Saturday, July 22, 2017

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, July 21, 2017:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Jul. 21, 2017
* NYNY1707.21

- Birds mentioned
BLACK-CAPPED PETREL+
SOUTH POLAR SKUA+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Northern Bobwhite
Cory's Shearwater
Brown Pelican
American Bittern
Least Bittern
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
WHIMBREL
Stilt Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
GULL-BILLED TERN
CASPIAN TERN
Royal Tern
Cliff Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
BLUE GROSBEAK
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

Compiler: 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, July 21st 2017 at 10:30pm. The highlights of today's tape are WHIMBREL, [BLACK-CAPPED PETREL], SOUTH POLAR SKUA, GULL-BILLED TERN, CASPIAN TERN, LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, BLUE GROSBEAK and shorebird migration.

The BLACK-CAPPED PETREL appeared on a pelagic trip to Block Canyon yesterday and another pelagic trip off Montauk last Saturday produced 7 CORY'S SHEARWATERS and a SOUTH POLAR SKUA.

BROWN PELICAN observations last week were 3 at Jones Beach West End on Monday, 2 at Oak Beach on Sunday and 1 at Robert Moses State Park Fire Island on Wednesday.

WHIMBRELS reported for the week were 1 at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn on Saturday, 1 at Cupsogue County Park on Thursday, 1 at Wolfe's Pond Park on Staten Island Thursday and 6 over the sea at Robert Moses State Park Fire Island on Thursday.

A GULL-BILLED TERN was still present at Mecox through Thursday and another bird was at the East Pond Jamaica Bay today. A CASPIAN TERN was seen at Heckscher State Park on Monday and several ROYAL TERNS were reported at Cupsogue on Monday and 11 more ROYAL TERNS were at this site on Thursday.

A LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was found today at Prospect Park in Brooklyn and the YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was still at the entrance area at Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Oakdale on Monday. Three BLUE GROSBEAKS were present at the Grumman site at Calverton on Monday.

Shorebirds at the East Pond Jamaica Bay today numbered about 300 birds of 8 species highlighted by 1 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER and 21 STILT SANDPIPERS. Seventeen species of shorebirds were noted on Thursday at Cupsogue. Total numbers were reported as not impressive and were highlighted by a WHIMBREL and 4 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS.

Other notable birds for the week were 2 NORTHERN BOBWHITE at a private golf course in Manhasset on Thursday, 1 AMERICAN BITTERN at Gilgo on Thursday, 2 LEAST BITTERNS at Prospect Park Brooklyn at the Wellhouse on Monday, 8 YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS at Soundview Park in the Bronx on Sunday, 1 CLIFF SWALLOW at Moriches Bay Inlet on Sunday, 3 more CLIFF SWALLOWS at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx on Monday, a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH at the cloverleaf on Ocean Parkway and the Meadowbrook Parkway Jones Beach on Monday and a BOBOLINK in Marine Park in Brooklyn last Saturday.

Tom Burke is away. To call in reports please call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126.

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, July 21, 2017

Green-Wood Hawks Update

The participants on last Sunday's "Birding in Peace" tour got to experience some fun fledgling Red-tailed Hawk antics. The Green-Wood Cemetery red-tailed “twins” are successfully fledged and out of the nest. I tracked them down through the alarm calls of several robins, jays and a Red-eyed Vireo. They were hanging out together on the top of a Weeping Beech near the corner of Cypress and Vine Avenues. They then flew around a bit crying for a fresh direct food delivery and made some awkward crash landings into the surrounding trees. The two didn't appear to venture much farther from the nest tree than a couple of hundred yards.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Treehugger Tuesday

From the website “Treehugger”:

19 U.S. aquariums ban plastic straws and bags, while promising to do more
Katherine Martinko (@feistyredhair) Business / Corporate Responsibility July 17, 2017

Going plastic-free is the most ocean-friendly choice.

People visit aquariums to celebrate marine species, which is why it is somewhat incongruous to see visitors using plastic straws, shopping bags, and other single-use disposable items that are terribly damaging to the oceans. If anyone should take a stand against plastic waste, it should be aquariums and their visitors.

Finally, it appears this dilemma is being resolved – or at least is on the road to improvement. A coalition of 19 U.S. aquariums, all members of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) that receive a total of 20 million visitors annually, have just announced that they will be phasing out certain single-use plastics, effective immediately. As of July 10th, straws and plastic bags are no longer handed out, and disposable plastic bottles will be greatly reduced or eliminated by 2020. Simultaneously, the aquariums will launch a campaign aimed at educating the public on how to use reusables.

EcoWatch quotes Shedd Aquarium President and CEO Dr. Bridget Coughin:

"Approximately 22 million pounds of plastic flows into the Great Lakes each year—in Lake Michigan alone, it is equivalent to 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with bottles. Small actions can turn into big solutions, and we believe the 24 million people in the United States who rely on this beautiful, massive resource for their drinking water, jobs and livelihoods want to be part of that wave of change. We look forward to working together in these commitments."

From the aquariums’ statement:

“[We] are taking action to greatly decrease our individual and collective plastic footprint. We’re doing this by collaborating with each other, and with our vendors and suppliers to make changes for the health of our ocean, rivers and lakes. These changes include offering products and packaging made of alternative materials, installing water refilling stations, and messaging to our visitors about the reason behind these changes. We also hope that by showcasing innovative alternatives to single-use plastic in our institutions, we can help increase demand for these products in the broader marketplace.”

These steps are admirable, though they do pale in comparison to measures taken earlier this year by the Vancouver Aquarium to ban all single-use plastics, from straws, bags, and plastic lids, to beverage bottles and disposable cutlery. The ACP’s rather vague mention of “reducing single-use plastic beverage bottles by December 1, 2020” caused me to raise an eyebrow. Can’t they do better than that?

Nevertheless, it’s a good start and one worth noting in the hopes that more institutions and individuals will catch on and take similar action.
...Read more

Monday, July 17, 2017

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, July 22, 2017 to Sunday, July 23, 2017:

Bedford Audubon Society
Sunday, July 23, 2017, 8:00am - 1:00pm
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Field Trip: Jamaica Bay with Naturalist Tait Johansson. Join Tait for high tide at the bay, which sends shorebirds in impressive numbers to the refuge’s East Pond. We should also see herons, egrets, Glossy Ibis, and many others!
Bring binoculars, lunch, sunscreen, plenty of cold drinks, and boots/footwear you don’t mind getting muddy.
Depart Bylane 6:45am or meet at Visitors Center at 8am.
Cost: Free
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Register with Susan at info@bedfordaudubon.org or 914.302.9713

**********

Gateway National Recreation Area
Sunday, July 23, 2017
Every Sunday Weekly from 06/25/2017 to 07/30/2017
Osprey Watch Guided Walk
Time: 10:00am to 11:30am
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fees: Free
Ranger guided walk on the Osprey.

**********

Green-Wood Cemetery
Sunday, July 23, 2017
Summer Birding Sundays
In July we should see the offspring of our resident red-tailed hawk bravely preparing to leave the nest. Warbler songs will be replaced by chirring Cicadas and the tweets of fledgling birds. Butterflies and dragonflies are abundant. By late-July, expect the arrival of the first southbound migrants.

You must register prior to the morning of the tour. Click here.

Grab a copy of our Bird Checklist before you begin. Comfortable footwear is recommended.
$10 for members of Green‑Wood and BHS/$15 for non-members.
Click here for our inclement weather policy.

**********

Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Sunday, July 23, 2017 - 8:00am
Cow Meadow Park
Parakeets and herons are finishing their last broods of the summer, and shorebirds are already migrating in numbers. We might get close looks at all of these, before exploring the nearby marsh.
Registration: 516-782-0293

Directions: Take the Meadowbrook south to Merrick Rd west, and immediately take the left fork for Mill Rd. At the end, merge left onto Main Street and head south. Meet at Cow Meadow Park, at the very southernmost end of Main Street.

**********

Littoral Society
Sunday, July 23, 2017, 10:00am - 12:30pm
Seaweeds, Seashells, and More
Hike the seashore during an outgoing tide with American Littoral Society naturalist, Mickey Maxwell Cohen, author of Adventures at the Beach, to look for marine life, coastal birds, and seaside plants. Binoculars, a magnifying glass and sun protection will be helpful.

Fort Tilden, Building 1 Directions:
Subway and 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. Check Sunday train schedules ahead of time. Ask driver to let you off at Ft. Tilden.
By car: From exit 11s on the Belt Parkway, head south and over the Marine Parkway Bridge (Gil Hodges Memorial). Stay on right and take the right ramp toward Breezy Point. Make a left into fort at the first light. Go to end and park by Bldg One or at the nearby Post Chapel.

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New York Botanical Garden
Saturdays, July 1–August 26, 11am – 12pm
Birds, Butterflies, and Dragonflies Tour
Summer is the season to observe gorgeous butterflies, mischievous dragonflies and the birds of the cool forests. The colorful, fragrant gardens and the vibrant lakes at NYBG attract beautiful avian creatures. Come observe summer’s greatest show of shows watching butterflies, dragonflies and birds at their best.

Meet at the Reflecting Pool at the Leon Levy Visitor Center
Included in All-Garden Pass
Get Tickets

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Weekly on Saturdays, until Jul 29, 2017
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

Sunday, July 23, 2017, 8:20am – 3:00pm
Croton Point Park
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Travel in comfort aboard Metro North to visit Croton Point Park, a beautiful 500-acre park on a peninsula on the Hudson River, about one hour north of the city. The park is rich in natural and human history - it has the oldest native american oyster shell middens in the northeast, revealing that it was inhabited as long as 7,000 years ago; today, the park has a wonderful mix of forest, wetlands, and grassland. The grasslands are atop a hill formed by a former landfill, and are home to hard-to-find breeding bird species such as indigo bunting, grasshopper sparrow, bobolink, and eastern meadowlark. The woodlands nearby are home to breeding great horned owl, willow flycatcher, and orchard oriole, as well as the more expected common breeders. Bring lunch for a picnic in one of the river-side pavilions. Limited to 20. Round-trip Metro North fare ($20.50) not included in trip price. $50 (35)
Click here to register

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, July 22, 2017, 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Dragonfly Study Series (Part 3) @ Blue Heron Park
Participants will explore portions of the bluebelt wetlands within Blue Heron Park to see how this civil engineering project works to support local dragonfly populations. Designed as an alternative to costly, unsightly sewer projects, the bluebelt system of Staten Island has proven to offer critical habitat for wildlife on the island. Dragonflies have taken advantage of the wetlands systems and none so much as that found in Blue Heron Park. Participants will meet at the Blue Heron Park Nature Center at 222 Poillon Avenue. For more information call Seth Wollney at (718) 619-5909.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Head to the park to join bird walks led by experts from the NYC Audubon! Bird walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, July 15, 2017

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, July 14, 2017:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Jul. 14, 2017
* NYNY1707.14

- Birds mentioned
Snow Goose
HARLEQUIN DUCK
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Wild Turkey
CORY'S SHEARWATER
GREAT SHEARWATER
BROWN PELICAN
Black Vulture
American Oystercatcher
Short-billed Dowitcher
Lesser Black-backed Gull
GULL-BILLED TERN
Royal Tern
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
YELLOW-THROATED 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

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

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, July 14th 2017 at 10:30pm. The highlights of today's tape are HARLEQUIN DUCK, shearwaters, BROWN PELICAN, GULL-BILLED TERN, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER.

A female HARLEQUIN DUCK was found at Montauk last Saturday. Also at Montauk today a flock of about 40 shearwaters was noted with one identified as CORY'S and the balance thought to be GREAT SHEARWATERS.

An interesting flight of BROWN PELICANS occurred this week with reports extending from the Fire Island Inlet to Cupsogue County Park. The sightings are as follows: 3 on Monday at Captree State Park, 1 at Cupsogue County Park on Tuesday, 3 at the Old Inlet at Bellport on Thursday, 3 at Captree and also at Fire Island Inlet on Thursday. We of course are uncertain about duplication of these records.

Two GULL-BILLED TERNS were seen yesterday at Goethal's Bridge Pond on Staten Island.

A family of two adult and two young RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were discovered on Monday at Connetquot River State Park in Oakdale. Also in Oakdale last Saturday a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was found at Bayard Cutting Arboretum.

Other interesting birds seen through the week are as follows: the injured SNOW GOOSE continues at Ocean Marine Preserve. Another SNOW GOOSE was found at Sound Avenue farm Riverhead last Saturday, a SURF SCOTER was at Great Kills Park Staten Island last Saturday and a BUFFLEHEAD was at the same location all week, a WILD TURKEY with two young was at the unusual location of Cupsogue County Park on Tuesday.

The shorebird season begins to heat up with 200 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS at Cupsogue on Tuesday and two AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS were seen at Randall's Island off Manhattan on Tuesday.

Five LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS and two ROYAL TERNS were at Cupsogue on Tuesday and finally a BLACK VULTURE was seen Tuesday at the North Fork Preserve in Riverhead.

Tom Burke will be away next week please call in reports to Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126.

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

- End transcript
...Read more

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Signs of Summer

There were a couple of signs during Sunday's tour that summer had, without question, arrived.

After a brief introduction under Green-Wood Cemetery's main arches I walked the early morning birding group the nearly 1 mile distance to the Red-tailed Hawk nest in the area called "The Flats". As I had anticipated, one of the juvenile hawks had left the nest sometime over the holiday weekend. Red-tails lay their eggs over several days, so usually one offspring is a bit more developed than the other. The one remaining on the nest looked healthy, huge and ready to take its maiden flight. We watched for several minutes as it flapped from a perch above and to the right of the nest. Eventually it flew a couple of yards down onto the nest, then flew up to a branch on the other side of the nest. Lift off for this little one seemed imminent, until one of the adults flew into the nest with a breakfast treat. The young bird then spent the rest of the time back in the nest eating what appeared to be a squirrel. When we left to continue the morning walk it was still chowing down. There were several robins making alarm calls from areas a short distance from the nest tree. I assumed the other juvenile hawk was nearby, but we never managed to find it.

Several Barn Swallows, Chimney Swifts and a decent sized flock of Cedar Waxwings were swooping over the Crescent Water, catching insects. Unlike the swallows & swifts, waxwings are generally seen foraging in fruiting scrubs and trees. I suppose there was such an abundance of protein flying over the small body of water that they couldn't resist joining in with their more agile avian friends. While we were watching the waxwings someone asked me about a "bird" song emanating from somewhere up on the hillside. It wasn't a bird, but actually our first cicada of the season. The slow pulsing, churring sounds was likely a Linne's Cicada. Within the next couple of weeks we should be hearing the songs of several more species of cricket, cicada and katydid. Wil Hershberger and Lang Elliott have a great website called "The Song of Insects". I recommend checking it out.

**********

Location: Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn
Date: Sunday, July 9, 2017
Species: 32 species

Double-crested Cormorant (1. Flying over entrance at end of tour.)
Great Blue Heron (1.)
Great Egret (1.)
Green Heron (1.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Laughing Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Monk Parakeet
Eastern Phoebe (1.)
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Blue Jay
Barn Swallow
White-breasted Nuthatch (1.)
House Wren
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Chipping Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
House Sparrow
...Read more

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Treehugger Tuesday

From Mother Nature Network:

The growing pains of China's massive reforestation project
Matt Hickman July 5, 2017, 7:23 a.m.

70 million acres is impressive, but the formula has one flaw.

China will gladly accept any superlative you throw at it these days, applicable to pretty much anything: longest, fastest, tallest, biggest, baddest, most expensive, even weirdest.

And now China can also lay claim to a new title: the largest reforestation project.

Launched in 1999, the Grain-for-Green program is nothing short of remarkable. Over the last decade alone, the Chinese government has spent $100 billion replanting trees across large swaths of land where, once upon a time, forests were cleared to make way for agricultural operations. Covering more than 1,600 counties spread across 25 provinces, municipalities and regions, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) notes that the effort has impacted a staggering 15 million households and 60 million farmers.

About 70 million acres of land — a combined area roughly the size of New York and Pennsylvania — has been converted to forest though Grain-for-Green. And there’s more to come. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, Premier Li Keqiang recently announced plans to convert a swath of farmland the size of Delaware back into forests and grasslands.

Places like Hongya County, a rural outpost in the Sichuan province, are now nearly unrecognizable: sylvan, lush and more prosperous than a decade ago.

But what about the farmers? What good does reforestation do for impoverished agrarian communities?

As it turns out, plenty.

Grain-for-Green isn’t just a countrywide tree-planting initiative. The program aims to curb environmental degradation — namely catastrophic flooding — brought on by soil erosion, which was caused by deforestation and the creation of sloped cropland in environmentally sensitive areas. In an effort to alleviate rural poverty, farmers are indeed receiving green — in the form of much-needed grants and subsidies — for allowing their land, much of it barren and unproductive to begin with, to be converted back to forests. Many farmers, though not all, are finding it more financially lucrative to plant trees than to harvest grains.

Almost everyone wins: the environment, the Chinese government and once-destitute, flood-prone rural communities that have benefitted from the seemingly unlimited largesse of the world’s largest reforestation program, which has seen the total amount of forested land across China rise from 17 percent to 22 percent since the effort began.

Flood mitigation and soil retention levels also have climbed significantly.

“I prefer how it is now,” Zhang Xiugui, a 67-year-old grain farmer- turned-cedar tree steward in Hongya County, told the Christian Science Monitor. “The mountains are green and the water is blue.”

Still, native wildlife is one crucial element that hasn’t benefitted under Grain-for-Green. And monoculture — the planting of a single species of plant in lieu of a biodiversity-friendly array of them — is largely to blame.

A sustainability success story ... but where are the birds and the bees?

As numerous critics and experts have pointed out, the size and scale of reforestation under Grain-for-Green is commendable but the program’s early tendency to have farmers plant monoculture forests — bamboo forests, eucalyptus forests and Japanese cedar forests, specifically — is a regrettable misstep.

Before China’s verdant hillsides were razed to give way to cropland during China's Great Leap Forward of the 1950s and '60s, these forests were home to a number of different trees, which, in turn, fostered more biodiversity. These new forests, although impressive in size and carbon sequestering abilities, are failing to attract native animals. The Christian Science Monitor notes that Grain-for-Green forests "provide few habitats for China’s many threatened species of animals and smaller plants."

In fact, a 2012 ecosystem assessment found biodiversity across the country to be on a slight decline, about 3.1 percent. Not a dramatic figure, to be sure, but one that has triggered red flags within the scientific community.

A more recent study published in September 2016 blames the planting of monoculture forests as a leading factor for downward trending biodiversity in China.

“The land under the Grain-for-Green Program is in what’s typically called ‘working landscapes,’ or landscapes which support the livelihood of rural communities,” Hua Fangyuan, the study's lead author and a research fellow at the University of Cambridge, tells the Christian Science Monitor. “Although these landscapes are outside protected areas, there is increasing realization among the conservation community that they serve important roles for biodiversity conservation.”

Studying birds and bees — key indicators of biodiversity — across recently forested tracts of land across the Sichuan province, Hua and her colleagues found cropland to actually be more supportive of biodiversity than the forests replacing it. True monoculture forests with just one species of tree were largely devoid of birds and bees while forests with a small handful of tree species fared a bit better. Bees, however, were more abundant in non-restored farmland than in the forests, even the newly planted mixed forests.

Writes Michael Holtz for the Christian Science Monitor:

“The study found that forests planted under the program had 17 to 61 percent fewer bird species than native forests. The reason is most likely that these new forests don't have the diversity of resources, such as food and nesting habitats, necessary to support the ecological needs of many species.”

“We call them green deserts,” says Wu Jiawei, a local conservationist and birdwatcher who contributed to the study. “The fear is that some species will disappear and never come back.”

'China can do better'

With a lack of biodiversity raising alarms among conservationists and the scientific community, the Chinese government has largely taken to denial and instead redirected attention to the myriad of environmental benefits of Grain-for-Green.

Contradicting numerous studies including the one headed by Hua, an emailed statement provided to the Christian Science Monitor by the State Forestry Administration claims that biodiversity has improved in the areas most dramatically improved/impacted by Grain-for-Green, such as the Sichuan province. The statement makes clear that Grain-to-Green “protects and improves the living environment for wildlife" while noting that monoculture forests that have largely come to define the program were an early oversight and that more recently planted forests contain a diverse array of trees species.

“If the Chinese government is willing to expand the scope of the program, restoring native forests is, without doubt, the best approach for biodiversity," Hua said in a press statement released upon publication of the study. "But even within the current scope of the program, our analysis shows there are economically feasible ways to restore forests while also improving biodiversity."

With China throwing its full weight behind an array of environmental initiatives (an aggressive push toward renewable energy being another) in a large-scale effort to mend its Earth- scarring mistakes of the past and transform itself into what President Xi Jiping calls an “ecological civilization for the 21st century,” many continue to worry that biodiversity concerns will continue to be left in the lurch.

“Now that we have the political will to restore China’s forest landscape, why aren’t we doing it more properly?” ponders Hua. “There is this missed potential. China can do better.”
...Read more

Monday, July 10, 2017

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, July 15, 2017 to Sunday, July 16, 2017:

Eastern Long Island Audubon Society
Sunday, July 16, 2017 at 8am
Dune Road Exploration
Leader: Eileen Schwinn
Meet at TIANA BEACH BAYSIDE PARKING LOT, Hampton Bays.

Since SuperStorm Sandy, the Tiana Beach bayside has been a very welcome stop for resident birds, as well as early southward-bound migrating shore birds. Join us for a long stay at low tide, and perhaps, an exploration along other Hot Spots of Dune Road, Hampton Bays. Bring sunscreen, water, and a hat (although there is a covered pavilion to view from, if necessary). Town of Southampton Temporary Parking Permits will be available to non-residents. For more information, please contact Eileen Schwinn at beachmed@optonline.net for more information. Call: 516-662-7751 the day of the Field Trip. Rain or shine!

**********

Fresh Kills Park Alliance (Staten Island)
Sunday, July 16, 2017, 12:30pm
Kayak Tour

Visit normally closed sections of Freshkills Park for a kayaking experience like no other! This excursion along the park’s waterways will take you into the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge and up close to some of the park’s varied wildlife.
Read More
Sign Up at EventBrite

**********

Gateway National Recreation Area
Sunday, July 2, 2017
Every Sunday Weekly from 06/25/2017 to 07/30/2017
Osprey Watch Guided Walk
Time: 10:00am to 11:30am
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fees: Free
Ranger guided walk on the Osprey.

Saturday, July 15, 2017, 10:00am to 11:30am
Creepy Crawlies
The itsy bitsy spider is fun to learn about, and the insects are too. Join us as we part-ner with NYC Urban Rangers to hear all about creepy crawlies during this interac-tive family-friendly program which in-cludes a short walk. You may wish to bring water and sun and insect protection.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

**********

Green-Wood Cemetery
Sunday, July 16, 2017
Summer Birding Sundays
In July we should see the offspring of our resident red-tailed hawk bravely preparing to leave the nest. Warbler songs will be replaced by chirring Cicadas and the tweets of fledgling birds. Butterflies and dragonflies are abundant. By late-July, expect the arrival of the first southbound migrants.

You must register prior to the morning of the tour. Click here.

Grab a copy of our Bird Checklist before you begin. Comfortable footwear is recommended.
$10 for members of Green‑Wood and BHS/$15 for non-members.
Click here for our inclement weather policy.

**********

New York Botanical Garden
Saturdays, July 1–August 26, 11am – 12pm
Birds, Butterflies, and Dragonflies Tour
Summer is the season to observe gorgeous butterflies, mischievous dragonflies and the birds of the cool forests. The colorful, fragrant gardens and the vibrant lakes at NYBG attract beautiful avian creatures. Come observe summer’s greatest show of shows watching butterflies, dragonflies and birds at their best.

Meet at the Reflecting Pool at the Leon Levy Visitor Center
Included in All-Garden Pass
Get Tickets

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Weekly on Saturdays, until Jul 29, 2017
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

Sunday, July 16, 2017, 8:00am – 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. $36 (25)
Click here to register

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NYC H2O
Saturday, July 15, 2017, 10am
Ridgewood Reservoir Community Tours
NYC H2O is offering free tours of the Ridgewood Reservoir to community members and the public.

The Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park is a 50+ acre natural oasis that straddles the border of Brooklyn and Queens. Built in 1859 to supply the once independent City of Brooklyn with high quality water, it became obsolete with the addition of new reservoirs in the Catskills in the 1950’s and was decommissioned in the 1980’s. Since then, nature took its course in a perfect case study of ecological succession. A lush and dense forest has grown in its two outside basins while a freshwater pond with waterfowl sits in the middle basin.
Please make a reservation here.

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, July 15, 2017, 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Dragonfly Study Series (Part 2) @ High Rock Park
Habitat Specialists at High Rock Park. High Rock Park hosts some unique aquatic habitats. Freshwater wetlands, swamps and ephemeral kettle host an assortment of associated specialized dragonflies. Participants will visit the diverse wetlands within High Rock to view, investigate and discuss the unique dragonflies found in the different areas. Participants will meet at the High Rock Park parking area atop Nevada Avenue.
For more information call Seth Wollney at (718) 619-5909.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, July 15, 2017
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Head to the park to join bird walks led by experts from the NYC Audubon! Bird walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park.
Free!

White Island Birding Excursion (Advanced) at Marine Park, Brooklyn
10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Explore the waters of Gerritsen Creek and paddle by this special island. Prior canoe experience required. Ages 8 years and older. Registration is required.
Free!

Sunday, July 16, 2017
Birding: Hawk Watch at Hoyt Avenue North and 19th Street
1:00 p.m.–2:30 p.m.
Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle.
Free!

Nature Walk at Peter Stuyvesant Statue (in Stuyvesant Square), Manhattan
4:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
In addition to various flora and fauna, our park is frequented by squirrels, pigeons, and the occasional falcon or hawk.
Free!
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Saturday, July 08, 2017

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, July 7, 2017:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* July 7, 2017
* NYNY1707.07

- Birds Mentioned

SOUTH POLAR SKUA+
SANDWICH TERN+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Greater Yellowlegs
“Western” Willet
Lesser Yellowlegs
Red Knot
Stilt Sandpiper
Dunlin
Least Sandpiper
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Black Tern
Roseate Tern
ARCTIC TERN
Royal Tern
Cory’s Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
Great Shearwater
MANX SHEARWATER
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel
BROWN PELICAN
LEAST BITTERN
Cattle Egret
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Blue-headed Vireo
Magnolia Warbler
YELLOW-THROATED 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

Compilers: Tom Burke and 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, July 7, 2017 at 8:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are BROWN PELICAN, SOUTH POLAR SKUA, MANX SHEARWATER, SANDWICH and ARCTIC TERNS, LEAST BITTERN, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER and RED-HEADED WOODPECKER.

On July 4th two birders on Fire Island had something extra to celebrate when they spotted 2 BROWN PELICANS moving west along the ocean not too far offshore.

The regularly scheduled whale-watching boat from Montauk last Sunday went about 30 miles south of the Point – besides Fin and Minke Whales, birds seen included about 80 CORY’S, 40 GREAT, 25 SOOTY, and 4 MANX SHEARWATERS, 120 WILSON’S STORM-PETRELS and an apparent SOUTH POLAR SKUA.

The flats at Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes continue to produce interesting water-related birds – the young SANDWICH TERN found there June 29th was still around the mussel beds by the inlet Saturday, while ARCTIC TERNS during the past week included 1 Saturday and Monday and 2 on Tuesday, all immatures. Other TERNS at Cupsogue included 2-3 BLACK and up to 6 each of ROSEATE and ROYAL, with a GULL-BILLED reported there Sunday. On Saturday a peak of 7 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS was noted there. Among the shorebirds, most interesting was a STILT SANDPIPER last Saturday as the shorebird variety continues to increase, these also including a “WESTERN” WILLET, both LESSER and GREATER YELLOWLEGS, LEAST and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, a few DUNLIN and varying numbers of RED KNOTS, and flocks of SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, included some of the “hendersoni” interior race.

Another SANDWICH TERN, or perhaps the same one moving east, was noted on Mecox Bay Wednesday along with a BLACK and 3 ROSEATE TERNS.

TERNS at Nickerson Beach Park in Lido Beach last Saturday included 2 GULL-BILLED, 1 ROSEATE and 1 ROYAL.

An ICELAND GULL was noted again in the Smith Point County Park area last Saturday.

A LEAST BITTERN was still being seen around Prospect Park Lake yesterday, and a CATTLE EGRET was reported over Staten Island Wednesday flying southwest towards Great Kills Park.

A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was still present at Connetquot River State Park Wednesday, and most interesting was an adult RED-HEADED seen with an immature bird at Muscoot Farm near Somers in northern Westchester County last Monday.

A YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was still singing at Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River yesterday, and a singing but wandering male was spotted again Tuesday at Connetquot River State Park.

Among the few seasonal floaters noted this week were a BLUE-HEADED VIREO and a MAGNOLIA WARBLER at Dreier-Offerman Park in Brooklyn Tuesday.

For the next 2 weeks we are happy to note that Tony Lauro will be doing the RBA; please call Tony with reports at 631-734-4216.

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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Friday, July 07, 2017

Friday's Foto

A large wader of the stilt family, the American Avocet is a rare but fairly regular visitor to New York City. This bold, black and white long-legged bird has stunning cinnamon colored head and neck plumage during the breeding season. More often than not, it is seen around NYC in non-breeding plumage when the head and neck are gray. Using its unusual upturned bill to sweep back and forth across the water surface, it uses touch to catch small crustaceans and insects, its primary diet.

Their preferred habitats are beaches, flats, prairie ponds and shallow lakes. Avocets breed in the western Great Plains, from Saskatchewan and Alberta southward through Montana and the Dakotas to eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle. They also breed in isolated wetland areas in the arid western states, and along coast of California and Texas. Some birds breed on the Atlantic Coast and others breed in central Mexico. They mostly winter on the southern Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Mexico and the United States. Their precocial chicks can move around right after hatching. Swimming and feeding themselves shortly after hatching, they begin to fly at about a month old.

Due to this species extremely large range and stable population, the IUCN lists their conservation status as "Least Concern".

The American Avocet’s scientific name, Recurvirostra americana, means curved backwards; America.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, July 8, 2017 to Sunday, July 9, 2017:

Bedford Audubon Society
Sunday, July 9, 2017, 10am – 11am
Butterflies at Muscoot Farm
Where: Muscoot Farm, 51 NY-100, Katonah, NY 10536
Join Naturalist Tait Johansson and the Friends of Muscoot Farm for this nature walk. Early summer is a prime time for a butterfly walk on the beautiful grounds of Muscoot Farm. Bring binoculars, close-focusing ones if possible. Cost: Free. Level of difficulty: Easy. Register with Susan at info@bedfordaudubon.org or 914.302.9713.

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Feminist Bird Club
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Chance Encounters, by Corey Rubin
Opening Reception/ West Loop Walk - Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

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Gateway National Recreation Area
Sunday, July 2, 2017
Every Sunday Weekly from 06/25/2017 to 07/30/2017
Osprey Watch Guided Walk
Time: 10:00am to 11:30am
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fees: Free
Ranger guided walk on the Osprey.

Saturday, July 8, 2017
Full Buck Moon Hike
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fees: Free
Night-time nature walk.
View Details

Sunday, July 9, 2017
Full Moon Lantern Tours
Time: 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Location: Fort Wadsworth
Join a ranger to explore Fort Wadsworth by moonlight.
View Details


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Green-Wood Cemetery
June and July from 6-7:30am (except July 2nd),
Sundays August 6th and 20th from 6:30-8am

Summer Birding Sundays
In July we should see the offspring of our resident red-tailed hawk bravely preparing to leave the nest. Warbler songs will be replaced by chirring Cicadas and the tweets of fledgling birds. Butterflies and dragonflies are abundant. By late-July, expect the arrival of the first southbound migrants.

You must register prior to the morning of the tour. Click here.

Grab a copy of our Bird Checklist before you begin. Comfortable footwear is recommended.
$10 for members of Green‑Wood and BHS/$15 for non-members.
Click here for our inclement weather policy.

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Staten Island Nesting Birds – Purple Martins Plus
Leader: Howard Fischer
Registrar: Karen Asakawa — avocet501@gmail.com or 347-306-0690
Registration opens: Monday, June 26
Ride: $20

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New York Botanical Garden
Saturdays, July 1–August 26, 11am – 12pm
Birds, Butterflies, and Dragonflies Tour
Summer is the season to observe gorgeous butterflies, mischievous dragonflies and the birds of the cool forests. The colorful, fragrant gardens and the vibrant lakes at NYBG attract beautiful avian creatures. Come observe summer’s greatest show of shows watching butterflies, dragonflies and birds at their best.

Meet at the Reflecting Pool at the Leon Levy Visitor Center
Included in All-Garden Pass
Get Tickets

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New York City Audubon Society
Weekly on Saturdays, until Jul 29, 2017
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

Saturday, July 8, 2017, 6:30am – 1:00pm
Breeding Birds of Nickerson Beach and Marine Nature Study Area
Guide: Tod Winston
Join Tod Winston in exploring two popular birding spots that are a little hard to get to for car-less New Yorkers. Departing early to beat the heat, we’ll first seek out breeding common and least terns, American oystercatchers, piping plovers, and black skimmers at Nickerson Beach. Then we’ll walk the boardwalks of the nearby Marine Nature Study Area in search of nesting saltmarsh and seaside sparrows, as well as osprey, herons, egrets, and shorebirds. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $94 (66)
Click here to register

Saturday, July 8, 2017, 8am – 5pm
Breeding Birds of the Hudson Highlands
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Join Gabriel Willow on a day-long trip to some of the most exciting & beautiful birding locations in the Hudson Valley - Doodletown Rd., Constitution Marsh, and Indian Brook Farm (in Fahnestock State Park). We'll look for uncommon breeding warbler specialties at Doodletown, such as cerulean, hooded, blue-winged, golden-winged, and worm-eating warblers; We will then head to the Constitution Marsh Audubon Sanctuary to explore a brackish marsh along the Hudson River. They have a beautiful boardwalk and are home to breeding wood duck, bald eagle, least bittern, marsh wren, and more. After a picnic lunch by the banks of Indian Brook, we will drive to Indian Brook Farm, which has extensive grasslands and highbush blueberry stands. These habitats have breeding Field and savannah sparrows, bobolinks, and indigo buntings. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $129 (90)
Click here to register

Sunday, July 9, 2017, 8am – 3pm
Birding Gems of Staten Island: Freshkills Park
Guides: Cliff Hagen with NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
Meet at the Staten Island Ferry and start your trip with a journey across the Upper Bay! This is a special opportunity to see Freshkills Park in transition from what was once the world’s largest landfill into an expansive park. Currently closed to the general public, the Park is home to rolling grasslands, tidal marshes, successional woodlands and a freshwater pond system, which host an array of breeding birds, butterflies, mammals, frogs, and turtles. Grasshopper sparrows, osprey, yellow warblers, and blue grosbeaks nest alongside wrens, blackbirds, orioles and shorebirds. Wading birds feed on the mudflats at low tide while hawks and vultures soar above. On calm, sunny days, one can expect to find nearly two dozen species of butterflies as they nectar among the grasses and woodlands. Transport by passenger van on S.I. included. Limited to 12. $64 (45)
Click here to register

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, July 8, 2017 @ 11:30am – 1:00pm
Dragonfly Study Series (Part 1) @ Long Pond Park
Join us for an hour long “dragonfly watch” at Long Pond Park. Long Pond hosts the greatest diversity of dragonflies of any single location on Staten Island. Participants will be able to study a variety of dragonflies and their particular behaviors. There will be opportunity for discussing basic dragonfly identification and biology. Participants will meet at the corner of Page Avenue and Academy Place near Public School 6, the Corporal Allan F. Kivlehan School located at 555 Page Avenue. For more information call Seth Wollney at (718) 619-5909.

Sunday, July 9, 2017 @ 11:00am – 1:00pm
Greenbelt – Meiner Dam and Moses Mountain @ Greenbelt Nature Center
Join Hillel Lofaso for a cool summer walk along the white Buck’s Hollow trail to the Meisner Dam and then Moses Mt. Bring beverage and snack. Some minimal wet walking. Meet at the Greenbelt Nature Center parking lot. We go in all weather. For more information, phone Hillel at (718) 477-0545.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Head to the park to join bird walks led by experts from the NYC Audubon! Bird walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park.
Free!

Sunday, July 9, 2017
Summer Birding at 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.

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Young Birders Club
Sunday July 9, 2017 - Rain date 7/16/17
Nickerson Beach (Nassau County, Long Island)
Trip Leader: Josh Cantor

This promises to be a very exciting trip! We'll be looking for breeding Common and Least Terns, American Oystercatchers, Piping Plovers, and Black Skimmers, along with other shorebirds on the beach. If you enjoy taking pictures of birds, you should have some really fantastic opportunities on this trip!

Watch your Inbox for directions and details on meeting time and location.

Plan to bring binoculars and a camera!

Trip Registration Form due by 6/30/17.
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Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope