Thursday, October 31, 2013

Waterfowl in Prospect Park

It was an overcast, drizzly afternoon in Brooklyn...perfect Autumn conditions to check on arriving waterfowl in Prospect Park.

I followed the park's waterways, beginning at the Fallkill Falls, past the Upper and Lower Pools, through the Ravine and Ambergil pool, to the Lily Pond and Binnen Falls, along the Lullwater and finally, the shoreline of Prospect Lake. One of the brilliant illusions of Omstead and Vaux's design is that the various ponds, streams and lake appear to be all separate features when they are all actually one meandering body of water fed by the city's water system.

At the Lower Pool a small flock of Wood Duck hugged the shoreline beneath low hanging oak boughs. Farther along the waterway were the usual collection of park Mallards and mutts. I encountered my first flock of Northern Shovelers at the Lullwater. Where the watercourse widens beneath the Terrace Bridge was a nice mix of Gadwall, shovelers, Ruddy Ducks and several coots. A Belted Kingfisher rattled from somewhere near the Peninsula. The water's final destination at the 11 acre Prospect Lake was where the greatest diversity of waterfowl was today. In addition to another pair of Gadwall, many more shovelers and Ruddy Ducks (plus the odd assortment of Canada Geese, Mute Swans, Mallards and hybrid domestic duck) was a flock of 9 Ring-necked Ducks. Tucked into the close knit flock, and looking a bit out of place, was a tiny female Green-winged Teal.

As this is only the start of waterfowl migration, I expect to see a greater diversity of duck on Prospect Lake in coming weeks and certainly greater abundance, especially Northern Shovelers.

**********

Date: 10/31/13
Location: Prospect Park
Species: 42

Wood Duck (5.)
Gadwall (7.)
Northern Shoveler (65.)
Green-winged Teal (1.)
Ring-necked Duck (9.)
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe (4.)
Double-crested Cormorant (3.)
Great Blue Heron (3.)
American Coot
Belted Kingfisher (1.)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe (1.)
Black-capped Chickadee (4.)
Winter Wren (2.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush (2.)
Eastern Towhee (1.)
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow (2.)
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid), Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker (2.), Downy Woodpecker (1.), Blue Jay, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow
...Read more

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blue Grosbeak versus Indigo Bunting

Autumn around New York City is a good time to find migrating Blue Grosbeaks. Possible identification problems with this bird, however, is in its similarity to the Indigo Bunting or when viewing either females or young males. Both the Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting males are brilliant blue birds with relatively large bills. On closer examination, though, there are some fairly obvious differences.

• The male Blue Grosbeak has two rusty wingbars. While not as pronounced as on the males, the tan-colored females will also show two brownish wingbars.
• Neither the male nor female Indigo Bunting has wingbars.
• Blue Grosbeaks have a large, heavy bill, the top edge of which nearly forms a straight line into the forehead.
• Indigo Buntings have a much smaller bill.
• The large, squared off head of Blue Grosbeaks give them a block-headed appearance.
• The head of Indigo Buntings are rounded and more delicate.
• At 28 grams, the average Blue Grosbeak is nearly twice the weight of an Indigo Bunting (14.5 grams).

So how does one determine whether a backlit bird, seen in silhouette, is a Blue Grosbeak or an Indigo Bunting? The bill and head should be a dead giveaway.


Here's a good comparison page of the two species.

Treehugger Tuesday

Hundreds of oils spill in North Dakota kept from the public.

The following was just reported by the Associated Press.

ND spills went unreported; state testing website
By JAMES MacPHERSON
Oct. 25, 2013 6:36 PM EDT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota, the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas, recorded nearly 300 oil pipeline spills in less than two years, state documents show. None was reported to the public, officials said.

According to records obtained by The Associated Press, the pipeline spills — many of them small — are among some 750 "oil field incidents" that have occurred since January 2012 without public notification.

"That's news to us," said Don Morrison, director of the Dakota Resource Council, an environmental-minded landowner group with more than 700 members in North Dakota.

Dennis Fewless, director of water quality for the state Health Department, said regulators are reviewing the state's policies for when to publicly report such incidents after a massive spill was discovered last month in northwestern North Dakota by a wheat farmer. State and company officials kept it quiet for 11 days — and only said something after the AP asked about it.

Soon after the AP published its report Friday, the Health Department announced it is testing a website to publish information on all spills reported to the department.

North Dakota regulators, like in many other oil-producing states, are not obliged to tell the public about oil spills under state law. But in a state that's producing a million barrels a day and saw nearly 2,500 miles of new pipelines last year, many believe the risk of spills will increase, posing a bigger threat to farmland and water.

"We're certainly looking at that now and what would be a threshold for reporting to the public," Fewless said. Taking notice of the recent criticism, the state issued a statement Oct. 17 on an estimated 7-barrel oil spill in Divide County, which borders Canada in far northwestern North Dakota.

The state also is mulling a better system to track spills in-house, Fewless said, from their origin to cleanup status.

Dave Glatt, chief of the department's environmental health section, said the website announced late Friday would likely go live in two to three weeks. He said officials are still considering how large a spill should trigger a public announcement in addition to being published on the website.

A spill-tracking system would be valuable for the public, said Louis Kuster, who raises wheat near Stanley in northwest North Dakota. Farmers and ranchers rely on land for their livelihood, so information on spills that could threaten land or water supplies "absolutely is important for us to know," he said.

Between coffee-shop talk and chatting with neighbors, nothing much happens around the fourth-generation farmer's land without him knowing about it — except when it comes to oil spills.

"What you don't know, nobody is going to tell you," Kuster said.

Earlier this month, Kuster and his neighbors noticed truckloads of oil-tainted dirt being hauled away from an adjacent farm. It was allegedly from a broken pipeline, but no one really knows for sure, he said.

"We have no idea how big the spill is and why it happened," he said. "I'd try to get more information from the state but I'm too busy getting my harvest in."

North Dakota officials have urged pipeline industry to officials to quickly — and safely — expand the network to keep pace with record production in the oil patch. The state has about 17,500 miles of pipelines, including the addition last year of 2,470 miles, roughly the distance from New York City to Los Angeles.

For almost two weeks, no one knew about a break in a Tesoro Corp. pipeline that was discovered Sept. 29 in a remote area near Tioga. Officials say no water was contaminated or wildlife hurt, but the spill was one of the largest in North Dakota's history, estimated at 20,600 barrels. Oil oozed over an area the size of seven football fields.

Records obtained by the AP show that so far this year, North Dakota has recorded 139 pipeline leaks that spilled a total of 735 barrels of oil. In 2012, there were 153 pipeline leaks that spilled 495 barrels of oil, data show. A little more than half of the spills companies reported to North Dakota occurred "on-site," where a well is connected to a pipeline, and most were fewer than 10 barrels. The remainder of the spills occurred along the state's labyrinth of pipelines.

"The public really should know about these," Morrison with the landowner group said. "If there is a spill, sometimes a landowner may not even know about it. And if they do, people think it's an isolated incident that's only happening to them."

North Dakota also had 291 "incidents" this year that leaked a total of about 2,209 barrels of oil. Data show that all but 490 barrels were contained and cleaned up at the well site. In 2012, there were 168 spills reported that leaked 1,089 barrels of oil; all but 376 barrels were contained on site, data show. Only one incident — a crash involving an oil truck last year — was reported publicly.

Department of Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms — the state's top oil regulator — said regulators worry about "over-reporting" spills. The goal, he said, is to find a balance to so that "the public is aware of what's happening but not overwhelmed by little incidents."

Kuster believes most people would like to immediately know about even the smallest spill, because even a barrel of spilled oil likely could ruin water sources and take untold acres of cropland out of production. He also said timely, accurate and accessible information would hold companies and regulators accountable.

"It would tell me if there is enough oversight and why these accidents happen and if they could have been avoided," he said. "Right now, you don't know if there is a spill unless you find it yourself."
___

Follow James MacPherson on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/macphersonja
...Read more

Monday, October 28, 2013

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of November 2, 2013 to November 3, 2013:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday November 2, 2013
Prospect Park
Meet 8:00 am at Grand Army Plaza Stranahan Statue park entrance
Leader: Bobbi Manian call or text leader 1-646-221-3433 in case of inclement weather

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday November 2, 2013
Jamaica Bay
Leader: Joe DiCostanzo
Registrar: Pearl Broder – pbroder3@nyc.rr.com or 212-924-0030
Registration opens: Monday October 21
Ride: $15

**********

Littoral Society
Saturday, November 02, 2013, 01:00pm - 03:00pm
Low Tide Walk at Jacob Riis Park
Join the American Littoral Society's Northeast Chapter for a Low Tide Beach Walk in the Rockaways.
Meet at the Bathhouse Entry Pavilion in Jacob Riis Park and walk the beach with naturalist and local expert, Mickey Cohen. You will learn the science behind beach dynamics and check out the flotsam and jetsam on this stormy beach along with learning about the extraordinary aeronautical and military history of the area.
This walk is free and open to the public. RSVP to bmcohen2@gmail.com
This program is in partnership with Gateway National Recreation Area
Location : Bathhouse Entry Pavilion, Jacob Riis Park, Queens, NY
Contact : bmcohen2@gmail.com

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, November 2, 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, November 2, 2013, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walk
Guides: NYC Audubon Naturalists or Urban Park Rangers With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, and Urban Park Rangers. Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics.
For more information, please call 718-548-0912.
No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

Saturday, November 2, 8am – 11am
Beginning Birding (field trip)
Classes: Tuesdays, October 22, 29 and November 5, 6:30-8:30pm Trips: Saturdays, November 2, 8-11am (Central Park) and November 9, 9am-3pm (Jamaica Bay). Instructors: Tod Winston Even if you've never picked up a pair of binoculars, you’ll soon be identifying warblers, sparrows, waterfowl, and more--both by sight and by ear. Classes are adaptive to the needs and interests of students. There are two field trips included in this series: one to Central Park and one to Jamaica Bay (van transportation to Jamaica Bay is included). Limited to 12. $125
Click here to register!

Sunday, November 3, 2013, 10am – 11am
Birding for Families
Dana Discovery Center, Central Park, New York, NY
Sundays, September 1 - November 24, 10-11am 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 to register

**********

Northshore Audubon Society
Saturday, November 2, 2012
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Leader: 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.

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, November 2, 2013, 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Protectors Annual Fall Ten Mile Walk of the Greenbelt
Come join others who enjoy a crisp autumn day outdoors. Ten moderate miles at a comfortable pace. We are starting out at Willowbrook Park. Meet at Willowbrook Park at the Victory Boulevard entrance parking lot near the ballfields. Bring lunch and beverage and sturdy walking shoes. We go in all weather, but walk is shortened if high pollution levels occur.
For more information call Dominick Durso at 917-478-7607, Charles Perry at 718-667-1393 or Don Recklies at 718-768-9036.

Saturday, November 2, 2013, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Long Pond Park
North Mt. Loretto State Forest – Participants will observe a variety of ecosystems and study the interconnectedness of nature as they search for evidence of animal life, the geologic history and human influence of this diverse area on the south shore. Meet at the parking lot for North Mt. Loretto on Amboy Road in Richmond Valley.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, November 2, 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!

Sunday, November 3, 2013
Birding for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Take the kids on a walk through one of New York City’s richest bird habitats — the North Woods. Learn how to spot and identify our feathered neighbors in their natural surroundings...
Free!
...Read more

Friday, October 25, 2013

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, October 25, 2013:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Oct. 25, 2013
* NYNY1310.25

- Birds mentioned

Snow Goose
EURASIAN WIGEON
Common Eider
Long-tailed Duck
Red-throated Loon
Horned Grebe
Great Cormorant
Sora
AMERICAN AVOCET
Purple Sandpiper
FRANKLIN'S GULL
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Royal Tern
Short-eared Owl
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Orange-crowned Warbler
Hooded Warbler
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Vesper Sparrow
LARK SPARROW
Grasshopper Sparrow
Nelson's Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
BLUE GROSBEAK
DICKCISSEL
Bobolink

- 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)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

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

(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, October 25th 2013 at 8pm. The highlights of today's tape are FRANKLIN'S GULL, AMERICAN AVOCET, EURASIAN WIGEON, LARK SPARROW, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, BLUE GROSBEAK, DICKCISSEL and RED-HEADED WOODPECKER plus a pelagic trip announcement.

An interesting Fall week was highlighted by the discovery of an immature FRANKLIN'S GULL found amongst a large group of Laughing and other gulls along the beach between parking fields 2 and 3 at Robert Moses State Park on Wednesday morning. The bird ultimately moved off due to beach activity and could not be relocated subsequently. Birders should note at least 5 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS though. Perhaps more bizarre were 3 AMERICAN AVOCETS photographed floating a short ways offshore on the ocean off the Roosevelt Nature Center at Jones Beach West End last Sunday morning. They flew off after a short swim.

As the variety of waterfowl increases locally 2 EURASIAN WIGEON were reported last Monday, one on the main pond at Connetquot River State Park in Oakdale and one on the Sayville Mill Pond off Montauk Highway. COMMON EIDER was also noted Monday in Brooklyn in the bay on the east side of the Gil Hodges Bridge at Floyd Bennett Field where a BLUE GROSBEAK was seen last Saturday and Sunday. One of the first arriving SHORT-EARED OWLS was at Floyd Bennett Field last Saturday.

Riis Park provided GRASSHOPPER and NELSON'S SPARROW plus a tardy BOBOLINK last Monday when another GRASSHOPPER SPARROW was noted at Kissena Park in Queens. A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was at Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn Sunday and VESPER SPARROWS appeared at Canarsie Beach Park in Brooklyn Tuesday and Oakland Lake in Queens on Wednesday.

The SORA now apparently more secretive was still being seen Wednesday in the swamp along Prospect Park Lake.

At Kissena Park in Queens Saturday an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was in the corridor and an immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was still present. Up to 3 more RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were still residing near Turtle Cove at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx at least through Wednesday and another was seen at Jones Beach field 10 last Saturday.

Among the birds at Jones Beach West End last Saturday were a LARK SPARROW briefly at field 2 and a breeding plumaged RED-THROATED LOON off the Coast Guard Station. Over a dozen ROYAL TERNS were also in the inlet with 25 counted that day at Jones Beach field 6 these numbers continuing at least to Wednesday.

At Robert Moses State Park single CLAY-COLORED and LINCOLN'S SPARROWS were near the field 2 volley ball courts last weekend and a DICKCISSEL and a HOODED WARBLER joined other birds feeding on the lawn by the maintenance buildings that day.

Out east a LARK SPARROW was present in the overflow parking lot by the Ponquogue Bridge west of Shinnecock Inlet from at least Monday afternoon to Wednesday.

Recently arriving species have included SNOW GOOSE, LONG-TAILED DUCK, HORNED GREBE, GREAT CORMORANT, PURPLE SANDPIPER and FOX SPARROWS [along with various warblers and lingering species with a few species of thrush other than Hermit] continue to be seen.

A 12 hour pelagic trip will leave Freeport Long Island at 6am on Saturday November 23rd aboard the Captain Lou VII an excellent birding vessel. The cost is $185 per person. The trip is sponsored by See Life Paulagics. For information visit their website at < http://www.paulagics.com/ > or for reservations call (215) 234-6805.

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

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

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday's Foto

Over the past couple of weeks Woolly Bear Caterpillars have been appearing all around the area. Legend has it that this larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) is a predictor of the coming Winter's severity. Supposedly, the wider the orange segment, the milder the Winter. In reality, individuals from the same clutch of eggs show a wide range of band sizes, plus, the bands grow with the age of the caterpillar. Their host plants include asters, birch leaves, clover, corn, dandelions, elm leaves, maple leaves, sunflowers, and nettles. The larval stage overwinters, where its entire body freezes, protected by a cryoprotectant, then thaws in the Spring to emerge, become a moth, mate and start the process over. Cuckoos eat Woolly Bear caterpillars.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Last Weekend's Birds

Last weekend we spotted several good birds in Brooklyn, plus there was an overall marked increase in sparrow species, as well as, the arrival of some of our typical overwintering waterfowl species.

Floyd Bennett Field

Bob, Heydi and I arrived at Floyd Bennett Field on Saturday just as the sun was coming up. Thankfully our genius elected officials in Washington decided to end the government shutdown, so this National Park was open and we didn't have to sneak in. It was a little past 7am. In 10 days we return to local standard time and sunrise will be an hour earlier. Our first stop was the small field adjacent to the "Aviator Sports" facility. In the past, this has been a good spot for migrating Buff-breasted Sandpipers and Killdeers. The only birds present on that field Saturday were Mourning Doves, a few Herring Gulls and an American Crow yelling at said gulls.

From there we headed over to the cricket field, then walked the short distance to the Return-a-Gift Pond (theoretically, if you checked "Return a Gift to Wildlife" on your New York State tax return, some of that money went to the creation and maintenance of this small pond).

Neither the cricket field nor the pond held any birds, but the path along the way was loaded with birds. Yellow-rumped Warblers were all over the place, as were both species of kinglet, Song, Swamp and White-throated Sparrows. A pair of Cooper's Hawks were patrolling the area and I spotted two Northern Harriers in the distance, high above the main grasslands. As we were returning to the car I spotted a Blue Grosbeak in the grass at the edge of the pathway. It flew up into a tangle of vines and began making its high-pitched "tink" call.

Our next stop was at the Floyd Bennett Community Gardens. This 3 to 4 acre collection of garden plots is a magnet for migrating songbirds, especially sparrows in the Fall. We were hoping to find a Vesper Sparrow among the more common species. Tom had the same idea and we ran into him shortly after we arrived. With the extra pair of experienced eyes joining us, I was confident we'd find something good.

We split up into two groups and zigzagged our way through the dozens of rows of gardens. To a seemingly nonstop soundtrack of Yellow-rumped Warbler "pips" we counted Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco. There was also a single Nashville Warbler that appeared amazingly bright yellow for so late in the year. It wasn't until we arrived at the last garden plot of the last row that Tom spotted our prize - a Vesper Sparrow. Bob and I stood back and watched in amusement at Heydi and Tom's frustrated attempts at photographing this relatively large sparrow with bold, white eye-rings. As you can see by the photo here, the effort paid off.

At the North end of Floyd Bennett Boulevard there is a fenced in baseball field. This season it remained unused and it has become a great habitat for birds as grasses and wildflowers flourished in both the outfield and infield. We thought it might be another great spot to search for migrating sparrows. Unfortunately, when we arrived there was a group of dog owners who decided it would be a great spot for a private dog park. If you are wondering, no, dogs are not permitted offleash in Floyd Bennett Field. Enforcement is another story, however. We left the ball field and headed towards the edge of the water.

There is a narrow stretch of grass along the Eastern edge of Floyd Bennett. It overlooks Jamaica Bay and it is in this area where Heydi and I discovered a Le Conte's Sparrow last year. We thought it might be worth checking out again. Walking North along the path through knee-deep grass, several Palm Warbler, Savannah and Song Sparrows popped up in front of us. A few minutes into our walk I received a text message from Sean, so I stepped off the path and closer to the water to reply. Earlier I had tweeted about the grosbeak and Vesper Sparrow, so his note was just acknowledging that it seemed pretty "birdy". I typed back that it was really active, then looked up from my phone to see a Short-eared Owl sitting at the edge of the water. The bird flushed and started flying out over the water. I shouted to Bob, Heydi and Tom. Heydi managed to snap off a couple of shots. I then tweeted about the owl and waited for Sean to call. It took about 5 seconds. I answered the phone laughing. It was only about 10:15am and I could have ended the day then and there. We birders tend to be a greedy lot, so instead continued for another 3 hours, although we didn't find anything nearly as interesting as the grosbeak, vesper and owl.

Green-Wood Cemetery

Saturday night my wife and I went out to see a band that didn't go on until 10:30pm, so I slept late on Sunday. I decided to take it slow and just bird around Green-Wood Cemetery. Green-Wood is always a good spot for Fall sparrows and it's only a short bike ride away from my apartment.

I try to pick a line along the tops of the ridges as I wend my way through the cemetery. It allows me a view of the sky, so I can also check for migrating raptors. Almost immediately I spotted a Sharp-shinned Hawk zipping through the treetops along the Hill of Graves. Just passed the Western end of the Hill of Graves I noticed a lot of bird activity near Meadow Hill. Robins, Hermit Thrushes and a single Scarlet Tanager were flying in and out of a Winged Euonymus tree. They were feeding on its abundant, orange-red berries. Several flickers joined in and a pair of phoebes hawked for insects from the top of the tree. On the grass nearby a small flock of juncos mingled with White-throated and Song Sparrows. I sat down in the sun at the base of a monument and watched dozens of birds for about 15 minutes. At one point I noticed a small sparrow in the shadow beneath the euonymus. I picked up my bins and was surprised to see that it was a Clay-colored Sparrow. Migrating primarily through the center of the country, this pretty sparrow now seems to be appearing more frequently in the East.

I continued walking, first over Pine Hill, then Forest Ridge and over to Central Ridge. There were lots of kinglets, Palm Warblers, and White-throated Sparrows along the way, but nothing unusual. I stood on Central Ridge and watched a Red-tailed Hawk coming in for a landing. He picked up speed as he pulled his wings tighter to his body and tipped downward. As he approached treetop elevation, he slowly pivoted his legs forward. I imagined him opening his feet and pointing his talons outward moments before hitting his target. I heard a small flock of Blue Jays making frantic "jeer, jeer, jeer" calls from the general direction of the hawk's landing and wondered if he made a kill. Several other raptors were in the area and by the end of my nearly 3 hour walk I counted a second Red-tailed Hawk, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 4 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 3 Cooper's Hawks.

The first of the season's Ruddy Ducks and Northern Shovelers have begun arriving and I suspect that in another couple of weeks there will be hundreds of them around Brooklyn.

**********

Dates: 10/23/13 and 10/24/13
Locations: Floyd Bennett Field; Green-Wood Cemetery
Species: 63

Brant (90.)
Northern Shoveler (3.)
Ruddy Duck (2.)
Double-crested Cormorant
Osprey (1.)
Northern Harrier (5.)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (6.)
Cooper's Hawk (7.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Black-bellied Plover (6.)
Great Black-backed Gull
SHORT-EARED OWL (1, Floyd Bennett Field.)
Belted Kingfisher (1.)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (2.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (4.)
Northern Flicker (54.)
Merlin (1.)
Peregrine Falcon (1.)
Monk Parakeet
Eastern Phoebe (10.)
Black-capped Chickadee (2.)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (2.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (1.)
Brown Creeper (1.)
House Wren (1.)
Carolina Wren (4.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush (6.)
Gray Catbird (2.)
Northern Mockingbird (4.)
Nashville Warbler (1.)
Common Yellowthroat (2.)
Palm Warbler (47.)
Pine Warbler (2.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (100.)
Eastern Towhee (4.)
Chipping Sparrow (6.)
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (1, Green-Wood Cemetery.)
Field Sparrow (3.)
VESPER SPARROW (1, Floyd Bennett Field.)
Savannah Sparrow (32.)
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow (5.)
Dark-eyed Junco (15.)
BLUE GROSBEAK (1, Floyd Bennett Field.)
House Finch (2.)
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose (15.), Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker (1.), Blue Jay, American Crow (60.), American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow
...Read more

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Treehugger Tuesday

From the National Wildlife Federation:

"What’s the Condition of the Pipeline Beneath the Straits of Mackinac" ... and why you should care.

This past July, NWF conducted a diving expedition to obtain footage of aging oil pipelines strung across one of the most sensitive locations in the Great Lakes, and possibly the world: the Straits of Mackinac. Footage of these pipelines has never been released to the public until now.

The Straits of Mackinac pipelines, owned by Enbridge Energy, are 60-years-old and considered one of the greatest threats to the Great Lakes because of their age, location, and the hazardous products they transport – including tar sands derived oil.

For nearly two years, NWF has been pressing pipeline regulators and Enbridge to release information about the integrity of these pipelines, including inspection videos showing how the pipelines cross the Straits of Mackinac. These requests have gone largely unanswered from both Enbridge and the Pipeline Hazards Safety Administration (PHMSA), who regulates pipeline operations. Because Enbridge hastily moved forward with plans to increase pressure on the aging pipelines, and has bypassed critical environmental permitting for changes in operation, NWF decided we needed to obtain our own footage to review integrity:



The footage shows pipelines suspended over the lakebed, some original supports broken away (indicating the presence of corrosion), and some sections of the suspended pipelines covered in large piles of unknown debris. This visual is evidence that our decision makers need to step in and demand a release of information from Enbridge and PHMSA.

Heightening our concern around this pipeline and the company that owns it: despite having cleared our dive work with the U.S. Coast Guard, several Congressional members, and Homeland Security, our staff and the dive crew had uncomfortable interactions with Enbridge representatives. As soon as our team set out on the water, we were quickly accompanied by an Enbridge crew that monitored our every move. This monitoring did not stop at the surface: Enbridge also placed a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) into the water to watch our team.

These actions and our video have raised our level of concern for the general operational behavior of this company and their overall safety culture—including the way they treat the concerned public living near their pipelines. If these aging pipelines rupture, the resulting oil slick would cause irreversible damage to fish and wildlife, drinking water, Lake Michigan beaches, Mackinac Island and our economy.

To make matters worse, the recent shutdown of our federal government has left communities and wildlife with an increased risk of oil spills and failed response because pipeline safety and responding agencies have been scaled back or closed all together. The recent oil spill in North Dakota, of approximately 800,000 gallons, is living proof.

Speak up for Wildlife

Please help NWF press for measures that will minimize the risk of an oil spill in the Mackinac Straits.

Take Action: Help protect Great Lakes wildlife—tell your U.S. Senators to protect the Great Lakes from tar sands oil spills.
...Read more

Monday, October 21, 2013

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of October 26, 2013 to October 27, 2013:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Introduction to Birdwatching
Free
Explore the Park's natural areas and learn how to look for amazing birds.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Sandy Hook, New Jersey
Leader: Bob Machover
Focus: Raptors, sparrows and neotopical passerines, waterbirds, early sea ducks
Car fee: $35.00
Registrar: Kathy Toomey, email (preferred) kathleentoomey@gmail.com or call 1-718-436-3494 before 9PM
Registration period: Oct 15th - Oct 24th
http://www.nps.gov/gate/planyourvisit/thingstodosandyhook.htm

**********

Gowanus Dredgers
Saturday, October 26, 2013, 1pm – 5pm (last day until next Spring)
Canoe 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
Today's event is in collaboration with Open House NY www.ohny.org so expect a line!

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday October 26, 2013
Greenwich Audubon
Leader: Lenore Swenson
Registrar: Anne Lazarus – amlazarus@earthlink.net or 212-673-9059
Registration opens: Monday October 14
Ride: $25

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, October 26, 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, October 26, 2013, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walk
Guides: NYC Audubon Naturalists 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, October 27, 2013, 9:15am – 4:00pm
Hike to Moses Mountain, the Greenbelt
Guide: Gabriel Willow With NYC Parks and the Greenbelt Conservancy Meet at the Manhattan terminal of the S.I. Ferry and join us as we journey to Moses Mountain, which provides a panoramic view of Staten Island and points beyond. We'll look for migrating hawks, warblers, and other songbirds—with crimson sumac and other autumn foliage as a backdrop.
Bring lunch, water, and binoculars. Transportation on Staten Island provided. Limited to 18. $30
Click here to register!

Sunday, October 27, 2013, 10am – 11am
Birding for Families
Dana Discovery Center, Central Park, New York, NY
Sundays, September 1 - November 24, 10-11am 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 to register

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, October 26, 2013, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Acme Pond and the North Forest
The woodlands and ponds of this little known area will be explored during an approximately two mile hike. Once heavily farmed, the Acme Pond areas have developed into a nicely wooded forest over the past 150 years with sweetgum, white oaks and hickories as the dominant trees. The pond is reputed to be the home of large bass. Meet at the corner of Hylan Boulevard, and Holten Avenue.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Saturday, October 26, 2013, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The Magical Plants of Autumn
Herbs, weeds, and trees have much folklore associated with their scents, colors, fruits, and seeds. Walk through Conference House Park and the Colonial Herb Garden with herbalist Gert Coleman to learn the stories about and practical uses of elder, mugwort, fennel, oak, wormwood, and more as we separate fact from fiction. Wear walking shoes and bring a hat. Meet in the parking lot at the end of Hylan Boulevard.
For more information call Gert Coleman at 718-356-9235 or e-mail gert.coleman@verizon.net.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, October 26, 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!

Sunday, October 27, 2013
Birding for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Take the kids on a walk through one of New York City’s richest bird habitats — the North Woods. Learn how to spot and identify our feathered neighbors in their natural surroundings...
Free!

Birding at Alley Pond Park Adventure Center (in Alley Pond Park), Queens
11:00 a.m.
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome. To enhance your experience we encourage you to bring binoculars and field guides, or ask a…
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, October 19, 2013

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, October 18, 2013:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Oct. 18, 2013
* NYNY1310.18

- Birds mentioned

Blue-winged Teal
RED-NECKED GREBE
Tricolored Heron
SORA
Western Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER
Wilson's Snipe
Royal Tern
Common Nighthawk
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Orange-crowned Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Hooded Warbler
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Vesper Sparrow
LARK SPARROW
Nelson's Sparrow
BLUE 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@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)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

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

To report sightings call:
Tom Burke (212) 372-1483 (weekdays, during the day)
Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, October 18th 2013 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER, BLUE GROSBEAK, LARK SPARROW, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, RED-NECKED GREBE, SORA and more RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS.

A fairly lackluster week was highlighted by a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER last Monday on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The bird ultimately pushed off due to falcon harassment. Other shorebirds on the East Pond and the now reopened refuge have included WESTERN SANDPIPER and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS and TRICOLORED HERON was still at the bay Tuesday.

At Kissena Park in Queens a BLUE GROSBEAK was present in the corridor from Sunday to at least Wednesday with an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER also there Wednesday. A mature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was noted in that park Tuesday and Thursday this species continuing its excellent run locally this Fall. Other RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS during the week featured an increasing number at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx with at least 4 there Tuesday and later near Turtle Cove and another in Central Park Sunday. Two were also at Inwood Hill Park in northern Manhattan today.

Other recent sightings in Central Park have included 4 BLUE-WINGED TEAL on the lake Tuesday, WILSON'S SNIPE Tuesday, a late COMMON NIGHTHAWK still present Wednesday evening, a small number of lingering CAPE MAY WARBLERS frequenting sapsucker drillings on the west side of the Great Hill and elsewhere. Two VESPER SPARROWS last Sunday at the Pinetum and north end and CLAY-COLORED SPARROW found today. [Editor's note: ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was seen late in the afternoon on Friday in Central Park's Wildflower Meadow.]

A SORA in the swamp along Prospect Park Lake last weekend, apparently a different bird from the one present a week earlier, was not as unexpected by location as the one frequenting flower beds in Bryant Park in Manhattan from last Friday through yesterday. A HOODED WARBLER was also in Prospect Park from Sunday to at least Thursday.

Drier Offerman Park (Calvert Vaux Park) in Brooklyn has had a nice run of birds recently. RED-NECKED GREBE was present in Coney Island Creek there from Saturday to Monday and Saturday also added ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and LARK SPARROW with a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW there Monday. Another ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was reported on Staten Island Monday and another CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was at Zach's Bay at Jones Beach last Saturday and 3 ROYAL TERNS were at Jones Beach West End.

NELSON'S SPARROWS continue in fairly good numbers along coastal marshes some recent locations including Plumb Beach in Brooklyn, Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, Marshlands Conservancy in Westchester and Gardiner's County Park in Bay Shore as well as Cupsogue County Park and presumably all along Dune Road for instance on eastern Long Island.

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

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

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday's Foto

Except for the hummingbird, the Golden-crowned Kinglet is one of our smallest native songbirds. The average bird weights only slightly more than an American nickle. They can be found in small flocks feeding on tiny insects from high in the treetops to within the grass in fields and meadows. Despite their diminutive size, small numbers of this half-hardy species are almost always noted around New York City in even the coldest weather during the annual Christmas Bird Count. They even sound as cute as they look:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Treehugger Tuesday

NPR did a great piece on one thing that President Obama can do now, while the federal government is shutdown: Block the Keystone Pipeline!

One Thing Obama Can Do: Decide The Fate Of The Keystone Pipeline
October 09, 2013 1:10 PM

Journalist Ryan Lizza says there's one far-reaching, controversial issue President Obama will soon get to decide all by himself, without having to ask Congress. He alone can approve or reject construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, designed to take heavy crude oil extracted from Alberta, Canada, through America's heartland to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

The oil here isn't conventional oil, Lizza tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies: "It's not really oil at all, it's oil sand -- it's basically a mixture of oil, sand, water and some other clay deposits, and to extract that oil from this asphaltlike mixture, it requires a lot of energy."

Many environmentalists believe that blocking the Keystone pipeline is critical to addressing climate change. They worry that extracting, refining, selling and burning this oil will result in so much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere that it will dramatically change the climate to the point of no return.

Meanwhile, proponents say it will make an important contribution to energy independence. In a recent piece in the New Yorker Lizza explores the argument that the pipeline will have a major environmental impact and profiles a billionaire former hedge fund owner who has thrown himself in the battle to stop Keystone XL.

Interview Highlights

On how the "unconventional" oil is extracted -- and why processing takes so much energy

They basically have two methods for getting [the oil]: In places where it's close to the surface, they can essentially strip mine it. ... About 20 percent of this massive area in Northern Alberta they can strip mine.

The other 80 percent -- the oil sand -- is deep below the ground. And it's covered by a capstone -- basically rock. ... [Extracting that oil is] an even more energy-intensive process than the mining. You're emitting a lot of greenhouse gases in the process, and so the reason it's so controversial is that a lot of smart climate scientists have pointed out that if we start exploiting all of the world's unconventional oil, we're not going to be able to solve the climate change problem.

On how it got the name "tar sand" -- and why it would be hard to clean up a spill

It's really that it's stickier [than conventional oil]. When it's at room temperature this stuff has the consistency of almost peanut butter, [and oil producers] have to heat it up to get it to flow. They have to mix it with another substance to get it to actually flow through the pipeline. This is why industry and government calls this stuff "oil sand" and a lot of activists call it "tar sand." The reason it got the name "tar sand" is it does look like a tarlike substance. It's not as viscous as conventional oil, unless you add chemicals to it or heat it up. So when it spills, it just sort of creates this tarry mess that is much more difficult to sop up than traditional oil.

On how the Keystone pipeline became a galvanizing issue for environmentalists

In the elections of 2010 the Republicans took over the House of Representatives, and the mood in Washington, especially with the still-struggling economy, became very, very hostile to doing anything that looked like putting a price on carbon. Obama himself stopped talking about it, so I think a lot of environmentalists were searching for a galvanizing issue that would both bring activists together but also seize the attention of the public, and I think that's really why Keystone became such a big deal at that moment.

There's a debate among environmentalists of whether it was the right move. There are plenty of environmentalists who think that the most important thing they should be doing is demanding very aggressive EPA regulations on power plants and that would have a far bigger effect on reducing greenhouse emissions than stopping this pipeline. But the pipeline sort of took on a life of its own when there wasn't much else going on about climate change.

On the Canadian energy industry

Calgary is a city built on this resource. Calgary is like a classic boom town; all of the skyscrapers in Calgary are named after the energy companies that are extracting the oil from the oil sands, or the banks that are funding them. There are construction cranes all over. And Canada ... is defining itself as an energy superpower. I think it surprises a lot of people to hear they have the third-largest oil reserve in the world, behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

What you find in Calgary, in Canada, is a lot of industry officials scratching their heads and not really understanding why they have become the face of climate change for the environmental community. ... The big thing they're trying to do now after dealing with the campaign against Keystone and the campaign against extracting oil from the oil sands -- they're spending a lot of time both for real and, frankly, for PR purposes, trying to reduce the amount of carbon that is emitted in extracting this oil from the ground. Now some people might look at that and say, "That's like trying to get someone to lose weight by going from Big Macs to Quarter Pounders with Cheese; the whole point is to stop taking it out of the ground." ... Environmentalists look at this and they think it's mostly PR.

On the Keystone report that the State Department delivered to the president

The central finding in the draft environmental impact statement ... was, if you don't build Keystone, the Canadians will sell this stuff anyway, they'll build pipelines to their east coast, to their west coast, and they'll send it to the Gulf of Mexico via rail -- and by the way, sending oil by rail releases a whole lot more greenhouse gas emissions than putting it in a pipeline. So that became really the most controversial finding of the State Department's report. ...

The process requires that other government agencies weigh in on whether the State Department got this right or not. The EPA quickly challenged that market analysis and said, "You know what? We're not convinced that the State Department got this right. We don't think they're looking at the latest information and the latest data and we're not so sure that it's true that this oil will get to market absent the Keystone pipeline." And that was a big moment for the EPA, a very gutsy moment.

On what Keystone could mean for Obama

Barack Obama gave a very important speech on his second-term climate change priorities, and at the very last moment he inserted some language into that speech about how he would settle this issue of the Keystone pipeline. And he said for him, he doesn't want to see that pipeline approved if it would significantly contribute to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. So how the State Department settles that question is what everyone has their eye on. ...

I think there's an important moment here for Barack Obama if he chooses to take it -- even if he thinks that denying the permit to build Keystone won't have a huge impact on greenhouse gas emissions -- he could use it as a symbolic turning point in the kind of energy future he wants America to have. That is, he might say, "At some point we have to move away from fossil fuels and I'm using this moment to lead a crusade in America to move away from fossil fuels."

On how this is something Obama can do without congressional support

As we sit here in October of 2013, immigration reform seems dead, gun control legislation is dead, and the government is shut down with no grand bargain in sight. So a lot of environmentalists say, "Why not concentrate on the things you can do unilaterally?" And one of those things you can do unilaterally is address climate change, both on the regulatory side with the EPA but also by killing this Keystone project. So in this complicated calculation about whether to approve this pipeline or not, you have to think that perhaps that will enter into Obama's thinking and that he realizes as his domestic agenda that requires congressional approval withers, maybe it makes some sense to concentrate and act on the things he can do on his own.
...Read more

Monday, October 14, 2013

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of October 19, 2013 to October 20, 2013:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Introduction to Birdwatching
Free
Explore the Park's natural areas and learn how to look for amazing birds.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Caumsett State Park, Long Island
Leader: Lenore Swenson
Focus: Sparrows and passerines, grassland species, raptors
Car fee: $25.00
Registrar: Donna Evans, email (preferred) devansny@earthlink.net or call 1-646-763-0198 before 9PM
Registration period: Oct 8th - Oct 17th
http://www.nysparks.com/parks/23/details.aspx

**********

Gowanus Dredgers
Saturday, October 19, 2013, 1pm – 5pm
Canoe 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
Today's event is in collaboration with Open House NY www.ohny.org so expect a line!

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Prospect Park for Sparrows and Late Migrants
Leader: Gil Schrank – information only gschrankny@aol.com or 718-788-6549
No registration – public transportation
Meet at Prospect Park West and 9th Street (Lafayette Statue) at 8:00 am

**********

Littoral Society
Saturday, October 19, 2013, 01:00pm - 03:00pm
Breezy Point
Join the American Littoral Society's Northeast Chapter for a fall hike in Breezy Point, Queens, the little known western tip of the Rockaway Peninsula.
Meet at Building 1 in Fort Tilden, Queens and carpool to Breezy Point.
This tour will be led by naturalist and local expert, Mickey Cohenn. Highlights will include dune foliage, shorebirds and a surprising assortment of rocks and minerals used in the construction of the Breezy Point Jetty.
This hike is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to: bmcohen2@gmail.com.
This program is in partnership with Gateway National Recreation Area.
Location : Meet at Fort Tilden, Queens, then carpool to Breezy Point.
Contact : bmcohen2@gmail.com

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, October 19, 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, October 19, 2013, 8am – 6pm
Hawk Mountain
Guides: Gabriel Willow, Hawk Mountain raptor educator Come to Hawk Mountain with NYC Audubon! Mid-October is the perfect time to visit Hawk Mountain, one of the premier hawk-watching locations in the East. A Hawk Mountain educator will introduce us to the great variety of raptors that may be seen, including golden eagles, buteos, and falcons--and Gabriel Willow will be on hand to help with bird ID throughout the day. The path to the official hawk watch site is a 3/4-mile hike through lovely mountainous woodland.
Bring lunch, water, and binoculars. Group program, trail admission, and transport by coach included. Participants may also arrange their own transportation. Transportation option limited to 30.
$85 with transport / $20 without transport
Click here to register!

Saturday, October 19, 2013, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walk
Guides: NYC Audubon Naturalists 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, October 20, 2013, 10am – 11am
Birding for Families
Dana Discovery Center, Central Park, New York, NY
Sundays, September 1 - November 24, 10-11am 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 to register

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, October 19, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop at the Greenbelt Nature Center
Meet in the Nature Center parking lot at Rockland Avenue and Brielle (additional parking at the Recreation Center nearby). We will remove invasive shrubs from areas adjacent to the Nature Trail. Protectors will supply tools, gloves and refreshments. After a two hour work session (our 207th monthly workshop), we will take a short walk over nearby trails.
For more information call Don Recklies at 718-768-9036 or Chuck Perry at 718-667-1393.

Sunday, October 20, 2013, 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Greenbelt Loop and Lunch
We’ll walk 4.3 moderate miles starting and ending at the Greenbelt Nature Center, with lunch at High Rock. This walk includes a gradual climb up Moses’ Mountain. Bring ample water and lunch. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, comfortable pants and a hat. Meet at 10:30 a.m. sharp at the Greenbelt Nature Center on Rockland and Brielle Avenues. Rain postpones the event to the same time on Sunday, October 27.
For more information, e-mail Hillel Lofaso at hillel5757@gmail.com or call 718-477-0545.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, October 19, 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!

Sunday, October 20, 2013
Birding for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Take the kids on a walk through one of New York City’s richest bird habitats — the North Woods. Learn how to spot and identify our feathered neighbors in their natural surroundings...
Free!

Our Feathered Friends: From Fall Migrants to FeederWatch at High Rock Gate (in High Rock Park), Staten Island
2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Bird's the word! Join us for a presentation on the birds you can see in the flying through the Greenbelt now, such as warblers and hawks, and our friends who will be visiting the…
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, October 12, 2013

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, October 11, 2013:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Oct 11, 2013
* NYNY1310.11

- Birds Mentioned:
Selasphorus Hummingbird+
[Eurasian Linnet]+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Common Eider
Cory's Shearwater
Peregrine Falcon
SORA
AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER
AMERICAN AVOCET
HUDSONIAN GODWIT
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
WILSON'S PHALAROPE
Lesser Black-backed Gull
CASPIAN TERN
Royal Tern
Black Skimmer
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
WESTERN KINGBIRD
American Pipit
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Lark Sparrow
Nelson's Sparrow
BLUE GROSBEAK
Dickcissel


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

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

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

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

~ 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 (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, October 11th, at 11:00pm. The highlights of today's tape are WESTERN KINGBIRD, AMERICAN AVOCET, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, WILSON'S PHALAROPE, AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, CASPIAN TERN, LARK SPARROW, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, BLUE GROSBEAK, SORA, and RED-HEADED WOODPECKER.

A decent week, sprinkled with some nice birds, though hampered again by easterly components to the winds, was highlighted by a WESTERN KINGBIRD appearing last Sunday near the turnaround at Jones Beach West End. Present much of the day, we have no subsequent reports of the bird. Other birds at Jones Beach West End featured a flyover AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER on Saturday. Shorebirds gathered on the bar included WESTERN SANDPIPER and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, and a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT popped up in the hedgerow by the Coast Guard Station. Over 300 BLACK SKIMMERS have also been visiting the bar at West End, with two ROYAL TERNS there Saturday, when an immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER appeared around the turnaround, followed by a BLUE GROSBEAK there on Wednesday.

Last Sunday, an AMERICAN AVOCET was found near Captree State Park, while over the bridge at Robert Moses State Park, two ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS reported near the hawk watch Saturday were apparently replaced later in the morning by two YELLOW WARBLERS. An excellent PEREGRINE flight was captivating the hawk counters there.

Seen offshore at Robert Moses State Park last weekend were many scoters on the move, a small number of jaegers, and on Sunday, over 30 CORY'S SHEARWATERS, with LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL and ROYAL TERN also noted on both days. At nearby Gardiner's Park, two CASPIAN TERNS flew by the beach on Saturday, and some NELSON'S SPARROWS were frequenting the salt marsh there, with inland as well as coastal races represented. This species can also be found at such Brooklyn sites as Marine Park and Plumb Beach, and presumably at other appropriate marshes along the shores of Long Island and Westchester.

Both LARK SPARROW and CLAY-COLORED SPARROW were reported last Saturday from the Native Plant Garden at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and a LARK SPARROW found yesterday at the Great Hill in Central Park was still present today. Another CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was at Marine Park in Brooklyn last weekend.

A SORA was still at Prospect Park Lake last Saturday, and this was followed by a more disoriented SORA seen in Manhattan's Bryant Park today.

On Tuesday, RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were noted in several locations, including three together at Owl's Head Park in Brooklyn, and singles in Central Park and Caumsett State Park; these in addition to one at Pelham Bay Park last weekend that increased to two on Wednesday.

A YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT was reported in Central Park Sunday and Tuesday, but the most unexpected land bird in New York was probably the Eurasian Linnet spotted in the Kissena Park Corridor in Queens on Wednesday, this presumed escape seen again there today.

At now-closed Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, a WILSON'S PHALAROPE was noted at the south end of the East Pond last Sunday and Monday, followed by an HUDSONIAN GODWIT there today.

On eastern Long Island a rufous-type selasphorus hummingbird has been at a private feeder in Southold recently, reminding us that it is again vagrant hummingbird season.

Two DICKCISSELS were at the Community Garden in East Hampton last Saturday, and two COMMON EIDER visited Shinnecock Inlet on Tuesday.

Yesterday, 21 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS were counted on a Cutchogue field off Oregon Road near Depot Lane. About 50 AMERICAN PIPITS were there today.

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

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

[~END TAPE~]

~ End Transcript ~
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Friday, October 11, 2013

A Shift in Migration Birds

Last weekend I noticed a profound shift in the groups of birds migrating South through Brooklyn. Up until last weekend we had been seeing a lot of warblers stopping off in our area to rest and refuel before continuing to their wintering grounds. It is fairly typical that by this time of year we'd experienced our first frost, the insect numbers plummet, and flycatchers and wood-warblers numbers noticeably drop off (except for the half-hardy Yellow-rumped Warbler, which virtually inundate our area around now). We now begin the next phase of Autumn migrants.

There are still many sources of fruit for the fruit-eating birds, such as, thrushes, tanagers and waxwings. In Green-Wood Cemetery, fruiting dogwoods have attracted hundreds of birds. In addition, grasses have gone to seed, creating a food source for many sparrows. Last Saturday the latter group became the target for Heydi, Tom and I as we spent from dawn until early afternoon searching Brooklyn's sparrow haunts.

After a sunrise run into Prospect Park where we successfully relocated the Sora that had spent the week near the lake, we headed over to Plum Beach. That location is a tiny remnant of the dune and marsh habitat that once dominated coastal Brooklyn. Here's a link to an animation I created of the Brooklyn coast from 1891 to present. Anyway, we were hoping to find several sparrow species associated with this type of habitat: Le Conte's Sparrow, Nelson's Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sparrow and Seaside Sparrow. Le Conte's is very rare around Brooklyn, but last weekend was the right time of year to search (Doug spotted one here on 10/08/08,  and Heydi and I spotted one across Plum Channel on 10/6/12), plus a cold front had just moved through the area, increasing the chances of new birds moving into our area.

I love wetland habitat, especially early in the morning. The sounds are great; gulls randomly crying as they stand along the edge of the beach. The whistling cry of plovers as they pass overhead. The happy, gurglings call of Marsh Wrens as they perch, legs splayed, from stalks of tall marsh grass. The loud "kek, kek, kek" of Clapper Rails as they strut, hidden from view, through their muddy domain. I even enjoy the smell of the salt air wafting over the marsh and mixing with the slightly sulfurous fragrance of the mud and grass.

We spent nearly 2 hours at Plum Beach surveying the birds. Nelson's Sparrows seemed to be all over the marsh. Our official count was 10 individuals, but I'm sure there were many more (Plum Beach is one of the best places in Brooklyn to find this species during Fall migration). We also spotted a single Seaside Sparrow and one or two Saltmarsh Sparrows. Our highlights here were Clapper Rail, Black-bellied Plover, Peregrine Falcon (chasing a pigeon over, then through the trees that border the marsh), Marsh Wren, Nelson's Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow and White-crowned Sparrow. We were also pleasantly surprised to see a flock of 8 Blue-winged Teal swimming around in the high-tide flooded marsh.

From Plum Beach we headed East along the coast to the Marine Park Saltmarsh Nature Center on Gerritsen Creek. Keir had spent most of his morning here and we'd been texting back and forth comparing our sightings. His highlight had been a Dickcissel, which Tom had never seen in Brooklyn. That was part of our motivation for going there, plus, it is just a really good place to look for sparrows. There is marsh grass habitat close to the creek and longer grass in an upland area, plus an open field dominated by low shrubs, grasses and wildflowers...perfect for several species of sparrow.

As we walked along the trails at Marine Park, dozens of sparrows popped up from the grass and took flight. Swamp Sparrows were now migrating and were the most abundance species we encountered, and by a wide margin. There's a large field off the Eastern-most trail. It's bordered by 2 baseball fields to the North, East 38th Street to the East and a buffer of mature deciduous trees at the edge of the golf course to the South. The field used to be dominated by mugwort and other invasive plants, but has been replanted with native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and a few saplings. It is perfect habitat for sparrows. In fact, it was so active, that we almost forgot about looking for Keir's Dickcissel. As we slowly worked the South end of the field I spotted a rare Clay-colored Sparrow among the numerous Savannah, Song, Swamp and White-throated Sparrows.

After a little over 2 hours birding at Marine Park, I was beginning to run out of steam, but thought there was a chance for something unusual at Green-Wood Cemetery. Tom was spent, so Heydi and I continued without him. As it turned out, he didn't miss anything. We experienced much of what we'd seen earlier with regard to diversity and abundance of sparrows, with the exception of many more Chipping Sparrows.

With Winter closing in, I noticed that some of our overwintering species had started arriving over the past week. More specifically: Brant, Northern Shoveler, American Coot, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Merlin, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, White-throated Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco. It's too bad that we won't be seeing all the Winter finches that migrated South last year.

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Date: 10/5/13
Locations: Green-Wood Cemetery; Plumb Beach; Prospect Park; Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park
Species: 71

Brant
Blue-winged Teal (8.)
Double-crested Cormorant (3.)
Great Egret (1.)
Snowy Egret (1.)
Green Heron (1.)
Osprey (1.)
Clapper Rail (1.)
Sora (1, Prospect Park at dawn.)
Black-bellied Plover (4.)
Greater Yellowlegs (1.)
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher (1.)
Northern Flicker (Abundant.)
American Kestrel (1.)
Merlin (1.)
Peregrine Falcon (1.)
Monk Parakeet
Eastern Phoebe (7.)
Blue-headed Vireo (1.)
Red-eyed Vireo (1.)
Black-capped Chickadee (2.)
Brown Creeper (1.)
House Wren (1.)
Marsh Wren (1.)
Carolina Wren (1.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Gray Catbird (1.)
Northern Mockingbird
American Pipit (1.)
Cedar Waxwing

Northern Waterthrush (1.)
Nashville Warbler (1.)
Common Yellowthroat (3.)
Northern Parula (2.)
Magnolia Warbler (2.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (2.)
Palm Warbler (30.)
Pine Warbler (2.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Abundant.)

Eastern Towhee (1.)
Chipping Sparrow (20.)
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (1.)
Savannah Sparrow (Abundant.)
Nelson's Sparrow (10.)
Saltmarsh Sparrow (1.)
Seaside Sparrow (1.)
Song Sparrow (3.)
Swamp Sparrow (Abundant.)
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow (1.)

Scarlet Tanager (6.)
Indigo Bunting (1.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose (1.), Mute Swan (2.), American Black Duck (8.), Mallard, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull (1.), Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove (24.), Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker (2.), Blue Jay, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, House Sparrow
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