Saturday, March 30, 2013

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, March 29, 2013:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* March 29, 2013
* NYNY1303.29

- Birds Mentioned:

BARNACLE GOOSE+
VARIED THRUSH+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Cackling Goose
Wood Duck
EURASIAN WIGEON
Blue-winged Teal
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Eurasian form "Common Teal")
TUFTED DUCK
Snowy Egret
Tricolored Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Glossy Ibis
Black Vulture
Osprey
Clapper Rail
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Laughing Gull
Iceland Gull
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Eastern Phoebe
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Pine Warbler
LAPLAND LONGSPUR
Rusty Blackbird
Red Crossbill
White-winged Crossbill
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin

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

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

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

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 (during the day except Sunday)
Tony Lauro (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

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, March 29nd, at 7:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are VARIED THRUSH, BARNACLE GOOSE, TUFTED DUCK, EURASIAN WIGEON, Eurasian form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, and Spring Migrants.

A nicely plumaged male VARIED THRUSH remained a findable highlight in Brooklyn's Prospect Park through today. For well over a week now, the thrush has been found feeding on the southern slope of Quaker Hill, just east of Quaker Cemetery and west of the Nethermead Bridge. This area is best viewable from a bridle path running along the north side of Center Drive. Watch for the thrush kicking up the underbrush as it feeds. Some winter finches also continue in Prospect, including WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, PINE SISKINS, and fewer COMMON REDPOLLS.

The drake TUFTED DUCK was still on the pond at Heckscher Park, off Route 25A in Huntington, today.

The Westchester County BARNACLE GOOSE was back on Larchmont Reservoir with a CACKLING GOOSE and some Canadas on Sunday. Also known as Sheldrake Lake, this site is off Weaver Street, south of the Hutchinson River Parkway, in Larchmont. The BARNACLE had also recently been at Twin Lakes Park in Eastchester.

Two EURASIAN WIGEON, along with an apparent hybrid wigeon, were still at Massapequa Preserve Wednesday, and farther out on Long Island, at Terrell River County Park in Center Moriches, a nice collection of Eurasian GREEN-WINGED TEAL was still present with dozens of American GREEN-WINGED TEAL last Sunday. Of the four or more birds exhibiting the horizontal white wing stripe of the Eurasian form, a couple maybe have been hybrids, though none showed a notable vertical white stripe. These birds were along the Terrell River, south of the parking lot off Montauk Highway, Route 27A, on a rising tide.

A hybrid-type Eurasian and American GREEN-WINGED TEAL was also at Hempstead Lake State Park on Sunday. Could this have been the same bird wintering just south of there on Smith Pond in Rockville Centre? Hempstead Lake State Park, a good site for early migrants, on Sunday also featured WOOD DUCK OSPREY, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, a few EASTERN PHOEBES, TREE SWALLOWS, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, PINE WARBLER, and some RUSTY BLACKBIRDS. BLUE-WINGED TEAL appeared there today, the first actually a male on the narrow river in Orient last Saturday, and many have appeared since.

A CACKLING GOOSE was present at Inwood Hill Park in northern Manhattan Sunday to Wednesday, and two were also picked out in flight among some Canada flocks, moving over Randall's Island last Sunday morning. When watching Canada flocks though, remember that Canadas do come in various sizes, and small size alone may not indicate a Cackling Goose.

A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was still around Jones Beach West End Monday, usually seen on the Coast Guard parking lot lawn by the gazebo.

Some lingering winter finches have included a nice flock of COMMON REDPOLLS for several days along Route 25A in Calverton, with WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS still in a few locations such as at Marshlands Conservancy in Rye, and occasional RED CROSSBILLS on eastern Long Island. Birders should remember to look for nesting activity, a possibility with both crossbills locally.

Four BLACK VULTURES were noted over the Bronx Zoo on Wednesday, and some new, recent arriving migrants have included BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON and GREATER YELLOWLEGS, with a LAUGHING GULL in Brooklyn Monday, and the Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area adding SNOWY EGRET and WILLET Thursday, and GLOSSY IBIS and CLAPPER RAIL today.

Unexpected was a TRICOLORED HERON reported from Montauk last Saturday, when an ICELAND GULL was still around the Montauk Harbor Inlet.

Decent numbers of COMMON RAVENS have been noted locally recently, some presumably nesting.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126, or during the day except Sunday 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, March 29, 2013

NYU Hawk Cam

Be sure to check out the live webcam of the Red-tailed Hawk nest on NYU's library overlooking Washington Square Park:

http://www.livestream.com/nyu_hawkcam

Walking Brooklyn's Coast

I recently discovered that it is possible to walk from Gerritsen Creek to Dead Horse Bay via a small tunnel that runs under the Belt Parkway. From there it's just a short walk to Floyd Bennett Field. I decided that it might be fun to do a long walk along this section of coastal Brooklyn that also includes Mill Basin and Four Sparrow Marsh.

It was just past first light when I met Heydi at the back of the Marine Park Saltmarsh Nature Center on Avenue U near E. 33rd Street. The plan was to walk the entire East side of Gerritsen Creek, heading South to the Belt Parkway. From there we'd follow the shore until we reached Flatbush Avenue, cross the avenue to Floyd Bennett Field. At Floyd Bennett we'd briefly stop at the Return-a-Gift Pond then continue through the North Forty to Mill Basin. Once at Mill Basin we'd cross back under the Belt Parkway and continue to Four Sparrow Marsh. We'd end the walk at Four Sparrow Marsh and catch the bus on Flatbush Avenue.

The numbers on the above map coincide with the panoramic photos, below, that I took along the route.

East side of Gerritsen Creek

Walking South on the East side of the creek a secondary channel splits off after about 1/2 mile and wraps around the back of White Island. This tributary runs for about 3/4 of a mile South then rejoins the main creek. The Army Corp of Engineers has been restoring habitat on the once phragmite-dominated island and I'm always hopeful that I'll spot an owl, Rough-legged Hawk or other winter species hunting over the improved habitat.

The birds we encountered along the way were mostly just the expected Winter species - Brant, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Northern Shoveler, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Loon, Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe and Double-crested Cormorant. A low flying Osprey was my first sighting of this huge raptor this Spring. Perhaps it was checking out the nest platform erected by the parks department a couple of years ago. At a bluff overlooking the back of White Island I heard my first Boat-tailed Grackle of the season. This large blackbird nests around the creek and has a distinctive vocalization that is about as appealing to my ears as nails on a blackboard.

The water body widens at the South end of White Island where it rejoins the main creek. Lots of waterfowl were feeding in this area. A Bufflehead with a long, narrow fish draped in his bill was being pursued by a thieving Herring Gull. The gull won this time.






Parkway Graffiti Tunnel

This hillside leading up to the tunnel under the parkway is littered with hundreds of rusting paint spray cans. It's an interesting contrast to the shell-strewn shoreline.



Dead Horse Bay

I've been searching Google Earth's satellite views for inspiration to new places to explore around Brooklyn. One spot that caught my eye was this stretch of beach that runs from Plum Beach Channel and along the Northern end of Dead Horse Bay. The satellite view shows a pond tucked into the phragmites between the bicycle path that parallels the parkway and the Flatbush Marina. I've been thinking that it could be a possible spot to find migrant waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds and sparrows. I couldn't tell if it was just a tidal pond or if there was a source of fresh water filling it up, either way, the birds seemed to like it. There wasn't anything unusual there when I visited, just some Mallards, black ducks and scaup.

The Winter scaup flock has moved from the area South of the marina to a spot between the marina and the Northern shoreline. The birds were pretty close to shore and the flock is still fairly sizeable. I'm guessing that there were a couple of thousand birds in two rafts.





Mill Basin

After a food and bathroom break at Aviators Sports, we continued our walk towards Mill Basin and Four Sparrow Marsh.

The Return-a-Gift Pond held all of two ducks, so we left after about 30 seconds. The trail from the pond to Mill Basin is a little over a mile long. About 3/4 of the way there I heard the ringing chirps of Spring Peepers. The song of these tiny frogs is certainly a sign that Spring has arrived, but I was surprised where I was hearing them. Normally they would be at the Return-a-Gift Pond (which they weren't) and apparently there was also a body of water hidden away in a tangle of woods and phragmites between this section of hiking trail and the basin.

Scanning the water across Mill Basin yielded the same water birds we'd been observing all morning. Still, it was a nice day for a long walk and I wasn't disappointed...yet. We still had one more habitat to cover.




Four Sparrow Marsh

I had scheduled our walk to coincide with the low-tide by the time we got to Four Sparrow Marsh. When the tide is high, one would need hip waders and even then, the mud might suck you down like quicksand. Approaching from Mill Basin, there is a narrow access trail at the North-East side of the marsh. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy had changed the contours and redistributed massive amounts of wood, boats and other floatable trash. I wandered back and forth for a long time, unable to find the back entrance, so decided to walk all the way around to the North-Western boundary of the marsh. From there we were able to slog through the mud and into the tidal interior section.

Trying to pick a dry path along the edge of the marsh, we carefully and quietly scanned ahead for snipe. This is the time of year that they migrate and Four Sparrow Marsh is the most reliable place to find them in Brooklyn. There were hardly any birds present and I was getting ready to give up. Turning to Heydi I said, "We should have found one by now." An instant later we heard a raspy "scaipe" as a single Wilson's Snipe popped up from in front of us and flew to our left.

Having found what we came for, we decided to call it a day and head back to Flatbush Avenue. With mud splattered clothes and dirty water draining from our soggy boots we sat on the bus recounting what species we had added for the season and pondered the possibilities for the newly discovered pond near Dead Horse Bay. We had walked a little over 6 miles and were looking a little weary and wind blown. As is typical of New York City, nobody gave us a second look.



**********

Date: 03/23/13
Locations: Dead Horse Bay, Four Sparrow Marsh, Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park
Species: 35

Brant
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Northern Shoveler
Greater Scaup
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
OSPREY
Red-tailed Hawk
Killdeer
American Oystercatcher
WILSON'S SNIPE
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
American Robin
European Starling
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE
House Sparrow
...Read more

Friday's Foto

The arrival of the first Eastern Phoebes and Pine Warblers are two sure signs that Spring has finally arrived around NYC. Another, more subtle, indication of the changing season can be seen in the overwintering Ruddy Ducks on our ponds and lakes. Within the last couple of weeks the male's drab mottled body plumes have transitioned to a deep rusty, red-brown. Their head and nape have darkened to black and their bills have morphed from a dull gray to brilliant sky-blue. By the end of May, nearly all of the birds that Wintered around New York will have departed for breeding grounds in the western United States and western/central Canada.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Treehuggger Tuesday

BBC published an interesting piece about role reversals in some species of shorebirds:

Sex role reversal: Female shorebirds rule the roost


The larger and more colourful female greater painted snipe (R) courts males, which look after the offspring

A study of shorebirds has helped shed light on why some species reverse the roles of the sexes, with males carrying out the parental duties.

A team of European researchers found that an imbalance between the number of males and females triggered the change.

They reported the switch occurred when there was a higher ration of males to females, making it beneficial for males to stay with their mate.

The findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Adult sex ratio

It had been argued that the conventional sex roles were widespread because females invested considerable energy in producing eggs so the survival of the offspring was a priority, therefore it made sense for the female to oversee the care of the young.

"Although a lot of research has investigated the reasons for why animals have many contrasting types of breeding behaviour, we are still far from the full understanding of this question," explained co-author Andras Liker from the University of Sheffield.

"A simple possibility is that, among other things, the opportunity to find a new partner can influence mating and parenting decisions, hence the number of males and females in a population - the adult sex ratio (ASR) - may be important."

Prof Liker added that this theory had been suggested by several mathematical models, but had not been systematically studied.

He explained that the team compared ASR between shorebirds with the non-conventional sex roles, collecting data from published literature on the sex ratio, mating and parental behaviour of these species.

Prof Liker said that many of the known examples of role reversal were found in shorebirds, hence the reason for these birds being selected for the study.

"Sex role reversal also occurs in some other groups of birds, such as kiwis and tinamous, but - in general - it is rare (in birds). It also occurs in frogs and fish, like seahorses and pipefish," he told BBC News.

"[It] has been a formidable puzzle for evolutionary biologists ever since Darwin," he explained.

"Our study is the first supporting the idea that sex ratio plays an important part in the evolution of role reversal."

'Holding the baby'

Fellow co-author Tamas Szekely from the University of Bath said the research group had been investigating sex role reversal for more than two decades, so it was "extremely pleasing to see such a clear-cut result".

"When there are lots of males in a population, it's harder to find females so it benefits males to stay with their mate and look after the young," Prof Szekely observed.

"However, the females often take advantage of this and leave the male holding the baby while they go and find another mate."

Prof Liker said that he hoped the team's findings would lead to further research on the significance of population sex ratios.

"For example, it would be very interesting to know what factors generate sex ratio differences between different species or populations," he said.

"This may originate either from the differential production of male and female offspring, or may be the result of the different mortality of adult males and females.

He added: "Sex differences in body size, migration, or other behaviour can expose the males and females to different causes of mortality, and if one sex survives better than the other the ASR becomes biased."

A separate study by researchers from the University of East Anglia showed that extensive shell fishing and sewerage discharge in estuaries could have differing consequences for male and female Icelandic black-tailed godwits.

The research, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, revealed very different winter feeding habits between the sexes of these wading shorebirds.

The study showed that females, which were bigger and had longer bills, were able to peck deeper into the silt for prey than the shorter-billed males. As a result, the males were more exposed to environmental factors that affected food resources.
...Read more

Monday, March 25, 2013

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of March 30, 2013 - March 31, 2013:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Blooming Naturalists
Free
The Park is a nature wonderland. Come discover all its joys.

Sunday, March 31, 2013
Blooming Naturalists
Free
The Park is a nature wonderland. Come discover all its joys.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Prospect Park
Meet 8 am at Grand Army Plaza park entrance Stranahan Statue
Trip Leader: Tom Stephenson

**********

Littoral Society
March 30, 2013, 10am - 1pm
Early Spring Migrants at Jamaica Bay
Guides: Don Riepe With Gateway National Recreation Area. Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Hike around the East and West Ponds and gardens to look for osprey, as well as returning ibis, egrets, oystercatchers, phoebes, and other migrants.
To register, contact Don Riepe at 917-371-8577 or donriepe [AT] gmail.com. Limited to 25.
Free

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, March 30, 2013
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, March 30, 2013, 8am – 9:30pm
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks
Guide: Andrew Baksh or Urban Park Rangers (first Saturday of the month) With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy and NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center, Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank learned their craft on Van Cortlandt Park's ecologically diverse grounds, and these walks celebrate the tradition set by them. Participants will look for resident and migrant species and discuss a wide range of avian topics.
For more information, please call 718-548-0912. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

March 30, 2013, 10am - 1pm
Early Spring Migrants at Jamaica Bay
Guides: Don Riepe With Gateway National Recreation Area. Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Hike around the East and West Ponds and gardens to look for osprey, as well as returning ibis, egrets, oystercatchers, phoebes, and other migrants.
To register, contact Don Riepe at 917-371-8577 or donriepe [AT] gmail.com. Limited to 25.
Free

Sunday, March 31, 2013, 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

**********

North Shore Audubon Society
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Alley Pond Park
Meet:
76th Avenue
Leaders:
Trudy Horowitz - 718-224-8432
Lenore Figueroa - 718-343-1391

*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 feasable.

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Alley Pond Park (76th Ave. parking lot)

*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, March 30, 2013
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Bird Walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park and are led by NYC Audubon experts or the Urban Park Rangers.
Free!

Woodland Discovery Kit in Central Park at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Visit The Wild Garden: Discovering Central Park Woodlands exhibit and start exploring the North Woods on your own by borrowing a North Woods Discovery Kit stocked with binoculars, a hand lens, and…
Free!

NYC Audubon Early Spring Bird Walk at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (in Jamaica Bay Park), Queens
10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Meet for a hike around the ponds and uplands to look for the first birds of spring.
Free!

Bird Walks at The New York Botanical Garden at Watson Building, Room 302 (in Bronx Park), Bronx
11:00 a.m.
The diverse habitats of the Botanical Garden offer visitors a chance to see dozens of species of birds throughout the year. Bring your binoculars and walk the Garden grounds with an expert.

Sunday, March 31, 2013
Birding: Winter Birds at Salt Marsh Nature Center (in Marine Park), Brooklyn
9:00 a.m.
Keep your eyes to the skies and learn about the birds that inhabit Marine Park.
Free!

Birding for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Experience Central Park as a precious bird habitat and learn how to spot our feathered neighbors on a walk with NYC Audubon.
Free!

Woodland Discovery Kit in Central Park at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Visit The Wild Garden: Discovering Central Park Woodlands exhibit and start exploring the North Woods on your own by borrowing a North Woods Discovery Kit stocked with binoculars, a hand lens, and…
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, March 22, 2013:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* March 22, 2013
* NYNY1303.22

- Birds Mentioned:
BARNACLE GOOSE+
VARIED THRUSH+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Wood Duck
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Eurasian form "Common Teal")
TUFTED DUCK
Harlequin Duck
Red-necked Grebe
Osprey
Piping Plover
Lesser Yellowlegs
Pectoral Sandpiper
ICELAND GULL
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL
GLAUCOUS GULL
Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallow
American Robin
Pine Warbler
LAPLAND LONGSPUR
White-winged Crossbill
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin
European Goldfinch
Evening 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:

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 (during the day except Sunday)
Tony Lauro (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

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, March 22nd, at 7:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are VARIED THRUSH, TUFTED DUCK, BARNACLE GOOSE, Eurasian form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GLAUCOUS GULL, ICELAND GULL, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, and Winter Finches.

The VARIED THRUSH, a wonderfully colorful male, continues in Prospect Park, its whereabouts since Sunday seemingly more consistent. On Sunday the thrush was spotted feeding on the ground with numerous American Robins and other birds along the south side of Quaker Hill, east of Quaker Cemetery and west of the Nethermead Bridge. This site is just north of Center Drive and is best viewed from a dirt bridle path just off Center Drive. When feeding, the thrush does kick up fallen leaves constantly, making it easier to spot, and it has continued to favor this site during the week. Among the other birds in that area Sunday were some WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS and PINE SISKINS, as well as a EUROPEAN GOLDFINCH -- this latter, and the one present for awhile in Central Park, both presumed to be escapes. A few COMMON REDPOLLS have also been seen in the park recently.

A drake TUFTED DUCK was present for a few days, at least to Sunday, on Upper Francis Pond in Mill Neck. This pond is off Frost Mill Road, almost a mile south of Shu Swamp. Another drake TUFTED was still on the pond at Heckscher Park, off Route 25A in Huntington on Thursday.

The Westchester County BARNACLE GOOSE was present Wednesday and Thursday at Twin Lakes Park in Eastchester. It has been frequenting what is called "Reservoir Number Two", off the east side of the Hutchinson River Parkway, south of Exit 16.

On Saturday, three HARLEQUIN DUCKS were still in Jones Inlet, and two more were off Magnolia Boulevard in Long Beach.

A Eurasian form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL was still on Smith Pond in Rockville Centre Sunday, this pond south of Hempstead Lake State Park. Two more Eurasian GREEN-WINGED TEAL, plus a couple of possible hybrids, were at Terrell River County Park in Center Moriches last Sunday in a large flock of Green-winged Teal.

Going from waterfowl to gulls, an immature GLAUCOUS GULL was at Bellport Bay Yacht Club in Bellport last weekend. An immature ICELAND GULL was photographed at Coney Island Beach Saturday, with another continuing around the Montauk Harbor Inlet, and the Napeague LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was still at the end of Lazy Point Road on Saturday.

A RED-NECKED GREBE was at Marine Park in Brooklyn on Saturday, with another continuing at the Captree State Park Boat Basin.

A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was seen again at the Jones Beach West End lawn by the Coast Guard Station last Saturday.

An EVENING GROSBEAK continued at Marshlands Conservancy in Rye, at least to Tuesday, with a dozen WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS there Wednesday.

And yes, it is Spring! Regular early migrants such as WOOD DUCK, OSPREY, EASTERN PHOEBE and TREE SWALLOW are quickly becoming more widespread, along with PIPING PLOVER along the south shore of Long Island, and single LESSER YELLOWLEGS and PECTORAL SANDPIPER appeared at the Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk last Tuesday. PINE WARBLER was at Hempstead Lake State Park yesterday, and more arrivals should be forthcoming, especially if it warms up.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126, or during the day except Sunday 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, March 22, 2013

Ear Birding

It's time to refresh ones auditory memory for the coming onslaught of migrating songbirds. If you've never learned any bird songs, now is the best time to start.

If you've ever come on any of my bird walks, you know that I rely on my ears a lot to easily locate birds. There's nothing magical about developing that skill. All it takes is a few minutes a day for a couple of weeks (and decent hearing) to learn a large number of the "important" birds. If you follow my directions, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

First, purchase the Peterson Field Guides series of CDs "Birding by Ear: Eastern/Central" and "More Birding by Ear Eastern and Central North America".

The warblers are the most important songbirds to learn. Once you've purchased the discs, using iTunes (or similar software) import the following tracks:

Name Album Disc # Track #
Sing-songers Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 1 4
Warbling Songsters Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 6
Wood Warblers & a Warbling Wren Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 1
Warblers: Buzzy More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 1
Warblers: Simple More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 2
Warblers: Two-Parted More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 3
Warblers: Complex More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 4
Empidonax Flycatchers More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 1 4

Note that I included the empidonax flycatchers on the list as they are notoriously difficult to separate visually, but have distinctive vocalizations.

The woodland thrushes are also incredible songsters, so I recommend the following tracks:

Name Album Disc # Track #
Thrushes Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 2
Thrushes More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 1 7

By the time all the warblers begin streaming through NYC you'll surprise yourself by how many birds you'll be able to find using just your ears.

Spring Changes

Wednesday marked the Vernal Equinox and the official start of Spring. From this point forward our days become longer and the nights shorter. The effects of the recent increase in daylight hours can be seen in both the flora and fauna around NYC.

The more I've learned about the birds and nature around New York City, the more I question the logic of our yearly calendar. If I took the time to research it, I'm certain to find a silly political or spurious historic reason why the year should begin in the middle of Winter. For birding year listers or twitchers, it's actually helpful to have 2 Winters in one calendar cycle; if you miss a Winter bird in January/February, you have a second chance in December. In March, however, dormant flowers begin to emerge, trees start to bud and flower, and most important, migrating birds start to arrive in our backyards and parks.

Flocks of blackbirds began moving into the area a couple of weeks ago. Large flocks of robins have also been showing up. However, for me the official start of the Spring season (and the REAL commencement of the new year) occurs when the first Eastern Phoebes arrive. There were a few scattered reports from Brooklyn last week of phoebes, but I spotted my first one in Green-Wood Cemetery on Sunday. Hawking for insects from low perches around the Crescent Water, I recognized this new arrival's soft chip note even before I put my bins on him. Phoebes get their name from the male's raspy "fee-bee" song. From this point forward the migration will begin to pick up steam, with more and varied species of birds passing through the city.

Birds that overwintered in NYC have suddenly rediscovered their songs. Fox Sparrows have taken to flying to high perches and ringing out their clear, whistled singsong serenade. Juncos, who have been silent all Winter, are now trilling loudly for females from treetops. In Green-Wood Cemetery mockingbirds are competing for the attention of the opposite sex with complex mimics ranging from local bird sounds to random machinery.

One unexpected sighting in Green-Wood Cemetery over the weekend was of an Eastern Meadowlark. This species is usually seen on open fields around New York City during migration, however, it appears this individual has overwintered in the cemetery as it has been observed in the same area since January. Historically they bred locally, but as grassland nesters, urban development and reforestation of previously cleared areas has limited their breeding success. My friend Tom observed this male bird singing from the top of a cedar tree. Perhaps he'll find a female migrating through the area to settle down with. Unfortunately, the grass along the Hill of Graves where he's been foraging gets mowed regularly during the nesting season.

Look for daffodils this weekend, and if we get sustained South winds, expect more migrant birds to be arriving.
...Read more

Grassland Cleanup Volunteers Needed

The National Park Service and NYCAS are coordinating a cleanup of the grasslands at Floyd Bennett Field this Saturday, March 23rd at 9am. As you may know, Floyd Bennett was used as a staging area for FEMA and other emergency services after Hurricane Sandy. The hundreds of vehicles and thousands of workers using the park did a great job, but as one might expect, all the activity left considerable debris on and around the grasslands. Some cleanup had already begun this week, but there is still much more work to do.

If you or your organization are interested in lending a hand to cleanup Brooklyn's last remaining grassland:

Meet at the Ryan Visitor Center tomorrow (March 23rd) at 9:00am.
Gloves and bags will be supplied.
For those using mass transit, the Q-35 bus stops opposite the Ryan Visitor Center.

Aviator Sports, which is adjacent to the Ryan Visitor Center, has driving directions on their website here.

Friday's Foto

For coastal Brooklyn birding, Coney Island is the best place to look for unusual gulls in the Winter. This immature Iceland Gull was the second one we spotted there this year. It was feeding on the Western-most jetty among a flock of Herring, Ring-billed and Great Black-backed Gulls. The Eastern subspecies of this gull breeds in Greenland.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Donating Hair

"Locks of Love" received my ponytail and just sent me the following note of appreciation. It's a really good organization and if you have long hair that you are considering cutting, this is definitely a worthwhile use:

Treehugger Tuesday

National Public Radio's weekly show "Science Friday" recently did a piece on bees entitled "Getting the Springtime Buzz on Bees". Besides being really interesting, one of the show's guest experts was John Ascher of the American Museum of Natural History. John is a friend and local birder who's research has documented over 100 species of bees in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. He was also instrumental in identifying a new species of bee:

With warmer weather (hopefully) just around the corner, what can we expect this spring from some of nature's most important pollinators? Plus, new research on the electric fields in flowers and the effect of caffeine on honeybees offers fascinating glimpses into bee behavior.

You can listen to the podcast below:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of March 23, 2013 - March 24, 2013:

Bedford Audubon Society
Saturday, March 23, 2013, 8:30am-1:30pm
Jamaica Bay Birding
with Naturalist-in-Residence Tait Johansson.

Please note: this trip was rescheduled from March 9. Join us for this late winter excursion to see large numbers of waterfowl, raptors, and birds like towhees and sparrows hiding in thickets. Depart Bylane at 7am. Please register with Ms. Jeanne Pollock at jpollock [AT] bedfordaudubon.org or 914.519.7801. Physical level of difficulty: easy to moderate.
Cost: free.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Morning stroll for waterfowl and gulls in Coney Island, Brooklyn
Meet 8 am outside the Dunkin Donuts at Stillwell Avenue train station (terminal station). This is a "public transportation" walk.
Trip Leader: Keir Randall
Focus: winter waterfowl, gulls, ducks

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, March 23, 2013
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, March 23, 2013, 8am – 9:30pm
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks
Guide: Andrew Baksh or Urban Park Rangers (first Saturday of the month) With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy and NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center, Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank learned their craft on Van Cortlandt Park's ecologically diverse grounds, and these walks celebrate the tradition set by them. Participants will look for resident and migrant species and discuss a wide range of avian topics.
For more information, please call 718-548-0912. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

Sunday, March 24, 2013, 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

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Sunday, March 24, 2013, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Early Spring Hike with Mike @Allison Pond Park
Join naturalist Mike Shanley as he explores Allison Pond Park in search of early spring migrants. This park, a rich, woodland bordering the Goodhue Woods, offers excellent spring birding along stream and woodland trail. Please bring binoculars and dress accordingly.
For more information call Mike Shanley at 917753-7155.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Woodland Discovery Kit in Central Park at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Visit The Wild Garden: Discovering Central Park Woodlands exhibit and start exploring the North Woods on your own by borrowing a North Woods Discovery Kit stocked with binoculars, a hand lens, and…
Free!

Bird Walks at The New York Botanical Garden at Watson Building, Room 302 (in Bronx Park), Bronx
11:00 a.m.
The diverse habitats of the Botanical Garden offer visitors a chance to see dozens of species of birds throughout the year. Bring your binoculars and walk the Garden grounds with an expert.

Have a Hoot with a Ranger at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (in Jamaica Bay Park), Queens
2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.
The National Park Service invites Junior Rangers to participate in an owl adventure. Learn about owls and their habitat through a hike and an owl pellet investigation at Jamaica Bay.
Free!

Sunday, March 24, 2013
Birding for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Experience Central Park as a precious bird habitat and learn how to spot our feathered neighbors on a walk with NYC Audubon.
Free!

Woodland Discovery Kit in Central Park at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Visit The Wild Garden: Discovering Central Park Woodlands exhibit and start exploring the North Woods on your own by borrowing a North Woods Discovery Kit stocked with binoculars, a hand lens, and…
Free!

Freshkills Park March Birding Tour at Eltingville Transit Center (in Freshkills Park), Staten Island
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 meadows!
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, March 16, 2013

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, March 15, 2013:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Mar. 15, 2013
* NYNY1303.15

- Birds mentioned

GYRFALCON+
VARIED THRUSH+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

EURASIAN WIGEON
TUFTED DUCK
Red-necked Grebe
Great Egret
Osprey
American Woodcock
Eastern Phoebe
Lapland Longspur
Boat-tailed Grackle
White-winged Crossbill
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin
Evening Grosbeak

- Transcript

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

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc3 AT nybirds.org.

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

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

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, March 15th 2013 at 8pm. The highlights of today's tape are GYRFALCON, VARIED THRUSH, TUFTED DUCK, EURASIAN WIGEON and Spring migrants.

A slower week with a number of local rarities becoming more elusive or just moving on.

The GYRFALCON was spotted last Saturday morning east of Gilgo but has not been noted since despite extensive searching and patient waiting last Sunday. Has it moved on?

The RED-NECKED GREBE was still in the boat basin at Captree State Park on Sunday and also on Sunday a good movement of BOAT-TAILED GRACKLES heading east was noted along the beach.

The male VARIED THRUSH in Prospect Park was spotted last Saturday to early afternoon and again early Sunday morning around the Nethermead Arches but was not seen again until Wednesday when it appeared for a short while near the Ambergill Pool in the Ravine a little north of the Nethermead Arches. It was spotted again at this same site today in the early afternoon. It has been seen both foraging on the ground and perched high in trees and is probably covering a reasonable amount of territory in that section of the park. Also in Prospect Wednesday were an EASTERN PHOEBE and 5 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS with some PINE SISKINS continuing around the feeders near the lake and a few COMMON REDPOLLS also drifting through.

The drake TUFTED DUCK was still on the pond at Heckscher Park in Huntington last Saturday but was missed later on. This park is off Route 25A and Park Avenue.

Three EURASIAN WIGEON were spotted at Massapequa Preserve Friday and also present were GREAT EGRET, OSPREY and a WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL.

The OSPREY was back at Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area on Wednesday.

Four AMERICAN WOODCOCK were displaying at Marshlands Conservancy in Rye last Sunday evening indicating that they should be performing in most suitable areas now. A female EVENING GROSBEAK was also at Marshlands Conservancy Wednesday and Thursday.

At Jones Beach West End the LAPLAND LONGSPUR was on the field near the gazebo at the Coast Guard Station parking lot today.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126, or during the day except Sunday 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

Something Completely Different

John's Fishing Camp from RJ on Vimeo.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday's Foto

Known colloquially as "Timberdoodle", "Mud Bat", "Labrador twister", "Bogsucker" and "Mudsnipe", the American Woodcock is an unusual shorebird with a preference for wooded areas. Their cryptic plumage makes them ideally suited for disappearing into the leaf litter of the forest floor. They are now migrating through our area. Environmentalist and writer Aldo Leopold wrote a wonderful essay, "Sky Dance", about the courtship process of this interesting bird.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Treehugger Tuesday

BBC News just published a story about recent legislation by CITES to protect three types of sharks.

'Historic' day for shark protection

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News

Three types of critically endangered but commercially valuable shark have been given added protection at the Cites meeting in Bangkok.

The body, which regulates trade in flora and fauna, voted by a two-thirds majority to upgrade the sharks' status.

Campaigners hailed the move as historic and said the vote represented a major breakthrough for marine conservation.

The decisions can still be overturned by a vote on the final day of this meeting later this week.

The oceanic whitetip, three varieties of hammerheads and the porbeagle are all said to be seriously threatened by overfishing.

Their numbers have declined dramatically in recent years, as the trade in shark fins for soup has grown.

Manta rays are killed for their gill plates which are used in Chinese medicine.

Shark supporters have been attempting to get Cites to protect these species since 1994. But there has long been strong opposition to the move from China and Japan.

But a number of factors have changed the arithmetic.

Experts say the critical factor has been a shift in South American nations, who've come to understand that sharks are more valuable alive than dead.

"They've come to realise, particularly for those with hammerhead stocks, the tourist value of these species and the long term future that will be protected by a Cites listing," said Dr Colman O'Criodain from WWF International.

Regulate, not ban

While the vote to upgrade these shark species to Appendix 2 does not ban the trade, it regulates it. Both exporting and importing countries must issue licences. If a nation takes too many of these species, they can be hit with sanctions on the range of animal and plant products that are governed by Cites.

As the votes went on there were smatterings of applause in the hall and some high fives among campaigners.

"It is really significant for Cites to come of age like this," Dr Susan Lieberman told BBC News.

"To say we can deal with these species, we can manage the international trade and lets not be afraid of marine species."

The extension of the authority of Cites into the international trade in fish has long worried China and Japan and the Asian nations were strongly against these proposals.

But many West African countries, who have seen their native shark fisheries destroyed by large offshore operations, voted in favour of the restrictions.

Another factor was money. Especially cash from the European Union.

The head of delegation told the meeting that extra money would be made available to help poorer countries change their fishing practices.

"If there's a need for it the funding will be available," Feargal O'Coigligh told the meeting.

The amendments can still be overturned in the final session of this meeting. And this realisation is tempering the celebrations.

"Cites is ready to come of age for marine species, " said Dr O'Criodain.

"As long as we hold these results in plenary. Maybe warm champagne is the right note."

Protected sharks

- The oceanic whitetip was once a widespread large shark species, but its numbers show a drastic decline

- It appears as bycatch in pelagic (open sea) fisheries, but its large fins are highly prized, used in shark's fin soup and in traditional medicine

- Hammerhead sharks are known for their distinctive head shape which may have evolved in part to enhance vision

- The great and scalloped varieties are endangered; the smooth hammerhead is considered vulnerable. All have been given added protection

- Porbeagles are found in cold and temperate waters of the North Atlantic and Southern Hemisphere

- Targeted commercial fishing and unintentional catches pose the biggest threat to this shark, which has a low reproductive rate
...Read more

Monday, March 11, 2013

February Birds

During the month of February I didn't find anything really unusual around the borough. With Winter winding down it's not generally a month for exciting discoveries. The overwintering waterfowl are starting to feel the pull of Spring as their plumage changes and they begin courtship. Some species numbers drop off, while others, Wintering farther South, briefly stop off in the area as they head North.

I only added 8 new species for the year, which is about half of my average. On the other hand, I tallied slightly more birds than expected during the month of January. The rarest sighting was of a Common Raven, although as this species expands to repopulate its historic range, I think we will be seeing more of this huge, intelligent corvid in the near future. All the other birds I observed last month I would normally see during the course of the year.



**********

NYS total: 115
Kings total: 113

106) Black-bellied Plover (Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park, 02/02/13)
107) Savannah Sparrow (Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park, 02/02/13)
108) Hermit Thrush (Floyd Bennett Field, 02/02/13)
109) Common Raven (Green-Wood Cemetery, 02/03/13)
110) Fish Crow (Prospect Park, 02/06/13)
111) Eurasian Wigeon (Floyd Bennett Field, 02/10/13)
112) Black Scoter (Coney Island, 02/16/13)
113) Ring-necked Duck (Green-Wood Cemetery, 02/18/13)
...Read more

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of March 16, 2013 - March 17, 2013:

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, March 16, 2013
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, March 16, 2013, 8am – 9:30pm
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks
Guide: Andrew Baksh or Urban Park Rangers (first Saturday of the month) With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy and NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center, Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank learned their craft on Van Cortlandt Park's ecologically diverse grounds, and these walks celebrate the tradition set by them. Participants will look for resident and migrant species and discuss a wide range of avian topics.
For more information, please call 718-548-0912. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

Sunday, March 17, 2013, 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

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
* Saturday, March 16, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop at the Gretta Moulton tract in High Rock
Meet in the Nevada Avenue parking lot at High Rock. Late comers are encouraged to walk to the first bend of the entry road and follow the Yellow Trail to the Green Trail anon to our working location close to Manor Road where we will be removing invasive vines from shrubs and saplings. If you don’t have your own, Protectors will supply gloves and pruners (& refreshments). After a two hour work session (our 199thmonthly 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.

Walks with an asterisk (*):
As of the publication date, most Staten Island parks were still closed because of storm damage. If you see an asterisk next to a date, you should contact the walk leader to confirm if the walks are on.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Woodland Discovery Kit in Central Park at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Visit The Wild Garden: Discovering Central Park Woodlands exhibit and start exploring the North Woods on your own by borrowing a North Woods Discovery Kit stocked with binoculars, a hand lens, and…
Free!

Bird Walks at The New York Botanical Garden at Watson Building, Room 302 (in Bronx Park), Bronx
11:00 a.m.
The diverse habitats of the Botanical Garden offer visitors a chance to see dozens of species of birds throughout the year. Bring your binoculars and walk the Garden grounds with an expert.

Sunday, March 17, 2013
Birding for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Experience Central Park as a precious bird habitat and learn how to spot our feathered neighbors on a walk with NYC Audubon.
Free!

Woodland Discovery Kit in Central Park at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Visit The Wild Garden: Discovering Central Park Woodlands exhibit and start exploring the North Woods on your own by borrowing a North Woods Discovery Kit stocked with binoculars, a hand lens, and…
Free!
...Read more

Friday, March 08, 2013

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, March 8, 2013:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Mar. 8, 2013
* NYNY1303.08

- Birds mentioned

PINK-FOOTED GOOSE+ (Orange County, New York)
GYRFALCON+
COMMON MURRE+
VARIED THRUSH+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Greater White-fronted Goose
ROSS'S GOOSE
Cackling Goose
EURASIAN WIGEON
TUFTED DUCK
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE
Red-necked Grebe
Northern Gannet
Piping Plover
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Razorbill
White-winged Crossbill
Pine Siskin

- Transcript

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

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc3 AT nybirds.org.

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

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

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, March 8th 2013 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are VARIED THRUSH, GYRFALCON, PINK-FOOTED GOOSE, ROSS'S GOOSE, TUFTED DUCK, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, EURASIAN WIGEON, BLACK-HEADED GULL and pelagic trip results including COMMON MURRE.

On Thursday a male VARIED THRUSH was found in Prospect Park and was still present there today. The thrush has been near the Nethermead's Three Arches Bridge in the center of the park mostly along the wooded slope on the north side of the bridge especially on some snow free ground near a Yew Tree. Hopefully it will be relocated there tomorrow.

The subadult gray morph GYRFALCON seen nicely last weekend and again Monday with a report also on Tuesday along the marshes north of Gilgo has unfortunately not been noted since. Negative news previously though had not signaled its departure as it did reappear so it may not be gone yet. The GYRFALCON has favored the marshy islands just north of the Gilgo parking lot often sitting on the Osprey platform slightly to the northwest but it has also ranged east as far as Cedar Beach Marina as well as west of that location. Most frequently though it has been spotted from the Gilgo parking lot.

A pelagic trip last Saturday from Freeport aboard the Captain Lou Fleet's Star Stream VIII got out about 40 miles and recorded 150 NORTHERN GANNETS, 36 COMMON MURRES, 18 RAZORBILLS, 13 large alcids, 3 ICELAND GULLS and 4 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS.

Some of the more unusual waterfowl do continue in the area. The drake TUFTED DUCK was still at Heckscher Park in Huntington to Wednesday this park off Route 25A and Park Avenue and the second drake continued at Blydenburgh Park south of Route 25 in Smithtown at least to Sunday. A female BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was still with Commons in Fire Island Inlet off Cedar Beach as of Monday and another female was spotted off the north shore of Long Island at Caumsett State Park last Saturday. The Riverhead area's ROSS'S GOOSE was seen again on Merritt's Pond in Riverhead last Sunday this an overnight roosting area and then on Wednesday it was picked up feeding with Canadas north of Sound Avenue near the end of Route 105. A CACKLING GOOSE was also at the latter site Sunday with a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE also there Wednesday. Seven EURASIAN WIGEONS were counted Saturday on the pond at the West Sayville Golf Club just south of Montauk Highway at Route 27A these including 3 females. Up in Orange County the PINK-FOOTED GOOSE was last noted Sunday at the Camel Farm just west of Route 12 where a ROSS'S GOOSE was found Thursday. GREATER WHITE-FRONTED and CACKLING GEESE were also in that area on Sunday.

Two BLACK-HEADED GULLS remain in the Montauk area but the immature seen at Ditch Plains and the adult at the south end of Lake Montauk off South Lake Drive both last Sunday. An ICELAND GULL was spotted again last Saturday on the Central Park reservoir with another still at Iron Pier in Northville on Sunday. A lingering RED-NECKED GREBE was still around the Captree State Park boat basin Monday and an arriving PIPING PLOVER was back at Point Lookout last Sunday. Some returning PINE SISKINS appeared in Prospect Park yesterday and some WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS are still in the area.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126, or during the day except Sunday 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

Rare Bird in the Snow

In lieu of my weekly "Friday's Foto" posting, here's a cool sighting story from today...

Late yesterday Peter texted me that a Varied Thrush was reported in Prospect Park. To my knowledge, this rare western species has never been recorded in Prospect Park, so my first inclination was to write back and ask about the reliability of the report. His response was that he didn't know the birder, Mark Salvadalena, but that he was from Washington state, so should certainly know a Varied Thrush when he sees one. I thought, what are the chances that a West coast birder would find, what for him would be a relatively common bird, in Brooklyn? It would be akin to me visiting Seattle and spotting a Blue Jay. It was late in the afternoon, so I hopped on my bike and peddled over to the location, hoping to find what would be my 300th Brooklyn bird.

I didn't find the bird yesterday, but Tweeted the news, hoping someone would be able to relocate this beautiful cousin to the American Robin. Fast forward to this morning. I was about to get into the shower when I received a text from Keir that he had relocated the thrush a few yards from where it was originally spotted. The snow was coming down, but the winds were calm and it was relatively warm. I grabbed my parka, pulled on my boots and rushed into Prospect Park. Keir was still present and explained that he was able to find the bird again for Peter and described the area along Quaker Ridge where it had been frequenting.

Every year around this time, when large flocks of robins begin to gather in our local parks, I always think about Varied Thrushes and the likelihood of finding one mixed in with the common birds. I've actually seen two Varied Thrushes in my life, ironically, both were in New York State, one of them was in Central Park. Neither was in a flock of robins. Several years ago, while vacationing in Washington State, this locally common bird somehow managed to elude me. When I met Mark Salvadalena I picked his brain about Varied Thrush behavior and was surprised to learn that they rarely associate with robin flocks. In fact, they rarely feed out in the open and are mainly found at the edges of wooded areas. That makes perfect sense as he found it away from all the robins and blackbirds feeding in the meadow and, instead, along the edge of Quaker Ridge's woodlands.

Keir stuck around helping me this morning for about 20 minutes then had to leave for work. I spotted Bobbi walking along Center Drive a moment later. After describing the area where the bird had been seen, we decided to cover a circular path near Center Drive, walk under the Nethermead Arches, then back to the start at the North side of Center Drive and the edge of the wooded Quaker Ridge.



Rob B. was coming down through the Ravine from the opposite direction and we joined up with him as we came out from under the arches. There was some bird activity near the edge of the path, but it was primarily just robins, cardinals, White-throated Sparrows and Fox Sparrows.

There is a bridle path that runs parallel to the roadway and hillside. Normally, lots of birds can be found feeding along this path as horses kick up seeds and insects. I had the idea to kick away the accumulating snow to expose the leaf litter below and, with some luck, attract the thrush. We then headed back down to the South side of the bridge to continue circling the area. At a steep incline below the bridge a small group of robins were feeding on the ground. While standing next to a young conifer, I heard the "yeep" alarm call of a robin then spotted the bird flying across the path and perching up to our right. I said something stupid like, "Probably just the robin I heard calling", and didn't bother to lift up my bins. Thankfully Rob did and said, "No, that's a Varied Thrush!" I should have done my Homer Simpson impression ... "DOH!" Instead of feeling stupid, though, I just reveled at the sight of this gorgeous bird. When it flew back towards the North I walked under the shelter of the arches and Tweeted the good news. We spent a moment or two high-fiving and feverishly thumbing out various messages on our phones, then headed back to the stairway and up to Center Drive to try and get some photos.

Back on Center Drive we scanned through the huge flock of birds that had gathered in the clearing we created in the snow on the bridle path. As we watched the feeding birds I spotted the Varied Thrush as it flew to a low perch near the footpath at the edge of the woods. The bird vanished into the forest a moment later.

A short distance down Center Drive I could just make out the silhouette of a person emerging from the snowy haze. It was Steve with his every-present 40 pound camera rig. After explaining our morning's sightings and locations he told me that it would be a life bird for him. I'd already seen it three times, but decided to stick around to help find him a "lifer". Like Rob, Bobbi and I had done, we just circled all the areas where the bird had been seen. Eventually, our perseverance paid off when Rob motioned us to the top of the stairs. I hung back and let Steve move towards the front of the group (at this point there were 7 of us searching for the bird). The thrush had been feeding on the ground near a yew tree and had just flown up to a low perch. Once everyone got on the bird I walked up to the top of the steps. Steve looked very happy having not only found a life bird, but also managing to take a great photo under less than optimal conditions.





Oh yeah, I almost forgot. The Varied Thrush was my 300th Brooklyn bird. Woo hooo! I'll post my entire Kings County list next week.
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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Treehugger Tuesday

This week's Treehugger Tuesday posting is about an interesting website. It is called "Eco Market" and has been described by some as "Etsy for Eco". From their website:

Eco Market is an online marketplace where you can buy natural products directly from the sellers that make them and get to know each seller and learn about the story behind each product we sell.

Since the site launched in October 2010 it has grown to be the home of over 1,300 sellers across the world, and thousands of unique products ranging from Fairtrade coffee, to handmade natural soap, to up-cycled tshirts.

The website also simplifies the often complicated process of shopping ethically by explaining what each products ethical credentials and certificates mean. Shoppers can also learn more about each seller by interact with sellers reading interviews and interacting with them via the sites own social network, where they can learn more about the story and people behind the products they buy.

Our goal as a company is not only to give (often small one man band) sellers a platform to sell products but also to give consumers all the tools and information they need to demystify ethical shopping, and to create open debates about key issues that will help shape our planet.

They sell some cool, responsible products. Check it out.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips within NYC's five boroughs for the weekend of March 9, 2013 - March 10, 2013:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Marine Park and Jamaica Bay Refuge
Trip Leader: Tom Stephenson
Focus: winter waterfowl, gulls, dune species, winter passerines, marsh species
Car Fee: $12.00
Registrar: Mike Yuan, email mjyuan [AT] gmail.com or cell #917- 647- 3396 before 9pm
Registration period: February 26th - March 7th
Note: day is after Daylight Savings Time

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Leader: Alan Messer
No registration. Meet at Visitors Center at 10:00 a.m.
Public transportation.

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, March 9, 2013
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, March 9, 2013, 8am – 9:30pm
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks
Guide: Andrew Baksh or Urban Park Rangers (first Saturday of the month) With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy and NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center, Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank learned their craft on Van Cortlandt Park's ecologically diverse grounds, and these walks celebrate the tradition set by them. Participants will look for resident and migrant species and discuss a wide range of avian topics.
For more information, please call 718-548-0912. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

Sunday, March 10, 2013, 9:30am – 11:30am
Birding at Wave Hill
Guide: Gabriel Willow With Wave Hill Meet at the Perkins Visitor Center and search for spring migrants in the beautiful gardens and woodlands of Wave Hill. Advanced registration is recommended, either online, at the Perkins Visitor Center, or by calling 718-549-3200 x305. (Walks run rain or shine; in case of severe weather call the number above at x245 for updates.) Ages 10 and up welcome with an adult.
Walks are free; please visit www.wavehill.org for Wave Hill admission pricing. NYC Audubon members enjoy two-for-one admission

Sunday, March 10, 2013, 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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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
* Saturday, March 9, 2013, 12 noon to 2:00 p.m.
Conference House Park
Meet at the parking lot at the end of Hylan Blvd. While observing the natural history of the park we will view evidence of the history of the area that was once the Billop estate prior to the American Revolution and observe middens left by the Native Americans that once used the area. Meeting the public parking lot at the foot of Hylan Boulevard.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

* Sunday, March 10, 10:00 to 12 noon

Spring Plant Walk
Herbs, weeds, and other plants are greening up as the sun grows stronger. Join herbalist Gert Coleman to learn the stories behind the plants returning to Conference House Park. Meet in the parking lot at the end of Hylan Boulevard.
For more information call Gert Coleman at 718-356-9235.

Walks with an asterisk (*):
As of the publication date, most Staten Island parks were still closed because of storm damage. If you see an asterisk next to a date, you should contact the walk leader to confirm if the walks are on.

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Staten Island Museum
Sunday, March 10, 2013, 9:00am - 11:00am
Ecology Walk: Wolfe’s Pond Park
Free
Explore the pond basin and beach for early spring migrants and late winter waterfowl.
Meet at the corner of Holten Avenue and Purdy Place.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Woodland Discovery Kit in Central Park at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Visit The Wild Garden: Discovering Central Park Woodlands exhibit and start exploring the North Woods on your own by borrowing a North Woods Discovery Kit stocked with binoculars, a hand lens, and…
Free!

Bird Walks at The New York Botanical Garden at Watson Building, Room 302 (in Bronx Park), Bronx
11:00 a.m.
The diverse habitats of the Botanical Garden offer visitors a chance to see dozens of species of birds throughout the year. Bring your binoculars and walk the Garden grounds with an expert.

Sunday, March 10, 2013
Birding at Wave Hill at Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
9:30 a.m.
Expert birder, naturalist and educator Gabriel Willow leads these regular Sunday walks.

Birding for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Experience Central Park as a precious bird habitat and learn how to spot our feathered neighbors on a walk with NYC Audubon.
Free!

Woodland Discovery Kit in Central Park at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Visit The Wild Garden: Discovering Central Park Woodlands exhibit and start exploring the North Woods on your own by borrowing a North Woods Discovery Kit stocked with binoculars, a hand lens, and…
Free!
...Read more

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