Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday's Foto

I spotted this Groundhog taking a nap in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. I suspect that he was roused from sleep in his den by a team of landscape workers nearby. The shade from a stand of large oaks and the cool paving stones must have felt good in the 90+ degree mid-afternoon weather. This large squirrel is native to North America and Green-Wood Cemetery is one of only a few places where remnant populations can still be found within New York City.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Treehugger Tuesday

Bloomberg News reports that the federal government has issued a permit for the first ocean wave-powered energy plant:

Ocean Power Gets License for First U.S. Wave-Energy Project
By Sally Bakewell

Ocean Power Technologies Inc. received permission to build the first commercial wave-power plant in the U.S.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a 35-year license for the company’s planned 1.5-megawatt power project about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon, Ocean Power said today in a statement.

The approval validates the Pennington, New Jersey-based company’s technology to convert the motion of the sea into electricity and may lead to additional commercial marine-energy projects, said Chief Executive Officer Charles Dunleavy.

“The 35-year term of the license demonstrates the commercial potential of wave power, and this will support initiatives to secure financing for the project,” he said in the statement.

The project comprises 10 of the company’s PowerBuoys tethered to the sea bottom which generate power as waves and tides move them up and down. It will generate enough power for about 1,000 homes, according to Ocean Power.

Ocean Power shares rose 6.4 percent to $2.51 at the close in New York.

The first PowerBuoy, which received funding from the U.S. Energy Department, is expected to be installed this year.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Sally Bakewell in London at Sbakewell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net
...Read more

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of September 1, 2012 - September 3, 2012:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Introduction to Birdwatching
Saturdays, 12 – 1:30 p.m.
Explore the Park's natural areas and learn how to look for amazing birds.

Sunday, September 2, 2012
Early Morning Bird Walk: Fall Migration
Sunday, September 2, 8 a.m.
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.

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Prospect Park
Meet 7 am at Bartel Pritchard Square park entrance
Trip Leader: Ed Crowne
Focus: Autumn migration peak

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Gowanus Dredgers
Saturday, September 1, 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, September 1, 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, September 1, 2012, 7:30am – 10:30am
StarrTrips in Central Park
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings in Central Park, Saturday, August 20 – Saturday, October 29 Join Starr Saphir for bird watching in Central Park. On Mondays and Wednesdays, meet at 7:30am sharp at 81st and Central Park West (SE corner). On Tuesdays, meet at 9am sharp at 103rd and Central Park West (parkside). On Saturdays, meet at 7:30am sharp at 103rd and Central Park West (parkside). All Starr Trips are non-smoking. No registration necessary. For more information, call Starr at 917-306-3808. $8 ($4 for full time students)

Saturday, September 1, 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, September 2, 2012, 10am – 11am
Birding for Families
Guides: NYC Audubon Offered by the Central Park Conservancy Meet at the Dana Discovery Center (inside the Park at 110th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenues). Bring the kids and visit one of New York City’s richest bird habitats. Learn as a family how to spot and identify our feathered neighbors in their natural surroundings. Binoculars can be borrowed from the Visitor Center. For weather cancellation information, call 212-860-1370. Limited to 20. Age 5 and up. Free. Click here to learn more and register

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North Shore Audubon Society
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Alley Pond Park, 76th Ave.
Trudy Horowitz: 718-224-8432
Barbara Garriel: 628-9022
Walks are for beginners and experienced birders alike.
Weather permitting, walks start at 9:30 a.m. unless indicated otherwise.
If in doubt, call the trip leader. Please note: all phone numbers are code 516 unless otherwise shown. In most cases, your contacts are the trip leaders.
For directions, click sitefinder view. We encourage carpooling where feasible.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, September 1, 2012

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!

Bird Walks at The New York Botanical Garden
11:00 a.m.
The diverse habitats of the Botanical Garden offer visitors a chance to see dozens of...
Location: New York Botanical Garden (in Bronx Park), Bronx

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Birding
9:00 a.m.
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome. To enhance...
Location: Inwood Hill Nature Center (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
Free!
...Read more

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday's Foto

The Ruddy Turnstone is one of two species of turnstone found in North America. Breeding in the Arctic tundra, they winter as far south as the southern tip of South America. Around New York City this common, distinctive shorebird can be seen on migration at most coastal locations. They can also be found in the Eastern Hemisphere where they are referred to as just the "Turnstone".

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Weekend Bird Wrap-up

Last weekend's Brooklyn birding revealed a few surprises and added a couple of new species for my yearly Brooklyn list.

19th Annual Tom Davis Shorebird Walk

My friend Sean was leading the annual event at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Saturday. Both Heydi and I had planned on attending, but weather forecasts sounded bad. Thunderstorms were predicted throughout the night and into the early morning. It's one thing to be outdoors in the rain and something entirely different looking through a scope through a curtain of blur at shorebirds that are already difficult to identify. I decided not to go and texted Sean the night before.

Floyd Bennett Field

By around 9:00am the rain began to slow so I started to pack my gear on my bike for a ride down to Floyd Bennett Field. Heydi was already there and texted that there were lots of Black-bellied Plovers at the temporary puddles along all the runways. A short while after, she send another message that there were a few golden-plovers present, as well. By this time the rain had slowed to a drizzle, so I hopped on my bike and headed up the block. About ten seconds into my ride I heard air hissing from my rear tire, stopped to examine the rubber and found a small piece of glass sticking out of the tread. Crap! Repairing the flat cost me about 15 minutes and I hoped that the American Golden-Plovers stuck around until I arrived. I called Heydi to let her know I was delayed and asked for exact directions to the plovers.

On a good day (and with rare bird motivation) it takes me about 30 minutes to ride from my apartment to Floyd Bennett Field. Saturday was a good day and when I arrived I headed straight to the recently mowed "Field A" to scan for golden-plovers. It took me less than a minute to spot one of the birds, then they took off flying. Heydi was walking across the parking lot from Aviator Sports towards the fields. I pedaled over to give her the news, but she had seen them fly and the two of us stood in the parking lot following the flight path of these dark plovers with our eyes.

The birds alternately flew out over the large parking lots and Floyd Bennett's grass fields crisscrossed with old concrete runways. They eventually came down at the edge of the field directly opposite the Ryan Visitor Center. We probably spent about 15 minutes watching these relatively rare visitors to Brooklyn. Earlier I had sent out a text alert about the sighting and expected that other birders would be showing up shortly. We left the nervous birds to forage along the edge of the grass and headed over to Dead Horse Bay.

Dead Horse Bay

The broken glass-encrusted beach along Dead Horse Bay is an unexpected place to find shorebirds, not so much because the habitat is wrong, but because it looks so undesirable for creatures with delicate, little feet. In spots it appears that there is actually more glass than sand blanketing the beach. I suppose that there are still plenty of insects, worms and other marine creatures thriving in the almost-sand because the shorebirds are eating something. I'm concerned about any toxins leaching out of the old landfill and into the environment. Along some stretches of this beach the odor of heating oil is unmistakeable. I imagine that the action of the wind and waves will eventually turn all that glass back to sand, but I won't be here to see it. We were hoping to find some Red Knots foraging among the glass, but instead counted our all time high number of Brooklyn Ruddy Turnstones - 43. In addition to the turnstones there were 37 oystercatchers, nearly half of which were juvenile birds. American Oystercatchers are successful breeders along the Rockaway Peninsula and I assume many of the birds we saw on Saturday just flew across Jamaica Bay to feed on Dead Horse Bay's tasty, toxic tidbits.

We returned to Floyd Bennett Field to have some lunch then scour the fields one more time for "grasspipers". As we walked across the main runway Heydi received a text from Andrew requesting details on the location of the golden-plovers. I was surprised that he was the only birder that came out looking. A short while later we spotted Sean with the remains of his Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge group, as well as, Tom and Gail. All had located the plovers and were very happy. Tom also reported seeing a Pectoral Sandpiper, although it had flown off before Heydi and I arrived. It was nearly low-tide and the flocks of Black-bellied Plovers seen earlier in the morning had taken off to forage on the now exposed flats within Jamaica Bay. I suppose that is also where I might have found the Pectoral Sandpiper.

Prospect Park

North winds at night during the Fall migration is usually an indication that there will be lots of birds the next morning. I was convinced that Prospect Park was going to be loaded with birds on Sunday and arranged to meet Heydi and Paige at first light at Grand Army Plaza. By morning Paige decided to go to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge instead to search for some recently reported rarities. She texted me at around 7am to find out how the activity was in Prospect Park. I think my exact words were, "So far it sux." Up to that point, the north end of the park was virtually devoid of birds. We had seen only one warbler, a Canada Warbler, and very few of the resident birds. That would all change, though, as we approached the Nethermead Meadow.

Just below the intersection of Center Drive and the Ravine Path there is a small stand of mature oak trees at the edge of the Nethermead. As we descended the Ravine Path I heard first a chickadee, then a titmouse vocalizing near the top of one of the oaks. We walked towards the base of the tree and began scanning for the birds. There was a lot of bird activity in that tree and, in addition to the chickadee and titmouse, we quickly tallied Warbling Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Baltimore Oriole! The flock flew across the road to the woods along Quaker Ridge. We followed and walked along the parallel bridle path towards the Quaker Cemetery. Eventually we wound our way up onto Lookout Hill were we found even more bird activity. We spent about an hour there circling the Butterfly Meadow, the top of the hill, then down the south stairway and along the upper Wellhouse Path to the Maryland Monument. I wanted to head out onto the Peninsula and the wooded section there, but there were too many unleashed dogs running around and opted instead to walk over to Green-Wood Cemetery after a short break at Connecticut Muffin.

Green-Wood Cemetery and Back to Prospect Park

There was a bit of warbler activity at Green-Wood Cemetery, but nothing unusual ... mostly lots of American Redstarts. At the Sylvan Water a young Glossy Ibis was feeding along the edge of the pond in front of Fred Ebb's mausoleum. Ibis are relatively unusual in the cemetery and, given the location, I had a sudden urge to start singing "New York, New York."

Our 2 1/2 hour meander in the cemetery paid off with one very nice highlight. We were heading towards a small valley near Boss Tweed when I heard a distinctive, "tu-wee" call of a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. I ran towards the sound of the bird. It called nearly non-stop as it hawked for insects at a stand of mature deciduous trees near the Pierrepont family memorial. This small empidonax flycatcher is easily distinguished from the other similar flycatchers in the Spring by its very yellow undersides. Unfortunately, in the Fall, nearly all the empidonax flycatchers appear to have a yellow wash on their undersides. Luckily, the bird in the cemetery was vocalizing continually and his call is unique and easily differentiated.

Shortly after finding the flycatcher we received a text from Peter that a Golden-winged Warbler was spotted on the Peninsula in Prospect Park. I wrote back asking when. He responded, "Right now." It would take us 30 minutes to walk back from the cemetery to the Peninsula. I hadn't seen a golden-winged in Brooklyn in nearly 10 years, so it was worth taking a chance and hightailing it back.

Once on the wooded end of the Peninsula we saw Adam, Keir and Tom, who had been following the golden-winged. They explained that it had been feeding low in the understory, occasionally feeding right on the ground, but they had recently lost sight of it. Heydi and I split off from them determined not to leave the park until we relocated the bird. We started to sweep back and forth across the narrow finger of land that juts into the park's lake. A few minutes later Keir texted that there was a Cape May Warbler in a pine tree at the end of peninsula. We reversed course. The cape may was easy to find and while we were looking at it I asked the guys if the Golden-winged Warbler was associating with any other birds. They replied that it was within a small flock that included a pair of Chestnut-sided Warblers. We left to continue the search and to keep an eye out for the chestnut-sideds.

Golden-winged Warblers tend to favor areas of low, secondary growth, so that was where we concentrated our search. We had made our way around the Western edge of the forest and were walking into the central area along a dirt path when Heydi shouted, "There it is!" The brightly colored male bird was feeding on insects only about 12" off the ground (the photo doesn't do justice to this lovely bird). A group of about 8 other birders were scanning from a parallel path about 20 yards away so I shouted to them that we had the bird. Everyone came running. A couple of folks were even pushing strollers. More text alerts were sent out. The bird remained in the area feeding very close to the ground and being extremely cooperative for fourteen or more birders. It was the best study I've ever had of this bird. In addition, a pair of the closely related Blue-winged Warbler were feeding in the area. These two species will sometimes hybridize, possibly contributing to the decline of golden-wings.

After about an hour on the Peninsula, Heydi and I had the crazy idea that we could scour Prospect Park one last time and, with a little luck, add one or more species of warbler to our already crazy day list. We headed up to Lookout Hill in search of a Prairie Warbler that was seen there earlier. On our way up the stairs behind the Maryland Monument, Heydi picked out a Worm-eating Warbler in the canopy. At the top of the stairs, walking towards the Butterfly Meadow, I spotted the Prairie Warbler feeding low in a patch of Polkweed and Jerusalem Artichoke. That brought our warbler total, including a Blackpoll and Pine Warbler seen in Green-Wood Cemetery, to 18. At this point we were starting to wind down the day and head back to where we started at the North end of the park. Walking through the Ravine we encountered another birder, whom I didn't know, and we compared warbler notes. We directed him up to Lookout Hill for the worm-eating and prairie, he directed us to the Nethermead Arches for a Wilson's Warbler. From the photo, you know we found the wilson's. The bird was sitting out on a low fence near the edge of the stream. After the bird took off we contemplated which other warbler species were possible on such an early date. One bird that I was surprised we hadn't seen all day was a Black-throated Blue Warbler. We were about 20 minutes away from ending our day and continued North along the bridle path as it followed the stream through the Ravine. About 50 yards passed the Nethermead Arches, there it was - a Black-throated Blue Warbler and our twentieth warbler species of the day. We both tried to take a photo of it through the chainlink fence that separates the horse path from the Ravine's stream. Neither bird nor cameras cooperated.

Sitting on a park bench at the Vale of Cashmere we recounted our day's unbelievable discoveries. Was it really August? The abundance and diversity of warblers that we had experienced seemed more typical for a day during Spring migration! And a good one, at that! I can't wait until the next cold front.

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Date: 08/18/2012
Locations: Dead Horse Bay, Floyd Bennett Field
Species: 60

Brant (7.)
Wood Duck (4.)
Black Scoter (1.)
Double-crested Cormorant (32.)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (2.)
Osprey (2.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1.)
Black-bellied Plover (121.)
AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (3.)
Semipalmated Plover (4
Killdeer (10.)
American Oystercatcher (37.)
Ruddy Turnstone (43.)
Sanderling (1.)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (2.)
Least Sandpiper (1.)
Short-billed Dowitcher (5.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull (21.)
Common Tern (6.)
Black Skimmer (3.)
Chimney Swift (3.)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (1.)
Belted Kingfisher (1.)
American Kestrel (1.)
Willow Flycatcher (1.)
Warbling Vireo (1.)
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee (1.)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (1.)
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher (1.)
Northern Waterthrush (2.)
Common Yellowthroat (1.)
American Redstart (3.)
Yellow Warbler (1.)
Eastern Towhee (2.)
Field Sparrow (2.)
Savannah Sparrow (2.)
Baltimore Oriole (1.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Herring Gull (40.), Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker (1.), Northern Flicker (1.), Blue Jay (1.), American Crow (3.), American Robin, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Song Sparrow (1.), Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

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Date: 08/19/2012
Location: Green-Wood Cemetery
Species: 39

Great Blue Heron (2.)
Great Egret (1.)
Green Heron (1.)
Glossy Ibis (1.)
Spotted Sandpiper (1.)
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker (1.)
Monk Parakeet
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (1.)
Great Crested Flycatcher (1.)
Warbling Vireo
Red-breasted Nuthatch (4.)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Black-and-white Warbler 6
Common Yellowthroat (1.)
American Redstart (20.)
Magnolia Warbler (2.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (1.)
Blackpoll Warbler (1.)
Pine Warbler (1.)
Canada Warbler (3.)
Chipping Sparrow (12.)
Baltimore Oriole (4.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mallard (1.), Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker (5.), American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Song Sparrow (2.), Northern Cardinal, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

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Date: 08/19/2012
Location: Prospect Park
Species: 60

Wood Duck (8.)
Double-crested Cormorant
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Chimney Swift (30.)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (1.)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker (2.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (2.)
Empidonax sp. (1.)
Great Crested Flycatcher (1.)
Eastern Kingbird (1.)
White-eyed Vireo (1.)
Warbling Vireo (8.)
Red-eyed Vireo (3.)
Barn Swallow
House Wren (3.)
Carolina Wren (1.)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (3.)
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing

Ovenbird (1.)
Worm-eating Warbler (1.)
Northern Waterthrush (2.)
Blue-winged Warbler (3.)
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (1.)
Black-and-white Warbler (10.)
Common Yellowthroat (2.)
American Redstart (15.)
Cape May Warbler (1.)
Northern Parula (1.)
Magnolia Warbler (5.)
Yellow Warbler (2.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (5.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (1.)
Prairie Warbler (1.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (1.)
Canada Warbler (4.)
Wilson's Warbler (1.)

Scarlet Tanager (1.)
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole (8.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan (7.), American Black Duck, Mallard, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker (3.), Northern Flicker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Northern Cardinal (1.), American Goldfinch, House Sparrow
...Read more

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Treehugger Tuesday

A study by the University of Utah of "Shade" plantations indicates that wooded plantations promote greater bird diversity. That greater diversity has numerous environmental and economic benefits.

Birds Do Better in ‘Agroforests’ than on Farms
Study Indicates Growing Coffee and Cacao in Shade Helps Birds

Aug. 7, 2012 – Compared with open farmland, wooded “shade” plantations that produce coffee and chocolate promote greater bird diversity, although a new University of Utah study says forests remain the best habitat for tropical birds.

The findings suggest that as open farmland replaces forests and “agroforests” – where crops are grown under trees – reduced number of bird species and shifts in the populations of various types of birds may hurt “ecosystem services” that birds provide to people, such as eating insect pests, spreading seeds and pollinating crops.

“We found that agroforests are better overall for bird biodiversity in the tropics than open farms,” says study author Çağan H. Şekercioğlu (pronounced Cha-awn Shay-care-gee-oh-loo), an assistant professor of biology at the University of Utah.

“This doesn’t mean people should farm in intact forests,” the ornithologist adds. “But if you have the option of having agroforest versus open farmland, that is better for biodiversity, with shade coffee and shade cacao [the source of cocoa and chocolate] being the prime examples.”

Şekercioğlu’s new study, funded by the University of Utah, is being published this month in the Journal of Ornithology. He will present the findings Thursday, Aug. 9, at the Ecological Society of America’s annual meeting in Portland, Ore.

If consumers wish to support bird diversity and agroforests, “a good way is by choosing certified, bird-friendly, shade coffee or shade chocolate,” he says. While such coffee or chocolate often cost more because they are more labor-intensive to produce, the certification “is usually better for the farmers’ income as well.”

He adds: “There are trustworthy environmental organizations that certify shade coffee,” including the Smithsonian Institution, the Rainforest Alliance and the Rainforest Action Network.

Other crops grown in shade include cardamom, which is a spice, and yerba mate, which is steeped in hot water to make a beverage popular in South America.

Study Focuses on Birds of Forests, Farms or Both

An agroforest “is a type of farm where the crops are grown under trees at a reasonable density,” Şekercioğlu says. “Often, it’s not like forest-forest – it feels more like a open park,” although in Ethiopia “commercial coffee is grown under full-on forests in its original native habitat.”

Şekercioğlu conducted the study in two steps. First, “I used my world bird database that has information on all the 10,000-plus bird species of the world,” he says. “I sorted birds based on habitat choices and compared species that prefer forests to those that prefer agricultural areas and others that prefer both forests and agricultural areas.”

Next, he reviewed about 40 previously published studies that examined bird communities in forests, agroforests and open agricultural areas.

“The global analysis of all the birds species mostly agrees with the findings of detailed local bird studies,” Şekercioğlu says.

The study focused 6,093 tropical bird species, including migratory birds, in which their top three habitat choices (out of 14 possible habitats) included forests, farms or both, with the latter described as agroforest birds. So the study found 4,574 bird species that include forest but not farms in their top three habitats, 303 species that include farms but not forests in their top three habitat choices, and 1,216 agroforest species tha include both forests and farms among their top three habitats.

The findings suggest, but don’t prove, that conversion of forest to farmland may reduce ecosystem services, which are services birds provide to people.

“As you go to more and more open agriculture, you lose some bird groups that provide important ecosystem services like insect control [insect eaters], seed dispersal [fruit eaters] and pollination [nectar eaters], while you get higher numbers of granivores [seed and grain eaters] that actually can be crop pests,” Şekercioğlu says. Specifically:

• Insectivores or insect-eating birds do best in forests – especially those that live near the ground in the understory, the layer of plants below the tree canopy and above the ground cover. But small and medium insect-eating birds, especially migrant and canopy species, do well in agroforests. The number of insect-eating species declines on open farms, where they help control pests.

• Frugivores or fruit-eating birds, especially larger ones, “do best in forest because they have more habitat and more food, and the large ones often are hunted outside forests in agricultural settings. Overall, frugivores – especially smaller ones – do OK in agroforests, but the number of fruit-eating species decline significantly on open farms.” Frugivores help spread the seeds of the fruits they eat.

• Nectarivores or nectar-eating birds help pollinate many plants. They “tend to increase in agroforests compared with forests. A lot of nectar-eating birds obviously like flowers, and many plants flower when there’s some light. When you have extensive forest its often pretty shady so not many things are in flower at any given time.” The nectar eaters are less common on open farms.

• Omnivores, which are birds that eat many things, “tend to do better in agroforests and especially on open farms” than in forests, because their diet is so generalized instead of specialized in certain foods.

• Granivores, or grain- and seed-eating birds are “the only group that significantly increases in open agricultural areas. A lot of the seeds they eat are grass seeds, but also from crops. Some of these seed-eating bird species are major agricultural pests, and that’s another reason for encouraging agroforests. In completely open agricultural systems, you have more seed-eating birds that can cause significant crop losses.”

While the study found fewer species on farms than in agroforests, and fewer on agroforests than in forests, Şekercioğlu says it doesn’t answer a key question: “Does the decline in the number species translate into a decline in individuals providing a given ecosystem service?” If so, farms and agroforests have lost birds that provide important insect-control, pollination and seed-dispersal services.

“It is possible you may lose a lot of species, but some of the remaining species increase in number and compensate and for the decline in ecosystem services by the lost species,” he adds. “It’s one of the biggest questions in ecology.”

The Trend toward Sun Coffee

Noting that the study found forests have more tropical bird species than agroforests, which in turn have more bird species that open farms, Şekercioğlu says: “A lot of threatened species globally are found only in forests, and most of them disappear from agroforests and open agricultural areas.”

He says many migratory birds that breed in the United States are in decline – even though the nation has a law to protect them – and not just because of U.S. environmental problems, “but due to problems in their wintering grounds in Latin America, such as loss of habitat and intensification of agriculture.”

“Coffee was originally a mid- to high-elevation African forest understory plant,” he adds. “For centuries in Ethiopia and parts of Central and South America, coffee has been grown as an understory plant with shade traditionally provided by native trees.”

But fungi can be a problem in humid shade coffee plantations, and growers have come up with varieties that grow well in the sun with less fungus and bigger yields, so in recent decades, there has been a trend toward converting Central and South American shade-coffee forests to open farms, Şekercioğlu says.

“As tropical forest is converted to increasingly open types of agriculture, hundreds of endangered bird species are being lost,” he says. “Tropical forest is the only refuge for thousands of bird species and hundreds of endangered bird species. Although agroforest is better than open farmland, at the end of the day intact tropical forest is the only suitable habitat for thousands of bird species.”
...Read more

Monday, August 20, 2012

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of August 25, 2012 - August 26, 2012:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Sunday, August 26, 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, August 25, 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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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Jamaica Bay Roving Butterfly Trip
Leader: Rick Cech
Registrar: Lenore Swenson
Registration opens Monday 8/13.
Ride: $15.

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, August 25, 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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Littoral Society
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Annual SHOREBIRD FESTIVAL at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
Contact: Don Riepe - donriepe [AT] gmail.com
Free *( donation requested)

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, August 25, 2012, 7:30am – 10:30am
StarrTrips in Central Park
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings in Central Park, Saturday, August 20 – Saturday, October 29 Join Starr Saphir for bird watching in Central Park. On Mondays and Wednesdays, meet at 7:30am sharp at 81st and Central Park West (SE corner). On Tuesdays, meet at 9am sharp at 103rd and Central Park West (parkside). On Saturdays, meet at 7:30am sharp at 103rd and Central Park West (parkside). All Starr Trips are non-smoking. No registration necessary. For more information, call Starr at 917-306-3808. $8 ($4 for full time students)

Saturday, August 25, 2012
Shorebird Festival at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Guides and Speakers: Don Riepe, Lloyd Spitalnik, John Rowden, Kevin Karlson Join us at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge for the 7th Annual Shorebird Festival. Learn about shorebird biology, behavior and identification. The program is free and open to the public on a reservation basis. Click here to learn more.

Saturday, August 25, 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.

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Sunday, August 26, 2012, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Hike with Mike North Mount Loretto State Forest
Join historian and naturalist Mike Shanley on a walk through North Mount Loretto State Forest. Mike will be discussing the history of the area while searching for birds and other wildlife. Meet at the North Mount Loretto State Forest DEC parking lot on Amboy Road in Richmond Valley.
For more information call Mike Shanley at 917-753-7155.

Sunday, August 26, 2012, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Studies in the Greenbelt: Summer in the Greenbelt
We will explore the Greenbelt including parts of Pouch Camp to observe all the different plants and animals of a unique woodland and its meadows, streams and ponds. Be sure to bring beverage, binoculars 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.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, August 25, 2012

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
1:00 p.m.
Explore the amazing abundance of wildlifewith us at the Broad Channel American Ball Fields....
Location: Broad Channel American Ball Fields, Queens
Free!

Birding
1:00 p.m.
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome. To enhance...
Location: Broad Channel American Ball Fields, Queens
Free!

Sunday, August 26, 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, August 18, 2012

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, August 17, 2012:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* August 17, 2012
* NYNY1208.17

- Birds Mentioned:
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

MANX SHEARWATER
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
BROWN PELICAN
Solitary Sandpiper
UPLAND SANDPIPER
Whimbrel
MARBLED GODWIT
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Phalarope
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Royal Tern
Black-billed Cuckoo
Common Nighthawk
Blue-winged Warbler
Northern Parula
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
Ovenbird
Kentucky Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Canada Warbler
LARK SPARROW
DICKCISSEL
Bobolink
Orchard Oriole
House Sparrow

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

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

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

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
486 High Street
Victor, NY 14564

~ Transcript ~

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

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

Compilers: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
Transcriber: Karen Fung

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, August 17th, at 7:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are BROWN PELICAN, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, LARK SPARROW, DICKCISSEL, MANX SHEARWATER, MARBLED GODWIT, and UPLAND SANDPIPER .

It was a good week for pelicans, with both North American species putting in appearances.

First, last Saturday on a rising tide, two BROWN PELICANS flew into Jones Inlet and spent a couple of hours around the bar, in the inlet across from the West End Coast Guard Station. They then at about 1pm flew out of the inlet, apparently moving west past Point Lookout, but on Wednesday perhaps it was the same two pelicans reported flying east past the West End Boat Basin, so they could be continuing in the area.

On Tuesday, an AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN dropped in on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, spending time at the north end of the pond before flying off to the southeast. The pelican also appeared back at the north end of the East Pond Thursday and Friday at high tide, so it too seems to be hanging around.

A CASPIAN TERN visited the East Pond Saturday afternoon. Among the shorebirds, numbers have been somewhat low lately, with some juveniles beginning to appear, and two or three LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS continuing on the East Pond.

Also at Jones Beach West End, an immature LARK SPARROW was hanging around the West End 2 parking lot from Thursday the 9th through last weekend, but we have no reports since Monday. Two subadult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were in the West End 2 parking lot Saturday afternoon, and the numbers of Lessers grew to eight in the lot on Wednesday.

A sea watch off West End 2 late Saturday afternoon produced one WILSON'S STORM-PETREL and one MANX SHEARWATER, with this Manx, or a different one, also occurring off Jones Beach field 6 an hour later. A BLACK TERN also visited the West End Saturday.

On Tuesday morning a MARBLED GODWIT appeared on the bar off the West End Coast Guard Station, and a DICKCISSEL was with House Sparrows around the rest rooms near the Coast Guard Station. A WHIMBREL was among other shorebirds at the West End early in the week, and a GULL-BILLED TERN visited the Coast Guard sandbar on Wednesday.

At Heckscher State Park, some rain pools around a few of the parking lots have been attracting a decent variety of shorebirds, including a WHIMBREL that has spent the last three days near field 7. Other sandpipers at Heckscher have featured up to seven or more PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, a STILT SANDPIPER, and three SOLITARY SANDPIPERS. An UPLAND SANDPIPER was also reported there recently.

An UPLAND SANDPIPER flew over the golf course in Calverton on Wednesday, and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was at nearby Sandy Pond.

Out at Cupsogue County Park in West Hampton Dunes, decent numbers of shorebirds on the flats featured three WILSON'S PHALAROPES reported Thursday afternoon, with a WHIMBREL there earlier. A CASPIAN TERN was at Cupsogue Thursday, and there are now about 20 ROYAL TERNS between there and adjacent PIKE'S BEACH.

A few WHIMBREL continue on the North Fork at Cedar Beach County Park in Southold.

The KENTUCKY WARBLER was heard again Thursday at the Rocky Point DEC field off Route 25A after a long quiet period.

A reasonable number of warblers and other migrants came through earlier in the week, some of the more notable species including COMMON NIGHTHAWK, ORCHARD ORIOLE, and BOBOLINK, while among the warblers were BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, NORTHERN PARULA, MAGNOLIA WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, PRAIRIE WARBLER, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, WORM-EATING WARBLER, OVENBIRD, CANADA WARBLER, and even a couple of MOURNING WARBLERS noted from Central Park and Marshlands Conservancy in Rye.

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, August 17, 2012

Friday's Foto

Just as I do with birds, I've been trying to learn to identify cicadas by their songs. Lang Elliott and Wil Hershberger's excellent guide (with accompanying audio CD), "The Songs of Insects", has been a valuable tool. What I've learned about Brooklyn, so far, is that of the 6 expected species of cicadas the Swamp Cicada is the most prevalent summer sound.

Check out the Swamp Cicada's song:


For more information about cicada's check out Lang Elliott and Wil Hershberger's online guide.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Birds and Glass Windows

National Public Radio recently broadcast a really informative, two part series on how thousands of migrating birds are killed by window strikes every year. In the second part they looked at ways in which some architects are trying to design buildings that minimize or eliminate bird collisions.

Part 1
A Clear And Present Danger: How Glass Kills Birds
by Christopher Joyce



Part 2
Building For Birds: Architects Aim For Safer Skies
by Christopher Joyce


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Treehugger Tuesday

In recognition of "Shark Week":

What Would Happen If Sharks Disappeared?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of August 18, 2012 - August 19, 2012:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Sunday, August 19, 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.

**********

Bedford Audubon Society
Saturday, August 18, 10 am–3 pm. Depart Bylane at 8:45 am.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Leader: Tait Johansson
In case you couldn't make the first trip, here is another opportunity to experience the wonders of this "Birders' Mecca." Bring binoculars, lunch, sunscreen, plenty of cold drinks, and boots you don't mind getting muddy. (E-M)

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Trip Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: Sandpipers & Shorebirds peak
Car Pool fee: $12.00
Registrar: Peter Dorosh, Email Prosbird [AT] aol.com or TEXT Message 347-622-3559
Note: High Tide is 10:19 am
Registration period: August 7th - August 16th

**********

Gowanus Dredgers
Saturday, August 18, 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, August 18, 2012
19th Annual Tom Davis Memorial Shorebird Walk At Jamaica Bay
Leader & Registrar: Sean Sime (sean [AT] seansime.com)
Registration opens Monday 8/1.
Public transportation.

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, August 18, 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 18, 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.

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, August 18, 2012, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Conference House Park Herb Garden
Meet with herbalist Gert Coleman in the Colonial Herb Garden at Conference House Park to identify herbs and learn their culinary, medicinal, household, and cultural uses throughout the years. Weather and time permitting, we will stroll through the park to identify “wild” herbs and other useful plants. Meet in the parking lot at the foot of Hylan Boulevard.
For more information call Gert Coleman at 718-356-9235.

Saturday, August 18, 2012, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop on the Red Trail in Buck’s Hollow
Meet at the side of Meisner Avenue (toward the Eger Home) close to the intersection of Meisner and Rockland. We will follow the Red Trail below the Golf Course into Buck’s Hollow where we will remove twining vines and perhaps uproot or weed-whip Japanese Stiltgrass. Protectors will supply tools, gloves and refreshments. After a two hour work session (our 194th 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.

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
All walks start at 9:30 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
Any questions please Call Steve at (516) 987-8103.
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Birding
8:00 a.m.
Come birdwatching with Urban Park Rangers at Van Cortlandt Park! Birding programs are...
Location: Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
Free!

Sunday, August 19, 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

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Protect Gateway National Recreation Area

The House of Representatives has passed a bill authorizing the industrial use of Gateway National Recreation Area. The proposed high pressure gas pipeline will go directly under the beach at Jacob Riis Park, under protected wetlands in Jamaica Bay, and the proposed metering station in Floyd Bennett Field will be only yards from the community gardens!

HR 2606 should be opposed by the voting public because it:

• Turns over land held in the public trust to private industrial use.
• Threatens wildlife, wetlands, and sensitive ecosystems.
• Puts park users and area residents at risk.
• Promotes hydrofracking and the use of shale gas.

A petition has been created to send to Sen. Charles Schumer (NY-1) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-2).

You can help prevent this travesty by signing the petition here.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, August 10, 2012:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* August 10, 2012
* NYNY1208.10

- Birds Mentioned:

Wilson's Storm-Petrel
AMERICAN AVOCET
WHIMBREL
MARBLED GODWIT
Western Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Dunlin
Stilt Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
WILSON'S PHALAROPE
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Black Tern
Royal Tern
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Canada Warbler
LARK SPARROW

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

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

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

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

~ Transcript ~

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

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

Compilers: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
Transcriber: Karen Fung

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, August 10th at 7:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are AMERICAN AVOCETS, MARBLED GODWIT, WILSON'S PHALAROPES, WHIMBRELS, and LARK SPARROW.

With the conditions on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge still very good for shorebirds, it was not surprising that last week an AMERICAN AVOCET stayed at the north end of the Pond through last weekend. Perhaps unfortunately though, three more avocets showed up on the Pond on Monday, and when they departed Monday night, they took the residing avocet with them. Two WILSON'S PHALAROPES also visited the East Pond Monday, but could not be relocated the next day.

Among the other less common shorebirds on the East Pond were a single LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER Saturday, with two on Tuesday, and very low numbers so far of PECTORAL SANDPIPER, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, and WESTERN SANDPIPER have been occurring. A breeding-plumaged DUNLIN, appearing last Saturday, was an early surprise, and a high count of 84 STILT SANDPIPERS was recorded Sunday. One to three GULL-BILLED TERNS continue to visit the tern roosting island at the north end of the East Pond, and a single ROYAL TERN flew down the Pond on Thursday.

On Thursday a LARK SPARROW was reported from Jones Beach West End, the bird noted around the western section of parking field 2. On Friday morning the LARK SPARROW was again around the northwestern corner of lot 2 and was present to at least mid-afternoon, despite being flushed multiple times by passing vehicles. Also reported today in lot 2, in a large gull flock at the eastern end, were eight markedly different LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS.

Among the birds gathered around Jones Inlet on Tuesday were four LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS and a BLACK TERN.

Friday morning a sea watch from the Fishermen's parking lot at Fort Tilden netted six WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS and four BLACK TERNS moving past in a westerly direction, and a whale watch into the Atlantic from Riis Landing on Thursday afternoon noted about 25 WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS, plus two humpback whales.

Out on eastern Long Island along Dune Road, west of Shinnecock Inlet, the low tide mussel beds and mudflats just west of the Ponquogue Bridge have been attracting one to three WHIMBREL during the week. A MARBLED GODWIT, perhaps the same one seen there the last weekend in July, was noted around the bay island west of the bridge on Wednesday and Thursday. It was still present today, but a bit farther east, frequenting the deep water around the easternmost mussel bed.

On the North Fork, Cedar Beach County Park in Southold has been attracting some WHIMBREL for a week or more, and six were counted there just yesterday. This is historically a good location to find WHIMBREL.

Last Sunday two AMERICAN AVOCETS appeared briefly on Downs Creek in Cutchogue, quickly flying off to the south. These may have been part of the three visiting Jamaica Bay on Monday.

Recent land bird migrants noted in the city area have included several species of regionally-breeding warblers, including BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, WORM-EATING WARBLER, HOODED WARBLER, and CANADA WARBLER.

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

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

[~END TAPE~]

~ End Transcript ~
...Read more

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday's Foto

Double-crested Cormorants are a common nesting species on the islands of New York Harbor. According to the New York City Audubon Society's "Harbor Herons Nesting Survey 2010", "A total of 1,372 Double-crested Cormorant nests were observed, representing an increase from the 2007 total of 1,046 nests and the 2009 total of 1,183 nests." These diving birds can be found around New York City during every month of the year and seem to be thriving likely due, in part, to improving water quality and fish populations. This individual was found drying his feathers at the edge of Prospect Lake in Prospect Park.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Of Birds and Moths

Over the weekend Heydi and I birded Marine Park and Dead Horse Bay in search of shorebirds, terns and, for that matter, any unusual migrants that might pass through our field of view.

Sunday began for me at around 5am. I planned on pedaling the approximately 7 miles to the Marine Park Saltmarsh Nature Center, so wanted to leave enough time for a good breakfast before heading out. Heydi and I met up near her place at around 7am then went over to the marsh overlook behind the center. From there we scanned the shoreline and exposed wooden pilings for birds. A Royal Tern had been spotted there earlier in the week. My wife joked that it was probably the one from last August in search of sports bras. Unfortunately, it didn't have the courtesy to wait around until Heydi and I arrived. Harumph. Anyway, from there we checked out the marsh grass for Saltmarsh Sparrows and shorebirds feeding within the network of muddy drainage channels. I spotted a single Saltmarsh Sparrow as it skittered just above the tops of the grass before disappearing into the vast carpet of green. There were also a few Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers in the vicinity. It was getting close to 9am when we decided to head over to Floyd Bennett Field and Dead Horse Bay. Heydi hopped on the Q35 while I hopped on my bike.

The flag in front of Aviator Sports was lifeless on its pole and the air at Floyd Bennett Field felt like it was on fire. After a brief break at Aviator for cold drinks and water bottle refilling, we agreed to skip over the scorching grassland and instead walk over to Dead Horse Bay. Passing the summer camp's pool area I spotted a mound of melting "snow" deposited by the indoor ice rink's Zamboni. I scooped out a handful and packed it against the back of my neck. If the mound had been large enough I would have sprawled out on it and made snow angels.

Heydi suggested that we walk passed the community gardens and check for butterflies at the border of buddleia shrubs. There were some butterflies present, but diversity was low. Perhaps it was even too hot for these pollinators. At the southern edge of the garden, which is dominated by dried irises and fennel, Heydi spotted a tiny moth called the Chickweed Geometer. My close vision isn't as good as it used to be, so had I been alone would have definitely overlooked this tiny pale-yellow and pink moth. I chased it around for a few minutes trying to take some photos, then we continued towards Flatbush Avenue and the Dead Horse Bay trailhead.

Dead Horse Bay is due East of Plum Beach and across Plum Beach Channel. During low-tide there are fairly extensive mudflats at Plum Beach where shorebirds can feed. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of human activity there, including unleashed dogs, disturbing the birds. Some of the migrating shorebirds will fly across the channel to rest and feed along the glass strewn and much less busy shoreline of Dead Horse Bay.

A small mixed flock of shorebirds were feeding along the northern shoreline towards the Flatbush Marina. It consisted of Semipalmated Plover, American Oystercatcher, Spotted Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling and Semipalmated Sandpiper. The most numerous species was Semipalmated Plover.

On the water and fairly close to shore was a female Black Scoter. This individual has been present since, at least, July 14th. Close by was a Common Loon, which is also very unusual to see over-Summering in Brooklyn. The two birds are never very far away from each other and give the impression of a curious avian "Odd Couple" (I wonder which one would be Oscar). Heydi mentioned to me that the scoter did not appear to be able to fly very well. From the photo it looks as though her feathers are either extremely worn or there are new ones coming in. Perhaps she is experiencing a delayed molt, in which case, she won't be able to fly until the new feathers have completely grown in. With regard to the Common Loon, I have no clue why this bird, who breeds in extreme northern New York State and across Canada, would opt to remain in Brooklyn. Maybe to keep his little friend company.

Many of the sumac trees that line the Dead Horse Bay trail were covered with these pretty yellow and red caterpillars. Neither Heydi nor myself had ever noticed them before. We found it interesting that they were only feeding on the leaves of the sumacs and any adjacent shrubs or wildflowers were untouched. When I got close to take a better look, they would raise their heads in alarm and freeze. It was easy to research this caterpillar's identity as sumac seems to be a preferred host plant. In fact, I found some referring to the Spotted Datana as the "Sumac Caterpillar". If you follow the previous link you'll find that the adult moth form of this native species is not nearly as pretty or interesting as the brightly colored caterpillar. I couldn't find any information regarding whether this insect is considered a pest, so perhaps not.

My bike route home cuts across the Parade Grounds between Caton Avenue and Parkside Avenue. It's usually a very busy spot on weekends as it contains several soccer fields, football fields, baseball diamonds and tennis courts. I either walk my bike here or ride very, very slowly. As I was heading north across the Parade Grounds on Sunday I noticed two teenagers staring down at something on the pavement. I looked down and spotted a large, bright green caterpillar. It was a Polyphemus moth caterpillar. I was so excited that I hopped off my bike in front of them and grabbed my camera. While I was taking some photos I explained to the pair what it was they were looking at and described the huge, beautiful moth that it turns into. They smiled and walked away, mumbling something in Spanish. I'm guessing it was something like, "That guy is weird." I've only seen this caterpillar once before, in Green-Wood Cemetery and I've never seen the adult moth.

If I left the caterpillar anywhere in the Parade Grounds it would have been flattened by the end of the day. I picked it up, stuck it in my bike trunk and continued riding to Prospect Park. At a dense, brushy area, not far from the lake, I released him/her. I was thinking about going back and looking for its cocoon. At this point in the year, the pupa may overwinter and not hatch until next Spring.

**********

Location: Marine Park Saltmarsh Nature Center
Date: Aug 5, 2012 7:41 AM - 9:01 AM
Species: 31 species

Canada Goose
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Osprey (3.)
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer (1.)
American Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs (5.)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (8.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Monk Parakeet
Downy Woodpecker (1.)
American Crow (2.)
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
House Wren
Marsh Wren (1.)
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Yellow Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Saltmarsh Sparrow (1.)
Song Sparrow (4.)
Indigo Bunting (1.)
Red-winged Blackbird

**********

Location: Dead Horse Bay
Date: Aug 5, 2012 10:34 AM - 11:50 AM
Species: 21 species

Brant
Black Scoter (1, First spotted 7/14/12.)
Common Loon (2.)
Double-crested Cormorant (5.)
Semipalmated Plover (35.)
American Oystercatcher (3.)
Spotted Sandpiper (1.)
Ruddy Turnstone (6.)
Sanderling (3.)
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
American Redstart
Eastern Towhee
...Read more

Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope