Monday, August 31, 2009

Upcoming Trips

Below is a list of upcoming local trips for the weekend of September 5th - 6th, 2009:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, September 5th, 2009
Celebrate the BBC Centennial in Prospect Park series
Meet: 8am at Grand Army Plaza's park entrance.
Leader: Steve Nanz


Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, September 5th, 2009
Prospect Park
Leader: Rob Jett
No registration.
Meet at Grand Army Plaza.(Stranahan Statue) at 7:30 a.m.
Public transportation.


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, September 5, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Fall Migrants at Clove Lakes Park
Meet Howie Fischer at the concrete bridge on Martling Avenue to begin a park search for migrants. This time of year can produce good numbers of warblers. As you know many will be in their fall or "basic" plumage and can be a challenge to identify. Bring binoculars.
For more information phone Dick Buegler, 718-761-7496 or Howie Fischer at 718-981-4002.

Sunday, September 6, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Buck’s Hollow, Heyerdahl Haunting Hill
This is one of the more remote sections of the Greenbelt that has wildflowers, persimmon trees and ghostly legends. Join Sandra Mechanic, naturalist and photographer for a walk through Buck’s Hollow where it is said you may see the apparition of a young woman in a petticoat, riding a horse. Look down the slope where Heyerdahl unsuccessfully attempted to grow wine grapes on the serpentine poisoned soil. Note the steel beam reinforcement in the Heyerdahl foundation. We will follow the Blue Trail to Travis Avenue and return. Park at the intersection of Rockland and Meisner Avenue, at the base of the entry road. For information contact Dick Buegler at 718-761-7496.

Sunday, September 6, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Conference House Beach and Woods
This activity includes a walk along the beachfront at low tide and concludes with a stroll 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. Pick up seashells and beach pebbles. Meet at the parking lot at the Tottenville end of Hylan Blvd. on the left.
For more information phone Dick Buegler 718-761-7496 or Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.


Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, Sept. 5th, 8:00am
Alley Pond Park
Meet at 76th St. parking lot
Leader: Eric Miller, 917-279-7530


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, September 5, 2009

Early Morning Birding
8:00 a.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers for this weekly Ranger-led birding walk of the Salt Marsh…
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Birding Club
9:00 a.m.
Come bird with us on the first Saturday of every month! The summer birds are arriving and…
Location: Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Osprey Watch
10:00 a.m.
An impressive raptor to behold with its seven-foot wing span and fierce appearance, the…
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Animal Tracking
10:00 a.m.
Animals leave behind different signs of their whereabouts. With the Rangers, you’ll…
Location: Forest Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Birding
10:00 a.m.
Take a walk with the Rangers as we explore the early morning world of birds.
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Nuts about Squirrels
11:00 a.m.>
Do squirrels find all the nuts they bury? How do they climb down trees headfirst? Learn…
Location: Blue Heron Park Preserve, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Damsels and Dragons
1:00 p.m.
As summer winds down, take one last look at the damselflies and dragonflies that inhabit…
Location: Blue Heron Park Preserve, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Family Camping
6:00 p.m.
Spend some of your weekend enjoying a night under the stars. The evening will be filled…
Location: Central Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Early Birding
8:00 a.m.
Let us show you some of the prime spots for birding in the morning.
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Early Birding
9:00 a.m.
They say the early bird gets the worm. What birds will we see? Bring your comfortable…
Location: Willowbrook Park, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Ho, Ho, Ho, Green Giant
11:00 a.m.
Tulip trees are the tallest trees in NYC. Discover the “Alley Giant,” the…
Location: Alley Pond Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Caneoing Basics
11:00 a.m.; 3:00 p.m.
Explore the tranquility of Martling Pond while getting to know nature. Let's look for…
Location: Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Explore the Ravine
1:00 p.m.
Take a nature hike and explore the last standing forest in Brooklyn on this guided tour of…
Location: Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Nature Photography Series: The Golden Hour
7:00 p.m.
Photographers refer to the time surrounding sunset as the “golden hour” because…
Location: Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx
Cost: Free
...Read more

Monday, August 24, 2009

Upcoming Trips

Below is a list of upcoming local trips for the weekend of August 29th - 30th, 2009:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, August 30th, 2009
Celebrate the BBC Centennial in Prospect Park series
Meet 8 am at Grand Army Plaza's park entrance.
Leader: TBA
Free


Linnaean Society of New York
Sunday August 30, 2009
Mount Loretto Flora
Leader and Registrar: Joyce Hyon
Registration opens Monday 8/17.
Public transportation.


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, August 29, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Mt. Loretto Fall Migrants
Meet Howie Fischer in the fenced in parking lot on Hylan Blvd., south of Sharrott Avenue. Binoculars are a must.
We will look for fall migrants that may be numerous in the meadows in late August. We can expect to see many swallows flocking prior to their southward migration. If the wetlands hold enough water we may have some good shorebirds as well. Warblers, vireos and thrushes are already starting to move and we hope to find these species also.
Bring a beverage - it may be hot!
For more information phone Dick Buegler, 718-761-7496 or Howie Fischer at 718-981-4002.


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, August 29, 2009

Early Morning Birding
8:00 a.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers for this weekly Ranger-led birding walk of the Salt Marsh...
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Adventures NYC: Mountain Biking
10:00 a.m.
Get down and dirty on the trails in Wolfe’s Pond Park. Learn some basic skills for...
Location: Wolfes Pond Park, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Adventures NYC: Park to Park
11:00 a.m.
Join the Rangers for an eight-mile hike on the Greenbelt’s White Trail across Staten...
Location: Great Kills Park, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Adventures NYC: Canoeing: Island Hopping
1:00 p.m.
Experienced paddlers only! Space is limited. To register, visit...
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Tree-mendous Hike
1:00 p.m.
Discover the important role trees play in our environment while we learn to I.D. different...
Location: Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Adventures NYC: Advanced Hiking
1:00 p.m.
Tighten up the laces on your hiking boots for an invigorating hike up and over the Rock...
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Family Camping
5:00 p.m.
A night of camping under the stars in Manhattan’s last natural forest! This will be...
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Adventures NYC: Denizens of the Dark
8:00 p.m.
Join the Rangers for an after-hours visit looking for bats, raccoons, owls, and whatever...
Location: Forest Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Adventures NYC: Denizens of the Dark
8:00 p.m.
Join the Rangers for an after-hours visit looking for bats, raccoons, owls, and whatever...
Location: Cunningham Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The “Reel” Deal
11:00 a.m.
Join the Rangers as we fish the Long Island Sound in search of the area’s saltwater...
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

The Rocks at High Rock
11:00 a.m.
Ever wonder how Staten Island came to be? Explore the evidence left behind from the forces...
Location: High Rock Park, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Landscape Photography
12:00 p.m.
The location of Astoria Park “lens” itself to breathtaking views of...
Location: Astoria Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Children’s Hour
1:00 p.m.
Bring the kids to the Salt Marsh Nature Center for an afternoon of creative nature crafts....
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Explore St. Nicholas
1:00 p.m.
Explore this exquisite site, which includes a fantastic geologic look at Manhattan as well...
Location: St Nicholas Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Beautiful Bees
1:00 p.m.
Buzzzzz around the park to experience the wide variety of winged wonders. You’ll see...
Location: Blue Heron Park Preserve, Staten Island
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rare Bird at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Over that past week Doug and a few other birders have been reporting some interesting arrivals at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. My friend Sean would be leading the annual Tom Davis Shorebird Walk at the refuge this weekend, but I was concerned that thunderstorms stirred up by the passing of Hurricane Bill would put a damper on that trip. Instead, Marge and I went over in the morning yesterday.

In the parking lot at the visitor's center, we ran into Art Drauglis, who was visiting from Washington, DC. He wasn't familiar with the refuge, or that there had been rarities reported, so we invited him to join us. The south flats and, in general, the southern end of the East Pond held few shorebirds. When I scanned the distant northwestern edge of pond I could see a lot of birds flying around. We returned to the parking lot and quickly made our way up to the north end.

When we arrived Andrew Baksh, Karlo Mirth, Vinny Pellegrino and others were present and gave us the rundown of which birds were still around. There was a flock of 50+ Black-bellied Plovers roosting on a mud spit just south of the cove. I located the American Golden-Plover within the flock fairly quickly. Andrew, Karlo and the others had spotted an American Avocet earlier, but had lost track of it. They continued walking back towards the cove and, a few moments later, motioned for us. An American Avocet was standing, preening within a flock of gulls. The bird's bold pattern of blacks and whites fit in nicely with the Laughing Gulls. I probably walked right passed it after crossing the cove. Nearby was a Pectoral Sandpiper. videoIn the far distance, at the northeast corner of the pond, were two Wilson's Phalaropes. I couldn't make out a lot of details through the waves of heat distortion, but the pale birds spinning in circles were unmistakable. Here's a video of a Wilson's Phalarope at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge that I made last August. video

I watched the avocet for several minutes as it walked along the edge of the water. This elegant, blue-legged bird actually seemed model-like as it strutted through the pungent, insect-laced pond. They use their long, thin upturned bill to sweep the water in search of insects and crustaceans. Avocets are found, primarily, in western and central North America, but there are populations that overwinter in the southeast. They do, occasionally, stray into the northeast and I've seen a handful of them at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in the last decade. Cornell's eBird website has a really neat feature where you can view dynamic maps of observations of any species over time. Here is a map of American Avocet sightings in North America from 1900 until present day. It gives you a really good idea of the bird's distribution.

I finished up this posting, looked out the window, and realized that all the thunderstorms had moved through the area early this morning. The sun was shining in Brooklyn. I hope Sean and the people who took a chance with the weather to go out to the refuge spotted some really good birds today.
...Read more

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The State of the Birds

Below is a video produced by "The State of the Birds", a partnership of North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee, American Bird Conservancy, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey. I usually don't get preachy on this blog, but I highly recommend watching this 6 minutes video then checking out the State of the Birds website.

Jamaica Bay & Shorebirds

Two weeks ago I joined my friend Tom for a day at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. We met two of his friends from Upstate New York, who don't get down to the city for shorebird migration very often. It was also the annual shorebird celebration, so there were over 100 people from throughout the state visiting the refuge.

We met Scott and Gene in the visitor's center parking lot at 7:30am. High-tide, when the shorebirds make their way back to the edges of the refuge's ponds, wasn't for another couple of hours. We decided to explore the North & South Gardens before heading across Crossbay Boulevard to the East Pond.

Warblers and other songbirds have begun migrating south. At the gardens we spotted White-eyed Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler and American Redstart to name a few. Overhead, there seemed to be a constant stream of terns, gulls and Glossy Ibis flying back and forth between the western and eastern sides of the refuge. As high-tide approached we headed back towards the parking lot.

The previously empty parking lot was now filling up with birders arriving for the day's activities. We decided to head to the north end of the East Pond, before the crowds, and get a head start on shorebirding. The mud at the end of the trail was pretty bad and I felt bad for Gene, who had mistakenly left his boots back upstate. The rest of the pond wasn't too bad, except for the cove, where it was dangerous even with rubber boots. By this coming weekend it should be much safer.

The shorebird numbers were pretty high with Semipalmated Sandpipers and Least Sandpipers likely the most abundant species. Short-billed Dowitchers were also abundant. I ran into my friend Scott and he told me that, compared to a couple of days earlier, their numbers had gone way up. One interesting sighting was of a pair of hatchling oystercatchers. There is an island near the northeast corner of the pond and the oystercatchers had apparently nested on it. I was told later in the day that it was the first record of these birds nesting within the refuge.

Black-bellied Plovers were seen in fairly high numbers, mostly just resting along a stretch of mud on the western side of the pond. We had been scanning and rescanning the flock for a long time, trying to locate a Red Knot or other unusual bird hiding within their numbers. About 45 minutes later I finally noticed a Black Skimmer standing in the middle of the plovers and wondered how this large bird managed to remain camouflaged.

We spent at least 2 hours walking along the western side of the East Pond, scanning every flock of shorebird over and over. Unlike other groups of birds, it's very easy to overlook a "different" shorebird among the more common individuals (well, at least for me). One nice non-shorebird sighting early on was of a pair of Gull-billed Terns. They sort of just flew in, circled the pond, then vanished for the rest of the day.

When the bulk of the birders at the refuge took a break to attend a lecture at the visitor's center, Tom, Scott, Gene and I decided to bird around the West Pond. At the East Pond we had seen several wading bird species; Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron and Glossy Ibis. Scott had commented that it would be nice to see a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and asked if they were ever seen at the refuge. I broke all the rules of birding superstition and said that they were fairly common and would even go out on a limb and "guarantee" that we would see one at the West Pond. In birding, making that kind of statement nearly always guarantees one thing ... NOT finding the bird in question. But I guess I was feeling a little cocky, having not even considered the fact that it was my first full day of birding all summer AND my first day at the refuge since May 9th. Thankfully, the birding gods forgave my little faux pas and we spotted 5 or 6 Yellow-crowned Night-Herons. Despite not seeing anything rare, it was a great day. Experiencing the sounds and sight of tens of thousands of shorebirds never gets old for me and I'm certain that Scott and Gene's first "shorebirding" day at the refuge will be long remembered.

Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Observation date: 8/9/09
Number of species: 74

Brant
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Glossy Ibis
Osprey
Peregrine Falcon
Clapper Rail
Black-bellied Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Killdeer

American Oystercatcher

Greater Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Ruddy Turnstone

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper

peep sp.

Short-billed Dowitcher

Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Black Skimmer
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker
Empidonax sp.
Eastern Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Red-winged Blackbird
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, American Crow, Fish Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow
...Read more

Monday, August 17, 2009

Upcoming Trips

Below is a list of upcoming trips for the weekend of August 22nd - 23rd, 2009:


Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, August 22, 2009
16th Annual Tom Davis Memorial Shorebird Walk at Jamaica Bay
Leader & Registrar: Sean Sime
Registration opens Monday 8/10.
Public transportation.


New York City Audubon Society
Wednesday, August 19, 6:30pm -8:30pm (class)
Saturday, August 22 8:30am (trip)
Shorebirds of New York City
Instructor: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC
Jamaica Bay is a birdwatcher's haven as it provides a great stopover location for thousands of migrating shorebirds. Learn about the shorebirds that start their southerly migration in August. Limited to 15.
$40 ($36 for NYC Audubon members at the Senior/Student level and up)


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, August 22, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Mt. Loretto Butterfly Walk
Join naturalist, photographer Sandra Mechanic for an exciting day searching for Spicebush and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Pearl Crescent and Monarch Butterflies and the many wildflowers they feed upon. Bring binoculars, field guides and camera if you wish.
Meet at the Mt. Loretto Unique Area parking lot south of Sharrott Avenue on Hylan Blvd. We hope to see many children for this pleasant rural scenic stroll. We will walk to the bluff to enjoy the beautiful vista of the lower Bay and New Jersey's Atlantic Highlands.
For more information, phone Dick Buegler at 718-761-7496.


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Early Morning Birding
8:00 a.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers for this weekly Ranger-led birding walk of the Salt Marsh...
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Canoe with a Ranger!
9:30 a.m.; 1:30 p.m.
Here’s your chance to learn the basics of canoeing with the Rangers! First come,...
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Wildlife Walk
11:00 a.m.
Newly renovated Seton Falls Park is one of the borough’s Forever Wild parks. Enjoy...
Location: Seton Falls Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Canoeing Basics
11:00 a.m.; 3:00 p.m.
Enjoy some quality time on Wolfe's Pond. We’ll teach you the basics of canoeing...
Location: Wolfes Pond Park, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Randall’s Island to Astoria
12:00 p.m.
Join the Rangers as we cross the East River via footbridge onto Randall’s Island and...
Location: Meet at East 103 Street & FDR Drive
Cost: Free

Community Family Day
1:00 p.m.
This day of festivities, hosted by the Friends of Roy Wilkins Park, is fun for the whole...
Location: Roy Wilkins Recreation Center, Queens
Cost: Free

Lantern Tour
8:00 p.m.
Explore the dark caverns of Fort Totten for a history tour by lantern.
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Sunday, August 23, 2009
Early Birding
9:00 a.m.
They say the early bird catches the worm. What birds will we see? Bring your comfortable...
Location: Wolfes Pond Park, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Canoe with a Ranger!
10:00 a.m.; 2:00 p.m.
Here’s your chance to learn the basics of canoeing with the Rangers! First come,...
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

River Views
11:00 a.m.
Riverdale Park provides great views of the Hudson River and the Palisades.
Location: Riverdale Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Fresh Water Fishing
11:00 a.m.
Learn fresh water ecology while practicing “catch and release” fishing. Come...
Location: Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Oh My! It’s a Dragonfly
11:00 a.m.
Learn interesting facts about these often seen, but little understood insects we call dragonflies.
Location: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
Cost: Free

The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful
1:00 p.m.
Discover how exotic plants take root away from their home, what makes them succeed, and why...
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free
...Read more

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Green-Wood Cemetery Tours

The Green-Wood Historic Fund now offers trolley tours every Wednesday. It's a great place to learn about New York City's rich history, both human and natural. From their website:

Every Wednesday a new historic trolley tour at Green-Wood. Tours last approximately two hours and feature the beauty of Green-Wood’s grounds, the Cemetery’s history, its bird life, the most fascinating tales of its permanent residents, views of Manhattan’s skyline, The Green-Wood Historic Fund’s Civil War Project and its preservation program, and more.

Reservations are not required, but recommended.

Green-Wood’s Wednesday Trolley tour guide, Marge Raymond, fell in love with Green-Wood Cemetery 25 years ago as a birdwatcher and naturalist. She brings to her tours her enthusiasm and passion for Green-Wood’s famous residents, its history, trees and animals. Marge, a professional singer, has been a volunteer since 2002 with The Green-Wood Historic Fund's Civil War Project and has helped to staff The Historic Fund’s information and sales cart since its inception. She has been known to break into an occasional song during her tours.


For more information check out their website here.
...Read more

Bugs & Stuff

Songbirds have already begun migrating south, however, the last couple of times I went exploring in Prospect Park I ended up spending my time looking at insects.

I've found three very productive areas in the park for butterflies and other insects. The first is a small wildflower meadow near the baseball fields at the path into the Ravine. For the last couple of weeks Wild Bergamot has dominated the field. There are also some clusters of Jerusalem Artichoke. Bergamot is an interesting flower in that the flower head isn't covered by simple petals. The terminal head is covered by many irregular, two-lipped, tubular corolla. Based on all the insect activity, the fragrant flowers contain an abundance of nectar. I observed lots of different bees, skippers and hoverflies. One species of bee that was a first for me was the small, Golden Northern Bumblebee. I noticed lots of Green June Beetles mating on the fence that surrounds the meadow. They may be a pest insect, but I found these scarab beetles to be very beautiful. videoBy far, my favorite sighting in this area was of Hummingbird Clearwing moths. They are interesting on many levels; First, unlike most moths, they are diurnal. Second, they can hover in place while drinking nectar, third, look at them. How cool is their disguise?! While visiting my mother in Upstate New York a few years back I pointed one out that was feeding on her Garden Phlox. She thought I was pulling her leg when I called it a moth because she was so convinced that it was a real hummingbird. There is another, similar species of clearwing called the Bumblebee Clearwing, which is black and yellow.

Another good spot for insects is a small stretch of grass behind the Audubon Nature Center at the boathouse. There's a patch of coneflowers which has been attracting, mostly, bees, but is now at the end of its season. A few yards to the south of the coneflowers are some Sweet Pepper Bushes and a few other incredibly fragrant wildflowers (that's my not-so-subtle way of saying I haven't been able to identify them yet). What amazed me about this area was the abundance of wasps. I always think of wasps as being predatory insects, but they also feed on nectar. The shrubs behind the boathouse are primarily loaded with wasps. I guess the other insects know to steer clear of these scary guys. There were several different species of thread-waisted wasps, one of which was the largest that I've ever seen. This dark blue giant was even larger than a Cicada Killer that was feeding in the same shrub. The most common wasp seemed to be the Great Golden Digger Wasp. All of these wasps can sting and, except for the Cicada Killer, the stings can be extremely painful. I'm not afraid of wasps and since I wasn't near their nest (or harassing them), felt that it was safe to photograph them. It was interesting to note that the largest species seemed to be the most skittish and took off whenever I tried to get close with my camera.

The third location is the Butterfly Meadow on top of Lookout Hill. It is the only place in the park where I've been able to find Buddlea shrubs. I'm not sure why the parks department doesn't plant more of these flowering shrubs in the park because it attracts a wide range of insects and birds. On a recent visit I spotted a Hummingbird Clearwing feeding on the purple flowers. It was moving around a lot and I was having a difficult time taking a photo. At one point it disappeared, then popped up near the top of the shrub. I said out loud, "There you are", then realized that it was actually a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. There were also a lot of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails on the Butterfly bush on Lookout Hill.

As I was scanning the flowers within the main, fenced off meadow I recognized a butterfly that I'd only seen a couple of times - a Great Spangled Fritillary. Even if it were the most drab butterfly in existence, it has a pretty cool name. It sounds almost patriotic.

The Butterfly Meadow is also dotted with sunflowers. The towering, yellow flowering plants are a mix of Jerusalem Artichoke and Cup Plants. The mass of stalks and leaves create a virtually impenetrable forest crushed up against the enclosing, red snow fencing. I noticed dozens of spider webs stretched between the plants and fence. One of the most common spider in this location appeared to be an Venusta Orchard. I haven't had very good luck photographing these tiny orbweavers, mainly because of my camera's limitations. This is the best shot, so far.

...Read more

Notes from a Falconer

In addition to his work as a NYC firefighter and wildlife rehabilitator, Bobby works at the airport protecting airline passengers from various runway hazards.

I received the following note last week:

From: Robert Horvath
Subject: An Average Day of Work at Kennedy Airport for Falconry Environmental Services


Any given day while working as a falconer at Kennedy I'll see kestrels, peregrines, osprey, jackrabbits (yep, urban legend they escaped from a shipment there over 50 years ago) and muskrat, just to name of few. Definitely makes it an adventure every day not knowing what I'll encounter there. And it isn't even migration time yet. It's right off Jamaica Bay where I'm driving on the perimeter roads daily protecting the runways and taxiways. A few weeks ago it was turtle day and I assisted 14 diamondback terrapins to safety who came out to lay eggs there. [...]

I did a little jackrabbit research to try and determine which species may be surviving at the airport. Without a rear view photo of the species in question I could only narrow it down to a White-tailed or Black-tailed Jackrabbit. Based strictly on the open, grassland habitat, I'm guessing that it is more likely a Black-tailed Jackrabbit. White-taileds are generally found in mountainous regions. It is also interesting to learn that jackrabbits (or "hares") are not related to our Eastern Cottontails.

...Read more

Monday, August 10, 2009

Upcoming Trips

Below is a list of upcoming trips for the weekend of August 15th - 16th, 2009:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, August 16th
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Trip Leader: Starr Saphir
Focus: Shorebird peak
Car Fee: $12.00 (or subway if necessary)
Registrar: Marisa Wohl, email marisaw@earthlink.net or call (718) 596-0285 up to
9 PM
Registration period: August 4th - August 11th


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, August 15, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Meisner Pond wildflower garden & Buck’s Hollow
Join Sandra Mechanic, naturalist and photographer, in a stroll around this beautifully planted, landscaped retention pond which was constructed to protect downstream homes from flooding. NYCDEP planted hundreds of trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers, including orange Butterfly-weed, purple NY Ironweed, yellow Sneezeweed, Dogwood and Elderberry. We may see Tree Frogs, an inch and half long sitting on plant leaves. Then stroll along the shady, cool White /Trail past Buttonbush pond to Buck’s Hollow where the Persimmon trees grow. Sandra will show you the house foundation of the farmer who tried to grow grapes on the poisonous serpentine soil of this rocky hill slope. We will walk only a mile in and another back to see numerous habitats and dozens of wildflowers.
Park at the intersection of Rockland with Meisner Avenue, at the base of the entry road.
For more information, phone Dick Buegler at 718-761-7496.

Sunday, August 16, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Atlantic Seaboard, Todt Hill Vista Walk
Walk the Blue Trail from little Clove Road to the top of Todt Hill. Meet Sandra Mechanic where the Blue Trail enters the Greenbelt at the end of Northern Blvd by the hole in the fence on Little Clove Road.
Wear sturdy shoes, bring a walking stick and carry a beverage. We’ll see Moses’ Folly, the built but unused section of a major highway cloverleaf for Richmond Parkway. This area once had a ski jump facility. Sandra will introduce you to a few streets of the pleasant Todt Hill community and take the Blue Trail back to the hole in the fence to your car.
For more information, phone Dick Buegler at 718-761-7496.


Staten Island Museum
August 15, 2009
Evening Wildlife Walk: Clay Pit Pond
At Clay Pit Pond's State Park Preserve, 2351 Veteran's Road West
As the seasons change, so does the wildlife that emerges in the evening. Join Museum naturalist and Clay Pits Educators for an evening walk along the trails at Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve.
For more information, call Claire at Clay Pits Park at (718) 605-3970.


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, August 15, 2009

Early Morning Birding
8:00 a.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers for this weekly Ranger-led birding walk of the Salt Marsh...
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Fledgling Watch
10:00 a.m.
Join the Rangers as they search for the young Red-tailed hawk fledglings of Inwood Hill Park.
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Basic Canoeing
11:00 a.m.
This quiet lake is a perfect place to learn to canoe. Join us and learn the basic of...
Location: Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

One in a Million Tree-mendous Walk
11:00 a.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers for a guided tree walk, as we learn to identify different types...
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Summer Catch
11:00 a.m. & 2:00 p.m.
Come fish in the newly restored Indian Lake, and learn all about our underwater neighbors....
Location: Crotona Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Canoeing the Creek
11:00 a.m.
Enjoy a day on Gerritsen Creek as we canoe its sheltered waters in search of shorebirds,...
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Canoe the Meer
11:00 a.m. & 3:00 p.m.
Join us for a fun-filled day of canoeing and water safety. Bring water, sunscreen, and a...
Location: Central Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Pond Ecology
11:00 a.m.
Freshwater ponds are a delight to our eyes, and many creatures make their homes in the...
Location: Blue Heron Park Preserve, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Canoeing the Creek
12:30 p.m.
Enjoy a day on Gerritsen Creek as we canoe its sheltered waters in search of shorebirds,...
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Little Red Lighthouse
1:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m.
View the famous Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse! Bring a camera, because you won’t...
Location: Fort Washington Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Basic Canoeing
2:00 p.m.
This quiet lake is a perfect place to learn to canoe. Join us and learn the basic of...
Location: Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

One in a Million Tree-mendous Walk
2:00 p.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers for a guided tree walk, as we learn to identify different types...
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Canoeing the Creek
2:00 p.m.
Enjoy a day on Gerritsen Creek as we canoe its sheltered waters in search of shorebirds,...
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Family Camping
6:30 p.m.
Join the Rangers for a fun evening of activities, followed by a night under the stars. ...
Location: Blue Heron Park Preserve, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shore Birds
10:00 a.m.
The rocky coast of Pelham Bay provides habitat for an abundance of shorebirds. Join the...
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

A Little Dabble Do Ya
10:00 a.m. & 11:00 a.m.
Practically anyone can catch fish using an easy to learn technique called...
Location: Willowbrook Park, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Hike the Croton-Aqueduct Trail
11:00 a.m.
Join us for a walk on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail and learn some facts of New York...
Location: Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Fresh Water Fishing
11:00 a.m.
Learn fresh water ecology while practicing “catch and release” fishing. Come...
Location: Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Seashore Exploration
12:00 p.m.
Discover the animals and organisms that call the seashore home.
Location: Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Heather Garden Photography
1:00 p.m.
Bring your camera because you’ll want a picture of every beautiful flower in this...
Location: Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Saltwater Fishing
3:00 p.m.
Come to the northern tip of Manhattan to try to catch some of the fish passing through our...
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Evening Prowl with the Owls
7:30 p.m.
Enjoy viewing the evening sunset atop the terraces of Belvedere Castle. With daylight gone,...
Location: Central Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Astronomy
8:00 p.m.
Gaze at the heavens through our telescope, as we identify constellations, stars, and the...
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free
...Read more

Monday, August 03, 2009

Upcoming Trips

Below is a list of upcoming trips for the weekend of August 8th - 9th, 2009:

New York City Audubon Society
Sunday, August 9, 8am-5pm
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge - Shorebird Festival
With American Littoral Society and Gateway National Recreation Area
An all-day event during peak fall shorebird migration in Jamaica Bay. Learn about shorebird behavior, biology, identification and migration. Schedule includes walks around the East & West Ponds and presentations by Don Riepe, Lloyd Spitalnik and Kevin Karlson. Limited to 75.
Suggested donation $10.
For information and reservations call (718) 318-9344


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, August 8, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Forest Exotic Plant Study, Blue Heron Park
Join Dick Buegler and Don Recklies in a study to evaluate the native plant species in the park and compare to what early studies indicated were present. The extent of exotic plants in the natural areas will be assessed. A list of such species will be produced.
Meet in the parking lot of Blue Heron Park on Poillon Ave. between Hylan Blvd. and Amboy Road.
For more information, phone Dick Buegler at 718-761-7496.

Saturday, August 8, 4 p.m. to 6 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. Pick up seashells and beach pebbles. It may be muddy so dress appropriately.
Meet at the parking lot at the end of Page Avenue on the left.
For more information phone Dick Buegler 718-761-7496 or Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, August 9, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Butterflies at Blue Heron Park
Staten Island is home to a gorgeous collection of butterflies. The variety of sizes and shapes, colors and styles is no better evidenced than at Blue Heron Park. Enjoy time with Cliff Hagen as he shares tips for identifying Staten Island's most brilliant insects.
Meet in the parking lot of Blue Heron Park on Poillon Ave. between Hylan Blvd. and Amboy Road. Bring binoculars if you have them.
For more information phone Dick Buegler at 718-761-7496 or Cliff at 718-313-8591.


Queens County Bird Club
Sunday, August 9
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Meet 8:00am in the parking lot at the Visitors' Center.
Trip leader: George Dadone, 917-748-5716.
Wear Boots! Also recommended: water, insect repellant, HAT. If you have a scope, bring it. If you don't, we share.
August 9th is also the date of the Jamaica Bay Shorebird Festival. If you would like to partake of the festivities after our walk, you might want to bring a picnic lunch.


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, August 8, 2009

Early Morning Birding
8:00 a.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers for this weekly Ranger-led birding walk of the Salt Marsh...
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Gone Fishing!
10:00 a.m.
Practice fishing basics, and learn about the fish you’re catching. Bait provided....
Location: Valentino Pier, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Compost Happens!
10:00 a.m.
Visit our compost station and learn about the interesting process of decomposition. Bring a...
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Into the Depths
11:00 a.m.
Discover which animals call Orchard Beach home. Pull on some waders and use seining nets to...
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Wildflower Hike
11:00 a.m.
Once a month, from spring through fall, join us and learn to ID the beautiful flowers that...
Location: Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Nature Scavenger Hunt
11:00 a.m.
Assemble your team and challenge yourself to find nature’s treasures. How many can you find?
Location: Crotona Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Salt Water Fishing
11:00 a.m.
Rather than catch a big fish in a small pond, why not try to catch a big fish in Flushing...
Location: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Nature Crafts
11:00 a.m.
Explore our natural environment and spark your artistic fire.
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Native Americans of Manhattan
12:00 p.m.
Inwood has a vibrant history of Native American culture. The Rangers will lead a lecture...
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Hudson River Fishing
1:00 p.m.
Discover the joys of fishing, as we connect to the life living within the Hudson River....
Location: Riverside Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Into the Depths
2:00 p.m.
Discover which animals call Orchard Beach home. Pull on some waders and use seining nets to...
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Nature Scavenger Hunt
2:00 p.m.
Assemble your team and challenge yourself to find nature’s treasures. How many can you find?
Location: Crotona Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

One in a Million Tree-mendous Walk
2:00 p.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers for a guided tree walk, as we learn to identify different types...
Location: Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Explore the Shore
2:00 p.m.
Explore the shore of the coastal bays. Equipment provided, but come ready to get wet.
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Canoeing Indian Lake
11:00 a.m.
This quiet lake is a perfect place to learn the basics of canoeing so you can sign up for...
Location: Crotona Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Seashore Safari
11:00 a.m.
Come explore the “wild” side of Orchard Beach. Join the Urban Park Ranger as we...
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Wildflower Walk
11:00 a.m.
Take a walk on the wild side as we explore all the fantastic flowers in our park.
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Butterfly Safari
11:00 a.m.
Silver Lake Park is known as a destination for migrating Monarch butterflies, but...
Location: Silver Lake Park, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Fishing at the Lake
12:00 p.m.; 2:00 p.m.
This lake is home to many types of fresh water fish. Perch, bass and catfish are just some...
Location: Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Basic Canoeing
12:00 p.m.; 2:00 p.m.
Learn the basics of canoeing as you canoe with the Rangers. Bring water and sunscreen...
Location: Kissena Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Explore the Ravine
1:00 p.m.
Take a nature hike and explore the last standing forest in Brooklyn on this guided tour of...
Location: Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Tree Forensics
Get out your magnifying glass and get your detective shoes on. We’re going on a walk...
Location: Central Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Eco Art
1:00 p.m.
Let us show you some creative ways to recycle undesirables into beautiful art!
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Canoeing Indian Lake
2:00 p.m.
This quiet lake is a perfect place to learn the basics of canoeing so you can sign up for...
Location: Crotona Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Seashore Safari
2:00 p.m.
Come explore the “wild” side of Orchard Beach. Join the Urban Park Ranger as we...
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bad News from the Bronx

Chris Lyons sent out a series of emails on Thursday regarding one of the Bronx Red-tailed Hawks. "Hawkeye" is the mate to "Rose" and they nested at the Fordham University Rose Hill campus for a few years. This season they moved the nest a few blocks away to the New York Botanic Gardens. The news wasn't good.

Here are his emails detailing the situation:

From: Christopher Lyons
Date: July 30, 2009 11:57:23 AM EDT
Subject: Sick/Injured Red-tail taken into custody by police on Fordham Campus.

I witnessed the last few minutes of this drama--I didn't get a good look at the bird, and had assumed it was a juvenile, based on a quick glance into a dark animal crate--but the pictures seem to be of Hawkeye. I'm hoping it's not rat poison [...].

I had wondered why there was such a big police presence--apparently Rose was defending him. If you saw all the police vehicles, you'd think there was an escaped lion prowling around.

**********

From: Christopher Lyons
Date: July 30, 2009 2:27:51 PM EDT
Subject: Re: Sick/Injured Red-tail taken into custody by police on Fordham Campus.

I've twice spoken to someone at the [animal hospital]. He's still being looked at, and they couldn't really give me much information. I did just hear something that worries me--there was an eyewitness account that he didn't land on the lawn--he fell out of a tree. That's got to be either disease or poison--can't think of any other explanation.

I was told that he was very calm (obviously much weakened), and gave the authorities no trouble--Rose was another matter. She did her damndest to fight them off. They had plexiglass shields out, just to protect themselves from the full force of her wrath--she probably remembers how she was taken into custody years back, after being found with an injured wing. It's asking a lot of a wild hawk to know the difference between good and bad intentions. As far as they're concerned, taking away their freedom always qualifies as a bad intention. But it doesn't sound like this was something that was going to fix itself.

**********

From: Christopher Lyons
Date: July 30, 2009 4:43:54 PM EDT
Subject: Hawkeye being treated for probable poisoning

I wish the news was better--finally spoke to someone at the
[animal hospital]. Hawkeye (it has to be him, much as I wish it wasn't) is extremely ill, and exhibiting symptoms consistent with exposure to rat poison. He has severe anemia, and extensive bruising. There is no sign of any injury--if he can recover from the poison, there's no reason he couldn't be returned to the wild, best as they can tell. But they say that right now the prognosis is poor. He is badly weakened.

[...] They are familiar with the symptoms of poisoning in this species, and obviously have a first-rate treatment facility, and are doing as much as they can to try and help him.

[...] I doubt I'll hear anything more today. I'll try and follow up tomorrow. But if anyone who has had more experience with hawk poisonings wants to call them, please go ahead.

If he doesn't recover, a part of me wishes they'd just put him back outside, and let him meet his end there--a being like that shouldn't die under a roof, where he can't see the sky. It isn't right. But neither are lots of other things.

**********

From: Christopher Lyons
Date: July 31, 2009 3:17:31 PM EDT
Subject: Re: Hawkeye being treated for probable poisoning

I put in a call this morning, and they called me back a few hours later.

Hawkeye was found dead in his cage this morning.

And that's easily one of the top ten sentences I wish I'd never had to type.

I spoke to
[someone at the animal hospital], who was extremely friendly and understanding, but not in a position of high authority. He said their procedures in cases like this normally necessitate doing a necropsy, then incinerating the remains. I spent some time impressing upon him how important it is that some part of him be conveyed to a qualified expert, such as Ward Stone (with whom they've had dealings in the past) for the purpose of DNA testing. He said he'd convey that to his superiors, but could promise nothing. [...]

[...] For those who never had the chance to see him in person, and particularly up close--you missed something. I know eventually another worthy male will present himself to Rose, and be accepted as the new patriarch of the territory she and Hawkeye established together.

But right now--and I'll clock anyone who tells me this is anthropomorphism--I know she's just feeling a great absence in her world. And so am I.

Here is a little about the photo that Chris sent me for this posting:

I was honored on one occasion in particular to be observing the Collins Hall nest from the roof of Dealy Hall, when Hawkeye landed on the railing, just a short distance away. These were taken in April '08--right around the time I believe the eggs hatched--hatching might have been going on right then. I know hawks don't 'smile', but he definitely had a very joyous expression about him--he radiated contentment. Even though I was just a short distance away, furiously snapping photos, he didn't spend much time looking at me. He was surveying his kingdom, and he was well pleased.

You want to hear strange? I feel like my king is dead. Long live the queen.
...Read more

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