Saturday, September 30, 2017

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, September 29, 2017:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Sept. 29, 2017
* NYNY1709.29

- Birds Mentioned
BROWN BOOBY+
LARK BUNTING+
YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Mute Swan
Eastern Whip-poor-will
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN
BROWN PELICAN
AMERICAN AVOCET
American Golden-Plover
Upland Sandpiper
Whimbrel
Stilt Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER
Pectoral Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Caspian Tern
Royal Tern
Common Nighthawk
WESTERN KINGBIRD
Philadelphia Vireo
Orange-crowned Warbler
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
Vesper Sparrow
LARK SPARROW
Nelson’s Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dickcissel

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

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to 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, September 29, 2017 at 9:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are BROWN BOOBY, LARK BUNTING, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD, AMERICAN WHITE and BROWN PELICANS, AMERICAN AVOCET, BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER, WESTERN KINGBIRD, CLAY-COLORED and LARK SPARROWS, and more.

Though it was a great week for birds, it was a sad week for birders, marked by the passing Wednesday of Bob Kurtz due to severe illness. A premier birder on Long Island for several decades. Bobby was an avid hawk watcher, loved to pursue unusual birds, and, most importantly, was a great friend for many of us. He will surely be missed.

Perhaps Bob’s karma had something to do with this week’s nice rarities. Certainly unique for our downstate area is a BROWN BOOBY first spotted on Lake Montauk on Wednesday and continuing there today. The BOOBY seems to spend much of its time perched on the tall mast of a white sailboat called the Maui, this visible on the south side of the Star Island entrance road off West Lake Drive. The boat can also be seen from strategic spots along West Lake Drive. The bird does periodically fly around the lake and was seen nicely in flight from South Lake Drive this afternoon. A rubber skiff tied up to the Maui might indicate it could be getting under way soon, so the BOOBY might need a new roost.

On Thursday morning a female-type LARK BUNTING was found at Robert Moses State Park, and it was still present today. The bird has been frequenting the brushy area between the East end of Field 2 and the adjacent volleyball courts, where it mostly remains hidden but does occasionally pop up in the pines surrounding the brush and may stay visible for a short period of time. Patience is definitely needed.

A third great find this week was an adult male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD discovered last Sunday at Floyd Bennett Field. The BLACKBIRD stayed in the area of the petting zoo, now closed for the season, near the soccer fields. It was seen there again Monday but not thereafter. Also at Floyd Bennett were a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW for both Sunday and Monday near the BLACKBIRD and a WESTERN KINGBIRD by the model plane field Monday.

Also exciting were 2 BROWN PELICANS resting on the inside of Jones Inlet Sunday morning, eventually pushed off by boaters. And today an AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN flew north over Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in the early evening; hopefully it might settle in among the MUTE SWANS gathered on the East Pond, as has happened before. This week on the East Pond an AMERICAN AVOCET was present, usually at the north end, at least to Wednesday, and other shorebirds this week featured 6 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS last Sunday, a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER Wednesday along with 2 GOLDENS, and a few continuing STILT, WHITE-RUMPED, PECTORAL and WESTERN SANDPIPERS and CASPIAN TERNS.

A WHIMBREL was at Jones Beach West End Sunday to Wednesday, an UPLAND SANDPIPER was reported from Sunken Meadow State Park Monday and Tuesday, and up to 10 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS were still at Santapogue Creek in West Babylon Thursday.

A CASPIAN TERN was at Cupsogue County Park Sunday, with 2 at Sagg Pond in Bridgehampton Tuesday, and over 60 ROYAL TERNS were counted at Brooklyn’s Plumb Beach Wednesday.

An EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL was a surprise find at Coney Island Creek last Saturday.

A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW in Central Park’s north end last Friday was followed by a VESPER SPARROW there Saturday, another CLAY-COLORED was at Gilgo Sunday, and a LARK SPARROW was at Captree Island Tuesday. Other SPARROWS including NELSON’S, LINCOLN’S and WHITE-CROWNED are also arriving.

The departing WARBLERS are still moving through in decent numbers, including ORANGE-CROWNED, with 1 on Governor’s Island Monday and in Central Park Tuesday, and such species as COMMON NIGHTHAWK, PHILADELPHIA VIREO, DICKCISSEL and other good seasonal finds also continue.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734 4126 or call Tom Burke at (914) 967-4922 and leave a message.

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, September 26, 2017

Treehugger Tuesday

From Mother Nature Network:

Sea turtles may be edging back from the brink of extinction

September 25, 2017
Christian Cotroneo

A sea turtle released back into the waters of Jekyll Island
Photo: Georgia Sea Turtle Center/Facebook

Giant sea turtles may live to photobomb another day.

In fact, their numbers, according to a study published this week in Science Advances, look to be bucking a decades-long downward trend.

For the analysis, researchers at Aristotle University in Greece looked at large turtles in 60 regions around the world — and found a surprising surge in their numbers.

The study credited the upswing to effective measures for protecting eggs and nesting females, as well as fewer turtles being caught in fishing nets.

"There’s a positive sign at the end of the story," lead author Antonios Mazaris told SFGate. "We should be more optimistic about our efforts in society."

While it’s a positive development for the beleaguered animals, they’re hardly out of hot water. Among the seven species of sea turtles in the world, only one isn’t listed as endangered.

The chief culprits? Habitat loss, plastics in the ocean, commercial fishing nets and, yes, climate change.

Perhaps their comeback is a chubby middle finger to the naysayers — the kind of in-your-face sea turtles are famed for.

Take that, sixth mass extinction.

And go ahead, keep taking pictures. Because, for some reason or other, these giants — some can weigh more than 1,000 pounds — have a special flair for surprising us.

Especially when we’re trying to take a picture.
...Read more

Monday, September 25, 2017

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, September 30, 2017 to Sunday, October 1, 2017:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, September 30, 2017, 12 pm – 1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a birdwatching walk and learn about Prospect Park’s magnificent array of birds and how to identify them!

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, September 30, 2017, 7:15am
Prospect Park Saturday Walk
Leader: Dennis Hrehowsik
Meet at Ocean/Parkside Avenues, “The Pergola” at 7:15am
No registration necessary.

Sunday, October 1, 2017, 8:00am
Green-wood Cemetery
Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: early sparrows, woodpeckers, beginning winter species, raptors
Meet: 8:00 am at East gate entrance 20th Street/Prospect Park West, http://tinyurl.com/EastGateGWC
Subway: “F” or “G” trains to Prospect Park /15th St station, walk 3 blocks west
Please review our general trip information and guidelines on this page.

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Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Sunday, October 1, 2017, 9:00am
Caumsett State Park
We will explore the fields and woods of Caumsett, looking for the last migrant warblers and the first migrant sparrows. Bring your walking shoes - we might cover a big area!
Registration: 516-782-0293

Directions: Take West Neck Rd north from downtown Huntington for 5 miles. The entrance to the park is on the left, 3/4 mi past the causeway to Lloyd's Neck, at which point the road is called Lloyd Harbor Rd. State Park fees may apply. Meet in the parking area.

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center
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
Saturdays, September 2–November 25, 8-9:30am
Van Cortlandt Park Bird Walks
Guides: NYC Audubon 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, October 1, 2017, 9:30am – 10:30am
Queens Botanical Garden Bird Walks
Guide: NYC Audubon with Queens Botanical Garden
Explore Queens Botanical Garden in search of migrant songbirds and learn about the valuable resources that the Garden offers birds and other wildlife. Register for one date or the whole series of five free walks (walk-ins welcome!). Binoculars available. Limited to 25. Appropriate for all ages. To register, email info@queensbotanical.org or visit www.queensbotanical.org. Free with Garden admission

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North Shore Audubon Society
Saturday, September 30, 2017, 8am – 12pm
Hume Estate
NOTE: 8am start time.
If you wish to start later and catch up, please contact trip leader in advance.

See "Walk locations" for directions. Coordinates are to driveway that you need to turn north on.
Wear water-resistant footwear, bring binoculars and drinking water. Wear long pants and socks so you do not touch poison ivy.
Leader: Barbara - (516) 628-9022

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Sunday, October 1, 2017, 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Neighborhood Nature Series – Annadale Green
There is nature in every neighborhood on Staten Island and Protectors president, Cliff Hagen, is excited to visit different locations across the island to explore and enjoy the nature at our doorsteps. Participants will meet in the center of town, Annadale Green, at the intersection of Annadale Road and Jefferson Boulevard and North Railroad Street. We will walk the local streets and watch for the readying activity of squirrels and blue jays, search for late migrating birds, butterflies and dragonflies and try to identify aged trees based on bark, colorful foliage and leaf litter.
For more information call Cliff Hagen at 718-313-8591 or email him at chagen72@gmail.com

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, October 1, 2017
Hempstead Lake State Park
From the Southern State Parkway, take Exit 18 (Eagle Avenue) south to Field 3 (use second park entrance and make an immediate left turn.)
Directions via Google Maps

Bird walks led by a member of SSAS are conducted nearly every Sunday morning from late August through early June. Walks are open to the public and are free of charge. We especially encourage youngsters to attend.
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.


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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Join NYC Audubon on birding walks through Van Cortlandt Park to discover wildlife happenings in the park.
Free!

Greenbelt on the Go: Wonderful Birds of Wolfe’s Pond Park at Comfort Station (in Wolfe's Pond Park), Staten Island
9:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Wolfe’s Pond Park offers habitats ranging from beaches to woodlands which attract a good variety of migrating birds.
Free!

Discovery Walks for Families: Beginning Birders - The North Woods at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Why do birds flock to Central Park every spring and fall? We’ll find out as we explore Central Park’s woodlands, and learn the basics of bird identification.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a bird-watching walk and learn about Prospect Park's magnificent array of birds and how to identify them!
Free!

Sunday, October 1, 2017
Bird Walks with New York City Audubon at Queens Botanical Garden, Queens
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Spot and identify creatures of flight and learn how Queens Botanical Garden provides important resources for birds— like water, shelter, and insects to eat.

Birding: Fall Migration at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Our Urban Park Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle.
Free!

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Wild Bird Fund
Saturday, September 30, 2017, 9:00am - 11:00am
A Walk on the Wild Side
It's time for Autumn - which means pumpkins, changing leaves, and migrating birds! Please join WBF member and artist/naturalist Alan Messer for an early Autumn Migration bird walk on September 30 (Rain Date, October 1). Join Alan as we search for fall warblers, vireos, thrushes, flycatchers and wrens. We'll be looking up from Belvedere Castle for falcons and possible eagles. This time of year is their peak migration time. What will the winds bring our way? We'll be meeting at…
Find out more »
...Read more

Saturday, September 23, 2017

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, September 22, 2017:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Sept. 22, 2017
* NYNY1709.22

- Birds Mentioned

FRANKLIN’S GULL+
SOOTY TERN+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Sora
Common Gallinule
AMERICAN AVOCET
American Golden-Plover
Whimbrel
HUDSONIAN GODWIT
Stilt Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
WILSON’S PHALAROPE
Parasitic Jaeger
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE
Laughing Gull
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Common Tern
Royal Tern
Cory’s Shearwater
Northern Gannet
Red-headed Woodpecker
Philadelphia Vireo
Worm-eating Warbler
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER
CONNECTICUT WARBLER
Mourning Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Cape May Warbler
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
LARK SPARROW
DICKCISSEL

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

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to 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, September 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are reports of SOOTY TERN and FRANKLIN’S GULL, such shorebirds as AMERICAN AVOCET, HUDSONIAN GODWIT and WILSON’S PHALAROPE, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, GOLDEN-WINGED and CONNECTICUT WARBLERS, LARK and CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS, DICKCISSEL and more.

Although former Hurricane Jose has lingered offshore in the Atlantic Ocean, impacting our weather for several days, it has not produced much of interest as far as southern vagrants are concerned. With otherwise no unusual seabirds noted from Cape May to Cape Cod, quite unexpected was the report of an immature SOOTY TERN moving by Midland Beach on Staten Island Wednesday morning in a group of COMMON TERNS. A high count of 241 ROYAL TERNS was also noted there. More typical of Jose were coastal counts such as at Robert Moses State Park Wednesday that featured some CORY’S SHEARWATERS and 2 PARASITIC JAEGERS.

A good find on the north shore of Long Island was a FRANKLIN’S GULL described Wednesday at Cedar Beach in Miller Place east of Port Jefferson, sitting in with a large group of LAUGHING GULLS.

At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge an AMERICAN AVOCET continues to visit the East Pond through today, though it does disappear occasionally, perhaps just moving down below Dead Man’s Cove for a while, as it does spend most of its time at the north end. On Thursday an HUDSONIAN GODWIT hung out at the north end near Dead Man’s Cove, along with 6 STILT, 6 WHITE-RUMPED and single PECTORAL and WESTERN SANDPIPERS, plus 3 CASPIAN TERNS. Earlier in the week on the East Pond a WILSON’S PHALAROPE visited on Sunday, 29 STILT SANDPIPERS were counted Saturday, and on Monday and Tuesday a SORA was seen at the south end.

Out at Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes a sea watch last Sunday featured an immature BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, along with 15 CORY’S SHEARWATERS, 6 NORTHEN GANNETS, 3 PARASITIC JAEGERS, 2 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS and 24 ROYAL and 19 BLACK TERNS. At Mecox Inlet the same day were 20 CORY’S SHEARWATERS and 7 BLACK TERNS.

Along the city coasts there were single AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS at Plumb Beach Tuesday and Coney Island Park Wednesday, Plumb Beach also adding a CASPIAN TERN Tuesday and Wednesday and 17 ROYAL TERNS Wednesday, while on Thursday Breezy Point produced 2 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS along with 2 CASPIAN TERNS and 3 ROYAL TERNS.

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS on Wednesday included 13 at Jones Beach West End and 12 at Robert Moses State Park, and 7 BLACK TERNS were counted at Jones Beach Field 6 Tuesday.

An ICELAND GULL was seen again at Smith Point County Park last Saturday, joined by a WHIMBREL and 13 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS.

Up to 9 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS have been counted recently at their roost along Santapogue Creek off Venetian Boulevard in West Babylon.

A COMMON GALLINULE was found recently at Mill Pond Park north of Route 27 in Bellmore.

Single adult and immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were spotted in Central Park last Sunday.

Wednesday produced a few reports of CONNECTICUT WARBLERS, including singles in Kissena Park and Calvert Vaux Park and 2 in Central Park, with 1 in Alley Pond Park today, while last Saturday male and female GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS were spotted in Alley Pond Park. Other WARBLERS continue to feature such species as MOURNING, WORM-EATING, CAPE MAY, and HOODED.

PHILADELPHIA VIREOS during the week were reported from Central Park and Prospect Park, Greenwood Cemetery, Owl’s Head Park, the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center and Fuch’s Pond Preserve in Northport.

A LARK SPARROW was spotted at Cedar Grove Beach on Staten Island Tuesday, CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS were reported from Floyd Bennett Field Saturday and Montauk Point Sunday, and a DICKCISSEL flew by Robert Moses State Park Saturday, with singles at Jones Beach West End and Owl’s Head Park today.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734 4126 or call Tom Burke at (914) 967-4922 and leave a message.

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, September 22, 2017

Friday's Foto

For quite some time I've wanted to do a "Friday's Foto" highlight on the Common Nighthawk. Problem is getting a decent photo of one in Brooklyn. Well, Jen Kepler managed to solve that with her very cool pic of one of this season's "daytime nighthawks".

Neither a hawk, nor completely nocturnal, the Common Nighthawk is actually a member of the bird family Caprimulgidae or "Goatsuckers". That family includes chuck-will’s-widow, pauraque, poorwill and whip-poor-will. Pliny X explains the goat reference -

“Those called goatsuckers, which resemble a rather large blackbird, are night thieves—for they cannot see in the daytime. They enter the shepherds’ stalls and fly to the goats’ udders in order to suck their milk, which injures the udder and makes it perish, and the goats they have milked in this way gradually go blind.”


In reality, they feed mainly on flying insects, which they hunt on the wing at dawn and dusk. Their huge mouth, edged with rictal bristles help channel insects into their gaping maw. This bird's distinctive acrobatic, looping flight interspersed with sporadic glides,  and their long pointed wings accented with a bright, white band makes identification straightforward, even in dusk's waning light.

Nesting in both rural and urban habitats throughout North America, they can be found in coastal sand dunes, grasslands, logged forest, open forests, plains, prairies, sagebrush, rock outcrops and woodland clearings. They also nest on flat gravel rooftops. The Common Night Hawk is the only nighthawk occurring throughout the majority of northern North America. Not much is known about their winter range other than that it is throughout South America.

According to the IUCN Red List this species conservation status is "Least Concern". However, the 2014 State of the Birds Report lists Common Nighthawk as a Common Bird in Steep Decline, and the species rates an 11 out of 20 on the Partners in Flight Continental Concern Score. Across North America, threats include reduction in mosquitoes and other aerial insects due to pesticides, and habitat loss including open woods in rural areas and flat gravel rooftops in urban ones.

The Common Nighthawk's scientific name, Chordeiles minor, means "evening dance"; "smaller”.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Treehugger Tuesday

From BBC News online:

Tidal energy site in Orkney in hydrogen 'first'
13 September 2017


Scotrenewables' prototype tidal energy converter - the SR2000 - was involved in the first production of hydrogen
Image copyright Scotrenewables

A Scottish test and research centre has claimed a world "first" by generating hydrogen gas from tidal energy.

The European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) said it achieved the feat at its tidal energy test site in Orkney late last month.

It added that it demonstrated the potential for a clean replacement for polluting fuels.

Emec's investment in hydrogen production capability was backed by the Scottish government.

Funding of £3m was made available through Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The hydrogen gas was produced after prototype tidal energy converters - Scotrenewables' SR2000 and Tocardo's TFS and T2 turbine - fed power into an electrolyser situated next to Emec's onshore substation.

Supplied by ITM Power, the electrolyser used the electricity to split water (H2O) into its component parts - hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2).


Tidal energy converters fed power into an electrolyser situated next to Emec's onshore substation
Image copyright Colin Keldie

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "The Scottish government is pleased to be supporting this innovative project, which will help to partially overcome grid constraints in the Orkney Islands by enabling the storage of excess tidal power generated and using that electricity to produce hydrogen.

"The project also adds to our growing understanding of the potential role of hydrogen in Scotland's future energy system - something we have committed to exploring in our draft Energy Strategy."

'Tremendous milestone'

Emec managing director Neil Kermode described the development as a "tremendous milestone".

He said: "The electrolyser was set up to pilot the production of hydrogen fuel from tidal energy - and now we've done just that.

"Whilst the initial driver behind buying an electrolyser was to provide a storage solution to circumvent local grid constraints, the purchase has sparked off other pioneering projects around Orkney looking to use hydrogen in various means.

"So we're now looking towards the development of a hydrogen economy in Orkney."

Surf'n'Turf project

There are plans to use Emec's electrolyser for a number of projects, including one led by Community Energy Scotland in partnership with Orkney Islands Council, Emec, Eday Renewable Energy and ITM Power.

The Surf'n'Turf project will involve the electrolyser producing hydrogen using electricity from Emec's test site as well as power from a 900kW wind turbine owned by the Eday community.

The hydrogen will then be transported to Kirkwall, where a fuel cell installed on the pier will convert the hydrogen back into electricity for use as auxiliary power for ferries when tied up overnight.

The project is also developing a training programme with a view to green hydrogen eventually being used as a fuel source on the inter-island ferries themselves.

Mr Kermode added: "One of the most promising uses of hydrogen is as a fuel for transport as it emits no carbon when it is consumed and, providing it's generated by clean renewable energy sources, it becomes a carbon neutral fuel source.

"Therefore, we could see green hydrogen, over time, replace polluting fuels in our cars, vans and ferries."
...Read more

Monday, September 18, 2017

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, September 23, 2017 to Sunday, September 24, 2017:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, September 23, 2017, 12 pm – 1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a birdwatching walk and learn about Prospect Park’s magnificent array of birds and how to identify them!

**********

Bedford Audubon Society
Saturday, September 23, 2017, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Peak Migration at Chestnut Ridge HawkWatch
Meet up with the HawkWatch Team for Broad-winged Hawks, joined by increasing numbers of other migrant raptors such as Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Kestrels, Ospreys, and Bald Eagles.
Meet at the parking lot of the Arthur Butler Sanctuary at 9:45am.
Level of difficulty: Easy-moderate (the walk to the HawkWatch is uphill, but there are bleachers at the platform).
Cost: Free. Please register in advance with Susan at info@bedfordaudubon.org or 914.302.9713.

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Autumn’s Raptors and Songbirds at Jones Beach State Park
Leader: Tom Stephenson
Focus: Raptors peak, swallows, peak of migrating songbirds, early sparrows, shorebirds, and waterbirds
Car Fee: $22.00
Registrar: Chris Laskowski, email celaskowski@yahoo.com
Registration Period: Sept 16th – Sept 21st
Please review our general trip information and guidelines on this page.

Saturday, September 23, 2017, 7:15am
Prospect Park Saturday Walk
Leader: Dennis Hrehowsik
Meet at Ocean/Parkside Avenues, “The Pergola” at 7:15am
No registration necessary.

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Gateway National Recreation Area
Sunday, September 24, 2017, 11:00am to 12:00pm
Salt Marsh Detective
What makes a salt marsh? Why are they important? Who lives there? Children and their families are invited to step into the shoes of a "Salt Marsh Detective" to investigate these questions.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

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Great South Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, September 23, 2017, 8:00am
Robert Moses Hawk Watch and Jones Beach WE
Leader(s): Bob Grover (516-318-8536) John Gluth (631-827-0120)
Meet at Robert Moses State Park parking field #5 northeast corner

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Green-Wood Cemetery
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Birding in Peace

Before our gates open to the general public, birding expert Rob Jett leads these peaceful Sunday morning walking tours to discover the many birds that call Green-Wood home. By September, all our nesting birds’ offspring will be on their own. Returning warblers will be in their less flamboyant fall plumage. Large numbers of blackbirds, flycatchers, sparrows, vireos, and swallows will also be passing through. By October, waterfowl are returning, and we’ll look for raptors heading south. November will bring back our overwintering denizen from the north.

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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Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Sunday, September 24, 2017, 9:00am
Hook Mountain Hawk Watch
Just over the Tappanzee, there is the possibility of seeing hawks at eye level at the lovely spot. There is a short, but strenuous hike up the mountain to the hawk watch. If the hawk watch is slow, we will search for migrants on the trails.
Registration: 631-885-1881

Directions: From the New York State Thruway, take exit 11 (Nyack). Proceed to Route 9W. Turn left onto 9W. Continue past the traffic light, past Christian Herald Road to the top of the hill. At about 1.8 miles from the turn onto 9W, look for the unpaved parking and pull off on the right. (Limited parking, rough surface.) Meet by the cars.

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Hook Mountain Hawk Watch
Leader: Rob Jett
Registrar: Barbara Saunders — bsaunders002@nyc.rr.com or 646-872-4029
Registration opens: Monday, September 11
Ride: $25

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center
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
Saturdays, September 2–November 25, 8-9:30am
Van Cortlandt Park Bird Walks
Guides: NYC Audubon 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, September 23, 2017, 9am – 1pm
Birding Gems of Staten Island: Clove Lakes Park
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Meet at the Manhattan terminal of the Staten Island Ferry and journey to the "Forgotten Borough" to discover some of the beautiful forests and incredible birding spots at Clove Lakes Park. Look for ducks and seabirds in New York Harbor on our way across on the ferry ride and then catch a bus to the Park. Numerous warblers, vireos, tanagers, and other migratory songbirds can be seen here. We'll even see one of the largest and oldest trees in NYC! Limited to 15. Bus fare ($2.75 each way - please bring your MetroCard or exact change) not included in registration price. $43 (30)
Click here to register

Saturday, September 23, 2017, 12pm – 4pm
Kingsland Wildflowers Festival
Enjoy a fun family day at Kingsland Wildflowers. The festival will celebrate the second year of bird monitoring, research, and programming at the Kingsland Wildflowers green roof and community engagement space. Visitors will be able to explore four newly installed green roofs—planted with over 22,000 square feet of native grasses, wildflowers, and sedum attractive to birds, bats, and native pollinators—atop Broadway Stages performance arts studio. Activities include tours of the roof with wildlife and plant experts, family-friendly activities, partner organizations discussing exciting Greenpoint conservation projects, and live music. Food and refreshments will be served.
This is event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, September 23, 2017, 4pm – 7pm
Jamaica Bay Sunset Ecology Cruise
With American Littoral Society and Gateway NRA
Meet at pier 4 in Sheepshead Bay to board the 100ft boat “Golden Sunshine”. Learn about the Bay and its history, management and ecology. See egrets, herons, ibis, terns, laughing gulls, osprey, peregrine falcons, and shorebirds. This narrated tour of the bay’s backwater marshes includes wine & cheese, fruit, drinks, and snacks. For information and reservations call Don Riepe at (718) 474-0896 or e-mail donriepe@gmail.com. $55 (children under 16 $25)

Sunday, September 24, 2017, 9:00am – 10:30am
Hidden Gems: Birding by Subway Series Kissena Park
Guide: Corey Finger
Meet at the Velodrome parking lot off of Booth Memorial Ave, across from Parsons Boulevard. Meet with other birders in Manhattan and travel by subway together, or strike out on your own to this hidden gem. Spend the morning looking for wood-warblers, sparrows, orioles and other migrant birds at this excellent destination for autumn birding. Limited to 15. $36 (25)
Click here to register

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North Shore Audubon Society
Saturday, September 23, 2017, 8am – 12pm
NYIT de Seversky Center
NOTE EARLY START TIME - 8am.
From Northern Blvd, turn south on WEST ROAD (Glen Head, NY), and follow signs to de Seversky Center/Mansion.
Wear water-resistant footwear, bring binoculars and drinking water. Wear long pants and socks so you do not touch poison ivy. Leader - Elizabeth - 516-404-1984

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Massapequa Preserve
From Sunrise Highway, turn north onto Broadway, Massapequa. Travel under the Long Island Rail Road overpass, then make the first right onto Veterans Boulevard (headed east). Go past the Massapequa train station and into the parking lot at the east end of the station. The preserve is directly east of the parking lot.
Directions via Google Maps

Bird walks led by a member of SSAS are conducted nearly every Sunday morning from late August through early June. Walks are open to the public and are free of charge. We especially encourage youngsters to attend.
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.


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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Join NYC Audubon on birding walks through Van Cortlandt Park to discover wildlife happenings in the park.
Free!

Ranger's Choice: Birding Road Trip at Salt Marsh Nature Center (in Marine Park), Brooklyn
10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
The Urban Park Rangers will offer this expedition to a variety of Brooklyn parks in search of early fall migrants. Registration is required. Registration opens on September 13.
Free!

Birding at 138th Place and 11th Avenue (in Powell's Cove Park), Queens
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Our Urban Park Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots. To enhance your experience, we encourage you to bring binoculars and field guides.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a bird-watching walk and learn about Prospect Park's magnificent array of birds and how to identify them!
Free!

Sunday, September 24, 2017
Birding: Fall Migrants at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
The early bird catches the worm! Join the Urban Park Rangers on this morning birding tour as we look for fall migrants.
Free!

Discovery Walks for Families: Beginning Birders - The North Woods at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Why do birds flock to Central Park every spring and fall? We’ll find out as we explore Central Park’s woodlands, and learn the basics of bird identification.
Free!
...Read more

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Green-Wood Cemetery Special Visitors

Forgive my late update. I've been busy with lots of things, including preparing for my two day "Birding Basics" class, which was held at the cemetery this weekend. Anyway, participants on last Sunday's walk were rewarded with lots of warblers heading south, as well as, two rare sparrows.

During the past couple of weekend walks the dominant small songbird in Green-Wood has been the American Redstart. Sunday was no different. I don't recall a fall migration in past years where this small warbler was so abundant. Perhaps they all had a very successful breeding season. Their loud "chip" call was heard the moment we walked into the cemetery. Several were hawking for insects from the trees next to the Valley Water. With few exceptions, they were in their more subdued non-breeding plumage.

One pleasant surprise was hearing the distinctive "pink" call of Bobolink, then seeing a flock of them dropping down and perching near the top of the trees adjacent to the Sylvan Water. A few yards away from them, at the peak of a pine tree, a Baltimore Oriole glowed in the early sunlight. One of the Bobolinks decided to fly over and check him out. Mike Yuan suggested it was merely stopping by to say hello to his Icterid cousin. It was only my second sighting ever of Bobolink in Green-Wood Cemetery ... the first being the day before.

We wound our way up the ridge from the Sylvan Water, up to Samuel B. Morse and then down to the smaller bodies of water, the Crescent and Dell Waters. Around the edges of the Dell we watched many more American Redstarts and Magnolia Warblers, but also added Northern Parula, Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler. Corey, who is relatively new to birding, was hoping for his first Cape May Warbler. The birds (and birding Gods) were very obliging Sunday and handed us not one, not two, but three feeding together in a conifer next to the Crescent Water. One individual was in such dull plumage that, if it were not for the yellow rump, I could have mistaken it for a fall Pine Warbler. By the end of the walk we had 15 species of warbler under our belts.

The day before a rare Lark Sparrow had been reported near the Sylvan Water. Having searched unsuccessfully for it early on in our walk, we decided to go back and try again. We ran into other birders doing the same. About 15 minutes into our second attempt, I got word from a couple of friends up the ridge that they had seen it in a tree above Sylvan Avenue. We dragged our weary butts back up the hill, but it was no longer there. Harumph. Birders began to spread out along the steep ridge above the cemetery's largest pond. Some folks stayed on the road, some walked along Cliff Path. Myself and one other person decided to check the open lawn above Landscape Avenue. Within a minute or two someone relocated it foraging on Cliff Path. Texts were sent out, Tweets were chirped and phone calls were made. Birders were on their way.

As if it wasn't exciting enough to see this striking sparrow of open country west of the Mississippi River, it appeared that he had a buddy of equal local interest. If the Lark Sparrow is a boldly marked, robust, unmistakable species, this other visitor could possibly be described as the complete opposite. The Clay-colored Sparrow is tiny, slight and delicate with a color palate of subtle buff, tan and gray. Unlike the similar (and common in NYC) Chipping Sparrow, this lovely bird has only a partial eyeline giving its face a softer look than the chipping. The Clay-colored Sparrow is common in the northern prairie and Great Plains. As we were leaving three cars of birders had just arrived. A few of my friends we rushing in as we headed towards the entrance and stopped to ask more specific directions.

At least one person on my walk was very new to birding and this was her very first experience with the electricity and excitement of a rare bird sighting. If she wasn't already, I suspect that after Sunday's experience, the birding bug has zeroed in on her and sunk its teeth in.

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Location: Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn
Date: Sunday, September 10, 2017
Species: 66 species

Canada Goose (28.)
Green Heron (1.)
Osprey (1.)
Cooper's Hawk (1.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Ring-billed Gull (1.)
Herring Gull (2.)
Rock Pigeon (3.)
Mourning Dove (4.)
Common Nighthawk (1. Flying/feeding around 9:30am.)
Chimney Swift (5.)
Belted Kingfisher (1.)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (1.)
Hairy Woodpecker (1.)
Northern Flicker (3.)
American Kestrel (1.)
Monk Parakeet (1.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (9. Seemingly all over.)
Great Crested Flycatcher (2.)
Red-eyed Vireo (4.)
Blue Jay (7.)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (1.)
Barn Swallow (2.)
Cliff Swallow (1. Over Dell Water.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (2.)
House Wren (1.)
Carolina Wren (2.)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (2.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1.)
Veery (5.)
Swainson's Thrush (3.)
Wood Thrush (1.)
American Robin  15
Gray Catbird (2.)
Northern Mockingbird (2.)
European Starling (35.)
Cedar Waxwing (10.)

Ovenbird (5.)
Northern Waterthrush (1.)
Black-and-white Warbler (11.)
Common Yellowthroat (2.)
American Redstart (45.)
Cape May Warbler (6.)
Northern Parula (2.)
Magnolia Warbler (5.)
Blackburnian Warbler (2.)
Yellow Warbler (1.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (2.)
Prairie Warbler (3.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (4.)
Canada Warbler (1.)
Wilson's Warbler (1.)

Chipping Sparrow (7.)
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (1. Above Sylvan Water.)
LARK SPARROW (1. Above Sylvan Water.)
Song Sparrow (1.)
Scarlet Tanager (1.)
Northern Cardinal (8.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (2.)
Bobolink (7.)
Baltimore Oriole (1.)
Brown-headed Cowbird (3.)
Common Grackle (5.)
House Finch (1.)
American Goldfinch (2.)
House Sparrow (30.)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, September 15, 2017

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Sep. 15, 2017
* NYNY1709.15

- Birds mentioned
RUFF+
FRANKLIN'S GULL+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

AMERICAN AVOCET
American Golden-Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Whimbrel
Stilt Sandpiper
BAIRD'S SANDPIPER
White-rumped Sandpiper
BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER
Pectoral Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Royal Tern
Red-headed Woodpecker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
WESTERN KINGBIRD
Philadelphia Vireo
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER
Tennessee Warbler
CONNECTICUT WARBLER
Mourning Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
LARK SPARROW
Lincoln's Sparrow
SUMMER TANAGER
BLUE GROSBEAK
DICKCISSEL

- 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

Compilers: Tom Burke and 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, September 15th 2017 at 9pm. The highlights of today's tape are such shorebirds as AMERICAN AVOCET, RUFF, BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER, FRANKLIN'S GULL, WESTERN KINGBIRD, SUMMER TANAGER, DICKCISSEL, BLUE GROSBEAK, LARK SPARROW, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, CONNECTICUT WARBLER and much more.

A wonderful week for variety in our area including a nice array of shorebirds though their numbers continue to diminish. Very interesting was a shorebird photographed Sunday at the Raunt at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge's East Pond. The observer suggesting the bird was a female RUFF or Reeve and long distance photos taken from across the pond did not fully confirm but certainly did support the identification but unfortunately the bird could not subsequently be relocated. The East Pond did provide an AMERICAN AVOCET last Saturday and Sunday along with up to 17 STILTS, a few WESTERN and some WHITE-RUMPED and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS as well as up to 3 CASPIAN TERNS Sunday. Another AMERICAN AVOCET was seen on the flats at Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes Saturday but a sod field shorebird not always seen in that habitat an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER and a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER were off Doctor's Path north of Riverhead Saturday and on Thursday 2 GOLDENS were on the Mecox Bay flats with 2 BLACK TERNS and 2 more GOLDENS were at Sagg Pond in Bridgehampton with 4 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS. A BAIRD'S SANDPIPER was at Miller Field on Staten Island Saturday through Thursday. This location also providing a very intriguing report of a FRANKLIN'S GULL flying by there Wednesday though details were sparse. A WHIMBREL Saturday at Turtle Pond at Pelham Bay Park increased to 3 on Sunday and another was at Breezy Point Thursday. Up to 4 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS continue at Santapogue Creek off Venetian Boulevard in West Babylon Saturday finding them there with 5 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, 3 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and over 70 GREATER YELLOWLEGS.

A CASPIAN TERN was at Jones Beach West End last Sunday with 2 at Gilgo Tuesday and 2 at Calvert Vaux Park also known as Drier-Offerman Park in Brooklyn Thursday. Among the regions ROYAL TERNS were 20 counted at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn Wednesday.

A highlight among the passerines was a WESTERN KINGBIRD spotted Saturday at Robert Moses State Park and presumably the same later in flight at Cedar Beach and then on Sunday and Monday at Jones Beach West End. Much more unexpected by location was the WESTERN KINGBIRD found today at Governors Island photographed on Grassy Hill north of Overlook Hill. Governors Island is reached by ferry from lower Manhattan. Unusual seasonally were SUMMER TANAGER reports from Jones Beach West End Saturday and Pelham Bay Sunday. LARK SPARROWS featured at 2 different locations at Robert Moses State Park Saturday and 1 at Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn Saturday to Monday and 1 in Central Park Sunday while single CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS were noted at Green-wood Cemetery Sunday and Monday and at Calvert Vaux Park today. BLUE GROSBEAKS occurred at Robert Moses State Park Sunday and Monday with 2 Tuesday and in the Rockaways on Monday. Following a good incursion into the northeast this summer DICKCISSELS were at Robert Moses State Park Saturday and Monday, Coney Island Creek Sunday and at Jones Beach West End and lower Manhattan on Monday the latter among the many birds pulled into the 9/11 light tribute after dark.

RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS appeared at Moses Park Saturday, Alley Pond Park at Oakland Lake Sunday and at Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island Wednesday and of course there were the warblers. About 28 species including single GOLDEN-WINGEDS at Alley Pond Park Saturday and Sunday and at Kissena Park Saturday. Several reports of CONNECTICUT including from Central Park, Alley Pond Park and Green-wood Cemetery. A YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT was noted at Jones Beach West End Saturday and even from Great Gull Island last weekend. While continuing to be seen in encouraging numbers have been CAPE MAY, TENNESSEE and BAY-BREASTED and some others, more unusual, also including a few HOODED, WILSON'S and MOURNING. Other recent passerines have featured OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER and various empidonax flycatchers, PHILADELPHIA VIREO and LINCOLN'S SPARROW and get out to a local hawkwatch for hopefully the Broad-winged peak once the weather breaks.

To phone in reports on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or call Tom Burke at (914) 967-4922.

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, September 12, 2017

Treehugger Tuesday

From Forbes online:

Where Do Birds Go In A Hurricane?
Sep 8, 2017 @ 08:50am
GrrlScientist, Contributor

When severe weather hits, humans flee or hunker down and hope for the best. But what about birds? Where do they go? And what happens to migratory birds?

As the southern United States faces a second record-breaking hurricane in less than two weeks, I’ve been asked many times: “What happens to birds in hurricanes? Where do they go?”

Basically, birds have a variety of strategies for dealing with large storms, such as hurricanes, including: leaving the area; flying ahead of, or into the storm; or sheltering in place.

Birds may leave in advance of an approaching storm

Research has shown that birds can hear infrasound (ref) and are sensitive to barometric pressure (ref and ref), so they know when a storm is on its way -- especially when the storm is as large and as powerful as a hurricane. When a large storm approaches, birds in its path may adjust their behaviors within the parameters of their own life histories and according to season. For example, white-throated sparrows, Zonotrichia albicollis, are migratory songbirds, so if a large storm is approaching during their annual spring or autumnal migration period, they may migrate sooner than they might otherwise do (ref). Interestingly, research has found that sparrows speed up their autumnal migratory departure date in response to falling barometric pressures (but not temperature), whereas they delay their spring migratory departure in response to falling temperature (but not barometric pressure).

Birds may fly ahead of, into, or through, a storm

Some migratory birds may intentionally fly into a large storm. For example, a whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, named Chinquapin, flew into Hurricane Irene’s dangerous northeast quadrant in 2011. This medium-sized shorebird was part of an ongoing research project and was carrying a satellite tracker, allowing scientists to watch this intrepid bird’s progress in real time as she migrated from Hudson Bay, Canada, to her wintering grounds in South America.
Andreas Trepte via a Creative Commons license

Chinquapin was lucky. Although this same bird successfully flew around the edge of Tropical Storm Colin in the previous year, a second satellite tagged bird flew into that storm and was killed.

But storms are not the worst of what whimbrels and other migratory birds encounter. Several other satellite tagged whimbrels, named Machi and Goshen, survived their flights through hurricanes in 2011. (Like Chinquapin, Goshen also tangled with Hurricane Irene, although she flew through the outer edge instead.) But both Machi and Goshen paused on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and tragically, both were shot dead within hours of their arrival. (This is a common fate for hurricane survivors landing on Guadeloupe.)

In the same year, another satellite tagged whimbrel, named Hope, flew into Tropical Storm Gert off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. Incredibly, she endured strong headwinds for 27 hours straight, and was able to fly at an average speed of only 7 miles per hour (11kph). In contrast, after she successfully emerged from the middle of that storm, she then was pushed by strong tailwinds at an average speed of 90 miles per hour (145kph) and safely returned to her staging grounds on Cape Cod -- after expending a huge amount of effort for no gain.
Jim McCulloch via a Creative Commons license

But migrating ahead of, or during, a hurricane is a strategy that is fraught with dangers and can have unexpected consequences, especially for small birds. For example, in 2005, a large flock of migrating chimney swifts, Chaetura pelagica, was swept up by Hurricane Wilma, and the lucky survivors relocated to Western Europe -- to the delight of bird watchers there.

Other small migratory bird species may become trapped inside a hurricane, as probably was the situation for those migrating chimney swifts. For example, radar images of Hurricane Matthew as it raged across Florida in 2016 showed it had a huge flock of birds trapped in its eye.

These birds were relocated by many hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from where they were, or wanted to be -- again, to the delight of local birders.

Birds may shelter in place and hang on for dear life

Many non-migratory birds seek shelter inside thick bushes or on the leeward side of trees. Trees and shrubs can dramatically reduce wind speeds and can keep birds dry even during a torrential downpour. And since birds adapted to sleeping whilst perched, their feet automatically close when they are relaxed, thereby making it easier for birds to hang on to something solid for dear life.

Birds may also find cover where ever it exists. For example, an injured Cooper’s hawk, Accipiter cooperii, now known as Harvey, took refuge in Willam Bruso’s taxi in Houston during Hurricane Harvey just a few days ago:

Harvey (the bird, not the hurricane) was given to the TWRC Wildlife Center the following day, where it was discovered that she had suffered a broken wing (and was probably in shock from the pain and from fear), thereby preventing the terrified bird from flying. Harvey is expected to make a full recovery.

In addition to taxis, other birds, such as woodpeckers and parrots, may seek shelter in their nest-holes or in other cavities. This works well unless the tree they are sheltering in is uprooted or snapped off at the cavity (typically a tree’s weakest point), or if these birds become trapped by floodwaters — just as people become trapped in their attics and drown.

Birds may die

Remember that flock of chimney swifts that I mentioned? Most of them met a horrible end: at least 727 of these tiny birds’ bodies were found later (ref) -- but how many thousands more died and were never found? Indeed, Hurricane Wilma’s effects on chimney swift numbers were so severe and widespread that, in the province of Québec, Canada, where these birds lived, chimney swifts became quite rare as the direct result of this one tragic event. In the following year, roost counts declined by an average of 62% and the total chimney swift population is estimated to have decreased by half.

Surprisingly, we don’t really have much robust data for how storms affect bird populations -- until they become vanishingly small. But researchers studying sooty terns, Onychoprion fuscatus, which are plentiful in the Atlantic, report a strong positive correlation between “wrecked” individuals found throughout the Caribbean and the number of tropical storms, particularly hurricanes (ref). These data are being used to build computer models that may help to more precisely predict storm-caused mortality for seabirds.

Hurricanes can have serious impacts on sedentary bird species, particularly those that live on islands or that have small populations. For example, already driven to the point of extinction by widespread habitat destruction and poaching for the pet trade, the few remaining Iguaca, or Puerto Rican parrots, Amazona vittata, were then faced with Hurricane Hugo in 1989. This storm pummelled the island of Puerto Rico, destroying much of the habitat in the Luquillo mountains, which is the last refuge for these critically endangered parrots. By the end of that year, it was determined than only 22 Puerto Rican parrots had survived (ref).

The critically endangered Cozumel thrasher, Toxostoma guttatum, was even more seriously impacted: we still are not sure whether this island species survived a double hit by Hurricanes Emily and Wilma in 2005.

Of course, if birds survive a hurricane, and somehow manage to find their way back home, they are then faced with profound habitat destruction that can persist for decades. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo decimated much of the remaining old-growth forest that is vital habitat for endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, Leuconotopicus borealis. According to the National Wildlife Federation, Hurricane Hugo damaged 4.5 million acres of state forest throughout South Carolina (ref), and reduced 477 colonies of red-cockaded woodpeckers to just 100 in the Francis Marion National Forest.

This same hurricane also devastated coastal and dune habitats that a variety of shorebirds and seabirds (at least some of which are endangered or critically endangered) depend upon for food or for nesting sites.

Throughout the millennia, birds have developed a variety of strategies for coping with large, severe storms like hurricanes. But thanks to people and to our bad behaviors, like habitat destruction, hunting, and poaching, birds have fewer and fewer places to flee for safety, and this makes the effects of hurricanes more extreme than they otherwise would be.

Sources:

Creagh W. Breuner, Rachel S. Sprague, Stephen H. Patterson, and H. Arthur Woods (2013). Environment, behavior and physiology: do birds use barometric pressure to predict storms? Journal of Experimental Biology 216:1982-1990 | doi:10.1242/jeb.081067

Jessica Metcalf, Kim L. Schmidt, Wayne Bezner Kerr, Christopher G. Guglielmo, and Scott A.MacDougall-Shackleton (2013). White-throated sparrows adjust behaviour in response to manipulations of barometric pressure and temperature, Animal Behaviour 86(6):1285-1290 | doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.09.033

Mark Dionne, Céline Maurice, Jean Gauthier, and François Shaffer (2008). Impact of Hurricane Wilma on Migrating Birds: The Case of the Chimney Swift, The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 120(4):784-792 | doi:10.1676/07-123.1

Steven R. Beissinger, Joseph M. Wunderle Jr., J. Michael Meyers, Bernt-Erik Sæther, and Steinar Engen (2008). Anatomy of a bottleneck: diagnosing factors limiting population growth in the Puerto Rican parrot, Ecological Monographs 78(2):185–203 | doi:10.1890/07-0018.1

Ryan M. Huang, Oron L. Bass Jr, and Stuart L. Pimm (2017). Sooty tern (Onychoprion fuscatus) survival, oil spills, shrimp fisheries, and hurricanes, PeerJ | doi:10.7717/peerj.3287
...Read more

Monday, September 11, 2017

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, September 16, 2017 to Sunday, September 17, 2017:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, September 16, 2017, 12 pm – 1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a birdwatching walk and learn about Prospect Park’s magnificent array of birds and how to identify them!

**********

Bedford Audubon Society
Saturday, September 16, 2017, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Broad-winged Hawk Migration at the Chestnut Ridge HawkWatch
Join this year’s HawkWatch Team for the peak of Broadwing migration, which can result in seeing thousands of hawks in a single day! Meet at the parking lot of the Arthur Butler Sanctuary at 9:45am. Level of difficulty: Easy-moderate (the walk up to the HawkWatch is uphill, but there are bleachers at the platform).
Cost: Free. Please register in advance with Susan at info@bedfordaudubon.org or 914.302.9713.

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, September 16, 2017
A Hawk Watch Wildcard by Public Transportation
NOTE: Depending on winds, this trip may be either Saturday or Sunday; see below for full information.
Leader: Peter Dorosh Focus: Hawk migration sit (location based on the winds)
Bus fee: TBA
Registrar: Peter Dorosh, Prosbird@aol.com or text only cell 347-622-3559 Registration Period: Sept 9th – Sept 14th
Reference http://www.hmana.org/ This trip is determined by the weekend wind direction.

Saturday, September 16, 2017, 7:15am
Prospect Park Saturday Walk
Leader: Dennis Hrehowsik
Meet at Ocean/Parkside Avenues, “The Pergola” at 7:15am
No registration necessary.

Saturday, September 16, 2017, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Introduction to Birdwatching
Find out why Prospect Park is designated an Important Birding Area by the National Audubon Society. Binoculars provided (or bring your own).
NOTE: These walks start from the Audubon Center at the Boathouse, Prospect Park and are led by Brooklyn Bird Club member Michele Dreger. For the latest information check this link: https://www.prospectpark.org/visit-the-park/things-to-do/birdwatching/

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Gateway National Recreation Area
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Mighty Monarchs
Time: 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fees: free
Join a park ranger to learn about the incredible life cycle and migration of a monarch!
View Details

Sunday, September 17, 2017
Osprey Watch Guided Walk
Time: 10:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fees: free
Every Sunday Weekly from 09/10/2017 to 09/17/2017
Learn all about the amazing osprey on this guided walk of the West Pond Trail.
View Details

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Hudson River Audubon Society
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Lenoir Nature Preserve
8am - Walter Chadwick Memorial Nature Walk
Meet at the Nature Center. We will look for birds, butterflies, dragonflies and nature. We’ll end up at our hawk watch site at 10 in front of the mansion
10am - Broad-winged Hawk Migration
We will search the skies for Broad-wing Hawks that will be making their 4,300 mile migration to South America
http://www.hras.org/wtobird/lenoir.html

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Alley Pond Park
Leader: Alan Drogin
Registrar: Anne Lazarus — amlazarus47@gmail.com or 212-673-9059
Registration opens: Monday, September 4
Ride: $15

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center
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
Saturdays, September 2–November 25, 8-9:30am
Van Cortlandt Park Bird Walks
Guides: NYC Audubon 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, September 16, 2017, 8:00am – 10:30am
Intro to Birding: Bird Walk in Central Park
Guide: Tod Winston
Meet at the entrance to Central Park at Central Park West and 72nd Street. Are you curious about "birding" but don't have much (or any) experience? Come on a relaxed walk through Strawberry Fields and the Ramble to go over birding basics and see warblers, tanagers, sparrows, waterbirds, and more. Binoculars available. Limited to 15. $36 (25)
Click here to register

Saturday, September 16, 2017, 9:30am – 10:30am
Queens Botanical Garden Bird Walks
Saturdays, September 2, September 16, and October 14
Sundays, October 1 and October 29 9:30-10:30am

Guide: NYC Audubon with Queens Botanical Garden
Explore Queens Botanical Garden in search of migrant songbirds and learn about the valuable resources that the Garden offers birds and other wildlife. Register for one date or the whole series of five free walks (walk-ins welcome!). Binoculars available. Limited to 25. Appropriate for all ages. To register, email info@queensbotanical.org or visit www.queensbotanical.org. Free with Garden admission

Sunday, September 17, 8:00am – 10:30am
Fall Migrants of Woodlawn Cemetery, the Bronx
Guides: Tod Winston, Joseph McManus, Susan Olsen with Woodlawn Conservancy
Meet at the Jerome Avenue entrance of Woodlawn Cemetery. Join us for a morning bird walk and tour of beautiful Woodlawn Cemetery: Tod Winston and Joseph McManus will help look for fall migrants and year-round residents on the expansive, wooded cemetery grounds, while the Woodlawn Conservancy's Susan Olsen shares fascinating stories about Woodlawn’s history and the interesting mixture of individuals interred there. Bring water. Limited to 15. $35 (24)
Click here to register

Sunday, September 17, 2017, 9am – 1pm
Hook Mountain Hawk Watch
Guide: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC
Part of the Palisades Interstate Park system, Hook Mountain has commanding views of all nearby mountains ridges and the Hudson River. From this inland hawk watch spot we expect to see many species of migrating raptors, including broad-winged and red-shouldered hawks, bald eagles, accipiters, and falcons. Note: this trip requires a 35-minute hike up and down the mountainside. Bring binoculars, water, and and a bag lunch to enjoy atop the mountain watching the hawks fly overhead. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $99 (69)
Click here to register

Sunday, September 17, 2017, 9am – 10am
Evergreen Cemetery Bird Walk
Guides: Corey Finger with the Cemetery of the Evergreens
Meet inside the Cemetery Entrance at Bushwick Avenue and Conway Street. Explore the delights of this hidden gem by taking a tour of historic Evergreens Cemetery and its fall migrants. Moderately strenuous with many hills and stairs. No limit. Suggested donation.
Click here to register

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North Shore Audubon Society
Saturday, September 16, 2017, 9:30am – 12:00pm
Alley Pond Park
See "Walk locations" for directions.
Alley Pond Parking lot on 76th Ave, east of Springfield Blvd, Queens, NY
Wear water-resistant footwear, bring binoculars and drinking water. Wear long pants and socks so you do not touch poison ivy.
Leader - Lenore 718-343-1391

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Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, Sep 16, 2017
Alley Pond
Leader: Eric Miller 917-279-7530
Where: Aarya park Parking Lot 76th Ave Oakland Gardens, NY 11364 (map)
Description: Fall Migrants!

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, September 17, 2017
Mill Pond Park
Use street parking on the westbound side of Merrick Road. The park is four blocks west of the Wantagh State Parkway.
Directions via Google Maps

Bird walks led by a member of SSAS are conducted nearly every Sunday morning from late August through early June. Walks are open to the public and are free of charge. We especially encourage youngsters to attend.
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.


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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Join NYC Audubon on birding walks through Van Cortlandt Park to discover wildlife happenings in the park.
Free!

Bird Walks with New York City Audubon at Queens Botanical Garden, Queens
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Spot and identify creatures of flight and learn how Queens Botanical Garden provides important resources for birds— like water, shelter, and insects to eat.

Cabrini Woods Migration Walk at Cabrini Woods (in Fort Tryon Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Join an expert naturalist, to learn about birds that visit Fort Tryon, and why they stop here on their way back from breeding grounds.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a bird-watching walk and learn about Prospect Park's magnificent array of birds and how to identify them!
Free!

Raptor Fest at Stadium Ball Fields (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
12:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.
This event is a great way for kids to learn about hawks, owls, falcons, and other birds of prey, get up close and personal with them, and watch them perform amazing aerial feats.
Free!
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Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope