Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Treehugger Tuesday

Big Payoff for Christmas Bird Counts

The following article appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal:

Bird Count Helps Document Impact of Climate Change
Karen Maserjian Shan 10:54 p.m. EST December 27, 2014

Each December Herb Thompson has his eyes on a special event.

Called the Christmas Bird Count, the annual happening is a favorite activity among Thompson and his bird-watching friends.

"It's a real tradition, every year," said Thompson, census chair of the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club in LaGrangeville.

Now in its 115 year, the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count is taking place from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5. During the count, more than 70,000 volunteers from 2,400-plus locations across the country note sightings of specific birds with the data collected and submitted to Audubon through regional coordinators for research on bird life and environmental conditions, including contributions to the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative's State of the Birds reports.

"The Audubon Christmas Bird Count harnesses volunteer power to gather knowledge that shapes conservation policy at enormous scales in this country," said Audubon president and CEO, David Yarnold in a released statement. "I couldn't be prouder of the volunteers who contribute each year. Christmas Bird Count data is becoming increasingly important not only in documenting current climate change but in predicting the future effects of climate change on North American bird populations. If we know what to expect, we can start taking action now to do something about it."

According to the released statement, during last year's Christmas Bird Count, 71,659 observers in all 50 states and beyond recorded more than 66 million birds of 2,403 different species.

Eric Lind, director of the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Cold Spring, Putnam County, said because data from the Christmas Bird Count stems so far back, long term trends can be assessed.

"From year-to-year, you can't really say much," he said of bird trends. "But when you're looking at where they are over a longer period of time, especially across a continental scale, that's when you see their location and numbers reflecting long-term changes in the environment."

For example, he said, conventional wisdom held that sightings of American robins heralded the first sign of spring, since the birds migrated to warmer southern climates in the winter. But data collected during recent decades shows that's no longer the case.

"Researchers have seen a 200-mile shift northward where robins are spending their winters about 200 miles north in areas than they used to," said Lind, a likely indication that our winters have gotten milder with the birds responding to that environmental change.

Participating in the Christmas Bird Count allows everyday people, or citizen scientists, to join in the data collection while enjoying the outdoors, meeting and mingling with others and contributing to a worthwhile effort.

"There's tons of surprises," Lind said. "The main point is, you don't have to be an expert. Even if you see a tree sparrow for the first time or recognize it as a tree sparrow for the first time, that's your own personal discovery."

Birds in regions north of here, he said, use this area as their winter escape, with sightings of them happening only in the winter. Other birds, like the pine siskin, are more erratic in their migration, making a sighting of one a once-a-four-or-five-year event.

"The most important thing is just bring a curious mind," Lind said. "A curiosity and excitement about participating."

Ken Rosenberg, who has a doctorate in ornithology and is an applied conservation scientist with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, Tompkins County, said birds, which are relatively easy to monitor, are indicators of various conditions, both thriving and deteriorating.

"We're making an assumption that a healthy environment and healthy planet is good for people and nature and all the species that are supposed to be in that environment," he said.

A half-century ago, dying birds were a visible indicator of the toxins in DDT, said Rosenberg, a widely used pesticide in the 1940s and 1950s. As a result of those bird deaths and other findings, policy changes and bans on the toxin ensued to the benefit of birds, humans and other life.

"The canary in the coal mine policy is real," said Rosenberg, referring to the past practice of coal miners to use a canary to detect the presence of unnoticed lethal gases. If the bird stressed or died, the miners knew the gases were present and harmful to them as well.

"Some of the analysis of the Christmas Bird Count, in particular, are grounded in climate change," said Rosenberg. "Right now birds are somewhat our first indicators of what might be happening. They're so sensitive to things like temperature and drought, so when we see these birds moving around, it's a very strong indicator that these changes are taking place. When we see bird populations shifting right before our eyes, that's a real tangible indicator that these things are happening right now."

Thompson said members of the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club have participated in the Christmas Bird Count since 1901 and continuously since 1958.

"I guess it's that we like birding," he said. "It's a whole day. We have 24 hours to count as many species and number of birds as we can."

On the day of the count, Thompson and a couple of his birding pals typically meet at a friend's house in Hopewell Junction at the ultra-early hour of 3:30 a.m. in the hope of spotting a screech owl or two, which normally aren't seen in daylight. The Dutchess County circle draws 45 to 50 participants for Christmas Bird Count, said Thompson, with everyone broken up into small groups of two to four people covering different areas. In all, the day is spent driving from one place to another, walking around, counting birds and recording findings, which Thompson collects and sends to Audubon for report data.

Last year, it snowed during the Christmas Bird Count, making it hard to see birds for the count, especially since many of them took cover. This year Thompson's hoping for clear skies and robust sightings.

"A lot of graduate students study those numbers to work up different theories," he said. "It's the same time period every year done in the same bunch of circles. You get long-range data there and you can figure things out."

Karen Maserjian Shan is a freelance writer: mkshan@optonline.net
...Read more

Monday, December 29, 2014

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups from Thursday, New Years Day through the weekend to Sunday, January 4, 2014:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, January 3, 12 PM – 1 PM
Introduction to Birdwatching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

Sunday, January 4, 10 am – 11 am
Early Morning Birdwalk
Ring in the New Year with the Prospect Park Alliance at an early morning bird walk. Explore the Park's nature trails and discover the beautiful plumage and fascinating behavior of the Park's wintering ducks. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club. Please note that this tour leaves promptly at 10 am.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Thursday, January 1, 2015
A Birdy New Year's Day Celebration in Prospect Park
Leader: Peter Dorosh
Meet at Bartel Pritchard Square park entrance at 9 am.

Saturday, January 3, 2015
A Coney Island Winter Trek
Leader: Mike Yuan, email mjyuan@gmail.com
Focus: coastal species, waterbirds, gulls
No registration: Meet 8 am at Dunkin Donuts outside Stillwell Ave subway terminus station

**********

Littoral Society
Thursday, January 01, 2015, 11:00am
Annual New Year's Day Beach Walk at Fort Tilden

Start the year off with a brisk hike along Fort Tilden beach. Meet American Littoral Society Chapter naturalists Don Riepe and Mickey Maxwell Cohen at Fort Tilden for a brisk hike along the beach and dunes. As per our 30-year tradition, at 12 noon, we will attempt to signal across the harbor to our colleagues at American Littoral Society headquarters in Sandy Hook, NJ. Free coffee, cake and champagne afterwards at the Rockaway Artists Alliance.

This program is in partnership with Gateway National Recreation Area and NYC Audubon is free and open to the public.

DIRECTIONS TO FORT TILDEN: Subway & bus: Take the #2 or #5 train to Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn College and then the Q-35 bus past Floyd Bennett Field and just over the Gil Hodges memorial Bridge. Ask driver to let you off at Ft. Tilden.

Location : Building 1, Ft.Tilden, Rockaway Peninsula, NY
Contact : To RSVP: Call (718) 474-0896, or e-mail donriepe@gmail.com

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, January 3, 2014
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

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Thursday, January 1, 2015, 12 noon to 2 p.m.
25th Annual New Year’s Day Beach Walk at Gateway NWR
Join NRPA and PPOW for a healthy start to a fantastic New Year. Participants will gather in the parking lot at Hylan Boulevard and carpool to the last lot before Crooke’s Point. From there, the group will enjoy observing wintering birds and dormant grasses while discussing ideas and concerns for the year ahead. After a half-mile walk to the Point, the group will share treats and tales in celebration of the New Year. The walk then continues to the harbor before returning to the cars.
For more information, call Jim Scarcella at 718-873-4291 or Cliff Hagen at 718-313-8591.

Sunday, January 4, 2015, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Willowbrook Park, Gateway to the Greenbelt
This easy 3.5-mile loop walk takes us to the key features of this popular park: a lake, carousel, ballfields, archery range and a rich deep lowland woodlands and streams. Rain postpones the event to the same time on Sunday, January 11.
For more information, e-mail Hillel Lofaso at hillel5757@gmail.com or call 718-477-0545
...Read more

Friday, December 26, 2014

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, December 26, 2014:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Dec. 26, 2014
* NYNY1412.26

- Birds Mentioned
BARNACLE GOOSE+
COUCH’S KINGBIRD+
CASSIN’S KINGBIRD+

(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
Cackling Goose
TUNDRA SWAN
Eurasian Wigeon
KING EIDER
HARLEQUIN DUCK
BARROW’S GOLDENEYE
Red-necked Grebe
Bald Eagle
Northern Goshawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Virginia Rail
Wilson’s Snipe
American Woodcock
Laughing Gull
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
Razorbill
Barn Owl
Snowy Owl
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Eastern Phoebe
Common Raven
House Wren
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson’s Warbler
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Vesper Sparrow
Nelson’s Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
Baltimore Oriole
Common Redpoll

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

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44nybirdsorg

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

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

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, December 26 at 6:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are COUCH’S and CASSIN’S KINGBIRDS (yes folks this is New York in late December), BARNACLE and GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, TUNDRA SWAN, BARROW’S GOLDENEYE, KING EIDER, HARLEQUIN DUCK, BLACK-HEADED GULL, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, and Christmas Count results.

A COUCH’S KINGBIRD, potentially New York State’s first if accepted by NYSARC, was revealed as a possibility in southern Manhattan Thursday evening and was relocated, heard calling and extensively photographed this morning. The bird had been seen off and on for perhaps up to 8 weeks in lower Manhattan, and finally photos were obtained that piqued the interest of local birders. This morning the bird spent much of its time in a small park along Washington Street between Jane Street to the south and Horatio Street on the north side. After mid-day when the trees in the little park fell into shadow, the Kingbird was relocated three blocks away in a small park with sunlit trees in the middle of the intersection of Bleeker Street, Hudson Street, and 8th Avenue. Hopefully these habits will continue.

Disappointingly the CASSIN’S KINGBIRD, seen last Friday, did not appear for the Brooklyn Christmas Bird Count last Saturday, but it was reported again Tuesday in the same location it had been frequenting –the picnic area at the south end of the Community Garden at Floyd Bennett Field. Today it was reported in the Community Garden itself.

Among the Christmas Counts held last Saturday, Montauk recorded 127 species, featuring 2 EURASIAN WIGEONS on Gardiners Island, 4 KING EIDERS, with 2 drakes off Montauk Point, 2 HARLEQUIN DUCKS near Culloden Point, 10 RED-NECKED GREBES, 8 BALD EAGLES, a NORTHERN GOSHAWK, 3 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, 12 AMERICAN WOODCOCKS, 2 ICELAND GULLS, 293 RAZORBILLS, 1 BARN, 1 NORTHERN SAW-WHET and 2 SNOWY OWLS, 3 HOUSE WRENS, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW on Gardiners Island, 2 LINCOLN’S SPARROWS and 2 COMMON REDPOLLS.

The Brooklyn Count Saturday noted 123 species including 3 EURASIAN WIGEONS, 7 RED-NECKED GREBES, 1 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, 1 BARN, 5 SNOWY, 1 SHORT-EARED and 2 NO. SAW-WHET OWLS, 2 EASTERN PHOEBES, COMMON RAVEN, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, the CLAY-COLORED SPARROW continuing in Prospect Park and single VESPER and NELSON’S SPARROWS.

Northern Nassau on Saturday recorded 109 species, highlights including a drake BARROW’S GOLDENEYE off Sand’s Point Preserve, single CACKLING and GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, RED-NECKED GREBE, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, COMMON RAVEN, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and VESPER SPARROW.

Among the Peekskill Count’s 95 species Saturday were VIRGINIA RAIL, 35 BALD EAGLES, 2 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS and EASTERN PHOEBE.

Staten Island Saturday among their 94 species noted 5 RED-NECKED GREBES, 2 BALD EAGLES and 3 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS.

The Sagaponack Count last Sunday recorded 126 species with 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, 2 CACKLING GEESE, 2 TUNDRA SWANS, 3 RED-NECKED GREBES, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, 2 BALD EAGLES, single LAUGHING, BLACK-HEADED, LESSER BLACK-BACKED and GLAUCOUS GULLS, 66 RAZORBILLS, 1 SHORT-EARED OWL, 2 LONG-EARED OWLS, COMMON RAVEN, 6 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS, single NASHVILLE and WILSON’S WARBLERS, VESPER SPARROW and BALTIMORE ORIOLE. The White-Fronted and 1 of the Cackling Geese and the Tundra Swans were on Hook Pond in East Hampton, and the Black-headed Gull was at Sagg Pond at the end of Sagg-Main Street in Bridgehampton.

Among the 88 species on the Rockland Count Sunday were RED-NECKED GREBE, GLAUCOUS GULL, WILSON’S SNIPE, and SHORT-EARED OWL.

The BARNACLE GOOSE, along with up to 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, continues to be seen at St Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale. They are usually best viewed from Wellwood Avenue on the east side of the cemetery, as the geese are often in the south end of the cemetery property since the cemetery’s policy is to chase them off the central grassy areas. If viewing from Wellwood, choose your parking area carefully-- it is a busy road, and if entering the cemetery property to view the geese, they ask that you first check in at the office at the Wellwood entrance.

An immature BLACK-HEADED GULL was seen again around Jones Inlet, this time last Monday around the pilings at the Jones Beach West End coast guard station, and single GLAUCOUS GULLS were at Shinnecock last Friday and just south of the Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn Sunday, where a drake Eurasian Wigeon continues.

Other EURASIAN WIGEON remain on Jamaica Bay Refuge’s east pond and on Mill Pond in Centerport, with others also presumably still in place.

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Treehugger Tuesday

New York State Bans Hydrofracking

From the New York publication "Capital":

Cuomo concludes fracking is too risky

By Scott Waldman 12:39 p.m. | Dec. 17, 2014 2 follow this reporter

ALBANY—A long-awaited study released by the Cuomo administration on Wednesday determined several "red flags" about hydraulic fracturing that could pose "significant public health risks," officials said at a public meeting of Governor Andrew Cuomo and his cabinet.

The governor's announcement, articulated by his acting Department of Health commissioner Howard Zucker and Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joe Martens, delays any potential gas drilling in New York State for at least several more years as more data becomes available.

"The evidence in the studies we reviewed raised public health concerns," Zucker said. "There are many red flags because there are questions that remain unanswered from lack of scientific analysis, specifically longitudinal studies of [fracking]."

"The science isn't here," Zucker continued. "But the cumulative concerns based on the information I have read ... gives me reason to pause."

Winding toward the conclusion of his presentation, Zucker said, "Would I live in a community with [fracking] based on the facts that I have now? Would I let my child play in a school field nearby? After looking at the plethora of reports behind me ... my answer is no."

He yielded to Cuomo, who thanked him for his "powerful" remarks.

The health study, requested two years ago by state environmental officials, provided the basis for an open-ended stall by the governor, who was loath to anger environmentalist opponents or pro-business supporters of fracking before his re-election. For the past six years the state has vexed both constituencies, without provoking an outright revolt by either, by observing a moratorium on fracking without actually banning it.

Zucker said the health review involved 4,500 staff hours reviewing anecdotal reports and a stack of existing studies. He spent 15 minutes offering his analysis of several peer-reviewed reports and making an analogy to earlier scientific thinking on second-hand smoking.

Martens, when he spokes, said that restrictions already on hydrofracking in the New York City watershed as well as local towns that have banned its development mean that "the prospects for [hydrofracking] development in New York State are uncertain at best."

At numerous points during his first term, and especially during his campaign this year, Cuomo cited the ongoing study as of the health impacts of fracking in lieu of articulating a position on it. In the meantime, a moratorium put in place by then-Governor David Paterson in 2008 remained in place.

(The health study placed the political onus on the Cuomo administration's health department for its never-ending timeline; respected former health commissioner Nirav Shah, placed in the awkward position of giving a series of non-answers to questions about the department's progress on its fracking study, left without saying much at all.)

In September 2012, after years of study, Martens and the Department of Environmental Conservation formally asked the state Department of Health to review the human health risks of fracking, leading to further delays.

The state sits on one of the nation's richest shale deposits, the Marcellus, and is the last state in the nation with a major shale play to authorize fracking.

Proponents say drilling will create tens of thousands of jobs in the most economically depressed parts of the state, where industry and jobs departed generations ago.

Environmental groups have cautioned that drilling for natural gas in New York will pollute water sources, increase reliance on fossil fuels and harm human health.

In June, the state Court of Appeals upheld local bans on fracking, which Cuomo said would limit drilling to areas that support the industry. More than 120 communities have banned fracking, while about 60 have passed resolutions that will allow the industry to expand.

For years, anti-fracking activists have been Cuomo's most outspoken opponents, protesting nearly all his public appearances and rallying thousands in Albany for the annual State of the State address.

Cuomo lost a number of upstate communities in his primary to Democratic challenger Zephyr Teachout in September, a showing she attributed in large part to the turnout among anti-fracking activists.

Following Martens and Zucker at the cabinet meeting, Cuomo said, "I get very few people who say to me, I love the idea of fracking."

Referring to the economically depressed areas of upstate that were candidates for fracking activity, Cuomo said the question now is, "What can we do in these areas to generate jobs, generate wealth ... as an alternative to fracking?"

Answering a reporter's question after the presentation, Cuomo predicted "a ton of lawsuits" in response to the decision.
...Read more

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of December 27, 2014 to December 28, 2014:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, December 27, 12 PM – 1 PM
Introduction to Birdwatching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, December 27, 2014
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

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Pelham Bay Park

All walks start at 9:30 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
Any questions please Call Joe at (516) 467-9498.
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.
...Read more

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Bird Count at Floyd Bennett Field

Yesterday was the Brooklyn leg of this year's Christmas Bird Count. This is my 14th year covering Floyd Bennett Field, Dead Horse Bay and Four Sparrow Marsh. For several years prior to that I was part of the team(s) that surveyed Prospect Park. I decided to switch my location when I discovered that, while Prospect Park's 526 acres were being scoured by a few dozen birders, Ron and Jean Bourque were the only ones tallying the birds in an area nearly three times the size. I've come to really enjoy the exhausting sunrise to sunset marathon as every year seems to have its own challenges and surprises.

This year we had 9 people on our team. Several of us decided to arrive at Floyd Bennett over an hour prior to sunrise. We hoped to find owls hunting over the grasslands, as well as, listen for woodcocks. While Keir, Peter, Will and I were listening to the distant "hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo" of a Great Horned Owl from the center of the grassland, Bob texted me that a Snowy Owl was perched on a sign a short distance north-west of our location. We could see the owl silhouetted against the illuminated bleachers of the soccer fields. Peter walked over and managed to get this photo before it flew off to the east and across the bay to Ruffle Bar. A crow was in hot pursuit.

A major objective yesterday was not only to tally all the expected species and semi-rare species, but also to locate the Cassin's Kingbird that arrived in Brooklyn on November 15th. This south-western flycatcher has only been seen in New York State twice, and never on a Christmas Bird Count. Our plan was to stake out the area around the community garden, where it had been seen as recently as Friday. We had enough people on our team that we would take turns watching that spot from dawn until dusk. There were several species seen in the "kingbird" spot, from this young Cooper's Hawk to a late Common Yellowthroat. Many other birders throughout the day stopped by to look for the kingbird, unfortunately, it was never seen. Perhaps, after 35 days, he decided to turn around and head back to a warmer climate.

One of our regular winter visitors to Floyd Bennett Field is the far northern breeding Horned Lark. It took us a few hours before we finally found a flock of 34 feeding in the short grass at the north side of the community gardens. Occasionally we'll find a rare Lapland Longspur within their ranks. While a couple were spotted earlier this season there weren't any during the count.

Access to the protected grasslands is restricted but the National Park Service gives us permission to walk the fields for the Christmas Count looking for overwintering species. Ring-necked Pheasant, Eastern Meadowlark and Savannah Sparrow are the usual suspects flushed up during the walk. We used to find Short-eared Owls here, but their numbers in New York State have plummeted and they are now rarely seen. For reasons that are unclear, other species here have also gone way down. I'm sure the presence of feral cats plays a big role in the lack of birds. The NPS should be making an attempt to remove them, but they aren't. Anyway, this year we didn't see any meadowlarks, tallied only three Savannah Sparrows and a single pheasant.

The overwintering flock of scaup at Dead Horse Bay has increased by about a thousand birds since the previous weekend. There wasn't anything unusual mixed in among the field of black, white and grey, although a few Horned Grebes were in the area. Farther offshore were flocks of Long-tailed Ducks, Red-breasted Mergansers and Bufflehead. Off of Dead Horse Point I spotted a single Red-necked Grebe. Later in the day I found 3 more together in the bay off the end of Archery Road. We finished the Dead Horse Bay section of the count by walking the 1 mile route along the shoreline from the Flatbush Marina side of the bay, around the point, under the Gil Hodges Bridge to Aviator Road, then back to the main parking lot.

Keir, Peter, Will and I decided to stay until after sunset, giving one last shot to finding a Short-eared Owl hunting on the grassland or a calling woodcock. First we stopped at the parking lot near the boat ramp that overlooks Jamaica Bay. Large numbers of gulls come into roost at this spot. They are primarily Ring-billed Gulls, but there is always a chance for something else to be hiding within the huge flock. I had just counted about 1,200 individuals (more birds were still arriving) when a car pulled up, two kids exited the vehicle, then proceeded to run through the middle of the flock chasing all the birds out into the bay. Oh well, so much for that idea. We didn't have any luck with Short-eared Owls or woodcocks, either.

While many people were a little disappointed that we didn't find the Cassin's Kingbird, it was still a pretty good day. We missed a few of the expected species, but still ended up with a very respectable 58 species of birds. This was the second highest number ever recorded for the Christmas Count at Floyd Bennett Field (only off by 6 species). I really can't complain, though, especially when I get to see this tiny owl. It was only the second time in 14 years that I've seen one on the Christmas Count and the first time that we've tallied 3 species of owls. I can't wait until next year.

***********

Date: 12/20/14
Locations: Dead Horse Bay and Floyd Bennett Field
Species: 58

Brant
Canada Goose
Mute Swan (1.)
American Black Duck
Mallard
Greater Scaup (2,500.)
Long-tailed Duck
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
*Ring-necked Pheasant (1.)
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Red-necked Grebe (4.)
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Northern Harrier (2.)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (1.)
Cooper's Hawk (1.)
Red-shouldered Hawk (1.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1.)
Ring-billed Gull (1,200.)
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl (1.)
Snowy Owl (1.)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1.)
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker (1.)
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel (1.)
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark (34.)
Black-capped Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1.)
Hermit Thrush (1.)
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
*Common Yellowthroat (1.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Tree Sparrow
Field Sparrow (3.)
Savannah Sparrow (6.)
Fox Sparrow (2.)
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Count week: Cassin's Kingbird

*Saves for Brooklyn
...Read more

Saturday, December 20, 2014

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, December 19, 2014:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Dec. 19, 2014
* NYNY1412.19

- Birds mentioned
BARNACLE GOOSE+
THAYER'S GULL+
CASSIN'S KINGBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
TUNDRA SWAN
Wood Duck
Eurasian Wigeon
Common Eider
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE
Red-necked Grebe
Great Egret
Black Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Goshawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Red Knot
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Lesser Black-backed Gull
GLAUCOUS GULL
Black-legged Kittiwake
SNOWY OWL
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
Common Raven
House Wren
Orange-crowned Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Pine Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Vesper Sparrow
Nelson's Sparrow
Lapland Longspur
Purple Finch
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 nysarc44(at)nybirds{dot}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, December 19th 2014 at 8am. The highlights of today's tape are CASSIN'S KINGBIRD, BLACK-HEADED GULL, THAYER'S GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, BARNACLE GOOSE, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, TUNDRA SWAN, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, SNOWY OWL and CLAY-COLORED SPARROW.

Although there have been no reports of the Jones Beach West End COMMON GROUND-DOVE since Monday the 8th the CASSIN'S KINGBIRD does continue to frequent the area around the community gardens at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. Thursday morning it was spotted again in the picnic area adjacent to the gardens but continuing its elusive behavior but not seen there in the afternoon. Nonetheless staking out the picnic area still seems to be the best strategy.

The Christmas Count period began last Sunday and the Queens Count recorded 124 species there highlights included BALD EAGLE, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, NORTHERN SAW-WHET and 2 SNOWY OWLS, 3 EASTERN PHOEBES, 3 swallow, a lingering WILSON'S WARBLER, ORANGE-CROWNED and 3 PINE WARBLERS and VESPER SPARROW.

The Captree Count Sunday tallied 123 species including the BARNACLE GOOSE at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale, 2 EURASIAN WIGEON, a female BARROW'S GOLDENEYE off Democrat Point on Fire Island, GREAT EGRET, 2 BALD EAGLES, 5 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, 2 NORTHERN SAW-WHET and 2 SNOWY OWLS, a BLUE-HEADED VIREO at Bayard Cutting Arboretum, 2 COMMON RAVENS, 2 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, 2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS, NELSON'S SPARROW, 9 PINE SISKINS and 6 PURPLE FINCHES. The BARNACLE GOOSE was joined on Tuesday by 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE at St. Charles Cemetery.

The Greenwich-Stamford Count Sunday recorded 111 species including a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE in Ryebrook, 2 GREAT EGRETS, BLACK VULTURE, 6 BALD EAGLES, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, SHORT-EARED and NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, HOUSE WREN and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT.

The immature BLACK-HEADED GULL in Westchester County has not been reported recently but an immature was seen in Jones Inlet last Monday.

Interesting was a likely first winter THAYER'S GULL photographed last Sunday at Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan the bird perched on pilings on the pier at the end of Dyckman Street. It has not been seen since but additional photographs, especially of the spread wing, would be desirable to pin down this difficult identification.

Completing the gulls, a GLAUCOUS GULL was spotted Tuesday at Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn where a EURASIAN WIGEON continues. Other single EURASIAN WIGEON remain at Grant Park in Hewlett, on the Mill Pond in Setauket and at Hommocks Park in Larchmont. Single GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE last Saturday featured one at Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk, one on the sod fields off Route 105 south of Sound Avenue in Riverhead and one at West Dix Hills High School. The 2 TUNDRA SWANS continue on Hook Pond in East Hampton where 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were also present last Saturday.

In Brooklyn a SNOWY OWL was at Floyd Bennett Field on Wednesday, a RED-NECKED GREBE or two have been seen recently along the waterfront at various locations, an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was at Marine Park Tuesday, a NELSON'S SPARROW at Plumb Beach Wednesday and a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW has been lingering recently in Prospect Park near the Maryland Monument.

Among the other ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS noted recently have been birds at Morningside Park in Manhattan Sunday and Robert Moses State Park and Southards Pond in Babylon Tuesday and another NELSON'S SPARROW was a Randall's Island Sunday.

At Jones Beach West End the absence of the COMMON GROUND-DOVE last weekend was somewhat compensated for by an immature NORTHERN GOSHAWK cruising the West End as was an immature RED-SHOULDERED HAWK Saturday. While other birds included WOOD DUCK and LAPLAND LONGSPUR in the swale and VESPER SPARROW around the West End 2 parking lot. Saturday about 20 RED KNOTS with Black-bellied Plovers and Dunlin on the pilings at the Point Lookout waterworks on high tide and good numbers of COMMON EIDER continue around Jones Inlet.

Interestingly late were a BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER at Swindler's Cove Park in northern Manhattan and a male HOODED WARBLER in Mastic Beach last Sunday.

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, December 19, 2014

Tomorrow's Christmas Bird Count

Tomorrow morning I'll be part of a small team of birders that will be scouring a section of Brooklyn for the 115th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.


The area that I've been covering for over a decade is Floyd Bennett Field, Dead Horse Bay and Four Sparrow Marsh. It's a huge area with a variety of habitats from grassland to forest and coastal waterways.

Unbelievably, the Cassin's Kingbird, which was first reported on November 15th, was still present today. I'm hoping he is still there in the morning for a New York State CBC first. A few of us will be arriving before dawn to try for nocturnal species. Wish us luck and I'll post a summary on Sunday. Good luck to all the teams counting birds tomorrow!

Friday's Foto

Of all the North American owls the Northern Saw-whet Owl easily wins the top prize in the cuteness category. Weighing in at only 2 - 4 ounces this pint-sized predator preys primarily on small rodents which it hunts for from low perches. Their common name is derived from the sound of one of their calls which is reminiscent of a saw being sharpened. They are known to move far south of their normal winter range during years of low food supplies. The IUCN lists this species conservation status as "Least Concern" due in part to their extremely large range.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Treehugger Tuesday

New York Bans eWaste Curbside Disposal

From the Gothamist:

It Will Soon Be Illegal To Throw Your E-Waste In The Trash

What are you supposed to do with your heaping pile of disused iPhone chargers? Putting them in the trash feels wrong (and it is), but letting them rot in desuetude in the corner is just a waste of valuable apartment space.

The law currently allows New Yorkers to fling these items on the curb, but all that will end on January 1. Yes Virginia, recycling your old microwave will be a pain in the ass, but remember that the Earth is burning and this is the least you can do. Also, you'll be fined $100 if you're caught.

You can bring your crummy electronics to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Best Buy, Staples (which will not take TVs) or the Gowanus E-Waste Warehouse, and apartment buildings with more than 10 units can enroll for a free pick-up service. The city also regularly holds e-recycling events if you're somehow lucky enough to live nowhere near a Best Buy.

The Department of Sanitation website also helpfully adds that you can also SELL your used items.

If you'd prefer that same information delivered via video, that option is available:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of December 20, 2014 to December 21, 2014:

Please note that the scarcity of trips next weekend is due to the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, December 20, 12 PM – 1 PM
Introduction to Birdwatching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, December 20, 2014
115th Christmas Bird Census
http://conservation.audubon.org/programs/christmas-bird-count
Compiler: Rick Cech, Assisted by Paul Keim
Comments: As of Dec 15th, teams are full. If you have not already signed up for the Christmas Count, but would like to participate, you can join teams leaving from the Prospect Park Boathouse at 12 noon. They will be in the field for about 2 hours.
The count dinner is held at the Prospect Park Audubon Center (Boathouse). Help and assistance is needed for dinner setup. The coordinator is Heidi Steiner-Nanz, email heidi.steiner@verizon.net to get details.

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, December 20, 2014
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

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, December 20, 2014, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop at the Gretta Moulton tract in High Rock
Meet in the Nevada Avenue parking lot at High Rock. If you arrive late, walk to the first bend of the entry road and follow the Yellow Trail to the Green Trail. We will be working by Manor Road where we will remove invasive vines from shrubs and saplings. If you don’t have your own, Protectors will supply gloves and pruners (and refreshments). After a two-hour work session 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.

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Old Mill Road
We’ll stroll along the multi-use trail next to Fresh Kills, below the hills of LaTourette Golf Course, and return along the Blue Trail. From the remains of colonial structures to the Hessian Spring and the remains of Ketchum’s Mill, we will take a look into the influence of man and nature on the ecosystems bordering the Fresh Kills estuary. Parking is available at the end of Old Mill Road, behind St. Andrew’s Church.
For more information, call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Buck’s Hollow and Heyerdahl Hill
Walk a 3.2-mile loop in one of the wild valleys in New York City. Learn about the ecology of serpentine barrens. Meet at Meisner dam at Meisner Avenue and Manor Road. Parking is available along the road to Eger Nursing Home. Rain postpones the event to the same time on Sunday, December 28.
For more information, e-mail Hillel Lofaso at hillel5757@gmail.com or call 718-477-0545.

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
North Mt. Loretto State Forest
From phragmities marshes to mature forests, we will observe a variety of ecosystems as we search for evidence of animal life from deer and raccoon to rabbits and muskrats. Traces of the geologic history and human influence of this diverse area will also be seen. 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.

**********

Staten Island Museum
Saturday, December 20, 2014, ALL DAY
Christmas Bird Count
Location: Staten Island Museum, 75 Stuyvesant Place (Round up)
Free/Donations welcome

In conjunction with the National Audubon Society, members of the Museum's Section of Natural History will venture forth, no matter what the weather, in an attempt to count every bird on Staten Island. Organized teams will go to designated areas during the day/night to count birds and meet at the Museum later that night for a round up and tally of results.

For further details on participation, contact Ed Johson at 718.483.7110.
...Read more

Friday, December 12, 2014

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, December 12, 2014:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Dec. 12, 2014
* NYNY1412.12

- Birds mentioned
BARNACLE GOOSE+
COMMON GROUND-DOVE+
CASSIN'S KINGBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
TUNDRA SWAN
EURASIAN WIGEON
Common Eider
HARLEQUIN DUCK
Bald Eagle
Northern Goshawk
Red Knot
Western Sandpiper
BLACK-HEADED GULL
ICELAND GULL
Lesser Black-backed Gull
GLAUCOUS GULL
SNOWY OWL
Blue-headed Vireo
Orange-crowned Warbler
Vesper Sparrow
Lapland Longspur
Indigo Bunting

- 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 nysarc44(at)nybirds{dot}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, December 12th 2014 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are COMMON GROUND-DOVE, CASSIN'S KINGBIRD, BLACK-HEADED GULL, BARNACLE GOOSE, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, TUNDRA SWAN, HARLEQUIN DUCK, EURASIAN WIGEON, SNOWY OWL, GLAUCOUS GULL and ICELAND GULL.

New York's second state records were both still present last weekend but there have been no late week reports of either. The COMMON GROUND-DOVE last Sunday spent much of its time in the high winds walking on the pavement along the northern edge of parking field 2 at Jones Beach West End on either side of the lot's central exit though mostly along the edge east of the exit. It was doing the same on Monday but has been looked for unsuccessfully since. The CASSIN'S KINGBIRD at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn was still frequenting the picnic area just south of the community garden last Sunday but that is the last day reported.

The immature BLACK-HEADED GULL continues in Westchester County where it is spending most of its time at Five Island Park in New Rochelle. The Black-headed does visit the Warwick Treatment Plant on the right side as you enter into the park thus sometimes not visible until it and the accompanying Ring-billed Gulls fly around. Other times it feeds around the edges of the island with the parking lot or roosts on the island just west of the lot. The entrance to Five Island Park is on Le Fevres Lane off Route
1. Another location to check if necessary would be Premium Millpond to the east in Larchmont viewable from Prior Manor Road.

A BARNACLE GOOSE has been seen Wednesday through today with Canadas at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale located between Wellwood Avenue on the east and New Highway on the west. In the past a Barnacle with accompanying Canadas has often spent the overnight at Belmont Lake State Park to the east.

Activity in the Jones Inlet area has been interesting this past week. An immature NORTHERN GOSHAWK was noted at West End today by the Fisherman's Road and in front of the Roosevelt Nature Center. Three immature BALD EAGLES were spotted high over Point Lookout today. Two SNOWY OWLS were at West End last weekend and four HARLEQUIN DUCKS and a good sized flock of COMMON EIDER have been around the inlet. The HARLEQUINS often off the Point Lookout jetties. Recent shorebirds have included RED KNOT on the Coast Guard bar and WESTERN SANDPIPER on the West End jetty roosting with Dunlin and Sanderlings. Landbirds have included seven Longspurs with Snow Buntings and Horned Larks in the swale off the West End 2 concession building. One larger pale Longspur last Sunday needing more scrutinizing to determine whether it too was a LAPLAND. A VESPER SPARROW was at West End Friday.

Several local drake EURASIAN WIGEON include birds at Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn, at Hummocks Pond in Larchmont, at Grant Park in Hewlett, on the Mill Pond in Sayville, on Mill Pond in Setauket and three on Patchogue Lake last Saturday.

Single GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE have included one at Dix Hills High School West at Wolf Hill Road and Melrose Road today, one off Daniel's Lane in Bridgehampton last Sunday and another Sunday at Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk with five Snow Geese, three TUNDRA SWANS were on Hook Pond in East Hampton Sunday and a GLAUCOUS GULL was at Shinnecock Inlet last weekend. Noted at Montauk Point last Sunday were ICELAND and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS.

Recent birds in Alley Pond Park in Queens featured BLUE-HEADED VIREO Monday and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER today and an INDIGO BUNTING was in Rye yesterday so hopefully some great birds will continue to linger for the Christmas Counts. This period beginning Sunday. Please call in highlights of regional counts for inclusion ihere.

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

With each cold front comes the possibility that a winter owl species will appear around Brooklyn and the rest of New York City. At grassland habitats, such as Floyd Bennett Field or any of the city's capped landfills, look for Short-eared Owls. Like other "eared" owl species (i.e., Great Horned Owl or Long-eared Owl), the ears are merely tufts of feathers. Feeding primarily on small mammals, this widespread owl can be found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Short-eared Owls have a distinctive, erratic flight frequently described as "moth-like". They are currently listed as "endangered" in New York State possibly due to a loss of grasslands and other open habitats.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Treehugger Tuesday

Breakthroughs in Solar Energy Production

From the website io9:

Solar cell efficiency is nearing 50%. Australian scientists have set a new record by converting more than 40% of sunlight that hits solar panels into electricity. These panels could eventually be mounted on roofs, which current have a 15-18% efficiency rate. And in Germany, scientists converted 46% of light into electricity in a lab, a new record for PVC efficiency.

Monday, December 08, 2014

2014 Christmas Bird Count Info

The 115th Christmas Bird Count begins on Sunday, December 14th, 2014, and runs through Monday, January 5th, 2015.

Click here to see an interactive map of all Christmas Bird Count locations in North America, Central America, South America, Hawaii and Antarctica.

Below is a list of the Christmas Bird Count areas in New York City and Long Island. If you'd like to participate, please contact the individual coordinating that area by email. For a complete list of all New York State count circles click here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Count Code Count Name Contact Email Phone
NYCA Captree L.I. Patricia Lindsay pjlindsay@optonline.net 631-666-7624
NJLH Central Park (Lower Hudson NJ/NY) Susan Elbin selbin@nycaudubon.org 212-691-7483
NYQU Queens County Corey Finger 10000birdsblogger@gmail.com 518-445-5829
NYQW Quogue-Watermill L.I. Steven Biasetti sbiasetti@eastendenvironment.org


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Count Code Count Name Contact Email Phone
NYBR Brooklyn L.I. Mary Eyster maryjoeyster@gmail.com
NYNN Northern Nassau County Glenn Quinn g1545q@gmail.com
NYSI Staten Island Seth Wollney seth@sethwollney.com


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Count Code Count Name Contact Email Phone
NYCS Central Suffolk County L.I. Eileen Schwinn beachmed@optonline.net
NYSM Smithtown L.I. Richard Gostic rgostic@optonline.net


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Count Code Count Name Contact Email Phone
NYBW Bronx-Westchester Region Michael Bochnik BochnikM@cs.com


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Count Code Count Name Contact Email Phone
NYOR Orient L.I. Patrick Hanly pat@mattpres.com 631-312-0824
NYSN Southern Nassau County L.I. Shai Mitra Shaibal.Mitra@csi.cuny.edu

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of December 13, 2014 to December 14, 2014:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Family Birdwatching, 3–4 pm
Learn how to identify common birds that populate the Park in the winter months.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Ducks of Kings County
Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: primarily duck species, along with other bird species
Car pool: $12.00
Registrar: Peter Dorosh, Email Prosbird@aol.com or TEXT Message 347-622-3559
Registration Period: Dec 2nd- Dec 11th

**********

Littoral Society
December 13, 2014, 5pm-9pm
Holiday Party
Join us in presenting our second annual "Coastal Conservation Award" to the NYC Dept. of Parks' Jamaica Bay/Rockaway Parks Recovery and Resiliency Corps. At the party there will also be a showing of a trailer to Dan Hendrick's "Jamaica Bay Lives", a year-long documentary film on the history, ecology and beauty of the bay.

Before the Party there will be a nature hike at the nearby Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge at 3pm.

Location: American Legion Hall on Crossbay Blvd.
in Broad Channel (located 1/4 mile south of the refuge).

Cost: $75 includes buffet dinner

Buffet includes:
beer and wine, appetizers, desserts, plus an Ugly Auction (bring items if you have), a Silent Auction (good stuff), door prizes (more good stuff) and a FLAMENCO DANCE PERFORMANCE.

To pay by check: Make out to ALS and send to American Littoral Society, 28 West 9th Road, Broad Channel, NY 11693.

To pay online go to: alsholidayparty.eventbrite.com
For more information call (718) 474-0896 or e-mail: donriepe@gmail.com
Ride: $25

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, December 13, 2014
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
Sunday, December 14, 2014, 9:30am – 11:30am
Fall Birding at Wave Hill, The Bronx
Guide: Gabriel Willow With Wave Hill Meet at the Perkins Visitor Center. Naturalist Gabriel Willow contributes his extensive knowledge of bird species and their behaviors on these captivating walks. Wave Hill’s garden setting overlooking the Hudson River flyway provides the perfect habitat for resident and migrating birds. Ages 10 and up welcome with an adult.
Reservations recommended, online at www.wavehill.org, by calling 718-549-3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Severe weather cancels; for updates call 718-549-3200 x245 by 8am the day of the walk. NYC Audubon members enjoy two-for-one admission

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, December 13, 2014, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Great Kills Park
Join birder Anthony Ciancimino for birding at Great Kills Park. There should be a nice amount of wintering waterfowl and shorebirds on the mudflats and surrounding areas. After checking those areas, we will check the fields by the playgrounds for Horned Lark and Snow Bunting. Meet in the first parking lot, just off of Hylan Boulevard. We will then carpool to the beach front parking lot.
For more information, call Anthony Ciancimino at 347-401-3619.

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
December 14, 2014
Alley Pond Park

All walks start at 9:30 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
Any questions please Call Joe at (516) 467-9498.
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Winter Wildlife Viewing at Albert H. Mauro Playground (in Flushing Meadows Corona Park), Queens
9:00 a.m.
This time of year is perfect to spot migrating birds and waterfowl which will call our parks home for the winter.
Free!

Inwood Owl Prowl at Seaman Avenue and Isham Street Entrance (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
4:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Bring the whole family as you roam the winter woods in search of owls with expert naturalist Mike Feller.
Free!

Sunday, December 14, 2014
Birding at Ridgewood Reservoir, Queens
9:00 a.m.
Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in New York City.
Free!

Winter Birding at Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
The Hudson River valley hosts an impressive diversity of bird species, even during the winter months. Explore Wave Hill’s tranquil gardens and woodlands with naturalist Gabriel…
Free!
...Read more

Friday, December 05, 2014

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, December 5, 2014:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Dec. 5, 2014
* NYNY1412.05

- Birds Mentioned

BARNACLE GOOSE+
COMMON GROUND-DOVE+
CASSIN’S KINGBIRD
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Cackling Goose
Eurasian Wigeon
KING EIDER
Common Eider
HARLEQUIN DUCK
Red-necked Grebe
American Bittern
Black Vulture
Rough-legged Hawk
American Oystercatcher
Marbled Godwit
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Ring-billed Gull
Razorbill
Mourning Dove
SNOWY OWL
Long-eared Owl
Horned Lark
Orange-crowned Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
Lapland Longspur
Snow Bunting
Henslow’s Sparrow
LE CONTE’S SPARROW

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

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44nybirdsorg

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

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

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]
Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, December
5, at 6:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are COMMON GROUND-DOVE, CASSIN’S KINGBIRD, LE CONTE’S SPARROW, BLACK-HEADED GULL, BARNACLE GOOSE, SNOWY OWL, HARLEQUIN DUCK, KING EIDER and more.

Despite the weather both the COMMON GROUND-DOVE and the CASSIN’S KINGBIRD have continued in our area, but if you haven’t seen them, don’t put it off much longer. The Ground-Dove at Jones Beach West End has become quite elusive, but continues to occasionally be seen around the NE corner of parking field 2 through Thursday. It was spotted Sunday near the West End turnaround as well, so it continues to move about that area, sometimes with accompanying MOURNING DOVES, but does seem to return periodically to the NE section of Lot 2.

The CASSIN’S KINGBIRD at Floyd Bennett Field was still present today. It has been seen most consistently around the picnic area south of the Community Garden but also occasionally frequents the Garden itself. Once it wanders off it becomes very difficult to find, so the best strategy seems to be to wait around the picnic area, keeping an eye also on the many perches in the Community Garden, which is off Aviation Boulevard.

It almost seemed like déjà-vu all over again, but with changes in species and location. Back on Sunday, November 23rd a richly colored HENSLOW’S SPARROW was found at Riis Park and was enjoyed by many as it ran through grasses there through Monday. Then last Sunday at Floyd Bennett Field a beautiful LE CONTE’S SPARROW was expertly uncovered as it too ran through low vegetation, also staying to Monday to the delight of many. Can’t wait to see what will show up this Sunday,

Other birds around Floyd Bennett Field this week featured 3 BLACK VULTURES overhead last Friday, LONG-EARED OWL, and 2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS last Friday, with one Saturday.

At Jones Beach West End, 2 HARLEQUIN DUCKS around Jones Inlet are most frequently seen on the Point Lookout side along the jetties, where a decent flock of COMMON EIDER also remained. The MARBLED GODWIT is still visiting the bar off the Coast Guard Station at high tide with AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS. A SNOWY OWL flying along the West End dunes last Saturday landed near enough to an AMERICAN BITTERN to cause the Bittern to relocate elsewhere, and also on Saturday three LAPLAND LONGSPURS were with SNOW BUNTINGS and HORNED LARKS in the swale off the Field 2 Pavilion.

In Westchester County an immature BLACK-HEADED GULL was found on Friday the 28th at Premium Mill Pond in Larchmont. It was relocated on Sunday, spending most of its time at adjacent Five Islands Park in New Rochelle, where it was still being seen today. The park entrance is off Route 1 on Le Fevres Lane, and the bird is usually with RING-BILLED GULLS feeding around the edge of the pond, especially on the east side. If not there, also check Premium Mill Pond to the east from Pryer Manor Road.

A BARNACLE GOOSE was seen on Miller’s Pond in Smithtown late last Saturday morning but not since. Scattered CACKLING GEESE included 6 on the fields and golf course at Van Cortland Park last Sunday.

Off Montauk Point last Sunday were a female KING EIDER with many COMMON EIDER and 4 RAZORBILLS.

Recent EURASIAN WIGEONS have been at Jamaica Bay’s East Pond, Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn, Grant Park in Hewlett, the Centerport Mill Pond, and Hommock’s Park in Mamaroneck. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK has been at the landfills along the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, and several reports of interesting species from RED-NECKED GREBE to ORANGE-CROWNED and WILSON’S WARBLERS hopefully forebode good things for the upcoming Christmas Bird Count season.

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
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A Rare Sparrow for Brooklyn

Brooklyn is on a roll this year. In addition to the "uber" rarities seen around Kings county in 2014, my birding buddy Heydi just spotted a very scarce sparrow.

In early-October of 2012, while walking a rarely birding section of Floyd Bennett Field, I spotted a Le Conte's Sparrow. I posted about it here. This skulking sparrow is rarely seen during migration, primarily due to their mouse-like behavior. This was one of only a handful of sightings for this species in Brooklyn. The section of habitat next to the water forever became known as the "Le Conte's Spot" ... well, to Heydi and me anyway.

Last Sunday history repeated itself when Heydi spotted another one in that area. This individual, however, was much less skittish and over the course of two days put on a great show for dozens of people. When I got to see it there were around 20 people circled around its preferred feeding spot, being cautious not to step on it:



When I tell my non-birding friends or family that I saw an incredibly beautiful sparrow, they usually look at me like I have two heads. Then I show them a Le Conte's Sparrow. Here are a couple of photos of the bird at Floyd Bennett Field taken by my friend Sean Sime. Enough said...


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Friday's Foto

The Hermit Thrush is one of only three thrush species likely to be found around Brooklyn during the cold winter months. The other two hardy species are American Robin and Eastern Bluebird. Feeding on bittersweet and other berries during the winter, they are easily identified by their habit of slowly lifting their rusty red tail. They can frequently be heard making a soft, "chuck" call when hidden within a shrub or low in the understory. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources list their conservation status as "Least Concern" as their populations have been rising since 1966.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Treehugger Tuesday

Major Germany Utility to Change to Renewables

The following article just appeared in the New York Times:

With Spinoff, German Utility E.On to Focus on Renewable Energy
By Stanley Reed
December 1, 2014 8:33 am

LONDON — European and German policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions are making life difficult for traditional power generation companies and forcing them to change.
In the most radical move yet, E.On, one of Germany’s largest utilities, said on Sunday that it would gradually leave the conventional electricity generation business of coal, nuclear and natural gas power plants and retain its renewable energy and distribution businesses. The company said it would start the process now and present a plan to spin off most of the unit that held the conventional power generation to shareholders at the annual meeting in 2016.

“We are seeing the emergence of two distinct energy worlds,” the company’s chief executive, Johannes Teyssen, said on a call with analysts on Monday.

Mr. Teyssen said that E.On was convinced that utilities would need to decide whether to focus on renewable energy like wind and solar power and related businesses or to stick to power generation that produces greenhouse gases.

“We see this as an extremely brave but progressive move by E.On,” John Musk, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in London, wrote in a research note for clients on Sunday. “It will provide investors with two focused operations, with two simple strategies and two separate investment opportunities.”

Analysts noted that E.ON was putting its riskier businesses, including nuclear and other conventional power generation as well as oil and gas production, in the new unit while keeping in the main company steady earners such as distribution of power and gas to industrial and retail customers as well as the government- subsidized renewable operations.

By making the move, the company is saying, “you’ve made our business extremely risky, so we are going to put the risky parts in a separate company,” said Deepa Venkateswaran, an analyst at Bernstein Research in London in an interview. Ms. Venkateswaran compared E.ON’s gambit to the creation of a “bad bank” to hold risky assets at a financial institution.

E.On’s share price rose about 5 percent in afternoon trading on Monday.

Mr. Teyssen said that the new energy businesses were so different from the old energy world that it was difficult for companies to run them both well. He said that narrowing the focus would make E.On and the new company it was creating “faster and more agile.” He also said that these companies would be more attractive merger and acquisition partners.

European utilities are struggling with sluggish demand for power as well as with competition from electricity generated from renewable energy sources. Renewable energy has reduced the power prices that utilities receive and has undercut the competitiveness of some traditional power plants, including those fired by natural gas.

The utilities and other heavy energy users are being pressed by mandates like the European Union’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.

German utilities like E.On have been squeezed particularly hard by the sweeping transformation in energy use in Germany known as Energiewende being pushed by the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel. These policies include the most ambitious and costly effort in Europe to bolster renewable energy, as well as a phasing out of nuclear power stations.

E.On and others are struggling to adapt, with some shutting down both nuclear and gas-fired power plants and curtailing their investment budgets. This has created concerns that Europe may face an electricity crisis in the coming years.

E.On said it would be taking an additional €4.5 billion in writedowns this year on top of €700 million previously announced, leading to a substantial loss for 2014. In 2013, the company reported a profit of €2.5 billion on €122 billion in sales.

E.On’s strategy will be watched closely by German rivals like RWE and other European utilities trying to cope with similar problems.

E.On said that over the next year, it would lay the foundation for a new company, as yet unnamed, that would include E.On’s nuclear, coal-fired, gas-fired and other conventional power stations in Europe and Russia. That company would also hold the oil and gas production in the North Sea and in Russia and its wholesale gas business, which buys from Gazprom in Russia and from other sources under long-term contracts.

The new company would inherit most of the company’s liabilities for decommissioning its nuclear plants, in Germany and Sweden. It would also hold the hydropower business.

E.On itself would keep the renewable energy business, which is mostly wind power, as well as its wholesale and retail power units, where it hopes to nurture a growing business in providing technology for energy efficiency. E.ON would retain all of the company’s outstanding bonds.

Ms. Venkateswaran, the analyst, estimated that of E.ON’s €9.3 billion in pretax profits in 2013, €4.4 billion would be from units under the new company while nearly €5 billion would come from the greener, more predictable businesses. She said that remaining company would probably be assigned a higher valuation by investors because it is less risky.

E.On plans to retain a minority stake in the new company for several years and eventually sell it down. The company also said it was selling its businesses in Spain and Portugal to Macquarie for 2.5 billion euros, or about $3.1 billion, and that it was putting its North Sea oil and gas business under review.

RWE has already reached an agreement to sell its oil and gas production in the North Sea and elsewhere.

A version of this article appears in print on 12/02/2014, on page B5 of the NewYork edition with the headline: German Utility's New Focus.
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