Check out City Birder Tours, and Green-Wood sponsored tours on their calendar pages here.
Celebrate your inner nerd with my new t-shirt design! Available on my Spreadshirt shop in multiple colors and products.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Upcoming Trips

Below are the birding/nature trips for the weekend of February 24 - February 25, 2024:

Brooklyn Bird Club

Introduction to Birdwatching
Saturday, February 24, 2024, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Leader: A member of the Brooklyn Bird Club
Description: Whether you’re just starting out or have already joined the birding ranks, this introductory walk is for you. Join a member of the Brooklyn Bird Club to learn the basics of birding and search for the dozens of species that visit Prospect Park through all seasons. All levels are welcome.
Registration: No registration necessary.
View Details

Tilden and Breezy: The Final Weeks of Winter
Saturday, February 24, 2024, 8:30am - 3:30pm
Leader: Ryan Goldberg
Description: Enjoy the last weeks of winter on the western Rockaways as ducks, loons, and other waterfowl begin staging to return north. We’ll walk from Fort Tilden to the Breezy Point Tip, a long, exciting beach walk that follows some of the city’s best dune habitat and protected shoreline. We’re likely to see hundreds or thousands of gannets, and we could also turn up wintering favorites like snow buntings and horned larks.
Registration: Ryan Goldberg, ryan.goldberg@gmail.com.
View Details


**********

Green-Wood Cemetery

Birding in Peace
Sunday, February 25, 2024, 6:45am - 8:15am
Description: Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean that there aren’t interesting birds to discover in Green-Wood. For some bird species that migrate south after the breeding season, Brooklyn is their Miami during the cold months. Spend the early morning exploring the cemetery, looking for overwintering waterfowl, nuthatches, woodpeckers, sparrows, finches and any half-hardy birds that decided to stick around. By February we’ll see some of the early north-bound birds beginning to trickle back into the area.
View Details


**********

Hudson River Audubon Society

Jones Beach: Coast Guard Marina
Saturday, February 24, 2024, 8:00am
Leader: Michael Bochnik
Description: Winter waterfowl, loons, grebes and maybe a rare gull or two.
Registration: bochnikm@cs.com
View Details


**********

Linnaean Society of New York

Pelham Bay Park
Saturday, February 24, 2024
Leader: Jack Rothman
Description: Pelham Bay Park is New York City’s largest park, covering 2,772 acres. Our winter walks center around the northern forested areas of Hunter Island and Bartow-Pell Woods in search of nocturnal raptors. The waters off Orchard Beach and Twin Island are excellent spots to scan flocks of overwintering waterfowl, loons, and grebes. Harbor Seals can sometimes be seen out on the rocks north of Twin Island.
Registration: Evelyn Huang — evelynhuang1@yahoo.com
View Details


**********

New York City Audubon

Weird Duck Spotting at Floyd Bennett Field
Saturday, February 24, 2024, 9:00am - 10:30am
Leader: Russell Jacobs
Description: It's winter and you know what that means. That's right, it's Weird Duck Time! Shovelers, scoters, or mergansers: which duck do you think has the most insane bill? Join us on a stroll by the water to see if we can spot any of these winter visitors.
Registration: Event Registration is currently closed.
View Details


**********

Queens County Bird Club

Baisley Pond
Sunday, February 25, 9:00am - 12:00pm
Leader: John & Mary Borowski (347) 705-2963
Description: Join us as we look for birds in Baisley Pond Park, the winter home for hundreds of ducks and other waterfowl. The path around the lake is paved.
Registration: Contact the trip leader to register for this trip.
View Details


**********

South Shore Audubon Society

Hempstead Lake State Park
Sunday, February 25, 2024
Leader: Members of SSAS
Description: From the Southern State Parkway, take Exit 18 (Eagle Avenue) south to Field 3 (use second park entrance and make an immediate left turn.)
Registration: Registration is required by calling Joe Landesberg at 516-467-9498
View Details


**********

Urban Park Rangers

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Riverside Park Birding Club at West 103rd Street and Riverside Drive (in Riverside Park), Manhattan
8:00am - 9:30am
Monthly walks through birding hotspots in Riverside Park. Learn and build a birding community.
Free

Birding: Winter Birds at Forest Avenue and Silver Lake Park Road (in Silver Lake Park), Staten Island
11:00am - 12:00pm
Join us on this Ranger led walk along the trails identifying various woodland birds and winter waterfowl.
Free

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Birding: Winter Waterfowl at Gateway Drive and Erskine Street (in Spring Creek Park), Brooklyn
10:00am - 11:00am
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome.
Free

...Read more

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Week 7 - Green-Wood Cemetery

The first day of Spring will be on March 19th this year. One month away but love is clearly in the air.

I didn't get into the cemetery much this week due to our second snowstorm of the season. Also, I'm still healing from a broken finger, making using my bins and camera challenging at times. During the few times I was able to check, there definitely were some obvious changes afoot.


Red-bellied Woodpeckers are now courting their mates and have begun preparing nest cavities. I discovered one in progress next to the Dell Water and a second near Vernal Avenue.


Mourning Doves have also begun their breeding cycle. I spotted a few love birds nuzzling and one carrying nest material. Outside my kitchen window a pair are constructing a nest under a neighbor's AC unit. Should be fun to watch the progress.


During my dawn walk this weekend, we spotted one of our resident Red-tailed Hawk pair near Crescent Water. While watching them, the smaller male mounted his mate and they briefly copulated. Time to try and find where they've decided to build their nest this year. Perhaps they'll return to the old spot behind Horace Greeley's monument.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Best of the Fortnight

Here's my first fortnight selections for the month of February. I expect to see a few new birds and botanics by the end of the month. Enjoy:

Budding multiflora rose, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


Purple Sandpipers, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY


Common Loon, Coney Island Creek, Brooklyn, NY


Cedar Waxwing, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


Cooper's Hawk, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


Northern Shovelers, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


Dutch Yellow Crocuses, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


Cattails, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


Hooded Merganser hen, Coney Island Creek, Brooklyn, NY


Redhead with Canada Geese, Coney Island Creek, Brooklyn, NY

Monday, February 12, 2024

Upcoming Trips

Below are the birding/nature trips for the weekend of February 17 - February 18, 2024:

Brooklyn Bird Club

Introduction to Birdwatching
Saturday, February 17, 2024, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Leader: A member of the Brooklyn Bird Club
Description: Whether you’re just starting out or have already joined the birding ranks, this introductory walk is for you. Join a member of the Brooklyn Bird Club to learn the basics of birding and search for the dozens of species that visit Prospect Park through all seasons. All levels are welcome.
Registration: No registration necessary.
View Details


**********

Green-Wood Cemetery

Birding in Peace
Sunday, February 18, 2024, 6:45am - 8:15am
Description: Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean that there aren’t interesting birds to discover in Green-Wood. For some bird species that migrate south after the breeding season, Brooklyn is their Miami during the cold months. Spend the early morning exploring the cemetery, looking for overwintering waterfowl, nuthatches, woodpeckers, sparrows, finches and any half-hardy birds that decided to stick around. By February we’ll see some of the early north-bound birds beginning to trickle back into the area.
View Details


**********

Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society

Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Sunday, February 18, 2024 - 8:00am
Leader: _____
Description: Jamaica Bay is known for it’s world-class birding all year, especially in the winter. You just never know what will turn up in the best bird spot in the 5 boroughs. Take Cross Bay Boulevard south from the Belt Parkway. We will meet at the Visitors’ Center.
Registration: To register, call (585) 880-0915.
View Details


**********

Linnaean Society of New York

Croton Point Park
Saturday, February 17, 2024
Leader: Ethan Goodman
Description: Croton Point Park is a 508-acre park situated on a peninsula on the east shore of the Hudson River. In past years, we have seen Great Horned Owls, Eastern Screech Owls, Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, Bald Eagles, Common Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers, as well as other species.
Registration: Anne Lazarus — amlazarus47@gmail.com
View Details


**********

New York City Audubon

Birding at Freshkills North Park
Saturday, February 17, 2024, 8:00am - 10:00am
Leader: Anthony Ciancimino
Description: Join Staten Island resident and Anthony Ciancimino for a tour of (recently opened to the public) Freshkills Park’s North Park. This park is a beautiful oasis of wetlands and grasslands, where you can expect to see a wide variety of wintering waterfowl, raptors, and sparrows.
Registration: Registration page
View Details


Pelham Bay Park Birding
Sunday, February 18, 2024, 9:00am - 10:30am
Leader: Rich Aracil
Description: Join NYC Audubon to explore New York City's largest park! Pelham Bay Park's forested areas, salt marshes, and grassy meadows offer rich habitat for a variety of migrating birds.
Registration: Registration page
View Details


**********

Queens County Bird Club

NJ Shore/Barnegat
Saturday, February 17, 8:00am - 4:45pm
Leader: Ian Resnick (917) 626-9562
Description: This is a full-day trip that starts early and ends with dining out in central New Jersey. Of course, you may leave at any time that your schedule requires. We are planning on having lunch at a restaurant, so there is no need to pack a lunch.
Registration: Contact the trip leader to register for this trip.
View Details


**********

Urban Park Rangers

Saturday, February 17, 2024
Birding: Winter Waterfowl at Entrance - Baisley Blvd. & 157th Street (in Baisley Pond Park), Queens
11:00am - 12:00pm
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome.
Free

...Read more

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Week 6 - Green-Wood Cemetery

The sixth week of 2024 saw little variation in the status and abundance of bird species from the previous week, but there were several botanic changes.

Small birds, and even some of the larger ones, need to be on guard at all times as a pair of overwintering Cooper's Hawks are hunting the cemetery. Look for piles of feathers for signs that one had recently dined.

A trio of Northern Shovelers have been spending their time on Sylvan Water, away from the crowds of nearby Prospect Lake. Swirling along the surface of the pond, they use their unusual bill to filter seeds and aquatic invertebrates. The two males have begun ritualistically head bobbing in an attempt to impress a lone female.

Common Lilac

Dutch Yellow Crocus

Snowdrops

Hellebore
As the amount of daylight increases ever so slightly, more botanics have started to wipe the sleep from their eyes. Snowdrops are a common sight by mid-February. Hellebore are still nodding, but will be fully awake by next week. I was surprised to see the lilac trees already budding. The Dutch Yellow Crocuses are suddenly, and brightly, punctuating sun-drenched east and southeast facing slopes. Despite the name, they are not of Dutch origin.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Upcoming Trips

Below are the birding/nature trips for the weekend of February 10 - February 11, 2024:

Bedford Audubon Society

Hudson River Eagle Trip
Saturday, February 10, 2024, 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Leader: Tait Johansson
Description: Last year our Hudson River EagleTrips were so popular we are once again offering two chances to join Naturalist Tait Johansson in search of Bald Eagles along the Hudson River. Whether it’s your first or 101st time, seeing a Bald Eagle is always a thrill and the stretch ofthe Hudson River that borders northwestern Westchester holds the largest concentration of wintering Bald Eagles in the Northeast north of Chesapeake Bay. The river and its banks provide food and nesting opportunities, which will give us the chance to spot these majestic raptors along the river at multiple stops from Peekskill to Croton Point.
Registration: Cost: Free. Level of Difficulty: Easy. Please register with Susan: info@bedfordaudubon.org or by calling 914-302-9713.
View Details


**********

Brooklyn Bird Club

Introduction to Birdwatching
Saturday, February 10, 2024, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Leader: A member of the Brooklyn Bird Club
Description: Whether you’re just starting out or have already joined the birding ranks, this introductory walk is for you. Join a member of the Brooklyn Bird Club to learn the basics of birding and search for the dozens of species that visit Prospect Park through all seasons. All levels are welcome.
Registration: No registration necessary.
View Details


**********

Feminist Bird Club

Gullentine's Day in New York City
Saturday, February 10, 2024, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Leaders: Ryan and Martha
Description: We’re headed to Sheepshead Bay to get better at gull ID and to offer our sincere appreciation to these most unappreciated of birds. We’ll cover the basics and learn how to distinguish between gull species no matter what age they are.
Registration: Registration page
View Details


**********

Green-Wood Cemetery

I Lichen You A Lot: Family Tour & Crafting
Sunday, February 11, 2024, 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Description: There’s no greater love than when a fungus and an algae come together to form a lichen. They literally can’t live without each other! While much of nature lies dormant in winter, lichens thrive and though they are easy to spot, they’re often overlooked. This afternoon of exploration for families will include a walking tour followed by Valentine’s Day card crafting in the Historic Chapel using lichens (and as many lichen puns as we can think of!). We think you’ll be lichen this event a lot!
View Details


**********

New York City Audubon

Ferry Point Park Birding
Saturday, February 10, 2024, 9:00am - 10:30am
Leader: Loyan Beausoleil
Description: Join NYC Audubon's Loyan Beausoleil at Ferry Point Park in the Bronx for some winter birding! This coastal park offers stunning views of the East River and Long Island Sound, where waterfowl and other birds are sure to be seen.
Registration: Registration page
View Details


Winter Birding at Shirley Chisholm State Park
Sunday, February 11, 2024, 10:00am - 11:30am
Leader: Outdoor Afro
Description: Join NYC Audubon, New York State Parks, and Outdoor Afro to explore the largest state park in New York City, Shirley Chisholm State Park! This fairly new park was built on top of landfills and now supports a rich diversity of wildlife and habitat, including hawks, waterfowl, wetlands, and many tree and native grass species.
Registration: Registration page
View Details


**********

Queens County Bird Club

Montauk
Sunday, February 11, 8:00am - 4:45pm
Leader: Joe Schiavone (203) 640-2927
Description: This is a full-day trip that starts early and ends with dining out near Shinnecock inlet. Of course, you may leave at any time that your schedule requires. Please pack a bagged lunch because we will not be stopping at a restaurant for lunch.
Registration: Contact the trip leader to register for this trip.
View Details


**********

Urban Park Rangers

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Birding: Bald Eagle Watch at Payson Park House (in Inwood Hill Park), Manhattan
10:30am - 12:00pm
Winter is a spectacular time for observing bald eagles in New York City parks. See if you can spot any on this adventure with our Urban Park Rangers. Please dress warmly.
Free

Birding: Winter Waterfowl at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
11:00am - 12:00pm
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome.
Free

...Read more

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Week 5 - Green-Wood Cemetery

The most noticeable change over the past week was the shift in menu. The birds that have relied on the fruiting trees have mostly depleted the crabapples and persimmons. The holly trees with remaining berries each have their own tenacious Northern Mockingbird standing guard. We'll see how long that lasts. Flocks of hungry songbirds have now moved on to a stretch of Japanese Pagoda trees (Styphnolobium japonicum) along Vernal Avenue.

Japanese Pagoda tree

American Robins were the first to arrive. Most were acrobatically plucking the stringbean-like fruit from the trees. The lazy individuals just stood on the ground below and picked up the dropped fruit.



The five trees along this short road have been a hive of activity, not just for robin, but also, European Starling, Cedar Waxwings and even Red-bellied Woodpecker. Was surpised to see a Brown Creeper climbing along the trunk of one tree. Creepers are way too tiny to eat the fruit but apparently find small insects and insect eggs within the bark fissures.




During my early morning tour yesterday we spotted a young Red-tailed Hawk sitting in a large oak tree beside the feeding frenzy. I imagined that he was trying to figure out how to grab one of those tasty songbirds. He took off flying and the flocks scattered. Breakfast would have to wait.


In terms of botanics, I noticed one budding plant, one starting to flower and another blooming.

Multiflora rose beginning to bud.


Honeysuckle getting ready to bloom.


Leatherleaf mahonia in bloom.


Finally, it was nice to see some waterfowl other than Canada Goose, Mallard and American Black Duck on Sylvan Water. A few Northern Shovelers and a single female Bufflehead are now enjoying the accommodations.




Monday, January 29, 2024

Upcoming Trips

Below are the birding/nature trips for the weekend of February 3 - February 4, 2024:

Brooklyn Bird Club

Birding Teddy’s Backyard: Spots Around Oyster Bay, LI
Saturday, February 3, 2024
Leader: Peter Dorosh
Description: With locations in proximity to the train station, the primary focus will center on coastal sea birds, ducks, gulls and wintering passerines in a second BBC visit to this birding area. In February 2019, a Pacific Loon was found offshore .
Registration: Peter Dorosh , email Prosbird@gmail.com or Prosbird@aol.com.
View Details


Introduction to Birdwatching
Saturday, February 3, 2024, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Leader: A member of the Brooklyn Bird Club
Description: Whether you’re just starting out or have already joined the birding ranks, this introductory walk is for you. Join a member of the Brooklyn Bird Club to learn the basics of birding and search for the dozens of species that visit Prospect Park through all seasons. All levels are welcome.
Registration: No registration necessary.
View Details


First Sunday Bird Outings
Sunday, February 4, 2024, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Leader: Paul Keim, Brooklyn Bird Club
Description: Join naturalist and birder Paul Keim in search of dozens of species that visit the park through all seasons. Learn about the different habitats in Prospect Park and why they are important for all types of birds.
Registration: No registration necessary.
View Details


**********

Freshkills Park Alliance

Sunrise Winter Hike
Sunday, February 4, 2024, 6:00am
Leader: Rangers
Description: Lace up your shoes for a nature hike at Freshkills Park! Freshkills Park staff will take you behind the scenes to visit areas that are currently closed to the public. On this 2+ mile walk, you’ll learn about the different plants and animals found in the woods, wetlands, and grasslands at Freshkills Park.
Registration: Registration page
View Details


**********

Gateway National Parks

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Winter Wander
Sunday, February 4, 2024, 10:30am - 12:00pm
Leader: Park Rangers
Description: Wander with a Park Ranger at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge while it’s a winter wonderland! Explore the trails and learn how plants and animals at the Refuge survive and adapt to winter. This is an all-weather event, so please dress for the conditions.
Registration: Registration not necessary.
View Details


**********

Great South Bay Audubon Society

Jones Beach West End State Park Bird Walk
Saturday, February 3, 2024, 8:00am - 12:00pm
Leader: Mike Cooper, John Gluth
Description: Join us for a wonderful bird walk as we head out to Jones Beach West End for an early morning adventure.
Registration: _____
View Details


**********

Green-Wood Cemetery

Bark Basics: Evergreen Tree Walk for Kids
Satuday, February 3, 2024, 20:00am - 11:30am
Description: Is leaf-peeping season over? Not quite! Come explore our winter greenery and learn basic evergreen identification on this guided tree walk for kids.
View Details


Birding in Peace
Sunday, Fenruary 4, 2024, 7:00am - 8:30am
Description: Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean that there aren’t interesting birds to discover in Green-Wood. For some bird species that migrate south after the breeding season, Brooklyn is their Miami during the cold months. Spend the early morning exploring the cemetery, looking for overwintering waterfowl, nuthatches, woodpeckers, sparrows, finches and any half-hardy birds that decided to stick around. By February we’ll see some of the early north-bound birds beginning to trickle back into the area.
View Details


**********

Linnaean Society of New York

Coney Island Pier to Coney Island Creek
Saturday, February 3, 2024
Leader: Rob Jett
Description: This casual four-mile loop begins by exploring the shore, water, and jetties of the lower bay along Coney Island Beach. Walking west towards the border between Coney Island and the private community of Seagate, we expect to observe Common and Red-throated Loons, Horned Grebes, Long-tailed Ducks, scoters and several other species of waterfowl. Purple Sandpipers typically overwinter along the rock jetties. Among the abundant common gulls, we may find a rare Lesser Black-backed or Iceland Gull. The second half of the loop explores Gravesend Bay and Coney Island Creek.
Registration: Mary Braza — brazamary@gmail.com
View Details


Staten Island
Sunday, February 4, 2024
Leader: Richard ZainEldeen
Description: Staten Island’s habitats include woodlands, coastal beaches, marshes, parks, and more. We have seen Bonaparte’s Gulls, shorebirds, Horned Grebes, and other grebe species. Many birds may make surprise appearances. One year a Summer Tanager stayed the winter, eating bees it found in a tree hole. Hairy Woodpeckers are not uncommon. The itinerary may change based upon rarity sightings.
Registration: Mary Braza — brazamary@gmail.com
View Details


**********

New York City Audubon

Intro to Birding in the Central Park Ramble
Saturday, February 3, 2024, 8:00am - 10:00am
Leader: Tod Winston
Description: Are you curious about birding but don’t have much (or any) experience? Bundle up and join us on a relaxed winter walk in Central Park to go over birding basics and see sparrows, finches, woodpeckers, ducks, and more. Binoculars available upon request.
Registration: Registration page
View Details


Birding in Crocheron Park and Joe Michaels Mile
Saturday, February 3, 2024, 10:00am - 11:30am
Leader: Woo Sung Park
Description: Join NYC Audubon's Woo Sung Park at the north-eastern tip of Queens at Crocheron Park! This green space sports lots of lawn space, and its proximity to the bay is sure to attract waterfowl. After exploring the park, we'll venture down Joe Michaels Mile, overlooking the shores of Little Neck Bay.
Registration: Registration page
View Details


Winter Birding on Governors Island
Sunday, January 28, 2024, 9:00am - 10:30am
Leader: _____
Description: Meet the winter birds of Governors Island! Nearly 240 bird species have been spotted on the island, which provides excellent habitat all year round. Whether you’re an expert birder or a beginner, these tours will help you discover all of the bird life the island has to offer this winter.
Registration: Registration page
View Details


Birding in Central Park: Ramble to Reservoir
Sunday, February 4, 2024, 8:00am - 11:00am
Leader: Tod Winston
Description: Enjoy a winter trek through Central Park. We'll explore the Lake, Ramble, and Turtle Pond in search of wintering songbirds and owls, and then trek up to the Reservoir to look for ducks, gulls, and Peregrine Falcons.
Registration: Registration page
View Details


Pelham Bay Park Birding
Sunday, February 4, 2024, 9:00am - 10:30am
Leader: Jack Rothman
Description: Join NYC Audubon to explore New York City's largest park! Pelham Bay Park's forested areas, salt marshes, and grassy meadows offer rich habitat for a variety of migrating birds.
Registration: Registration page
View Details


**********

South Shore Audubon Society

Point Lookout Town Park (and Lido Preserve afterwards)
Sunday, February 4, 2024
Leader: Members of SSAS
Description: From the Southern State Parkway, exit onto the Meadowbrook State Parkway south. Exit from the Meadowbrook at Loop Parkway (just before the Jones Beach toll booths) toward Point Lookout. The Loop Parkway ends west of Point Lookout at Lido Boulevard. Continue straight across Lido Boulevard into Point Lookout Park. Travel past the ticket booths and curve left into the very large parking lot on the south side of the park. Park in the southeast corner, closest to the private homes of the village of Point Lookout and the beach. We will walk east along the beach toward Jones Inlet. After returning to the parking lot, we will drive west on Lido Boulevard to Lido Beach Passive Nature Preserve on the north side of Lido Boulevard to walk through the bay marsh.
Registration: Registration is required by calling Joe Landesberg at 516-467-9498
View Details


**********

Urban Park Rangers

Saturday, February 3, 2024

For the Love of Birds at Greenbelt Nature Center (in Blood Root Valley), Staten Island
10:30am - 11:30am
Join us at the Greenbelt Nature Center for an incredible event dedicated to our feathered friends.
Free

Birding: Bald Eagle Watch at Palisade Avenue and Spaulding Lane (in Riverdale Park), Bronx
11:00am - 12:00pm
Winter is a spectacular time for observing bald eagles in New York City parks. See if you can spot any on this adventure with our Urban Park Rangers. Please dress warmly.


Sunday, February 4, 2024

Birding: Winter Birds at Rose Avenue and Oak Avenue (in Kissena Park), Queens
1:00pm - 2:30pm
Our Urban Park Rangers will guide you to the best viewing spots in New York City to see migratory winter birds.
Free

Birding: Winter Waterfowl at Entrance - 85th Street and Central Park West (in Central Park), Manhattan
1:00pm - 2:30pm
Birding programs are appropriate for all skill levels and beginners are welcome.

...Read more

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Week 4 - Green-Wood Cemetery

This past week saw 5 days of rain, but the good news is that there was a respite from the previous weekend's arctic conditions. In addition, a broken finger restricted some of my activities. Anyway, sad to report that there is still a scarcity of typical winter species, but I'm still holding out hope that might eventually change.

Zelkova sapcicle

A large Japanese Zelkova near the intersection of Elm and Grove Avenues is once again growing a giant sapcicle along its lower trunk. I hope that doesn't mean that there is an injury to the trunk.

It was interesting to see that there were a few thriving species of fungi, no doubt stimulated by all the rain. I found some nibbled on Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) on a stump along the ridge at Dell Water. It was in an area where I've spotted them several times in the past. The list of hungry suspects include Eastern Gray Squirrel, Raccoon and Striped Skunk. I assume that all the groundhogs are currently hibernating, so not out foraging for food. There were also several places where I spotted lots of fresh Turkey tails (Trametes versicolor). Finally, all the rain seems to have rehydrated the cemetery's abundant American Amber Jelly (Exidia crenata). It seemed as if every broken branch on the ground had at least some of these rubbery fungi attached.

Oyster mushrooms

Turkey tails

American Amber Jelly

My next update will be in seven days. Until then, go outside and enjoy a bit of nature.

Best of the Fortnight

Here's a small sample of my favorite photos from over the past fortnight. Enjoy:

Downy Woodpecker, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


Palm Warbler on bee hive, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


Red-breasted Nuthatch, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


Tufted Titmouse, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


Eastern Towhee, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


House Finch, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


American Pipit, Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, NY


Ring-billed Gull, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY


Female Greater Scaup, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

A Rarity for Brooklyn

The arctic blast that hit our region over the past weekend was so extreme that I cancelled both my Saturday and Sunday walks. In general, I'll go out in nearly any weather as I have the gear for it. I wouldn't assume the same for people who sign up for my birding walks, though. Saturday's walk was supposed to be at Coney Island. The forecast windchill for the start time was 5ΒΊ with 25mph nortwest winds. My typical route would have had us walking into that sand blowing gale. Not ideal for seeing any birds. Sunday's forecast was similar, so I opted to cancel that walk, too. That said, Michelle, Angela and I decided to drive to Floyd Bennett Field in search of a reported rarity.

My friend Josh had spotted, then broadcast to the birding community, a Pacific Loon sighting on Friday offshore at Floyd Bennett Field. During the winter months Common Loons and Red-throated Loons are regularly seen around coastal New York City. As you might assume by its name, the Pacific Loon is not ordinarily observed in the Atlantic Ocean. In February of 2019 I checked off my first New York State Pacific Loon as one was hanging around a marina in Oyster Bay on Long Island. We hoped that the Friday bird would still be around over the weekend ... and that we didn't get frostbite looking for it.

Crow guarding the parking lot that overlooks Ruffle Bar

Pacific Loon favoring this area


We headed to a large parking lot on the east side of the park. Several birders were already gathered at the edge of the bay that faces east towards Ruffle Bar. The wind was pretty bad, but we were informed that it was much worse at the other side of Floyd. The loon hadn't been seen yet, so I suggested our group drive the 300 yards to the south edge of the parking lot for a different view of the bay and the nearshore pilings. A quick scan just pulled out a few Red-throated Loons, Brant, Red-breasted Mergansers, a bunch of Bufflehead, a Horned Grebe, but not our west coast visitor. The assembled group of birders gradually got into their cars and headed off to other vantage points of the bay. A few minutes later we joined them.

Teeth chattering viewing of Pacific Loon


A few minutes after getting back into the car a birder named Jeanne Cimorelli sent out word that she was currently looking at the loon near Raptor Point. We were only about a mile a way, so got to her spot pretty quickly. The next challenge was setting up the scope in gusting winds and finding the loon within the choppy water. It also didn't help that the freezing air and much warmer water created a lot of distortion across the horizon. That said, everyone present managed to get eyes on the Pacific Loon. Taking some identifying photographs might be another story. Of the dozens of photographs I took, several show definitive key fieldmarks. It's interesting to note that, at one point, I watched a Common Loon, Red-throated Loon and Pacific Loon all together in one field of view. Neat.

Pacific Loon

Pacific Loon


We spent a fair amount of time at the edge of the water taking photos and hoping the loon would come closer. It never did. Eventually, Michelle, Angela and I decided to thaw out in the car, then drive around looking for land birds. American Pipits are now overwintering in Brooklyn and we spotted several. Most were foraging at the border between the salted roadways and snow/ice covered grasslands.

American Pipit, Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, NY


By 11am we decided to leave Floyd Bennett Field, making a stop at Sheepshead Bay before calling it a day. A rare Glaucous Gull has been seen at this spot so figured it'd make a nice addition to an already great birding morning. It's a strange body of water adjacent a busy commercial area along Emmons Avenue. Most of the locals go here to distribute copious amounts of unhealthy bread to feed the birds. The dominant resident waterbirds are Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, American Black Duck (and Mallard/Black Duck hybrids). In the winter that increases to include Brant, Northern Shoveler, Greater & Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser and Ruddy Duck. Also, an occasional uncommon or rare duck turns up and tries to blend in with regulars (I've seen Northern Pintail, Canvasback and Harlequin Duck). There is also a large gathering of Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull and Greater Black-backed Gull. Every winter it seems like an odd gull or two appear here: Iceland Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Black-headed Gull being the usual suspects. The Glaucous Gull would be a new one for me here.

Ring-billed Gull, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY

Ruddy Duck, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY

Female Greater Scaup, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY

We circled the edges of the bay and walked some of the piers towards the east end, but couldn't locate the Glaucous Gull. One last look at the western terminus of this oddly rectangular bay wasn't successful. However, as a consolation prize we did spot a 2nd winter Lesser Black-backed Gull. I'll take it.

Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY