Center
Included in All-Garden Pass
Get Tickets

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, November 24, 2018, 9:00am – 10:30am
Van Cortlandt Fall Bird Walks
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy with the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics. For more information, please call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

**********

NYC WILD!
Sunday, November 25, 2018, 10:00am - 5:00pm
George Washington Bridge Crossing/Palisades Park

For the FULL INFORMATION ABOUT EACH WALK click HERE

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, November 24, 2018
Grand Jones Beach
Leader: Ian Resnick

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, November 25, 2018
Point Lookout Town Park (and Lido Preserve afterwards)

From the Southern State Parkway, exit onto the Meadowbrook State Parkway south. Exit from the Meadowbrook at Loop Parkway (just before the Jones Beach toll booths) toward Point Lookout. The Loop Parkway ends west of Point Lookout at Lido Boulevard. Continue straight across Lido Boulevard into Point Lookout Park. Travel past the ticket booths and curve left into the very large parking lot on the south side of the park. Park in the southeast corner, closest to the private homes of the village of Point Lookout and the beach. We will walk east along the beach toward Jones Inlet. After returning to the parking lot, we will drive west on Lido Boulevard to Lido Beach Passive Nature Preserve on the north side of Lido Boulevard to walk through the bay marsh.

Directions to Point Lookout Park via Google Maps | Directions to Lido Beach Passive Nature Preserve via Google Maps

Bird walks led by a member of SSAS are conducted nearly every Sunday morning from late August through early June. Walks are open to the public and are free of charge. We especially encourage youngsters to attend.

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.


**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, November 24, 2018
Animal of the Month Club: Turkey Vulture at Arthur Kill Road and Brookfield Avenue (in Brookfield Park), Staten Island
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. Our Urban Park Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle.
Free!

Sunday, November 25, 2018
Birding: Owls at Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
1:00 p.m.–2:30 p.m.
Our Urban Park Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle. Lottery registration begins on Wednesday, November 14.
Free!
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Saturday, November 17, 2018

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, November 16, 2018:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Nov. 16, 2018
* NYNY1811.16

- Birds mentioned
SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER+
GRAY KINGBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Red-necked Grebe
Parasitic Jaeger
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE
Lesser Black-backed Gull
LITTLE GULL
Harlequin Duck
American Bittern
Cattle Egret
SANDHILL CRANE
Marbled Godwit
NORTHERN GOSHAWK
Rusty Blackbird
Evening Grosbeak
Purple Finch
Red Crossbill
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin
BLUE GROSBEAK
NORTHERN SHRIKE
Worm-eating Warbler
Cape May Warbler
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (western subspecies "Audubon's" form)

- 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

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

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, November 16th 2018 at 9pm. The highlights of today's tape are GRAY KINGBIRD, SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER, NORTHERN SHRIKE, LITTLE GULL, SANDHILL CRANE, NORTHERN GOSHAWK, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, Audubon's form of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, BLUE GROSBEAK and some winter finches.

Last Saturday morning a GRAY KINGBIRD was found and photographed near the park entrance booth at Jones Beach West End. Those who could get there quickly were able to see the KINGBIRD but with the heavy winds the bird disappeared shortly thereafter and could not be subsequently be relocated.

Given its rarity locally, a SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER Saturday morning at Point Lookout Town Park across Jones Inlet from the GRAY KINGBIRD received surprisingly little notoriety and also could not be re-found once word starting getting spread. Four HARLEQUIN DUCKS were around the Point Lookout jetties Saturday.

A great coastal flight Sunday morning after Saturday's winds abated somewhat was documented nicely at Fort Tilden and at Robert Moses State Park. A highlight at Fort Tilden was an immature NORTHERN SHRIKE hanging around the Battery Harris observation site for awhile before disappearing at midday. Also notable there were various winter finches including single EVENING GROSBEAK and COMMON REDPOLL among over 95 PINE SISKINS and 125 PURPLE FINCHES, 79 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were also counted and 2 RED-NECKED GREBES were seen offshore with a few other RED-NECKEDS also noted this week. At Robert Moses State Park Sunday there were around 1,000 PINE SISKINS as well as an EVENING GROSBEAK and a few RED CROSSBILLS with 5 RED CROSSBILLS also found feeding in the conifers at the inner Jones Beach West End turnaround. The hedgerow by the West End Coast Guard Station Sunday provided an Audubon's form of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER as well as a CAPE MAY WARBLER. A second immature NORTHERN SHRIKE also appeared Sunday at Heckscher State Park near field 6 but it too flew off around midday.

On Thursday a large offshore congregation of gulls at Moses Park featured an immature LITTLE GULL and attracted a PARASITIC JAEGER. A BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE was seen off Moses Wednesday morning.

Among some widely dispersed EVENING GROSBEAKS this week was one at Jones Beach West End yesterday while a few sightings of RED CROSSBILLS included one each at Green-wood Cemetery Sunday and Floyd Bennett Field Monday, these in Brooklyn, 6 more at Jones Beach West End Tuesday, 6 at Moses Park Wednesday and 5 at Tobay Beach today.

At the hawkwatch site at the Greenwich Audubon Center in northwestern Greenwich a flock of about 30 SANDHILL CRANES past high over the site Wednesday morning followed by another much lower group of 12 Thursday morning both flocks moving southwest into Westchester County. The Wednesday group was seen approaching the Hudson River near Ardsley but the Thursday dozen were not sighted again.

CATTLE EGRETS included one over Point Lookout and 2 at Wainscott Pond last Saturday as well as one at Southaven County Park on Tuesday. This latter one presumably the same one seen today in the Route 27 median just west of the park.

NORTHERN GOSHAWKS, all immatures, were reported this week from Pelham Bay Park Saturday, from Tobay and West Gilgo Sunday, presumably the same individual, and at Moses Park Wednesday. At least 4 MARBLED GODWITS continued at Jones Beach West End to Thursday and up to 12 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were in the Jones Beach West End parking lot to Saturday.

Single AMERICAN BITTERNS were seen today at the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center in Brooklyn and at Tobay. A BLUE GROSBEAK was found at the Lenoir Preserve in Yonkers last Sunday and among some late warblers was a WORM-EATING Monday in Gardiner County Park in West Bayshore.

To phone in reports on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or call Tom Burke at (914) 967-4922.

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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