Monday, October 31, 2011

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of November 5th - November 6th, 2011:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, November 5, 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, November 6, 2011, 10 a.m.
Early Morning Bird Walk: Feathered Friends
Meet the amazing birds of Prospect Park on this expert-guided walk. Start your Sunday morning surrounded by nature!
Free

Discover Tour
Every 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, November 5, 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, November 6th, 2011
Prospect Park
Meet 8am at Bartel Pritchard Square park entrance
Meeting spot image: http://tinyurl.com/BPProspect
Trip Leader: Ed Crowne
Focus: early winter passerines, late fall stragglers, raptors, freshwater waterfowl

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Leader: Joe DiCostanzo
Registrar: Pearl Broder (pbroder3 [AT] nyc.rr.com)
Registration opens Monday 10/24.
Ride: $15.

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, November 5, 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.

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, November 5, 2011, 10 a.m. to 12 noon
Conference House Beach
Past and present blend in the Conference House park where history stretches back thousands of years with the seasonal occupation of the Lenape and hundreds of years with the habitation of the Dutch and English. We’ll observe evidence of the human occupation of the area, observe local geology and discover what the natural and unnatural debris at the high tide line has to reveal. Meet at the parking lot at the end of Hylan Blvd. on the left.
For more information phone Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, November 6, 2011, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Crooke’s Point, Forum Follow-up
Join local naturalist, Paul Lederer, for an ecological study and discussion on the impact of the proposed “restoration” of Crooke’s Point, one of Staten Island’s finest migratory stopover sites. Park in the lot closest to the bathhouse nearest Crooke’s Point in Great Kills Park.
For more information call Cliff Hagen at 718-313-8591.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, November 5, 2011

Birding
8:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Salt Marsh Nature Center (in Marine Park), Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Birding
10:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Albert H. Mauro Playground (in Flushing Meadows Corona Park), Queens
Cost: Free

Nature Exploration
1:00 p.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the...
Location: Grand Army Plaza Arch (in Grand Army Plaza), Brooklyn
Cost: Free

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fitness Hike
11:00 a.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the...
Location: Split Rock Golf House (in Pelham Bay Park), Bronx
Cost: Free

Nature Photography: Fall Foliage
1:00 p.m.
It has been said that art takes nature as its model. The beauty of nature has inspired many...
Location: Prospect Park Picnic House (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, October 28, 2011:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Oct 28, 2011
* NYNY1110.28

- Birds Mentioned:

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER+
YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
BROWN PELICAN
American Golden-Plover
HUDSONIAN GODWIT
Marbled Godwit
Royal Tern
Red-headed Woodpecker
American Pipit
Orange-crowned Warbler
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER
Yellow-breasted Chat
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Vesper Sparrow
LARK SPARROW
Nelson's Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Snow Bunting
Dickcissel
Rusty Blackbird


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, October 28th, at 7:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER, BROWN PELICANS, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, and LARK and CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS.

Another good October flycatcher, this time an immature SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER, appeared at Captree State Park. Seen but not publicized last Friday, the flycatcher was enjoyed by many on Saturday once word got out. The bird frequented the swale, just north of the upper parking lot on the south side of Captree. Like most local scissor-tails, though, the bird's stay was brief, and it was not seen on Sunday.

Also at Captree, the immature YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD, traveling mostly in a Brown-headed Cowbird flock, was located Saturday along the Robert Moses Causeway cloverleafs around Ocean Parkway and just north of there, but it too could not be relocated on Sunday. An immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was spotted in Robert Moses State Park on Sunday.

At Jones Beach West End, shorebirds gathered at the Coast Guard bar on Saturday included an immature HUDSONIAN GODWIT and AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, with two MARBLED GODWITS reported there Sunday along with a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW.

A good collection of birds at Fort Tilden last Saturday included LARK SPARROW, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, VESPER SPARROW, LINCOLN'S SPARROW and a DICKCISSEL, and about 45 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were among the early morning migrants moving westward.

Floyd Bennett Field on Saturday also produced a CLAY-COLORED and two VESPER SPARROWS, one of the Vespers lingering to Monday.

Among the more common migrants moving recently along the coast have been good numbers of AMERICAN PIPITS, and as the season turns over, a few SNOW BUNTINGS are arriving.

Plumb Beach in Brooklyn produced a decent number of NELSON'S SPARROWS and another CLAY-COLORED on Sunday. Nelson's have been outnumbering Saltmarsh Sparrows in many coastal marshes recently. This is typically the time when Nelson's moves through, mostly the coastal subvirgatus race, while many of the Saltmarsh have already headed south. Both though, as well as the two other races of Nelson's, could be present, so decent views are needed to determine which you are looking at.

We also hope observers are looking closely at their Clay-colored Sparrows to rule out some very similar-looking immature Chipping Sparrows. Pay close attention to the loral area: an unmarked buffy in Clay-colored and with a dark loral line in Chipping.

Another nice surprise was a male PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, seen for a short time Saturday in a dump at Sunken Meadow State Park.

An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was reported from Prospect Park in Brooklyn Sunday.

Out east, an immature BROWN PELICAN, still hanging around the Montauk Harbor Inlet, was on the west jetty last Sunday, and east of the east jetty on the beach on Tuesday.

Another BROWN PELICAN was spotted Saturday on the ocean moving east past Mecox.

Eight ROYAL TERNS were at Mecox Sunday as they continue along the coast.

The GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was still present Tuesday with Canadas on the Deep Hollow Ranch pastures on the south side of Route 27, east of the town of Montauk.

A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was noted at Montauk Point on Tuesday.

**Late additions from the Transcriber**:

**A YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT has been present in Bryant Park, midtown Manhattan, since Wednesday.

**An immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER continues in Central Park, north of the Hallet Sanctuary.

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, October 28, 2011

Last Weekend's Birds

When my interest in birds began, about 20 years ago, my observations were usually limited to what I could find around my local park. I didn't really think about seasons or environments. Over time, I started to expand my explorations to other patches of green in the boroughs. Eventually, I learned that there are seasonal movements of bird families associated with specific habitats. My decisions on where to bird have become less random and more date specific. It is for that reason that I decided to spend last weekend in the open, grass and scrub habitats of Calvert Vaux Park (aka Dreier-Offerman Park) and Floyd Bennett Field.

Friday and Saturday evening weather reports called for north-northwest winds, so Heydi and I planned on being out in the field by sunrise. I hoped to observe flocks of birds descending after a long night's flight.

As the sun came up at Calvert Vaux Park, the most obvious overnight change was the arrival of lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers. These black, white and yellow songbirds were literally everywhere. At one point we watched a flock of several dozen take off from the western tip of the park peninsula and fly across Gravesend Bay towards Norton Point.

Calvert Vaux Park is primarily open meadows surrounded by a narrow, scrubby border dominated by mugwort, knotweed, Autumn Olive shrubs, sumac and ailanthus trees (there's probably some native species in there, as well). As we walked the perimeter of the fields we observed mixed flocks of Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Common Yellowthroat, Blackpoll Warbler, Palm Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco feeding on grass seeds and smartweed at the edge of the border. The nervous, hungry birds would constantly flush, darting for cover in the tangled, weedy border. Patrolling kestrels, Cooper's Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks kept the small birds on edge.

I spotted this dead Sora rail in the grass near the western end of the park. These small rails are not usually found in grassland habitats, but rather, concealed in the thickets of marshes. They are more often heard than seen. This robin-sized bird travels as far as South America from northern Canada, sometimes crossing the Gulf of Mexico. I couldn't see any outward signs of trauma on the bird and perhaps it just succumb to the harshness of long distance travel. Here's a photo of a very-much-alive Sora that stopped off in Prospect Park several years ago:


We continued to see hundreds of small songbirds flying into and out of Calvert Vaux Park during the early morning hours. One unexpected surprise was the arrival of several Eastern Meadowlarks. Across the water, along the sandy shore of Coney Island Creek Park was a flock of 125 Black Skimmers. Fisherman walking down the beach would occasionally flush the flock. The flying mass of bold black and white birds would twist and turn low above the water before coming back to rest where they started after the fisherman passed.

At Floyd Bennett Field we mostly explored the open grass at the cricket field, as well as, the weedy berms that surround it. We also spent time scouring the plots at the community gardens. A diversity of sparrow species were seen throughout Floyd Bennett with a single Vesper Sparrow being the highlight. An abundance of Yellow-rumped Warblers, at first amusing, eventually became annoying. Each time I spotted bird movement I would jerk my binoculars to my eyes only to find that it was yet another yellow-rump. One nice warbler discovery at the community garden was an Orange-crowned. Neither of us had seen one yet this year.

A frequently overlooked species around the city during migration is the American Pipit. This streaky, sparrow-like birds of open country breeds in arctic and alpine tundra. Many overwinter as far south as Central America. They can be heard flying overhead at this time of year making a high-pitched ""pip-it, pip-it" call. The best place to find them around Brooklyn is Floyd Bennett Field as they feed in dry, stubbly grass fields. Over the weekend we spotted approximately 50 of them on the cricket field. Snow Buntings and Horned Larks should be arriving soon.


**********

Date Range: Oct 22, 2011 - Oct 23, 2011
Locations: Dreier-Offerman Park and Floyd Bennett Field
Number of Species: 68

Brant
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Osprey
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Wilson's Snipe
Black Skimmer
Belted Kingfisher
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Brown Creeper
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
AMERICAN PIPIT
Cedar Waxwing

Tennessee Warbler
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Blackpoll Warbler
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler

Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
VESPER SPARROW
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco

DICKCISSEL
BOBOLINK
Red-winged Blackbird
EASTERN MEADOWLARK
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow
...Read more

Friday's Foto

A bird of farms and grasslands, Eastern Meadowlarks are currently on the move through New York City towards their wintering grounds. Some will call NYC their winter home as several are usually reported around Brooklyn during the annual Christmas Bird Count. I spotted this individual recently on the baseball fields in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Treehugger Tuesday

Duckponics

The following video is from "EcoFilms Australia":

"Aleece Landis better know as TCLynx on various aquaponics forums apart from running fish and vegetable systems decided to apply her knowledge of aquaponics to cleaning the water for her growing menagerie of chickens and ducks by running the fowled water in her “duck pond” through her gravel growbeds and raise a few plants at the same time."

"The ducks also get a bonus. They can nibble the leaves through the netting that surrounds each grow-bed."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of October 29th - October 30th, 2011:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, October 29, 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 30, 2011, 8 a.m.
Discover Tour
Every 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, October 29, 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, October 29, 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 29th, 2011
Fall along the Rockaway Inlet
Trip Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: Raptors, seabird flights along the shore, early winter passerines and late stragglers in various locales
Car pool fee: $12.00
Registrar: Peter Dorosh, Email Prosbird [AT] aol.com or TEXT Message 347-622-3559
Registration period: Oct 18th-Oct 27th

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New York City Audubon Society
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, October 29, 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, October 29, 2011, 9am – 1pm
Sparrow ID Workshop (Field Trip)
Instructor: Gabriel Willow Sparrows are one of the most challenging groups of birds to identify, yet beautiful and fascinating once they can be distinguished. Learn to identify those LBJs (little brown jobs) by learning behavior, field marks, and songs. Seven sparrow species were seen on last year's field trip, including field, swamp, savannah, white-crowned, and Lincoln's. Limited to 13. $45 for package of class and trip. ***Note: Registration is currently open to NYC Audubon contributing members only, and will open to non-members on August 19, 2011. (If you are interested in becoming a contributing member and supporting NYC Audubon's bird conservation work, please contact Membership Coordinator Emily Loffredo at (212) 691-7483.)
Click here to register

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, October 29, 2011, 9:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Protectors’ 10 Mile Greenbelt Walk
Colors should be at peak with some contrasting greens. Wear comfortable boots and long pants. Ten moderate miles in all weather. Park and meet at the end of Staten Island Boulevard, a block off Ocean Terrace, just above the Petrides Campus. Bring lunch and adequate beverage.
For more information call Dominick Durso at 917-478-7607, or Don Recklies at 718-768-9036.

Sunday, October 30, 2011, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Crooke’s Point
Learn about the problem first hand with a site tour and discussion with Cliff Hagen. See for yourself the rich biodiversity of Crooke’s Point and the importance the site plays in the migration of birds, butterflies and dragonflies. Participants are then encouraged to attend the November 2 Forum and hear from the experts and ask questions. Park in the lot closest to the bathhouse nearest Crooke’s Point in Great Kills Park.
For more information call Cliff Hagen at 718-313-8591.

Sunday, October 30, 2011, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Mount Loretto Unique Area
Sparrows abound this time of year in the fields of Mount Loretto. Likewise, the ponds and shoreline are busy with the escapades of migrating waterfowl. And, overhead, the hawk migration is in full swing. Join Howie Fischer to enjoy this birding bonanza. Meet in the parking lot across Hylan Boulevard from the CYO Center.
For more information call Howie Fischer at 718-981-4002.

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Urban Park Rangers
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Nature Exploration: Halloween Hike
11:00 a.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the...
Location: Blue Heron Nature Center, Staten Island
Cost: Free

Insect Exploration
1:00 p.m.
Learn the myths and facts about creepy crawly creatures...
Location: Fort Greene Park Visitor Center (in Fort Greene Park), Brooklyn
Cost: Free
...Read more

Saturday, October 22, 2011

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, October 21, 2011:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Oct. 21, 2011
* NYNY1110.21

- Birds mentioned

GRAY KINGBIRD+
YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
Cackling Goose
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
American Golden-Plover
Piping Plover
Marbled Godwit
Red Knot
Western Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Forster's Tern
Royal Tern
PARASITIC JAEGER
WESTERN KINGBIRD
Common Raven
Cape May Warbler
Connecticut Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Grasshopper Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
BLUE GROSBEAK
DICKCISSEL
Rusty Blackbird

- 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, October 21st 2011 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are GRAY KINGBIRD, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD, WESTERN KINGBIRD, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, PARASITIC JAEGER, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, BLUE GROSBEAK and DICKCISSEL.

Last Saturday morning at Jones Beach West End a GRAY KINGBIRD was initially spotted and photographed near the Coast Guard Station at about 9:45am. It was subsequently seen independently a half an hour later and then observed flying east out of sight propelled by strong southwest winds. The Kingbird was searched for throughout the weekend to no avail. The prolonged, distressingly intense winds, hindered the search and certainly discouraged the Kingbird from sitting up prominently.

A WESTERN KINGBIRD was also reported at West End shortly after the Gray Kingbird sightings but it too quickly disappeared. Also at Jones Beach West End last weekend 3 MARBLED GODWITS were seen Saturday on the Coast Guard bar at high tide and then across the inlet at low tide where 2 were also noted Sunday. The CLAY-COLORED SPARROW spent the weekend at the Coast Guard Station fence line and was still there Tuesday. A male HOODED WARBLER put in a brief appearance in the roadway median Saturday. On Thursday a nice high tide gathering of shorebirds on the West End 2 parking lot featured 4 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, a WESTERN SANDPIPER and several RED KNOT and also present were 2 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS with another LESSER BLACK-BACKED at Jones Beach field 6. Single lingering ROYAL TERN and many FORSTER'S TERNS plus some arriving scoters (WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, SURF SCOTER & BLACK SCOTER) were also around Jones Inlet.

At Zach's Bay next to Jones Beach field 6 on Saturday a decent collection of birds featured a DICKCISSEL with House Sparrows near the underpass while the open areas on the bay side provided a GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT and 2 CAPE MAY WARBLERS feeding on the ground. Sunday a second DICKCISSEL was also found there.

Also on Sunday 2 CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS joined a feeding sparrow flock at Gilgo and 2 more were noted at Robert Moses State Park.

On Wednesday an immature male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD was spotted at Captree State Park feeding along with some Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and Starlings near the park entrance booth or around the boat launch parking area in the northwestern section of the park. The Yellow-headed was again seen in the same area Thursday and today. A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was also at Captree Thursday.

Birds found at Sunken Meadow State Park last Sunday included DICKCISSEL, LINCOLN'S SPARROW and 2 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS the latter just beginning to appear locally.

A COMMON RAVEN was heard Saturday near the stacks in Northport.

Out in the Montauk area the GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE continued at Deep Hollow Ranch at least through Tuesday appearing with Canadas in the pastures on the south side of Route 27 about halfway between the town of Montauk and Montauk Point. A STILT SANDPIPER was also on these fields last Saturday and last Friday 2 PARASITIC JAEGERS were spotted off the point in a Laughing Gull and tern gathering.

Also on Saturday a BLUE GROSBEAK was seen along Town Lane in Amagansett while Sunday produced single LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS at Napeague, Sagg Pond and Mecox the latter also featuring a lingering PIPING PLOVER.

CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was found at Hither Hills State Park on Monday.

In Westchester County reports from Marshlands Conservancy in Rye last Monday included a CACKLING GOOSE flying by in a Canada flock and a CONNECTICUT WARBLER.

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, October 21, 2011

Friday's Foto

Palm Warblers, unlike most other warblers, spend much of their time foraging on the ground. Right now they are a common Fall migrant around NYC and can sometimes be seen associating with sparrows as they feed in grassy habitats, in fact, some very dull individuals can easily be mistaken for a sparrow. Look for their perpetually bobbing tail to help identify them.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Red-tailed Rescue

I just came across this story and HAD to post it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Raptor Food

While walking in Green-Wood Cemetery on Sunday I came across a fairly large mammal skull. Between the resident Red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls, as well as, migratory raptors that pass through the area or overwinter here it was no shock to find the remnants of a predator's meal. What was surprising to me was the size of this meal. I've photographed squirrel skulls at the base of the owl roosts, but what I ascertained to be a raccoon skull is more than twice the size of its gray, furry relative. I don't think a Great Horned Owl could swallow a raccoon whole, so maybe it was taken by a Red-tailed Hawk. What is curious is that there were no signs of any other raccoon bones near the skull and it was along a path where I frequently walk. Another possibility is that the animal was old, expired in a tree and the wind just dislodged part of it. I assume it was old because of all the missing teeth.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Super Shorebird

On September 28th I wrote about a banded Red Knot that I spotted at Brooklyn's Dead Horse Bay. I entered the banded bird information into an online form which was then forwarded to the appropriate organization. Last week I received an email from Patricia M. González a biologist with Global Flyway Network South America in Argentina requesting more information about the color and position of the bands. After sending her my digi-scoped images of the shorebird she sent me the following, amazing letter:

Hi Rob,


These pictures are very helpful, the flag is old and the yellow band is a big spiral one, now I am able to tell you that this bird was banded in Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina in one of the catches we had in November 2001. In that year we used the yellow spiral band to indentify juveniles, so we also know that this knot hatched in June-July 2001. This was just after a big decline of 40% of the population in Tierra del Fuego so its parents were survivors. Looking at the plumage and bill it seems to me it is a male (delayed moult into basic plumage and short bill) but I cannot be sure without a molecular sexing, however the date of your observation also suggest may be a male, indeed a good one (successful male breeders migrate later because they take care of the chicks in the Arctic while females desert).


Thanks so much, your pictures were really great providing good information!


Patricia

A 10 year old bird?! I had no idea that Red Knots lived so long. The distance from the banding location in Argentina to Dead Horse Bay is approximately 6,500 miles. Add another 2,500 miles to its breeding grounds in the high arctic and this bird is flying approximately 9,000 miles twice a year. That means that the Dead Horse Bay Red Knot, in its 10 years of life, has accumulated 180,000 frequent flyer miles. This super shorebird bird is one amazing survivor.

Here's a Google Earth video I made that illustrates the flight from Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego to Dead Horse Bay:

...Read more

Treehugger Tuesday

One World One Ocean

The organization "One World One Ocean" seeks to use grassroots education and all forms of media to motivate people to protect and restore the planet's oceans. It is a huge undertaking but, as their website points out, necessary for us to survive and they are optimistic that it isn't too late to act.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Autumn Birding

I don't remember when I heard my last cicada churring, they seemed to have just gradually vanished from the soundscape. Within the last 2 weeks there has been a profound change in the status of bird species in Brooklyn telling me that Autumn has truly arrived and Winter isn't far off. Most of our summer nesting birds have headed south, as well as, the early-fall migrants.


One of my favorite books about birds and nature around New York City is by biologist Robert Arbib. His 1966 publication has likely the longest title of any book in the history of publishing (or not):

"Enjoying birds around New York City: an aid to recognizing, watching, finding, and attracting birds in New York City, Long Island, the Upstate counties of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland, and Orange, and nearby points in New Jersey and Connecticut"

Towards the end of the book is a section titled, "A Bird Watcher's Calendar For New York City And Vicinity". Each month has a short, precise paragraph that highlights that month's annual seasonal fluctuation. Here is how he describes October:

"This month brings cooler days and clear skies, and usually the first frost. The bird picture changes completely. Now the swallows, shorebirds, and herons are largely gone, and in their place come loons, cormorants, and flocks of waterfowl returning from the North. The southward hawk flight reaches its peak, with hawks over the ridges, and falcons, Osprey, and Marsh Hawk working along the beaches. This is the month for jays, flickers, late warblers, thrushes, and sparrows. Blackbirds gather in huge roosts, preparing to depart. There should be rarities, possibly a Western Tanager or a Yellow-headed Blackbird. Start keeping your feeders well stocked after the first frost."

Some of the bird species status and abundance has changed in the 45 years since this book was published, but his descriptions of the general ebb and flow of the seasons are still right on.

In recent weeks I've gone from exploring the coastal areas for shorebirds to the woods and fields of more inland spots. Grasses are going to seed just in time to feed sparrows and other seed-eaters that have arrived in the parks. My walks in Prospect Park have mostly been along the weedy edges of the Long Meadow and other grassy patches, to a pair of fenced sections of meadow that have been reseeded by the landscape management department. These spots are like the Autumn equivalent to a well stocked Winter birdfeeder and attract a lot of birds. On my first visit to a fenced off section of the baseball fields I spotted nearly a dozen Savannah Sparrows. The second time I spotted a chunky Vesper Sparrow among the flock of slender, yellow faced savannahs. Other migrating sparrows that I've seen in recent days include Chipping Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Nelson's Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow and White-crowned Sparrow.

I noticed an interesting arrangement of feeding stratum in this spot in the middle of the field. Sparrows nibbled on seeds in the grass, partially hidden from view. A few feet above them, a small flock of Eastern Phoebes used the fences to launch forays to capture moths and other insects flying just above the grass. From a dead snag in a tall tree at the north edge of the grass, a perched kestrel bided his time, waiting for just the right moment to swoop down on his preferred prey. This compact falcon might just be targeting the abundant dragonflies around the field, but would also dine on a tiny sparrow given the opportunity.

Within the woodlands, flocks of White-throated Sparrows have suddenly become a constant presence. Tiny, hyperactive Golden-crowned Kinglets can be found just about everywhere from treetops to grassy meadows and every in between level. I've been hearing their high-pitched "tsee, tsee, tsee" call all around the city from street trees to garden shrubs. Dark-eyed Juncos, another winter species, has also just begun to arrive in our city parks and backyards.

A stand of oak trees along the avenue down the street from my home has become noisy with flocks of Common Grackles feeding on acorns. Their annual visit tells me that winds blowing down from the north will soon be chilling New York City.

Some of the recent migrating birds will continue farther south, some individuals will stay and overwinter here. These might include my season's first Brown Creepers. Probing the fissures in tree bark for insects, these beautifully camouflaged birds appear to be carved from wood. They always forage from the base of trees to the top, sometimes passing their seasonal neighbors, the nuthatches, who only seem to travel from the top of the tree to the bottom. Northern Flickers have arrived in large flocks and, along with migrating Blue Jays, now dominate the trees and fields of Green-Wood Cemetery. Another woodpecker, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, has also just arrived and I've been hearing their nasal cat-like mewing "neeah" call around both Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park.

On the lakes and ponds, migrant water birds are beginning to appear, joining the resident Mute Swans, Mallards and black ducks. In Prospect Park the first Northern Shovelers of the season have arrived as have a pair of Pied-billed Grebes. Four American Coots are the first of several dozen that usually spend the winter in Prospect Park. Despite efforts by ignorant city officials to eradicate Canada Geese from Prospect Park's waterways, the first of several hundred winter visitors are now gracing the lake.

When I look up at a south-bound "V" formation of honking geese I think about the unending cycle of seasonal change that all life is tied to. Apparently, some people just see it as another aspect of nature that needs to be controlled. John Muir once said, "When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe."


********************

Date: Oct 1, 2011 - Oct 14, 2011
Locations: Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park

Wood Duck
Northern Shoveler
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
American Coot
Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Monk Parakeet
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Ovenbird
Black-and-white Warbler
Connecticut Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat

Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Nelson's Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco

Scarlet Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Bobolink
Common Grackle

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

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of October 22nd - October 23rd, 2011:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, October 22, 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 23, 2011, 8 a.m.
Discover Tour
Every 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, October 22, 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, October 22, 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

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, October 22, 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, October 22, 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.

**********

Staten Island Museum
October 23, 2011
Nature Photography Walk - Wolfe's Pond Park
Capture the colors of fall on film (or digitally) with the guidance of the Museum's own nature photographer, Seth Wollney. Bring along a camera, an adventurous spirit and a love of nature.
Meet in the main parking lot at Wolfe's Pond Park.
To register, call Seth Wollney at 718-483-7105.
FREE.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, October 22, 2011

Family Birding
11:00 a.m.
We connect children with nature to encourage active exploration of the natural world....
Location: Inwood Hill Nature Center (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free

Starfest 2011 with the Amateur Astronomers Association of NY
7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
The wonders of the universe are ready to be discovered and New York City parks are the...
Location: Sheep Meadow (in Central Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nature Photography: Fall Foliage
11:00 a.m.
It has been said that art takes nature as its model. The beauty of nature has inspired many...
Location: High Rock Ranger Station (in High Rock Park), Staten Island
Cost: Free

Nature Photography: Fall Foliage
2:00 p.m.
It has been said that art takes nature as its model. The beauty of nature has inspired many...
Location: Inwood Hill Nature Center (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
Cost: Free
...Read more

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"The Big Year"

National Public Radio did a nice piece on the recently released birding comedy "The Big Year":



In some cases the film deviates from the real facts in the book, but I still found it to be an enjoyable movie.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, October 15, 2011:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Oct. 14, 2011
* NYNY1110.14

- Birds mentioned

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
CACKLING GOOSE
American Bittern
American Golden-Plover
MARBLED GODWIT
Pectoral Sandpiper
Royal Tern
Parasitic Jaeger
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Red-headed Woodpecker
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Vesper Sparrow
LARK SPARROW
NELSON'S SPARROW
Fox Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Lapland Longspur
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, October 14th 2011 at 9pm. The highlights of today's tape are GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, CACKLING GOOSE, MARBLED GODWIT, BLUE GROSBEAK, DICKCISSEL, LARK SPARROW, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW and NELSON'S SPARROW.

The good mix of birds this past week kept things interesting in the city parks. In Central Park a BLUE GROSBEAK visited the north end Tuesday and Wednesday. A decent variety of warblers included two lingering YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS with one in the Ramble and the other at the north end and various sparrows featured a FOX SPARROW arriving Tuesday, a VESPER SPARROW on Wednesday and some LINCOLN'S SPARROWS the latter now quite widespread in the area.

Roosevelt Island added ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and TENNESSEE WARBLER and a variety of sparrows last Saturday and Kissena Park in Queens continued to be productive with 2 BLUE GROSBEAKS still there Sunday and an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER lingering to Monday.

The good find was the season's first CACKLING GOOSE appearing at Baisley Pond Park in Queens on Sunday afternoon.

It was a good day for sparrows in the Fort Tilden / Riis Park area last Saturday topped by a LARK SPARROW at Fort Tilden and VESPER SPARROW and NELSON'S SPARROW by the Riis Park Golf Course.

Jones Beach West End also provided good sparrow variety last weekend with one or two CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS around the Coast Guard Station border joined on Sunday by a LARK SPARROW plus a DICKCISSEL. Also at the West End last Saturday were a MARBLED GODWIT on the Coast Guard bar while in the swale at the field 2 concession stand were 2 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS and 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS.

In other city parks a BLUE GROSBEAK was at Crocheron Park in Queens on Thursday and an AMERICAN BITTERN appeared at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Sunday. As a note, NELSON'S SPARROWS are now appearing in many coastal marshes throughout the region.

A report from the Caumsett State Park fields on Lloyd's Neck last Saturday noted ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, VESPER SPARROW and DICKCISSEL.

A PARASITIC JAEGER was off Robert Moses State Park Saturday and some ROYAL TERNS continue along the Long Island coast.

Out on eastern Long Island a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE appeared with Canadas Saturday at Deep Hollow Ranch in the fields on the south side of Route 27 and was noted there at least through Tuesday. Also on the fields Saturday were an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER and 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS. Other birds around Montauk Point featured DICKCISSEL Saturday, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and LAPLAND LONGSPUR Monday and CLAY-COLORED SPARROW on Tuesday. An immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was spotted at Napeague Saturday and 2 BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS were also in the Montauk area. YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS are more widespread currently.

At Mecox a MARBLED GODWIT on the flats was joined by 5 ROYAL TERNS Saturday and an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER was at Sagg Pond Sunday and 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 transcript
...Read more

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday's Foto

American Persimmons have caught my interest over the last couple of years. I didn't realized that they were fairly common around our city parks. This Autumn fruiting tree is currently in season. Be warned, however, the tastiest fruits do not look like this perfect, smooth specimen. Look for fruits that appear overripe and not very pretty or suffer a mouth-puckering, astringent burst of unpleasantness with your first bite. This is due to the presence of tannins. Read what Wildman Steve Brill says about persimmons here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interesting Wildflower

It seems that whenever a lovely plant in one of our NYC parks catches my eye, it ends up to be an invasive species. I shouldn't like it - BAD PLANT! Somehow, I usually still do. I had all but given up on finding a new, beautiful NATIVE plant in my local park when I stumbled on this gem. It was a gloomy, overcast day in Prospect Park and I was walking up the Ravine path that leads from Center Drive to the Fallkill Falls. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied several brilliant exclamation points in the dark woodland understory. I wondered how I'd ever managed to overlook this plant. The fruit's spiky outer husk reminded me of lychee nuts. The combination of fuchsia and orange dangling from delicate green stems was eye-popping. I grabbed my camera and took a few photos. Thumbing through my plant guides at home didn't turn anything up so I typed into Google's search window, "plant with spiky pink and orange fruit". It was too easy as a match showed up in the first line of images - Euonymus americanus. This native plant is also known as American Strawberry-bush. Another common name, which I prefer, is "Hearts-a-burstin". How about "Eyes-a-poppin'"?

Butterfly Migration

Birds aren't the only animals that migrate back and forth across North American twice a year. There are also approximately 75 species of insects that wander through our country's airspace seasonally. Probably the best known and most spectacular is the Monarch butterfly. Over the past two weeks I've been noticing a good number of these orange and black butterflies flying overhead. It wasn't until a stroll along the boardwalk at Coney Island over the weekend that I realized how abundant they were this year.

The amazing thing about the Monarch migration is that it is accomplished over several generations. The website "monarch-butterfly.com" explains the process:

- In February and March, the final generation of hibernating monarch butterflies comes out of hibernation to find a mate. They then migrate north and east in order to find a place to lay their eggs. This starts stage one and generation one of the new year for the monarch butterfly.

- In March and April the eggs are laid on milkweed plants. They hatch into baby caterpillars, also called the larvae. It takes about four days for the eggs to hatch. Then the baby caterpillar doesn’t do much more than eat the milkweed in order to grow. After about two weeks, the caterpillar will be fully-grown and find a place to attach itself so that it can start the process of metamorphosis. It will attach itself to a stem or a leaf using silk and transform into a chrysalis. Although, from the outside, the 10 days of the chrysalis phase seems to be a time when nothing is happening, it is really a time of rapid change. Within the chrysalis the old body parts of the caterpillar are undergoing a remarkable transformation, called metamorphosis, to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge. The monarch butterfly will emerge from the pupa and fly away, feeding on flowers and just enjoying the short life it has left, which is only about two to six weeks. This first generation monarch butterfly will then die after laying eggs for generation number two.

- The second generation of monarch butterflies is born in May and June, and then the third generation will be born in July and August. These monarch butterflies will go through exactly the same four stage life cycle as the first generation did, dying two to six weeks after it becomes a beautiful monarch butterfly.

- The fourth generation of monarch butterflies is a little bit different than the first three generations. The fourth generation is born in September and October and goes through exactly the same process as the first, second and third generations except for one part. The fourth generation of monarch butterflies does not die after two to six weeks. Instead, this generation of monarch butterflies migrates to warmer climates like Mexico and California and will live for six to eight months until it is time to start the whole process over again.

So the Monarchs that we are now seeing fluttering their way through NYC are the 4th generation and they are heading to Mexico.

Anyway, while walking along the boardwalk in Coney Island Robin pointed out some butterflies at a flower garden at the end of Stillwell Avenue. What first appeared to be just a few feeding Monarchs, on closer inspections, turned out to be several dozen. These very fresh butterflies were feeding primarily on Tall Verbena. I spotted a few Cabbage Whites, Clouded Sulphurs and a pair of Common Buckeyes, but the vast majority of feeding butterflies were Monarchs.

As they fed on nectar I was able to get very close looks. None looked very worn and, in fact, their wings were perfect and fresh. One individual still had curved ends to his wings indicating that he had recently emerged. Could they have all been hatched nearby? There were so many butterflies in this tiny garden that people were stopping to take photos or videos with their smartphones.

After a few minutes of ogling the Monarchs we continued walking West along the boardwalk.

Most of the vacant lots that edge the boardwalk have either been recently developed or are in the process of being developed. The one exception is a weedy field adjacent to the Brooklyn Cyclones ballpark between West 15th and West 16th Streets. We were walking down a narrow walkway between the stadium and the field when I noticed some more Monarchs. Throughout the open field there were fairly extensive patches of flowering clover and large numbers of Monarch were nearly blanketing them. I'd never witnessed such a huge concentration of Monarch butterflies in New York City. I considered counting them, but the constantly moving butterflies made it too much of a challenge. A cold beer calling my name at Peggy O'Neills may have also played a role in my decision to just watch for a couple of minutes, then continue on my way.

If you are heading to Coney Island this coming weekend, you might want to check this spot for Monarchs.

...Read more

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Treehugger Tuesday

A 1 Gigawatt New England Offshore Wind Farm Inches Forward

As reported in "Renewable Energy World" the company Deepwater Wind "has officially submitted plans to develop a 1,000-megawatt wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts".

"Deepwater Wind says its massive project, dubbed the Deepwater Wind Energy Center (DWEC), represents the “second generation” of offshore wind farms in the United States. No wind farms have yet been built off American waters. However, those that have been proposed and approved — such as Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound — are much smaller."

Read the entire article here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of October 15th - October 16th, 2011:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, October 15, 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 16, 2011, 8 a.m.
Discover Tour
Every 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, October 15, 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, October 15, 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

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, October 15, 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, October 15, 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, October 15, 2011, 9am – 4pm
Biking and Birding: GW Bridge/ Palisades Park
Guide: Gabriel Willow Meet at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park at 59th St for birding and biking, a natural combination! We’ll ride the west side bike route up to the George Washington Bridge, and then across into the Palisades Park where we will look for hawks and other birds. The bike route will cover over 20 miles; riders have the option of taking public transportation home from the Washington Heights area. Bring lunch, water and binoculars. Limited to 15. $36 Click here to register!

Saturday, October 15, 2011, 9am – 12pm
Ornithology 101 Field Trip
Instructors: Susan Elbin, Ph.D. and John Rowden, Ph.D Join Director of Conservation Susan Elbin and Associate Director of Citizen Science John Rowden for this great opportunity to study the flying marvels we call birds, in depth and in a small-class setting. Adapted from a recent university course, Ornithology 101 will provide a fascinating survey of bird evolution, biology and behavior. Included are two field trips: The first to Central Park during fall passerine migration, and the second providing free transport to the Winter Waterfowl Workshop at Jamaica Bay NWR. Don't miss this chance to enrich your understanding of the wonderful world of birds. Limited to 12. $150 for course of 5 classes and 2 field trips. Click here to register!

Sunday, October 16, 2011, 9:15am – 3:00pm
Hike to Moses Mountain, the Greenbelt
Guide: Gabriel Willow With NYC Parks and the Greenbelt Conservancy Meet at the Manhattan terminal of the S.I. Ferry and join us as we journey to Moses Mountain, which provides a panoramic view of Staten Island and points beyond. Atop Moses Mountain and along the way, we'll look for migrating hawks, warblers, and other songbirds—with the colors of crimson sumac and other autumn foliage as a backdrop. Includes refreshments at the Greenbelt Nature Center and transportation on Staten Island. Limited to 18. $35 Click here to register!

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, October 15, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop, Egbertville Ravine
Meet at the entry road to the Eger Home close to the intersection of Manor Road and Rockland Avenue. We will check up on the English Ivy groundcover between the trail and Meisner that we began removing 5 years ago, and then continue along the trails to remove Japanese Honeysuckle from saplings. If you don’t have your own, Protectors will supply gloves and pruners (& refreshments). After a two hour work session (our 184th consecutive monthly workshop), we will take a short walk over nearby trails.
For more information call Don Recklies at 718-768-9036, or Chuck Perry at 718-667-1393.

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
All walks start at 9:30 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
Any questions please Call Steve at (516) 987-8103.
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.
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Saturday, October 08, 2011

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, October 7, 2011:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Oct 7, 2011
* NYNY1110.07

- Birds Mentioned:

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN+
YELLOW RAIL+
SAY'S PHOEBE+
NORTHERN WHEATEAR+ (Orange County)
YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

American Golden-Plover
Solitary Sandpiper
Hudsonian Godwit
Marbled Godwit
Pectoral Sandpiper
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Red-headed Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Philadelphia Vireo
Cliff Swallow
Winter Wren
Gray-cheeked Thrush
American Pipit
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Connecticut Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Summer Tanager
Clay-colored Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Blue Grosbeak
Dickcissel
Eastern Meadowlark
Rusty Blackbird
Pine Siskin


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, October 7th, at 9:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are SAY'S PHOEBES, YELLOW RAIL, AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD, WESTERN KINGBIRD, SUMMER TANAGER, LARK SPARROWS, CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS, BLUE GROSBEAKS, DICKCISSELS, and much more.

A nice find was a SAY'S PHOEBE found Tuesday at Caumsett State Park on Lloyd's Neck, on the north shore of Long Island, where it cooperatively remained through Wednesday along fields west of the entrance, but has not been seen since. However, this morning another of the same SAY'S PHOEBE was found at Robert Moses State Park field 2, where it was moving along the path, from the parking lot west to the golf course clubhouse, either along the dune line on the beach edge, or around the picnic area on the west side of parking field 2.

Back at Caumsett State Park, where other notable birds have been seen this week, perhaps the most interesting report was of a YELLOW RAIL flushed twice by a birder in one of the fields there on Wednesday morning. Other species at Caumsett have featured some AMERICAN PIPITS and EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER Thursday and Friday, and VESPER SPARROW and RUSTY BLACKBIRD on Friday.

Another rare flycatcher was a WESTERN KINGBIRD seen briefly at Gilgo on Monday before it flew off.

Two AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS were spotted at a distance from the hawkwatch at the east end of Robert Moses State Park on Fire Island last Saturday. The birds drifted east, but later came back and provided better views before moving off into Great South Bay. Robert Moses State Park was also a good place to witness the heavy flight into our area on Wednesday. Highlights there included an immature male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD along the road median, an immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, CONNECTICUT WARBLER, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, BLUE GROSBEAK, and DICKCISSEL, as well as arriving PINE SISKIN, more of which were noted on Thursday. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER and BLUE GROSBEAK had also occurred at Moses last Saturday, with CLAY-COLORED SPARROW also there Thursday and today, along with a CLIFF SWALLOW today.

The city parks also enjoyed a good week, especially after Wednesday's flight. Central Park last Saturday provided PHILADELPHIA VIREO, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, and a good selection of warblers, including CAPE MAY WARBLER, BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, HOODED WARBLER, and two YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS, the latter which seemed to be lingering there. Sunday found an immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at the north end, with a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER reported Monday and a GRASSHOPPER SPARROW at the north end Thursday. Much smaller Bryant Park in Manhattan got in on the Wednesday flight with such highlights as YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, WINTER WREN, TENNESSEE WARBLER, and LINCOLN'S SPARROW. An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER visited Riverside Park last Saturday.

Productive habitat at Kissena Corridor Park on the south side of Colden Street in Queens featured two CONNECTICUT WARBLERS last Saturday, one an adult male. In addition, there were at least four BLUE GROSBEAKS, as well as YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, PHILADELPHIA VIREO Saturday, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, LARK SPARROW, LINCOLN SPARROW and DICKCISSEL.

Other CONNECTICUT WARBLERS have included one at Crocheron Park in Queens on Wednesday and another plus a BLUE GROSBEAK at the south garden at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge last Sunday.

Out at Jones Beach State Park last Sunday, shorebirds gathered at high tide on the bar off the Coast Guard Station featured three HUDSONIAN GODWITS and two MARBLED GODWITS, while two AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS were in the swale in front of the West End 2 concession building. Also noted were an immature LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL and CASPIAN TERN.

VESPER SPARROW was at Cedar Beach Thursday.

An interesting report mentioned a female SUMMER TANAGER at Blydenburgh County Park in Hauppauge on Wednesday.

Out at Roosevelt County Park in Montauk last Sunday, an adult LARK SPARROW was present, along with PECTORAL SANDPIPER and two SOLITARY SANDPIPERS.

A CONNECTICUT WARBLER was at Marshlands Conservancy in Rye Thursday, and the region's third NORTHERN WHEATEAR of the season was found today, just north of Oil City Road, in the Orange County Black Dirt Region west of Pine Island.

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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