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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dreier-Offerman Park

On Saturday I cycled to Dreier-Offerman Park and spent several hours birding the grassland and surrounding area. An early surprise (at least for me) was finding a Horned Lark feeding at the edge of one of the parking lots. During the course of the morning there were several flyovers of American Pipits. I observed two pipits feeding in the grass at one soccer field, but a flock of about 60 touched down very briefly. There were lots of sparrows around, the highlight being a Vesper Sparrow. Like every other time I've visited the park, I spotted at least one kestrel hunting over the grasslands.

Only recently have I begun to appreciate the diversity of grassland and coastal species supported by Dreier-Offerman Park's habitats. For those who had the opportunity to see it, this is the same area where Alex Wilson found the Western Reef Heron. An American Golden-Plover, not nearly as rare, was observed a week ago and I just learned that it is on the Audubon Society's "Watchlist". Eastern Meadowlarks are regulars at DO and Killdeer breed in the park. Dreier-Offerman (a.k.a., Calvert Vaux Park) is definitely unique among Brooklyn properties owned by NYC's Department of Parks & Recreation. Now for the bad news:

Beginning on Nov. 24, 2008, a large portion of Calvert Vaux/Dreier Offerman Park will be ripped up for the installation of artificial turf soccer fields. Ultimately, a vast area of the park will be covered with six artificial turf soccer fields. There have been no studies on the cumulative impacts of the fields on the existing bird populations. Nor has any info been provided on the cumulative temperature impacts of installing so much plastic in so concentrated an area.

The existing natural turf playing fields provide foraging area for a variety of birds and it would be a crime to lose them. So far, our pleas to the Parks Dept. are falling on deaf ears. We're going to need a huge outcry from the birding community to protect the birds that use this park.

On October 15, 2008 the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation sent out a press release entitled "New York Becomes Ninth City To Sign Migratory Bird Treaty":

"The Treaty, a partnership among The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), New York City Parks and Recreation, Audubon New York and New York City Audubon, is a commitment to restore, conserve and protect valuable bird habitat within New York City’s urban environment and to develop an informed public through education and training programs."

I guess that the parks department was just giving lip-service with that announcement, especially considering that the city owned grassland and next to non-existent and they are replacing natural turf with plastic turf at an alarming rate.

If you are as outraged by this development as I am and would like to help, you can contact Ida Sanoff at the Natural Resources Protective Association. You can also contact the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Atlantic Coast Joint Venture. Mitch Hartley is the North Atlantic Coordinator.

Click here to see a species list from Cornell's Ebird website.

Location: Dreier-Offerman Park
Observation date: 11/1/08
Number of species: 47

American Wigeon
Double-crested Cormorant
Black-crowned Night-Heron
American Kestrel
Great Black-backed Gull
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Flicker
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Northern Mockingbird
American Pipit
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Palm Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch

Other commmon species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, House Sparrow

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by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"


Yojimbot said...

Great post and thanks for the info! Shame about the fake soccer fields. Natural turf would be much better, but i guess the maint is too high on it.

Dillon said...

Hello Rob, I was wondering if you would allow me to post this short notice on your blog, which I know is a great resource for New York birders.

I am organizing an audience-interactive birdwatching theatre piece at Dreier-Offerman on Saturday November 22 to help call attention to what is happening. I would love to have some involvement from the birdwatching community!

If anyone is interested in participating, or learning more they can contact me at: implausibot (at) . There is a web page for the event here

thank you very much,
Dillon de Give

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