Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Road Trip for 2009

Wednesday I took my last road trip of the year. Doug, Shane and I decided to try and find a Black Guillemot that has been seen on the south fork of Long Island. It was about 85 miles east of Brooklyn (as the eagle flies), so it would be a very early start to the day.

I'd never seen a Black Guillemot, so it would be worth waking up at 4:50am to be on the road by 5:30am. The bird had be hanging around a small inlet next to the privately owned Rams Island. A parking lot conveniently located at the end of Sebonac Avenue is adjacent to the small body of water where the bird has been feeding. Shane wanted to be at the parking lot by first light so we would have the best chance of seeing this bird. I really enjoy the first hour of the day, so it didn't matter to me that I'd only be getting a few hours of sleep.

We found the location pretty easily and there was already one car parked in the lot when we pulled in. Jerry Lazarczyk, a birder from Buffalo, had arrived early, but hadn't seen the guillemot. It was brutally cold and the inlet was completely clogged with ice flows pushed in by the north winds. In addition, there was about 1/4 mile of ice ringing the shoreline of Peconic Bay. We weren't very optimistic that we'd find the bird.

While Shane was pulling on extra layers of clothing, Doug was already scanning the distant open water. I set up my scope and started looking along the edge of the ice from the opposite direction. There were scattered groups of gulls sleeping on the ice. Bufflehead, Long-tailed Ducks, eiders and various scoters were beginning to dive at the edge of the ice.

After only a few minutes of searching Doug suddenly exclaimed, "I've got the bird!" With the bright early morning sun over our shoulders, the mostly white bird stood out like a beacon. The four of us had good views of a very distant bird. Shane suggested that we drive to Shinnecock Inlet to look for a reported Dovekie, then come back later.

There were few birds in the inlet at Shinnecock, but several hundred Common Eider were in the bay just north of the inlet. There were also several seals patrolling the choppy water within the two jetties.

After about an hour at Shinnecock we headed back to Bullhead Bay Inlet. Shane's plan paid off. Much of the ice ringing the bay had been reduced to just a few yards of slushy salt water. The Black Guillemot was extremely close to the shore. We watched the bird for about 30 minutes as it periodically dove and returned to the surface to eat. It was difficult to tell what it was feeding on, but much of it appeared to be long marine worms of some type. Sources that I check said that their diet consists of fish, crustaceans and marine invertebrates.

It's not often that I get to close out the year with a life bird, especially such a stunning looking species. Thanks, Shane. I look forward to finding many more birds in 2010.

video

Here's a short video I shot of the Black Guillemot
...Read more

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Christmas Bird Counts

On December 19th I participated in my 9th Christmas Bird Count at Floyd Bennett Field. This past weekend I was also part of the Bronx-Westchester CBC. For the Bronx, Shane Blodgett, Steve Nanz and I always team up to cover the New York Botanical Garden. Both counts had their challenges, but I came away feeling good that I was able to contribute to the longest-running wildlife census on the planet.

I think everyone remembers their first Christmas Bird Count. Mine was December 21, 1996. I was covering sections of Prospect Park with my friend Jerry Layton. The day began with a miserable mix of sleet and freezing rain. After about 30 minutes of suffering, we walked back to my apartment to dry off and drink some hot tea. Once the sleet slowed down a bit we went back into the park. One of the spots included in our area was the "Pools" or, as we knew it back then, "Swanboat Pond". Renovations were still several years off, so the Upper Pool was mostly a phragmite-choked mudhole. I remember climbing down the bank and pushing my way through the tangle of reeds. I was about a minute into my bushwacking when an American Bittern flew up in front of me and disappeared into the reeds on the opposite side of the pond (I think I was more scared than the bird). By 1999 I decided that Prospect Park had more than enough people covering its 526 acres and that I could be more helpful elsewhere. Ron & Jean Bourque always surveyed Floyd Bennett Field, which included Dead Horse Bay and Four Sparrow Marsh. I asked if they needed help, which they did, and I've been part of their team ever since.

The area contains a variety of habitats, but the biggest challenge of the Christmas Count at Floyd Bennett Field is having to walk through its over 100 acres of grasslands, then count the birds that one flushes along the way. This year we were fortunate to have a big team of seasoned birders to help out. The bad news was that a big winter storm was forecast to hit the area by noon. Having 11 people for our team allowed us to cover the grassland relatively quickly, after that we broke into groups to cover other areas.

"Ecology Village" is a campground set-up within Floyd Bennett's only coniferous forest. It is in this area where we typically find owls during the Christmas Count. Unfortunately, a blight that has been attacking the mostly Japanese Black Pines has been slowly destroying the forest. New trees are being planted, but it will be 20 years before we see a healthy growth of large pines. Owls have been hard to come by in the last 5 years, but it never stops us from looking. We had swept through the entire pine grove and people were meeting at the trail near the northeast edge. As we were getting ready to walk back to the cars, I heard a flock of crows mobbing something. I had heard the flock earlier and tracked them down only to find them harassing a Red-tailed Hawk near one of the fields. This time they were diving at the top of a pine tree within Ecology Village. I decided to go back and check it out. Jean, Bob and I were circling the tree that the crows were focusing on, but couldn't see anything. Finally Bob said, "Am I looking at what I think I am?" There was only a small opening in the tangle of branches near the top of the tree and, after a moment of looking for a clear view, I finally saw it - a Long-eared Owl. The sleepy owl had been desperately trying to ignore the noisy crows above, and now needed to tolerate the excited birdwatchers on the ground below. This owl was a Brooklyn Christmas Count first for me.

By 1pm the temperature had dropped, the wind had increased and snow had started to fall. Eni and Vinnie had left before lunch and now Ron and Jean were calling it quits. The two Bobs, Keir, Tom, Dennis and I decided to keep going. We still needed to cover the community garden and Four Sparrow Marsh. Up to that point we had seen a pretty amazing collection of species, among them - Ron flushed a small flock of Eastern Meadowlarks on the fields; Keir and I spotted a Rough-legged Hawk at Dead Horse Bay; we tallied several Field Sparrows and a White-crowned Sparrow near the cricket fields; three Snow Buntings decided to land next to me as I stood at the north end of runway 12-30. The count is more than just finding "good" birds, it's about trying to find all of the birds in ones given area, so we needed to finish surveying the rest of our areas ... or get frostbite in the process.

After Ron and Jean departed, I was the only one left who knew how to get into and survey Four Sparrow Marsh. I warned the guys that it could be pretty messy, but they were totally into it. We parked at the "Toy R Us" parking lot then walked around the fence into the marsh. At this point the snow and wind was beginning to sting our faces. Climbing over and around the flotsam that has accumulated around the edges of the marsh only enhanced the experience. Avoiding railroad spike-sized rusty nails sticking up through gray, weathered wooden planks was just another bonus. The far end of the marsh is strangely clear of detritus and the marsh grass devoid of phragmites. Despite the pretty landscape it, unfortunately, also lacked birds.

Noteworthy highlights from the entire Brooklyn count include:

American Bittern
Black-legged Kittiwake, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Blacked-backed Gull, Laughing Gull
Great Egret
Common Eider, Black Scoter, Common Merganser
Red-shouldered Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk
Great Horned Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl
Wilson's Snipe, Killdeer
Clapper Rail
Winter Wren, Marsh Wren
Orange-crowned Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Ovenbird, Black-throated Green Warbler
Saltmarsh Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow
Eastern Meadowlark, Rusty Blackbird

You can download a summary of the Brooklyn Christmas Bird Count totals in PDF format here or you can view it as a JPEG file here.

The Bronx Christmas Bird Count

One of the things that I like the most about doing the Christmas Count at the New York Botanical Garden is that we get there at first light and have the entire place to ourselves for the first 3 hours. The Bronx River runs through the middle of the garden's 240 acres. In addition to the landscaped habitats, there is a small wetland and an extensive tract of native hardwood forest.

A resident pair of Great Horned Owls have successfully bred in the NYBG in the past. Despite their huge size, it is sometimes very difficult to locate these beautiful birds of prey. We always manage to find them for the count, but the first few years they always flew off when we tracked them down. Now they seem to be used to us. This year they only glanced down from their perch with half-opened eyes, then went back to sleep. Steve swears he heard one say, "Oh great, it's those pains-in-the-butts from Brooklyn again." Great Horned Owls begin their breeding cycle around this time of year, so it is important not to stress them out. It's for that reason that I ask that you please not write asking me for directions to the location of these or any of our other resident owls. I won't respond (don't take it personally).

Steve seems to have a knack for finding warblers on Christmas Counts. I'm not sure why, maybe they follow him. For the last three years he has found warblers at Spring Creek on the Brooklyn count. This year he found an astounding three species. At the New York Botanical Garden he has found a Pine Warbler two out of three years. With that in mind, I was half-joking when, as we approached a stretch of mature pine trees, I said, "How about we go find some warblers?"

Shane and Steve walked up the west side of the stand of conifers while I headed up the east. Within about 5 minutes I heard a loud "chip" that sounded familiar. I looked up and, foraging in the top of the tree, was a Pine Warbler. From the other end of the stretch of trees I heard Steve yelling for me. I ran over to where he and Shane were looking at another Pine Warbler. They had also spotted a couple of Baltimore Orioles, which turned into 4 orioles! Why were these birds still in New York City? They are supposed to be somewhere in the tropics, relaxing in the heat ... now that I think about it, what was I still doing in NYC?!

This was the first year since I've been helping with the Bronx count that it didn't rain or snow. The weather was actually unseasonably warm, which might have explained an unusually high number of robins. Also, high water from snow melt created dangerous currents in the Bronx River. The turbulent water kept our list of waterfowl limited to just a small number of Mallards and black ducks. It's funny, if the weather is too pleasant it can adversely affect the outcome of the Christmas Bird Count. In this particular case, however, it added some very colorful highlights to a normally muted winter landscape.

Here are the Bronx-Westchester CBC results.


video

White-water in the Bronx River

I have one final Christmas Bird Count coming up on January 2nd in Southern Nassau County. ...Read more

Monday, December 28, 2009

NYC Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending December 25, 2009:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Dec 25, 2009
* NYNY0912.25

- Birds Mentioned:

BARNACLE GOOSE+ (Rockland County)
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Wood Duck
EURASIAN WIGEON
KING EIDER
Common Eider
American Bittern
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Merlin
Virginia Rail
Wilson's Snipe
American Woodcock
Laughing Gull
Black-headed Gull
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE
Jaeger sp.
RAZORBILL
BLACK GUILLEMOT
Barred Owl
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Common Raven
Orange-crowned Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Ovenbird
Wilson's Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
SUMMER TANAGER
Saltmarsh Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Rusty Blackbird
Baltimore Oriole

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

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc1@nybirds.org .

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

Jeanne Skelly - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
420 Chili-Scottsville Rd.
Churchville, NY 14428

~ Transcript ~

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

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

Compilers: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
Transcriber: Karen Fung

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, December 25th, at 11:00 pm. The highlights of today's tape are BLACK GUILLEMOT, RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, BARNACLE GOOSE, KING EIDER, EURASIAN WIGEON, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, RAZORBILL, and SUMMER TANAGER.

With last weekend's weather and substantial snowfall playing havoc with the opening weekend of the Christmas Count period, causing many counts to be shortened or postponed, the Brooklyn Count, held on Saturday, fared better than other counts and was able to report a decent 123 species. The highlights included COMMON EIDER, AMERICAN BITTERN, a BLACK-HEADED GULL lingering at Owl's Head Wastewater Treatment Plant, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, LAUGHING GULL; BLACK-HEADED KITTIWAKE at Breezy Point; RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, LONG-EARED OWL, SHORT-EARED OWL, NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL; an interesting collection of warblers including ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER at Spring Creek, OVENBIRD, and WILSON'S WARBLER; SALTMARSH SPARROW, and RUSTY BLACKBIRD.

We do not have the full results of the Quogue-Watermill Count held Saturday, but the count did produce a very interesting bird: a BLACK GUILLEMOT that, by its pale white plumage and small bill, would appear to be a subspecies from the Eastern Canadian Arctic. The bird has been staying in or near a narrow channel connecting Bullhead Bay with Peconic Bay on the north side of Southampton. From Route 27 in Southampton, take Tuckahoe Road north, and pick up Sebonac Inlet Road. Take this road to its end at the inlet, and look for the guillemot around the inlet where it is often in the company of some Long-tailed Ducks and Bufflehead. [Transcriber's Update: The most recent report of the guillemot was this afternoon, 12/25, at 1pm.]

The Montauk Count, normally one of the state's leaders, on Saturday recorded only 109 species, featuring a male KING EIDER off Montauk Point, MERLIN, two VIRGINIA RAILS, two WILSON'S SNIPE and two AMERICAN WOODCOCK, a JAEGER off Accabonac, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL on Fort Pond Bay, 27 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, seven RAZORBILLS, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, CHIPPING SPARROW, and BALTIMORE ORIOLE.

A BARNACLE GOOSE was reported with Canadas Sunday from Piermont Pier as part of the Rockland County Count, but we have no other details on the goose, or the count.

A movement of birds headed south last Sunday as a result of the storm was noted at Riverside Park, adding 15 TURKEY VULTURES and a BALD EAGLE to the Lower Hudson Christmas Count.

The Greenwich-Stamford Count on Sunday, which includes areas in Westchester County, netted 115 species, with highlights featuring 35 WOOD DUCKS, EURASIAN WIGEON, OSPREY, BALD EAGLE, three species of falcons, ICELAND GULL, BARRED OWL, LONG-EARED OWL, COMMON RAVEN, CHIPPING SPARROW, and BALTIMORE ORIOLE.

Reports from Staten Island included the immature male RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD still visiting feeders Saturday at 122 Hillside Avenue in the Grymes Hill section of northeastern Staten Island, and a SUMMER TANAGER continuing to Sunday at Clove Lakes Park.

Two EURASIAN WIGEON were spotted recently in Scott's Cove in Setauket Harbor as viewed from Shore Road.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126, or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483. This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

~ End Transcript ~
...Read more

Upcoming Trips

Below is a list of upcoming local trips for the weekend of January 1st - 3rd, 2010:

American Littoral Society
January 1, 2010
New Year's Day Beach Walk
Meet 11AM at Building 1, Fort Tilden, for an easy hike along the beach and through the woods with Mickey Cohen & Don Riepe. Learn about the history & ecology of the Fort, woods, and beach areas and look for winter wildlife. Free champagne afterwards.
Call (718) 318-9344 to reserve. driepe@nyc.rr.com
Free.


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Friday, January 1, 2010, 12 noon to 2 p.m.
20th Annual Environmentalists New Years Day Walk: Great Kills Park to Crooke’s Point
Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and Natural Resources Protective Association are your hosts along with all other environmental groups, including NYC Sierra Club and NYC Audubon. Take a half-hour leisurely stroll of the beach to Crooke’s Point at Gateway National Recreation Area with members of other environmental groups. We expect many dozens of walkers. All are encouraged to join and share in their past successes and goals for the year 2010. Many like to bring a treat to share with others. Meet at 12 noon at the main entrance parking area off Hylan Blvd. across from Buffalo Street. From there we will car pool to the last beach house and walk the half-mile to the point to celebrate the New Year.
For more information phone Jim Scarcella at (718)987-6037 or Cliff Hagen at (718)313-8591.

Sunday, January 3, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Old Mill Road Walk
Park at the end of Old Mill Road, alongside the old St Andrews Church in Richmondtown. Do not park in the church’s main parking lot. We’ll stroll along Old Mill Road, a newly designed multi-use trail, next to Fresh Kills, below the hills of Latourette Golf Course, and turn right at the end toward Richmond Hill Road. We’ll see the flow of the famous Hessian Springs as it crosses the road. We may return by the Blue Trail with higher views to appreciate. This areas hasn’t been accessible for many years and is now open. We are surrounded by beautiful, lush woodlands where the very tall, state rare, Gamma Grass and American Strawberry Bush Grow.
Contact Sandra Mechanic at (718) 967-1037 for more information.


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, January 2, 2010

Early Morning Birding
8:00 a.m.
Learn everything you need to know about birds with the Rangers.
Location: Marine Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Birding Club
9:00 a.m.
Once a month, every month, come bird with us! Bring your own binoculars if you have them.
Location: Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Winter Tree ID
11:00 a.m.
With the Rangers teaching you'll never "bark up the wrong tree" again once you…
Location: Kissena Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Winter Tree ID
1:00 p.m.
Join us for a stroll around the park as we identify over 40 species of trees dotting the…
Location: Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Siwanoy Trail Adventure
10:00 a.m.
The Siwanoy people used these trails for hunting and gathering. Join us as we walk in…
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Wonderful Walt Whitman
1:00 p.m.
Walt Whitman was a man of many passions and convictions, chief among them was the desire…
Location: Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

A Well Troddin' Path
1:00 p.m.
Ring in the New Year as you trod along the paths of Riverside Park and try to walk the…
Location: Riverside Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Shooting Stars: Quadrantids Meteor
6:30 p.m.
The Quadrantids are an above-average meteor shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at their…
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free
...Read more

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Day After the Christmas Count

Saturday was the Brooklyn Christmas Bird Count. I'll post a wrap-up tonight or early tomorrow. Yesterday, I spent the day wandering around in Prospect Park's wintry landscapes of snow and ice.

The snow began on Saturday afternoon while our team was winding up the surveys at Floyd Bennett Field. It didn't start to really come down hard until late in the evening. I woke up early and stumbled into my kitchen to look out the window. The wind had blown a two foot drift on the window ledge. Plows hadn't come down our block and cars were locked into their spaces by the drifting snow. I could hear children being pulled on sleds towards the park. My excitement at the thought of trudging around in the woods was as great as theirs for speeding down hillsides on plastic saucers.

At the ridge overlooking the Midwood forest, unbroken expanses of snow acted as a palette, tracing the activities of a flock of foraging birds. Dozens of tracks converged, looped in figure-eights and circled around the bases of trees. Above were Sweetgum trees. I imagined a large flock of White-throated Sparrows nervously picking up minuscule, tan seeds from the smooth blanket of white.

I descended into the Midwood, where I found more tracks. One trail began at the base of a leafless stalk sticking up from the snow. A bird landed, first on the stalk, then, when it seemed safe, hopped down to the ground. A pair of parallel dashes, from deep and wide, to thin and wispy, showed the bird's direction. Over the top of a log then disappearing into the forest.

Did this bird change his mind or snatch something from the surface of the snow? It left impressions, not only of its feet and tail, but also the ends of its wings. I pictured a medium-sized bird, maybe a Blue Jay, flying towards the shallow snow bank. Moments before landing, it began to flap its wings again, maybe even using its feet to push off the powdery surface. Notice that, as the bird approached the top of the small rise, the tips of its primary feathers rotated from a full forward position to straight out to nearly backwards. Was this bird chasing or being chased? There weren't any loose feathers in the snow, so perhaps it was neither.

I left the Midwood and headed towards the Vale of Cashmere.

Near the base of the Dongan Oak Monument I spotted a small mixed flock of birds feeding in the snow. The birds suddenly spooked and flew for cover. A large shadow passed over and a Red-tailed Hawk perched in a locust tree above the spot where the birds had been. I walked over to get a better look and take a photo. There was a Mourning Dove perched in a bare viburnum shrub to my right. As I was turning on my camera, the hawk flew from his perch and dropped straight down onto the dove, crashing through the shrub's branches as if they didn't exist. Neither the dove nor I saw it coming. By the time my camera powered up the hawk had flown to a tree next to the zoo with his prey. A young couple walking in the road had seen the entire incident and stood with the mouths opened. When I ran over to the hawk they followed. They thought I was a falconer and this was my trained hunting animal. Why else, they reasoned, would this have occurred only a few feet away from my face?

I have been observing the Red-tailed Hawks in Brooklyn for over ten years and have been fairly close to kills on several occasions. This was the first time, though, that I was close enough to feel the wind from the hawk's wings and be showered by the prey's feathers. I also wonder if I somehow had influenced the fate of the dove. The hawk knew that the dove wasn't paying attention. It was looking at me rather than scanning for other dangers. On the other hand, since it was looking at me, it never knew that a hawk was dropping down onto it, talons first. Death was immediate.
...Read more

Upcoming Trips

Below is a list of upcoming local trips for the weekend of December 26th - 27th, 2009:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, December 27th, 2009
Celebrate the BBC Centennial in Prospect Park series
Meet 9:00 am at Grand Army Plaza park entrance (Stranahan Statue)
Note: this is the last field trip of 2009, a conclusion to a magnificent and historic 100th year for the Club. Come and join, be part of history and cheer on the second century of Brooklyn birding!
Leader: Peter Dorosh


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Sunday December 27, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve: Pine Barren Trees and Wildlife
Find out why Protectors urged the preservation of this parkland and how we got our name in 1975. It has rare Southern pine and oak trees, nothing like our Greenbelt forest. With a park permit, Sandra will lead us into the restricted area where few have trod. We will check in the sand, snow or mud for deer prints throughout the park. We’ll find the diseased clones of the American Chestnut that has produced flowers and fruit the past few years and the healthy 7 to 8 inch diameter chestnut tree, now 20+ feet tall and 9 to 10 inches in diameter and still disease free. The normal trunk-splitting at the base is not indicative of chestnut blight unless a fungus growth is observed. Meet at the old park office building at the end of Carlin Avenue, off Sharrotts Road in Rossville. Wear waterproof shoes.
Call Sandra Mechanic at 718-967-1037


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, December 26, 2009

Crazy Composters
10:00 a.m.
No, you can't compost your unwanted gifts. But you can learn how to make your own…
Location: Blue Heron Park Preserve, Staten Island
Cost: Free

How Animals Survive Winter
11:00 a.m.
Learn how animals cope during the winter and create your own craft. Ages 12 and under.
Location: Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Duck, Duck, Goose
11:00 a.m.
As the weather gets cold, the birding gets hot. We will look for ducks and geese that…
Location: Baisley Pond Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Whimsical Walk
1:00 p.m.
Penguins, Balto, Mother Goose, and Chesire Cat. Enjoy a guided walk to some of the…
Location: Central Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Owl Prowl
11:00 a.m.
Winter is the best time to see wild owls in New York City. Don't miss this opportunity.
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Winter Waterfowl
11:00 a.m.
Winter birds are flying in to take temporary residence in Little Neck Bay. We will…
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free

10,000 B.C.E.: The Remnants of the Wisconsin Glacier
11:00 a.m.
It might be cold and snowy at this time of year, but at least you're not under a two-mile…
Location: High Rock Park, Staten Island
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weekly Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week of December 18, 2009:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Dec 18, 2009
* NYNY0912.18

- Birds Mentioned:

PINK-FOOTED GOOSE+
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD+
ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
Cackling Goose
TUNDRA SWAN
Great Egret
American Oystercatcher
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Glaucous Gull
Red-headed Woodpecker
American Pipit
Orange-crowned Warbler
Pine Warbler
Ovenbird
SUMMER TANAGER
Baltimore Oriole


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

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to
nysarc1 AT nybirds.org .

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

Jeanne Skelly - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
420 Chili-Scottsville Rd.
Churchville, NY 14428

~ Transcript ~

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

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

Compilers: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
Transcriber: Karen Fung

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, December 18th, at 1:00 pm. The highlights of today's tape are PINK-FOOTED GOOSE, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, BLACK-HEADED GULL, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, TUNDRA SWANS, and SUMMER TANAGER.

The PINK-FOOTED GOOSE continues its elusive stay in the area around Sunken Meadow State Park north of Smithtown, appearing again last Friday on the ball fields at Kings Park High School. This school is
1.5 miles east of Sunken Meadow Parkway, on the south side of Route 25A, though last Friday the flock of Canadas was not visible from 25A. The Pink-footed was visible from the back side of the school.

The Pink-footed probably won't be as imperiled by the weather as two other true rarities still present locally. The ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER amazingly remains through today near the intersection of North Conduit Avenue and Cohancy Street in Queens. Look for the flycatcher in the lot at the above intersection, behind the brick building and adjacent to the raised train tracks, or in other lots along Cohancy or just west of there across 99th Place. This site is easily reached just off exit 17N on the westbound Belt Parkway. Today the flycatcher was located farther up Cohancy Street near the 99th Place intersection.

The immature male RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD was, at least to Monday, still coming to feeders at 122 Hillside Avenue in the Grymes Hill section of northeastern Staten Island. At nearby Clove Lakes Park, birds continuing there Monday featured a SUMMER TANAGER below the Martling Avenue waterfall, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, PINE WARBLER, and three BALTIMORE ORIOLES, with the immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER present at least to last Saturday.

The immature BLACK-HEADED GULL was spotted again Tuesday at the Owl's Head Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn. Patience and perseverance do pay off for this bird.

On Monday at Jones Beach West End, four TUNDRA SWANS were spotted flying by to the west. Other birds noted there Monday were seven AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS on the Coast Guard bar, GREAT EGRET, and AMERICAN PIPIT, and an adult GLAUCOUS GULL was reported from the Point Lookout bar last Saturday.

Late OVENBIRDS continued recently in Central Park and Bryant Park in Manhattan.

Moving east on Long Island, a CACKLING GOOSE was found at Belmont Lake State Park last Sunday.

Four TUNDRA SWANS were present Wednesday and Thursday on a farm field on the east side of Wading River Road, 1/4 mile south of the Long Island Expressway exit 69. [Transcriber's late update: The swans were also present there this afternoon (Friday).]

A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was found in a Canada flock along Wainscot Hollow Road in Sagaponack last Saturday.

A very pale and interesting falcon caused some excitement last Sunday along Hulse Landing Road in Calverton, but on close scrutiny seemed to be sporting some falconers equipment. Another escaped bird whose exact lineage will probably remain unknown.

We will be happy to announce the highlights of all regional Christmas counts, so please call them in.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126, or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483. This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling, and Happy Thanksgiving.
...Read more

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Prospect Park Lingering Warbler

After some very cold cycling on Friday morning, I did a quick look around Prospect Park for any interesting new winter bird arrivals. The cold, gusting winds kept much of the bird activity to a minimum and I mostly observed the expected winter birds, such as sapsuckers, chickadees, nuthatches and assorted waterfowl. One bird that took me completely by surprise was an Ovenbird walking along the pathway next to the Upper Pool. If this warbler felt anything like I did, he was probably dreaming about much warmer places. As late as this date is, I have vague memories of a Christmas Bird Count Ovenbird in Prospect Park.

I searched through my Prospect Park records for dates of lingering Ovenbirds and found the following:

The previous winter sighting was on 17 January 2007 (Alex Wilson; Vale/Rose Garden). Prior to that was an individual that actually overwintered in Brooklyn. First discovered by Steve Nanz and myself on 13 December 1997 (Lookout Hill near Maryland Monument), the bird was observed throughout the rest of the month (including the Christmas Bird Count). It was then re-discovered on 2 February 1998 (Ron Ellard, Tom Fiore) on Lookout Hill near the Wellhouse, associating with a White-eyed Vireo that had also overwintered that year. What I assume was the same bird was reported again on Lookout Hill 25 March 1998 (Ron Ellard). The next dates for that year begin on 23 April, but could easily have been early Spring arrivals. I'm not sure if the winter of 1997-98 had been extremely mild or not. Either way, that Ovenbird was very lucky to have dodged the usual collection of falcons, accipiters and Red-tailed Hawks that hang around in the winter. Note that the above dates were not included in Bull's Birds of New York State.

As a relatively new birder, I never even thought about reporting the unusual sighting to the New York State Avian Records Committee. In addition, back then we didn't have all the instant birding communications such as discussion forums, online checklists, cellphones, text messaging, twittering, etc., that now exists and would have alerted the state's avian record keepers. How did we ever manage?! ;-)

*****

Location: Prospect Park
Observation date: 12/11/09
Number of species: 38

Wood Duck (2)
Northern Shoveler (75)
Ring-necked Duck (2)
Ruddy Duck
Great Blue Heron (2)
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot (6)
Ring-billed Gull (500)
Belted Kingfisher
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Black-capped Chickadee (5)
Tufted Titmouse (2)
White-breasted Nuthatch (3)
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
OVENBIRD (1, Found walking along footpath at back of Upper Pool.)
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
House Finch (3)
American Goldfinch (12)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker (3), Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow (3), American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow
...Read more

Upcoming Trips

Below is a list of local trips for the weekend of December 19th - 20th, 2009:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, December 19th, 2009
110th Christmas Bird Census
Teams recruitment coordinator: Heidi Steiner-Nanz (718) 369-2116 (call early eve before 8 PM) or email heidi.steiner@verizon.net (Late Fall registration)
Compiler: Rick Cech, email rcech@nyc.rr.com
Dinner Coordination contact: Mary Eyster email ProfMaryJo@aol.com or (718) 768- 8432 up to 9 PM
Comments: Coordinator assigns trip leaders and participants, assimilating teams and establish starting points with team leaders. Please call early as possible for participation in this great event. Time is needed to plan and figure out the details. The count dinner is held at the Prospect Park Audubon Center. Help and assistance is needed for dinner setup. There is a $5 donation request for the event. See your field leader on the latter.


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Sunday, December 20, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Old Mill Road Walk
Park at the end of Old Mill Road, alongside the old St Andrews Church in Richmondtown. Do not park in the church’s main parking lot. We’ll stroll along Old Mill Road, a newly designed multi-use trail, next to Fresh Kills, below the hills of Latourette Golf Course, and turn right at the end toward Richmond Hill Road. We’ll see the flow of the famous Hessian Springs as it crosses the road. We may return by the Blue Trail with higher views to appreciate. This areas hasn’t been accessible for many years and is now open. We are surrounded by beautiful, lush woodlands where the very tall, state rare, Gamma Grass and American Strawberry Bush Grow.
Phone Sandra Mechanic at 718-967-1037 for more information.


Queens County Bird Club
Sunday, December 20, 2009, All Day
National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count
Compiler: Ian Resnick
Time, locations, teams TBD
Compilation Dinner Time, location TBD


Birding on Staten Island
December 19, 2009, All Day
Christmas Bird Count
Call Ed Johnson for more information at 718-727-1135 ex 110


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, December 19, 2009

Early Birding
8:00 a.m.
Join us for bird watching.
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

How Animals Survive Winter
11:00 a.m.
Learn how animals cope during the winter and create your own craft. Ages 12 and under.
Location: Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Advanced Hiking
12:00 p.m.
This one is for all of you hiking enthusiasts! Join the Urban Park Rangers for a long…
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Wilderness Survival
1:00 p.m.
With winter right around the corner, what better time is there to learn how to survive in…
Location: Forest Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Astronomy Club
6:00 p.m.
If you have a May birthday, now is the time to check out your constellation in the sky.…
Location: Blue Heron Park Preserve, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Early Morning Speed Hike!
8:00 a.m.
Get moving with a very brisk walk through Manhattan’s last remaining natural forest!
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

110th Annual Central Park Christmas Bird Count
8:00 a.m.; 2:00 p.m.
Take part in this annual citizen-science tradition started by ornithologist Frank Chapman…
Location: Central Park, Manhattan
Cost: $5 registration fee payable the day of the event (children under 18 are FREE).

Seal-shore Safari
9:00 a.m.
Discover the many different creatures that live close to the shore, including seals! Dress warmly.
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Duck, Duck, Goose
10:00 a.m.
As the weather gets cold, the birding gets hot. We will look for ducks and geese that…
Location: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Winter Wonderland
1:00 p.m.
Enjoy the stark beauty of Olmsted and Vaux's masterpiece in winter on this Ranger-led…
Location: Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Making Tracks
1:00 p.m.
Learn how to identify animal tracks found in and around woodland areas. Make tracks…
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free
...Read more

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Holiday Release

Wildlife rescuers Bobby & Cathy had another happy holiday release this week.

I just received the following from Bobby Horvath:

Subject: Eagle Release
Date: December 13, 2009

Here are some pics of the male juvenile Bald Eagle we released last week. He completely recovered from pox and, except from the 2 self inflicted scrapes (only superficial), was in great condition. He took right off over the treeline, circled around for a last look and was out of sight in no time. We wish they all turned out so well. Cathy deserves all the credit with this one, from medicating to hand feeding small cut up meals numerous times a day when he first came in almost starved. He got the all "TLC" he needed until he didn't need us anymore.

Bobby







...Read more

A Holiday Miracle

Friend and fellow nature lover Diane D'Arcy just forwarded me the following, amazing story:

Date: December 12, 2009
Subject: FW: Miracle coyote

Rob:

Here is an unbelievable story. Best Wishes for the Holidays,

Diane

**********

When a brother and sister struck a coyote at 75mph they assumed they had killed the animal and drove on. They didn't realize this was the toughest creature ever to survive a hit-and-run.

Eight hours, two fuel stops, and 600 miles later they found the wild animal embedded in their front fender - and very much alive. The brother and sister were Daniel and Tevyn East driving at night along Interstate 80 near the Nevada-Utah border when they noticed a pack of coyotes near the roadside on October 12.

When one of the animals ran in front of the car, the impact sounded fatal so the siblings thought there no point in stopping. "Right off the bat, we knew it was bad," Daniel explained. "We thought the story was over." After the incident around 1am, they continued their 600-mile drive to North San Juan - even stopping for fuel at least twice. But it was only when they finally reached their destination at 9am did they take time to examine what damage they may have sustained. At first it looked as though it was going to be quite gruesome.

"Daniel saw fur and the body inside the grill," Tevyn East said. "I was trying to keep some distance. Our assumption was it was part of the coyote - it didn"t register it was the whole animal." Daniel East got a broom to try and pry the remains out of the bumper and got the shock of his life. "It flinched," Tevyn East said. "It was a huge surprise - he got a little freaked out."

"We knew it was bad": Tevyn East, who was in the car when it hit the coyote, bends down to take a look at the fur poking through the fender








Fur Pete"s sake: What Mr. East spotted as he bent down to inspect the damage to his car - the body of the coyote poking out through the radiator








Wily coyote: The animal"s head can be seen as rescuers took apart the front fender to save it after it was struck by the car at 75mph









Miracle escape: As the animal struggled, wildlife protection officials put a loop around its neck to prevent it from further injuring itself The front of the car is completely taken apart as the coyote begins to wriggle free


And voila! "Tricky", the toughest coyote ever rests in a cage after its ordeal - which it survived with just some scrapes to its paw.
...Read more

Red-tails Getting Ready

Early this past week I observed Nelly & Max preparing for the new cycle.

Heydi and I had been checking the trees in the Vale of Cashmere for finches. Purple Finches seem to have a preference for the ash trees in that location. As we were walking south, at the footpath on the east side of Nelly's Lawn, I noticed two large shadows moving along the ground. I looked up in time to see two Red-tailed Hawks land in a pine tree above us. It was Nelly and Max visiting their old nest tree. Max seemed to be scrutinizing the nest. Perhaps it was an early inspection in preparation for the next breeding cycle. Nelly was perched a few feet to his left, closely watching as her mate tidied up last season's nursery.

This week's observation seemed very early to me. In past years, our local Red-tailed Hawks generally began working on their nest by mid-January. 2009 was Nelly and Max's first year as parents, so they are clearly new to the process. I suppose that they are still figuring things out. It will be interesting to follow their progress. I'll keep you posted. ...Read more

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Weekly Rare Bird Alert

Below is the weekly Rare Bird Alert for New York City for the week ending December 11, 2009:

Subject: NYC Area RBA: 11 December 2009
From: Ben Cacace
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 2009

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Dec. 11, 2009
* NYNY0912.11

- Birds mentioned

PINK-FOOTED GOOSE+
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD+
ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER+
IPSWICH SPARROW+ (Savannah Sparrow subspecies)

Cackling Goose
Red-necked Grebe
SANDHILL CRANE
Purple Sandpiper
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Black-legged Kittiwake
Red-headed Woodpecker
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER
Blue-headed Vireo
Orange-crowned Warbler
Pine Warbler
Ovenbird
Common Yellowthroat
SUMMER TANAGER
Baltimore Oriole

- Transcript

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

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc3@nybirds.org.

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

Jeanne Skelly - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
420 Chili-Scottsville Rd.
Churchville, NY 14428

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

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

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

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, December 11th 2009 at 9pm. The highlights of today's tape are ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, PINK-FOOTED GOOSE, SANDHILL CRANE, RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, BLACK-HEADED GULL, YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER and SUMMER TANAGER.

The Queens ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER was still present Wednesday continuing to work the wood lots near the intersection of North Conduit Avenue and Cohancy Street. A continuing food supply will become a problem for the flycatcher but for now look for it in the lot at the above intersection behind the brick building and adjacent to the raised train tracks or in other lots along Cohancy or just west of there across 99th Place. This site is easily reached just off exit 17N on the westbound Belt Parkway. An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was also still at this site Sunday.

The PINK-FOOTED GOOSE was seen again last Friday at Sunken Meadow State Park and so was still floating about in that area. But the Barnacle Goose has not been reported for awhile.

A SANDHILL CRANE was calling as it flew over Baldwin back on Thursday the 3rd perhaps the same bird noted at Shinnecock on November 29th.

The immature male RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD continues to visit feeders in the Grymes Hill section of northeastern Staten Island and the homeowner at 122 Hillside Avenue continues to welcome birders to look for the hummingbird. Also in northern Staten Island at Clove Lakes Park a SUMMER TANAGER was present from the weekend at least through Tuesday below the Martling Avenue waterfall with an immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER nearby. Other passerines noted at Clove Lakes Park on Tuesday featured ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, PINE WARBLER, and 3 BALTIMORE ORIOLES.

An immature BLACK-HEADED GULL was seen again at the Owl's Head waste water treatment plant in Brooklyn on Monday. This is the first sighting since it was initially noted there November 10th.

A RED-NECKED GREBE was seen again Saturday in the bay off Bench 9 at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

A CACKLING GOOSE was present Saturday and Sunday at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens in a Canada Goose flock.

A very late YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER critically examined to rule out any western empidonax flycatchers was found at Zach's Bay at Jones Beach State Park last Sunday and other passerines along the Jones strip that day featured an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER at the West End turnaround and a BLUE-HEADED VIREO east of Cedar Beach overlook. Another ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was at Hempstead Lake State Park yesterday.

Interesting late OVENBIRDS were in Prospect Park today and in Bryant Park Manhattan today. The latter site also featuring a couple of COMMON YELLOWTHROATS recently.

A fairly slow weekend out east on Long Island featured a BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE in Montauk Point Saturday and 2 more kittiwakes that day around the mouth of Montauk Harbor where there were also 4 PURPLE SANDPIPERS on the jetties and 2 IPSWICH SAVANNAH SPARROWS in the dunes.

In Westchester County an immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was found Wednesday at Rockefeller State Park near where the overlook trail meets the Ash Tree loop.

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

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society.

- End transcript
...Read more

Monday, December 07, 2009

Upcoming Trips

Below is a list of upcoming local trips for the weekend of December 12th - 13th, 2009:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, December 12th, 2009
Honorary Centennial Leaders Series: Floyd Bennett Field
Leaders: Jean and Ron Bourque
Focus: winter passerines, grass species, sparrows, coastal species, raptors, waterbirds
Car Fee: $10.00
Registrar: Donna Evans, email devansny@earthlink.com (preferred) or home phone 718-437-7497
Registration period: December 1st - December 10th


Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, December 12, 10 a.m. to 12 noon
Page Avenue Beach at low tide
After an examination of the local geology we’ll move to beachcombing the flotsam and jetsam accumulated at the high tide lines to see what the bay’s debris has to tell us. As the tide goes out we’ll move into the intertidal zone to find out what sorts of living things survive in this challenging environment. Even as winter approaches, living organisms such as crabs, snails, clams, worms and small fish are still in evidence. It’s going to be muddy so dress appropriately. Meet at the parking lot at the bottom of Page Avenue below Hylan Blvd.
For more information phone Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Saturday, December 12, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Forest Restoration at High Rock Park
Meet in the High Rock Park parking lot at the end of Nevada Avenue for our 162nd monthly Forest Restoration Workshop (That is 13 years, 6 months). We plan to follow the Red Dot Trail that loops behind the administration buildings at High Rock Park and cut invasive vines that strangle the young trees. We will also use our weed wrenches and a pick-mattock on clumps of multi-flora rose and devil’s walking stick that grow beside the trail. If you don’t have your own, Protectors will supply pruners, gloves and refreshments. We will follow the two hour work session with a short walk along nearby trails.
For more information call Don Recklies at 718-768-9036 or Chuck Perry at 718-667-1393.

Saturday, December 12, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Four mile walk
From the Greenbelt Recreation Center to the beautiful Golf Course overlook. The view to the lower bay was made famous by Jasper Cropsey in his 1885 painting, now in the Staten Island Museum. Cropsey was from the well known Hudson River School of painters. The walk back will be more relaxed. Park and meet Sandra Mechanic, naturalist and photographer, in the Recreation Center parking lot, intersection of Rockland and Brielle Avenues.
For more information, phone Sandra at 718-967-1037. The recreation center has a 1 year membership for seniors at $10. Check it out while you are there.

Sunday, December 13, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Unique Ancient Trees of Wolfe’s Pond Park: Annual Bruce Kershner Fall Memorial Walk
In an easy two miles, large numbers of ancient trees, 200 to 300 years old, will be examined in Staten Island’s most ancient forest. Even when their leaves are on, their wide girth and great height will be obvious. We’ll practice guessing their age using many clues. Our printed guide to ancient trees was prepared by the late Bruce Kershner, one of America’s northeast ancient tree experts. We will walk up a short hill and view the broad flood plain forest of this major Bluebelt stream below us and discover an old, rare beech tree climax forest near the crest. This beautiful park has many native plants and animals. Meet on the far right corner of the parking lot at the end of Cornelia Avenue, near the rest rooms.
Call Sandra Mechanic at 718-967-1037.

Sunday, December 13, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
We’re Near Deer, at Saw Mill Creek Park
Meet Cliff Hagen, Protectors’ deer counter and tracker of deer, at the corner of Chelsea and River Roads, for a one mile stroll along River Road, to see the White-tailed Deer of Staten Island. Drive south on South Avenue to its very end (after crossing the West Shore Expressway), then go about one mile north on Chelsea Road. You will find River Road right next to the Zimmer Gun Club, not too far from the Chelsea Playground.
For more information call Cliff at 718-313-8591.


Section of Natural History
December 13, 2009, 9-11am
Conference House Park - Winter Birds!
For more information call Seth Wollney at 718-483-7105


Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, December 12, 2009

Early Birding
8:00 a.m.
Join us for bird watching.
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

When All the Leaves Are Gone
12:00 p.m.
You may have heard that all trees can be identified by their leaves. Well how do you…
Location: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Tree-mendous Hike
1:00 p.m.
The leaves are down and the trees are bare, but they can still be idenitified! Learn the…
Location: Riverdale Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Tree Tour
1:00 p.m.
Come learn the tricks of winter tree identification. Can you identify them all without…
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Winter Tree ID
1:00 p.m.
Ever wonder how to identify trees without leaves? We'll show you how to use bark,…
Location: Clove Lakes Park Playground, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Denizens of the Dark
6:00 p.m.
Join us for an after hours visit looking for owls, raccoons, and whatever else lurks in the…
Location: Alley Pond Park, Queens
Cost: Free

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winter Waterfowl
12:00 p.m.
Explore the salt marsh at Orchard Beach as we search for egrets, herons, ducks, and other…
Location: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Tree Forensics
1:00 p.m.
Take a diagnostic walk through the woods with the Urban Park Rangers as we talk about the…
Location: Riverside Park, Manhattan
Cost: Free

Winter Waterfowl
1:00 p.m.
Get an early glimpse of New York's winter birds, such as brants, buffelheads, and ruddy…
Location: Conference House Park, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Astronomy: Geminids Meteor Shower
7:00 p.m.
Come see what is considered to many to be the best meteor shower, producing up to 60…
Location: Fort Totten Park, Queens
Cost: Free
...Read more

Sunday, December 06, 2009

109th Christmas Bird Count

The 109th Annual Christmas Bird Count period begins in 1 week. This year I'll be participating in the Brooklyn, Bronx-Westchester and Southern Nassau Counts. If you are interested in lending a hand, you can find information on all the New York State areas at this link.

The Christmas Bird Count was created by Frank Chapman as a protest against the slaughter of birds. You can read about its history here. I searched for the earliest newspaper accounts of Mr. Chapman's efforts to protect birds. I found the following New York Times article, which pre-dates the first bird count in 1900:

The New York Times
December 3, 1897

URGENT PLEA FOR BIRDS

The Local Audubon Society Listens to Addresses Condemning Prevailing Millinery Fashions.

VANITY OF WOMAN BLAMED

F. M. Chapman Shows the Deplorable Results of Bird Slaughter

Dr. Van Dyke on the Sentimental Side of the Question.

The large lecture room of the American Museum of Natural History in Central Park was filled yesterday afternoon by an audience chiefly made up of women and school girls-members and friends of the Audubon Society of the State of New York. They were there to listen to and to meditate on the reasons advanced by the Audubon Society showing why it was wrong for women to eke out their personal beauty by dint of dead birds, or parts of dead birds, worn in their hats or bonnets.

About 1,000 came to be instructed; a few of them wore the prohibited "aigrettes" in their bonnets, and they received severe glances from their neighbors, who had ostrich feathers in theirs. There were a few benevolent-looking men in the audience. On the stage sat Prof. I. S. Bickmore and Frank Chapman of the Museum, the Rev. Dr. Henry Van Dyke, George S. Davis, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, and Morris K. Jesup, President of the Museum and of the Audubon Society, who presented the speakers after a brief introductory address.

Mr. Jesup pointed out the object of the Audubon Society, which was to solicit public sentiment to prevent the wholesale slaughter of the wild birds whose plumage was used for ornamental purposes. The subject was not new, he said, for ten years ago an Audubon Society had been formed, and has passed out of existence after performing excellent work. But the growing custom of wearing birds' plumage now showed that a new crusade was necessary, or the birds would be utterly annihilated. He continued:

The selfishness of man and the vanity of woman are alone responsible for the disappearance of some or the most useful and beautiful birds. There is no one who respects and admires woman more than I do, and it pains me when I am forced to say that her vanity and the contingent eagerness of man to supply her with birds' plumage reaches one of the greatest calamities of our age. The remedy rests solely with the intelligence, with the humanity of women; let her refuse to decorate her hat with feathered plumage and the slaughter of the birds will cease. Let her stop buying; in that alone is the salvation of the birds. No law can be made sufficiently aggressive to remedy the evil. A law without the sentiment of the public behind it is a dead letter. It is to elicit the sentiment for the protection of birds that we have called this meeting."

Mr. Jesup then introduced Mr. Chapman, who spoke in part as follows:

"Ladies and Gentlemen-more particularly ladies: The cry of the day is for statistics. How many birds, it is asked, are annually laid upon the altar of fashion? It is difficult to determine in an entirely trustworthy manner, and yet a few known facts with their accompanying figures show the general tendency.

"Lewis & Peat offered a sale of and birds' feathers at the Commercial Sale Rooms, in London, on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 1897.

Slaughter of the Innocents.

"In the catalogue of their sale occur the following items; Osprey feathers (white heron aigrette), 6,800 ounces; peacock feathers, 22,107 bundles; peacock neck feathers, 875 pounds; parrots, 35,497 pounds; humming birds 1,200 pounds, and various birds, 62,000 pounds. At another sale in London there were offered among other things: Aigrettes, 11,392 ounces; peacock feathers, 215,051 bundles; birds of paradise, 2,362 bundles. The peacocks here mentioned are not the domestic birds but the wild peacock whose skins and feathers are imported from Calcutta.

"In this country we have no public sales of this kind, and one can secure little or no information concerning the trade in feathers. But what information we do receive points to an almost incredulous slaughter of the birds, while it merely suggests the true state of affairs. Some years ago, while at St. Myen, in Florida, then the centre of the aigrette plume business, a plume hunter told me that with two or three assistants he had killed 300 herons in one day. A few years later at Key West I heard a man boast that in one season, with a company of associates, he had killed 130,000 birds for millinery purposes on the Gulf coast of Florida. The result is that the white heron is now no longer met with in Florida, and expeditions of plume hunters are pursuing it to the Amazon, in South America. In a few years, if the fashion for aigrettes continues, there will not be a bird in existence.

"The milliner may tell you that the aigrettes are taken from live birds without pain or that they come off in moulting. This is not the case. The birds are shot, their beautiful plumage torn from them, and their bodies thrown away. But the death of one heron means the loss of the entire brood. For the aigrette plumes constitute the wedding dress of the heron and are worn only during the nesting season. When the parent birds are killed the nestlings die from starvation.

Fashion Still Demands Slaughter.

"When a demand arose in fashion for the wings or body of the tern, or sea swallow, the effect was the same. Thousands on our coasts were slaughtered. The fashion is still in vogue, and the bird has almost entirely disappeared.

"Many women declare that the present destruction of birds is nothing more than a healthy pruning of the feathered race. Let us therefore be specific and consider the actual results of the persecution upon certain species."

The lecture room was then darkened and colored photographs of certain birds were thrown upon the screen, while Mr. Chapman talked on the economic value of birds and their aids to agriculture, in preventing the undue increase of insects, in devouring small rodents, in destroying the seeds of harmful plants , and in acting as scavengers.

Mr. Chapman described the way the native hunters of the Eastern islands pursued the birds of paradise with blunt arrows, so as to not injure the plumage. In closing he declared: "This beautiful bird is now almost extinct. The species fashion selects is doomed. It lies in the power of women to remedy a great evil."

The Rev. Dr. Van Dyke was the next speaker. He said, in part:

"As I am asked to speak upon a scientific subject, I will begin it in a scientific way. I have a monograph on the theme which is still seeking a publisher. I begin it in this way: 'The kingdom of ornithology has two great divisions-the real birds and the English sparrows. The real birds are all right-they are worthy of protection; the English sparrows are little animals that are a nuisance to the real birds and to human beings. We hear of an Anti-Audubon Society against the real birds. It might call itself the Sparrow Society and pursue its original principles just the same.'

Dr. Van Dyke recited two original poems, one of which was on the wood sparrow. The rendering and sentiment of each were enthusiastically applauded by the audience.

A School Principal's Plea.

Mr. Davis spoke of the bird as a means of education in a formative influence with children; a debt which the children could well repay by teaching their parents the true worth of their little friends of the woodlands.

Prof. Bickmore then repeated the illustrated lecture which he delivered before the Ornithological Society. Re showed, by illustration, a scheme by which a study of the birds might be conveniently and instructively carried on in the public schools.

The audience appeared deeply interested, It not instructed and reformed by all that was said, and at the close of the addresses many women with birds in their hats pressed forward to ask questions of Mr. Chapman and Prof. Bickmore. ...Read more

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