Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Treehugger Tuesday

You can watch the documentary "Revenge of the Electric Car" (the follow up to "Who Killed the Electric Car") for free via Hulu:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of January 28, 2012 - January 29, 2012:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, February 4, 2012

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

Sunday, February 5, 2012, 10 a.m.
Early Morning Bird Walk: Backyard Birds
Free See the birds that call the Park home all winter. Start your Sunday morning surrounded by nature! Morning Bird Walk

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

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Prospect Park
Meet 8:00 am at Grand Army Plaza entrance (Stranahan Statue)
Trip Leader: TBA
Focus: winter species, raptors, waterfowl

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, February 4, 2012
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, February 4, 2012, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walk
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 residents and 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, February 4, 2012, 12 noon to 2:00 p.m.
Long Pond Park
Evidence of animal life as well geologic history and human influence will be observed as we take an unhurried stroll on a one and a half mile walk through Long Pond Park. Meet at PS 6, on Page Avenue and Academy Avenue, about 3 blocks northwest of Hylan Blvd.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, February 5, 2012, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Super Bowl Owl Prowl at Pouch Camp
Join owl enthusiast, Cliff Hagen, for the 3rd annual Super Bowl Owl Prowl, a chance to seek out, listen to and possibly watch our nocturnal neighbors of Pouch Camp. Meet in the Nevada Avenue parking lot of High Rock Park. Though flashlights are not necessary, they are acceptable.
For more details call Cliff Hagen at 718-313-8591.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bird Walks
8:00 a.m.
Focus on wildlife happenings in the park with NYC Audubon experts and the Urban Park...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free

Removal of Invasive Bittersweet at Van Cortlandt Park
10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Join us at the Van Cortlandt Park Nature Center to help remove bittersweet, an invasive...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free

Wilderness Survival
11:00 a.m.
What would you do if you found yourself lost in the woods? Do you know how to build your...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free

Birding: Winter Birds
1:00 p.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Fort Greene Park Visitor Center (in Fort Greene Park), Brooklyn
Free


The Night Sky
6:00 p.m.
The wonders of the universe are ready to be discovered and New York City parks are the...
Location: Wolfe's Pond Park Comfort Station (in Wolfes Pond Park), Staten Island
Free

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wilderness Survival
12:00 p.m.
What would you do if you found yourself lost in the woods? Do you know how to build your...
Location: Belvedere Castle (in Central Park), Manhattan
Free

Animal Tracks Exploration
1:00 p.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Fort Totten Visitor's Center (in Fort Totten Park), Queens
Free

Nature Exploration: Hunter Island (Moderate)
1:00 p.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the...
Location: Orchard Beach Nature Center (in Pelham Bay Park-Orchard Beach), Bronx
Free
...Read more

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, January 27, 2012:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Jan 27, 2012
* NYNY1201.27

- Birds Mentioned:
PINK-FOOTED GOOSE+
SLATY-BACKED GULL+ (Dutchess County)
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Greater White-fronted Goose
Eurasian Wigeon
Wilson's Snipe
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
Razorbill
SNOWY OWL
Red-headed Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (Audubon's form)
Palm Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Dickcissel
COMMON REDPOLL

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, January 27th, at 7:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are SLATY-BACKED GULL, PINK-FOOTED GOOSE, RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, SNOWY OWL, Audubon's form of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, COMMON REDPOLL, and more.

Though slightly north of our normal coverage area, last Saturday an adult SLATY-BACKED GULL was spotted and photographed on the Hudson River off the Beacon train station in Dutchess County. This site is south of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge off Route 9D. Follow signs to the station and park on the Hudson side of the tracks to view the cove that the Slaty-backed visited. The gull has not yet been re-sighted, but lots of gulls have been on the river there, including one or two GLAUCOUS GULLS, at least five ICELAND GULLS, and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS.

On Wednesday a PINK-FOOTED GOOSE was found in Queens, at the Alley Restoration Area, a newly-created marshy pond that lies between the Cross Island Parkway on its west side, the Long Island Expressway to the north, and Douglaston Parkway on the east side -- an approach being West Alley Road that runs along the south side, but access is difficult. The goose has not been noted there since, but it likely remains in the area. A WILSON'S SNIPE and PALM WARBLER were also spotted there. At this time of year, Wilson's Snipe can also be found in unfrozen, muddy, marshy areas adjacent to water bodies.

The RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD still survives at the American Museum of Natural History, seen through today around the plantings and feeders on either side of the entrance to the planetarium off West 81st Street.

An EASTERN PHOEBE was still in Central Park Central Park Saturday, and the immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER remains in the Hallett Sanctuary in the southeastern corner of the park. Also continuing in Manhattan are the YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT on the Fifth Avenue / 42nd Street side of Bryant Park in front of the New York Public Library and the DICKCISSEL around the ball fields at Inwood Hill Park, at the west end of Dyckman Street. [Transcriber's Update: The other YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT was still at Union Square Park off East 14th Street, near the Gandhi statue, on Wednesday and Thursday.]

The white SNOWY OWL was still in the Jones Beach West End dunes between the swale in front of the West End 2 parking lot building and the West End jetty on Wednesday. Please enjoy this spectacular owl, but keep your distance so as not to disturb it. Also in the Jones area, over 100 RAZORBILLS were estimated around Jones Inlet Thursday. A good sign for Saturday's pelagic trip out of Freeport. If interested in this trip [January 28th], call See Life Paulagics at (215) 234-6805.

The Audubon's form of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER continues at Sunken Meadow State Park. Look for it around the fenced-in juniper clump at the eastern end of the easternmost parking lot or along the river just south of there.

The GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was noted again last Sunday at Gerry Pond Park in Roslyn, but it does move around.

A EURASIAN WIGEON has been present recently in New Rochelle, Westchester County, visiting the pond with dozens of American Wigeon off the west side of Church Street, just a short distance south of the light on Pelham Road. The school ball field across Church Street from this pond has several Monk Parakeet nests in the light stanchions.

Also in Westchester, three RAZORBILLS were still off Read Sanctuary Playland Park in Rye on Thursday.

On eastern Long Island, a COMMON REDPOLL was found Tuesday feeding near Tiana Beach, off Dune Road, west of Shinnecock Inlet. Historically there have been late pushes of some winter finches into our area in late January and early February, but this year they have been notably absent so far throughout our region.

An immature LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was at Shinnecock Inlet on Sunday, and a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE visited Hook Pond in East Hampton on Wednesday.

We have no positive word on either the Calverton MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD or the Eastport BARNACLE GOOSE. The ICELAND GULL does continue to visit Iron Pier Park at the end of Pier Road in Northville.

An immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER is wintering at the Baiting Hollow Boy Scout Camp off the north side of Sound Avenue. This site is about a half mile west of Edwards Avenue. The woodpecker is usually in trees about 200 yards in from the parking lot where the trail parallels the water course lower down on the left.

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, January 27, 2012

Friday's Foto

The glossy feathers of this Common Grackle bathing in a puddle iridesced in the late-day sun, highlighting this specie's metallic hues of bronze, purple, blue and green. Uncommon in NYC parks in the winter, there is currently a flock of about 500 hanging around the south edge of Brooklyn's Prospect Park.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brooklyn Alcid

My friend Peter reported that a very unusual seabird was recently found along Brooklyn's coast.

On January 13th, an injured Dovekie was spotted by the foreman at a construction site at Bush Terminal. The collapsing piers in this area are being turned into a park, fortunately for this little bird, there were caring people around. This stretch of waterfront is closed off to the public so, normally, this former industrial park would be nearly devoid of human. I did a waterfowl count here a few years ago and found that hundreds of ducks are drawn to the old dilapidated wharfs. There was also a very scary-looking pack of feral dogs wandering around.

The foreman called the city's 311 line, who put him in touch with a certified wildlife rehabilitator. Peter didn't have any other information about the condition of this tiny bird, who should have been way out at sea, not in New York Harbor. I sent a note to Cathy Horvath to see if she and Bobby had the Dovekie or any information. Here was her response:

Date: January 23, 2012
To: Rob Jett
Subject: Re: Brooklyn Dovekie!

Hey Rob, No we didn't get this little wonder. I wish I knew who has it. I see the injury and these little ones are tough to rehab. You really have to work on getting them to eat. when they arrive around here they are dehydrated and starving, near death. I make a bait fish smoothie and tube feed them. If you hear anything, please let me know. I will take it. Thanks, Cathy


Mmmm, bait fish smoothie...

I'll post an update as soon as I learn more.
...Read more

"Tons" of Birds

Like many people, too often I'll use the word "ton" to indicate a large quantity of something. In birding it's not unusual to hear the expression, "There were tons of (insert bird species here) in the park today." Back in the early days of this blog I wrote a mildly humorous piece on the subject reposted here:

**********

A Ton of Kinglets

I have a bad habit of referring to a large quantity of birds as a "ton" of birds. For example, within the last week large numbers of Ruby-crowned Kinglets have been moving through Prospect Park. These tiny, energetic birds have been eating their way through the park on their way north. When a friend asked me about the recent status of the migration in the park I reported to him that there were suddenly a ton of kinglets around.

I began to think about my use of the specific quantitative evaluation when it probably would have been more accurate if I had used more general terms like "abundant" or "fairly common". Could there have been literally a ton of those four inch long balls of feathers in Prospect Park's 526 acres? I decided to do the math.

The "Sibley Guide to Birds" lists the average weight of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet as 6.5 grams. There is a little over 453 grams to a pound:

453.59237 * 2000 = 907184.74
907184.74 / 6.5 = 139566.8830769231

Number of Ruby-crowned Kinglets it takes to equal a ton = 139,567.

It seems unlikely that there would ever be a ton of kinglets in Prospect Park. Maybe the next time someone asks I'll just say a busload. The results did start me thinking, though. I wonder how many pounds of bugs 139,000 kinglets could eat in a day...

**********

With that in mind, fast forward to last week. My friend Sean sent me an email about a huge flock of Common Mergansers that he and a neighbor observed at Canoe Brook Reservoir #3 in New Jersey. He followed that up with the following note:

From: Sean Sime
Date: January 21, 2012
Subject: you would appreciate

So after my neighbor Andy and I saw that merganser flock I get a text from him saying that if a merganser is just over 3lbs on average, there must have been about 10 tons of duck out there!

Having tried in vain for years-to see a ton of birds with you, it was sad to finally reach this goal without you.

ss
...Read more

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Treehugger Tuesday

From the website "The Symphony of Science":

"The Symphony of Science is a musical project of John D Boswell, designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form."

Below is his latest video.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of January 28, 2012 - January 29, 2012:

Bedford Audubon Society
Saturday, January 28, 2012, 9 am – 12 pm
Excursion to Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
with BAS Board Member and Westmoreland Naturalist Adam Zorn
With its 2,766 acres, Pelham Bay Park is New York City’s largest park. It features an impressive number of waterfowl, landbirds, and owls, for which this park is especially well known. Monk Parakeets are present, too! Join our knowledgeable Board Member in the hunt for these elusive birds. (E)
Depart Bylane Farm at 8:00 am.

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, January 28, 2012
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, January 28, 2012, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walk
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 residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics. For more information, please call 718-548-0912. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

Saturday, January 28, 2012, 10:30am – 4:00pm
Snow Birds of Floyd Bennett Field and Fort Tilden
Guide: Joe Giunta (Note: Gabriel Willow was originally scheduled to lead this trip.) Winter brings many rare birds to NYC that can’t be found here at any other time. Perhaps most exciting are the “snow birds” of the Arctic tundra that can occasionally be found in tundra-like habitats further south, such as snow buntings and snowy owls. We will travel to Floyd Bennett Field in search of these and other winter visitors (such as horned lark, tree sparrow, and rough-legged hawk). We will then head to Fort Tilden and Breezy Point to look for wintering ducks, grebes, loons, and other seabirds. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $75
Click here to register

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, January 28, 2012, 9:45a.m. to 3:45p.m.
Annual Ten Mile Winter Walk of the Staten Island Greenbelt
Come join others who enjoy a cold day outdoors. It is ten moderate miles at a comfortable pace. Meet at the beginning of the Blue Line Trail at the end of Staten Island Boulevard, off Ocean Terrace by the Sunnyside campus of Petrides complex. Bring lunch and beverage and sturdy walking shoes. Dress warmly in layers. We go in all weather. Come see what the winter woodland has to offer; winter birds, bare forest trees, frozen ponds, evergreens and possible snow.
For more information call Dominick Durso at 917-478-7607 or Don Recklies at 718-768-9036.

Saturday, January 28, 2012, 12 noon 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. We’ll observe traces of the past, examine the present woodland ecosystems and search for evidence of present inhabitants especially deer. Meet in the lot alongside St. Andrew’s Church on Old Mill Road.
For more information phone Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Saturday, January 28, 2012, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Bird Feeders of Blue Heron Park
Watch the comings and goings of wintering birds from inside the warm comforts of the Blue Heron Park Nature Center. Discuss ways to attract birds to feeders, the benefits of offering a variety of food types and the needs of our wintering feathered friends.
Meet inside the Blue Heron Park Nature Center on Poillon Avenue. For more information call Ellen Pratt at 718-948-2662.

Sunday, January 29, 2012, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Owl Prowl at Blue Heron Park
Join owl enthusiast, Cliff Hagen, for a dark, quiet walk along the snow-covered trails of Blue Heron Park in search of the sounds of courtship in the frozen woods. Listen for the deep hoots and soft whinnies of Great horned and Screech owls that reside in our island’s parks. Meet in the Blue Heron Park Nature Center parking lot. Though flashlights are not necessary, they are acceptable.
For more information call Cliff Hagen at 718-313-8591.

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Pelham Bay Park
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.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bird Walks
8:00 a.m.
Focus on wildlife happenings in the park with NYC Audubon experts and the Urban Park...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Seal Exploration
10:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Orchard Beach Nature Center (in Pelham Bay Park), Bronx
Free!

Wilderness Survival
1:00 p.m.
What would you do if you found yourself lost in the woods? Do you know how to build your...
Location: Forest Park Visitor Center (in Forest Park), Queens
Free!

Beginning Beekeeping at Wave Hill
1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Thriving beehives exist in community gardens, backyards and on rooftops throughout New York...
Location: Ecology Building (in Wave Hill), Bronx

Astronomy
6:00 p.m.
The wonders of the universe are ready to be discovered and New York City parks are the...
Location: Salt Marsh Nature Center (in Marine Park), Brooklyn
Free!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Birding: Eagles
8:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Inwood Hill Nature Center (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
Free!

Wilderness Survival
11:00 a.m.
What would you do if you found yourself lost in the woods? Do you know how to build your...
Location: Blue Heron Nature Center (in Blue Heron Park), Staten Island
Free!

Moses Mountain Hike
1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Join the Greenbelt Environmental Educators on a peaceful hike to the top of Moses Mountain...
Location: Greenbelt Nature Center (in Blood Root Valley), Staten Island
Free!

Garden and Conservatory Walk at Wave Hill
2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights.
Location: Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx

Astronomy
6:00 p.m.
The wonders of the universe are ready to be discovered and New York City parks are the...
Location: Fort Totten Visitor's Center (in Fort Totten Park), Queens
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, January 20, 2012:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Jan. 20, 2012
* NYNY1201.20

- Birds mentioned

BARNACLE GOOSE+
GYRFALCON+
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD+
MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
Cackling Goose
Eurasian Wigeon
Red-necked Grebe
EARED GREBE
Bald Eagle
Semipalmated Plover
Piping Plover
LITTLE GULL
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
Razorbill
SNOWY OWL
Red-headed Woodpecker
Common Raven
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Savannah Sparrow (subspecies "Ipswich Sparrow")
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@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, January 20th 2012 at 8pm. The highlights of today's tape are GYRFALCON, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD, RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, LITTLE GULL, BLACK-HEADED GULL, EARED GREBE, SNOWY OWL, BARNACLE GOOSE, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, DICKCISSEL and more.

Firstly, the pelagic trip now scheduled for Saturday, January 28th from Freeport still needs some more participants to sign up to ensure sailing so if interested please call See Life Paulagics at (215) 234-6805 or visit the website at < http://www.paulagics.com >.

Last Saturday afternoon a GYRFALCON was spotted sitting in a tree along the Wantagh Parkway just north of the Zach's Bay amphitheater. The falcon took off flying north along the Wantagh harassed by a Peregrine the GYRFALCON veered to the northwest and disappeared but the bird was looked for but not seen on Sunday and subsequent days but could still be in the area of Great South Bay, definitely worth watching for.

Also in the Jones Beach area the white SNOWY OWL remains in the dunes between the West End jetty and the West End 2 concession building. The immature LITTLE GULL was seen among the Bonaparte's Gulls inside Jones Inlet on Tuesday and a good number of Bonaparte's have been present lately often feeding out in the ocean. A few RAZORBILLS continue around Jones Inlet, a GLAUCOUS GULL was seen again on the bar off the Point Lookout Fireman's Park last Saturday and an ICELAND GULL appeared near the West End Coast Guard Station on Wednesday. Certainly unexpected on the Point Lookout bar last Sunday were singles of SEMIPALMATED PLOVER and PIPING PLOVER. Among the passerines at Jones Beach an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was near the field 10 entrance Sunday and 2 "IPSWICH" SPARROWS were around the West End 2 parking lot.

The RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD is still present, but not all the time, around the entrance to the planetarium off 81st Street at the American Museum of Natural History, watch for it feeding in the plantings on either side of the entrance. The immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER also remains in Central Park around the northwestern area of the fenced in Hallett Sanctuary in the southeastern corner of Central Park. A couple of YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS continue in Manhattan, one in Bryant Park along the front of the public library off 5th Avenue just south of 42nd Street and one in Union Square Park off East 14th Street. The bright DICKCISSEL remains at Inwood Hill Park in northern Manhattan in the large House Sparrow flock usually around the ballfields at the western end of Dyckman Street and a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE can still be found in Van Cortlandt Park. The adult BLACK-HEADED GULL continues to visit the Owl's Head waste water treatment plant in Brooklyn and may also be seen on the adjacent Veteran's Memorial Pier and 2 BALD EAGLES were spotted over Prospect Park on Wednesday.

At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge the EARED GREBE continues off the Broad Channel community with the EURASIAN WIGEON still on the mostly frozen East Pond on Tuesday. Another SNOWY OWL was at Atlantic Beach on Monday. The LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL remains by the Silver Gull Club at the western end of Fort Tilden and 2 RED-NECKED GREBES and a GLAUCOUS GULL were off Coney Island on Tuesday.

Single GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE have been noted recently at Gerry Park off Northern Boulevard in Roslyn and last Sunday at the Hauppauge High School off Lincoln Boulevard.

The MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD was still in Calverton last weekend using fencing in fields east of Hulse Landing Road reached by walking east along the power line seen north of Route 25A. Also watch the Route 25A snow fence.

Continuing east the BARNACLE GOOSE was still with Canadas Sunday on the Eastport Pond on the north side of Route 27A (Montauk Highway) on the east side of Eastport and it's also been seen in fields around the intersections of Route 27 and Route 51 a little northwest of the pond.

Last Saturday there were 2 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE and a CACKLING GOOSE on Short's Pond off Scuttlehole Road north of Watermill, another White-front along Daniel's Lane in Sagaponack and an ICELAND GULL at Hook Pond in East Hampton. Two COMMON RAVENS were at the Hampton Bays water tower Sunday. An ICELAND GULL and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL continue at Iron Pier Park at the end of Pier Road in Northville and a CACKLING GOOSE was reported from Marratooka Lake in Mattituck 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, January 20, 2012

A Few Bird Pics

Here are some Brooklyn photos taken over the last few weeks that have been sitting in a folder on my desktop. I never got around to writing the stories attached to them:

Brooklyn Eagles

I received a text from Doug Gochfeld Wednesday morning that he was looking at an adult Bald Eagle in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. The bird was circling Prospect Lake. I rushed into the park, but by the time I got to the lake it was nowhere to be found.

I sat at the edge of the lake hoping the bird would return, but after a 35 minute vigil I headed back across the park, eagle-less. I ran into Doug near the Maryland Monument and we stood talking for a few minutes. From that location there is an obstructed view of the lake, so when we saw all the gulls and geese take flight, we hurried down Wellhouse Drive towards the commotion. As we passed the Peninsula Meadow, to our left, we spotted a third year Bald Eagle flying towards us. I should note that the eagle seen by Doug earlier was an adult. The raptor continued flying above us and over Lookout Hill. About 3 minutes later, as we walked to the edge of the lake, we observed a second Bald Eagle soaring over the lake. This one was an adult bird and likely the same individual Doug spotted earlier as he noted that it was missing a flight feather on its right wing.

It appears that there has been an adult Bald Eagle hanging around Brooklyn since last Fall. Peter Dorosh posted a photo of one seen in Bush Terminal late last October (not far from Green-Wood Cemetery). Joe DiCostanzo spotted one in Green-Wood Cemetery on a Thanksgiving stroll. Marge Raymond photographed one in Green-Wood Cemetery while leading a tour on December 7th. Subsequent to that there were several unsubstantiated sightings in the cemetery by landscape workers, but then someone photographed it on January 6th and posted the image here.

Bald Eagles aren't a super-rarity in New York City as there are usually a few sightings of migrating individuals each year. To have one hanging around Brooklyn, however, is very unusual and kinda cool. I wonder if the newspaper "The Brooklyn Eagle", which began in 1841, took their name because Bald Eagles could be seen around coastal Brooklyn in the 19th century.

Here's a good photo page that shows the five-year plumage transition of Bald Eagles.

It should be noted that Doug said a close inspection of his photos showed that both eagles were banded. If you see any Bald Eagles around Brooklyn look for bands and, if possible, note any numbers.
...Read more

Friday's Foto

The Northern Mockingbird is one of three species of mimic thrushes regularly found around New York City. Mockingbirds are a pugnacious species and will vigorously defend their territory against any perceived threat. I've witnessed, on many occasions, one of these robin-sized gray birds attempting to drive off a Red-tailed Hawk by repeatedly hitting it on the back of the head. Look for these birds in winter safeguarding their claimed fruiting tree, shrub or vine. This individual was in the vicinity of a stand of Yew trees.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow Goose Reunion

...sort of. As a follow up to the Snow Goose story, I brought Marge over to Coney Island Creek to look for her possible former ward. Our hope was that it would hear her voice, remember the care she gave this goose from 2005-2009 and come running (with a sappy orchestral crescendo playing in the background). Apparently those things only happen in the movies.

We quickly relocated the Canada Goose flock with the lone Snow Goose feeding on the field at Six Diamonds Park, across Coney Island Creek from Mark Twain Junior High School. Marge slowly approached the flock and began calling "Mommy", her name for the goose with the bent wing. At one point it appeared that the bird recognized her, even calling a few times, but then went back to eating grass. Marge thought that, perhaps, the goose just couldn't hear her. I didn't think that was the case and remarked that the deceased over in Green-Wood Cemetery could probably hear her. A minute later a raptor flew over the field and the panicked birds all flew off to the safety of the creek.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Treehugger Tuesday

Queens Greenway Proposal

The organization "Friends of the Queensway" has been building support for the creation of the borough of Queens' version of "Highline Park". From their petition page:

"A 3.5 mile stretch of the old Rockaway Beach Branch railroad right-of-way currently lies abandoned in Central and Southern Queens. Over the past 60 years, since rail service ended, it has become a dumping ground for garbage, abandoned cars and other debris, and is one of the largest tracts of unused land in an area populated by hundreds of thousands.

An incredible opportunity exists to transform this abandoned, unsightly and in many places hazardous space into a beautiful 3.5 mile public park extending south from Rego Park to Ozone Park. A multi-use path would provide a recreational and commuter corridor through Rego Park, Forest Hills, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park. It would link these communities with Forest Park and the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway and to nearby bike lanes leading to the recreational spaces of Rockaway Beach and Jamaica Bay, including the Shore Parkway path, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Gateway National Recreation Area. It would also connect at least five subway lines and numerous commercial districts, shops and schools. greenspace, sports facilities and community gardens could be created for family recreation and for use by the several schools along the route. A safe bicycle route parallel to Woodhaven and Crossbay Blvd.'s would exist so that people could ride to school, go shopping, visit friends, reach public transportation or simply enjoy a sunny day."

Check out their Facebook page here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Return of our Snow Goose?

Back on December 9th Heydi and I discovered a Ross's Goose on Coney Island Creek. A few minutes later we spotted an American Avocet (and quickly forgot about the goose). Within a day the Ross's Goose disappeared only to be replaced by the very similar Snow Goose. At first, some of us suspected that the Ross's was just being misidentified as a Snow. It wasn't until Shane took a photograph of the "replacement" goose that we realized that it was, indeed, a Snow Goose. It was a peculiar situation for a couple of reasons. First, it is very unusual for either species of white goose to be present on Coney Island Creek. Second, to have one take off just as the other, extremely similar, species arrived succeeded in confusing more that a few birders. But this odd story doesn't end there.

Once Shane sent me the photo of the Snow Goose, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to create a posting that compares the two white geese of Coney Island Creek. It wasn't until I had been looking at the Snow Goose photo for a while that I realized that there was an even more interesting story to be told, but first let's look at these two birds. The top photo is of the Snow Goose, the lower is the Ross's Goose.
Both are nearly all white with black wing tips. The most obvious difference between the two species is the bill size and shape. The Ross's has a much smaller, shorter bill with little or no "grin patch". The bill is also more triangular than the Snow's (specifically, a right triangle). Note also that the Ross's often has a bluish color to the base. The Ross's also has a smallish, rounded head. Notice the steep slope of the Snow Goose's head. I don't know if it's typical of all Ross's Goose, but this individual also seems to have a very small eye.

Overall size is also important in separating the Ross's Goose from the Snow Goose. While the size of a single bird foraging or floating in the water is difficult to judge, both of these birds were associating with a flock of Canada Geese making it much easier. Note their sizes in these photos next to the canadas. The Snow Goose is nearly the size of the Canada Goose, while the Ross's could fit inside of one. Here are their proportions from "The Sibley Guide to Birds":

Ross's Goose - lg: 23" ws: 45" wt: 2.7 lb
Snow Goose (lesser) - lg: 28" ws: 53" wt: 5.3 lb
                   (greater) - lg: 31" ws: 56" wt: 7.4 lb

Even keeping in mind the large size range for Snow Geese, there is still a significant difference in bulk between the Ross's Goose and the Snow Goose. There is nothing better than field experience for learning to separate these two similar birds, but given the Ross's Goose rarity around New York City, I hope this helps. Now for the other part of this Brooklyn story.

During the Fall migration of 2005 a Snow Goose with an injured wing appeared in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. The advice I received at the time was to leave the bird alone because the difficulty involved in trying to capture it could have made the wing worse. My friend Marge began bringing the goose cracked corn and, eventually, the goose settled into a non-migratory routine in the landmark cemetery. I wrote all about her in this posting. By 2009 she began wandering farther and farther from the cemetery's Sylvan Water with her adopted flock of Canada Geese. Her right wing healed, somewhat, but still had a noticeable droop. Whenever Marge showed up with cracked corn, the Snow Goose would hurry to her car for a free handout. She would sometimes even glide down to the lake from the surrounding hillsides or make short flights of limited elevation. Then one day in 2009 Marge called to say that "Mommy" (her name for the goose) was missing from the Sylvan Water and she couldn't find her anywhere in the cemetery. We never saw her again, which brings me back to the lone Snow Goose now residing in Coney Island Creek. Take a look at the tip of the right wing in both the Green-Wood Cemetery photos and the Coney Island photos. Normally, the black wingtips of a Snow Goose cross over above their tail. Could we have finally found "Mommy"? There is only one way to be absolutely certain. The Green-Wood Cemetery bird responded to Marge's voice. Whenever she would go to the cemetery to feed him/her, she would shout in a sing-song voice, with a distinctive Brooklyn accent, "Mooommmy!" The small white goose with the crooked wing would rush towards her mumbling a nasal "whouk, whouk, whouk, whouk, whouk" the whole time. Marge and I will go to Coney Island Creek and, before she begins to call her old friend, I'll be sure to have the video rolling.
...Read more

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of January 21, 2012 - January 22, 2012:

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, January 21, 2012
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

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Pelham Bay Park For Owls
Leader: Rob Jett a.k.a. The City Birder
Registrar: Louise Fraza (louisefraza [AT] yahoo.com)
Registration opens Monday 1/9.
Ride: $15.

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, January 21, 2012, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walk
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 residents and 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, January 21, 2012, 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop in the Egbertville Ravine
Meet at the entry road to the Eger Home close to the intersection of Manor Road and Rockland Avenue. We will collect trash from the borders of the pond and the wooded edges of the roads. Protectors will supply bags and, if you don’t have your own, gloves. After a two hour work session (our 187th 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.

Sunday, January 22, 2012, 11:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Nature Center to Egbertville Ravine
Meet at the Nature Center at Rockland and Brielle. We will follow the White Trail south to Nevada Avenue and back. Those interested in a shorter walk can meet us at 12:00 noon at the side of Meisner Road (toward the Eger Home) by the intersection of Meisner and Rockland.
Call Hillel Lofaso at 781-751-6629 for more details.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Bird Walks
8:00 a.m.
Focus on wildlife happenings in the park with NYC Audubon experts and the Urban Park...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Nature Exploration (Light)
11:00 a.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the...
Location: Conference House Park Visitors Center (in Conference House Park), Staten Island
Free!

Wilderness Survival
1:00 p.m.
What would you do if you found yourself lost in the woods? Do you know how to build your...
Location: Inwood Hill Nature Center (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
Free!

Plant Survival Strategies: Part 4 of Your Park Is Nature's Classroom for Kids
1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Ever wonder how your favorite park's trees survive big city life? Join environmental...
Location: Inwood Hill Nature Center (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan

Astronomy
6:00 p.m.
The wonders of the universe are ready to be discovered and New York City parks are the...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Freshkills Park January Birding Tour
10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Join us for our first tour of 2012 as we search for the birds of Freshkills Park along the...
Location: Eltingville Transit Center (in Freshkills Park), Staten Island
Free!

Garden and Conservatory Walk at Wave Hill
2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights.
Location: Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
...Read more

Friday, January 13, 2012

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, January 13, 2012:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Jan. 13, 2012
* NYNY1201.13

- Birds mentioned

BARNACLE GOOSE+
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD+
MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Greater White-fronted Goose
Ross's Goose
Cackling Goose
Eurasian Wigeon
Harlequin Duck
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE
Red-necked Grebe
EARED GREBE
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
Razorbill
Barn Owl
SNOWY OWL
Red-headed Woodpecker
NORTHERN SHRIKE
SEDGE WREN
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's form)
Black-and-white Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
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, January 13th 2012 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD, EARED GREBE, BLACK-HEADED GULL, SEDGE WREN, NORTHERN SHRIKE, BARNACLE GOOSE, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, SNOWY OWL and more.

Firstly, the pelagic trip from Freeport scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed, due to the weather, until January 28th.

In Manhattan a RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD continues in flowers alongside the entrance to the planetarium off 81st Street at the American Museum of Natural History though it has also been reported recently in adjacent Central Park southeast of Tanner's Spring. The immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER remains in the northwestern part of the fenced off Hallett Sanctuary in the southeastern section of Central Park.

The YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT lingering at Bryant Park has been frequenting the front of the library off 5th Avenue just south of 42nd Street while in northern Manhattan a bright DICKCISSEL continues with House Sparrows at Inwood Hill Park usually around the ballfields in the southwestern portion of the park. Two ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS were at Swindler's Cove in northern Manhattan recently and in The Bronx the adult GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE can still be found around the lake, golf course or Parade Grounds at Van Cortlandt Park. Prospect Park too has had ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER recently along with a lingering BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER.

At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge the EARED GREBE continues in the bay south of the West Pond usually much closer to and best seen from the Broad Channel community. The drake BARROW'S GOLDENEYE also remains in the bay seen Sunday with a dozen Common Goldeneyes fairly far out as viewed from the trail around the southwestern corner of the West Pond. A drake EURASIAN WIGEON can be found on the East Pond as viewed from the Big John's Pond overlook, the Wigeon usually a little to the north. Also a BARN OWL can sometimes be seen in the owl box on the north side of Big John's Pond visible from the blind on the south side. Please view the owl only from the blind and do nothing to provoke it. On Saturday among the many Snow Geese moving over the East Pond was a very small goose possibly a ROSS'S GOOSE, something to look for.

The NORTHERN SHRIKE was still present along the northern runways at Floyd Bennett Field last Monday but it can be very elusive and at least 7 RED-NECKED GREBES were counted from the boat launch area there on Sunday. The adult BLACK-HEADED GULL continues at Owl's Head waste water treatment plant in Brooklyn observable from the down slope at Owl's Head Park adjacent to 68th Street which gives a good view of the active plant area. An adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was by the Silver Gull Club just west of Fort Tilden's fisherman's lot Sunday.

At Jones Beach West End a very white male SNOWY OWL has been ranging around the dunes from the Roosevelt Nature Center down towards the West End jetty. Please enjoy but do not disturb this owl. On Sunday a GLAUCOUS GULL was seen on the flats off the Fireman's Park at Point Lookout and up to 3 HARLEQUIN DUCKS continue along the Point Lookout jetties with a RAZORBILL noted in Jones Inlet Wednesday when a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was also present at Point Lookout.

An Audubon's form of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was spotted at Sunken Meadow State Park last Wednesday.

On eastern Long Island a MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD was still present at least to Wednesday in Calverton most frequently seen foraging along the snow fence on the east side of Route 25A just east of the intersection with Hulse Landing Road. The bluebird also uses the field next to the Haunted House a little farther down Route 25A and fields along the east side of Hulse Landing Road to the north where a NORTHERN SHRIKE has occurred along the power lines there.

A BARNACLE GOOSE has been frequenting the pond in Eastport that is on the north side of Route 27A (Montauk Highway) on the east side of Eastport. If not there the Canada flock it is with might be in fields near the intersections of Route 27 and Route 51 a short distance west of the pond.

The SNOWY OWL has been staying on an island in Shinnecock Bay east of the Ponquogue Bridge scannable from the end of Road I. Three GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE and a CACKLING GOOSE continue to visit the fields along Further Lane in East Hampton. The SEDGE WREN from the Orient Christmas Bird Count has been re-found a couple of times at Orient Point State Park in phragmites lying off the roadway.

ICELAND GULLS lately have featured one at Iron Pier at the end of Pier Road in Northville and one around the Montauk Harbor entrance. Forty RAZORBILLS were counted at Montauk Point Saturday and RED-NECKED GREBES continue in that area.

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

2011 Friday's Fotos

Here's a short slideshow of all of last year's "Friday's Fotos". The music is David Gilmour "Smile" from his "On an Island" album:

Friday's Foto

One of several species of raptors that call Brooklyn home during the winter, this Cooper's Hawk was surveying the bird feeders in Prospect Park.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Coney Island Trip

This past Saturday I lead a trip for the Brooklyn Bird Club to Coney Island. As you probably know from recent postings, this has become my new favorite winter spot for exploring wildlife. The weather on Saturday felt more like early-Spring than early-January, so offshore diversity was less than typical for this time of year, however we still managed to see many of the expected winter coastal species.

Our group of eleven met at the conveniently located Dunkin' Donuts in the Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island train station. People-wise, Coney Island is a place to expect the unexpected and most individuals, no matter how "different" they appear, rarely get a second look. However, our small group, loaded down with binoculars, spotting scopes and various types of camera equipment seemed to draw an inordinate amount of stares and over-the-shoulder gazes. One would think that after the Gray-hooded Gull birder's circus over the past summer that Coney Islanders would be used to us.

Our route took us from Stillwell Avenue to the fishing pier, west to the last jetty before the gated community of Sea Gate, then north along West 37th Street to Coney Island Creek Park.

We scanned the water from the boardwalk before heading out onto the pier and found that there was an unusual number of Northern Gannets present. Normally flocks of these large diving birds can only be found on the ocean off of the Rockaway Peninsula, with small numbers venturing into the bay on strong south winds. Yes, despite its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Coney Island is inside of the Rockaway Inlet and, technically, on the Lower New York Bay. For that reason, the beaches there don't see the large waves that surfers enjoy along the Rockaway Peninsula. Also, the large number of scoters (and occasionally eiders) that can be seen on the ocean from locations, such as, Breezy Point or Fort Tilden are only seen from time to time off of Coney Island. Anyway, I decided to walk out to the end of the Steeplechase Pier to see if we could get better looks at the gannets and any other seabirds as there were a lot of birds that were just too far off to identify positively.

I've never managed to take any decent photos of a gannet, but here's a really nice one by my friend Steve Nanz:



From the edge of the boardwalk to the end of the fishing pier is nearly 1/4 mile. Scanning from out over the water at that distance actually makes a big different when one is looking at little specks of birdlife on and above the water. We walked out to the end of the T-shaped wharf. Fishermen lining the edges of the pier jiggled their lines hoping to snag Atlantic Herring. When space opened up at the end of the pier we set up our scopes and scanned the flocks of plunging gulls and lines of flying seaducks. We quickly spotted both Common and Red-throated Loons. I've noticed that one Common Loon seems has taken up residence in the water just below the fishermen and has been hanging around the pier since November. Is it possible that this smart loon noticed that the fishermen attract schools of fish with their rows of shiny, dancing lures? The most abundant duck off the pier appeared to be Red-breasted Merganser, with flocks numbering in the hundreds. Smaller numbers of Long-tailed Ducks were relatively close to the beach.

After about 20 minutes on the pier we headed down onto the sand for the walk to the west end. We stopped briefly below the old parachute ride tower to look at a Peregrine Falcon spotted earlier sitting high on the structure.

I explained to the group that the majority of gulls encountered sitting on the beach along the route are Ring-billed Gulls. There are also small numbers of Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls. However, there is always the possibility of a rare gull appearing, so it is important to at least do a quick scan of these abundant birds. Over the last couple of years some unusual gulls found in Brooklyn are Black-headed Gull, Mew Gull, Iceland Gull and the uber-rarity Gray-hooded Gull. One somewhat rare gull that has been showing up around coastal New York in increasing frequency is the Lesser Black-backed Gull. Heydi and I spotted a juvenile lesser black-backed in Coney Island on January 2nd. I was hoping I'd be able to relocate it for the group on Saturday.

The nearly 1 mile walk to the western jetty didn't turn up any rarities but Rusty did spot a pair of Ring-billed Gulls with blue leg bands. I don't recall the numbers but it was not the same banded bird that I found on December 23rd. I'll post the results once Rusty receives them.

There were thousands of gulls in the channel off of the jetty, as well as, lots more gannets. There had been a Red-necked Grebe hanging around this area, but we weren't able to find it. One winter visitor that I was able to find for the group was Purple Sandpiper. These arctic breeders will hang around the rock jetties in Coney Island until early Spring, when they head back up to the tundra. If you try to find them be sure to look closely between the boulders and rocks closest to the breaking surf. They may not look very purple, but in the right lighting, and especially in breeding plumage, they show a purplish iridescence.

The sand spit on Coney Island Creek was loaded with gulls and, predictably they were nearly all ringed-bills. I say nearly because among the common birds was a single juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, likely the same one Heydi and I spotted a week earlier.

The creek and its sunken, wooden barges held an interesting assortment of birds. The most abundant were the Ring-billed Gulls and Canada Geese. Other birds seen were Brant, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Mallard, Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Red-throated Loon and Great Blue Heron. One relatively unusual sighting was of a Snow Goose hanging out within a flock of Canada Goose. There was something very interesting about this goose that I'll cover in detail in the next posting. From the end of West 23rd Street we scanned one of the old barges on the opposite shore that was covered with roosting gulls. At this point, I don't think I need to tell you which species:



While we were scanning the gulls a very large adult Cooper's Hawk flew passed us and landed in a tree next to the Mark Twain Junior High School handball courts. It was joined by a second one which perched on top of the court fencing. All of the birds scattered. Then we noticed something rather odd. A squirrel began climbing up the tree in which the hawk was perched. This brazen little mammal came to the branch the held the large raptor and slowly started to walk towards it. Another squirrel appeared to be plastered to the chainlink fence on which the other Cooper's Hawk was perched. Perhaps the squirrel in the tree thought he could entice the hawk to fly, in which case the little gray rodent would scurry away. The hawk didn't budge and the squirrel eventually got bored and slinked away.

In all, it was a pretty good trip with most folks adding a few more species to their growing 2012 year list.

**********

Date: 01/07/12
Locations: Coney Island, Coney Island Creek
Species: 27
Leader: Rob Jett
Observers: David B., Rusty Harold, Dennis Hrehowsik, Rob Jett, Heydi Lopes, Bobbi Manian, Janet Schumacher, Bob Washburn, Michael Yuan, Ann, Phil

SNOW GOOSE
Brant
Canada Goose
Gadwall
American Black Duck
Mallard
Greater Scaup
Long-tailed Duck
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
NORTHERN GANNET
Great Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Cooper's Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
PURPLE SANDPIPER
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
European Starling
House Sparrow
...Read more

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Treehugger Tuesday

The Washington Post reports that the United States will be the first nation to limit catch size of all fish:

U.S. tightens fishing policy, setting 2012 catch limits for all managed species
By Juliet Eilperin
Published: January 8

In an effort to sustain commercial and recreational fishing for the next several decades, the United States this year will become the first country to impose catch limits for every species it manages, from Alaskan pollock to Caribbean queen conch.

Although the policy has attracted scant attention outside the community of those who fish in America and the officials who regulate them, it marks an important shift in a pursuit that has helped define the country since its founding.

Unlike most recent environmental policy debates, which have divided neatly along party lines, this one is about a policy that was forged under President George W. Bush and finalized with President Obama’s backing.

Click here to read full story.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of January 14, 2012 - January 15, 2012:

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, January 14, 2012
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, January 14, 2012, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walk
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 residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics. For more information, please call 718-548-0912. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

Sunday, January 15, 2012, 9:30am – 11:30am
Wave Hill: Birding Along the Hudson
Guide: Gabriel Willow With Wave Hill Meet at the Perkins Visitor Center. The Hudson River valley hosts an impressive diversity of bird species, even during the winter months. Come explore the beautiful gardens and woodlands of Wave Hill and observe the hardy birds that spend the winter in this urban oasis. Advanced registration is recommended, either online, at the Perkins Visitor Center, or by calling 718-549-3200 x305. (Walks run rain or shine; in case of severe weather call the number above at x245 for updates.) Ages 10 and up welcome with an adult. $10 NYC Audubon, Hudson River Audubon, and Wave Hill members/$18 non-members

Sunday, January 15, 2012, 2pm – 4pm
Winter Seals and Waterbirds Eco-Cruise
Meet at South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 and come aboard NY Water Taxi’s eco-friendly vessel for a winter adventure in New York Harbor! Look for harbor seals on the rocky shores of Governor’s Island and the more remote Hoffman and Swinburne Islands. Learn about the surprisingly diverse winter birds of New York City, including ducks, geese, loons, and sandpipers, many of which migrate south from the Arctic. See the Statue of Liberty and pass under the Verrazano Bridge. Dress warmly and bring your binoculars. Limited to 60. To register, contact New York Water Taxi at 212-742-1969 or visit their website. $35 for adults; $25 for children 3-12 (no member discount)

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, January 14, 2012, 12 noon to 2:00 p.m.
Page Avenue Beach and Woods
After an examination of the beach geology and the flotsam and jetsam accumulated at the high tide line we will move inland to explore the woodlands. Besides the wildlife we will be looking for old foundations and evidence of human occupation in the past few centuries. Dress sturdily including water-proof footwear and warm clothes.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

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Queens County Bird Club
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Minitrip Breezy Point, Queens
Leader Eric Miller 917-279-7530
Meet 7:45am walk starts 8am
See map here
Birding Site Maps page

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bird Walks
8:00 a.m.
Focus on wildlife happenings in the park with NYC Audubon experts and the Urban Park...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free

Wilderness Survival
11:00 a.m.
What would you do if you found yourself lost in the woods? Do you know how to build your...
Location: Blue Heron Nature Center (in Blue Heron Park), Staten Island
Free

Birding: Winter Birds
11:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
Free

Orienteering
1:00 p.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the...
Location: Prospect Park Picnic House (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
Free

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter Birding Along The Hudson at Wave Hill
9:30 a.m.
The Hudson River valley hosts an impressive diversity of bird species, even during the...
Location: Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx

Animal Tracks Exploration
11:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Bloomingdale Park Playground (in Bloomingdale Park), Staten Island
Free

Nature Exploration (Light)
11:00 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
Free

Wilderness Survival
1:00 p.m.
What would you do if you found yourself lost in the woods? Do you know how to build your...
Location: Pelham Bay Ranger Station (in Pelham Bay Park), Bronx
Free

Garden and Conservatory Walk at Wave Hill
2:00 p.m.; 3:00 p.m.
Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights.
Location: Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
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Saturday, January 07, 2012

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, January 6, 2012:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Jan 6, 2012
* NYNY1201.06

- Birds Mentioned:
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD+
MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD+
GRACE'S WARBLER+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Greater White-fronted Goose
Black Brant
Blue-winged Teal
King Eider
Harlequin Duck
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE
Red-necked Grebe
Eared Grebe
American Bittern
Great Egret
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Turkey Vulture
Rough-legged Hawk
Virginia Rail
Red Knot
Western Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Snipe
American Woodcock
Laughing Gull
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
DOVEKIE
Razorbill
Barn Owl
SNOWY OWL
Short-eared Owl
Red-headed Woodpecker
Northern Shrike
Common Raven
House Wren
SEDGE WREN
Marsh Wren
Eastern Bluebird
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Ovenbird
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-breasted Chat
Lincoln's Sparrow
Dickcissel

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

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

If electronic submission is not possible, 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, January 6th, at 7:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are GRACE'S WARBLER, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD, RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, DOVEKIE, SNOWY OWL, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, SEDGE WREN, and more.

The Southern Nassau Christmas Count on Sunday the 1st recorded 133 species, highlights including a female KING EIDER in Jones Inlet, 3 HARLEQUIN DUCKS around the Point Lookout jetties, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, RED-NECKED GREBE, 20 GREAT EGRETS, YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, RED KNOT and 3 WESTERN SANDPIPERS at Tobay, 8 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS, WILSON'S SNIPE and 4 displaying AMERICAN WOODCOCK, singles of LAUGHING GULL, ICELAND GULL, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL and GLAUCOUS GULL, 6 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES and RAZORBILLS, 3 BARN OWLS, a very white SNOWY OWL in the dunes off Jones Beach West End field 2, 2 VIRGINIA RAILS, EASTERN BLUEBIRD, and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. As appealing as these are though, the major excitement centered around a GRACE'S WARBLER discovered in pines at Point Lookout Town Park, this a first record for the Northeast and of course for New York, pending NYSARC approval.

The GRACE'S was relocated in the pine stand Monday through Wednesday, usually in the mornings, but could not be found Thursday or today. To reach this spot from the southbound Meadowbrook Parkway, take the Loop Causeway west to Point Lookout, keep to the left, cross Lido Boulevard at the light and enter Point Lookout Town Park. Follow the entrance road past the entrance booth to the stop sign, turn left and continue a short distance to the next stop sign. The warbler was found in the pine stand on the left. The SNOWY OWL was seen again at Jones Beach West End Tuesday and Thursday but does move around. Look for the GLAUCOUS GULL around the Point Lookout beaches and ICELAND GULL in the West End 2 parking lot.

Highlights from the Orient Count last Saturday included a HARLEQUIN DUCK, TURKEY VULTURE, 5 RAZORBILLS, VIRGINIA RAIL, RED-NECKED GREBE, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, a SEDGE WREN at Orient Beach State Park, plus HOUSE WREN, 3 MARSH WRENS, and a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT.

The RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD was still visiting flowers at the American Museum of Natural History today. Look for it feeding at the small yellowish flowers on the west or right side of the entrance to the planetarium on 81st Street.

In Central Park an immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER continues in the northwestern part of the fenced off Hallett Sanctuary in the southeast corner of the park.

A bright DICKCISSEL remains with House Sparrows at Inwood Hill Park in northern Manhattan, around the southwest portion of the park near the ball fields. Also there today were a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER and a NASHVILLE WARBLER.

In Bryant Park, a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT continues in plantings along the Fifth Avenue side in front of the New York Public Library. Unfortunately the second CHAT was found deceased, but also noted there this week have been OVENBIRD, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and a LINCOLN'S SPARROW, plus an AMERICAN WOODCOCK today.

An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was still in Swindler's Cove Park in upper Manhattan Sunday.

The GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE remains at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

A drake BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was seen on the West Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge last Sunday, and watch for the EARED GREBE in the bay, south of the West Pond trail.

A "Black Brant" subspecies of BRANT was spotted from the boat launch area of Floyd Bennett Field Thursday, and a NORTHERN SHRIKE was in the northwestern field today, with 5 RED-NECKED GREBES offshore in the bay.

Two ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS have been in Kissena Park in Queens lately.

The MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD in Calverton has not been seen since Monday off the Route 25A fields. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was still present Monday along the fields behind the powerlines east of Hulse Landing Road.

In Montauk Point a DOVEKIE was found between the restaurant and the lighthouse last Sunday, and reported again on Tuesday.

A female KING EIDER and an ICELAND GULL were noted off Camp Hero Sunday, and other lingering birds in that area include a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE at the Deep Hollow Ranch off Route 27, RED-NECKED GREBES at Culloden Point, a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at Lazy Point in Napeague, and a GLAUCOUS GULL at Sagg Pond in Bridgehampton.

A SNOWY OWL has been present on an island at SHINNECOCK east of the Ponquogue Bridge lately. Look for SHORT-EARED OWL and AMERICAN BITTERN along Dune Road, and two COMMON RAVENS were in Hampton Bays Monday.

For information to sign up for the pelagic trip out of Freeport on Saturday, January 14th, call See Life Paulagics now at (215) 234-6805, or visit their website at http://www.paulagics.com

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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