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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Planting trees at Dreier-Offerman Park

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

This morning John, Peter and I worked with a group of people planting trees and shrubs at Dreier-Offerman Park, near Coney Island Creek. We arrived a little earlier than the rest of the group and did some light birding at the park. After lunch we also checked out the coast of Coney Island near the Brooklyn Cyclone's "Keyspan Park".

Dreier-Offerman Shoreline (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

The most obvious seasonal change was the increase in abundance of robins. They were all over the soccer fields, baseball fields and undeveloped grassy areas. There were also several Killdeer flyovers (one flock was 7 birds), as well as, one foraging in the grass between the recreational fields. On the coastline facing Staten Island we observed a fair number of Bonaparte's Gulls flying back and forth. A Common Loon close to shore had nearly completed the transition to breeding plumage. In the weedy underbrush that borders most of the park, were several decent sized mixed sparrow flocks. I heard Fox Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows and juncos singing. The trilling songs of the swamps and juncos made me think of Pine Warblers and spring migration.

Bird's nest fungus - Nidulariaceae (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

We worked through the morning then drove the short distance to "Nathan's" in Coney Island for lunch. It felt weird to eat a Nathan's hotdog before the start of baseball season. After lunch we took a short stroll down the boardwalk and out on to the fishing pier to scan the bay. There was an odd looking bird sitting on a jetty east of the pier so we walked down the beach to get a closer look. Along the way we spotted our first Laughing Gulls of the season. Three were sitting in the sand among a flock of Ring-billed Gulls. The adult Ring-billed Gulls are looking really sharp with bright white head feathers, crisp red orbital rings and matching gapes. John spotted several Purple Sandpipers on the third stone jetty east of the fishing pier. We counted them, then recounted and came up with 19 individuals. With all the recesses between the boulders it's quite possible that there were many more. I checked my records and it was the largest flock of purples that I've seen in NYC.

Located slightly south of the Verrazano Narrows, Dreier-Offerman Park is along a route that would seem to make it ideal as a stopover for migrating birds. It's at the large end of a waterway funnel that leads north into the Hudson River. I've only been to the park a few times but each time was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of birds. Perhaps with today's plantings and future restoration projects it will become even more attractive to migrating birds in need of food and rest.

Looking north towards Verazanno Bridge (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

Coney Island "Parachute Jump"

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

-Click here for the Parachute Jump history-

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Dreier-Offerman Park & Coney Island, 3/24/2007
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Great Cormorant
Common Goldeneye
Red-breasted Merganser
Purple Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
American Crow
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Fox Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

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