Friday, September 30, 2011

Green-Wood Cemetery Trip

Tomorrow (Saturday, 10/1) I'll be leading a trip to Green-Wood Cemetery for the Linnaean Society of New York. If you'd like to attend meet at the main gate (25th Street and Fifth Ave., Brooklyn) at 8 a.m. Click here for directions.

Friday's Photo

After my third or fourth try, I finally got to see an American Golden-Plover in Brooklyn this year. This individual located along the edge of a meadow at Floyd Bennett Field was one of three observed between Dead Horse Bay and Floyd Bennett. Very similar to the closely related Black-bellied Plover, its smaller, slimmer bill and smaller head are two characteristics that separate it from the black-bellied. In flight, golden-plovers don't have the dark "armpits" or white rump of a black-bellied. Here are some nice comparison photos by Bill Schmoker. You can also watch a video I shot of the golden-plover here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Owl Food

Marge has been keeping tabs on our resident Great Horned Owls in the cemetery. Last week she learned something very interesting about what's on our local owl's menu.

The pair of Great Horned Owls that have been residing in Green-Wood Cemetery for the last four years tend to vary their daytime roosts. The only way that we can locate them is to look for their wash and pellets below their roost. Pellets are the regurgitated indigestible parts of their prey. Biologists sometimes dissect owl pellets to determine the individual's diet. Anyway, Marge was checking the ground below a tree where they have roosted in the past. There were the remains of several pellets that had started to break down from recent rainstorms. Within one she spotted a shiny blue object. On closer inspection she realized that it was the tarsus bone of a bird with a band still attached. Here is a photo:


She called me to try and help figure out what kind of bird the owl had eaten. I'd never seen a band like that used for wild bird banding, so was a little puzzled. Marge thought that, perhaps, it was someone's pigeon, as she remembered seeing an unusual pigeon hanging around the cemetery. Long story short, she located a website that maintains records for racing pigeons and, sure enough, there was a match for band #116, IF SQC, 2010. Marge contacted the owner in Brooklyn with the "good news, bad news" story". The good news is that your bird didn't go very far and its band is in perfect condition. The bad news is that owls loooove dining on racing pigeons.

UPDATE:

On Saturday I lead a trip to Green-Wood Cemetery for the Linnaean Society. While examining some broken up pellets beneath one of the owl roosts we discovered yet another tiny leg bone with the same type of blue band. Apparently these owls are really fond of racing pigeons. ...Read more

Shorebird Migration and Banded Red Knot

Over the last couple of weeks Heydi and I have been searching Brooklyn's shorebird habitats with the hope of locating the last of the southbound stragglers and, possibly, something new for the year. North America's breeding shorebird species have a very brief nesting period and actually begin their "Fall" migration as early as July, so we've been periodically checking several spots for over 2 months.

Plum Beach** is a narrow stretch of beach and marsh habitat just east of Sheepshead Bay. At low tide there is a fairly extensive mudflat where shorebirds congregate and feed until the tide change. Unfortunately, pet owners illegally unleash their dogs and allow them to chase the birds. To have any chance of seeing shorebirds here one must show up when low-tide is right around first light. So far this season we've managed to see Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Piping Plover, American Oystercatcher, Solitary Sandpiper, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper and Short-billed Dowitcher. I'm sure that this important stopover for migrating shorebirds would be a lot less stressful for animals that are traveling, sometimes, thousands of miles if they weren't being harassed by dogs.

Other good spots to look for shorebirds in Brooklyn are Gerritsen Creek (Marine Park), Dead Horse Bay and Floyd Bennett Field. On the one weekend morning that I decided to sleep late, I got a call from Heydi who was at Gerritsen Creek. At that moment she was looking at a Black-necked Stilt. This shorebird with obscenely long, thin legs is extremely rare in New York City and their range is, more typically, Florida and other locations far south and west of Brooklyn. Anyway, the bird flew in, fed for a few minutes then took off flying to who-knows-where. You can see more of Heydi's photos here.

The grasslands of Floyd Bennett Field are a good place to look for migrating "grasspipers". Grasspiper is not an official taxonomic term, but rather a designation given by birders to shorebirds that are mostly found feeding and nesting in grassy habitats. Two species that fit that category are Buff-breasted Sandpiper and American Golden-Plover. In addition to the attraction of the grassland habitats at Floyd Bennett Field, rain puddles that form on and around the old runways act as bird magnets. The season hasn't completely passed us by yet but, so far, we've struck out finding these two shorebirds at Floyd Bennett. It hasn't been a complete loss, however, because we did just stumble on a Dickcissel perched on the long grass at the edge of one of the fields. These birds are rare, but regular visitors during migration. There has also been an interesting array of butterflies and grasshoppers to keep our attention.

In addition to shorebirds, we've also been looking for marsh sparrows. There are 3 species of these beautiful, elusive birds that can be found around Brooklyn - Nelson's Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sparrow and Seaside Sparrow. Four Sparrow Marsh is a barely accessible, but wonderful habitat for seeking out these birds. As we quickly discovered, though, at this time of year it is also a great place for mosquitoes and horse flies. Despite an oil slick's worth of Deet glistening on our skin, we only managed a few minutes at the marsh before the biting insects drove us off.

Dead Horse Bay is just across Plum Channel from Plum Beach. This strange shoreline habitat is littered with broken glass that is spilling from the old landfill that once dominated what was formerly known as "Barren Island". Usually the only people one finds here are beachcombers collecting artifacts or the occasional birdwatcher. It is for this reason that I think relatively large flocks of migrating Black-bellied Plovers can be found resting along the shore here. I assume that when they are chased from the mudflat at Plum Beach they just fly the short distance across the water for some respite and horse bones. Where there are flocks of Black-bellied Plovers there can sometimes also be American Golden-Plovers. Over the last two weekends Heydi and I have counted an ever expanding group of plovers here, but haven't yet spotted the golden prize. The flock has grown from around 50 on our first visit to 90 at last count.

On one of our trips to Dead Horse I spotted a Red Knot within the plover flock. Red Knot populations are closely tied to Horseshoe Crab abundance (they feed on their eggs) and as the crab numbers have plummeted, so have the Red Knots. When we noticed that the knot had been banded, I tried to take a photograph so that I could report it to the proper organization. As you can see from this photo, I was somewhat successful.

In the close up it's clear that the left leg has an orange "flag" and the right has a yellow lower band and an upper metal (or silver) band. Sean directed me to the USGS "North American Bird Banding Program" website where they have a forms page for entering banding information. Since I wasn't able to read the code on the upper right leg, the resulting data will be a bit limited. I also found a website which lists the country codes for the flags. Orange means that the bird I spotted at Dead Horse Bay was banded somewhere in Argentina. A straight line from Dead Horse Bay to Buenos Aires is 5,263.24 miles! That's pretty impressive for an animal that weighs, on average, 4.7 ounces. Many Red Knots overwinter in Tierra del Fuego, another 1,500 miles south of Buenos Aires.

PBS produced a great program on the plight of Red Knots and Horseshoe Crabs entitled "Crash: A Tale of Two Species". You can watch the entire episode online here. I highly recommend it.

**Plum Beach is sometimes spelled "Plumb". On the 1873 Beers map of Gravesend Coast it lists the area as "Plum Island", but on an 1891 map of coastal Brooklyn it lists that location as "Plumb Beach". Even the NYC department of park and the National Park Service are inconsistent in their spelling.
...Read more

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Treehugger Tuesday

From The Guardian:

Red squirrel 'could be extinct within next 20 years'

Oxford University wildlife unit finds biodiversity action plans failing to halt steep decline in dormice, hedgehogs and wildcats

Efforts over the past decade to save British mammals from extinction have failed to halt population declines in red squirrels, hedgehogs, harvest mice and Scottish wildcats.

Red squirrels could be extinct within 20 years, while the UK hedgehog population has dipped to about 1.5m individuals compared with 30m in the 1950s, according to a report by Oxford University's wildlife conservation unit for the People's Trust for Endangered Species.

The common dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) and mountain hare are also under threat despite efforts to arrest their decline through nationwide biodiversity action plans.

Seven species of mammals whose conservation was given priority status, including some of the most endangered, were still declining last year, says the report – State of Britain's Mammals 2011.

But there was good news with regard to otters, bats and water voles, whose populations have increased. After conservation efforts "akin to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic", say the report's authors, there was hope that approaches to conservation were improving.

"Although many of Britain's mammals apparently declined significantly in the past 25 years, some appear to have stabilised or even increased in the last decade," the report states.

"Of the 25 monitored mammal species native to Britain, half are stable (not necessarily in a good state) or increasing."

Otters have benefited from cleaner rivers in Britain, following a ban on chemicals used in sheep dip in the late 1990s. But hedgehog numbers have fallen due to fragmentation of their habitats, pesticides killing their prey, and hedgerow loss.

Red squirrel populations have dropped more than 50% in 50 years, and, with the discovery in Scotland in 2005 of the first case of squirrel pox virus, which is carried by grey squirrels, "the omens for the red squirrel in the UK" were "bleak", state the report's authors, Dawn Burnham and David MacDonald.

"The last 15 years have seen some successes, particularly recovery of some rare species," they said. "However, with the ongoing decline of once common species, like hedgehogs, it is widely accepted that targets for the Convention on Biological Diversity, for 2010, were missed.

"In general, progress has been better for species restricted in range that could benefit from targeted, site-based, conservation efforts. There's been less progress on targets for habitats and many widespread species."

Water voles are declining, but brown hare and polecat populations are rising. Greater and lesser horseshoe bat populations have risen 32% and 41% respectively over the past 10 years.

Robert Booth
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 25 September 2011 11.27 EDT
...Read more

Monday, September 26, 2011

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of October 1st - October 2nd, 2011:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, October 1, 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.

Sunday, October 2, 2011, 8 a.m.
Early Morning Bird Walk: Hawks
October is Hawk Month! FREE

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Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club
Saturday, October 1, 2011, 1pm – 5pm
Canoe on Gowanus Canal
Bring a friend for a self-guided Canoe trip sponsored by the Gowanus Dredgers to raise awareness of Harbor Issues www.gowanuscanal.org
Unless otherwise noted, Gowanus canoeing events depart from 2nd St. near Bond St.
Directions to 2nd St. Canal Launch Site: Take the F Line or G Line to Carroll Street - exit to front of Bklyn-bound train and walk three blocks down 2nd Street to the Canal (away from Smith St). For a calender of walk-up canoeing events at each location Click Here

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, October 1, 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 October 1, 2011
Fort Tilden Hawk workshop
Trip Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: Learning hawks in flight; passing passerines from Battery East summit platform
Car pool fee: $ 10.00
Registrar: Peter Dorosh, Email Prosbird [AT] aol.com or TEXT Message 347-622-3559
Note: the Green Line Q35 bus drops off at Ft. Tilden from Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues for latecomers
See www.hopstop.com for directions
Registration period: Sept 20th-Sept 27th

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, October 1, 2011, 8am
Green-Wood Cemetery
Leaders: Rob Jett
No registration.
Meet at Main Gate (25th Street and Fifth Ave., Brooklyn) at 8 a.m..
Public transportation.

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, October 1, 2011, 7:00am – 8:30am
Fall Migrants of Woodlawn Cemetery
Guides: Peter Joost and Joseph McManus With Friends of Woodlawn Cemetery
Meet at the Jerome Avenue Entrance of Woodlawn Cemetery. Join us for a morning birdwalk on the lovely wooded grounds of Woodlawn Cemetery, with two expert birding guides: NYC Audubon's Peter Joost and Friends of Woodlawn's Joseph McManus. Attendees will learn about the birds of Woodlawn and look for fall migrants and year-round residents on the cemetery grounds -- which are home to one of the largest collection of trees in an urban setting in the U.S.
Limited to 15. $20
Click here to register!

Saturday, October 1, 2011, 7:30am – 10:30am
StarrTrips in Central Park
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, October 1, 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.

Sunday, October 2, 2011, 9am – 12pm
Randall's Island Fall Migration Walk
Guide: Gabriel Willow Meet on the N.W. corner of 102nd Street and the FDR Drive. We'll walk across the foot bridge to Randall's Island, a prime spot for viewing birds during fall migration due to its location in the East River. As we bird, we’ll explore the results of recent restoration efforts. Two miles of walking and some modest climbs.
Limited to 20. $20 Click here to register!

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, October 1, 2011, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Page Ave 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 intertidal zone to find out what sorts of living things survive in this challenging environment. A variety of crabs, snails, clams, oysters (NY/NJ Baykeeper Oyster Garden), 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.

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Queens County Bird Club
Sunday, October 2, 2011, 8am
MiniTrip Jamaica Bay
Leader: Ian Resnick 917-626-9562 Eric Miller 917-279-7530
Meet: 7:45am @ visitor center walk starts 8am
See map http://tinyurl.com/28orv9d
See "Birding Site Maps" page for more info https://sites.google.com/site/qcbirdclub/birding-site-maps

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, October 1, 2011

Nature Exploration Light Hike
1:00 p.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Cost: Free

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Raptor Fest
12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Learn all about the majestic raptors at the Prospect Park Audubon Center. Hawks, falcons,...
Location: Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below if the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, September 23, 2011:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Sep. 23, 2011
* NYNY1109.23

- Birds mentioned

NORTHERN WHEATEAR+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Cory's Shearwater
BROWN PELICAN
Broad-winged Hawk
Virginia Rail
Sora
American Golden-Plover
American Oystercatcher
Willet (subspecies "Western Willet")
MARBLED GODWIT
Red Knot
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
PARASITIC JAEGER
Philadelphia Vireo
Gray-cheeked Thrush
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER
CONNECTICUT WARBLER
Yellow-breasted Chat
LARK SPARROW

- 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, September 23rd 2011 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are NORTHERN WHEATEAR, BROWN PELICAN, LARK SPARROW, CONNECTICUT WARBLER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, PARASITIC JAEGER and MARBLED GODWIT.

Our 2nd local NORTHERN WHEATEAR of the season was found last Saturday in Montauk where it stayed through Tuesday along the pastures between the Roosevelt Third House County Park and the Deep Hollow Ranch on the north side of Route 27. We unfortunately have no reports from Wednesday on of the wheatear.

A couple of BROWN PELICANS were also seen during the past week on eastern Long Island. One was last Saturday near Long Beach Bar off Orient on the North Fork and the other appeared Wednesday on Sagg Pond in Bridgehampton. Keep watching the inlets and bays for this species as it can also appear as a flyby along the coast.

Further west on Long Island the LARK SPARROW was present around the fence at the Jones Beach West End Coast Guard Station Saturday and Sunday. Among the few other landbirds there was an early ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER Saturday. While shorebirds gathering on the Coast Guard Bar there included an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER Saturday and Sunday and hundreds of RED KNOTS and AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS and several "Western" WILLETS.

At Robert Moses State Park a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT was present through Sunday at the western end of parking field 2 with a GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH also there Saturday and a PHILADELPHIA VIREO was among 4 species of vireos banded at Tobay on Saturday.

In Central Park highlights from last Saturday featured a CONNECTICUT WARBLER at the north end and a SORA at Turtle Pond that stayed at least to Monday. A VIRGINIA RAIL was a highlight in Prospect Park in Brooklyn last Saturday.

The BROAD-WINGED HAWKS made their main push through our area last Friday and Saturday. On Friday, with northwest winds, over 6,100 moved past the Quaker Ridge Hawkwatch at the Greenwich Audubon Center in northwestern Greenwich but with a more easterly component to the winds on Saturday the flight moved inland. The Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch at the Butler Sanctuary in Bedford recorded over 9,600 while Hook Mountain in Rockland County counted 14,670 broad-wingeds. Some more should come but of course the variety of hawks species will rise as the season progresses.

Moving back to eastern Long Island birds off Montauk Point last Sunday included a CORY'S SHEARWATER and 3 PARASITIC JAEGERS with 2 parasitics still there Wednesday. Also on Wednesday 95 BLACK TERNS were counted in Napeague Harbor. Birds appearing on the flats at Mecox Inlet recently have featured 2 MARBLED GODWITS on Wednesday and a couple of AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS on Sunday and Thursday plus an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL recently and 2 CASPIAN TERNS on Thursday. A PHILADELPHIA VIREO was spotted at Orient Point on Saturday.

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

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday's Foto

While doing a little hawkwatching from atop Battle Hill in Green-Wood Cemetery, I spotted a few Red-tailed Hawks. I'm not sure which of the five that I observed soaring over the cemetery were locals and which were passing migrants, but judging by the attack two launched against one juvenile, I'm guessing the youngster was not from the neighborhood.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Green-Wood Discovery Blog

Jeff Richman, the Green-Wood Cemetery historian, maintains the "Green-Wood Discovery" blog. He just added a post about myself and the butterflies of Green-Wood Cemetery here. I'm just finishing up a map that shows the best spots in the cemetery to look for butterflies. It will be posted on the Discovery blog, as well as, here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Broad-winged Hawk Migration

One of the most amazing spectacles of the avian world is the Fall migration of Broad-winged Hawks along the east coast of North America. During this period hundreds of thousands of these normally solitary raptors converge for their flight to southern wintering grounds. There are several locations within a short drive of NYC where, if the timing is right, this annual swarming of hawks can be experienced. Hook Mountain is one of those spots and over the past weekend conditions were perfect for witnessing a massive push of Broad-wings.

Located approximately 31 miles north of the city, Hook Mt. is situated on the west shore of the Hudson River. Below it, to the north, is Rockland Lake State Park. To the south, a view of the Tappen Zee Bridge and Piermont Pier. The tallest skyscapers of midtown Manhattan can be seen peeking over the top of a low ridge to the south-southwest.

For the last month it seemed as if the eastern edge of the country had been seeing a virtual endless stream of storm systems moving up the coast from the south. Like most species of migrating birds, Broad-winged Hawks wait for a cold front accompanied by north winds before heading south. By Friday the weather finally turned, so I had a good feeling about seeing a big push of raptors over the weekend. Robin, Heydi and I made plans to head up to Hook Mt. early Saturday morning.

We arrived at the pull-off for the trailhead on route 9W by about 8:30am. There were already seven cars parked. I guess a lot of other birders had the same idea. The trail to the top of the ridge is relatively easy, with the last 15-20 yards being a fairly steep rocky scramble. By the time we arrived at the hawkwatch, there were already about 20 people present. After a week of lackluster numbers (15 were seen on Monday), Friday's count total was 1072 Broad-winged Hawks. Everyone was optimistic that it would be a good day.

I found out that the hour before we arrived had already seen 500 broad-wings. We had only been on the mountain for about 15 minutes when someone shouted that a kettle was coming in from the north. There appeared to be 20-30 hawks in the flock. As the flock got closer to Hook Mt., it began to veer to the west. Within a short time another flock appeared heading our way. And then another. And another. Some of the hawks were coming up from below the south side of the ridge and passing by at eye level. Trudy was the head counter and by late morning I joked that smoke was starting to come off of the chrome, mechanical counter that never left her hand. In between flocks of broad-wingeds, individual Sharp-shinned Hawks zipped overhead. A pair of Bald Eagles soared over a stone quarry just passed Rockland Lake. A resident Red-tailed Hawk took exception to the plastic Great Horned Owl mounted on a tall pole and screeched a raspy "keeerr" while circling the permanently frozen owl. Two or more ravens flew back and forth across the ridge all morning.

Here's one small kettle of hawk

Tom pointed out the largest flock of hawks of the day just before 11am. The birds were streaming across the northern horizon in an unbroken line from the east to the west. The experienced counters present estimated that there were about 1,000 individuals in that grouping. As the air warmed and the flocks moved closer to our perch on Hook Mt., I put down my binoculars and studied the hawk's technique for conserving energy. Individuals would enter a rising column of air. Barely moving their wings, they'd soar to the top of the warm air as if riding an elevator. Dozens and, sometimes, hundreds of hawks would feed into this free ride like a hopper. As they approached the top of the thermal where the air cooled, they would break off and stream across the sky to the next column of air. Reaching the thermal at a lower altitude, they would rise up, circling within the warm column until they reached the top, where they would again peel off and soar to the next column. I pictured in my mind hundreds of thousands of Broad-winged Hawks leap-frogging between thermals as they made they way south, across Central American and into South America.

When clouds started to roll in at around 1pm we decided to call it a day and head back to Brooklyn. At that point the official Broad-winged Hawk total was 13,660. I read on the Hook Mountain website the next day that the final count for the day was an astounding 14,670! It's really nice when the weather and birds cooperative with us on the weekend.

Here is a video from Trudy Battaly's Hook Mountain Hawkwatch Website:


Here are the official totals for Saturday's hawkwatch:
...Read more

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Treehugger Tuesday

More Information on Fracking and Tar Sands

New York Times writer Ian Urbana has a page of articles related to hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" titled "Drilling Down":

One Tainted Water Well, and Concern There May Be More

Behind Veneer, Doubt on Future of Natural Gas

Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush

Politics Seen to Limit E.P.A. as It Sets Rules for Natural Gas

Wastewater Recycling No Cure-All in Gas Process

Chemicals and Toxic Materials That Come With Hydrofracking

Check out these articles and more here.

Here is a short piece by "Gasland" producer Josh Fox on tar sand oil:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of September 24th - September 25th, 2011:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, September 24, 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.

Sunday, September 25, 2011, 2 - 3:30 p.m.
NYC Trees and Climate Change
Free Learn how our communities are connected through the environment.

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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Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club
Saturday, September 24, 2011, 1pm – 5pm
Canoe on Gowanus Canal
Bring a friend for a self-guided Canoe trip sponsored by the Gowanus Dredgers to raise awareness of Harbor Issues www.gowanuscanal.org
Unless otherwise noted, Gowanus canoeing events depart from 2nd St. near Bond St.
Directions to 2nd St. Canal Launch Site: Take the F Line or G Line to Carroll Street - exit to front of Bklyn-bound train and walk three blocks down 2nd Street to the Canal (away from Smith St). For a calender of walk-up canoeing events at each location Click Here

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, September 24, 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
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Fort Tilden Park, Queens
Trip Leader: Rob Jett a.k.a. "The City Birder"
Focus: peak autumn passerines, sparrows
Car Fee: $12.00
Registrar: James Cooke, email james [AT] jamescooke.net or before 9PM 516-739-0647
Registration period: Sept 13th- Sept 22nd

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Linnaean Society of New York
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Riverside Park Bird Drip Sit
Leader: Geoffrey Nulle
No registration. Meet at Drip inside park, just south of 120th St. tennis courts. Arrive anytime, leave anytime. Some chairs provided.

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Littoral Society of New York
September 25, 2011. (4-7pm)
Jamaica Bay Sunset Cruise
The boat is the "Golden Sunshine" out of Sheepshead Bay from 4-7pm. The cost $45/person includes 3-hour narrated tour, wine & cheese, fruit,drink, snacks. Dress warmly as it is cooler on the water and bring binoculars. Learn about the history, ecology, wildlife of the bay and see migrating hawks, falcons, egrets, waterfoul and shorebirds. To reserve, send check to Don Riepe, 28 West 9th Road, Broad Channel, NY 11693. (Make check out to American Littoral Society).
For more info call (718) 318-9344; e-mail: donriepe [AT] gmail.com. ... With NYC Audubon and Gateway NRA

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, September 24, 7:30am – 10:30am
StarrTrips in Central Park
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings in Central Park, Saturday, August 20 – Saturday, October 29 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, September 24, 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.

Sunday, September 25, 2011, 8am – 3pm
Explore the Birding Gems of Staten Island
Guide: Cliff Hagen Come visit some of the beautiful, bird-rich spots on Staten Island--which can be hard for car-less New Yorkers to get to. We'll start looking for migrating warblers, flycatchers and more along the lovely wooded and streamside trail of Clove Lakes Park... then move on to the pristine marsh habitat of Great Kills Park, looking for shorebirds and wading birds. Depending on time, we may make a third stop at North Mount Loretto State Forest. Bring lunch, water, and binoculars. Transport by passenger van included.
$75 Click here to register!

Sunday, September 25, 2011, 9:30am – 11:30am
Fall Birding at the Hudson River Museum
Guide: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC With Wave Hill Meet at the Hudson River Museum. This weekend, Wave Hill’s fall birding series migrates “upstate” to the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. Join us on this family-friendly walk to observe hawks, falcons and other raptors on their southerly route along the Atlantic flyway. Perfect for budding naturalists and birders ages 8 and up. Reservations recommended, online at www.wavehill.org, by calling 718-549-3200 x245 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Severe weather cancels. For weather-related updates call 718-549-3200 x245 by 8am the day of the walk. $10 for Wave Hill, NYC Audubon, and Hudson River Museum members/$18 non-members

Sunday, September 25, 2011, 4pm – 7pm
Jamaica Bay Sunset Cruise
Guides: Don Riepe, Mickey Cohen With American Littoral Society Meet at Pier 2 in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Enjoy a 3-hour cruise aboard the 100-foot boat "Golden Sunshine." Visit backwater marshes near JFK Airport and learn about the history and wildlife of the bay. See nesting peregrine falcons, osprey, egrets, shorebirds, and more. Includes refreshments. To register, contact Don Riepe at (718) 318-9344 or donriepe [AT] gmail.com. Limited to 140. $45

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, September 24, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Great Kills Park/Crooke’s Point
After meeting in the main lot we will drive to the nature center and walk out to Crooke's Point all the while looking for migrant birds. Anything goes this time of year, warblers and sparrows, hawks, shorebirds and waterfowl are moving in good numbers. Meet in the parking lot at the intersection of Hylan Blvd and Buffalo St. at the entrance to the park.
For more information contact Howie Fischer at (718) 981-4002.

Saturday, September 24, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Old Mill Road
We'll follow the multi-use trail overlooking Fresh Kills, pass the famous Hessian Spring as it crosses the path and view Fresh Kills estuary and work our way to the remains of Ketchum’s Mill. Along the way we’ll observe traces of the past, examine the present woodland ecosystems and search for evidence of present inhabitants especially deer and other mammals. Parking is available at the start of Old Mill Road alongside the church.
For more information phone Clay Wollney at (718) 869-6327.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fitness Hike (vigorous)
9:00 a.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the...
Location: Forest Park Visitor Center (in Forest Park), Queens
Cost: Free

Saltwater Fishing
11:00 a.m.
Mastering any new skill requires practice and patience. Fishing programs help develop these...
Location: Pier I (in Riverside Park South), Manhattan
Cost: Free

Nature Exploration (light)
11:00 a.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the...
Location: Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Basic Canoeing
12:00 p.m.
Few truly unique experiences compare with being on the open water in New York City. The...
Location: Crotona Nature Center (in Crotona Park), Bronx
Cost: Free

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saltwater Fishing
10:00 a.m.; 12:00 p.m.
Mastering any new skill requires practice and patience. Fishing programs help develop these...
Location: Ocean Breeze Pier, Seaview Avenue and Father Capodanno Boulevard (in Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach), Staten Island
Cost: Free

Nature Exploration (light)
2:00 p.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the...
Location: Pelham Bay Ranger Station (in Pelham Bay Park), Bronx
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, September 16, 2011:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Sep. 16, 2011
* NYNY1109.16

- Birds mentioned

MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD+
BLACK-NECKED STILT+
SOOTY TERN+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Blue-winged Teal
Cory's Shearwater
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
BROWN PELICAN
Great Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Broad-winged Hawk
American Golden-Plover
Marbled Godwit
Western Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER
Wilson's Phalarope
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Parasitic Jaeger
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Philadelphia Vireo
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Cape May Warbler
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER
CONNECTICUT WARBLER
Mourning Warbler
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT
LARK SPARROW
Blue Grosbeak
DICKCISSEL

- 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, September 16th 2011 at 8pm. The highlights of today's tape are SOOTY TERN, MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD, BROWN PELICAN, BLACK-NECKED STILT, BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER and such landbirds as CONNECTICUT WARBLER, PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, DICKCISSEL and LARK SPARROW.

It was a week of fairly low activity until today but some decent variety did feature 2 tardy storm related occurrences. A SOOTY TERN found deceased last Sunday up on the bluff at Camp Hero in Montauk and a female type MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD reported flying over Pleasantville in mid Westchester County at midday on Tuesday. The latter has not otherwise been encountered.

Another species noted in decent numbers after Hurricane Irene was BROWN PELICAN. At least one was still present last weekend seen Sunday around the entrance to Three Mile Harbor north of East Hampton and not unexpectedly one was seen moving south past Robert Moses State Park today leaving on the cold front. Another perhaps storm related bird was a BLACK-NECKED STILT spotted Sunday morning at Gerritsen Creek in Marine Park Brooklyn and last seen flying west with other shorebirds.

In Central Park a LARK SPARROW found Tuesday near the Great Hill at the north end of the park was still present today just east of the Great Hill. As part of today's good flight Central Park also produced 2 OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS and about 22 species of warblers including CAPE MAY WARBLER, MOURNING WARBLER and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT these followed a PROTHONOTARY WARBLER seen Thursday and a DICKCISSEL at the north end last Sunday.

Another YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT was also in Bryant Park today. A second PROTHONOTARY WARBLER was in Brooklyn's Prospect Park on Thursday. Also in today's flight CONNECTICUT WARBLER and LARK SPARROW were reported from Fort Tilden.

Three LARK SPARROWS appeared near the Coast Guard Station at Jones Beach West End and another moved by the Fire Island hawkwatch site at Robert Moses State Park. Also found at Moses today were YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH and BLUE GROSBEAK near parking field 2 and 3 BLUE GROSBEAKS were at Sunken Meadow State Park where a PHILADELPHIA VIREO had been seen on Wednesday.

Other good landbirds seen earlier in the week included a CONNECTICUT WARBLER at the College of Staten Island on Tuesday and DICKCISSEL and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT at Floyd Bennett Field last Saturday. Another DICKCISSEL was at Jones Beach West End last Sunday along with a MARBLED GODWIT and the day before at Robert Moses State Park birds featured included 6 BLUE-WINGED TEAL, 2 CORY'S SHEARWATERS, WILSON'S STORM-PETREL, AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, 3 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS at Democrat Point, CASPIAN TERN, PARASITIC JAEGER and DICKCISSEL. A few PHILADELPHIA VIREOS have also been noted and a GULL-BILLED TERN was at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn on Monday.

At Heckscher State Park 1 or 2 WILSON'S PHALAROPES were present around pools at field 7 from Monday to at least Thursday evening with a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER there Tuesday and Wednesday and other shorebirds there including STILT SANDPIPER and WESTERN SANDPIPER.

Moving east on Long Island there were still 5 MARBLED GODWITS and a CASPIAN TERN at Cupsogue County Park in West Hampton Dunes Sunday when 3 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS were on fields off Eastport Manorville Road west of Route 51. A BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER was also on the Deep Hollow Ranch pastures in Montauk on Saturday. Continued high numbers of BLACK TERNS in the Montauk area last Sunday amounted to 673 counted in the Napeague Harbor area with another 85 in Three Mile Harbor. Montauk Harbor on Sunday featured 4 GREAT CORMORANTS and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. What is believed to be a GLAUCOUS GULL has been around the Patchogue Harbor jetties recently.

With the weather changeover today and good northwest winds blowing a fine movement of hawks, especially BROAD-WINGED HAWKS and BALD EAGLES, took place locally. As the hawk migration progresses a visit to one of several hawk observation sites in the area can be quite exciting. Local sites include Fire Island at the eastern end of Robert Moses State Park, Hook Mountain in Rockland County, Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch at the Butler Sanctuary in Bedford, Quaker Ridge Hawkwatch at the Greenwich Audubon Center in northwestern Greenwich and Mount Peter in Warwick in Orange County.

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

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday's Foto

On a recent trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden I spotted this aquatic Mosaic Plant at the north end of the Lily Ponds. The interlocking and repeating patterns of leaf and root shapes struck me as being very fractal-like.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Treehugger Tuesday

The Guardian just published a story about the melting arctic sea ice, which is now "melting at its fastest pace in almost 40 years". According to the article:

"Arctic sea ice has melted to a level not recorded since satellite observations started in 1972 – and almost certainly not experienced for at least 8,000 years, say polar scientists.

Daily satellite sea-ice maps released by Bremen university physicists show that with a week's more melt expected this year, the floating ice in the Arctic covered an area of 4.24 million square kilometres on 8 September. The previous one-day minimum was 4.27m sq km on 17 September 2007."

Read the entire piece here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of September 17th - September 18th, 2011:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, September 17, 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.

Sunday, September 18, 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

**********

Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club
Saturday, September 17, 2011, 1pm – 5pm
Canoe on Gowanus Canal
Bring a friend for a self-guided Canoe trip sponsored by the Gowanus Dredgers to raise awareness of Harbor Issues www.gowanuscanal.org
Unless otherwise noted, Gowanus canoeing events depart from 2nd St. near Bond St.
Directions to 2nd St. Canal Launch Site: Take the F Line or G Line to Carroll Street - exit to front of Bklyn-bound train and walk three blocks down 2nd Street to the Canal (away from Smith St). For a calender of walk-up canoeing events at each location Click Here

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, September 17, 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, September 18, 2011
Greenwood Cemetery
Meet 8:15 am at main gate building 25th St and 5th Ave
Trip Leader: Ed Crowne
Focus: Migration peak autumn passerines

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Staten Island Sites
Leader: Howard Fischer
Registrar: Karen Asakawa (avocet501 [AT] gmail.com)
Registration opens Monday 9/5. Ride: $20.

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, September 17, 2011, 7:30am – 10:30am
StarrTrips in Central Park
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, September 17, 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.

Saturday, September 17, 2011, 2pm – 4pm
Explore the Bronx River by Rowboat
Guide: Chrissy Word With Rocking the Boat Launch from Hunts Point Riverside Park and explore the Bronx River aboard a hand-built wooden boat, led by experienced rowers. The Bronx River is the city’s only true river and hosts an abundance of wildlife, including herons and egrets, osprey, and belted kingfishers. Visit restoration sites and learn about the Bronx River eco-system, as well as its social and cultural history. Rowing optional! Limited to 20. $35 for adults, $25 for ages 18 and under. Click here to register!

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, September 17, 2011

Birding
8:00 a.m. & 5:00 p.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Marine Park, Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Intermediate Canoeing
11:00 a.m. & 4:00 p.m.
Few truly unique experiences compare with being on the open water in New York City. The...
Location: Inwood Hill Nature Center (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free

Birding
11:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Lafayette and Metcalf Avenues (in Soundview Park), Bronx
Cost: Free

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Birding
10:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Belvedere Castle (in Central Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free

Basic Canoeing
11:00 a.m. & 2:00 p.m.
Few truly unique experiences compare with being on the open water in New York City. The...
Location: Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Birding
11:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Springfield Lane and 147th Avenue (in Idlewild Park), Queens
Cost: Free

Nature Exploration (moderate)
11:00 a.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the...
Location: Bloomingdale Park Playground (in Bloomingdale Park), Staten Island
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, September 9, 2011:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Sep 9, 2011
* NYNY1109.09

- Birds Mentioned:

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN+
BROWN PELICAN
WHITE IBIS+
American Golden-Plover
Whimbrel
Hudsonian Godwit
Marbled Godwit
White-rumped Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Red-necked Phalarope [Orange County]
Red Phalarope [Orange County]
Lesser Black-backed Gull
BRIDLED TERN+
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
SANDWICH TERN+
Red-headed Woodpecker
NORTHERN WHEATEAR+
Gray-cheeked Thrush
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
LARK SPARROW
DICKCISSEL
Purple Finch

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
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, September 9th, at 8:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are NORTHERN WHEATEAR, WHITE IBIS, BRIDLED TERN, SANDWICH TERN, BROWN PELICAN, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, many shorebirds, DICKCISSEL, and CLAY-COLORED and LARK SPARROWS.

Though not of hurricane caliber but still an exciting week regionally, quite pleasing was the fairly accommodating NORTHERN WHEATEAR, found Tuesday by the Croton train station in Westchester County and still present there through Thursday, but we have no reports from today. The bird was initially near the boat launch area at the south end of the Croton station parking lot, but spent much time along the railroad tracks on the other side of the chain-linked fence.

A couple of WHITE IBIS were seen during the week: an immature found last Friday off Bridge Lane in Sagoponack was present through Sunday, and an adult was spotted flying east Tuesday along Dune Road, west of Shinnecock Inlet near Triton Lane.

A holdover from Hurricane Irene was an immature BRIDLED TERN found deceased as it floated in Montauk Harbor last Sunday.

A few live SANDWICH TERNS do continue, with two at the east end of Shinnecock Bay Saturday, one at Cupsogue County Park Sunday, and one on the Mecox flats on Monday.

A few BROWN PELICANS continue to be seen on Long Island: the immature, often on the Montauk Harbor jetties, was present to Monday, when three were spotted flying east past Sagg Pond in Bridgehampton. Another was on the bar at Shinnecock Inlet last Saturday, this followed by one flying over Cupsogue County Park in West Hampton Dunes on Sunday.

Two AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, probably present at Jamaica Bay since September 1st or earlier, were seen in flight Saturday, from the subway east of the East Pond Sunday, and then on Monday from a boat in the bay, east of the subway line and the East Pond. The birds were feeding along the bay edge, in the area approximately even with the midpoint of the East Pond, thus making it difficult for land-bound birders to see. A possibility might be to walk around from the north end at the Broad Channel Bridge parking lot.

An HUDSONIAN GODWIT was in the bay by the parking lot there on Monday. Other godwits have included singles of HUDSONIAN GODWIT and MARBLED GODWIT with three CASPIAN TERNS at Jones Beach West End today; two MARBLED at Shinnecock Satuday, and up to 11 MARBLEDS still at Cupsogue on Sunday.

Two WHIMBRELS were on the Route 105 fields in Centerport Monday.

BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS have featured one at Cupsogue briefly on Sunday, two on Eastport Manor Road with an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER Sunday, and one at Heckscher County Park to Tuesday, with WHIMBREL and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL also at Heckscher Monday, and AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER there Tuesday. A WHIMBREL plus two CASPIAN TERNS and two LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were at Robert Moses State Park Wednesday.

Three AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS were at the Jones Beach West End #2 parking lot on Wednesday.

A BAIRD'S SANDPIPER was at Mecox Bay Sunday and Monday.

Among CASPIAN TERNS, five were at Cupsogue Saturday, and one or two have been at Mecox.

An amazing 631 BLACK TERNS were counted Sunday afternoon between Accabonac Harbor Inlet and Napeague Harbor.

Among the land birds, an adult RED-HEADED WOODPECKER has been present in Central Park since Wednesday, and a DICKCISSEL as well as a PURPLE FINCH flew by Robert Moses State Park this morning.

A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was spotted at the Pike's Beach birding platform last Sunday, and single LARK SPARROWS were found at Conference House Park on Staten Island on Monday and at the Jones Beach West End Nature Center on Thursday.

GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH was identified at Willowbrook Park on Staten Island today.

A bonanza of shorebirds up in the Black Dirt Region of Orange County recently has featured a RED PHALAROPE Wednesday and Thursday, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE Thursday, WHIMBREL, and an estimated 250 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS.

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, September 09, 2011

Friday's Foto

I haven't spent as much time looking for butterflies this season as I would have liked to. Scanning some of the ornamental gardens of Green-Wood Cemetery recently I did spot this sharp American Lady. Very similar to the Painted Lady, its cobweb-like pattern on the underside of the hindwing is, perhaps, even more beautiful than the upperwing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Treehugger Tuesday

The following article was just published on Gizmodo. I just read several other articles recently on the return to using cork in wine production, as opposed to screw caps or plastic. Which is great because cork is the most green, renewable industry ever! And it's also good for bird life.

Why Cork Is the Most Amazing Material in the World to Keep Your Wine Tasty

There's a reason the screw cap hasn't dominated the wine stopper industry: Cork still kicks the ass of stamped aluminum for the good stuff-and not just for nostalgia's sake. This is what keeps our evening libations from turning sour.

Cork is an unbeatable bottle stopper. It's compressed by machines, jabbed by wine keys, and assaulted by liquids, only to bounce back, close up the gaps, and continue to keep leftover wine at bay.

Cork's been doing the same job well for thousands of years. Ceramics with cork tops were tucked into Egyptian tombs, and the Greeks shoved the spongy wood in containers filled with wine and olive oil. But it wasn't until Dom Pérignon-perhaps you've heard of him-developed the process for Champagne production in the 18th century that the cork stopper got its big boozy break. At the time, French sparkling wines were plugged by plain ol' wooden pegs wrapped with olive oil-soaked hemp. This setup blew. No, really. The gas in wine kept popping the slick stoppers out. Without a proper stopper, wine was losing its sparkle and the appeal of Champagne was falling flat. So as a way to seal his beverage-and ultimately his legacy—Pérignon started a series of experiments to find a better way. When he landed upon cork, it wasn't just the bubbly producers that appreciated a more perfect fitting: The entire wine industry ended up adopting it up as the stopple standard.

Cork performs extremely well under pressure. With some nudging, cork can compress to half its size, without bulging out the other side or increasing its length. Ok, so there are a lot of things that can do that if you push them hard enough, but the key here is cork's resilience. Cork's insides look like a honeycomb filled with gas-89.7 percent gas, in fact-which makes it both light and buoyant. And the cells that make up the honeycomb are insanely stretchy. So the cells can stand to be squeezed tight—like by, say, the skinny neck of a wine bottle.

But cork doesn't collapse under the abuse. Although the gas in the cells is compressed and loses volume, it is always pushing back, which allows it to seal cabernets and champagnes.

While stuck, liquid's constant lapping doesn't cause the cork to flinch. This wine stopping power is due to a coating made of a complex mixture of fatty acids and heavy organic alcohols called suberin inside the cork's cell walls. The suberin, plus tannins and a scarcity of albumenoids, leave it decay resistant and unfazed by moisture. In fact, the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization says that pieces of cork can stay submerged in liquid for centuries without rotting. Taken all together, these things make cork maybe the best seal in existence.

Here's another way cork gives other caps the finger: If you're keeping wine in a cellar for a long time, a little bit of air does a body good. The reason is that wine contains a little bit of sulfur dioxide. But "without oxygen, that sulfur disintegrates and creates a smell like a struck match," says Vance Rose of cork producer Amorim Cork America. You do not want to swirl that around in your cup and sniff it. Cork adds air naturally by releasing a wee bit of its stored gas, maybe 3-4 milligrams. Screw caps are either hermetically sealed, leaving bottles with a potential sulfur problem, or they've been engineered to allow a little outside air in. While that little bit of air is good for the sulfur, but not good if it's sucked from a wet cardboard or musty cellar. Cork's gas release doesn't come from the outside, so it doesn't smell.

This means that when it is time to pop the top, both wine and cork come out unscathed-the wine appropriately aged and the cork looking almost like it always did. Even after years of abuse, "the cork doesn't lose any integrity in its cell structure," explains Rose. "It goes right back to its original form." The cork has always maintained this fine form so your Malbec can, too.
...Read more

Monday, September 05, 2011

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of September 10th - September 11th, 2011:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, September 10, 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.

Sunday, September 11, 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

**********

Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club
Saturday, September 10, 2011, 1pm – 5pm
Canoe on Gowanus Canal
Bring a friend for a self-guided Canoe trip sponsored by the Gowanus Dredgers to raise awareness of Harbor Issues www.gowanuscanal.org
Unless otherwise noted, Gowanus canoeing events depart from 2nd St. near Bond St.
Directions to 2nd St. Canal Launch Site: Take the F Line or G Line to Carroll Street - exit to front of Bklyn-bound train and walk three blocks down 2nd Street to the Canal (away from Smith St). For a calender of walk-up canoeing events at each location Click Here

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, September 10, 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, September 10, 2011
Prospect Park
Meet: 7:15 am at Grand Army Plaza entrance (Stranahan Statue)
Trip Leader: Tom Stephenson
Focus: Migration peak autumn passerines

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Leader & Registrar: Gil Schrank (gschrankny [AT] aol.com)
Registration opens Monday 8/29. Ride $15.

Sunday, September 11, 2011
Ft. Tilden and Breezy Pt.
Leader: Richard ZainEldeen
Registrar: Taeko Tsujimoto
Registration opens Monday 8/29. Ride: $20.

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North Shore Audubon Society
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Alley Pond Park
Meet: 8 a.m. with QCBC
Leader: Eric Miller (917-279-7530)

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, September 10, 2011, 7:30am – 10:30am
StarrTrips in Central Park
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings in Central Park, Saturday, August 20 – Saturday, October 29 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, September 10, 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.

Sunday, September 11, 2011, 8am – 11am
Fall Warblers (Class and Trip)
Where: 72nd St. and Central Park West, New York, NY
Class: Wednesday, September 7, 6:30-8:30pm Trip: Sunday, September 11, time 8-11am Instructor: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC Learn to identify the 30-plus species of warblers that visit Central Park during fall migration, and then reinforce what you’ve learned in the field. Limited to 12. $40 for package of class and trip.
Click here to register!

Sunday, September 11, 2011, 9:30am – 11:30am
Fall Birding at Wave Hill
Guide: Gabriel Willow With Wave Hill Meet at the Perkins Visitor Center. Naturalist Gabriel Willow contributes his extensive knowledge of bird species and their behaviors on these captivating walks. Wave Hill’s garden setting overlooking the Hudson River flyway provides the perfect habitat for resident and migrating birds. Ages 10 and up welcome with an adult. Reservations recommended, online at www.wavehill.org, by calling 718-549-3200 x245 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. 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

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, September 10, 2011, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Reeds Basket Willow
Discover this hidden natural park in Dongan Hills. We’ll visit the three bodies of water in the park and hike through the woodlands. Although none of the willows grown by the Reed family still exist, the woodlands and stream are still home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Meet at the Spring Street entrance in Dongan Hills.
For more information phone Clay Wollney at 718 869-6327.

Sunday, September 11, 2011, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Monarch Migration at Great Kills Park
The magnificent migration of millions of Monarchs, the species’ entire population, pushes toward the mountains of Mexico each autumn and the best place to witness this marvel of nature is along the beaches of Great Kills Park. Meet in the parking lot at the intersection of Hylan Blvd and Buffalo St. at the entrance to the park.
For more information call Cliff Hagen at (718) 313-8591.

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Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, September 10, 2011
MiniTrip Alley Pond Park
Leader: Eric Miller 917-279-7530
Meet 7:45am @ 76th Ave lot walk starts 8am
See map http://tinyurl.com/mrvzab
Birding Site Maps page https://sites.google.com/site/qcbirdclub/birding-site-maps

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, September 10, 2011

Basic Canoeing
11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Few truly unique experiences compare with being on the open water in New York City. The...
Location: Cornelia Avenue and Chester Avenue (in Wolfes Pond Park), Staten Island
Cost: Free

Nature Exploration (moderate)
11:00 a.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress.  Regardless of the...
Location: Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Hurricane Irene Redux

Cornell's eBird website has a nice write up about Hurricane Irene's avian effects. Check out "Hurricane Irene Redux".

August Birds

I never posted my July birds, mainly because I only added one new species - Gray-Hooded Gull (which I think got pretty good coverage by the media, myself and other bloggers). August was surprisingly productive, however. Last year I only added 4 species during the month of August, 2 of which were in Brooklyn. This year I added 10.

One of the things I've learned over the last couple of years is that August is a time to look for shorebirds and seabirds, so this summer I concentrated on birding the coastal habitats. All but one of last month's new species was found along the coast at either Plumb Beach or Floyd Bennett Field. As I mentioned in a previous post, Hurricane Irene proved to be a bonanza of unusual birds around New York. Two of the three new birds for my Brooklyn year, Black Tern and Caspian Tern, I did not see in 2010 and came in with the storm. I ended August with 227 species seen in Brooklyn.

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New York State total: 238
Kings County total: 227

228) Gray-hooded Gull (Coney Island, 07/30/11)
229) Seaside Sparrow (Plumb Beach, 08/13/11)
230) Piping Plover (Plumb Beach, 08/13/11)
231) Solitary Sandpiper (Plumb Beach, 08/13/11)
232) Pectoral Sandpiper (Floyd Bennett Field, 08/15/11)
233) Red-necked Phalarope (Floyd Bennett Field, 08/15/11)
234) Baird's Sandpiper (Floyd Bennett Field, 08/26/11)
235) Lesser Yellowlegs (Floyd Bennett Field, 08/26/11)
236) Black Tern (Prospect Park, 08/28/11)
237) Royal Tern (Floyd Bennett Field, 08/28/11)
238) Caspian Tern (Floyd Bennett Field, 08/28/11)
...Read more

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, September 2, 2011:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Sep 2, 2011
* NYNY1109.02

- Birds Mentioned:

BLACK-CAPPED PETREL+
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
LEACH'S STORM-PETREL+
BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETREL+
WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD+
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN+
Brown Pelican
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD+
WHITE IBIS+
American Golden-Plover
BLACK-NECKED STILT+
American Avocet
Whimbrel
Hudsonian Godwit
Marbled Godwit
Baird's Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Red-necked Phalarope
SOOTY TERN+
BRIDLED TERN+
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Royal Tern
SANDWICH TERN+
SOUTH POLAR SKUA+
Pomarine Jaeger
Parasitic Jaeger
LONG-TAILED JAEGER+
Yellow-throated Warbler
Lark Sparrow

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
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, September 2nd, at 7:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are numerous, thanks to Hurricane Irene.

Though the storm produced an unfortunate amount of inconvenience and destruction for many, from a birding standpoint one can only say "WOW!!". It was unprecedented in the number and variety of displaced birds that were concentrated in the New York area, these occurring almost entirely during the storm's passage on Sunday and almost all gone by Monday.

Top prize probably goes to WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD, with at least five or six in New York. What may have been the same adult was seen over the Hudson River from W.70th Street in Manhattan, and then photographed off W.23rd Street. An immature was also reported moving south from W.180th Street where it was first spotted. Another adult was nicely photographed moving west over Point Lookout in the direction of where one was found deceased on Rockaway Beach. Another dead Tropicbird on the North Fork in East Marion is on its way to the American Museum of Natural History for positive identification. Most unexpected among these sightings was a White-tailed found way up the Hudson River in Stephentown, Rensselaer County, this bird unfortunately passing away at a rehabilitator's.

Also up the Hudson River was the storm's only MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD, a female-type seen in the town of Hudson, Columbia County, on Sunday.

Another superlative bird was a BLACK-CAPPED PETREL, spotted and photographed Sunday afternoon as it soared back and forth over Mecox Bay. Though it seemed to settle in on the Bay, it was not seen Monday morning.

Unlike the above, both BRIDLED TERNS and SOOTY TERNS were quite widespread along coastal areas, providing good opportunities for birders venturing out and able to find shore vantage points to see and appreciate the identification pitfalls in separating these two species. An incomplete tally shows about 56 BRIDLED and 25 SOOTY TERNS ranging from the Hudson River up to the Tappan Zee Bridge, along the Brooklyn shoreline, into western Long Island Sound, and around Long Island inlets from Jones out to Montauk -- an unprecedented showing for these two species.

SANDWICH TERNS were also quite widespread, with many remaining Monday, and a few later, in tern and gull gatherings. While the Sootys had pulled out altogether by Monday, only two Bridleds were seen early Monday off Brooklyn.

BLACK TERNS were abundant, as were ROYAL TERNS, and some GULL-BILLED TERNS and CASPIAN TERNS were also present.

Storm-Petrels were also noted, with WILSON'S STORM-PETREL the most common, and at least 19 LEACH'S STORM-PETREL also present, from the Hudson River in Brooklyn to Jones Beach and way out to Montauk. Also reported were three BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETRELS from Jones Beach West End, the Hudson River, and Long Island Sound, this a difficult identification separation from Leach's Storm-Petrel under the given viewing conditions.

Four SOUTH POLAR SKUAS were seen: one sitting in the Jones Beach West End #2 parking lot; one rescued on a Sea Cliff Beach and released the next morning; and two flying together over Hook Pond in East Hampton.

Jaegers featured an immature LONG-TAILED JAEGER at Playland Park in Rye, a POMARINE JAEGER in Hook Pond, and at least 11 PARASITIC JAEGERS.

Shearwater numbers were unexpectedly low, given the above, but over 200 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES were reported during the storm, moving by various points, usually in flocks.

Other Sunday oddities featured a BLACK-NECKED STILT in Sleepy Hollow, Westchester County; an AMERICAN AVOCET at Jones Beach West End, and a BROWN PELICAN on Lake Montauk. Speaking of pelicans, two Browns were still at Lake Montauk on the east jetty today, and other singles during the week were at Patchogue Monday, at Nickerson Beach and at Southampton Tuesday, at Jones Beach West End and at Tiana Beach (Dune Road, Westhampton) Wednesday, and at Great Gull Island Monday and today, while an AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN was reported in East Hampton Thursday.

This morning an immature WHITE IBIS was found at Sagaponack on a field south of Bridge Lane on the east side of the bridge. It was still there in the late afternoon, but had vanished by early evening.

Among the shorebirds, up to 14 MARBLED GODWITS have been at Cupsogue, with others about, and the peak for HUDSONIAN GODWIT was ten at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn on Sunday. Some WHIMBREL continue, and BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER, BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, and AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER are currently being found at appropriate locations.

The only passerines we have time to mention are a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER found Monday at the Roosevelt Third House County Park in Montauk, and a LARK SPARROW at Robert Moses State Park, East End, on Monday.

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 ~
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