Monday, June 29, 2009

Upcoming Local Trips

Below is a list of upcoming local field trips for the weekend of July 4-5, 2009:

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Sunday, July 5, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Corson's Brook Woods
Enjoy a morning walk in a rich woodland. We will be looking at and identifying various trees and shrubs. Of special interest will be the rare Bladdernut Hickory, Black Walnut trees and ferns.
Bring water and bug repellant, and wear sturdy shoes.
Meet at the corner of Jasper St. and Forest Hill Road.
Call Cathy Zelonis for more information 917-596-4198.

Sunday, July 5, 12 noon to 2 p.m.
Page Avenue Beach and Woods
Depending on the weather, we may walk the beachfront and/or through the woodlands. In addition to examining evidence of the recent and long term history of the area, we’ll study the geology of the beach as well as the flotsam and jetsam accumulated at the high tide lines to see what nature's debris has to tell us. It may be muddy so dress appropriately. Pick up shells and beach pebbles.
Meet at the parking lot at the end of Page Avenue on the left. Find the strange green branched young tree at the side of the parking lot.
For more information phone Dick Buegler 718-761-7496 or Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, Jul 04, 2009
Birding Club
9:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Fish Printing
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Sunday, Jul 05, 2009
Nature Photography Series: Back to Basics
10:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Basic Canoeing
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Into the Depths
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Summer Catch
11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Basic Canoeing
2:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Into the Depths
2:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations
...Read more

Friday, June 26, 2009

Unisphere Hawks in the News

The New York Daily News just picked up on the story of the Red-tailed Hawk fledglings in Flushing Meadow Park.

In Queens, hawk chicks take flight from Unisphere and land hard
By Lisa L. Colangelo


Bobby Horvath is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and also a city firefighter.

It's tough being a young bird in the city - especially when you're learning to fly.

But when your nest is tucked inside the Unisphere instead of a tall tree, there are no soft landings.

That was the problem for two baby red-tailed hawks taking their first tentative steps outside the nest last month.

One of them plummeted to the concrete below the Unisphere. A kindhearted person rescued the fuzzy lump of a chick, and it went into the care of Bobby Horvath, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who is also a city firefighter.

Read the entire article here.

As a side note, whenever the media spotlights Bobby and the great work he and his assistants do, they should also point out that he receives no state or federal grants. His organization works strictly on private donations. A little publicity would make his job a bit easier. Perhaps, in between putting out fires, saving wildlife and taking care of his family Bobby could send me a short note with information where people can send any donations. ...Read more

Weekly Species Highlights

Sorry I missed last weeks additions, but here are the weekly species highlights for the last week of June:

Bird: Green Heron (Butorides virescens) -
The Green Heron breeds along most of the eastern United States from the Canadian border south to the Gulf of Mexico and west to the Great Plains, western Texas and southwestern New Mexico. On the Pacific coast, it breeds from British Columbia south to California and Arizona. It winters in coastal California, southern Arizona and Texas, along the Gulf coast and along the Atlantic coast north to South Carolina. Most populations in North America are migratory. Green herons live along forested water margins and frequent both salt and fresh water. Green Herons are one of the few tool-using birds. They use a variety of baits and lures, such as crusts of bread, mayflies, and feathers. They then put the bait on the water surface and wait for prey to attack the bait. They stand motionless near the bait until a small fish or other animal approaches and then grab the prey. They eat primarily small fish, but it also crustaceans, mollusks, insects, reptiles and amphibians. They can be found in nearly all of NYC's parks.

Butterfly: Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) - This member of the brushfoot family has a small silvery crescent on the underside of its hind wings, as does the very similar Eastern Comma. However, beneath the crescent is a dot, making it resemble a question mark. They range from Southern Canada and all of the eastern United States except peninsular Florida, west to the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, south to southern Arizona and Mexico. Question Marks can be found in wooded areas with some open space, city parks, suburbs and fencerows. Overwintered adults fly and lay eggs in the spring until the end of May. Adults feed on rotting fruit, tree sap, dung, carrion. When these sources are unavailable Question Marks visit flowers such as common milkweed, aster, and sweet pepperbush. The caterpillar host plants include members of the elm family, Ulmus; hackberry, Celtis; and members of the nettle family including false nettle, Boehmeria; hop, Humulus; nettle, Urtica

Wildflower: Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva) - It seems like every time I find a plant that I enjoy, it turns out to be one of the "bad" ones. The ubiquitous Day Lily appears to be another one of those disappointments. Native to Europe and Asia, it has been labeled an invasive species in North America. Named for the characteristic of each flower only blooming for about a day, it can be found along roadsides, stream banks, edges of woods, pastures, abandoned farm sites and urban centers. "Hemerocallis" is from the Greek words meaning "beautiful" and "day".

Tree: Little Leaf Linden (Tilia cordata) - This tree is native to Europe and western Asia, north to southern Great Britain, central Scandinavia, east to central Russia, and south to central Spain, Italy, Bulgaria and the Caucasus; in the south of its range it is restricted to high altitudes. The small yellow-green flower
clusters that bloom in early summer have a rich, heavy fragrance. The tree is a favorite of bees. A valuable monofloral honey is produced by bees using these trees. It is widely planted in North America as a substitute for the native Basswood or American Linden (Tilia Americana) which has a larger leaf. The white, finely-grained wood is a classic choice for refined woodcarvings.


...Read more

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Marine Park Rails

I received an email on Monday from Ron Bourque. That morning, he and his wife, Jean, had been at the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center surveying Clapper Rails. At one point, while playing back a Clapper Rail recording, they were shocked to hear a Sora respond. Sora vocalizations are unique and don't sound anything like a Clapper Rail. They are small, skulking marsh birds that are more often heard than seen. I don't believe that they breed in NYC, but are seen, most often during the migration. I rode my bike to the saltmarsh the next morning, hoping to track down the bird.

I brought along some portable speakers and rail recordings, optimistic that I'd play a Sora call and one would step out of the marsh grass and march right up to me ... not. Hey, you never know.

I spent a long time walking to various vantage points along the trail that parallels the east side of the marsh, stopping to play the calls, then listening and scanning the grass. There wasn't any response to the recorded Sora whinnying, but whenever I played Clapper Rail vocalization, a chorus of "kek, kek, kek, kek, kek" joined in immediately. I was surprised at how many of these shy birds were hidden within the spartina grass.

videoI had looped around the trail several times and decided that if a Sora was present, he had no intention of revealing his location. I had been standing at a small overlook located about midway along the main trail, putting my gear away. As I turned to walk back to the gravel footpath I noticed something moving to my right. It was a Clapper Rail and the bird was walking back and forth in front of me like a common barnyard chicken. This normally shy bird spends most of its time hidden from view, not stalking birdwatchers. But here was one individual walking around in front of me for a good 2 minutes! Maybe he perceived me as a giant Clapper Rail and was trying to intimidate me into moving out of his territory. Maybe he was out for his daily stroll on dry ground. Whatever the reason for his behavior, I was taken completely by surprise and it made up for not finding a Sora, well, sort of.
...Read more

Botanic Garden Hawks Fledge

Carol at the New York Botanic Garden just reported to me that their two young Red-tailed Hawks have just fledged. You can read a complete report on her blog here.

Kestrel Release

Yesterday James O'Brien went on a kestrel releasing party with Booby Horvath and company. The release of the rehabbed falcons occurred at the Great Hill in Central Park. Here's a slideshow of the event.


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Unisphere Hawk Release

Bobby Horvath released the two juvenile Red-tailed Hawks in Flushing Meadow Park where they were reunited with their family. He sent a few photos of the event.

...Read more

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Brooklyn Wildlife T-Shirts

I just added a series of new T-shirts to my CafePress shop.

The logo is designed in the style of the old Brooklyn Dodger's logo and I created the sketch-style artwork of some of our local raptors from my photographs. I plan to add other falcons, hawks and owls over the next month. If you have any favs, let me know and I'll see what I can create. The shirts and hoodies are available in a variety of colors and most are made from organic cotton. Here's a sampling (click the image for a close-up of the artwork), but you can see all the products in the City Birder Store widget in the sidebar to the right.
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...Read more

Monday, June 22, 2009

Upcoming Local Trips

Below is a list of upcoming local field trips for the weekend of June 27-28, 2009:

New York City Audubon Society

Sunday, June 28, 10 - 11:30am
Landscapes of Brooklyn's past - An environmental history of Brooklyn and and Prospect Park
Guide: Elyse Newman, Lefferts Historic House
Come explore the natural and human forces that have, over hundreds of years, shaped Brooklyn's ever-changing landscape. The tour will also explore how both natural and designed elements work together to shape the varying landscapes and waterways within Prospect Park. Meet at The Prospect Park Audubon Center. Limited to 20.
$20($18 for NYC Audubon members at the student level and up and for PPA members)
PPA members should call 212-691-7483 for special discount rate.


Urban Park Rangers

Saturday, Jun 27, 2009

Early Morning Birding
8:00 a.m.
MARINE PARK

Shore Ecology
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Mycological Walk
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Canoe the Creek
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

High Tide Canoeing
12:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Canoe the Creek
12:30 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Playground Pals
1:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Buggin’ Out
1:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Fishing Derby
1:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Canoe the Creek
2:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Creatures of the Night
7:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

*****

Sunday, Jun 28, 2009

Low Tide Fishing
9:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Wildflower Walk
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Canoeing Basics
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Medicinal Plants
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Raptor Watch
12:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Dragons and Damsels
12:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Nature Walk
1:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations
...Read more

Sunday, June 21, 2009

One Nestling to Go

Yesterday I paid a brief visit to the Nelly's Lawn Red-tailed Hawk nest in Prospect Park. One of the three youngsters had fledged and was perched high in Elizabeth's Tuliptree. The youngest of the brood was still in the nest tree, standing on a branch under the nest. I couldn't find the third hawk and the rain made it difficult to find pretty much anything. Depending on the weather, I'll take a look around again today.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tompkins Square Fledgling Trouble

I received an email with a link to a "funny" Red-tailed Hawk story. A desperately hungry fledgling red-tail wandered into a restaurant near Tompkins Square Park looking for something to eat.

When Red-tailed Hawks first leave the nest they are a bit clueless and do not fear humans. The hawk in question actually jumped up on the writer's table and grabbed his BBQ chicken. You can read the entire story here. It was clear to me (especially after viewing the second photo) that this bird was in trouble. It looked thin and hadn't been preening its feathers, or at least not very well. I sent an email to a recently created discussion group about NYC raptors, expressing my concern. The park rangers were contacted and someone went over to Tompkins Square Park to search for the poor thing. This morning I received the following note:

From: Richard Simon
Sent: Friday, June 19, 2009


Just wanted to let you know that the bird from the [Tompkins] square park area was brought by someone to Animal General. It was identified by their staff as a red tail. I am not sure what its current condition is. We are awaiting a call back [from] Animal General.

...Read more

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Brooklyn Red-tailed Hawks

Prospect Park's trio of young Red-tailed Hawks look healthy, active and ready to leave their nest tree at any moment. The two juvenile hawks in Green-Wood Cemetery, on the other hand, are exploring the area surrounding their nest tree and one has already made a kill.

Upon arriving at Nelly's Lawn in Prospect Park, it became very apparent that the trio of young hawks are ready to fledge. All three have mastered branching and were perched on the large branches below the nest. The largest of the three seemed impatient and slightly hyperactive, wandering frequently from branch to branch, flying short distances to the more outlying perches. At one point, she flew back up to the nest where she appeared to be feeding on scraps of previous meals.

videoNelly, their mother, was perched in her usual spot in the tuliptree, just to the northwest. There are several Baltimore Orioles nesting in the vicinity and, whenever either of the adult hawks are monitoring the young hawks from that spot, the orioles noisily dive-bomb them. On this particular occasion, I was amused when a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher started to attack Nelly. The gnatcatcher weighs about 6 grams, compared to the Red-tailed Hawk's hefty 2.4 pound bulk. Nelly didn't appear to notice the tiny bird's insect-like screams or its "taps" on the back of her head.

Nelly and Max's triplets are clearly ready to fledge. Their tails are much longer than the last time I checked in on them, so I counted the bands. There were six, dark brown bands, which is what the Green-Wood Cemetery youngsters now have.

In Green-Wood Cemetery, one of the offspring fledged on or around Saturday. When I returned with Marge yesterday, the second hawk had left the nest. It took me all of about a minute to find him, as he was perched right at the side of the road, only about 12 feet up. There was a young couple walking up the road, about to walk right under him, so I asked them if they'd like to see a "baby" Red-tailed Hawk. We watched him from a low rise on the opposite side of the road and spoke for a few minutes about the hawks of Brooklyn. The whole time that we were speaking I heard several robins making distress calls from just south of the nest tree. When the couple left, I headed over to see what was causing all the commotion ... I mean, I figured it was one of the hawks, I just wasn't sure who or why.

videoI quickly tracked the sounds to an Atlas Cedar across the road from the "Drummer Boy". The older of the two fledglings had discovered a robin's nest. I wasn't sure if she was raiding it or just standing next to it, because she didn't seem to be doing anything. The adult robins weren't taking a chance and several were calling and taking swipes at her. Then I witnessed the unimaginable, she grabbed the nest in one foot and began pulling it from the branch to which it was anchored. Eventually, the entire nest fell from the tree and a nestling robin came tumbling to the ground.

I ran to where the chick landed and, amazingly, it seemed no worse for the wear. It peeped loudly a few times as I picked it up and looked for a safe place to put it. Marge picked up the nest and I suggested using it as a base in a nearby Yew tree for the chick to perch in. After I put the little thing in the Yew we backed up to allow the parents to continue feeding it. It only took a few minutes, but one of the adults did fly into the Yew tree to check on its remaining offspring. I understand the role of predators and prey in the grand scheme of things, but it was a little disturbing to see that the young Red-tailed Hawk had actually taken and eaten a second robin chick. On the other hand, I was also extremely impressed that the fledgling hawk had learned, in only a matter of days, how to fend for itself.

videoA short while later, Junior returned to the area with a freshly killed pigeon. He perched in a maple tree about 50 yards from the nest tree and began calling for his offspring. The older of the two fledgling hawks arrived first and claimed the huge meal. Her sibling then arrived, but could only call and watch as his nest mate dug her talons into the pigeon. The only problem was that she didn't seem to quite understand what to do next. Walking back and forth along the branch, trying to figure out how to balance, pluck the bird, and keep it away from another hungry mouth, appeared to be too big a challenge. She lost hold of the bird and dropped it to the ground.

The two young hawks looked around, a little baffled, trying to locate the vanished meal. I walked to the base of the tree, picked up the pigeon by the wing and showed it to them. They didn't seem to understand right away, so I swung it around, then tossed it into the grass below them. Marge and I backed up several yards and sat down to watch.

One of the hawks seemed unconcerned and flew off to another branch. The other one did something kind of amusing. The branch she was on drooped slightly, the end of which bent into a "u" shape, bringing it fairly close to the ground. The young hawk began slowly walking backwards, down the branch. Once she made it to the lower, "u" section of the branch, she stopped, carefully scoped out the dead pigeon, then swooped down on it, talons opened for the kill. She seemed relatively wary of me, but I was able to crawl on my belly within a few feet and watch her eye to eye. After a few minutes, she carried her meal to the base of the tree where she repeatedly footed it before plucking and eating. Footing seems to be an instinctive behavior that insures that they have killed their prey.

These two young Red-tailed Hawks appear to be in a good location and, certainly, in good hands as their parents are extremely vigilant and really good providers.
...Read more

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Astoria Fledge News

This weekend Jules Corkery posted the following note about the Astoria, Triborough Bridge hawks:

From: Jules Corkery
Date: June 14, 2009 6:07:53 PM EDT

Subject: Triborough Bridge Nest graduates a fledgeling


Early this morning we saw one of the triborough bridge babies venture out onto the metal pipe only to wobble a little and get himself back onto the nest. All three babies were fat and comfy this morning looking out onto their world.


We went back around 12:15 this afternoon and parks staff were scrambling to get a box in which to put one of the little guys who moments earlier had flown off the nest. He glided north across Hoyt Avenue North - into the trees that surround a small section of paved area that people use as a volley ball court. (A few years ago one of the fledges landed in the same area and spent a few days hanging out of the 2 rows of fencing that separate the pavement area from the row of backyards on the next street.) The wind was blowing east and it's lucky that he didn't glide any further east as he might have landed on 21st Street!


There was a volley ball game happening and the only person to notice any of the chaos was a young boy of about 10 years old. Fortunately, the little fledge got himself to the ground and was nicely situated in the strip of land between the two fences - it's about 5 feet wide and 50 feet long and overgrown with grass and weeds. However, he was very close to 21st Street and if the volleyball players had realized he was there they could have easily spooked him out into traffic. So, the little guy was boxed up, put in the truck, and the rangers were called. We witnessed this from a fair distance away as we didn't want to add to the bird's distress and because of this we never got a close look at him. What we could see was that he was definitely upright and alert. I also called Park's central headquarters just to make sure that in all the confusion they actually got a call. I understand that the Horvaths will be taking him in for a while.


Good luck, you guys!


It looks like the construction of the new fencing around the deep end of Astoria Pool is completed. I would recommend releasing the fledge in the same area in which last year's fledges were released. This area remains a relatively quiet part of the park, has high tree cover, and is accessible to the high diving board (or should I say high dining board). Max, the District 1 Manager of Queens Parks & Rec, is on vacation right now so I'm not sure who could tell us if there are other plans for construction at that end of the pool. Regardless, Atlas and Athena will be glad to get their little one back in the care as soon as can be.


Talk to you all soon!


Jules


Here's Bobby's follow-up:

From: Bobby Horvath
Date: June 14, 2009 9:00:11 PM EDT

Subject: Re: Triborough Bridge Nest graduates a fledgeling


The parks personel called me about this fledgling and they delivered him to my firehouse as I was unfortunately at work today. Cathy came and picked him right up , brought him home and he's fine now , just a bit stressed but thats to be expected. Theres no simple solution to these early fledges besides waiting to replace with the siblings when the time is right. It could be dangerous to the remaining siblings to attempt to replace to the nest at this advanced stage so for now just one out is better than 2 or 3. Hopefully they stay long enough till better flighted such as the Briarwood youngster that Jeff has been following. From day 1 that bird was spotted on rooftops taller than where he originated from. The blog shots of the Riverside young also show good exercise oppurtunites as well for those. Certain sites will continue to pose problems for early fledglings. The Unispere young we have are ready to go back and now I was told the last fledgling recently left with the parents. I will need to locate them first so I can replace the 2 closeby. I've asked parks to try to find them. I'll advise the group when we have the chance to reunite them. It could be even tomorrow or Tuesday.


Bobby

...Read more

Red-tailed Hawk fledge news

Marge and Joe kept an eye on the youngsters in Green-Wood Cemetery while I looked in on the trio in Prospect Park. As of last Thursday, the Nelly's Lawn hawks still seemed to be sticking close to the nest, but I received good news from the cemetery (that just sounds too weird).

Marge told me that they scanned the nest tree and surrounding area for a long time, but couldn't find the two young Red-tailed Hawks. Presumably, they had both fledged, but where were they hiding?

Very early Friday morning I began feeling the effects of the flu, but tried everything to fight it. I had to co-lead a trip on Saturday and didn't want to cancel. I put on my best face and pulled it together. When I got home in the afternoon I went to bed. My body felt like it had been trampled by a herd of wildebeest, and I probably should have stayed in bed, but the allure of just-fledged Red-tailed Hawk is so strong that it could probably pull me away from Death's door. On Sunday, against my better judgement, I dragged myself over to Green-Wood Cemetery.

videoMarge met me at the entrance and we drove over to Linden Avenue. She parked just to the east of the nest. As soon as I got out of the car I noticed something moving near the top of the tree. Sure enough, one of the youngsters was still in the tree, but had climbed nearly to the top and several yards from the nest. The tree is a mature Littleleaf Linden with lots of dense foliage and flowers, it is very easy to loose even a large hawk within the crown. The silly bird didn't seem very interested in flapping his wings, but did spend a lot of time snapping at bees feeding on the fragrant linden flowers.

We spent about thirty minutes circling the nest tree looking for the fledgling and scanning the nest tree from different angles. The pair's father, Junior, was perched in a Cedar tree to the east of the nest, making occasional, brief forays towards Ocean Hill. Big Mama, spent most of her time standing guard from a pine tree on the west side of the nest. Marge had to leave and I continued the search alone. I followed the trail of alert calls from robins and other birds, but couldn't find the missing fledgling. Instead, they just kept leading my back to Big Mama or Junior. Finally, I decided to stop and just listen for a while. At this point in a young Red-tailed Hawk's development the parents begin to withhold food deliveries. It may sound cruel, but it forces the youngsters to start to explore their surroundings and hunt for themselves. Eventually, the fledgling will get hungry and start to make a high-pitched begging call.

videoWithin about 30 minutes I heard the first high, "klee, klee, klee" and it was coming from directly over my head! The young hawk had fledged, alright, but only made it to a planetree that was about 50 years from the nest tree. I set up my scope to shoot some videos just as a tour group appeared over the hill behind me. They were a group of birders from the Audubon Society, so I offered them looks through my scope...not that you really needed a scope, as the bird wasn't very high up in the tree.

At about 2pm the hungry fledgling took off from her perch and headed, North, towards the Drummer Boy. She looked healthy, confident and made an impressive landing. A short while later, and after a lot of whinning, she took off again, heading directly towards me. This time she landed in a maple tree on the opposite side of the road from, and very close to, her nest tree. She caught the attention of a few Blue Jays, several robins and even a chickadee. The poor thing seemed out of her element and completely overwhelmed by the small flock of irrate, mobbing birds. I suppose she felt like there was only one place that she would be safe, so she headed right back to her nest tree. She landed a few yards below her nestmate, who just stared down at her from his perch at the top of the tree.

I stayed for as long as I could, hoping to see the other hawk fledge. He never did. I think it's safe to say that, though, that after two more days, he probably has taken his maiden voyage.
...Read more

Upcoming Local Trips

Below is a list of upcoming local field trips for the weekend of June 20-21, 2009:

New York City Audubon Society
Jamaica Bay Sunset Cruise
Saturday, June 20, 5:00-8:00pm
Guides: Don Riepe and Mickey Cohen, In partnership with the American Littoral Society
Enjoy a 3-hour cruise aboard the 100' boat "Golden Sunshine," leaving from Pier 2 in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Visit the backwater marshes near JFK Airport and learn about the history, ecology, and wildlife of the bay. See nesting peregrine falcon, osprey, egrets, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Includes wine and cheese, fruit, drinks, and snacks.
Price $45
For reservations, call 718-318-9344 or email driepe@nyc.rr.com

Rowing, Conservation, and Mill Rock Island
Saturday, June 20, 11-5pm
Guides: Gabriel Willow and Mary Nell Hawk In partnership with East River CREW
Meet at the East River esplanade at E96th St. Using eco-friendly human power, enjoy a rowng tour where you see birds at the water's level. View the gulls and cormorants on Mill Rock Island, and then cross to explore the Queens shoreline, near Socrates Sculpture Park, where herons are reported, and smaller birds visible from the water among a growth of restored indigenous grasses on the riverbank. Lunch will be provided ashore at nearby Hallet's Cove. A willingness to learn how to row in a fixed seat gig and moderate physical dexterity are required. It is easy to learn with our experienced coxswain. Bring water, hats, and binoculars. Limited to 11.
Price $118 ($106.20 for NYC Audubon members at the Senior/Student level and up)


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, June 20, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Dragonflies and Damselflies, Meisner Pond/Buttonbush Swamp Walk
Join Sandra Mechanic, naturalist and photographer, for a guided tour around Meisner Pond and Buttonbush Swamp in search of a variety of dragonflies and damselflies.
Bring binoculars, guides and cameras. We will find that the Common Whitetail Dragonfly is an aggressive flier. The adults are attracted to the brown color of the mud.
Meet at the intersection of Rockland Avenue with Meisner Avenue.
For more information phone Dick Buegler at 718-761-7496

Sunday, June 21, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Blue Trail to Latourette Woods
Join naturalist Sandra Mechanic on a stroll through the Latourette woods. Admire the Frank Lloyd Wright house along the way and see an American Larch or Tamarack, a rare conifer that sheds its needles annually. Look for the DEP label on the street corner grating saying "no dumping, leads to Blue Belt". The trail passes through a large forest of mixed age Tuliptrees as it winds down to Meisner Pond.
Park near the end of Old Mill Road, near St Andrews Church, off Arthur Kill Road.
For more information, Phone Dick Buegler at 718-761-7496


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, Jun 20, 2009
Early Morning Birding
8:00 a.m.
MARINE PARK

Birding in Crotona
10:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

The Birds and the Bees
10:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Canoe the Lullwater
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Bug and Insect Hunt
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Prospect Park Waterfall Hike
12:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Canoe the Lullwater
12:30 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Into the Depths: Part II
1:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Children’s Hour
1:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Canoe the Lullwater
2:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Seashore Safari
3:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Family Camping
7:00 p.m.
Category: Education, Nature

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009
Wilderness Survival Skills
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Bug and Insect Hunt
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Father’s Day Canoeing
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Father’s Day Fishing
12:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Father’s Day Fishing
1:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

The Reel Deal
2:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Astronomy 101
2:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations
...Read more

Weekly Species Highlights

Here are the weekly species highlights for the third week of June:

Bird: Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) - A large, vocal "Tyrant" flycatcher, this conspicuous, easily identified bird has white underparts with blue-black back and wings. Its black tail has a white terminal band. Its head is also black, but has an inconspicuous crown of red feathers visible only when the bird is displaying. Their breeding range is from British Columbia across interior Canada to Maritime Provinces and south to northern California, central Texas, the Gulf coast, and Florida. They are common in our city parks, especially in fields and meadows close to water bodies. They are highly aggressive towards potential nest predators and larger birds and can be seen regularly attacking hawks & crows while making a high-pitched chattering sound. Eastern kingbirds are the most widespread of the genus Tyrranus. Kingbirds can be seen perched on treetops, fences, and utility poles, often feeding by flying out to catch insects and then returning to the same perch. They are important predators of insects during the breeding season. Eastern Kingbirds winter in South America, primarily in the western Amazon basin.

Insect: Daddy Longlegs (Family Phalangiidae) - This scary "spider" has an unjustified bad reputation and been subject to many urban myths. As a child I remember being told (after playing with one) that they are very poisonous, but that their fangs are too short to bite humans. Hmmmm. First of all, the Daddy Longlegs or Harvestmen isn't even a spider, but rather something related to the spiders, as are scorpions, ticks, mites, centipedes and millipedes. Spider's bodies consist of two parts, whereas, the Daddy Longleg's head, thorax, and abdomen are all fused together. Also, a Daddy Longlegs has just two eyes, instead of the spider's usual eight eyes. Unlike spiders, Daddy Longlegs do not spin silk. Finally, they are harmless as they do not produce any venom. Your average Daddy Longlegs feeds on aphids, caterpillars, beetles, flies, mites, small slugs, snails, earthworms, spiders, other harvestmen, decaying plant and animal matter, bird droppings and fungi. Birds prey on Daddy Longlegs, but they will release a stink odor as a defense against predators. There are between 100-150 Daddy-longlegs species in North America north of Mexico.

Wildflower: Lance-leaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) - Also known as Sand Coreopsis, this native perennial prefers full sun, sandy or rocky soil and mesic to dry conditions. Flowering from May-July it can be found in sizable colonies (like the one in the photo) along NYC's coast in places such as Ft. Tilden. Nearly a dozen other species of perennial yellow-flowered Coreopsis are found in the East. Some insect pollinators that benefit from this coreopsis include long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers, day-flying moths, and beetles. The long-tongued Coreopsis Miner Bee is a specialist visitor of Coreopsis spp. The caterpillars of the Dimorphic Gray and Wavy-Lined Emerald moths feed on the foliage. Some mammals occasionally feed on this and other Coreopsis species, including rabbits, groundhogs, livestock, and possibly deer.

videoTree: Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) - The Eastern Cottonwood as a highlight species seemed an obvious choice when I made a recent visit to the Ridgewood Reservoir. The cottonwood is fairly common around the perimeter of the reservoir basins. When I was there, the seed capsules of the numerous, huge trees had split open, releasing their abundant small seeds attached to cotton-like strands. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a sunny day snowstorm. This native cottonwood poplar grows throughout the eastern, central, and southwestern United States, the southernmost part of eastern Canada, and northeastern Mexico. It is a fast-growing tree reaching over 100 feet tall. The bark is silvery-white, smooth or lightly fissured when young, becoming dark gray and deeply fissured on mature trees. In natural conditions, it usually grows near rivers, with mud banks left after floods providing ideal conditions for seedling germination. They typically lives 70 to 100 years, but have the potential to live up to 400 years. It is a host plant for Mourning Cloak, Red-spotted Purple, Viceroy & Tiger Swallowtail butterflies.
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Monday, June 15, 2009

Stay Tuned

Sorry for the lack of posts. I've been fighting the flu. Hopefully, I'll be back tomorrow with trips, highlights and fledge updates. Now back to bed...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ridgewood/Highland Park Walking Tour

Tomorrow morning, June 13th, Charles Monaco and I will lead a walk through Ridgewood and Highland Park. The walk will highlight both the rich American history and natural history of this area. Meet at the "J" train station on the corner of Cleveland Street and Fulton Street at 11am.

Charles, an area historian, will focus on the area's importance during the Battle for Brooklyn, its settlement, the creation of the neighborhood of Highland Park and the building of the Ridgewood Reservoir. I will point out the plants, insects and birds while describing the area's unique location along the Harbor Hill terminal moraine. The walk will last for approximately 2 hours and gradually work its way through some historic sites in Ridgewood, up to Highland Park, then around the Ridgewood Reservoir. Wear comfortable shoes.


View Ridgewood in a larger map
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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Kitchen with a View

videoAs I was finishing up the Piping Plover post my neighbor from upstairs phoned. She said, "Take a look out your kitchen window. I think one of your friends is on the roof." I quickly grabbed my camera & bins and ran into the kitchen. Sure enough, one of the park Red-tailed Hawks had grabbed a pigeon and was plucking it on the roof opposite our building. Someone in that building has been feeding an ever growing flock of pigeons creating a virtual fast food drive, er, fly-in for the local raptors. Who needs to go to a park to see the wildlife?

Plovers at Riis Park

On Sunday I pedaled down to Jacob Riis Park in the morning. With temperature predictions of 85 degrees, it would be the coolest place to spend the day.

The tide was low when I parked my bicycle and I could hear the periodic "toot" of Piping Plovers as they scurried along the tidal zone. Piping Plovers are relatively common along that stretch of coast, but what I didn't expect was to see two, absolutely minuscule hatchlings following the adults piping calls. My words cannot sufficiently describe these diminutive creatures. They seem to defy all odds as they saunter along the beach, feeding themselves while avoiding predators and gargantuan human sun worshipers. Adult Piping Plovers weigh, on average, 55 grams. videoOne online document I found stated that these precocious hatchlings weigh, on average, 7.4 grams on hatching. Within 15 days they weigh about 27 grams. That means that a newly hatched Piping Plover (which begins feeding itself immediately) weighs the equivalent of 3 American pennies or two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. If they sneezed, would it send them skittering across the sand? Here's a short video of one plover hatchling chasing along behind one of the parents. Listen for the "toot" of the parents. I was concerned that a small flock of gulls lurking nearby might snatch one of young birds, but they either didn't notice them or didn't care. The parents were very aggressive towards a lone Sanderling in the area, but didn't bother with the gulls. I guess the larger birds were more interested in french fries and stray bits of junk food.
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Another Hawk Picked Up

Bobby had to pick up another fledgling Red-tailed Hawk and sent the following note:

From: Robert Horvath
Date: June 7, 2009 8:42:49 PM EDT

Today on our way home from upstate we met Parks Dept. who delivered to us the second fledgling from the Unisphere nest. It was checked out and is healthy and uninjured but needs a little time for a safe release in that particular spot. It was a judgement call and I for one would rather be safe than sorry as well as the Parks personal who were involved. There were hundreds of people there today, dogs as well, as the weather was perfect. All this guy did was hop around on the ground . We know that's the norm for fledgling redtails and they spend some time grounded while their parents tend to them but this is one of those cases where they do not have ample cover or lower perching spots to get height from, so it was done with that reason in mind. It may not meet agreement with everyone, but that is how we handled it. We will return them both as soon as possible and there is still hopefully one still up high waiting till the time is right to leave the nest. I will coordinate the return with the parks people so they are aware can possibly provide some surveillance. [...]

Bobby and Cathy
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More Red-tailed Updates

I spent a lot of time watching the Prospect Park Red-tailed Hawk nest between Saturday and Monday. On Saturday I rode over to the cemetery and checked on the pair at that nest, as well.

"Elizabeth's Tuliptree", at the northwest edge of Nelly's Lawn, is perfectly situated for the adult Red-tailed Hawks to perch and keep tabs on their nestlings turned branchers. When I arrived on the meadow Saturday morning, I didn't see any movement in the nest, but there were a lot of robins making alert calls from the woods to the south of the nest, as well as, to the north, near the Vale of Cashmere. I thought the youngsters might have taken their maiden flights and were perched in those locations. After a few minutes Nelly flew from a spot near Battle Pass and landed in the tuliptree. Max had already been in the tree, I just hadn't noticed him. Shortly after, three overstuffed red-tailed youngsters began to appear in the nest. They hadn't actually flown, but were just taking a nap. When their parents took off flying towards Sullivan Hill, I followed. Nelly was perched above an overgrown depression in the woods and was being bombed by a Baltimore Oriole. Despite repeated strikes by the bright orange and black songbird, she remained steadfast. Max appeared with a small rodent and the two flew back to Nelly's Lawn. The male hawk dropped off the parcel with the youngsters, then both parents went in search of more food.

About 15 minutes later, Nelly returned to the nest with a meal and did something that surprised me. Instead of just dropping the food and leaving, she stayed and fed the youngest of the trio. They are all fully developed and capable of feeding themselves, so I wonder if it was just her way of assuring that the little one got his fair share. Red-tailed Hawk nest mates are very competitive, so I think this new mother made a wise decision to stick around and help fatten up the "baby".

At Green-Wood Cemetery there wasn't much activity during the short time that I monitored the nest. Both hawks are very large, but one seems to be branching more than the other.

On Monday, I spent a few hours monitoring Prospect Park's nest. For most of the morning, it was like watching paint dry. Nelly and Max remained perched in Elizabeth's Tuliptree; Max on a low branch facing south and Nelly near the top of the tree facing north. The youngest nestling stood at the edge of the nest facing me. Whenever I'd walk beneath the nest he'd twist his head upside down, as if he couldn't make heads or tails of this strange creature. There was little to no wind and, after two hours, there wasn't any flap-hopping from the trio, either. In fact, they seemed more interested in just sleeping.

My friend Heydi went back later in the afternoon when the three young hawks were more active. I'm not sure if any of them fledged today, but I doubt that they took off in this morning's thunderstorms.

Yesterday, Marge called to say that the larger of the two Green-Wood Cemetery youngsters had climbed way up in the branches above the nest, nearly to the top of the tree. I had an early appointment today, so was unable to check on either nest. Marge reported today that, as of noon, they were still in the nest.
I was able to rearrange my Wednesday work schedule a bit, so will go check on both Brooklyn nests in the morning.
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Monday, June 08, 2009

Ridgewood Reservoir Presentation

On Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 7:00pm the Highland Park/Ridgewood Reservoir Alliance will be hosting a slide presentation of the wildlife of the Ridgewood Reservoir. Nature photographer, Steve Nanz, will share his photographs of the birds, insects and other animal life that he has observed at the reservoir.

The meeting is free and opened to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The show will be followed by our regular monthly meeting.

Highland Park/Ridgewood Reservoir Alliance
Ridgewood Democratic Club
6070 Putnam Street


View Larger Map

Directions to The Ridgewood Democratic Club at 6070 Putnam Street. The
entrance is the first door on Stier Place

From Brooklyn:
Take Eastern Parkway until it ends at Bushwick Avenue.
Make a right turn onto Bushwick Avenue and move to the left lane.
Bear left onto the Jackie Robinson Parkway (formerly Interboro)
Exit at Cypress Hills Street (2nd exit)
At the top of the exit, make a left onto Cyrpress Hills Street
At the bottom of the hill make a left onto Cooper Avenue
Make a right at the 5th block (62nd Street)
62nd street ends in 2 blocks at Myrtle Ave
Make a left turn onto Myrtle and the make a right turn (about 50 feet) onto Fresh Pond Road (just at the end of the underpass; Fresh Pond starts at Myrtle and there is a carpet store on the right)
About 1/4 mile, 1 block after the M train station, Putnam Street is on the left.
It’s one block after the train station

From Manhattan:
Take the LIE
Exit to The Grand Central Parkway East (towards LI)
Stay in the right lane and exit onto the Jackie Robinson Parkway (formerly
Interboro)
Exit at Cypress Hills Street
At the top of the exit, make a right onto Cypress Hills Street
At the bottom of the hill make a left onto Cooper Avenue
Make a right at the 5th block (62nd Street)
62nd street ends in 2 blocks at Myrtle Ave
Make a left turn onto Myrtle and the make a right turn (about 50 feet) onto Fresh Pond Road (just at the end of the underpass; Fresh Pond starts at Myrtle and there is a carpet store on the right)
About 1/4 mile, 1 block after the M train station, Putnam Street is on the left.
It’s one block after the train station

From The Bronx:
Take the Triborough to the Grand Central Parkway and follow directions above
Parking can be sometimes be difficult in the area

By Subway:
Take the M train to the Fresh Pond Station or the L train to Myrtle Avenue and
then go upstairs and take the M to the Fresh Pond Station
Walk one block to Putnam and then left onto Putnam.
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Upcoming Local Trips

Below is a list of local field trips for the weekend of June 13-14, 2009:

The Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Central Park Nature Walk
Leader: Sarah Elliott
No Registration.
Meet at Boathouse at 9:30am.


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, June 13, 2009 - 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Breeding Birds of High Rock Park
Join Howie Fischer in his search to confirm that the Scarlet Tanager, heard and seen there in the last two years, is actually breeding at High Rock at this time. Howie says, “It would be great if we could confirm breeding.” Meet in the High Rock parking lot at the end of Nevada Avenue to find other breeding birds that may be in the Greenbelt at this time of year.
Bring binoculars and wear comfortable shoes for walking. Bring along insect repellent just in case.
For more information, phone Dick Buegler at 718-761-7496 or Howie at 718-981-4002.


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, June 13, 2009 - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop: Gretta Moulton Tract in the Greenbelt
Two hours work followed by a two hours walk in the Greenbelt.
Meet in the Nevada Avenue, High Rock parking lot.
In February, we worked this site removing large amounts of non-native vegetation and discovered about a dozen young River Birch with very scaly bark that we had planted a few years ago. We may plant some shrubs and trees. We may remove any non-native plants we find by hand pulling or using the Weed Wrench, a neat tool (lever) that can easily uproot saplings of trees that invaded the area. Gloves, plants, tools and refreshments provided.
Bring a friend who likes to work outdoors.
Call Dick Buegler 718-761-7496 for more information.


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, June 13, 2009 - 10 a.m. to 12 noon
Long Pond Wildlife and Wildflowers
We’ll be looking for evidence of animal life, especially reptiles and amphibians as the summer approaches in the woodlands surrounding Long Pond. We’ll also identify wildflowers and examine the geology of the area during this unhurried stroll through about one and a half miles of the park.
Meet at PS 6, on Page Avenue and Academy Avenue about 3 blocks NW of Hylan Blvd.
For more information phone Dick Buegler 718-761-7496 or Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, Jun 13, 2009

Early Morning Birding
8:00 a.m.
MARINE PARK

A-Z Nature Hike
1:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

**********

The Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, June 14, 2009
An evening in Prospect Park: Birds, bats and the beauty of the night
Meet at 7 PM at the 9th Street park entrance (Lafayette Statue)
Leader: Paul Keim
Free


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Sunday, June 14, 2009 - 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Ancient Trees of Wolfe's Pond Park: Annual Bruce Kershner Spring Memorial Walk
In an easy two miles, large numbers of ancient trees, 200 to 300 years old, can be examined in Staten Island's oldest forest. We will practice guessing their ages from many cues, using the late Kershner's printed guide as reference. Bruce was the Northeast's ancient tree expert. Walk up the hill and view the broad flood plain forest of this major Bluebelt stream. Kershner's book, “Secret Places of Staten Island”, is now out of print and very expensive.
Meet at the far right corner of the parking lot at the end of Cornelia Avenue, off Hylan Blvd.
For more information, phone Dick Buegler, 718-761-7496


Urban Park Rangers
Sunday, Jun 14, 2009

Early Birding
9:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Early Birding
10:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Livin’, Lovin’ Larvae
11:00 a.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Wilderness Survival
12:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Fresh Water Fishing
12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Common Shorebirds
1:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Birding by Ear
1:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Family Natural Picnic
1:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Canoeing the Lagoon
2:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations

Into the Depths
2:00 p.m.
Multiple Parks Locations
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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Weekly Species Highlights

Here are the weekly species highlights for the second week of June:

Bird: Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) - The most common and widespread hawk of the Buteo genus. Red-tailed Hawks have adapted well to urban life and nest in all 5 of New York City's boroughs. One individual named "Pale Male" gained local fame when he began nesting annually on a building's ledge on 5th Avenue, opposite Central Park. Author Charles R. Preston describes Red-tailed Hawks as a "magnificent generalist" given their ability to thrive in a variety of environments. They can be found throughout all of North American except for the High Arctic and tracts of extensive forest. Many of the nestling hawks in New York City will fledge (leave their nest) this week.





Wildflower: Yellow Wood Sorrel (Oxalis stricta) - Yellow Wood Sorrel is a common plant that can be found in prairies, openings in woodlands, savannas, limestone glades, pastures, lawns, driveways, and waste areas. It is more common in degraded habitats. Bees are an important pollinator. Some bird species that eat the seeds include Bobwhite, Mourning Dove, Horned Lark, Field Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, and juncos. Plants are edible and is often called sour grass because of the leaves lemony taste. It contains oxalic acid, however, which can be toxic if consumed in large quantities. Like Jewelweed, as the seed capsules dry, it becomes under tension then explodes to throw the seed several feet. The delicate leaves fold shut to protect themselves from direct sunlight or when it gets dark, possibly to protect themselves from the cold of night, or from damage from too much dew.

Shrub: Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.) - Rhododendrons are highly diverse in size and shape from shrubs to small trees with some rare large trees. There are more than 850 different natural species, 26 of which are native to North America. It is a member of the Ericaceae or heath family. The family also includes heathers (Calluna), mountain laurel (Kalmia), lily-of-the-valley shrub (Pieris), cranberry (Vaccinium), Leucothe and Andromeda. Rhododendron flowers range in colors from white, red, pink, yellow, approximate blue, purple, magenta, orange, and in various shades and mixtures of most of these colours. March, April and May are the peak months for flowering, however, some rhododendrons can flower as early as January in an ideal climate, and others as late as August. Rhododendrons are found in the wild, chiefly in mountainous areas of the arctic and north temperate zones. Most of the rhododendrons people grow are hybrids.

Tree: Mulberry (Morus spp.) - Mulberry is a genus of 10–16 species of deciduous trees native to warm temperate and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The immature fruits are white or green to pale yellow with pink edges. The ripe fruit is edible and is widely used in pies, tarts, wines and cordials. The fruit of the red mulberry, which is native to eastern North America, has the strongest flavor. The east Asian white mulberry has been extensively naturalized in eastern North America. Mulberry fruit come in red, white, pink, and black and are attributed to the two different species and their hybrids.

In an effort to start a silk industry white mulberry trees were imported from Asia in the 1800’s. The labor-intensive industry was eventually abandoned. The trees now grow throughout the country, ripening in late spring and early summer. You should use mulberries immediately as they don't last long in the refrigerator. This is why you rarely seem them in stores. Songbirds, including robins, thrushes, catbirds, starlings and waxwings, love mulberries.
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Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope