Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Treehugger Tuesday

From Mother Nature Network:

Program connects at-risk kids with nature
Kids from D.C.'s poorest neighborhoods have life-changing experiences in national parks.
Jenn Savedge
August 23, 2016, 2:30 p.m.

Thomas Jones, 17, is an inner-city kid who, statistically, had a greater chance of dropping out of high school or getting shipped off to prison than he had of summiting a 13,000-foot peak in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Yet despite the odds, Jones found himself climbing the Grand Teton peak this summer as a participant in City Kids, a program aimed at getting inner-city youth off the streets and into the great outdoors.

"I can’t even describe it," Jones (pictured above, left) said when recalling memories of his trip. "It’s the highlight of my life.”

Jones has been part of the Washington D.C.-based City Kids program for the past several years. The initiative works with kids in the city's most vulnerable neighborhoods. The majority of these kids live below the poverty line. Many have lost loved ones to violence or have family members who are currently in prison.

The idea behind City Kids is to get kids out of these neighborhoods and into wilderness adventures that help them learn, grow and build the skills they need to set goals and work towards their dreams. The program involves a yearly summer camp as well as year-round support involving after-school programs, weekend hiking or rock-climbing trips, and longer camping and wilderness adventures over spring break.

Kids generally get started in the program in the sixth grade and hopefully stick with it throughout their middle and high school years. The goals for each kid are for them to graduate high school with a plan for the future that includes either college or a job. The program also encourages students to become active and involved members of their communities.

And they must be doing something right. In D.C., where the high school graduation rate hovers around 65 percent, the graduation rate for City Kids is over 95 percent. Even more than that, the program is helping urban kids who might not otherwise venture into a national parks get connected to nature in a way that will make them more likely to visit and help protect those parks in the future.

As the National Park Service marks its 100th birthday this month, the agency has made an active push to engage two groups it's had trouble connecting with in the past — kids and minorities. NPS surveys show that only 9 percent of park visitors are Hispanic, 7 percent are African-Americans, and 3 percent are Asian. At the same time, the average age of the national park visitor has risen from around 26 in 1969 to 45 in 2007, indicating that kids aren't as interested in national parks as their parents and grandparents were.

These are two issues the National Park Service needs to address if it hopes to stay relevant into its next 100 years.

A recent alumni of the City Kids program, Tyrhee Moore, did so well with the initiative that he was selected by the National Outdoor Leadership School to take part in the first African-American ascent of Denali — an experience that he never in his wildest dreams would have thought about before his involvement with City Kids. Before his first summer camp experience, Moore noted that the closest he'd ever come to a mountain was the pile of clothes that built up on his bedroom floor. Summiting Denali has given him a new perspective on life.

"I can compare everything I do in a normal day to the situations that I’ve been through, and they seem so small compared to what it took to climb Denali,” Moore said in an interview with WVU Today. Moore recently graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in sports management. In addition to traveling the country speaking to kids about getting connected with nature and looking for ways to get outside their comfort zones, Moore regularly returns to City Kids summer camp to act as a counselor and mentor for the next generation of participants.

When City Kids meet national parks, everybody wins. To find out more about the program, check out the City Kids website and watch this video, which does a great job explaining what kids get out of the program:


About City Kids from City Kids Wilderness Project on Vimeo.
...Read more

Monday, August 29, 2016

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Labor Day weekend - Saturday, September 3, 2016 to Monday, September 5, 2016:

Gateway National Recreation Area

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 06/04/2016 to 09/03/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introduction to this fun hobby. Learn the basics of birding. Bring binoculars and a field guide or borrow them from wildlife refuge!
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Every Sunday Weekly from 06/05/2016 to 09/04/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Fort Tilden Bunkers Walking Tour
Join a Park Ranger for an exploration of Fort Tilden's gun batteries, and find out about the fort's role in the defense of New York Harbor.
1 mile.
Location: Fort Tilden-Building 1
Fee Information: Free

**********

Great South Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, September 3, 2016, 8:00am
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Leaders: John Gluth (631-827-0120), Steve D’Amato (631-264-8413)
Southern State Pkwy to Belt Pkwy to Exit 17, Cross Bay Blvd. South. Continue south for about 2 miles. Look for entrance of refuge on the right (west) side. There are signs for park entrance.

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturdays, September 3-November 26, 8-9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy with the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
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 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

Saturdays, September 3–September 24, 10-11am
Birding Basics For Families: The Ramble, Central Park
Guides: NYC Audubon, Conservancy Discovery Guides
Offered by the Central Park Conservancy
Meet at the Belvedere Castle (inside the Park, mid-Park just north of the 79th Street transverse). Experience Central Park’s precious bird habitat and migration hot spot with Conservancy Discovery Guides and NYC Audubon. Witness firsthand how the Conservancy’s work has made the Park a sanctuary for birds. Binoculars available. Free, pre-registration recommended. For weather cancellation updates and pre-registration information, call 212-772-0288.

Sundays, September 4–September 25, 10-11am
Birding Basics for Families: North Woods, Central Park
Guides: NYC Audubon, Conservancy Discovery Guides
Offered by the Central Park Conservancy
Meet at the Dana Discovery Center (inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues). Experience Central Park’s precious bird habitat and migration hot spot with Conservancy Discovery Guides and NYC Audubon. Witness firsthand how the Conservancy’s work has made the Park a sanctuary for birds. Binoculars available. Limited to 20. Age 5 and up. Free, pre-registration recommended. For weather cancellation updates and pre-registration information, call 212-772-0288.

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, September 4, 2016
Alley Pond Park

All walks start at 9:00 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, September 3, 2016
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
About 230 different bird species have been recorded in Van Cortlandt Park and over 60 species breed here!
Free!

Wildlife Viewing: Raptor Watch at Schmul Park, Staten Island
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Join the Urban Park Rangers in their search for raptors—predators of the sky.
Free!

Dark Nights, Bright Lights: Neptune at Opposition at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 116th St (in Rockaway Beach), Queens
8:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m.
Join us for an Astronomy evening: Neptune at Opposition at Beach 116th Street at the Boardwalk NYC Parks’ Urban Park Rangers will be your guides to the solar system, discussing the s…
Free!

Sunday, September 4, 2016
Ranger's Choice: Hawk Watch at Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
1:00 p.m.–2:30 p.m.
Join a small group of birdwatchers at the old Pelham Bay landfill, a great place to watch migrating birds of prey.
Pre-registration is required.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Friday's Foto

The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is a lovely, medium-sized shorebird that is a rare, but regular migrant seen around NYC during their southbound migration in late summer. Sporting a rounded head and short bill they sometimes give the impression of a plover, rather than a sandpiper. They are long distance migrants breeding in extreme northern Alaska and western Canadian Arctic regions and overwintering on the pampas of Argentina. The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is the only North American shorebird that exhibits a lek mating system, in which males defend territories for the sole purpose of performing displays to attract females. Feeding almost exclusively on insects, they are sometimes referred to as a "grasspiper," due to their preference for grassy areas over coastal mudflats.

The IUCN Red List lists their conservation status as "Near Threatened". They are also on the 2016 State of the Birds Watch List. According to National Audubon, "Many were killed by market hunters in late 1800s and early 1900s. Much of habitat for migrating and wintering birds has been destroyed or degraded. Many migrants now forage in plowed farm fields; possible effects of agricultural chemicals on these birds are unknown."

Their scientific name, Calidris subruficollis, means grey-coloured water-side bird, reddish necked.

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, August 26, 2016

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Aug. 26, 2016
* NYNY1608.26

- Birds Mentioned

BLACK-CAPPED PETREL+
WHITE-FACED STORM-PETREL+
BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETREL+
LONG-TAILED JAEGER+
BRIDLED TERN+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Blue-winged Teal
Cory’s Shearwater
Great Shearwater
AUDUBON’S SHEARWATER
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel
Leach’s Storm-Petrel
Virginia Rail
Sora
Piping Plover
Whimbrel
MARBLED GODWIT
Stilt Sandpiper
BAIRD’S SANDPIPER
White-rumped Sandpiper
BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER
Pectoral Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
“Western” Willet
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Royal Tern
Common Nighthawk
Red-breasted Nuthatch
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER
Tennessee Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler

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, August 26, 2016 at 7:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are pelagic trip results including BLACK-CAPPED PETREL, WHITE-FACED and BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETRELS, BRIDLED TERN, LONG-TAILED JAEGER, AUDUBON SHEARWATER, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, plus BUFF-BREASTED and BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS, MARBLED GODWIT, GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER and more.

But firstly, we sadly mention the recent passing of Jeff Nulle, former President and Director of the Linnaean Society and a strong advocate for Riverside Park and conservation in general. Jeff’s activism in New York City will definitely be missed and his contributions to the birding community will be remembered gratefully.

Participants in a fishing tournament that took them 70 miles or so south of Shinnecock last Friday did luckily take the time to enjoy some great deep water birds. Tallied that day were a BLACK-CAPPED PETREL, 2 WHITE-FACED, 7 BAND-RUMPED, 1 LEACH’S and 285 WILSON’S STORM-PETRELS, 10 AUDUBON’S and 2 CORY’S SHEARWATERS, 4 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, a LONG-TAILED JAEGER and a BRIDLED TERN. Previous trips out there had also encountered a WHITE-FACED STORM-PETREL on the 15th and 2 on the 18th along with 6 AUDUBON’S SHEARWATERS.

A whale-watching trip off Montauk last Sunday also noted 12 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES along with 1 GREAT and 3 CORY’S SHEARWATERS and 46 WILSON’S STORM-PETRELS.

The recently quite productive pools in the dunes at Jones Beach West End between parking field 2 and the Roosevelt Sanctuary provided another report of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, the 8 there late Wednesday afternoon apparently not staying long. Nonetheless Thursday morning did find 4 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS visiting the shoreline of the eastern pool by the blind. The activity there during the week has also provided a SORA and 2-3 VIRGINIA RAILS along the edges of the ponds, some BLUE-WINGED TEAL among other waterfowl, and a variety of other shorebirds including up to 5 STILT, 3 PECTORAL, 12 WHITE-RUMPED and 1 or 2 WESTERN SANDPIPERS. Please do not enter the pools, but stay in the dunes to reduce disturbance.

Another BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER was on Staten Island at Miller Field at the end of New Dorp Avenue Wednesday and Thursday.

At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge the east pond has been providing the usual assortment of shorebirds, including some STILT, PECTORAL, WHITE-RUMPED and WESTERN SANDPIPERS, and 2 CASPIAN TERNS were still there at least to Sunday. While on the East Pond, stay close to the phragmites edge and the birds will permit much closer approach

At Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes last Sunday the 20 species of shorebirds counted featured 3 WHIMBREL, 2 WHITE-RUMPED, a WESTERN and 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and 2 “Western” WILLETS as well as a BLACK TERN, and 2 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were on the beach there.

Last Friday a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER was at Georgica Pond in East Hampton, and now would be a good time to start checking the sod fields north and east of Riverhead.

Two GULL-BILLED TERNS were at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn Monday, with 2 ROYAL TERNS there Tuesday, and a PIPING PLOVER has also been lingering there, and a MARBLED GODWIT paid a brief visit there this morning before flying off.

Landbird activity has slowly been building up, with modest recent flights followed by days of dropping numbers. Warbler variety for August has been decent though numbers generally have been low. Highlights have included a male GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER Wednesday on Staten Island at the Cemetery of the Resurrection, a few MOURNING WARBLERS including at Floyd Bennett Field Saturday, Dreier Offerman Park Wednesday and in Central Park, CAPE MAYS Tuesday at Coney Island Creek and Owl’s Head Park and Thursday in Prospect Park, some HOODED and a few arriving TENNESSEE, BLACKPOLL and WILSON’S, along with the other species already moving through. These are being joined by other seasonal flycatchers, vireos, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, swallows and the like. Watch for COMMON NIGHTHAWKS in the evenings now and hawks on the ridges.

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, August 23, 2016

Treehugger Tuesday

From Mother Nature Network website:

Popular pesticides cause major damage to bees, new study shows
Two decades after approving imidacloprid, the EPA is re-examining how this and other 'neonicotinoid' pesticides affect beneficial insects.
Russell McLendon
August 19, 2016, 6:20 a.m.

Using 18 years of data collected from 60 species of bees, researchers in England found that bees who frequent pesticide-treated crops have had more severe declines in population than bee species who forage on other plants, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. The study, researchers say, provides evidence that being exposed to a pesticide known as imidacloprid can cause major damage to bees.

In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned in a "preliminary risk assessment" that bee colonies could be in danger from imidacloprid — a statement that came 22 years after the EPA approved imidacloprid, one of five neonicotinoid insecticides increasingly linked to the collapse of bee colonies.

Imidacloprid is now widely used to kill crop pests, but it can also leave a toxic residue on plants pollinated by bees. The EPA offers a new threshold for that residue of 25 parts per billion (ppb), above which it says effects "are likely to be seen" in bees.

Bees have been dying in droves across North America and Europe for about a decade, a plague known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). Scientists have found several possible culprits, including invasive varroa mites and loss of natural habitat, but many also point to neonicotinoids and other pesticides as a likely factor.

Neonicotinoids were developed in the 1980s to mimic nicotine, a toxic alkaloid made by some plants in the nightshade family. They're popular partly because they have low toxicity to humans and other mammals, yet are powerful neurotoxins to a wide range of insects. After a patent was filed for imidacloprid in 1986, the EPA approved its use in 1994. Now marketed mainly by Bayer and Syngenta, it's sold in a variety of insect killers under brands like Admire, Advantage, Confidor and Provado.

Concerns grew during the 1990s and 2000s, especially after CCD broke out in 2006. The EPA began studying neonicotinoids individually in 2009, an ongoing process that includes the new imidacloprid report plus more updates due by 2017. The agency has tried to restrict some neonicotinoids in the meantime, with a proposal to not spray when crops are in bloom and a plan to stop approving new uses until risk reviews are complete. The European Union also temporarily banned the pesticides in 2013, as have some major cities like Montreal and Portland, Oregon.

"EPA is committed not only to protecting bees and reversing bee loss, but for the first time assessing the health of the colony for the neonicotinoid pesticides," says Jim Jones, assistant administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in a press release. "Using science as our guide, this preliminary assessment reflects our collaboration with the State of California and Canada to assess the results of the most recent testing required by EPA."

Imidacloprid may exceed 25 ppb in the pollen and nectar of certain plants, according to the EPA report, such as citrus and cotton. Plants like corn and leafy greens, however, either have lower residues or don't produce nectar. (A report by Health Canada recently listed similar distinctions in other crops, with potential risk found on tomatoes and strawberries but not melon, pumpkin or blueberry plants.

"Additional data is being generated on these and other crops to help EPA evaluate whether imidacloprid poses a risk to hives," the agency says. The insecticide's top U.S. crop is soybeans, but while the EPA notes soybeans are "attractive to bees via pollen and nectar," it describes their residue risk as uncertain due to unavailable data.


Soybeans are a big reason for recent growth in U.S. imidacloprid use. (Image: U.S. Geological Survey)

In hives exposed to more than 25 ppb, the EPA reports a higher chance of "decreases in pollinators as well as less honey produced." Less honey is bad, but fewer pollinators is worse. Bees pollinate plants that produce a quarter of the food eaten by Americans, accounting for more than $15 billion in increased crop value per year.

CCD has been most apparent in commercially managed honeybees, whose U.S. numbers declined by 42 percent in 2014. But there are also signs of trouble in wild bees, including rare bumblebees and other unheralded native species. These pollinators are important parts of their ecosystems, helping plants reproduce and predators stay well-fed, so losing them could be even costlier than we realize.

Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in January 2016.
...Read more

Monday, August 22, 2016

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, August 27, 2016 to Sunday, August 28, 2016:

Freshkills Park (Staten Island)
Sunday, August 28, 2016, 9:30am
Classic Harbor Line Tour
Cruise on the vibrant waterways of the Kill Van Kull and the Arthur Kill and into the heart of Freshkills Park in Staten Island on one of Classic Harbor Line’s luxury yachts. The AIANY and Freshkills Park planners host this special Classic Harbor Line tour; the only public water tour into the Freshkills waterway.
Sign up at EventBrite

Sunday, August 28, 2016, 10:00am
Nature Hike
Explore normally closed sections of Freshkills Park and learn about the history and ongoing progress of the landfill-to-park project. NYC Parks staff will guide visitors through the park and lead a discussion on the many topics surrounding Freshkills Park, including urban ecology, waste management, and park design.
The group will meet at Schmul Playground (at the corner Wild Avenue and Melvin Avenue) and shuttle into Freshkills Park from there.
Sign Up at EventBrite

**********

Gateway National Recreation Area

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 06/04/2016 to 09/03/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introduction to this fun hobby. Learn the basics of birding. Bring binoculars and a field guide or borrow them from wildlife refuge!
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/28/2016 9:30AM to 11:30AM
Camp Gateway Walk-up and Paddle
Try kayaking! Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservation required. Bring a snack, water and sunscreen.
Bus: Q35
Location: Floyd Bennett Field – Brooklyn, Seaplane Ramp
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: 718-338-3799

Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/27/2016 1:00PM to 3:30PM
Canarsie Walk-up and Paddle
Kayak tryouts for those who have never done it before. Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservations required.
Location: Canarsie Pier, Brooklyn
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: (718)338-3799

Saturday, August 27, 2016, 10:00AM to 1:00PM
Fall Migration Hike - Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free
Meet for a slide program and walk around the ponds to look for migrating warblers and shorebirds. Leader: Don Riepe. This is a partnership program with the American Littoral Society and NYC Audubon.
2 miles.

Every Sunday Weekly from 06/05/2016 to 09/04/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Fort Tilden Bunkers Walking Tour
Join a Park Ranger for an exploration of Fort Tilden's gun batteries, and find out about the fort's role in the defense of New York Harbor.
1 mile.
Location: Fort Tilden-Building 1
Fee Information: Free

**********

Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Sunday, August 28, 2016 - 9:00AM
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Shorebird Walk
Bring your muck boots as we will walk around the East Pond looking for shorebirds and other interesting migrants. Jamaica Bay is known for its world-class shorebirding.
Registration: 631-885-1881 or email aveblue@gmail.com

Directions: Belt Pkwy to exit 17S, Cross Bay Blvd South, and head south. After crossing the bridge, look for parking lot entrance on the right side, 1.25 miles from the bridge. Turn right at the traffic light and meet in the parking lot.

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Eastern Long Island Summer Specialties and Ocean Watch
Leader: Doug Futuyma
Registrar: Lenore Swenson — lenoreswenson@gmail.com or 212-533-9567
Registration opens: Monday August 1
Ride: $40

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, August 27, 2016, 8-10:30am
Prospect Park Bird Walk
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Meet under the arch in Grand Army Plaza. Join Gabriel Willow for a leisurely walk to get to know the summer bird residents of 'Brooklyn's Back Yard', beautiful Prospect Park. Although birding in the summertime in NYC can be a bit slow, Prospect Park has a wide variety of habitats that attracts a number of breeding bird species. We will explore the park's meadows, forests, and waterways in search of nesting waterfowl, green herons, barn swallows, yellow warblers, baltimore orioles, and some of the other species that call the park home. Limited to 15. $33 (23)
Click here to register

Sunday, August 28, 2016, 10am-1pm
Fall Migration Bird Walk
Guide: Don Riepe with the American Littoral Society
Days are getting shorter and birds are heading south. Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge for a hike around the east and west ponds and gardens to look for warblers, tanagers, shorebirds, and many other species. For info and reservations call (718) 474-0896 or e-mail: donriepe@gmail.com. Free

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Hempstead Lake State Park

All walks start at 9:00 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Hallett Nature Sanctuary at Hallett Nature Sanctuary (in Central Park), Manhattan
11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
During these limited hours, visitors can explore the normally-closed Hallett Sanctuary at their own pace along the rustic trail.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, August 20, 2016

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, August 19, 2016:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Aug. 19, 2016
* NYNY1608.19

- Birds mentioned

BRIDLED TERN+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Virginia Rail
SORA
AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER
Whimbrel
HUDSONIAN GODWIT
MARBLED GODWIT
Stilt Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Lesser Black-backed Gull
GULL-BILLED TERN
CASPIAN TERN
Black Tern
Royal Tern
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Common Nighthawk
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
Bank Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Ovenbird
Worm-eating Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Nashville Warbler
MOURNING WARBLER
KENTUCKY WARBLER
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Canada Warbler
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 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, August 19th 2016 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are BRIDLED TERN, BLACK-HEADED GULL, AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, MARBLED GODWIT, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, GULL-BILLED TERN, CASPIAN TERN, SORA and a nice variety of warblers including GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, MOURNING WARBLER and KENTUCKY WARBLER.

Exceptional this week was a handsome adult BRIDLED TERN that came in to roost at the very celebrated tern colony on Great Gull Island last Saturday evening presumably heading back out to sea soon thereafter. Great Gull is located at the eastern entrance to Long Island Sound and northeast of Orient Point and Plum Island.

What was presumably the same sub-adult BLACK-HEADED GULL that had been present on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge back on the 7th was spotted again last Sunday out in Jamaica Bay by a kayaker birding the bay's islands. Also seen out there were an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER with a flock of Black-bellied Plovers and 2 GULL-BILLED and 7 ROYAL TERNS. Back on the East Pond at the refuge two MARBLED GODWITS appeared at the north end on Wednesday and Thursday morning 3 were present near Deadman's Cove. Hopefully these will remain for the Shorebird Festival on Saturday. A decent number of shorebirds on the East Pond last Sunday included a couple of female WESTERN SANDPIPERS along with a PECTORAL, 5 plus WHITE-RUMPED and 7 STILT SANDPIPERS. Good numbers of shorebirds have remained there through the week. A SORA continues its brief appearances along the East Pond's northwestern edge and a BLACK TERN has been seen sporadically since Saturday at the north end where 2 CASPIAN TERNS, an adult with a juvenile, also visited yesterday. On Wednesday 2 CASPIAN TERNS, perhaps the same two, were spotted at Piermont Pier in Rockland County.

At Jones Beach West End 17 species of shorebirds noted Thursday featured STILT, PECTORAL and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS in the dune pools between the Roosevelt Nature Center and the West End 2 parking lot. Also spotted along the edge of these ponds were a SORA and 1 or 2 VIRGINIA RAILS Thursday and this morning.

A report from Staten Island last Sunday mentioned a very brief visit by an HUDSONIAN GODWIT to the beach at Wolfe's Pond Park in the late afternoon.

On eastern Long Island 2 WHIMBREL were present Saturday on the ocean side at Tiana Beach off Dune Road west of the Ponquogue Bridge and 2 or 3 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were on the same beach through the weekend.

A quite decent number of migrants occurred in the region this week. Many arriving Wednesday and Thursday. Among the non-passerines have been the first few COMMON NIGHTHAWKS and both YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS. Among the passerines have been CLIFF SWALLOW and BANK SWALLOWS and some RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES and BOBOLINKS plus an array of reported flycatchers including single YELLOW-BELLIED and ALDER from Prospect Park and OLIVE-SIDED and ACADIAN in Central Park though as a caveat, in the Fall the empidonax group will seldom provide the appropriate vocalizations to confirm identity.

The variety of warblers reported for the week was rather impressive, about 23 species. The southbound movement does seem to be getting earlier each year. For the more unusual species no details were provided for a KENTUCKY reported last Saturday in Central Park where MOURNING has also been noted and a female GOLDEN-WINGED visited Prospect Park today as did a CAPE MAY. Others, generally in low numbers have included OVENBIRD, WORM-EATING, both LOUISIANA and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES the former getting scarce now, BLUE-WINGED, NASHVILLE, HOODED, NORTHERN PARULA, MAGNOLIA, BLACKBURNIAN, CHESTNUT-SIDED, BLACK-THROATED BLUE, PRAIRIE, CANADA and even one or two YELLOW-RUMPED plus the more widespread BLACK-AND-WHITE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, AMERICAN REDSTART and YELLOW.

The beginning of the hawk season is also upon us so enjoy visiting a local hawk watch site.

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, August 19, 2016

Friday's Photo

While nearly the size of a Green Heron, the Hudsonian Godwit is the smallest and least known of the world’s four godwit species. Like the other species, this large sandpiper's most prominent feature is its long, slightly upturned bill. As with most shorebirds, their diet primarily consists of insects, but also includes crustaceans, marine worms and mollusks. They nest in far northern Canada and Alaska near the treeline in mixed tundra and wetlands.

Scientists are only recently beginning to understand their long migration from the subarctic to southern South America. After the breeding season some Canadian breeders congregate on the southern shores of James Bay then fly at least 2,800 miles nonstop over the Maritime provinces and New England, over the Atlantic and to South America. Read more about their migration from The Center for Conservation Biology godwit study.

Their conservation status via the IUCN Red List is listed as Least Concern. However, there is little information on their population trends. Hudsonian Godwit is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats.

The most likely place to find a rare migrating Hudsonian Godwit around NYC is at the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

The Hudsonian Godwit's scientific name, Limosa haemastica, means, muddy and bloody, the latter presumably referring to the red coloration of their breeding plumage.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Treehugger Tuesday

From University of Washington's "Conservation Magazine":

America is becoming a kinder, gentler place (toward animals, anyway)
8/3/2016

Extraordinary as it might seem amidst the election-season rancor, the United States is becoming a gentler, more inclusive place—at least toward wild animals.

Nearly 40 years ago, ecologist Stephen Kellert conducted a landmark survey of American attitudes toward wildlife. Now researchers have repeated the survey; they found that people in the U.S. generally feel more kindly toward wild animals, in particular those species they once despised.

“The greatest differences were for historically stigmatized species,” wrote the researchers, who were led by environmental scientist Kelly George of Ohio State University and published their findings in the journal Biological Conservation. Among the up-and-comers are sharks, bats, vultures, wolves, and coyotes.

Much has changed since Kellert’s original 1978 survey. The loss of biodiversity has accelerated—not just the extinction of rare species, but the decline of once-common ones. More Americans live in cities and suburbs, where they’re ostensibly disconnected from nature. The science of animal cognition has produced overwhelming evidence for intelligence throughout the animal kingdom, and animal welfare went from a fringe to a mainstream concern.

The latter trend has raised hopes that, if people like animals more, they’ll do more for conservation—and in that regard, the new results are promising. Where people had, on average, felt neutral towards wolves and coyotes, they now feel positive. Sharks, bats, and vultures all vaulted from disliked to neutral or even liked. People are even a bit more welcoming to wasps, rattlesnakes, and rats.

The only species whose reputations dropped substantively are raccoons and swans, though people still quite like them. (For the record, domestic dogs remained America’s most-favored animal, while mosquitos replaced cockroaches as the least-liked.)

That it’s not only the usual charismatic fauna tugging public heartstrings is promising—and, noted the researchers, this change in attitudes is specific to wildlife. Attitudes toward domestic animals didn’t change substantively. It’s not as though wild animals are benefiting from the overflow of a change in heart toward, say, cats and dogs. Something deeper is happening.

George’s team doesn’t claim to understand the exact reasons for this change of heart. They do, however, point to research by social psychologist Michael Manfredo, who has found that Americans are shifting away from an ethos of domination and mastery over nature, instead viewing wildlife “as part of an extended family, and deserving of caring and compassion.”

The trick, says study co-author Jeremy Bruskotter, a conservation policy expert at Ohio State University, will be finding a way to tap into this burgeoning concern. At the state level, most conservation funds still come from sales of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses.

“I think that public support for conservation efforts, as well as efforts to increase the well-being of animals is very high — perhaps as high as it has ever been,” Bruskotter says. “But this won’t translate into more conservation until we have a funding model that isn’t so tied to consumptive forms of outdoor recreation.” —Brandon Keim | 3 August 2016
...Read more

Monday, August 15, 2016

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, August 20, 2016 to Sunday, August 21, 2016 (updated 8/2/16):

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens
Leader: Tom Stephenson
Focus: Peak of shorebird and sandpiper species
Car fee: $12.00
Registrar: Chris Laskowski, email celaskowski@yahoo.com
Registration Period: August 13th–August 18th
Notes: Trip capped at 16 participants; high tide is 11:24am

**********

Freshkills Park (Staten Island)
Sunday, August 21, 2016, 10:00am
Kayak Tour
Join the Freshkills Park Team and Kayak Staten Island for a kayaking experience like no other! Kayak along the Fresh Kill and see the site from a different perspective. This excursion will take you into the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge and up close to some of the varied wildlife that calls Freshkills Park home.

Kayaks, life vests, and brief safety training will be provided. Kayak tours are limited to participants ages 16 and over, in good health and with basic swimming skills. Be prepared to get wet! Space is very limited.

A $10 donation to the Freshkills Park Alliance is now required with kayak registration. This contribution will help the Alliance continue to provide this program.

Tickets go on sale August 7th. Location provided with registration confirmation.
Sign Up at EventBrite

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Gateway National Recreation Area

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 06/04/2016 to 09/03/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introduction to this fun hobby. Learn the basics of birding. Bring binoculars and a field guide or borrow them from wildlife refuge!
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/28/2016 9:30AM to 11:30AM
Camp Gateway Walk-up and Paddle
Try kayaking! Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservation required. Bring a snack, water and sunscreen.
Bus: Q35
Location: Floyd Bennett Field – Brooklyn, Seaplane Ramp
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: 718-338-3799

Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/27/2016 1:00PM to 3:30PM
Canarsie Walk-up and Paddle
Kayak tryouts for those who have never done it before. Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservations required.
Location: Canarsie Pier, Brooklyn
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: (718)338-3799

Every Sunday Weekly from 06/05/2016 to 09/04/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Fort Tilden Bunkers Walking Tour
Join a Park Ranger for an exploration of Fort Tilden's gun batteries, and find out about the fort's role in the defense of New York Harbor.
1 mile.
Location: Fort Tilden-Building 1
Fee Information: Free

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Great South Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, August 20, 2016, 9:30am
Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary
Leader: Annette Brownell (631-336-6790)
Call to RSVP and arrange carpooling (parking is limited) Directions can be found at WWW.LIHUMMER.ORG. It is expected of all visitors to do their homework and study the maps, directions, warnings and instructions at www.lihummer.org.

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, August 20, 2016
Jamaica Bay 23rd Annual Tom Davis Memorial Shorebird Walk
Leader: Sean Sime — seansime@seansime.com or 917-324-2735
Registration opens: August 8
Public transportation

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, August 20, 2016 7:30am – 5pm
11th Annual Shorebird Festival at Jamaica Bay with Gateway National Recreation Area and American Littoral Society
During the past 40 years, over 40 species of shorebirds (including rare and accidental vagrants) have been recorded at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s East and West Ponds from mid-July through October, with the greatest diversity and abundance usually occurring in August. We invite you to attend our tenth annual celebration at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, August 20. New this year: activities for the whole family with National Park Service. Click here to see a full schedule of events.

Free bus transportation from Manhattan to Jamaica Bay is available for NYC Audubon members at the Student/Senior level and up. Meet at 71 West 23rd Street at 6:30am. (We will return to 23rd Street by approximately 6pm.) Contact the office at 212-691-7483 x306 to reserve a seat.

For more information, contact NYC Audubon at 212-691-7483 x 306, the American Littoral Society at 718-474-0896, or Don Riepe at donriepe@gmail.com

Thursday, August 18, 2016 6:30-8:30pm (class)
Sunday, August 21, 2016, 10am-2pm (trip)
Shorebird ID Workshop
Guide: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC
Shorebirds are one of the most challenging groups of birds to identify, yet beautiful and fascinating once they can be distinguished. Learn to identify plovers and sandpipers (including "peeps") by learning behavior, field marks, and calls - then take a field trip to Jamaica Bay to practice your new skills. Limited to 12. $65 (45)
Click here to register

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Sunday, August 21, 2016 @ 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Discover Dragonflies with Paul Lederer
Cost: Free
Contact: Paul Lederer 718-354-9200
Dragonflies have been a part of the fauna of this planet long before dinosaurs roamed the earth. Learn about the identification, behavior and biology of these fascinating insects. Bring binoculars if you have them. Participants will meet at the Greenbelt’s Pouch Boy Scout Camp at 1465 Manor Road by the totem poles in the parking lot. For more information contact Paul at his cell phone 718-354-9200.

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Urban Park Rangers
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Hallett Nature Sanctuary at Hallett Nature Sanctuary (in Central Park), Manhattan
11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
During these limited hours, visitors can explore the normally-closed Hallett Sanctuary at their own pace along the rustic trail.
Free!

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Young Birders Club
Saturday August 20, 2016
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (Kings/Queens County)
Trip Leader: Tim Healy

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge—part of Gateway National Recreation Area—is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeastern United States and one of the best places in New York City to observe migrating species. Encompassing 9,155 acres, it has hosted more than 330 bird species—nearly half the species in the Northeast—over the last 25 years, making it a must-see for avian enthusiasts. In summer, Jamaica Bay supports breeding populations of more than 70 bird species, including breeding colonies of herons and other long-legged waders, nesting grassland birds and the largest concentration of beach-nesting birds in the Northeast.

The main target for this particular trip will be migrant shorebirds, as well as some nice resident birds: Glossy Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Boat-tailed Grackle, Clapper Rail, etc.

Bring tall waterproof boots, or old sneakers, expecting that said sneakers (and socks and pantlegs) will get quite muddy. There should be a place outside the visitors center where people can hose the mud off their sneakers, etc. afterwards, though since the access point for the East Pond we will probably be using requires a short drive, some trash bags to put the footwear in for the car ride back to the visitors center would probably be a good idea.

Watch your email Inbox for more details!

Permission form due by 8/12/16.
...Read more

Saturday, August 13, 2016

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, August 12, 2016:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Aug. 12, 2016
* NYNY1608.12

- Birds mentioned

BROWN PELICAN
SORA
Piping Plover
WHIMBREL
Stilt Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Royal Tern
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Ovenbird
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
MOURNING WARBLER
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
Canada Warbler

- 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, August 12th 2016 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are BROWN PELICAN, BLACK-HEADED GULL, WHIMBREL and other shorebirds, SORA, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, MOURNING WARBLER and other warblers.

Another relatively uninspiring week did provide another BROWN PELICAN report. This a bird flying just off Halsey Neck Beach east of Shinnecock Inlet last Saturday afternoon. Direction was not specified.

A nice find on the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge last Sunday afternoon was a subadult BLACK-HEADED GULL roosting with mostly Laughing Gulls on the western pond edge south of Deadman's Cove the gull eventually flying south off the pond. Also on the East Pond a SORA was spotted Monday along the phragmites edge at the north end where a GULL-BILLED TERN was also present Saturday. The continuing high water on the East Pond presumably a contributing factor. The number of shorebirds using the pond, even at high tide, has remained somewhat low. One to three STILT SANDPIPERS have been present this week at the north end and an injured PECTORAL SANDPIPER visited the Raunt Sunday afternoon. A good number of SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS provided the bulk of the shorebirds on Sunday but seemed to move on by Monday. A report from today on the pond did indicate some improving numbers with a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 13 STILT SANDPIPER and 2 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS among the 16 species of shorebirds there. Hopefully the water level will sufficiently lower for the Shorebird Festival to be held on Saturday the 20th.

Another notable shorebird this week was a WHIMBREL on the flats at Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes on Monday. The other shorebirds there rather standard.

A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was in the field 2 parking lot at Jones Beach West End last Saturday and a couple of ROYAL TERNS and one or two PIPING PLOVERS were still at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn on Monday and perhaps later.

A trickle of landbird migrants this week was certainly topped by the YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER reported at the Maintenance Meadow in Central Park last Saturday. Always a good find in the city parks at any season. Also unexpected in Central Park was an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER on Monday. Other warblers during the week featured a MOURNING reported Thursday from Central Park as well as such species as OVENBIRD, LOUISIANA and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES, BLUE-WINGED, BLACK-AND-WHITE, AMERICAN REDSTART, YELLOW-RUMPED, CHESTNUT-SIDED, MAGNOLIA, PALM and CANADA.

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, August 12, 2016

Friday's Foto

Shorebirds are now heading south to their wintering grounds with huge numbers stopping to rest and refuel around NYC, most notably, at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The Least Sandpiper in one of the more common (and easily identified) "peeps" encountered.

The smallest of the world's shorebird species, they are not much larger than a sparrow. Their small size, distinctive yellow-green legs and feet make them easy to separate from the more perplexing ID of the similar Baird's, Semipalmated, Western and White-rumped Sandpipers.

Breeding in bogs, boreal forest, sedge meadows and wet tundra from Alaska east across northern Canada to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, they winter from the southern US through the northern half of South America. According to Cornell, "Eastern populations probably fly nonstop over the ocean from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and New England to wintering grounds in northeastern South America, a distance of about 1,800 to 2,500 miles". Their diet consists of small crustaceans, insects and snails. In spring on the Atlantic Coast they also feed on horseshoe crab eggs. The longer billed females supplement their diets with seeds of marsh grasses, including smartweed and panic grass.

The IUCN Red List lists their conservation status as "Least Concern". While their populations appear stable, they may have experienced declines over the last few decades. They are not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List. One of their biggest conservation concerns today is wetland degradation and destruction

Their scientific name, Calidris minutilla, means "grey-coloured water-side bird" mentioned by Aristotle and "very small".

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Recent Sightings Page Update

Just a quick note to let you know that I've fixed the Brooklyn eBird rarities gadget on the "Recent Sightings" page. Apparently there was a bug in the code.

Treehugger Tuesday

From Popular Science:

Nature Videos Make Prisoners Less Violent
Simple intervention could improve mental health of nature-deprived inmates
By Coby McDonald August 5, 2016

Imprisonment in America often means complete seclusion from nature. Take the case of the maximum security inmates at Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon: they spend 23 hours a day locked in 7 X 12 foot concrete cells. The only windows face inside the unit. Four or five times a week they can spend an hour in an exercise yard that is about twenty times smaller than a basketball court. From the yard, prisoners can glimpse the sky—the only "nature" they ever see. And this is typical.

Of course, prisons weren't designed for comfort, and one could argue that access to nature is one of many pleasures that convicted criminals forfeit. But mental illness is a growing problem in prisons, the impacts of which society at large bears when inmates are released. Solitary confinement (a staple of maximum security units) has been shown to cause mental health issues, or when preexisting, exacerbate them. And it turns out that isolation from other human beings might not be the only factor. Researchers in the field of ecopsychology believe that nature deprivation can also damage mental well-being.

That concept resonated with the administrators at Snake River who were struggling to address violence and suicide among their most troubled inmates. The superintendent of the prison, Mark Nooth, encouraged his staff to explore novel solutions.

In 2013, after consulting with a variety of experts, they created a library of 38 nature films that included ocean, forest, and river scenes. The films also included cloud fly-throughs, space images, and even a fireplace with burning logs. They installed a projector in one of the indoor exercise yards and painted the walls blue to improve resolution. Inmates were allowed to choose a nature video to watch during their usual recreation periods.

They called it the Nature Imagery Project, and it seems to be working.

"A basic tenet of the field of ecopsychology is that we need nature for our well-being, physically and psychologically."

Cellblock E of Snake River's Intensive Management Unit is divided into two nearly identical sides. Forty-eight inmates on one side were given access to the videos; those on the other were not. A year into the project, the administrators brought in a team of psychologists to assess the results. The team compared the two groups of Cellblock E inmates, poring over their disciplinary records, observing their behavior, and running psychological tests.

The results were striking. Inmates who watched the nature videos experienced reduced aggression, distress, irritability, and nervousness. And overall they committed 26 percent fewer violent incidents than those who didn't.

"A basic tenet of the field of ecopsychology is that we need nature for our well-being, physically and psychologically," clinical psychotherapist and lead author Patricia Hasbach told Popular Science.

Nature deficit disorder is a term coined by author Richard Louv to describe the impacts, particularly on children, of spending less and less time outdoors. It's fair to say that nowhere are humans more disconnected from the natural world than inside the maximum security unit of a prison. In recent years, numerous studies have suggested that exposure to nature, even just images, can improve mental well-being, lower stress hormones, and even speed up recovery after surgery.

Hasbach was impressed by the results at Snake River, especially the way correction officers had begun using the nature videos as a proactive intervention.

"They could see someone who was particularly agitated—maybe pacing or rocking or yelling out—and they could intervene early on," she says. "It helped deescalate those stress behaviors before they could lead to violence.”

Decreased violence means a safer environment for staff and prisoners alike, says Renee Smith, the behavioral health services manager at Snake River. In Oregon, 50 percent of all inmates receive some type of mental health diagnosis, she says, and the Nature Imagery Project gives the staff one more tool to help inmates manage mental health challenges.

"It's powerful for them to experience, even for a short time, a natural, therapeutic environment versus the usual four white walls of a prison cell," she says.

While Smith acknowledges that some might view access to nature films as a luxury convicted criminals don't deserve, she says that helping inmates regulate their emotions benefits everyone.

"We want to ensure that when they return to society and they're your neighbor, they can practice the skills we've taught them and know what treatments they should access," she says. "Hopefully they won't return to prison and there will be less victims in the community."

Snake River administrators were so pleased with the results of the Nature Imagery Project that they are expanding it to allow more prisoners to benefit. Hasbach and her colleagues believe that the project could serve as a model for prisons across the country. In fact, interested prison administrators in six other states have already contacted them. One even expressed interest in screening nature videos in break rooms to help reduce stress among staff members.

Hasbach will present the findings tomorrow at the annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Denver, Colorado.
...Read more

Monday, August 08, 2016

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, August 13, 2016 to Sunday, August 14, 2016 (updated 8/2/16):

Eastern Long Island Audubon Society
Saturday, August 13, 2016 – 8:00am
The Isle of Cupsogue
Get to Cupsogue before 8:00 am and it’s FREE PARKING! The trip to the shoreline will begin around 8:15 am. We will meet at the western end of the parking lot. Low tide for that day is 11:22 am, so we will take a comfortable walk of about 1 mile to the crossable mud flats, where we will see south-bound migrating shorebirds, and some summer residents as well. Bring sunscreen, water, and sand-walking/water-walking foot ware – or go barefoot! The crossing is mushy but not harsh on the feet. For more information, please contact Eileen Schwinn, the Trip Leader (various other ELIAS Members/Directors will also be in attendance!) by email: beachmed@optonline.net or call 516-662-7751. Heavy rain or severe weather conditions (high wind or lightning ) will cancel this trip. Binoculars are necessary, and scopes are helpful.

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Freshkills Park (Staten Island)
Sunday, August 14, 2016, 10:00am
Bus Tour
Learn about the past, present and future of Freshkills Park development during a guided bus ride through the park. Stops at the top of the park’s hills offer beautiful panoramic views of Staten Island. This tour departs from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George.
Sign Up at EventBrite

Sunday, August 14, 2016, 1:00pm
Bus Tour
Learn about the past, present and future of Freshkills Park development during a guided bus ride through the park. Stops at the top of the park’s hills offer beautiful panoramic views of Staten Island. This tour departs from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George.
Sign Up at EventBrite

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Gateway National Recreation Area

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 06/04/2016 to 09/03/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introduction to this fun hobby. Learn the basics of birding. Bring binoculars and a field guide or borrow them from wildlife refuge!
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Every Sunday Weekly and Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/28/2016 9:30AM to 11:30AM
Camp Gateway Walk-up and Paddle
Try kayaking! Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservation required. Bring a snack, water and sunscreen.
Bus: Q35
Location: Floyd Bennett Field – Brooklyn, Seaplane Ramp
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: 718-338-3799

Every Saturday Weekly from 05/28/2016 to 08/27/2016 1:00PM to 3:30PM
Canarsie Walk-up and Paddle
Kayak tryouts for those who have never done it before. Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservations required.
Location: Canarsie Pier, Brooklyn
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center
Contact Phone Number: (718)338-3799

Every Sunday Weekly from 06/05/2016 to 09/04/2016 11:00AM to 12:00PM
Fort Tilden Bunkers Walking Tour
Join a Park Ranger for an exploration of Fort Tilden's gun batteries, and find out about the fort's role in the defense of New York Harbor.
1 mile.
Location: Fort Tilden-Building 1
Fee Information: Free

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Littoral Society
Wednesday, August 11th - Monday, August 15, 2016
Cape Ann Whale Watch Weekend
The weekend includes three nights lodging in historic Gloucester, Massachusetts, an easy canoe trip on the quiet Ipswich River, a sunset cruise on the Essex River, a coastal hike, plus a lobster dinner at the Gloucester House. On the way back, we'll visit the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.
Cost: $425/person for double occupancy; single supplement is $180 extra.
For more information, please call (718) 474-0896; e-mail: donriepe@gmail.com

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, August 13, 2016, 9:30am-2pm
Shorebird Walk in Jamaica Bay, Queens
Guide:Gabriel Willow
Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. We'll search the mudflats and ponds for breeding herons and egrets, Forster's and Common Terns, Clapper Rail, and American Oystercatcher, as well as migratory plovers and sandpipers that will already be headed south. Limited to 15. $40 (28)
Click here to register

Sundays July 10, August 14, September 11, 9:30-11:30am
Summer Birding at Wave Hill
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. Walks run rain or shine. Ages 10 and up welcome with an adult. NYC Audubon members enjoy two-for-one admission. For more information, visit https://www.wavehill.org/events/spring-birding-10/

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, August 13, 2016 @ 10:00am – 2:00pm
Forest Restoration Workshop along the LaTourette bike path
Cost: Free
Contact: Don Recklies 718-768-9036 / Chuck Perry 718-667-1393
Note that this workshop is on the 2nd Saturday of the month.
Meet at the bike path entrance on the Old Mill Road (west of Richmond Hill Road) next to St. Andrews Church.
We will walk west along the bike path cutting invasive vines that stranger saplings along the trail (our 239th monthly workshop). If you don’t have your own, Protectors will supply the gloves, pruners and refreshments.
After the work session we will take a short walk over nearly trails.
Community Service Credits are available.

Sunday, August 14, 2016 @ 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Crooke’s Point
Cost: Free
Contact: Paul Lederer 718-354-9200
Maritime sand spits such as Crooke’s Point are dynamic topographical features formed and sculpted by water and wind action. Join naturalist Paul T. Lederer in a “talk and walk” where he will discuss the geology and human history of the site as well as the plants and animals that call this place home. We will meet at the Beach Center Parking Lot in Great Kills Park. To get to the Beach Center Parking Lot take Hylan Boulevard to Buffalo Street and drive down Buffalo Street to just where the dirt permit road begins.
For more information or directions contact Paul at his cell phone 718-354-9200.

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Urban Park Rangers
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Summer Birding at Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Naturalist Gabriel Willow contributes his extensive knowledge of diverse bird species and their behavior on these captivating walks through the gardens and woodlands.

Birding in Central Park at Belvedere Castle (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Come birding with the Urban Park Rangers in Central Park!
Free!

Hallett Nature Sanctuary at Hallett Nature Sanctuary (in Central Park), Manhattan
11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
During these limited hours, visitors can explore the normally-closed Hallett Sanctuary at their own pace along the rustic trail.
Free!
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Friday, August 05, 2016

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, August 5, 2016:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Aug. 5, 2016
* NYNY1608.05

- Birds Mentioned

Piping Plover
Red Knot
Stilt Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
WILSON’S PHALAROPE
GULL-BILLED TERN
CASPIAN TERN
BLACK TERN
Roseate Tern
Royal Tern
Black-billed Cuckoo
Acadian Flycatcher
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
BLUE GROSBEAK
Orchard Oriole

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, August 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are WILSON’S PHALAROPE, GULL-BILLED, CASPIAN and BLACK TERNS, and BLUE GROSBEAK.

A not terribly dynamic week was brightened by the one day appearance of a WILSON’S PHALAROPE Monday at the fairly full dune pools at Jones Beach West End; these ponds, located between West End parking field 2 and the Roosevelt Nature Center, also produced 5 STILT SANDPIPERS plus other expected shorebirds in moderate numbers.

With the water level on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge also fairly high all week, there have also been lower numbers of shorebirds than desired for this time of year. A PECTORAL SANDPIPER quickly visited the north end of the pond last Saturday and up to 9 STILT SANDPIPERS were also on the pond early this week, usually at the north end, where there is relatively little edge, so be careful if visiting there. Also at the Bay, a GULL-BILLED TERN visited the marsh south of the former West Pond last Saturday, when an ACADIAN FLYCATCHER was also still being heard south of the blind at Big John’s Pond. A BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was a highlight this Wednesday.

Out at Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes last Saturday a decent collection of 18 species of shorebirds on the flats north of the parking lot featured 2 STILTS and 3 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS and 15 RED KNOTS, as well as a ROSEATE TERN, and a BLACK TERN was the only reward for an ocean watch there.

One or 2 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS were present with other shorebirds at Brooklyn’s Plumb Beach from Saturday to Wednesday, when 2 ROYAL TERNS were spotted along the shore. A PIPING PLOVER has also been lingering there.

A CASPIAN TERN was reported Wednesday from Oakwood Beach northeast of Great Kills Park on Staten Island.

A BLUE GROSBEAK was still present Monday around the fields and grasslands at the former Grumman Airport in Calverton near the intersection of Line Road and Grumman Boulevard.

Some non-seasonal passerines have been showing up in local parks recently. Among these, the LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSHES and ORCHARD ORIOLES are presumably genuine southbound migrants, while the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES will probably linger for awhile, and others occurring like BLUE-WINGED, BLACK-AND-WHITE, MAGNOLIA and CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS are more likely floaters, just the early vanguard of things to come.

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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