Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Treehugger Tuesday

David Graves on beekeeping in New York City:


Learn more about bee colony collapse here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hawks and Poison

The blog "Pale Male Irregulars" just posted an important piece about the use of poison in city parks. It is dangerous to both humans and animal, exacting a terrible toll on our resident Red-tailed Hawks. Read the entire piece here and be sure to send a note to the parks department through the link at the end of the post.

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of June 4th - June 5th, 2011:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, June 4, 2011

Introduction to Birdwatching
Every Saturday, 12 - 1:30 p.m.
Explore the Park's natural areas and learn how to look for amazing birds

Discover Tour
Every Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m.
Discover the Prospect Park you never knew! Meet birds and other wildlife on this walk, guided by a naturalist.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Morning Bird Walk: Local Nesters
Meet the amazing local birds raising families in Prospect Park on this expert-guided walk. Start your Sunday morning surrounded by nature
Free

Discover Tour
Every Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m.
Discover the Prospect Park you never knew! Meet birds and other wildlife on this walk, guided by a naturalist

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday June 4, 2011
Doodletown Trail, Harriman State Park, NY
Trip Leader: Tom Preston
Focus: Breeding birds
Car Fee: $30.00
Registrar: Joann Segreto, email jocrochet [AT] optonline.net or cell 718-344-8420 before 10:00 p.m.
Registration period: May 24th-June 2nd
http://www.rocklandaudubon.org/doodletown.htm

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, June 4, 2011, 7:30am – 9:30am
Prospect Park Members-only Walk with Peter Joost
Meet at the entrance to Prospect Park across from Grand Army Plaza. Join NYC Audubon Board Member Peter Joost as he searches Prospect Park for breeding residents and late migrants. Limited to 20. Contact Emily Loffredo at eloffredo [AT] nycaudubon.org to register.

Sunday, June 5, 2011, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Sunset Eco-Cruises to Harbor Heron Islands
Guide: Gabriel Willow With New York Water Taxi Meet at South Street Seaport's Pier 17. Experience the wonders of New York's famous harbor at sunset and see some of the three thousand herons, egrets, and ibis nesting on islands around the harbor. To register, contact New York Water Taxi at 212-742-1969. Limited to 100. $35 for adults, $25 for children under 12.

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, June 4, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
High Rock Park
The woodlands of the Greenbelt are a rich environment for migrant and breeding birds and one of the best ways to experience those birds is to share them with Howie Fischer. Learn to identify birds by sight and sound with naturalist Howie Fischer. Search for signs of breeding species and identify the late spring migrants as they fly north.
For more information call Howie Fischer at (718) 981-4002.

Saturday, June 4, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Long Pond Park
From reptiles and amphibians to birds and mammals, we’ll look for signs of animal life during this one and a half mile hike to through the woodlands of Long Pond Park. In addition evidence of the geologic history and human influence on the park will be observed. Meet at PS 6, on Page Avenue and Academy Avenue about 3 blocks NW of Hylan Blvd.
For more information phone Clay Wollney at (718) 869-6327.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Early Birding Walk at Van Cortlandt Park
8:00 a.m.
Spring is back and so are our fine-feathered friends! Let's search for birds on a leisurely...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Cost: Free

Early Birding at Marine Park
8:00 a.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers for early morning birding at Marine Park.
Location: Salt Marsh Nature Center (in Marine Park), Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Vigorous Hike: National Trails Day
10:00 a.m.
We are honoring National Trails Day by hitting the beautiful trails of Cunningham Park.
Location: Cunningham Park - Union Turnpike Parking Lot (in Cunningham Park), Queens
Cost: Free

Light Hike: Seton Falls
1:00 p.m.
Newly renovated Seton Falls Park is one of the borough's Forever Wild parks. Enjoy...
Location: East 233 Street and Baychester Avenue (in Seton Falls Park), Bronx
Cost: Free

Evening Hike
8:00 p.m.
Search for owls, skunks, raccoons, bats, and other noturnal creatures that inhabit the park.
Location: Inwood Hill Nature Center (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spring Tide Lovers
10:00 a.m.
On spring nights, horseshoe crabs return to the shores of Twin Island to mate. Early...
Location: Orchard Beach Nature Center (in Pelham Bay Park-Orchard Beach), Bronx
Cost: Free

The Birds and the Bees
10:00 a.m.
Learn about the intricate role that birds and bees play in flower pollination, seed...
Location: Albert H. Mauro Playground (in Flushing Meadows Corona Park), Queens
Cost: Free

Basic Canoeing
11:00 a.m.; 2:00 p.m.
Bring the whole family for a wonderful aquatic experience for canoers at all levels of...
Location: Inwood Hill Nature Center (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free

D-Day White Island Landing
12:00 p.m.
Canoe down Gerritsen Creek to take a look at the current restoration project and...
Location: Burnett Street and Avenue U (in Marine Park), Brooklyn
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, May 28, 2011

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, May 27, 2011:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May 27, 2011
* NYNY1105.27

- Birds Mentioned:

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK+ (Orange County)
Leach's Storm-Petrel+
WHITE IBIS+
BLACK-NECKED STILT+
Arctic Tern+
Atlantic Puffin+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Northern Fulmar
Sooty Shearwater
Manx Shearwater
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
Least Bittern
Common Moorhen
Upland Sandpiper
Red Knot
White-rumped Sandpiper
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE
Red Phalarope
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Black Tern
Roseate Tern
Dovekie
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Common Nighthawk
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Tennessee Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
Bay-breasted Warbler
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER
Worm-eating Warbler
KENTUCKY WARBLER
Mourning Warbler
Hooded Warbler
SUMMER TANAGER
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Grasshopper Sparrow
DICKCISSEL


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, hard copy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hard copy 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

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, May 27th, at 7:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS in Orange County; Block Canyon fishing trip results; BLACK-NECKED STILTS, WHITE IBIS, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, DICKCISSEL and CLAY-COLORED SPARROW; PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, KENTUCKY WARBLER; and SUMMER TANAGER.

Just to our north in Orange County, five BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS were discovered on Monday and were still present through Thursday at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, specifically the section accessed from Oil City Road southwest of Pine Island. From Monday the ducks have spent most of this time in impoundments and wet fields west of the gravel road that goes north from Oil City Road across from the viewing platform parking lot. Thursday however early in the morning they went to the impoundment on the east side of the gravel road, where they remained virtually totally hidden until flying out around 6pm, only to disappear again in fields west of the gravel road. We as yet have no information from today.

A private fishing trip from Shinnecock going as far out as Block Canyon last Saturday recorded an interesting variety of seabirds, including 5 NORTHERN FULMAR, 1 MANX SHEARWATER, 21 SOOTY SHEARWATERS and 2 GREAT SHEARWATERS, 1 LEACH'S STORM-PETREL, 385 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS, 33 RED PHALAROPES, 2 ARCTIC TERNS, 2 DOVEKIES, and 18 ATLANTIC PUFFINS.

The adult WHITE IBIS was still present today at Great Kills Park on Staten Island, where it is seen from the main roadway, Buffalo Street, in the West Pond area along the south side of the road up to the ranger station. Park in the lot past the ranger station and walk back along the roadway to look for the ibis, and patience can be required.

Two BLACK-NECKED STILTS were seen Wednesday by kayakers in Sebonac Creek across from Tern Island. This area northwest of Southampton is unfortunately mostly private, and the stilts have not been relocated.

As migration winds down, the city parks, weather permitting, have still provided some good finds. In Central Park, SUMMER TANAGER was noted through today, and a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW visited the north end last Saturday. Flycatchers have included OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER Thursday and such empidonax as ACADIAN FLYCATCHER, ALDER FLYCATCHER, and YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER. GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH has also been noted, and warblers have included TENNESSEE WARBLER, BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, WORM-EATING WARBLER, and MOURNING WARBLER.

Prospect Park has featured a PROTHONOTARY WARBLER Tuesday and a MOURNING WARBLER today.

Two PROTHONOTARIES were at Willowbrook Park on Staten Island Wednesday.

At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE visited the West Pond from Friday through Sunday, joined by a COMMON MOORHEN. A SUMMER TANAGER was in the North Garden Sunday, with three WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS also on the West Pond.

A PINE SISKEN was at Broad Channel Tuesday.

At Jones Beach West End, singles of LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL and ICELAND GULL were in parking field 2 on Sunday, with two ICELAND GULLS there on Monday. LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS seen today included one at the Point Lookout Town Beach parking lot, and four at Nickerson Beach. Nickerson also had an ICELAND GULL today.

A fallout at Jones Beach West End on Tuesday produced a decent number of birds, more unusual warblers featuring TENNESSEE WARBLER, BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, and HOODED WARBLER.

An UPLAND SANDPIPER was around field 2 at Robert Moses State Park Thursday.

Sea watches at Robert Moses field 2 produced three SOOTY SHEARWATERS Sunday morning, and a SOOTY plus two BLACK TERNS on Monday. Farther east, a LEAST BITTERN was seen along Dune Road, west of Shinnecock Inlet Saturday, and at Cupsogue County Park some ROSEATE TERNS and BLACK TERNS have been present lately, and a decent number of shorebirds there included 121 RED KNOT and two WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS today.

An ACADIAN FLYCATCHER plus YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO were found at the Route 51 fields in Eastport on Monday, while adjacent Hunter's Garden produced a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER in the back section on Wednesday.

COMMON NIGHTHAWK and GRASSHOPPER SPARROW were in the walking dunes at Napeague last weekend.

A DICKCISSEL in Calverton last Friday was followed by another in northern Westchester Sunday, and also in Westchester an ACADIAN FLYCATCHER and KENTUCKY WARBLER were present at the Rye Nature Center on Wednesday.

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 TAPE~]

~ End Transcript ~
...Read more

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday's Foto

The small calidris sandpipers known as "peeps" are notorious difficult to identify. Even as I post this photograph, there is still some doubt in my mind as to whether it actually is a Western Sandpiper. Here's a nice chart with field marks labeled. You can see more images of this bird here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Coastal Birds

On Saturday I took a break from the migrating songbirds to doing a little coastal birding. In addition to the shorebirds that are heading north lots of terns are now moving around Brooklyn's coastal habitats.

Heydi and I volunteered to help with New York City Audubon Society's IWASH project (Improving Wetland Accessibility for Shorebirds and Horseshoe crabs). Our territory is Brooklyn's Plum Beach. This narrow stretch of beach is just east of Sheepshead Bay and south of the Belt Parkway. At low-tide there is a fairly large exposed mudflat that attracts shorebirds, gulls, terns and Brant, who feed on horseshoe crab eggs. We'd gone twice within the last month, but only found American Oystercatchers. One time there was also a Greater Yellowlegs on the marsh side of the dunes. We were feeling optimistic that there would be a lot of birds around on Saturday morning. Low-tide would be at 5:36am. I set my alarm for 4am.

As we walked down the beach our optimism turned to disbelief, then laughter. We could hear lots of birds, but many were just hazy silhouettes showing through a curtain of cool fog:



There were lots of horseshoe crabs both on the beach and on the mudflats. Some of the crabs were flipped on their backs and helpless. While waiting for the fog to lift, we walked down the beach turning the crabs back over and pointing them towards the water. I used to think that it was ignorant humans that turned them over, but now I'm starting to believe that perhaps it is the larger gulls (herring and great black-backed) that are to blame. After a while, the fog seemed to be lifting a bit, giving us decent views of a few hundred Sanderlings. We could hear the shrieking calls of oystercatchers and the onomatopoeic call of several Willets.

The eastern end of the beach was clear of fog and the early morning sun was blindingly bright. Several Least Sandpipers scurried around the edges of the marsh. A few Black-bellied Plovers and Ruddy Turnstones walked along the beach near the marshes outflow. Large numbers of Laughing Gulls and terns flew back and forth along the beach. We spotted our first Brooklyn Black Skimmers of the year. As the tide began coming back up we moved slowly down the beach towards the parking lot, stopping to rescan the remaining flocks of shorebirds. Fog was again drifting in off the water halfway down the beach.

At Plum Beach our shorebird list was:

Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, American Oystercatcher, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper and Short-billed Dowitcher.

From there we went to Floyd Bennett Field, Dead Horse Bay, then ended our coastal birding along the west side of Gerritsen Creek in Marine Park.

There wasn't much on the grassy areas of Floyd Bennett Field for a couple of reasons. The Cricket Field and the small field opposite Aviator Sports was overrun with people and machinery associated with a carnival that is currently operating at this National Park. Any birdlife at the main grasslands was being disturbed by a cycling race, so we headed to the Return-a-Gift Pond to try our luck there. There was a grand total of four birds on the pond. All were Black-crowned Night-Herons. Heydi and her eagle-eyes spotted this tiny, boldly patterned Eight-spotted Forester moth inside the pond's blind.

On the beach at the end of Archery Road we scoped a small mixed flock of shorebirds. The tide was still low enough that we could walk north along the beach to get a closer look. We flushed 5 Spotted Sandpipers. Eventually we got good looks at a flock of Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, American Oystercatcher, Spotted Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper as they foraged on the beach near the rotting remains of a pair of wooden piers. I was surprised to count over 20 Ruddy Turnstones in the flock.

The walk along the northern-most trail to Dead Horse Bay was highlighted by a soundtrack of Yellow Warblers, Eastern Kingbirds, Baltimore Orioles and, my favorite, the sneezy call of Willow Flycatchers. At one section of trail there appeared to be a termite hatching. Not only were the kingbirds and willows darting from perches to snatch insects from the air, but a Yellow Warbler was also doing a decent impression of a flycatcher.

While scanning the glass strewn beach at Dead Horse it occurred to me that, in time, we will see the completion of the sand-glass-sand cycle along said beach. Glass is made from sand and decades of discarded glassware had been deposited in a dump at Barren Island (now the Floyd Bennett Field/Dead Horse Bay complex). The edges of the dump has eroded over time, exposing the landfills contents to the elements. Some materials such as leather and wood have decomposed or washed away, metal objects are slowly succumbing to oxidation and rust, but much of the glass remains relatively intact. The action of the water and tide, however, has gradually broken some of the glass into smaller and smaller pieces. Perhaps in a thousand years there will be no signs of the glass remaining except for some very colorful grains of sand. I wonder if the shorebirds foraging among the shards of glass ever cut their feet.

The eastern side of Gerritsen Creek is still closed to the public while the Army Corp of Engineers finish a small section of wetlands restoration. The vast majority of the parks department property at Gerritsen Creek, however, is along the western side of the creek. The narrow stretch of habitat is crisscrossed by trails created by illegal ATV and motorcycle usage. We walked one of those trails to the southern-most edge of the park, then walked back along the shore. A Black-crowned Night-Heron was hunting for fiddler crabs near the start of the trail and in sight of the nature center. A few minutes later we encountered a family of Killdeer out for a stroll. Killdeer chicks are precocious and able to walk and forage on their own right after hatching. Seeing these tiny, vulnerable birds scurrying along the trail (and within tire tracks) made me wonder how they manage to survive in New York City. Check out this video:


Another at risk species encountered at Marine Park were Least Terns. This smallest of America's terns is listed as Threatened in New York and Federally Endangered (interior U. S. only). Gerritsen Creek is the only place in Brooklyn where they can be regularly seen during the breeding season. On Saturday we watched several dozen diving for fish or resting along the sand spit at the southern end of the creek. Some of the birds on the spit were displaying pairs. The terrestrial habitat around Gerritsen Creek is greatly degraded by illegal off-road vehicles, while the marine habitat during the summer is assaulted by illegal waterskiing in the creek, as well as, jetski usage. The Least Terns would probably nest along Gerritsen Creek if the NYPD or Parks Enforcement Patrols made any attempt at enforcing the law here. Unfortunately for the Least Terns and other wildlife, I don't see the situation changing in the foreseeable future.

Date: 05/21/11
Locations: Plumb Beach, Floyd Bennett Field, Dead Horse Bay, Marine Park
Total Number of Species: 61

Brant
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Osprey

Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
American Oystercatcher
Spotted Sandpiper
Willet
Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderling
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher

Laughing Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Least Tern
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Black Skimmer
Monk Parakeet
Chimney Swift
Willow Flycatcher
Warbling Vireo
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Boat-tailed Grackle
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Mallard, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, American Crow, crow sp., Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow ...Read more

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nesting Red-tailed Hawks Update

The Red-tailed Hawks that are nesting on Prospect Park's "Nelly's Lawn" for a second year have good news. They have two very healthy (and very large) offspring on the nest. The two birds were doing a little "hop-flapping" when I stopped off at the nest yesterday. Based on their size, I'm guessing that they are about 7-10 days away from leaving the nest. After that they will still be hanging around Nelly's Lawn and, specifically, Elizabeth's Tuliptree for a while longer.


At the Ravine nest, Alice & Ralph seemed to have struck out. This was their 9th year at that nest and there doesn't appear to be any sign of offspring. Strangely, I witnessed them copulating in a tree along Center Drive last week, which could indicate that they want to try again. I've never seen that behavior so late in the breeding cycle of our Red-tailed Hawks, so it's difficult to be sure. Later this week I plan to check on Big Mama & Junior's nest in Green-Wood Cemetery.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Treehugger Tuesday

Brooklynites are charmed by the antics of a few neighborhood colonies of Monk Parakeets, but in Britain some folks are up in arms by a huge influx in the population of Rose-ringed Parakeets. According to a story published in the New York Times, in just over 10 years the population of these Indian parakeets has risen from 1,500 in 1995 to over 30,000 birds.

British Parakeet Boom Is a Mystery, and a Mess
By Elisabeth Rosenthal

STANWELL, England — The evening started peacefully enough at Long Lane Recreation Park in the western suburbs of London, disturbed only by the occasional rumble of a distant jet landing at Heathrow Airport. But just before sunset, five bright green missiles streaked through the air toward a row of poplars at the park’s edge.

Within minutes, hundreds more of the squawking birds — in formations 10, 20, 30 strong — had passed above the tidy homes and a cricket club, whizzing toward their nightly roost.

Individually, any of the rose-ringed parakeets could be the star of a DreamWorks film, electric green with bright pink beaks and the voluble personalities that have long made the tropical species a popular household pet. But for people who frequent the park or live nearby, the visceral experience is more like “The Birds” — albeit with more color and a much noisier soundtrack than the Hitchcock film.

Native to the Indian subcontinent and sub-Saharan Africa, the rose-ringed parakeet is enjoying a population explosion in many London suburbs, turning a once-exotic bird into a notorious pest that awakens children, monopolizes garden bird feeders and might even threaten British crops.

One rough estimate put the population in Britain at 30,000 a few years ago, up from only 1,500 in 1995. Researchers at Imperial College London are now trying a more scientific census through its Project Parakeet, which enlisted volunteer birders around the country for simultaneous counts on a recent Sunday evening.

“I was delighted when I first saw one in my yard, but when you have a flock of 300, it’s a different matter,” said Dick Hayden, a retiree who was volunteering at Long Lane Park. “They eat all the berries. They ate all the food from my feeder in one day; it was ludicrous. I had to stop putting it out because it got too expensive.”

There is wide agreement that the Adams and Eves behind the current population boom did not fly here from Asia or Africa but escaped from British pet cages or were intentionally released by their owners. The great mystery is what allowed the parakeets to procreate with such phenomenal success just in the past decade.

Throughout much of the 20th century, there have been occasional sightings around Britain of escaped parakeets, which are hardy enough to survive the foothills of the Himalayas. But their numbers remained low, and most scientists assumed that they were not adapted well enough to breed readily.

Theories abound. Is it that gardeners are planting more exotic ornamental plants, effectively providing imported food to match an imported bird species? That suburbanites are installing more feeders and putting out more seed? The booming British gardening industry guards sales figures and has provided little guidance.

Alternatively, some scientists suggest that a slightly warmer climate has indeed helped tip the balance, perhaps increasing the parakeet’s metabolism during its February breeding season, bolstering the growth of some of its favored food or killing off a predator.

“Being tropical, they’re used to a milder climate, and they’ve arrived here during a long spell of warm years,” said Grahame Madge, a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Yet the parakeets also did fine over the past two winters, which were uncommonly cold.

“The jury’s out,” Mr. Madge said. “I’m not aware of any predators being removed. I’m not aware of any environmental trigger that set this off. I’m not convinced that climate is playing into it.”

Perhaps the answer lies in the numbers game that prevails in any dating venue: once the population passed a certain threshold, it was more likely that each parakeet could find a mate and make a home in the suburbs.

The new bird census may help shed some light on the trend. Scientists, birders and policymakers are “waiting with bated breath for these latest numbers,” said David Leech, senior research ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology. “It’s absolutely fascinating to have a species come in and proliferate like this; we’ve never seen that before. But we need to know a lot more so we can understand how they’ll spread.”

British officials are watching trends closely since the parakeets have proved major agricultural pests elsewhere, ravaging crops in places like India. So far, they have shown little predilection for leaving Europe’s cities and suburbs for agricultural areas. (Far smaller flocks of rose-ringed parakeets have also arrived in other European cities like Brussels and Amsterdam.)

There is also concern that the wily parakeet will outcompete more restrained British birds like the nuthatch, since both species nest in holes in old trees.

So far British scientists have not documented either problem, said Hannah Peck, a graduate student with Project Parakeet, but they remain watchful.

“I saw one have it in with a jackdaw,” she said, referring to a British crow that is itself no shrinking violet. “The jackdaw lost.”
...Read more

Monday, May 23, 2011

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of May 28th - May 29th, 2011:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, May 28, 2011

Introduction to Birdwatching
Every Saturday, 12 - 1:30 p.m.
Explore the Park's natural areas and learn how to look for amazing birds

Discover Tour
Every Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m.
Discover the Prospect Park you never knew! Meet birds and other wildlife on this walk, guided by a naturalist.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Discover Tour
Every Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m.
Discover the Prospect Park you never knew! Meet birds and other wildlife on this walk, guided by a naturalist

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Shorebirding at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Trip Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: Shorebirds, colonial waders, terns, breeders, late passerines & stragglers
Car pool fee: $ 10.00 (if cars are available); otherwise public transportation by A train
Registrar: Peter Dorosh, Email Prosbird [AT] aol.com or TEXT Message 347-622-3559
Registration period: May 17th - May 26th
Note: High Tide is 6:46 am

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Inwood Hill Park
Leader and Registrar: Lenore Swenson
Registration opens Monday 5/16.
Public transportation.

**********

Littoral Society
Saturday, May 28, 2011 (4-7pm)
Jamaica Bay Sunset Cruise
Learn about the history, ecology and wildlife of the bay aboard the 100' boat " Golden Sunshine" leaving from pier 2 in Sheepshead Bay. See egrets, herons, peregrine falcon, osprey, oystercatcher, terns, shorebirds and waterfowl.
Cost: $45 includes narrated tour plus wine and cheese, drink, fruit, snacks.
Call (718) 318-9344 to reserve; e-mail: donriepe [AT] gmail.com. With NYC Audubon

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, May 28, 2011, 7:30am – 10:30am
StarrTrips in Central Park
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings in Central Park, Saturday, April 2 – Wednesday, June 1 Join Starr Saphir for bird watching in Central Park. On Mondays and Wednesdays, meet at 7:30am sharp at 81st and Central Park West (SE corner). On Tuesdays, meet at 9am sharp at 103rd and Central Park West (parkside). On Saturdays, meet at 7:30am sharp at 103rd and Central Park West (parkside). All Starr Trips are non-smoking. No registration necessary. For more information, call Starr at 917-306-3808. $8 ($4 for full time students)

Saturday, May 28, 2011, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks
Guide: Andrew Baksh or Urban Park Rangers. With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, and Urban Park Rangers. Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics. For more information, please call 718-548-0912. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, May 28, 2011, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Page Avenue Beach
We’ll begin with a look at the local geology then move to examining the flotsam and jetsam accumulated at the high tide lines to see what nature's debris has to tell us. As the water recedes with the tide we'll move into the inter-tidal zone to find out what sorts of living things survive in this challenging environment. A variety of crabs, snails, clams, worms and small fish are likely to be discovered. 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.

Sunday, May 29, 2011, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Red Trail Loop
Easy/moderate closed circuit 4-mile hike in the middle of the Greenbelt through Buck's Hollow and Heyerdahl Hill. This loop trail begins and ends at Historic Richmond Town and St. Patrick's Place off Richmond Road. Bring beverage, snack and wear comfortable shoes.
Contact Hillel Lofaso at (718) 751-6629 for more information.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 28, 2011

Early Birding Walk at Van Cortlandt Park
8:00 a.m.
Spring is back and so are our fine-feathered friends! Let's search for birds on a...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Cost: Free

From the Garden to the Pines
11:00 a.m.
Take a walk around the beautiful Shakespeare Garden to discover what's in bloom. The...
Location: Belvedere Castle (in Central Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free

Spring Bloom Bike Tour
12:00 p.m.
We'll start our botany bike journey a the boat basin of Riverside Park, ride along the...
Location: West 79th Street Boat Basin (in Riverside Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free

Spring Birding
1:00 p.m.
Along with the temperatures, migration season is heating up. Warblers, waterfowl, and...
Location: Oakland Lake, 46th Avenue and Cloverdale Boulevard (in Alley Pond Park), Queens
Cost: Free

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Canoeing the Lagoon
11:00 a.m.
Get ready for an adventure paddling through the sparkling blue waters and green marsh...
Location: Canoe and Kayak Launch (northwest corner of Orchard Beach parking lot) (in Pelham Bay Park), Bronx
Cost: Free

Virgorous Hike: Highbridge
11:00 a.m.
Traverse the hidden trails of Highbridge. Take in fabulous view of Morris Jumel...
Location: W 158th Street and Edgecombe Avenue (in Highbridge Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free

Vigorous Hike: Red Trail Adventure
2:00 p.m.
Take the road less travelled and challenge yourself on the hills of High Rock.
Location: High Rock Ranger Station (in High Rock Park), Staten Island
Cost: Free

Owl Prowl
7:00 p.m.
Take a night hike in the North Woods in search of the Eastern screech owl. Sunset is...
Location: West 100 Street and Central Park West (in Central Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free

Spring Tide Lovers
8:00 p.m.
On moonlit nights, horseshoe crabs return to the shores to mate. Marvel as the...
Location: Plumb Beach Comfort Station, Manhattan
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, May 20, 2011:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May 20, 2011
* NYNY1105.20

- Birds Mentioned:

WHITE IBIS+
WHITE-WINGED DOVE+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Common Eider
Sooty Shearwater
MANX SHEARWATER
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
Northern Gannet
American Bittern
Whimbrel
Red Knot
White-rumped Sandpiper
Bonaparte's Gull
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Black Tern
Roseate Tern
Black Skimmer
PARASITIC JAEGER
Black-billed Cuckoo
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Cape May Warbler
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
Bay-breasted Warbler
KENTUCKY WARBLER
Mourning Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT
SUMMER TANAGER
Grasshopper Sparrow
Boat-tailed Grackle

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, hard copy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hard copy 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

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, May 20th, at 7:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are WHITE-WINGED DOVE, WHITE IBIS, MANX SHEARWATER, PARASITIC JAEGER, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, KENTUCKY WARBLER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, SUMMER TANAGER, and spring migrants.

A horrendous week for weather and migration locally did however produce a surprise or two. Certainly exciting was the WHITE-WINGED DOVE that was found Sunday afternoon at Jones Beach West End. The dove was initially spotted near the rest rooms at the Coast Guard Station parking lot but later moved into the dune scrub near the main roadway, becoming more difficult to see. The dove was not relocated on subsequent days.

Noted again Saturday and Monday after more than a week of no reports was the adult WHITE IBIS at Great Kills Park on Staten Island. Look for the ibis in the ponds and wet areas along the south or right side of the entrance road as you enter the park from Hylan Boulevard up to the area near the ranger station, and please report any additional sightings. It's best to park in the lot past the ranger station and walk back, looking for the ibis from the main roadway.

Land bird migration in the city parks recently has been sparse and much less than it should be at this point in May. Highlights from Central Park included GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH Sunday; MOURNING WARBLER and SUMMER TANAGER on Monday, the tanager lingering around Strawberry Fields to Thursday; additional appearances of the BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE at the north end on Tuesday and Thursday; and an AMERICAN BITTERN along the Lake on Wednesday.

In Prospect Park, Brooklyn, a MOURNING WARBLER appeared last Friday with a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT there Saturday and a BLACK TERN visiting the Lake on Wednesday.

In Forest Park, Queens, the waterhole was still being visited by good numbers of warblers last weekend, including BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, CAPE MAY WARBLER and WILSON'S WARBLER, and a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was present Saturday along the bridle trail just east of railroad tracks, and then on Sunday across the tracks near the gully. An OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was there today.

At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge a KENTUCKY WARBLER found last Thursday at the north end of the North Garden was still present there at least to Saturday. Several RED KNOT were among the shorebirds starting to gather there, with a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER also seen Monday.

Seawatching paid dividends last weekend, starting with 11 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS and an immature BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE off Cupsogue County Park Saturday morning. Later that day about 70 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS were estimated off Shinnecock Inlet. Saturday evening two MANX SHEARWATERS flew east to west, past Robert Moses State Park, parking field 2, with a BLACK TERN, two BONAPARTE'S GULLS, and many NORTHERN GANNETS also offshore. Sunday morning at Moses produced 2 SOOTY SHEARWATERS, 144 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS, 605 NORTHEN GANNETS, 4+ ROSEATE TERNS, 2 BLACK TERNS, and 2 PARASITIC JAEGERS.

A count off Amagansett Sunday afternoon yielded one MANX SHEARWATER, 11 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS, an immature ICELAND GULL, a BONAPARTE'S GULL, and a PARASITIC JAEGER. And on Wednesday two SOOTY SHEARWATERS were seen again off Robert Moses State Park, and a watch there this morning had 4 SOOTY SHEARWATERS and 10 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS.

An influx of LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS also took place recently. Last Sunday at least three were at Jones Beach West End, along with an ICELAND GULL, and two more LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were at Robert Moses State Park. Monday found two at Hempstead Town Park and at Point Lookout, and on Wednesday three LESSER BLACK-BACKS were at Captree State Park and six gathered at Democrat Point.

Good numbers of shorebirds at Jones Beach West End featured a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER Sunday and 70 RED KNOT today. A WHIMBREL was at Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area today.

Single SUMMER TANAGERS were noted Saturday at the Route 51 field southwest of Riverhead and Thursday along Browns River in Sayville. Sunken Meadow State Park Friday provided singing ACADIAN FLYCATCHER and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO.

The flats at Cupsogue County Park in West Hampton Dunes Saturday produced five ROSEATE TERNS, 27 BLACK SKIMMERS, and good numbers of the regular shorebirds, plus a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER.

GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS are back at the Grumman Airport grasslands in Calverton, and two COMMON EIDER were with some scoters off Fort Tilden on Tuesday.

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 TAPE~]

~ End Transcript ~
...Read more

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday's Foto

This month's rainy weather has sometimes made birdwatching a challenge. Flowers, however, have been benefiting from all the rain creating a profusion of colors and fragrances throughout Brooklyn. English Hawthorns, a member of the Rosaceae family, is a favorite. I pass a pair of these trees whenever I enter Prospect Park near the Litchfield Mansion. Their rosy-pink blossoms caught my eye one rainy morning.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Urban Turtles

Tuesday's post started me thinking about our urban turtles. They are often overlooked in our city parks, except when the first Spring individuals haul themselves out on logs signally the symbolic end of Winter.

Red-eared Sliders are the most common turtle species in New York City's ponds and lakes. This native of the southern United States has become naturalized in our area due to its popularity as a pet. In fact, it is the most common water turtle kept as a pet. Clearly many end up living out their very long lives (50-70 years) in city parks, not home aquariums. Some states where this species in not native have ban their sale as they are considered invasive. These and other turtles are known carriers of Salmonella.

Two weeks ago I spotted my first Common Musk Turtle. It was in Prospect Park and it wasn't until I got home and researched the photo that I learned this individual's identity. Another common name for this species is "stinkpot". Its species name is "oderatus", which may give a clue to one of its most prominent features - when picked up they often will secrete a very unpleasant smell. This small turtle's high domed carapace and yellow facial stripes caught my attention while walking along the park's Lullwater.

"Friendly", "endearing" and "cute" are not words I would generally use to describe the Common Snapping Turtle. They eat just about anything they want, can grow to as large as 75 lbs. and are very long lived. Did I mention that these carnivores can be extremely aggressive and could easily bite off a finger? That said, there is one individual in Green-Wood Cemetery's Crescent Water that appears to like humans. The other possibility is that it is merely a ploy to gain our confidence so that it can get close enough to drag us to the bottom of the lake and eat us. This individual is probably the same turtle that Marge photographed last year and I posted about here. While birding in the cemetery with Paige last weekend we stopped off at the pond. I saw the snapper's head sticking out of the water several yards for shore. When I stomped my feet on the pond's coping water, he (or she) swam right over to us. I wouldn't advise feeding this behemoth for several reasons, but her sad eyes and blowing bubbles made it tempting. I suspect that this was once somebody's pet that they released here. Either that or it has been getting fed by someone on a regular basis, making it associate humans with feeding time.

Other local turtles include Diamondback Terrapins, which can be seen at Gerritsen Creek and other coastal areas. They should currently be involved in breeding behavior. American Red-bellied Turtles can be found in Prospect Park, as well as, Common Map Turtles. Anyway, my point is that there's a lot more to NYC turtles than store-bought-then-released-in-local-ponds Red-eared Sliders, so get curious and get exploring...but keep your fingers far away from this one's mouth.

...Read more

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Treehugger Tuesday

Why is America's Smallest Turtle Getting Sick
By LiveScience

North American bog turtles are getting sick, and no one knows why. Researchers are launching a turtle health check-up to find out.

The smallest turtle in North America is getting more and more scarce, and researchers are banding together to find out why.

At 4.5 inches (11.4 centimeters) long, the North American bog turtle, or Glyptemys muhlenbergii, is the smallest turtle species on the continent. It can be found in marshes across the eastern U.S., but wildlife managers in the Northeast have noticed higher-than-average rates of bog turtle deaths over the past few years, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

BOG TURTLE IN ITS NATURAL HABITAT: Health experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society are working with state and federal wildlife managers to determine why bog turtles are dying in higher numbers than usual. (Photo: Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society)

Along with state and federal wildlife agencies, WCS is beginning a bog turtle checkup in search of a cause for these mysterious deaths. Researchers will conduct physical exams on wild turtles and take blood and fecal samples for analysis.

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The Bog Turtle is Endangered in New York State.
...Read more

Monday, May 16, 2011

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of May 21st - May 22nd, 2011:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, May 21, 2011

Introduction to Birdwatching
Every Saturday, 12 - 1:30 p.m.
Explore the Park's natural areas and learn how to look for amazing birds

Discover Tour
Every Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m.
Discover the Prospect Park you never knew! Meet birds and other wildlife on this walk, guided by a naturalist.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Discover Tour
Every Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m.
Discover the Prospect Park you never knew! Meet birds and other wildlife on this walk, guided by a naturalist

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Prospect Park
Meet 7:00am at Grand Army Plaza entrance (Stranahan Statue)
Trip Leader: Tom Stephenson
Focus: late Spring passerines migration, warbler rarity, flycatchers

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Littoral Society
Saturday, May 21, 2011 (10am-1pm)
Horseshoe Crabs and Red Knots
Meet 10 am at Jamaica Bay Refuge center for a hike around the West Pond to look for mating horseshoe crabs and shorebirds. Bring boots & binoculars.
Call (718) 318-9344; E-mail: donriepe [AT] gmail.com

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, May 21, 2001, 6am – 7pm
Van Corlandt Park Bird-A-Thon
Rain Date: Sunday, May 22 With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy and NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Meet at Van Cortlandt Park for a great day of birding and support the park at the same time, whether you’re a birding beginner or a pro! Come any time between 6am and 7pm to participate in Van Cortlandt Park’s first bird-a-thon. Count the number of bird species you spot and get your supporters to chip in for each species you find! Experts will be on hand to help with identification. For more information and to learn about pledge collection, visit www.vcpark.org or call 718-430-1890. Bring binoculars. No limit. Free

Saturday, May 21, 2011, 7:30am – 10:30am
StarrTrips in Central Park
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings in Central Park, Saturday, April 2 – Wednesday, June 1 Join Starr Saphir for bird watching in Central Park. On Mondays and Wednesdays, meet at 7:30am sharp at 81st and Central Park West (SE corner). On Tuesdays, meet at 9am sharp at 103rd and Central Park West (parkside). On Saturdays, meet at 7:30am sharp at 103rd and Central Park West (parkside). All Starr Trips are non-smoking. No registration necessary. For more information, call Starr at 917-306-3808. $8 ($4 for full time students)

Saturday, May 21, 2011, 10am – 1pm
Birds and Plants: NY Botanical Garden in Springtime
Guides: Gabriel Willow, NY BG Docent With New York Botanical Garden Enter through the Mosholu gate and meet at the Reflecting Pool near the Visitor Center. The NY Botanical Garden is home to a large tract of East Coast old-growth forest. During the peak of spring migration, the beautiful gardens come alive with migrating songbirds. Limited to 15. $25 Click here to register!

Saturday, May 21, 2011, 11am – 2pm
Red Knots and Horseshoe Crabs at Jamaica Bay, Queens
Guide: Don Riepe With Gateway National Recreation Area ***Note: The meeting point for this event has changed from Plumb Beach to the Jamaica Bay NWR Visitor center*** Meet at the the Jamaica Bay NWR Visitor Center to see the annual mating ritual of the prehistoric horseshoe crab, along with the red knots, sanderlings, and ruddy turnstones. Hike along the beach and marshland edges to see fiddler crabs, egrets, and other wildlife. Bring lunch and binoculars.
To register, contact Don Riepe at 718-318-9344 or donriepe [AT] gmail.com. Limited to 25. Free

Sunday, May 22, 2011, 9:30am – 11:30am
Birding Along the Hudson: Riverdale Park
Guide: Gabriel Willow With Wave Hill Explore the Hudson River’s avian ecology starting at the tip of Manhattan and migrating north. Ideal for ages 10 and up. Registration recommended: online, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. All necessary information, including meeting location details, will be included in your registration confirmation email from Wave Hill. Severe weather cancels (For weather-related updates, call 718.549.3200 x245 by 8am the day of the walk). $10 for Wave Hill or NYC Audubon members/$18 non-members. (Members of other host organizations also enjoy member prices when walks take place at their location.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011, 11:00am – 12:30pm
Hawk Watch at Astoria Park, Queens
Guide: Urban Park Rangers With NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, Urban Park Rangers Meet at the parking lot at Hoyt Avenue and 19th Street in Astoria. A pair of red-tailed hawks has been nesting in Astoria Park on the RFK Bridge for years. Observe these residents and learn about their nesting and foraging habits. Registration necessary through NYC Audubon. Limited to 30. Free Click here to register!

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Staten Island Museum (Staten Island)
May 21, 2011 (All Day)
Big Sit for Birds
Gather friends, find your favorite birding spot, create an imaginary 17-foot diameter circle and count all the species of birds you can identify for 3 hours. For more information and locations contact Seth Wollney at swollney [AT] statenislandmuseum.org or call (718) 483-7105.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Early Birding Walk at Van Cortlandt Park
8:00 a.m.
Spring is back and so are our fine-feathered friends! Let's search for birds on a...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Cost: Free

Light Hike: The Old Aqueduct Trial
11:00 a.m.
We'll be exploring the forest floor on this moderate hike. Uncover a world of mosses,...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Cost: Free

Bio-Diversity Hike at Inwood Hill Park
12:00 p.m.
Explore the diverse ecology, habitats, plants, and animals of Inwood Hill Park's salt...
Location: Inwood Hill Nature Center (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free

Moderate Hike
1:00 p.m.
Explore the natural world on this hike by smelling, touching, listening, and seeing the...
Location: Prospect Park Picnic House (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shore Birds
11:00 a.m.
Gulls and geese and oystercatchers, oh my! From the common to the unusual, the beach...
Location: Orchard Beach Nature Center (in Pelham Bay Park-Orchard Beach), Bronx
Cost: Free

Hawk Watch
11:00 a.m.
A pair of red-tailed hawks has been nesting in Astoria Park on te RFK Bridge for...
Location: Parking Lot on Hoyt Avenue and 19 Street (in Astoria Park), Queens
Cost: Free

Turtle Walk
1:00 p.m.
Turtles live on land, in lakes and ponds, and in the oceans. Get to know some of the...
Location: Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, May 13, 2011:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May. 13, 2011
* NYNY1105.13

- Birds mentioned

Greater White-fronted Goose
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Least Tern
GULL-BILLED TERN
Roseate Tern
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Tennessee Warbler
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER
Cape May Warbler
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
Bay-breasted Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER
Worm-eating Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
SUMMER TANAGER
Lincoln's Sparrow
BLUE GROSBEAK

- 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 [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

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, May 13th 2011 at 9pm. The highlights of today's tape are YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, SUMMER TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK, GULL-BILLED TERN and RED-HEADED WOODPECKER.

A key week for migration, the past week several days were hampered by northerly winds but nevertheless good birds were present.

In Prospect Park birders last Sunday were aided by a large termite hatch out that attracted at least 17 of the 28 species of warblers seen in the park that day. Highlights at the hatch out included CERULEAN WARBLER, CAPE MAY WARBLER, BAY-BREASTED WARBLER and HOODED WARBLER while other warblers featured TENNESSEE WARBLER, WORM-EATING WARBLER a late LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH and WILSON'S WARBLER. On Thursday Prospect Park added OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and LINCOLN'S SPARROW.

Central Park last Saturday produced a lingering SUMMER TANAGER around the Ramble and a BLUE GROSBEAK briefly seen first at Cherry Hill and later near the Oven. Both YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO were noted Saturday and unexpected for Central Park and a good mix of warblers was also present. The RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was still south of the Sheep Meadow as of Wednesday.

At Forest Park in Queens a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was singing persistently east of the waterhole on Saturday morning but could not be relocated later. A young male SUMMER TANAGER put in several appearances around the waterhole Saturday and again on Sunday. Perhaps most impressive now in Forest Park and also noted somewhat in other parks was the good number of CAPE MAY WARBLERS present. For several visiting the waterhole and others scattered about the park BAY-BREASTED WARBLER and WORM-EATING WARBLER were among the other warblers in Forest Park Saturday.

In Riverside Park on northern Manhattan the water drip has been attracting a good variety of birds. On Thursday these included a male SUMMER TANAGER, TENNESSEE WARBLER and HOODED WARBLER. The drip is located around 119th Street just below the tennis courts.

LINCOLN'S SPARROWS have been showing up recently including one in Bryant Park Thursday and 2 HOODED WARBLERS visited the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx last Saturday.

Out at Jones Beach West End a male PROTHONOTARY WARBLER was discovered at the Coast Guard Station hedgerow on Sunday. The peak count of GULL-BILLED TERNS at the West End occurred that day with 8 on the Coast Guard sandbar. On Monday an adult RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was spotted in the West End turnaround.

OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was reported from Muttontown Preserve last Sunday.

The adult GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was seen again Sunday with Canadas at Caumsett State Park this bird first noted back on May 1st. Its presence now does raise concerns over origin.

Some ROSEATE TERN and LEAST TERNS were moving by with Common Terns off Democrat Point on Fire Island last Saturday and other recent arrivals have included SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and WILLOW FLYCATCHER.

A BLUE GROSBEAK was back at the Route 51 fields adjacent to Hunter's Garden on Thursday and this triggers a reminder that this breeding season is absolutely critical to the ongoing existence of all our migrant birds and every effort needs to be made to avoid any disturbance in their nesting areas.

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.
...Read more

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday's Foto

Searching for Wood-Warblers means spending a lot of time scanning the treetops in the forested sections of our city parks. For a nice break from "warbler neck" check out the recent profusion of Wild Geraniums in the woodland's understory. These native wildflowers are doing particularly well in Prospect Park this season.

Birds and Bugs

Sorry for the late post but the Blogger system had been down due to technical issues. Anyway...
**********
Mother's Day in Prospect Park began as a fairly typical morning of Spring birding. Heydi, Paige and I found a few early patches of warbler activity near the north end of the park, but nothing extraordinary. It wasn't until we reached the opposite end of the park that things got really interesting. By 9:30am nearly every birdwatcher in Prospect Park had arrived at the southeast side of Lookout Hill for a nature spectacle that I'd never witnessed in Brooklyn.

We ran into Ed, Phil and Bill at the narrow passageway that runs south from the Nethermead Meadow, along Lookout Hill, towards the Maryland Monument. Ed explained that he had been on the lower path that runs along the Lullwater when he heard the brassy song of a Hooded Warbler. He thought the sound was coming from Lookout Hill. The Hooded Warbler is a rare gem of a bird seen infrequently on migration. The bird has bright yellow plumes on its underside, an olive-green upper body and, as its name implies, a jet black hood that frames a yellow face. On their breeding ground in Eastern hardwood forests their loud, whistled "ta-wit ta-wit ta-wit tee-yo" can be heard echoing through the woods for quite a distance. We really wanted to find that bird and headed up a small rise at the base of Lookout Hill to a woodland clearing adjacent to the Maryland Monument.

As we waited and listened, the high-pitched song from a pair Cape May Warblers caught our attention. They were foraging in the trees directly above us and in virtually the same spot as we observed them a day earlier. At one point I thought I heard a partial Hooded Warbler song coming from deeper into the woods. After about 15 minutes we decided to climb a steep, woodchip trail to the top of Lookout Hill. Once at the top we ran into Tom Preston. I asked him about the Hooded Warbler to which he replied, "I just saw it over there", pointing down the hillside. It only took a moment or two for our group of three to spot the bird in the understory. We continued birding first at the Butterfly Meadow, then the small opening at the top of the hill. There are several mature oak trees at the summit which are good for spotting hungry insectivores. After only a few minutes effort, we added to our growing list of warbler sightings Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart and Worm-eating Warbler. The Bay-breasted Warbler was particular cooperative as it dropped down from the treetops briefly and foraged in shrubs at eye level. The day was going so well, I asked Heydi and Paige if we should leave Lookout Hill and go find a Cerulean Warbler. The vote for cerulean was unanimous. I should point out that this was a truly ridiculous concept on a few levels. First, Cerulean Warblers, in the rare case that a birder is able to locate one, are usually found foraging at the very top of the tallest trees. In addition, according the the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

"The cerulean warbler was designated a species of continental importance for the United States and Canada by the Partners in Flight program. In the late 19th century it was one of the most abundant breeding warblers in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. By the mid 1900s, however, it had largely disappeared from most of its former range as a result of habitat loss due to forest fragmentation. In New York it is mostly rare, but locally common in areas where suitable habitat still exists."

My optimistic statement was purely fantasy. Adam, who had joined us, along with Tom Stephenson, heard my cerulean comment and declared, "If we find a Cerulean Warbler I'll pee in my pants".

We were walking on the lower path of the hill, towards the Maryland Monument when I received the following text message from Peter:

"Termite hatching on path above wellhouse lots of action"

It only took us a minute to arrive at a spot were a couple of dozen birdwatchers were already riveted to the bird activity on the hillside.

A termite hatch occurs when a new, winged generation of insects, known as alates, depart the colony to begin another colony in a new location. During their brief period of flight, large numbers of insectivorous songbirds virtually mob the area, snapping up thousands of termites. On Lookout Hill several trees had been blown down and, after the parks department cleared the larger debris, left the trunks to decompose naturally. I'm guessing that all the extra wood had contributed to a particularly large colony of termites. As we approached the area I noticed several dozen Chimney Swifts and three different species of swallow swooping down between the trees above the path, feasting on the windfall. During the next 30 minutes we witnessed an endless stream of hungry songbirds, many at or below eye level. The incredible list of species directly feeding on the termites or in the immediate vicinity were:

Chimney Swift
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Red-eyed Vireo
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Canada Warbler
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

At some point we heard rumor of a Blue-winged Warbler near the Boathouse, so Adam, Heydi, Paige and I decided to go find it.

We had just arrived at a grassy area near the Boathouse and next to the Lily Pond when I received another text message from Peter:

"Cerulean Warbler @ termite hatch site above wellhouse"


I read that message aloud and the four of us began sprinting back to the hill. As we passed the Concert Pagoda Heydi and I suddenly stopped and said in unison, "Blue-winged Warbler" (we heard it singing). Adam and Paige slammed on their brakes and ran back to get brief looks of the tiny yellow and blue bird as it sang from a perch in a sycamore tree. The viewing lasted all of about 10 seconds before we continued running towards Lookout Hill.

Arriving sweating and out of breath, we discovered that the bird was no longer present. The large group gathered near the hatch-out continued searching the trees and tree trunk littered hillside for this rarely seen blue songbird. At one point my friend Keir asked if I wanted to join him searching the trees at the top of the hill. I agreed and we began walking.
A moment later we heard someone shout, "Cerulean!" There, in the clearing along the steep hillside, was the bird of the day. I'd seen them on their breeding grounds and even a few time in Prospect Park, but this experience was like no other. This bird of the upperstory was hopping around on the ground, eating termites, only a few yards away from us. A dozen birders pressed up against a black, wire fence that protected the edge of the clearing. The clicking of cameras sounded like the paparazzi along the red carpet at a Hollywood opening. People were shoulder to shoulder staring in awe at the bird. Then something silly occurred to me. I announced to the group that, in light of a previous statement made by Adam, anyone standing close to him might want to move away.

I watched for a few minutes then moved back to give someone else a chance. The cerulean eventually disappeared up the hillside and into the treetops, but the show on Lookout Hill wasn't over yet.

The Hooded Warbler returned to the area near the termite hatch. There were about a dozen or more birders still present when the hooded then decided to hop out onto the sidewalk. Hooded Warblers tend to forage in the middle story or on the ground, so its behavior wasn't too unusual. Walking around in front of a crowd of people was, however, a little odd and I had to take this photograph.

Spring migration is always an exciting time to go birding. It's a time to hang out with old friend of both the avian and human variety. It's a period of whirlwind sights and sounds that won't be experienced for another year. And it's a time to experience unexpected natural phenomenon that will be remembered by birders for a lifetime. Twenty years from now, a group of birders will be sitting around telling stories of past birding glory. Someone is likely to say, "Remember when we had that termite hatch in Prospect Park and the Cerulean Warbler and Hooded Warbler were dancing around on the ground for us?" I feel fortunate to have been one of those people.

Here are a few photos of birds from the termite hatch on Lookout Hill:


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Date: 05/07/11 - 05/08/11
Locations: Prospect Park (Aralia Grove, Lookout Hill, Midwood, North Zoo, Peninsula, Quaker Cemetery, Ravine, Rick's Place, Upper Pool, Vale of Cashmere)
Total Number of Species: 88

Wood Duck
Northern Shoveler
Red-throated Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Spotted Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker
- Empidonax sp.
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Veery
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher

Blue-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Worm-eating Warbler
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Canada Warbler

Chipping Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow ...Read more

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