Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Treehugger Tuesday

Scientist and outspoken critic of global climate change theory, Richard Muller, had an epiphany. In an op-ed piece published in the New York Times Muller refers to himself as "a converted skeptic".

July 28, 2012
The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic
By RICHARD A. MULLER

Berkeley, Calif.

CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.

These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming. In its 2007 report, the I.P.C.C. concluded only that most of the warming of the prior 50 years could be attributed to humans. It was possible, according to the I.P.C.C. consensus statement, that the warming before 1956 could be because of changes in solar activity, and that even a substantial part of the more recent warming could be natural.

Our Berkeley Earth approach used sophisticated statistical methods developed largely by our lead scientist, Robert Rohde, which allowed us to determine earth land temperature much further back in time. We carefully studied issues raised by skeptics: biases from urban heating (we duplicated our results using rural data alone), from data selection (prior groups selected fewer than 20 percent of the available temperature stations; we used virtually 100 percent), from poor station quality (we separately analyzed good stations and poor ones) and from human intervention and data adjustment (our work is completely automated and hands-off). In our papers we demonstrate that none of these potentially troublesome effects unduly biased our conclusions.

The historic temperature pattern we observed has abrupt dips that match the emissions of known explosive volcanic eruptions; the particulates from such events reflect sunlight, make for beautiful sunsets and cool the earth’s surface for a few years. There are small, rapid variations attributable to El NiƱo and other ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream; because of such oscillations, the “flattening” of the recent temperature rise that some people claim is not, in our view, statistically significant. What has caused the gradual but systematic rise of two and a half degrees? We tried fitting the shape to simple math functions (exponentials, polynomials), to solar activity and even to rising functions like world population. By far the best match was to the record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, measured from atmospheric samples and air trapped in polar ice.

Just as important, our record is long enough that we could search for the fingerprint of solar variability, based on the historical record of sunspots. That fingerprint is absent. Although the I.P.C.C. allowed for the possibility that variations in sunlight could have ended the “Little Ice Age,” a period of cooling from the 14th century to about 1850, our data argues strongly that the temperature rise of the past 250 years cannot be attributed to solar changes. This conclusion is, in retrospect, not too surprising; we’ve learned from satellite measurements that solar activity changes the brightness of the sun very little.

How definite is the attribution to humans? The carbon dioxide curve gives a better match than anything else we’ve tried. Its magnitude is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect — extra warming from trapped heat radiation. These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism, but they raise the bar: to be considered seriously, an alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as carbon dioxide does. Adding methane, a second greenhouse gas, to our analysis doesn’t change the results. Moreover, our analysis does not depend on large, complex global climate models, the huge computer programs that are notorious for their hidden assumptions and adjustable parameters. Our result is based simply on the close agreement between the shape of the observed temperature rise and the known greenhouse gas increase.

It’s a scientist’s duty to be properly skeptical. I still find that much, if not most, of what is attributed to climate change is speculative, exaggerated or just plain wrong. I’ve analyzed some of the most alarmist claims, and my skepticism about them hasn’t changed.

Hurricane Katrina cannot be attributed to global warming. The number of hurricanes hitting the United States has been going down, not up; likewise for intense tornadoes. Polar bears aren’t dying from receding ice, and the Himalayan glaciers aren’t going to melt by 2035. And it’s possible that we are currently no warmer than we were a thousand years ago, during the “Medieval Warm Period” or “Medieval Optimum,” an interval of warm conditions known from historical records and indirect evidence like tree rings. And the recent warm spell in the United States happens to be more than offset by cooling elsewhere in the world, so its link to “global” warming is weaker than tenuous.

The careful analysis by our team is laid out in five scientific papers now online at BerkeleyEarth.org. That site also shows our chart of temperature from 1753 to the present, with its clear fingerprint of volcanoes and carbon dioxide, but containing no component that matches solar activity. Four of our papers have undergone extensive scrutiny by the scientific community, and the newest, a paper with the analysis of the human component, is now posted, along with the data and computer programs used. Such transparency is the heart of the scientific method; if you find our conclusions implausible, tell us of any errors of data or analysis.

What about the future? As carbon dioxide emissions increase, the temperature should continue to rise. I expect the rate of warming to proceed at a steady pace, about one and a half degrees over land in the next 50 years, less if the oceans are included. But if China continues its rapid economic growth (it has averaged 10 percent per year over the last 20 years) and its vast use of coal (it typically adds one new gigawatt per month), then that same warming could take place in less than 20 years.

Science is that narrow realm of knowledge that, in principle, is universally accepted. I embarked on this analysis to answer questions that, to my mind, had not been answered. I hope that the Berkeley Earth analysis will help settle the scientific debate regarding global warming and its human causes. Then comes the difficult part: agreeing across the political and diplomatic spectrum about what can and should be done.

Richard A. Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former MacArthur Foundation fellow, is the author, most recently, of “Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines.”
...Read more

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of August 4, 2012 - August 5, 2012:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Morning Bird Walk: Early Migrants
Free!
Meet the amazing birds of Prospect Park on this expert-guided walk. Start your Sunday morning surrounded by nature!

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.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Trip Leader: Sandy Paci
Focus: Sandpipers and Shorebirds peak
Car Pool fee: $12.00
Registrar: Sandy Paci email sandypaci [AT] earthlink.net or Cell: 917-207-6691
Note: High Tide is 10:52 am
Registration period: July 24th - August 2nd

**********

Gowanus Dredgers
Saturday, August 4, 2012, 1pm – 5pm
Canoe on the Gowanus Canal
Bring a friend for a self-guided Canoe trip sponsored by the Gowanus Dredgers to raise awareness of Harbor Issues www.gowanuscana​l.org

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, August 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, August 4, 2012, 8am – 9:30pm
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, August 5, 2012, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Sunset EcoCruise to the Harbor Heron Islands
Guide: Gabriel Willow With New York Water Taxi Meet at South Street Seaport's Pier 17. We're excited about this summer's ecocruises; we’ve expanded our explorations of the City's island rookeries to three different locations! Depending on which weekend you choose, cruises may visit the fascinating Brother Islands, the large egret and cormorant colonies on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, or the great expanses of Jamaica Bay. Whichever your destination, you'll experience the wonders of New York's famous harbor at sunset and see some of the three thousand herons, egrets, and ibis nesting on these urban island treasures. To learn about specific cruise dates and register, visit New York Water Taxi online or by phone at 212-742-1969. Limited to 90. Pricing varies by destination.

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, August 4, 2012, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Reed’s Basket Willow
Discover this hidden natural park in Dongan Hills. We’ll visit the three bodies of water in the park and hike through the woodlands. Although none of the willows grown by the Reed family still exist, the woodlands and stream are still home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Meet at the Spring Street entrance in Dongan Hills.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, August 5, 2012, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Greenbelt Nature Center to Meisner Dam and Moses Mt.
Join Hillel Lofaso for a cool summer walk along the white Buck’s Hollow trail to the Meisner Dam and then Moses Mt. Bring beverage and snack. We might expect some minimal, wet walking. Meet at the Greenbelt Nature Center parking lot. We go in all weather.
For more information call Hillel Lofaso at 718-477-0545.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, August 4, 2012

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

Plover Day
12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Learn about Rockaway's endangered shorebird, the piping plover, with educational games and...
Location: B.60th Street and Boardwalk (in Rockaway Beach Boardwalk), Queens
Free!

Plover Day
12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: B.60th Street and Boardwalk (in Rockaway Beach Boardwalk), Queens
Free!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hudson River Park Wild!
9:00 a.m.
Hudson River Park is bringing some attention to its vital role in creating one of the...
Location: Hudson River Park's Pier 40
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, July 28, 2012

New York City Rare Bird Alert

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

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Jul. 27, 2012
* NYNY1207.27

- Birds mentioned

RUFF+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Common Eider
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Cory's Shearwater
Great Shearwater
MANX SHEARWATER
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
WHIMBREL
MARBLED GODWIT
Western Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Royal Tern
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush

- 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, July 27th 2012 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are RUFF, MARBLED GODWIT, WHIMBREL and other shorebirds plus some pelagics including MANX SHEARWATER.

The shorebird conditions on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge are back to desired levels after last year's debacle. The number of birds continuing to visit the pond especially around high tide remains impressive and the variety should continue to increase over the next month.

The rufous RUFF was still being seen at least through Monday usually along the east side of the pond towards the north end but we have no reports since then. Other recent East Pond sightings have featured LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER Thursday, a small number of PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and WESTERN SANDPIPERS and some STILT SANDPIPERS along with good numbers of the more expected species and save August 25th for the annual Shorebird Festival at the bay.

On eastern Long Island out at Shinnecock the flats west of the Ponquogue Bridge off Road K produced a MARBLED GODWIT and 2 WHIMBREL today. Further west along Dune Road there were 4 WHIMBREL at Cupsogue County Park in West Hampton Dunes on Tuesday with another there last Saturday. Numbers of ROYAL TERNS are increasing there and at nearby Pike's Beach and other terns there have featured a couple of BLACK TERNS plus a CASPIAN TERN at Pike's Beach on Tuesday.

A decent number of WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS has been present recently in the bay between Montauk and Gardiner's Island with 74 counted from Culloden Point last Sunday. Ducks also summering there featured 9 SURF SCOTERS and 2 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS plus 2 COMMON EIDER. A birder offshore up to 25 miles south of Montauk, besides hundreds of WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS, also encountered 1 MANX SHEARWATER, 1 CORY'S SHEARWATER and 8 GREAT SHEARWATERS last Sunday.

A bit of landbird migration noted recently has included both LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH and YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER among others in New York City parks and an impressive movement of swallows along the beach at Cupsogue last Wednesday morning featured about 200 CLIFF SWALLOWS along with numerous BARN SWALLOWS and around 150 each of BANK SWALLOW and TREE SWALLOW but just 3 NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS.

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, July 27, 2012

Friday's Foto

After an incredibly brief breeding season, several species of shorebirds have already begun their southbound "Fall" migration. Around NYC the best place to see flocks of shorebirds is the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. That is where Heydi, Paige and I found ourselves last Saturday. There was a fair mix of species around the pond, but the North Island seemed to be dominated by Short-billed Dowitchers. Breeding in bogs and wet meadows of the Canadian boreal forests, they winter in coastal mudflats from southern U.S. through the Caribbean and northern South America.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Treehugger Tuesday

Denmark Builds Cycling Superhighway

According to the following article in the New York Times, Denmark, which is already the most bicycle friendly country in the world, just opened what is essentially a bicycle superhighway.

July 17, 2012
Commuters Pedal to Work on Their Very Own Superhighway
By SALLY McGRANE

COPENHAGEN — Picture 11 miles of smoothly paved bike path meandering through the countryside. Largely uninterrupted by roads or intersections, it passes fields, backyards, chirping birds, a lake, some ducks and, at every mile, an air pump.

For some Danes, this is the morning commute.

Susan Nielsen, a 59-year-old schoolteacher, was one of a handful of people taking advantage of Denmark’s first “superhighway” for bicycles on a recent morning, about halfway between Copenhagen and Albertslund, a suburb, which is the highway’s endpoint. “I’m very glad because of the better pavement,” said Ms. Nielsen, who wore a rain jacket and carried a pair of pants in a backpack to put on after her 40-minute commute.

The cycle superhighway, which opened in April, is the first of 26 routes scheduled to be built to encourage more people to commute to and from Copenhagen by bicycle. More bike path than the Interstate its name suggests, it is the brainchild of city planners who were looking for ways to increase bicycle use in a place where half of the residents already bike to work or to school every day.

“We are very good, but we want to be better,” said Brian Hansen, the head of Copenhagen’s traffic planning section.

He and his team saw potential in suburban commuters, most of whom use cars or public transportation to reach the city. “A typical cyclist uses the bicycle within five kilometers,” or about three miles, said Mr. Hansen, whose office keeps a coat rack of ponchos that bicycling employees can borrow in case of rain. “We thought: How do we get people to take longer bicycle rides?”

They decided to make cycle paths look more like automobile freeways. While there is a good existing network of bicycle pathways around Copenhagen, standards across municipalities can be inconsistent, with some stretches having inadequate pavement, lighting or winter maintenance, as well as unsafe intersections and gaps.

“It doesn’t work if you have a good route, then a section in the middle is covered in snow,” said Lise Borgstrom Henriksen, spokeswoman for the cycle superhighway secretariat. “People won’t ride to work then.”

For the superhighway project, Copenhagen and 21 local governments teamed up to ensure that there were contiguous, standardized bike routes into the capital across distances of up to 14 miles. “We want people to perceive these routes as a serious alternative,” Mr. Hansen said, “like taking the bus, car or train.”

The plan has received widespread support in a country whose left- and right-leaning lawmakers both regularly bike to work (albeit on slightly different models of bicycle).

Riding on the first superhighway, which grew more crowded as it neared the city, Marianne Bagge-Petersen said she was heading to a support group for job seekers. “I think it’s very cool,” she said, noting that the path allowed her to avoid roads with more car traffic. “Taking the bike makes me feel good about myself. I’m looking for a job, and if I don’t get out, it’s going to be a very long day.”

The Capital Region of Denmark, a political body responsible for public hospitals as well as regional development, has provided $1.6 million for the superhighway project.

“When we look at public hospitals, we look very much at how to reduce cost,” said a regional councilor, Lars Gaardhoj, who had just picked up his three small children in a cargo bike decorated with elephants. “It’s a common saying among doctors that the best patient is the patient you never see. Anything we can do to get less pollution and less traffic is going to mean healthier, maybe happier, people.”

In Denmark, thanks to measures like the superhighway, commuters choose bicycles because they are the fastest and most convenient transportation option. “It’s not because the Danes are more environmentally friendly,” said Gil Penalosa, executive director of 8-80 Cities, a Canadian organization that works to make cities healthier. “It’s not because they eat something different at breakfast.”

Lars Gemzo, a partner at Gehl Architects, said that within Copenhagen, biking was already the best option for many kinds of trips. “If you want to drive a car for a medium distance, you know you are a fool,” he said. “You are going to waste time.”

Danish statistics show that every 6 miles biked instead of driven saves 3 1/2 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and 9 cents in health care costs. But many cite happiness among the chief benefits of bicycle commuting.

“When you have been biking for 30 minutes, you have a really good feeling about yourself,” said Henrik Dam Kristensen, the minister for transport, who supports the superhighways. “You really enjoy a glass of wine because you’ve earned it.”

Frits Bredal, the head of communications at the Danish Cyclists’ Federation, cautioned that the superhighways were not perfect. “Ideally, there would be no red lights, there would be a perfect pavement, no holes, no obstacles, a real highway,” Mr. Bredal said.

Several biking innovations are being tested in Copenhagen. Some, like footrests and “green wave” technology, which times traffic lights at rush hour to suit bikers, have already been put into place on the superhighway. Others, like garbage cans tilted at an angle for easy access and “conversation” lanes, where two people can ride side by side and talk, might show up on long-distance routes in the future.

Superhighway users can also look forward to some variation on the “karma campaign,” now under way in Copenhagen, in which city employees take to the streets with boxes of chocolate to reward cyclists who adhere to the five rules of cycling: be nice, signal, stay to the right, overtake carefully and, rather than let bicycle bells irritate you, do your best to appreciate them.

The next superhighway will link Copenhagen with the municipality of Fureso, to the northwest. There, the existing bike path takes riders through a beautiful forest that is, unfortunately, very dark at night.

Last winter, to comply with superhighway standards, Fureso tested solar-powered lighting. “People were so happy about it,” said Lene Hartmann, Fureso’s climate project leader. “One rider said, ‘We feel like the trolls are taking care of us.’ ”

Several years ago, a Fureso resident, Karsten Bruun Hansen, started a “bike bus,” in which cyclists meet and commute together, taking turns blocking the wind. (Inspired by Mr. Hansen’s idea, the municipality also created a bike bus for children to ride to school together.)

Mr. Hansen, who estimates that he personally saves a ton of carbon dioxide every year, hopes that the superhighway will encourage more people to ride their bikes. “It’s unavoidable to commute to work,” Mr. Hansen said. “This way, you are using the time doing something fun.”

Ole Bondo Christensen, Fureso’s mayor, is also looking forward to the improvements that the superhighway will bring. Mr. Christensen, who does not own a car, bikes nearly four miles to work every day. “It’s my way to clear my brain,” he said. “Sometimes I get new ideas.”

This summer, after the rest of the solar-powered lights are installed, Fureso’s section of the road will be superhighway-ready.

“Now, the wind should always be at your back,” Mr. Christensen said with a smile. “We are working on that.”
...Read more

Monday, July 23, 2012

Upcoming Nature Trips

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

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Sunday, July 29, 2012
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
Saturday, July 28, 2012, 1pm – 5pm
Canoe on the Gowanus Canal
Bring a friend for a self-guided Canoe trip sponsored by the Gowanus Dredgers to raise awareness of Harbor Issues www.gowanuscana​l.org

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, June 28, 2012 (Canceled)
rain date - Sunday, June 29, 2012

Midsummer Woodland Flora of Van Cortlandt Park
Leader and Registrar: Joyce Hyon
Registration opens Monday, 7/16.
Public transportation.

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, July 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, July 28, 2012, 8am – 9:30pm
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, July 29, 2012, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Sunset EcoCruise to the Harbor Heron Islands
Guide: Gabriel Willow With New York Water Taxi Meet at South Street Seaport's Pier 17. We're excited about this summer's ecocruises; we’ve expanded our explorations of the City's island rookeries to three different locations! Depending on which weekend you choose, cruises may visit the fascinating Brother Islands, the large egret and cormorant colonies on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, or the great expanses of Jamaica Bay. Whichever your destination, you'll experience the wonders of New York's famous harbor at sunset and see some of the three thousand herons, egrets, and ibis nesting on these urban island treasures. To learn about specific cruise dates and register, visit New York Water Taxi online or by phone at 212-742-1969. Limited to 90. Pricing varies by destination.

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, July 28, 11 a.m. to 1 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 call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday July 29, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Hike with Mike Crooke’s Point
Join historian and naturalist Mike Shanley on a walk through Crooke’s Point. Mike will discuss the history of the site, while we search for birds and other wildlife. We will meet by the small bathroom at the end of the last parking lot before Crooke’s Point.
For more information call Mike Shanley at 917-753-7155.

**********

Urban Park Rangers

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Van Cortlandt Park Bird Walks
8:00 a.m.
Bird Walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park and are led by NYC Audobon experts and...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Birding
8:00 a.m.
Come birdwatching with Urban Park Rangers in Van Cortlandt Park! Birding programs are...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Birding
10:00 a.m.
Come birdwatching with Urban Park Rangers in Forest Park! Birding programs are...
Location: Forest Park Visitor Center (in Forest Park), Queens
Free!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hudson River Park Wild!
9:00 a.m.
Hudson River Park is bringing some attention to its vital role in creating one of the...
Location: Hudson River Park's Pier 40
Free!

Freshkills Park Birding Tour
10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Join us as we search for the birds of Freshkills Park along the site's wetlands, creeks and...
Location: Freshkills Park, Staten Island
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New York City Rare Bird Alert

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

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* July 20, 2012
* NYNY1207.20

- Birds Mentioned:

RUFF+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Horned Grebe
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
BROWN PELICAN
AMERICAN AVOCET
Red Knot
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Black Tern
Royal Tern
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
KENTUCKY WARBLER
BLUE GROSBEAK

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

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

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

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

~ Transcript ~

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

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

Compiler: 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, July 20th, 2012, at 11:00pm. The highlights of this tape are BROWN PELICAN, AMERICAN AVOCET, RUFF, general shorebird migration, KENTUCKY WARBLER, and BLUE GROSBEAK.

Three BROWN PELICANS were seen last Saturday at the Calvert Vaux Park in the Gravesend Bay area of Brooklyn. Also noteworthy were the continued presence of two BLUE GROSBEAKS, along with such regulars as Willow Flycatcher and Indigo Bunting.

Last Sunday an AMERICAN AVOCET was seen at the Piermont Pier in Rockland County.

An AMERICAN AVOCET was present Monday on the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, but was not seen thereafter.

The male RUFF that was initially found July 4th on the East Pond of Jamaica Bay, continued there this week. Another RUFF, identified as a female (Reeve), was found there on Sunday. Both birds were reported present on the East Pond today (Friday) -- the female at the south end, and the male at the north end.

Shorebird numbers on the East Pond of Jamaica Bay peaked on Monday with about 4500 birds of 17 species, including 3500 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, 800 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 51 STILT SANDPIPERS, RED KNOT, and WESTERN SANDPIPER.

Shorebirds at Cupsogue County Park peaked on Wednesday, with about 1200 birds of 13 species, highlighted by a PECTORAL SANDPIPER. Four ROYAL TERNS and 2 BLACK TERNS were reported at Cupsogue on Tuesday.

The previously reported KENTUCKY WARBLER continues at the NYS/DEC Property, on the south side of the Route 25A bypass, between Broadway (Rocky Point) and Randall Road (Shoreham).

Last Sunday 25 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS were present at the mouth of the Rockaway Inlet in Breezy Point, Brooklyn.

A HORNED GREBE in breeding plumage was found in Reeves Bay, Flanders, at the end of Peconic Trail, and continues through today.

A YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, BROWN CREEPER, and RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH were among the notable species seen at Connetquot River State Park last Saturday.

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

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

[~END TAPE~]

~ End Transcript ~

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday's Foto

The scientific name for the Black-crowned Night Heron is "nycticorax", meaning night raven. They are the world's most common heron species and are active primarily at dusk and nighttime. I found this bird on Prospect Lake in Brooklyn trying to stay cool during a recent heat wave by roosting in the shade and panting with its bill open. During the summer months I frequently observe individuals flying up from the harbor and into Prospect Park as the sun is setting. Another location in Brooklyn to find this species and the related Yellow-crowned Night Heron is Calvert Vaux Park.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Treehugger Tuesday

According to the website DNAinfo the Bronx may soon be the home of the world's largest rooftop farm:

Proposed Hunts Point Rooftop Farm Could Be World's Largest
By Patrick Wall, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

Hunts Point Rooftop Farm The proposed rooftop farm in Hunts Point's food distribution area could fill a nearly 10-acre, 200,000-square-foot space. (NYC Economic Development Corporation)

HUNTS POINT — Only green thumbs with deep pockets need apply.

Private developers are being sought by the city to build a farm atop the 200,000-square-foot roof of a warehouse in the neighborhood's sprawling food distribution zone, creating the potential for one of the largest rooftop farms in the world.

"I welcome the development of a rooftop farm in Hunts Point with open arms," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., whose office has financed 13 green roofs in The Bronx. "This new proposal will not only create much-needed jobs, but will also provide fresh produce for countless Bronxites."

In March, BrightFarms, Inc. unveiled plans to build a hydroponic greenhouse atop a former Navy warehouse in Brooklyn's Sunset Park. The private company said its farm, occupying up to 100,000 square-feet, would be the largest in the US and possibly the world.

The city's Economic Development Corporation has put out a request for proposals for the Hunt's Point rooftop farm, which could cover almost 10-acres of rooftop, twice the size of the proposed Sunset Park farm.

Two food distributors, Sultana Distribution and Citarella, currently occupy the warehouse in Hunts Point, located at 600 Food Center Drive.

Situated at the southeastern edge of the peninsula, along the bank of the East River, the building rests inside a 329-acre food distribution corridor that includes the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, the Cooperative Meat Market and the New Fulton Fish Market. The markets' 115 private wholesalers serve more than 23 million customers that reside in the region and together they generate $3 billion in annual sales, according to the city.

Other food and drink distributors, such as Anheuser-Busch, also operate in the area.

The year-round rooftop farm could easily plug into the zone's network of regional distributors, EDC president Seth Pinsky said Tuesday.

“With the opportunity to build one of the world’s largest rooftop farms," Pinsky said, "we will create important new opportunities to connect producers and distributors, greatly enhancing the existing food network and generating new jobs for Bronx residents.”

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also expressed support for the plan, which she called an "innovative urban agricultural model."

With additional reporting by Jill Colvin.
...Read more

Monday, July 16, 2012

Upcoming Nature Trips

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

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Sunday, July 22, 2012
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
Saturday, July 21, 2012, 1pm – 5pm
Canoe on the Gowanus Canal
Bring a friend for a self-guided Canoe trip sponsored by the Gowanus Dredgers to raise awareness of Harbor Issues www.gowanuscana​l.org

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, July 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

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, July 21, 2012, 8am – 9:30pm
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, July 22, 2012, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Sunset EcoCruise to the Harbor Heron Islands
Guide: Gabriel Willow With New York Water Taxi Meet at South Street Seaport's Pier 17. We're excited about this summer's ecocruises; we’ve expanded our explorations of the City's island rookeries to three different locations! Depending on which weekend you choose, cruises may visit the fascinating Brother Islands, the large egret and cormorant colonies on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, or the great expanses of Jamaica Bay. Whichever your destination, you'll experience the wonders of New York's famous harbor at sunset and see some of the three thousand herons, egrets, and ibis nesting on these urban island treasures. To learn about specific cruise dates and register, visit New York Water Taxi online or by phone at 212-742-1969. Limited to 90. Pricing varies by destination.

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, July 21, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
LaTourette multi-purpose path (the bike path)
Meet at the bike path entrance on the Old Mill Road next to St. Andrews Church (the old one). We will walk along the path toward its T-junction cutting invasive vines that strangle saplings along the trail. If you don’t have your own, Protectors will supply gloves and pruners (& refreshments). After a two-hour work session (our 193rd 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, July 22, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Studies in the Greenbelt: High Rock on a Midsummer Morning
Come out and see how our woods adapt to the midsummer season. Which flowers will we find in bloom and why? We’ll circle the ponds and check the swamps for out bloomed skunk cabbage and the tall yellow iris. Try to be alert to deer damage to young shrub foliage and tree bark. Be sure to bring beverage, binoculars, and your camera and field guides. Meet at the Greta Moulton Gate at the top of Nevada Avenue. We go in all weather.
For more information call Hillel Lofaso at 718-477-0545.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, July 21, 2012

Van Cortlandt Park Bird Walks
8:00 a.m.
Bird Walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park and are led by NYC Audobon experts and...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Birding
8:00 a.m.
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome. To enhance...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Wildlife Exploration
11:00 a.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: Highbridge Park, Manhattan
Free!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hudson River Park Wild!
9:00 a.m.
Hudson River Park is bringing some attention to its vital role in creating one of the...
Location: Hudson River Park's Pier 40
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New York City Rare Bird Alert

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

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* July 13, 2012
* NYNY1207.13

- Birds Mentioned:

RUFF+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

American Bittern
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
'Western' Willet
Whimbrel
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Gull-billed Tern
Black Tern
Royal Tern


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

Tom Burke is away this week and next. To report sightings call:
Tony Lauro (631) 734-4126

Compiler: 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, July 13, 2012 at 9:30pm. The highlights of today's tape are RUFF, and general shorebird migration.

The RUFF at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge was still present today at the East Pond.

Good numbers of shorebirds were reported today at Jamaica Bay, with 3000 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, along with 23 STILT SANDPIPERS, 1 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, and 1 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER.

Today at Cupsogue County Park, 13 species of shorebirds were encountered, with over 300 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. Also seen here were 4 BLACK TERNS, 3 ROYAL TERNS, and 4 'WESTERN' WILLETS.

A WHIMBREL was reported today at the mussel beds near the Ponquogue Bridge at Shinnecock Bay. Another WHIMBREL was seen along Dune Road in Hampton Bays last Saturday. Also seen were a YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON and an AMERICAN BITTERN.

Two GULL-BILLED TERNS were at Jamaica Bay East Pond on Monday, and three BLACK TERNS were reported at Napeague Harbor near Montauk last Sunday.

Tom Burke is away this week and next. Please call in reports to Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126.

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, July 13, 2012

Friday's Foto

Osprey, sometimes referred to as the "Fish Eagle", are now fledging offspring from nests all around coastal New York City and Long Island. The use of the chemical DDT lead to a sharp decline in their population due to eggshell thinning. After the pesticide was banned in the US in 1979 this fish-eating species began a steady recovery such that in 1983 it was downgraded from its 1976 "Endangered" status to "Threatened". In 1999 it was again downgraded from "Threatened" to "Special Concern." You can find annual nesting pairs at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wildlife Slaughter

Question: When is a wildlife refuge not a refuge for animals?
Answer:   When it is located within New York City.

According to an article in MetroNY, the USDA rounded up and killed 750 geese from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge:

Federal agents kill 750 geese from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge near JFK airport
CARLY BALDWIN and DANIELA BERNAL
09 July 2012 01:57


New York City resident Robert Guadagna took this photo of USDA agents rounding up geese on Randall's Island on June 17, 2009.

They’re back.

Agents with the U.S. Department of Agriculture removed more than 700 Canada geese from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Monday morning, at the prodding of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

In the hours between 7 a.m. and noon, 711 of the birds, including possibly goslings, were rounded up and put into crates, said Carol Bannerman, with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a division within the USDA.

They were then drive to a meat processing plant in upstate New York, where the geese will be killed and their meat will be given to food banks upstate, Bannerman told Metro. In the past carbon dioxide has been used to gas the geese to death.

The more than 700 geese rounded up today comes after USDA agents removed 40 geese from a landfill near John F. Kennedy airport two weeks ago, said Bannerman. In total, 751 geese have been removed from area around JFK in the past two weeks.

That leaves only about 750 Canada geese remaining in the federally protected preserve. Before the round-up, there were 1,500 geese in the park, said Gateway National Recreation area spokesman John Warren.

According to Warren, the feds originally called for killing up to 1,000 geese in the park. But molting season ended before that many could be taken, he said.

Bannerman told Metro there will be no more further cullings planned for this summer.

But today's surprise killing shocked and outraged many New Yorkers.

“I was sick to my stomach,” said Brooklynite David Karopkin when he heard of the killings yesterday. Karopkin, 27, runs GooseWatch NYC, which seeks to monitor and record the controversial cullings of geese in the metro area. “New Yorkers have been kept in the dark about what’s going on. These operations are done with no transparency, no public approval -- for the most part we’re told after the fact.”

"It's really a disgrace and a shock that New York City's only wildlife and bird sanctuary has been opened up to a wildlife slaughter for no good reason," Edita Birnkrant, the New York director of Friends of Animals, said. "I'm in utter disbelief at the stupidity of some of the people in office."

Gillibrand has been pushing for more than three years to allow agents into the Jamaica Preserve, a 9,000-acre estuary and bird sanctuary that surrounds JFK’s runways. The birds are a hazard to planes taking off from JFK and LaGuardia airports, she and others argue.

Just this past April, a Delta jet hit geese when it took off from JFK. The cabin filled with smoke, but the plane made a safe emergency landing.

Gillibrand specifically wanted the geese culled before the end of their June and July molting phase, when the adult birds and goslings cannot fly and can be easily rounded up.

Geese-plane strikes

The USDA first started removing geese from the NYC area in July of 2004. In the five years before that, there were nine bird strikes on planes at LaGuardia, said Carol Bannerman.

In the five years after 2004, to July of 2009, there have been three bird strikes.

The most famous of which is when geese brought down the "Miracle on the Hudson" flight in January of 2009.

But according to Karopkin, the geese that brought down that flight were migrating from Canada, and did not nest in the metro area.

“So even if you killed every animal in New York City you would not have prevented that crash," he said.

A history of cullings

Number of geese removed from around the city:

2009 1,276 geese removed and killed
2010 1,676 geese removed and killed
2011 575 geese removed and killed
2012 751 killed so far this year

Source: USDA

**********

Mahatma Gandhi is often quoted as saying, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
...Read more

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Treehugger Tuesday

US Navy Embraces Biofuels

The following article was just published in Reuters:

Navy moves ahead on biofuels despite congressional ire
Fri, Jul 6 2012

By David Alexander, Susan Cornwell and Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon is pushing ahead with a $420 million effort to build refineries to make competitively priced biofuels, despite anger in Congress over the price the Navy paid for alternative fuel to test a carrier strike group this month.

The government plans provide $210 million in matching funds to help firms build three refineries, each able to produce at least 10 million gallons of biofuel a year for military jets or ships, according to documents released this week. The Navy would supply $170 million and the Energy Department $40 million.

The military's spending on alternative fuels has drawn criticism from Republican lawmakers, with Senator Jim Inhofe charging that President Barack Obama's priorities are "completely skewed" and Representative Mike Conaway accusing Navy Secretary Ray Mabus of "squandering precious dollars."


You can read the entire article here.

Upcoming Nature Trips

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

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Sunday, July 15, 2012
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
Saturday, July 15, 2012, 1pm – 5pm
Canoe on the Gowanus Canal
Bring a friend for a self-guided Canoe trip sponsored by the Gowanus Dredgers to raise awareness of Harbor Issues www.gowanuscana​l.org

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, July 15, 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, July 14, 2012, 8am – 9:30pm
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, July 15, 2012, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Sunset EcoCruise to the Harbor Heron Islands
Guide: Gabriel Willow With New York Water Taxi Meet at South Street Seaport's Pier 17. We're excited about this summer's ecocruises; we’ve expanded our explorations of the City's island rookeries to three different locations! Depending on which weekend you choose, cruises may visit the fascinating Brother Islands, the large egret and cormorant colonies on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, or the great expanses of Jamaica Bay. Whichever your destination, you'll experience the wonders of New York's famous harbor at sunset and see some of the three thousand herons, egrets, and ibis nesting on these urban island treasures. To learn about specific cruise dates and register, visit New York Water Taxi online or by phone at 212-742-1969. Limited to 90. Pricing varies by destination.

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, July 14, 2012, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Page Avenue Beach and Woodlands
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 comfortable clothing. We will meet at the Lenape Playground at the corner of Billop Street and Swinnerton Avenue.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

**********

Staten Island Museum
Sunday, July 15, 2012, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Dragonfly Atlas Workshop
Location: High Rock Park
Free
Join Staten Island’s dragonfly experts for a visit to the ponds at High Rock Park. Identification skills and use of the identification key will be covered. Meet at the High Rock parking lot at the end of Nevada Ave.
For more information call Seth Wollney at 718.483.7105.

Sunday, July 15, 2012, 9:00am - 11:00am
Ecology Walk: Greens in the Greenbelt
Location: Moses Mountain
Wondering what makes the Greenbelt green? Join us for a morning walk from the Egbertville Ravine to the Northern Seaview Woods by way of Moses Mountain. Meet at the corner of Miesner and Rockland Avenues near the Egger Nursing home. Wear comfortable shoes for this 4 mile walk.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, July 14, 2012

Van Cortlandt Park Bird Walks
8:00 a.m.
Bird Walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park and are led by NYC Audobon experts and...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Birding
8:00 a.m.
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome. To enhance...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Birding
9:00 a.m.
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome. To enhance...
Location: High Rock Ranger Station (in High Rock Park), Staten Island
Free!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hudson River Park Wild!
9:00 a.m.
Hudson River Park is bringing some attention to its vital role in creating one of the...
Location: Hudson River Park's Pier 40
Free!

Birding: Shorebirds
10:00 a.m.
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome. To enhance...
Location: Salt Marsh Nature Center (in Marine Park), Brooklyn
Free!
...Read more

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Governor's Island Terns

On Sunday Robin and I took a bike ride along Brooklyn's coast and ultimately ended up on the ferry to Governor's Island. I've posted in the past about our trips to this historic island that lies in the water between Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, but on this latest trip we made an unexpected discovery.

The Governor's Island Trust now operates a free ferry service that runs from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is located at the foot of Atlantic Avenue just off the corner of Columbia Street. We actually hadn't planned on taking the ferry, but when we saw the short line for the trip across Buttermilk Channel we figured, what the heck. The channel is so narrow at that point that I'm pretty sure it took longer to load the ship and prepare to depart than it actually took to cross the water. With near 100 degree temperatures in the city, the tree covered island in the middle of the water felt 20 degrees cooler, especially on the Brooklyn facing side. We decided to pedal clockwise around the perimeter and check out the annual tern colony on "Yankee Pier".

The "Y" shaped pier overlooks the Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal and, on this particular day, the docked Queen Mary 2. Two-thirds of the concrete pier is active and open to the public, although most visitors to the island just stroll or pedal passed the entrance. The third spoke of the pier is fenced off and slightly dilapidated. I'm always curious about this section's residents and walk out to take a look. A telephone booth circa 1970 stands just inside the chainlink fence. A Common Tern stood guard atop the booth. Three well-fed, fuzzy offspring waddled out of it when we approached. There is probably some profound lesson about the transitory nature of technology when the only likely visitor to a payphone is a bird, I'm just not sure what it is. A second adult tern perched on the fence squawked at us and took a few close dives at our heads. I learned from my childhood summers on the North-fork of Long Island that adult terns protecting their nests will rarely come in contact with human intruders. They are more about intimidation and less about drawing blood. We quickly realized that the adult from the fence had three hatchlings on the ground quite close to the fence, so we backed off a bit. That seemed to calm the nervous parent and he or she flew off to catch some fish in the channel.

I scanned the area behind the fence and realized that it has been a very successful season for this New York State threatened species. Each time an adult tern would arrive at the pier with a fish a couple of dozen fat, down-covered youngsters would run to the center of the pier hoping to be fed. I recounted several times in case I missed any chicks hiding within coils of rotting rope or broken chunks of cement, so am pretty certain that there were at least 30 young Common Terns on the pier. Not far from the fence I spotted two unhatched eggs resting in a scrape. I don't know if they were abandoned or if it was just warm enough that they didn't need to be incubated fulltime.

I could have spent hours watching this noisy, amusing community of birds and wondered if any other birders or biologists were aware of this unusual breeding colony at the fringes of bustling New York Harbor. If you've never been to Governor's Island I highly recommend a day trip, if not for the history and incredible views, for the adorable little tern chicks.
...Read more

Treehugger Tuesday

Urban Aquaponics in Oakland, California

The land in West Oakland where Eric Maundu is trying to farm is covered with freeways, roads, light rail and parking lots so there's not much arable land and the soil is contaminated. So Maundu doesn't use soil. Instead he's growing plants using fish and circulating water.


Check out the "Kijani Grows" website here.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Prospect Park Birds

I had a few interesting observations among the many expected breeding bird species in Prospect Park today.

One of my main objectives was to try and locate the Acadian Flycatcher nest just north of the Boulder Bridge near Rick's Place. I'd looked for it a few times already and, while I always heard the distinct "peet-sah" call of this small empidonax flycatcher, the nest remained hidden from me. To my knowledge this species had only nested in Brooklyn once before, in 2007. That year the nest was built in a small maple tree in the Midwood, only a short distance from this year's location. I approached Rick's Place from the north, where the dirt bridle path splits to the right and the paved footpath to the left. Reports from other birders placed the nest in a sweetgum tree. There are 3 of these trees in this spot, so I figured it would be easy to find. I guess not, because after searching for 10 minutes (and hearing the flycatchers calling nearby) I was ready to give up. As I walked up the path towards the Boulder Bridge I spotted this chalk mark on the ground:



A few feet passed that cryptic mark was this one:



"ACFL", Acadian Flycatcher. I looked up and, directly above the 4 letter note was the small, twig and fiber flycatcher nest. Unfortunately, there didn't appear to be anyone sitting on the nest. I waited around for 15 minutes and never saw the adults return to the nest. Either the nest failed or the young had fledged already and were out foraging with their parents.

On Lookout Hill, several yards south of the Maryland Monument I heard one of my favorite bird songs, the bouncy "QUICK, bring me the beer CHECK" melody of a White-eyed Vireo. The bird was tucked away in the low brush along a stretch of hillside where I had spotted a pair of these tiny, energetic birds carrying nest material early in the Spring. I attempted to call it out into the open with a "pishing" sound. This noise is reminiscent of something one might do to call their cat, but which also draws the attention of birds. I've been told that, to a bird, it sounds like another bird in distress. It rarely works well for me, but in this case the vireo flew to a branch above my head, as did a House Wren, Warbling Vireo and three catbirds. I didn't see any other White-eyed Vireos, but assume that this bird's presence in the same place as my Spring sighting indicated that it probably did nest in Prospect Park this year.

In a clearing on the hillside a few yards closer to the monument I heard the insistent song of an INDIGO BUNTING. This is a bird that has never nested in Prospect Park, but given some of the other unexpected nesters this season, I suppose anything is possible. The habitat along the ridge where this gorgeous songbird was serenading has changed dramatically over the past few years. It was primarily a deciduous hardwood forest, however, landscape managers have been removing invasive Sycamore Maples and Norway Maples leaving a large, open meadow-like area where they've replanted native saplings and a large swathe of wildflowers. It is now more typical of habitats where one would find nesting buntings as close to the city as Harriman State Park or Sterling Forest.

Still on Lookout Hill, on the ridge just below the upper meadow, I spotted yet another unexpected species - a Black-throated Blue Warbler. The only wood-warbler species that I am aware of that regularly nest within New York City's five boroughs are Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart and Yellow Warbler. It is unlikely that the black-throated blue is breeding in Prospect Park. More reasonable is that this bird is a "floater" or an unattached male without a territory. I watched the bird for several minutes as it foraged low in the understory, gleaning insects from the undersides of leaves. He worked the side of the ridge on either side of the stairway that ascends Lookout Hill from the south. I kept hoping I'd see him carry food back to a nest or waiting mate, but he never did and I felt a little sad for him.

I noticed lots of food sources now available for butterflies and other pollinators. Purple Cone flowers were attracting bees, Cabbage White butterflies, Orange Sulphurs and Silver-spotted Skippers. I searched the undersides of milkweed leaves for monarch caterpillars, but didn't find any. Here are a few more photos from Prospect Park:











*********

Location: Prospect Park
Date: Jun 27, 2012 11:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Species: 41

Wood Duck (1, Upper Pool.)
Great Egret (1.)
Green Heron (2.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker (1.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (1, Calling at south end of Midwood.)
ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (2, vocalizing in vicinity of nest at Rick's Place. Nest appeared to be empty.)
Eastern Kingbird (5.)
WHITE-EYED VIREO (1, singing on Lookout Hill about 30 yards south of Maryland Monument.)
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (7, feeding above water next to new islands near skating rink.)
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee (2.)
Carolina Wren (2.)
House Wren (4.)
Wood Thrush (1, Midwood.)
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (1, foraging low to ground on ridge adjacent to Lookout Hill south stairway.)
Chipping Sparrow
INDIGO BUNTING (1, singing from hillside a few yard south of the Maryland Monument.)
Common Grackle
Orchard Oriole (1, Singing from tree on Breeze Hill.)
Baltimore Oriole

Other commons species seen (or heard):
Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker (2.), Downy Woodpecker (1.), American Robin, Blue Jay, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow
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Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of July 7, 2012 - July 8, 2012:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Sunday, July 8, 2012
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.

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Gowanus Dredgers
Saturday, July 8, 2012, 1pm – 5pm
Canoe on the Gowanus Canal
Bring a friend for a self-guided Canoe trip sponsored by the Gowanus Dredgers to raise awareness of Harbor Issues www.gowanuscana​l.org

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, July 8, 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

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, July 7, 2012, 8am – 9:30pm
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, July 8, 2012, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Sunset EcoCruise to the Harbor Heron Islands
Guide: Gabriel Willow With New York Water Taxi Meet at South Street Seaport's Pier 17. We're excited about this summer's ecocruises; we’ve expanded our explorations of the City's island rookeries to three different locations! Depending on which weekend you choose, cruises may visit the fascinating Brother Islands, the large egret and cormorant colonies on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, or the great expanses of Jamaica Bay. Whichever your destination, you'll experience the wonders of New York's famous harbor at sunset and see some of the three thousand herons, egrets, and ibis nesting on these urban island treasures. To learn about specific cruise dates and register, visit New York Water Taxi online or by phone at 212-742-1969. Limited to 90. Pricing varies by destination.

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Sunday, July 8, 2012, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Hike with Mike - Arbutus Woods
Join historian and naturalist Mike Shanley on a walk through Arbutus Woods Park. This Bluebelt property was once home to the Trailing Arbutus, a plant now locally extinct. We will discuss the history of the area while we search for plants and wildlife. We will meet at the corner of Kingdom Avenue and Eylandt Street near PS 5.
For more information call Mike Shanley at 917-753-7155.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, July 7, 2012

Van Cortlandt Park-Bird Walks
8:00 a.m.
Bird Walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park and are led by NYC Audobon experts and...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Birding
8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome. To enhance...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Plover Day
12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to...
Location: B.60th Street & Boardwalk (in Rockaway Beach Boardwalk), Queens
Free!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hudson River Park Wild!
9:00 a.m.
Hudson River Park is bringing some attention to its vital role in creating one of the...
Location: Hudson River Park's Pier 40
Free!

Birding at Wave Hill
9:30 a.m.
Naturalist Gabriel Willow contributes his extensive knowledge of bird species and...
Location: Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
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Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope