Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

New York City Rooftop Solar Energy Potential

According to Boston-based startup Mapdwell, by using an advanced solar mapping tool developed at MIT they have identified New York City rooftops as being able to generate 4.7 gigawatts of solar energy. From their website:

Mapdwell Solar System™ New York City is the first website for all New Yorkers to discover their solar potential, explore their options and connect with local installers, making solar exciting and straight-forward.

Solar System is the most advanced online rooftop-solar tool available, providing detailed and accurate information to over 8 million New Yorkers across the five boroughs, and helping businesses and home-owners visualize their solar opportunity and take action.

The New York City project covers over 1 million buildings and identifies 4.7 gigawatts of high-yield photovoltaic potential, capable of delivering over 5 million megawatt-hours per year. This is over $18 billion in local business that could provide enough clean, renewable energy to 475,000 American homes while offsetting carbon emissions equivalent to planting over 70 million trees. Mapdwell wants to help New Yorkers work with the sun!

Solar System provides the community with an effective model for crowdsourcing the clean energy economy and creating value through distributed generation. The platform allows for users to connect with local installers by sharing their solar reports, simplifying going solar and enabling customers and professionals to speak the same language.

Mapdwell – the leader in urban solar mapping – works to support communities across the United States and abroad in promoting education, spreading knowledge, and increasing adoption of renewable energy sources.

Learn more at mapdwell.com

Monday, August 24, 2015

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, August 29, 2015 to Tuesday, September 1, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, August 29, 2015, 12–1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club

Sunday, August 16, 2015, 10 am – 11 am
Family Bird Watching
Looking for a fun way to spend time with your family outdoors? Join the Prospect Park Alliance for its monthly family bird watching tours. After learning how to use binoculars, join our naturalists to identify some of the 250 species of birds that call Prospect Park home. Please note this tour leaves promptly at 10 am.

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Prospect Park
Meet 7:00 am at Grand Army Plaza park entrance, "Stranahan "statue
Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: early fall migrants, warblers, flycatchers, and songbirds

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Freshkills Park (Staten Island)
Sunday, August 30, 2015, 6:00am
2015 Macaulay Honors College Freshkills Park BioBlitz!

In partnership with CUNY Macaulay Honors College, nature lovers and citizen scientists will canvas 300 acres of North Park to count all of the birds, reptiles, mammals, fish and plants that call this park home. Led by experts who have conducted similar research projects at Central Park and the New York Botanical Gardens, the 24-hour event will help us begin to document the resurgence of wildlife and the biodiversity at Freshkills Park.

BioBlitzAll CUNY Macaulay Honors College sophomores will be participating in the event, but we also have slots open for ecology enthusiast members of the public. Participants must be at least 14 years of age, and if under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult (both will need to register). To participate, email cait.field@parks.nyc.gov. Check in will take place at the St. George Ferry terminal and coach bus transportation will be provided to the park (all participants must check in at St. George and travel to and from the park via the provided transportation).

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Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Sunday, August 30, 2015, 8:00 AM
Makamah Preserve
Makamah Preserve is a 160 acre park in the village of Fort Salonga. It is made up of rolling hills and valleys, with upland forest, wooded wetland and saltmarsh habitats. We will search for migrating songbirds and waterbirds, especially warblers, flycatchers, & sandpipers.
Registration: 585-880-0915
Directions: Take Rte. 25A (Fort Salonga Rd.) east into the village of Fort Salonga and look for the sign and parking area for the park.

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

Trips return on September 5, 2015

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, August 29, 2015, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics. For more information, please call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

Saturday, August 29, 2015, 7:30am – 5:00pm
10th Annual Shorebird Festival at Jamaica Bay
During the past 40 years, over 40 species of shorebirds (including rare and accidental vagrants) have been recorded at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s East and West Ponds from mid-July through October, with the greatest diversity and abundance usually occurring in August. We invite you to attend our tenth annual celebration at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, August 29.

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

For more information, contact NYC Audubon at 212-691-7483 x 306, the American Littoral Society at 718-474-0896, or Don Riepe at donriepe@gmail.com
http://www.nycaudubon.org/annual-shorebird-festival-jamaica-bay
Schedule TBD

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Queens County Bird Club
Sunday, August 30, 2015 – Monday, August 31, 2015
CRESLI Whale and Bird watching trip at Montauk point Viking Fleet
Where: Montauk point Viking Fleet map

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Jones Beach West End #2
Notes:
All walks start at 9:30 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Park at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds.
Free!

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

Friday, August 21, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending August 21, 2015:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Aug. 21, 2015
* NYNY1508.21

- Birds mentioned
FEA'S PETREL+
LEACH'S STORM-PETREL+
BRIDLED TERN+
SANDWICH TERN+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Cory's Shearwater
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
AMERICAN AVOCET
Solitary Sandpiper
WHIMBREL
Red Knot
Western Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
BAIRD'S SANDPIPER
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Black Tern
Royal Tern
Black-billed Cuckoo
Olive-sided Flycatcher
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
Worm-eating Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler

- Transcript

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44(at)nybirds{dot}org.

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

To report sightings call:
Tom Burke (212) 372-1483 (weekdays, during the day)
Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

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

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, August 21st 2015 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are far offshore FEA'S PETREL, LEACH'S STORM-PETREL, BRIDLED TERN and onshore SANDWICH TERN, AMERICAN AVOCET, BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, WHIMBREL and YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER.

A fishing boat venturing out Tuesday to about 76 nautical miles south southeast of Shinnecock had the good fortune of encountering a FEA'S PETREL which circled the boat close enough for some very nice photographs to be taken. Also noted well offshore were CORY'S SHEARWATER, 4 LEACH'S and 30 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS and a BRIDLED TERN. Back onshore a SANDWICH TERN was spotted at Shinnecock Thursday morning during the rising tide, the bird seen from Road K sitting on flats on the western side of the island that is west of the Ponquogue Bridge. A WHIMBREL was also at Tiana Beach with 5 BLACK TERNS in Shinnecock Inlet.

At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge the AMERICAN AVOCET found on the East Pond back on the 12th was still present around the north end today. Other shorebirds utilizing the pond especially during the higher tide cycle have included a small number of STILT, PECTORAL, WHITE-RUMPED and more recently WESTERN SANDPIPERS. A SOLITARY SANDPIPER and RED KNOT have also been noted this week. Single adult and immature GULL-BILLED TERNS continue to feed over the pond daily and 3 BLACK TERNS were there today.

A surprising Kinkajou spotted at the bay a few times since last Thursday presumably released there was captured in Broad Channel Wednesday and hopefully will now be properly cared for.

A BAIRD'S SANDPIPER found Monday in the mostly dried pools between field 2 and the Roosevelt Nature Center at Jones Beach West End was still frequenting that site today among the nice concentration of shorebirds. Also at the West End today a dozen or more BLACK TERNS were present in Jones Inlet with 4 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS on the beach, 4 more LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were at Robert Moses State Park today and 4 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS were spotted offshore there.

A WHIMBREL was among 16 species of shorebirds at Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes last Sunday with a BLACK and 4 ROYAL TERNS also there. Among the birds at Sagg Pond in Bridgehampton Monday afternoon were 4 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and 5 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS.

Recent ROYAL TERNS include 2 at Riis Park Saturday and 2 at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn to Wednesday.

At least one of the breeding YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS was still at Connetquot River State Park in Oakdale on Sunday. Other warblers in the city parks this week featured a MOURNING WARBLER midweek in Central Park along with 20 or so other species mostly still in very low numbers and featuring such less common species as WORM-EATING, HOODED and WILSON'S. A decent variety of flycatchers was also reported in Central including OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER and various empidonax which in the Fall can pose some identification issues. Prospect Park tipped in with a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO on Monday.

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 Marbled Godwit, a large shorebird with a long, upturned bill, is the most widespread godwit species. Breeding in grasslands and scattered wetlands within the northern prairies of the United States and Canada, most winter in coastal mudflats and beaches. While their numbers were reduced dramatically in the 1800s due to hunting, conservation laws helped their population recover, although recent declines are related to nesting habitat being converted to farmland. While the IUCN Red List labels Marbled Godwit as a species of "Least Concern" it is nonetheless included on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists species most in danger of extinction without significant conservation action. This long-lived shorebird has been recorded as living up to 30 years old in the wild. The scientific name, Limosa fedoa, means "muddy godwit".

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

New York City Still Using Banned Pesticides

The following article was just published in "CityLimits":

City Still Using Pesticides Despite 2005 Law Banning Them
By Elah Feder | August 10, 2015

Anvil 10+10, the insecticide used in the annual West Nile Virus spraying, contains piperonyl butoxide, is listed as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA. But West Nile carries its own risk. The city must balance the two.

Despite a local law that bans New York City from using pesticides linked to cancer, city agencies apply thousands of pounds of these substances each year.

When Local Law 37 passed in 2005, environmental groups like Beyond Pesticides praised the city for being at the forefront of national efforts to curb pesticides.

And in its annual pesticide reports, the city suggests the legislation has been successful, declaring that as of May 2006, "use of all pesticides classified by the EPA as possible, probable or known human carcinogens ended."

In November that year, the report continues, the city eliminated pesticides classified as developmental toxins by the State of California – also prohibited under Local Law 37. Finally, EPA Toxicity Category 1 pesticides were prohibited as of November 2005.

But the same reports show that eight years later, a swath of exemptions carved out in the law have freed city agencies and their contractors to continue applying thousands of pounds of these substances each year.

In 2013, the latest year for which data has been released, the city applied 25,000 pounds of solid pesticides that constituted Local Law 37 exemptions, accounting for almost a quarter of the total 111,000 pounds of solid pesticides reported in the latest report. In addition, 1,900 gallons of exempted liquid pesticides were applied, representing over a quarter of total liquids used. Reports dating back to 2007 reveal similar patterns. Despite a trend of decreasing pesticide use by city agencies since reporting began, these prohibited classes do not appear to be declining.

Golf courses a frequent target

Prohibited substances do not include Roundup, the subject of recent intensified scrutiny when earlier this year, the World Health Organization declared Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, to be "probably" carcinogenic to humans. However, the EPA has not designated glyphosate to be carcinogenic nor highly toxic, so its use does not currently require an exemption under Local Law 37. In 2013, the city applied 830 gallons of glyphosate-based products, the majority by the Department of Parks and Recreation

Exempted pesticides do include, however, products containing chlorothalonil, a fungicide listed as a "likely" human carcinogen by the EPA. Chlorothalonil has been found to increase the rate of adenomas and carcinomas in rats and mice.

In 2013, the latest year for which data has been released, the Parks Department reported using 6,150 pounds of chlorothalonil-based pesticides, in line with amounts reported in previous years.

The annual reports do not specify the purpose and location of each application, and the Parks Department did not respond to a request for comment. However, the most common target for fungicides were golf courses, according to the 2013 report.

Indeed, the bulk of the chlorothalonil-containing applications were of Andersons Turf Fungicide with 5.0% Daconil (a brand name for chlorothalonil), which is recommended for use on golf courses, athletic fields, cemeteries and parks. The manufacturer warns consumers, however, not to use the product on home lawns, or turf next to daycares or schools.

Despite being deemed a likely carcinogen, chlorothalonil can be applied on golf courses because under Local Law 37 courses are granted a blanket exemption.

That’s not unusual, says Laura Haight, a former a senior environmental associate at the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) who helped advance Local Law 37. She notes that golf courses are routinely exempt from pesticide laws. "They’re incredibly toxic," she adds.

Also exempt under the law are professional athletic fields, and swimming pools where pesticides are used to "maintain water quality."

As is often the case with pesticides, although nearly 4,000 pounds of Anderson’s Turf Fungicide were applied, the product’s active ingredient chlorothalonil accounts for only a small proportion—5 percent—of the formulation:. The rest consists of undisclosed "other" ingredients, also known as "inert" ingredients.

Despite being referred to as "inert," a term the EPA has acknowledged is misleading to consumers, these ingredients can themselves be toxic or possibly carcinogenic, and can enhance the toxicity of the active ingredient. Manufacturers are only legally required to reveal the active ingredients, however.

Health Dept. can grant exemptions

Where a blanket exemption has not been issued, an agency can be cleared to use a pesticide by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

For example, Anvil 10+10, the insecticide used in the annual West Nile Virus spraying, contains piperonyl butoxide, which is listed as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA. Every year since the law came into effect, the Health Department has granted its Office of Vector Surveillance and Control a waiver for "temporary relief from the prohibition on the use of pesticides that may otherwise be prohibited from use on New York City property."

In an August 8th press release, the No Spray Coalition criticized the Health Department for granting waivers to itself. "No other agency reviews its application. The checks and balances envisioned in Local Law 37 are thus thwarted," they wrote.

Other pesticides are exempted under city-wide waivers each year. For example, insecticide gels containing fipronil and hydramethylnon both classified as possible human carcinogens by the EPA, are under regular use by NYCHA, which laid down 150 pounds of fipronil-based products across 3,400 applications and 110 pounds of hydramethylnon products across 95 applications.

In the annual waiver letter, Daniel Kass, the Health Department’s deputy commissioner of environmental health, notes that these products are of minimal risk to human health because they can be "used in a targeted manner that limits the likelihood of human exposure." Likewise, Haight notes that these products are typically enclosed within bait containers.

Fears can be overblown

Possible carcinogens, or even likely carcinogens, might not be cause for concern where exposure is minimal. Anvil, for example, is applied at 0.0034 pounds per acre, Levi Fishman, deputy press secretary at the Health Department, explained in an email earlier this year.

"When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health. It degrades rapidly in sunlight, provides little or no residual activity, and does not accumulate in the environment," he wrote. Nonetheless, the city advises residents to bring children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothing indoors before spraying takes place, and to wash anything that has come in contact with Anvil.

Activists like Cathryn Swan of the No Spray coalition aren’t convinced that Anvil degrades as readily as the city assures. The pesticide can, for instance, linger longer in the soil or in areas shaded from sunlight. In soil, the half-life of sumithrin is 1-2 days, meaning it would degrade almost entirely in 5-10 days, but potentially linger much longer in bodies of water, according to the National Pesticide Information Center. No Spray has also expressed concern about potential ecological impacts on bees and aquatic organisms. Local Law 37, however, focuses exclusively on human health impacts..

Even where rates of exposure are greater than anticipated, a possible human carcinogen is not necessarily carcinogenic. The "possible" designation is applied when there is some limited evidence of carcinogenicity. For piperonyl butoxide, lab results have been mixed, with some studies finding cancer-causing at very high doses and others not finding an effect.

However, a pesticide’s risk classification can be a matter of dispute.

Dr. Brian Dementi, formerly a senior toxicologist at the E.P.A., was the lead scientist in charge of evaluating the safety of malathion, the pesticide New York City used before switching to Anvil.

In an independent scientific advisory panel in 2000, Dementi testified that malathion should be classified as a "likely" carcinogen. But in the end, the agency rejected his conclusion, arguing that the insecticide was safe if properly used, and decided to designate malathion as having "suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity"– a lower risk classification.

When the West Nile outbreak first hit New York, and the Health Department was spraying malathion by helicopter, Dementi was conflicted, but ultimately believes the justification for using any given pesticide comes down to a risk-benefit calculation.

"It did indeed bother me," he says. "But on the other hand, it was preventing encephalitis. One always has to consider the risk assessment… Is there greater risk of not doing it? You’ve always got to discern. It’s a hard thing balancing risk versus benefit."

Though fewer than 1 percent of those infected develop severe symptoms, West Nile can cause neurological damage and death, according to the Center for Disease Control. Since 1999, there have been 317 cases of symptomatic West Nile infection reported in New York City, 38 of them fatal, according to the Health Department, a rate of under one case per 100,000 people.

Advocate: Notification is key

Despite the Local Law 37 exemptions, Haight, who worked closely with the Health Department on curbing pesticide use during her years at NYPIRG, says she is proud of the law.

"There’s no such thing as a perfect law. All laws are developed with compromises," she says, adding that she believes the Health Department has acted in good faith to reduce pesticide use and minimize risks. "We worked with a lot of places that passed laws, but no one’s been as vested."

"The law should be stronger," says Joel Kupferman, executive director and senior attorney at the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project. Its major weakness, he argues, is that exemptions are granted at the city level. Instead, requests for exemptions should be evaluated at the state or federal level, instead of by the city, Kupferman says. In addition, he believes that agencies offer inadequate, or insufficiently transparent, reporting on adverse effects.

Though New York City and activists might not see eye-to-eye on pesticide risks and classifications, Swan is asking the city to at least better inform residents.

"We’re basically saying you if you are going to do it, at least be giving people proper notification," she says.

In April, Swan attended meeting of Brooklyn Community Board 7, where a Health Department representative had been invited to talk about the upcoming West Nile Virus spraying. A resident who had signed up for Notify NYC email alerts complained that she sometimes received notice after the spraying had happened. Jeremy Laufer, the district manager, added that 24 hours notice was not enough, and said that the administration relied too much on email, rather than physical notices—a problem for a community where many households don’t have internet access.

Others in attendance wanted to know how dangerous these substances are, whether they were carcinogenic and whether they build up in the environment. The representative, who had only been on the job for three weeks at that point, wasn’t sure of the answers.

The Health Department has not responded to a request for comment about Local Law 37.
...Read more

Monday, August 17, 2015

Warblers in Prospect Park

Despite oppressive heat and humidity this morning, there was a pretty good showing of migrant songbirds in Prospect Park.

I figured the best way to try and beat the heat was to stick to the park's wooded areas. In the couple of hours that I strolled the Ravine, Lookout Hill and the Peninsula I managed to tally 12 species of warbler. The most memorable was a Worm-eating Warbler. I had just sat down on the top step of the stone stairway adjacent to the Nethermead Arches. I heard something moving low in the shrubs behind my head and turned to see the worm-eating working some dead leaves only about three feet from my face. I watched for what seemed like minutes this tiny, elegant, understated wood-warbler as it probed for insects within clumps of curled, withered leaves.

**********

Location: Prospect Park
Date: August 17, 2015
Species: 51

Wood Duck (1.)
Great Blue Heron (1.)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (2.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1.)
Spotted Sandpiper (1.)
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker (1.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (2.)
Willow Flycatcher (1.)
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Barn Swallow
House Wren (1.)
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing

Ovenbird (4.)
Worm-eating Warbler (2.)
Louisiana Waterthrush (1.)
Northern Waterthrush (5.)
Blue-winged Warbler (1.)
Black-and-white Warbler (10.)
Common Yellowthroat (1.)
Hooded Warbler (1, male. Ravine along ridge opposite Ambergil.)
American Redstart (12.)
Yellow Warbler (6.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (1.)
Canada Warbler (6.)

Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole (2.)
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Mallard, Laughing Gull, Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon), Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker (1.), Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow
...Read more

An Old Shorebird in Brooklyn

Last year I posted a piece about a Red Knot that has become known as "Moonbird". This long-distance migrant was banded over 21 years ago and has traveled the equivalent distant of the Earth to the Moon and halfway back. Now it appears that Brooklyn has had a visit from a close runner up.

At this time of year many of us local Brooklyn birders spend our early mornings looking for shorebirds at Plum(b) Beach. So far it has been an unremarkable season with mostly the expected species seen. Sanderlings are one of the common species seen along the coast during migration with a small percentage of them remaining through the winter along the ocean beaches. On August 9th my friend Heydi took a photograph of one that was sporting several blue bands. She entered the information on the website "www.bandedbirds.org", which maintains a database of banded shorebirds. The response from their database administrator was very surprising:

**********

From: "Banded Birds"
Date: August 16, 2015 at 5:43:25 PM EDT
Subject: RE: Recent report to bandedbirds.org

Hi Heydi,

Thanks so much for continuing to report to bandedbirds.org. The sanderling you reported is an “oldie!” Prior to the use of coded flags, many shorebirds were banded as cohorts, i.e. many birds banded in like manner to denote time and/or place. The combo you saw was used in 1998 during spring stopover along the Delaware Bay on the NJ side. Also, the upper right looks white in the photo, but that is the metal USGS band.

Cheers,

Jeannine

Jeannine M Parvin
Database Administrator
www.bandedbirds.org


**********

That would make this bird at least 17 years old! Sanderlings breed in the high arctic with most wintering in South America. They travel, on average, anywhere from 1,900 miles to 6,200 miles from their wintering sites to their breeding grounds. Based on those numbers, Mr. Plumb Beach Sanderling has flown anywhere from 64,600 to 210,800 miles since he was banded! Pretty impressive for an animal that only weighs, on average, 60 grams (about 24 pennies). At the far end of that scale, however, our tireless Brooklyn visitor would still need to make the annual journeys a few more times to arrive at the Moon. He made it this far, so I'm rooting for him.
...Read more

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, August 22, 2015 to Sunday, August 23, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 12–1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club

Sunday, August 16, 2015, 10 am – 11 am
Family Bird Watching
Looking for a fun way to spend time with your family outdoors? Join the Prospect Park Alliance for its monthly family bird watching tours. After learning how to use binoculars, join our naturalists to identify some of the 250 species of birds that call Prospect Park home. Please note this tour leaves promptly at 10 am.

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Birds and Bugs on Ninham Mountain, Putnam County
Leader: Paul Keim
Registrar: Pearl Broder – pbroder3@nyc.rr.com or 212-924-0030
Registration opens: Monday, August 10
Ride: $35

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

Trips return on September 5, 2015

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics. For more information, please call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

Saturday, August 22, 2015, 8:00am – 10:30am
Prospect Park Bird Walk
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Meet under the arch in Grand Army Plaza. Join Gabriel Willow for a leisurely walk to get to know the summer bird residents of 'Brooklyn's Back Yard', beautiful Prospect Park. Although birding in the summertime in NYC can be a bit slow, Prospect Park has a wide variety of habitats that attracts a number of breeding bird species. We will explore the park's meadows, forests, and waterways in search of nesting waterfowl, green herons, barn swallows, yellow warblers, Baltimore orioles, and some of the other species that call the park home. Limited to 15. $33 (23)
Click here to register

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Hempstead Lake State Park
Notes:
All walks start at 9:30 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Park at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds.
Free!

Natural Areas Exploration Day at Randalls Island Natural Areas (in Randall's Island Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Come explore Randall’s Island’s wetlands and other natural areas- all ages are welcome at this free event!
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, August 15, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, August 14, 2015:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Aug. 14, 2015
* NYNY1508.14

- Birds mentioned

Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Little Blue Heron
Black Vulture
Bald Eagle
Peregrine Falcon
Piping Plover
AMERICAN AVOCET
Solitary Sandpiper
WHIMBREL
MARBLED GODWIT
White-rumped Sandpiper
BAIRD'S SANDPIPER
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
WILSON'S PHALAROPE
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Black Tern
Royal Tern
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Swainson's Thrush
Blue-winged Warbler
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
Prairie Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Hooded Warbler
Canada Warbler
BLUE GROSBEAK
Bobolink

- Transcript

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44(at)nybirds{dot}org.

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

To report sightings call:
Tom Burke (212) 372-1483 (weekdays, during the day)
Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

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

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, August 14th 2015 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are shorebirds including AMERICAN AVOCET, MARBLED GODWIT, BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, WHIMBREL, WILSON'S PHALAROPE, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE and landbirds including YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER and BLUE GROSBEAK.

Hurray! The East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge has now reached a point where it is attracting both decent numbers of birds and a few rarities.

A winter plumaged male AMERICAN AVOCET was found Wednesday around mid-pond and it was still present today along the western shore of the north end a little below Dead Man's Cove. Other unusual birds joining it today were a MARBLED GODWIT this morning that after awhile flew east and a WILSON'S PHALAROPE around midday in the northwest corner that was later seen just below the Raunt. A shorebird species total of 17 also featured 2 STILT, 6 PECTORAL and some WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS. Also today were 2 continuing GULL-BILLED TERNS and an immature BALD EAGLE plus an harassing PEREGRINE FALCON or two. Back on Wednesday a PIPING PLOVER was an interesting visitor to the pond and reports from last Saturday featured a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE seen with peeps circling but not sitting down at the south end early on and a WHIMBREL flying over the north end late in the day. Arriving ducks on the pond include BLUE-WINGED TEAL and GREEN-WINGED TEAL and NORTHERN SHOVELER, a few immature LITTLE BLUE HERONS are among the gathered herons and a BLACK TERN visited Wednesday.

Remember, the East Pond is at its best during the high tide period and it's still quite sloppy for walking on.

Plumb Beach in Brooklyn has also been producing some nice birds. A second BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, this an unusually early juvenile, appeared there last Sunday. This was followed by an adult LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER seen in the marsh on Tuesday and then a MARBLED GODWIT visiting there this afternoon. A couple of ROYAL TERNS were also there mid-week.

Highlights at Fort Tilden Tuesday were 7 WHIMBREL flying by and 2 BLACK TERNS in the gull, tern and skimmer assemblage.

A notable increase among the landbirds species in the parks began last Saturday with a good one when a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was spotted in Prospect Park in Brooklyn and the bird also noted on Sunday around the Peninsula. Like Prospect Manhattan's Central Park has also seen a notable increase in migrant variety though as it is still early numbers are expectedly small. A most unexpected bird was probably the GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER seen at the north end Wednesday this one of 20 plus species of warblers locally that have featured BLUE-WINGED, TENNESSEE, NASHVILLE, CHESTNUT-SIDED, MAGNOLIA, BLACK-THROATED BLUE, BLACKBURNIAN, PRAIRIE, WORM-EATING, LOUISIANA and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES, HOODED and CANADA WARBLERS. Even early YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were seen on the outer beach today. Also in Central this week were 2 BLACK VULTURES, BALD EAGLE, SOLITARY SANDPIPER, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, SWAINSON'S THRUSH and BOBOLINK.

Some LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS have featured up to 10 at Jones Beach West End field 2 and one Thursday at Fort Washington Park Boat Marina at the end of Dyckman Street in northern Manhattan.

Minimal reports from eastern Long Island this week do include lingering BLUE GROSBEAK at the former Grumman airport grasslands in Calverton and one or two WHIMBREL back at Cedar Beach County Park in Southold this a favored location in Fall.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

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

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday's Foto

Sticking with my recent, seasonally appropriate, shorebird theme, here is an American Avocet. This bird would fall under Jack Connor's "Instantly Identifiable" shorebird category. One shouldn't be surprised that the meaning of this large shorebird's genus, Recurvirostra, means "bent backwards". Avocets feed by sweeping their long "bent backwards" bill along the surface of the water stirring up insects and crustaceans. They will also eat seeds and small fish. Large population declines in the 19th and early 20th century were due to overhunting. Draining of freshwater wetlands for development also negatively impacted historic populations. Currently the IUCN Red List assesses the species as "Least Concern" due to its extremely large range and stable population. Avocet chicks are "precocious" and leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

Another Assault on the Marine Environment

The following story is about the potential collapse of a large component of the marine ecosystem due to greed, questionable marketing and shortsightedness. This comes to us from the organization SumOfUs via treehugger.com:

People Don’t Need Krill, Oceans Do
August 5, 2015
By Katherine Tu, SumOfUs

Three months ago a malnourished humpback whale was found washed up on the beaches of Washington state. This isn’t an isolated example — in fact twelve other whales were washed ashore in California this year and an unprecedented number of humpback whales, predominantly calves and juveniles, have been stranded on the west coast of Australia since 2008.

Scientists have consistently found that the reason behind most of these strange and increasingly frequent strandings is malnutrition. Why is this happening? To find the answer we literally have to go to the end of the Earth.

In the pristine and untouched reaches of the Antarctic ocean, a land of vast beauty, lives a tiny little, shrimp-like crustacean, krill. Although only a couple of inches long, this minuscule creature forms the basis of the entire marine ecosystem.

Crucially, krill are whales’ main source of food. A single humpback whale can eat up to 4.5 tonnes of krill each day. Humpback whales’ feeding season only lasts a couple of months. During this time they have to eat and store enough fat to be able to make a 3,100 mile long migration to their calving grounds.

Nobody knows how much krill is out there, but research indicates that populations have fallen by 80% since the mid-1970s due to climate change. In addition to this, there is a growing krill fishing industry. It’s easy to see how human influence is making whales much more vulnerable. To put it in the cautious words of a researcher: “[Humpback] whales feed almost exclusively on krill in the Antarctic and it's unknown what effect an expanding krill fishery in conjunction with climate warming might be having on the abundance of krill."

Meanwhile, some companies have cottoned on to the fact that there are big profits to be made from fishing krill from the depths of the Antarctic Ocean for aquaculture and to supply luxury omega-3 health supplements.

But why do humans need omega-3 krill pills? We don’t really. Even if you accept the less than scientific claims of the multi-billion dollar omega-3 industry about the pills’ health benefits, there are certainly more sustainable sources of omega-3 than krill, like a nutritious diet. The idea that we are gambling with the entire Antarctic ecosystem and the lives of incredible species like whales for the sake of “boosting our brain power,” as advertised in numerous health magazines is quite simply insane.

SumOfUs has started a campaign to get pharmacy giant CVS to remove krill oil supplements from their shelves. We started a petition asking CVS to stand by their sustainability claims and remove krill-based Omega-3 products from their stores. CVS is not the only company selling krill products, but it is one of the biggest and the one that it can make a difference by showing genuine leadership. As CVS has so far been refusing to remove these products, SumOfUs released this fun video aimed at raising the awareness of CVS costumers and other consumers:

The bottom line is that humans do not need krill, but oceans do. Whales do not have the luxury of choice of their omega-3 supplement or their diet, but we do. It is our joint responsibility to protect the vast Antarctic ecosystem and creatures that depend on it.

Join 95,000 other people and sign the petition calling for CVS to remove krill-based products at sumofus.org/cvs.

For any readers in the UK, there's also a petition calling for Sainsbury's to do the same.

...Read more

Monday, August 10, 2015

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, August 15, 2015 to Sunday, August 16, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, August 15, 2015, 12–1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club

Sunday, August 16, 2015, 10 am – 11 am
Family Bird Watching
Looking for a fun way to spend time with your family outdoors? Join the Prospect Park Alliance for its monthly family bird watching tours. After learning how to use binoculars, join our naturalists to identify some of the 250 species of birds that call Prospect Park home. Please note this tour leaves promptly at 10 am.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, August 16, 2015
Jamaica Bay Refuge
Leader: Rafael Campos
Focus: Peak of shorebird migration
Car fee: $10.00
Registrar: Donna Evans, email devansny@earthlink.net
Registration Period: August 4th - August 13th

**********

Fresh Kills Park Alliance (Staten Island)
Saturday, August 15, 2015, 1:00pm
Naturalist-Led Hike
Join us for an August hike lead by a naturalist working alongside the FkP Development team! The name of the naturalist and the flora and fauna expected will be updated closer to the event date. This program includes moderate to steep elevations. Water, bug spray, and comfortable shoes recommended. Space is limited, ages 10+. Free.
Meet shuttle into the park at Schmul Park (Wild Ave and Melvin Ave)
Sign Up at EventBrite

Sunday, August 16, 2015, 12:00pm
Kayak the Creeks
Join the Freshkills Park Team and Kayak Staten Island for a kayaking experience like no other! Kayak along the Fresh Kill and see the site from a different perspective. This three hour excursion will take you into the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge and up close to some of the varied wildlife that calls Freshkills Park home.
Kayaks, life vests, and brief safety training will be provided. Kayak events are currently limited to participants ages 16 and over, in good health and with basic swimming skills. Be prepared to get wet! Space is very limited. Email freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov if you own a kayak and wish to participate in this program with your personal kayak.
Sign up at EventBrite

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Jamaica Bay 22ND Annual Tom Davis Memorial Shorebird Walk
Leader: Sean Sime — seansime@seansime.com or 917-324-2735
Registration opens: August 3
Public transportation

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

Trips return on September 5, 2015

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, August 15, 2015, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics. For more information, please call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

Saturday, August 15, 2015, 9:30am – 2:00pm
Shorebird Walk in Jamaica Bay, Queens
Guide: Andrew Baksh
Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. We'll search the mudflats and ponds for breeding herons and egrets, Forster's and Common Terns, Clapper Rail, and American Oystercatcher, as well as migratory plovers and sandpipers that will already be headed south. Limited to 15. $40 (28)
Click here to register

Sunday, August 16, 2015, 10am – 1pm
Shorebird Identification Workshop
Guide: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC
Shorebirds are one of the most challenging groups of birds to identify, yet beautiful and fascinating once they can be distinguished. Learn to identify plovers and sandpipers (including "peeps") by learning behavior, field marks, and calls - then take a field trip to Jamaica Bay to practice your new skills. Limited to 12. $65 (45)
Click here to register

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

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Sunday, August 16, 2015, 8:30am – 1:00pm
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Leader: Corey Finger 518-445-5829
Meet: 8:30am at visitors center

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Park at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds.
Free!

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


**********

Young Birders Club (New York State)
Sunday August 16, 2015
Montezuma NWR
Sponsoring NYSYBC Partner: Rochester Birding Association
Montezuma NWR is one of New York State's top birding destinations. Shallow pools and cattail marshes are maintained for waterfowl. Pools are often drawn down for shorebirds in the fall. Upland and bottomland hardwood forests attract nesting birds and passerine migrants. Migrants of all types, especially shorebirds, ducks, eagles, osprey, and herons, will be seen. Our RBA guide is very familiar with the refuge and promises to show us her secret birding spots. We will have lunch at a wonderful local diner and after that, more birding for those that wish to continue. MNWR covers a vast area of varied habitat.

Visit www.rochesterbirding.com (go to Hotspots Montezuma- NWR for complete details on this birding mecca.
Note from Rochester Birding Association: No fee; donation to MNWR appreciated

Permission form due by 8/6/15. If you have not yet submitted a 2015 medical form (page 2 of the permission form) please submit it with your permission form.
...Read more

Friday, August 07, 2015

Friday's Foto

This week a Baird's Sandpiper was spotted at Brooklyn's Plum Beach. A member of the confusing "peeps" collective of small calidris sandpipers, it is most similar to the White-rumped Sandpiper. This high arctic breeding is usually only seen on migration in the Great Plains and is relatively rare around New York City. It is named for Spencer Fullerton Baird. The IUCN lists this species as "Least Concern".

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, August 7, 2015:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Aug. 7, 2015
* NYNY1508.07

- Birds Mentioned

Tricolored Heron
Willet
WHIMBREL
Red Knot
White-rumped Sandpiper
BAIRD’S SANDPIPER
PECTORAL SANDPIPER
STILT SANDPIPER
LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL
GULL-BILLED TERN
CASPIAN TERN
Black Tern
Royal Tern
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Purple Martin
Blue-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Worm-eating Warbler
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Canada Warbler
Bobolink
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44nybirdsorg

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

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

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings! This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, August 7, 2015 at 6:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are shorebirds including BAIRD’S, STILT and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, WHIMBREL and LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, CASPIAN and GULL-BILLED TERNS and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL.

Perhaps the week’s most unusual shorebird locally, especially by age, was the adult BAIRD’S SANDPIPER found Monday at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn, where it was still being seen Thursday either along the beach wrack east of the jetty or occasionally in the marsh. It has not yet been reported today.

The East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is slowly rounding into proper condition to accommodate migrating shorebirds, though conditions for birders remain tricky, especially at the north end, due to a slippery algae mat on the flats and the continuing high water - so be careful out there. Among the below normal number of species and total birds this past week were one or two STILT SANDPIPERS from Tuesday morning and six WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS appearing Thursday. Non-shorebirds there have featured one or two TRICOLORED HERONS, a CASPIAN TERN at the Raunt Saturday and seen again Tuesday, and a GULL-BILLED TERN last Sunday.

Up to 5 STILT SANDPIPERS were seen last weekend in the marsh by the marina at Timber Point Golf Course in Great River, just northeast of Heckscher State Park. Four still there on Tuesday were joined by a calling adult LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER.

A PECTORAL SANDPIPER was among some shorebirds at Breezy Point Tuesday, and 4 BLACK TERNS were among the many terns gathered there.

Further east at Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes the most notable shorebird was a lingering WHIMBREL, joined by a few “Western” WILLETS, a decent count of 53 RED KNOTS Monday, other seasonal shorebirds and up to 11 ROYAL TERNS.

A little west of Smith Point County Park on the flats at Bellport Bay Inlet Wednesday the congregation of shorebirds featured 4 WHIMBRELS and single PECTORAL and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS plus 23 ROYAL TERNS.

A small gathering of LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS in the Jones Beach West End 2 parking lot recently included 3 Monday and apparently a few more than that earlier. Last year at this time counts of Lessers there reached over
30.

Recently some land birds have also been moving into our City parks, including about a dozen species of Warblers, mostly species nesting just north of the City—the most distant of these would appear to be a TENNESSEE reported from the north end of Central Park Thursday; others have included OVENBIRD, both LOUISIANA and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES, AMERICAN REDSTART, WORM-EATING, BLUE-WINGED, BLACK-AND-WHITE, BLACK-THROATED BLUE, PRAIRIE and CANADA WARBLERS. Other species appearing recently have included EASTERN KINGBIRD, LEAST FLYCATCHER, WARBLING VIREO, BALTIMORE and ORCHARD ORIOLES and BOBOLINK as well as the continuing five species of Swallows and PURPLE MARTIN.

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

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

World Lion Day - August 10th

The killing of beloved Lion "Cecil" has created a lot of outrage across the globe. Perhaps people can channel some of that anger into supporting one (or more) of the following conservation organizations:

National Geographic: Big Cats Initiative
National Geographic – with filmmakers, conservationists, and Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert – launched the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports hands-on conservation and education projects combined with the Cause an Uproar global public-awareness campaign in support of lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, and other top felines. Get involved: National Geographic: Big Cats Initiative

Panthera: Project Leonardo
This group has collected some of the world’s leading wild cat experts to direct and implement effective conservation strategies for lions, cheetahs, leopards, tigers, jaguars and snow leopards. Their approach to wild cat conservation is science-backed and based on years of in-the-field experience. The group is a leader in programs to care for critical habitats and core populations connected by genetic and biological corridors, relieving the threats of habitat loss and conversion, human-lion conflict, bushmeat poaching and excessive trophy hunting. Get involved: Panthera: Project Leonardo

International Fund for Animal Welfare
This long-established group works to help threatened animals in more than 40 countries around the world. Along with animal rescue and cruelty prevention, they advocate for the protection of wildlife and habitats. The group is also working towards helping to ensure that the U.S. government lists the African lion as "endangered" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Get involved: International Fund for Animal Welfare

Lion Guardians
Lion Guardians is great. The groups has taken an innovative approach in which they work to preserve the cultural traditions of pastoralist communities and work with young Maasai and other pastoralist warriors to learn the skills needed to effectively mitigate conflicts between people and wildlife, monitor lion populations, and help their own communities live with lions. Lion Guardians monitor lion movements, warn pastoralists when lions are in the area, recover lost livestock, reinforce protective fencing and intervene to stop lion hunting parties, resulting in reduced livestock and losses and therefore the need to retaliate. More than 40 warriors are employed as Lion Guardians covering over thousands of square miles of key wildlife habitat in Kenya’s Amboseli ecosystem as well as the Ruaha landscape of Tanzania. Lion killing in the Lion Guardians’ areas has been nearly eliminated and the Amboseli lion population is now growing. So good. Get involved: Lion Guardians

Ruaha Carnivore Project
Part of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), the Ruaha Carnivore Project is working to create conservation strategies for large carnivores in Tanzania’s remote Ruaha landscape. The area supports around 10 percent of Africa’s lions making it an extremely important conservation area, yet the area has received little attention. Currently the project is gathering data on population statistics and ecology as well as educating local communities to reduce human-lion conflict. Get involved: Ruaha Carnivore Project

African Parks
This non-profit assumes responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. African Parks has implemented, supported and funded vital lion conservation management programs and is helping to ensure the long time survival of lion populations. Get involved: African Parks

LionAid
This UK-based non-profit brings about conservation awareness and is in the process of urging the U.K. government and EU to ban the importation of lion trophies in order to help stop game hunting in Africa. They have approached the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in an effort to list lion populations in west and central Africa as “regionally endangered” and are also striving to get the lion listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Species for further awareness and protection. Get involved: LionAid

You can find more information at the World Lion Day website.
...Read more

Monday, August 03, 2015

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, August 8, 2015 to Sunday, August 9, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, August 8, 2015, 12–1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club

Sunday, August 9, 2015, 10 am – 11 am
Family Bird Watching
Looking for a fun way to spend time with your family outdoors? Join the Prospect Park Alliance for its monthly family bird watching tours. After learning how to use binoculars, join our naturalists to identify some of the 250 species of birds that call Prospect Park home. Please note this tour leaves promptly at 10 am.

**********

Eastern Long Island Audubon Society
Saturday, August 8, 2015, 8:00am
Cupsogue and the Islands of Moriches Inlet
Trip Leader: Eileen Schwinn
We try to catch the wave of shorebirds passing our area on their migration. Meet Eileen at 8:00 am at the far end of the Cupsogue Beach parking lot. We will bird the bay-side shoreline and wade across the shallow water to the exposed flats. Be prepared to get wet. Please wear appropriate foot wear, bathing suits and/or shorts that can get wet. Don’t forget the sunscreen and head gear.

**********

Fresh Kills Park Alliance (Staten Island)
Saturday, August 8, 2015, 10:00am
Freshkills Park Site Tour
Site tours are approximately an hour and a half long and tell the story of the past, present and future of Freshkills Park development via a guided bus ride through the site. Stops at the top of the park’s hills offer beautiful panoramic views of Staten Island. Space is limited, all ages welcome. Free. Meet at the St. George Ferry Terminal Information Booth (across from Au Bon Pain).
Sign Up at EventBrite

Saturday, August 8, 2015, 1:00pm
Freshkills Park Site Tour
Site tours are approximately an hour and a half long and tell the story of the past, present and future of Freshkills Park development via a guided bus ride through the site. Stops at the top of the park’s hills offer beautiful panoramic views of Staten Island. Space is limited, all ages welcome. Free. Meet at the St. George Ferry Terminal Information Booth (across from Au Bon Pain).
Sign Up at EventBrite

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

Trips return on September 5, 2015

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, August 8, 2015, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics. For more information, please call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

Saturday, August 8, 2015, 10am – 6pm
Birding Gems of Staten Island: Mount Loretto and Conference House Park
Guide: Cliff Hagen
The south shore of Staten Island is a great place to search for southbound birds and butterflies. The grasslands, freshwater wetlands, and coastal habitats around Mount Loretto host a variety of birds; fields of colorful blooms attract a fantastic collection of butterflies as well. Farther south, the coastal woodlands of Conference House Park, Staten Island’s mini-Cape May, is a jumping-off spot for migrants. Conference House Park hosts a stand of Hackberry trees which host butterflies such as hackberry emperors and American snouts. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $103 (72)
Click here to register

Sunday, August 9, 2015, 9:30am – 11:30am
Summer Birding at Wave Hill, the Bronx
Guide: Gabriel Willow with Wave Hill
Naturalist Gabriel Willow contributes his extensive knowledge of diverse bird species and their behavior on these captivating walks through the gardens and woodlands. Observe the plants, insects and habitats at Wave Hill that make it an appealing destination for such a wide variety of birds. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. Birders of all levels welcome! Severe weather cancels. Registration recommended, online at www.wavehill.org or at the Perkins Visitor Center. (NYC Audubon Members enjoy two-for-one admission)
MEET AT PERKINS VISITOR CENTER, 9:30AM

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

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

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

Sunday, August 9, 2015
Summer Birding at Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Naturalist Gabriel Willow contributes his extensive knowledge of diverse bird species and their behavior on these captivating walks through the gardens and woodlands.
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Friday, July 31, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, July 31, 2015:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* July 31, 2015
* NYNY1507.31

- Birds Mentioned

Cory’s Shearwater
Great Shearwater
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel
Tricolored Heron
CATTLE EGRET
Piping Plover
Willet
UPLAND SANDPIPER
Whimbrel
Red Knot
STILT SANDPIPER
Short-billed Dowitcher
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE
RED PHALAROPE
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL
Royal Tern
Least Flycatcher
Purple Martin
Bank Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Grasshopper Sparrow
BLUE GROSBEAK

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44nybirdsorg

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

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

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings! This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, July 31 at 6:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are RED and RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, CATTLE EGRET, UPLAND and STILT SANDPIPERS, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL and BLUE GROSBEAK.

The nicely plumaged female RED PHALAROPE, first spotted at Jones Beach West End on Friday the 10th, was last reported late last Saturday afternoon, still on the now completely dry pools between the Roosevelt Nature Center and the West End 2 Parking Lot. Presumably dealing with less than ideal phalarope habitat due to its leg injury, the phalarope had also been seen Thursday by Short Beach next to the boat basin off the Coast Guard Station, but Sunday it could not be found at either location.

Last Sunday two RED-NECKED PHALAROPES were reported from a whale-watching boat trip out of Montauk, and also recorded were 50 CORY’S and 5 GREAT SHEARWATERS and 20 WILSON’S STORM-PETRELS.

Here in the midst of shorebird season the water level situation on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge still remains way behind schedule and is now compounded by an algae mat covering the areas that are slowly becoming exposed. Like the repairs to the West Pond, the Park Service has really dropped the ball with the East Pond, and this marvelous shorebird resource has so far effectively been unavailable for the thousands of shorebirds that annually take advantage of it. Efforts are being made to deal with the issue, but so far shorebird numbers have been minimal. The season’s first STILT SANDPIPER did appear Thursday on the East Pond, where about 250 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS and a few other shorebirds were also present.

One surprise at Jamaica Bay was a CATTLE EGRET, now a scarce bird regionally, that was reported yesterday near the breach on the West Pond, while a TRICOLORED HERON was noted at the Bay Wednesday.

Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes has been drawing in shorebirds recently, with last weekend providing a WHIMBREL Sunday, plus a few “WESTERN” WILLETS, increasing numbers of RED KNOTS, over 350 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, and a mix of other expected shorebirds, including the locally breeding PIPING PLOVERS. Up to 8 ROYAL TERNS were also present, as their numbers too are on the increase. Other ROYALS for the week included 2 at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn and 2 at Jones Beach West End last Sunday.

A nice shorebird find was an UPLAND SANDPIPER up on the landfill at Croton Point Park in Westchester Monday.

A walk west along the beach at Smith Point County Park in Shirley Saturday produced 4 immature LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS.

A BLUE GROSBEAK along with about 25 GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS were present at the Calverton Grasslands on the former Grumman Airport property last Saturday, again emphasizing the natural value of this resource. A pair of BLUE GROSBEAKS along with a recently fledged juvenile were found Thursday at the restricted Brookhaven National Lab property.

Some recent landbird migrants in our area have included LEAST FLYCATCHER, PURPLE MARTIN, CLIFF and BANK SWALLOWS and a few species of regionally breeding warblers.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126, or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

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

- End transcript
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Oneline Tides Resource

When shorebirding it's extremely useful to know the tide tables for a given location, i.e. when will the mudflats be exposed (or covered)? I found this very simple website for finding tides on the Gulf Coast, US East Coast and US West Coast. Here is a link to the New York area sites.

Shorebirding 101

I'm not an expert on shorebird identification. Any day now tens of thousands of these long distance migrants will stop to rest and refuel in our area. Like many birders around Brooklyn and New York City I find some of these species frustrating to ID and have to study up every year in preparation for the fall shorebird migration. In addition to the numerous excellent field guides that are available, one very good resource that I have relied upon is Jack Connor's "The Complete Birder: A Guide to Better Birding". Here is an excerpt from the chapter on shorebirds:

Five basic principles are especially important in shorebird identification:

1. Learn habitat preferences.

Like the 'song' in 'songbird', the 'shore' in 'shorebird' is something of a misnomer. Most shorebirds prefer marshes and wetlands to coastal shores and inland areas attract nearly as many species as saltwater areas. In fact, several species - upland and buff-breasted sandpipers, mountain and golden plovers, and others - are actually easier to find thousands of miles inland no where near the ocean.

2. Slow down and specialize.

Shorebirding requires a radical change of pace from other forms of birdwatching. Since only a handful of shorebirds are identifiable at a glance, it's seldom possible to reel off a string of identifications without hesitation. Ordinarily, a lot of work is involved, and there is much time for doubt. Urgency and impatience are mortal sins, dogged persistence the cardinal virtue.

3. Concentrate on standing birds.

Shorebirds fly fast; several species can cruise at seventy miles per hour. They also tend to fly erratically and evasively, twisting and twirling against the sun, into shadow, back against the sun. A few species (willet, black-bellied plover and a couple of others) are best identified on the wing, and shorebird experts can identify almost all species in flight. As a rule of thumb, however, less experienced shorebirders need not concern themselves with flying birds. Shorebirds spend the majority of their time with their feet on the ground. For most of us one shorebird on the ground is worth ten in the air.

4. Study the silhouettes. Postpone the plumages.

Most shorebirds are better identified by their shapes than by their colors. Their light browns, creamy buffs, and subtle grays tend to wash out in the harsh light of the open areas they prefer. Even more important, the seasonal changes of shorebird feathering are complex and variable. All species have at least three visibly distinct plumages.

5. Divide and conquer.

Identifying shorebirds is a sorting operation. Here more than with any other group of birds, the process of elimination is the key technique.


Six Questions for Sorting Shorebirds

1. Is it one of the instantly identifiable shorebirds?

There are a few shorebirds that are instantly recognizable because of distinct plumage pattern or some other physical characteristics like the bill on an avocet or skimmer. Instantly Identifiable: American Oystercatcher, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt.


2. Is it a plover?

The key components of plover silhouettes are: rounded, relatively thick-ish bills that are shorter than the length of its head; short necks; body lengths not much longer than body heights; and legs that appear roughly equal to the body heights. The plover silhouette is made of circles and soft curves. Plovers: Killdeer, Wilson’s, semipalmated, piping, black-bellied, American Golden.


3. Is it one of the odd sandpipers?

Five sandpipers are identified by their weird, eye-catching bills. The three curlews have long, curling bills and two godwits - God, what bills they have - up-swung, huge, and two-toned. The other three odd sandpipers are made easy by their exclusive habitat preferences. The woodcock is the only shorebird to be found under a closed canopy in deep woods. Two phalaropes, the red and the rednecked, are the only shorebirds regularly found far offshore. is point onward, the questions become tougher, and the distinctions blur. Odd sandpipers: Long-billed Curlew, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit, woodcock.


4. Is it a peep?

And most of the time most of us hope the answer is no. The term 'peep' is correctly applied to only six species, the sanderling and the five Calid-ris sandpipers that are smaller than the sanderling. They are clustered together in a all the field guides, but the fine distinctions required within the group make identifying the peeps one of the toughest problems in all birding. Peeps: sanderling, white-rumped, Baird’s, semipalmated, western, least.


5. Is it a longlegs?

Eleven sandpipers fit this description. They have legs that are noticeably longer than their body heights; body lengths noticeably longer than their body heights; and relatively straight bills that are at least as long as their head lengths and in most cases obviously longer. Most members of this group have long necks and a lanky look. The lesser yellowlegs is typical. Longlegs: Willet, Upland Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipe, Long-billed Dowitcher, Short-billed Dowitcher, Solitary Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper.


6. Is it a plump?

Ten midsized sandpipers have short necks and a chunky look. In specific contrast to the longlegs the plumps have legs that seem not noticeably long and in many cases much shorter than body heights; body heights nearly equal to body lengths (excluding the wings); and bills of various shapes but most obviously curved or noticeably shorter than head length. The ruddy turnstone and purple sandpiper are typical plumps. Since apparent leg length and body width can change with posture, "Longlegs or plump?" is sometimes a close judgment call, and a couple of species barely fit into one group or the other. Plumps: Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Dunlin, Pectoral Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper.


Hopefully, the water level on the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge will continue to drop and the mudflats will open up in time for the annual shorebird return.
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