Check out City Birder Tours, and Green-Wood sponsored tours on their calendar pages here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Treehugger Tuesday

From Earther.gizmodo.com:

An Estimated 414 Million Pieces of Plastic Have Piled Up on Australia's Best Beaches
Brian Kahn
May 20, 2019

Human trash continues to pile up on every corner of the Earth at an alarming rate. And new research published on Thursday in Scientific Reports chronicles yet another frontier in our increasing plastic pollution crisis.

Researchers looked at the Coco (Keeling) Islands, two small islands to the west of Australia with some of the best beaches in the country, and found those pristine locales are smothered in plastic. The researchers estimate that their soft yellow sand is now littered with an astounding 414 million piece of plastic, all of it washed up from far away lands. And with no way to clean up that much debris, the findings show single use lifestyles are rapidly wiping out nature.

Jennifer Lavers, a plastic researcher at the University of Tasmania who led the study, had previously done work on extremely remote atolls. But she told Earther she wanted to look at a place a little closer to home so people could truly understand how big the scope of the plastic problem is. When an opportunity to visit the Coco (Keeling) Islands with activist organization Sea Shepherd arose, she took it as a chance to do some research there.

To get their plastic estimate, Lavers and her team took samples along 15 transects on the beaches from the water’s edge to the start of vegetation. They dug up 10 centimeters (4 inches) of sand at various points along those transects and cataloged how much plastic debris they found. The surveys turned up 23,227 pieces of plastic.

On its own, that’s a lot of plastic. But the researchers then extrapolated out for the islands as a whole and found that the two tiny islands islands are home to an estimated 414 million pieces of plastic. Of that, 383 million pieces sit below the surface, forming a new kind of bedrock.

“In my 15 years working as a marine scientist and traveling to some of the remotest corners of this planet, I sometimes feel like nothing surprises me anymore,” Lavers said. “Certainly, I’ve grown to expect plastic, and lots of it, everywhere I go. But the quantity of plastic on the otherwise remarkable and pristine Cocos (Keeling) Islands is truly devastating. The human footprint is everywhere, and it runs deeper than most of us imagine.”

Lavers said when writing the paper, “we put out a call to other scientists and friends for other remote, sparsely inhabited places with high accumulation of plastic debris.” They found similar stories playing out on islands around the world. While there are plenty of clearly identifiable pieces of junk and single-use items on Cocos (Keeling) Islands and other remote locations, much of the plastic consists of bits and pieces that have been broken down by arduous trips across the ocean. Because plastic can take centuries to degrade, these pieces won’t go away but will instead just get smaller and smaller.

That breakdown means that the tiny bits of plastic can end up nearly anywhere, from tropical islands to the Arctic. It evens up blowing in the air around us and the water we drink.

Cleaning up these bits and pieces is hard to do without disrupting the environment. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do it, but it points to the urgent need to turn away from plastic and disposable lifestyles. There are some signs the tide is turning against plastic like the European Union’s single-use ban, but as the paper notes, half of all plastic the world has produced has been made in the past 13 years alone. So there’s still a long way to go.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, May 25, 2019 to Sunday, May 26, 2019:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, May 25, 2019, 7:15am - 12:00pm
Prospect Park Saturday Walk
Leader: Dennis Hrehowsik Meet at Ocean/Parkside Avenues, “The Pergola” at 7:15 am No registration necessary.
Please review our trip guidelines here: http://brooklynbirdclub.org/information-registration

Saturday, May 25, 2019, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Prospect Park: Birdwatching for Beginners
Leader: Cyrus Baty
Birdwatching for Beginners meets at the Prospect Park Audubon Center at The Boathouse at 12 noon.
Bring binoculars if you have them; otherwise, binoculars are available for loan.

Sunday, May 26, 2019, 9:00am - 10:30am
Fort Greene Park, North Brooklyn
Meet 9 am at the Urban Park Rangers Visitors Center https://tinyurl.com/FtGreeneVCtr
Leader: August Davidson-Onsgard AugustDavidsonOnsgard.com
Focus: Spring migration of songbirds at a historical park. The park’s May list is 78 species to date. No registration necessary. Nearest train stations: DeKalb Avenue station; exit and walk 5 blocks east on DeKalb Avenue; Also Fulton Ave A and […]

**********

Gateway National Park
Saturday, May 25, 2019, 10:00am — 11:00am
Birding for Beginners
Day(s): Every week on Saturday until September 28, 2019
View Details

Sunday, May 26, 2019, 10:00am — 11:30am
Osprey Watch Guided Walk
Day(s): Every week on Sunday until September 29, 2019
View Details

**********

Green-Wood Cemetery
Sunday, May 26, 2019, 6:00am - 7:30am
Birding in Peace
Peak Spring Migration From Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to over 20 species of colorful wood-warblers, our peak migration tours will feature many of the 163 bird species that have been recorded at Green-Wood during the month of May. Beginning just after sunrise, we will experience spring’s dawn chorus at the active time of day for birds.
$10 for members of Green-Wood and BHS / $15 for non-members

Green-Wood’s official birding checklist is available to pick up from the security guard at the main entrance on 25th Street or to print here. Comfortable footwear is recommended.

For this program you will check in at the Gothic Arches, right at the main entrance. Click here for our inclement weather policy.

**********

Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Sunday, May 26, 2019, 2019, 8:00am
Cranberry Bog Nature Preserve
This preserve is a tiny jewel set in the wetlands of Riverhead, and serves as part of the drainage system of the Peconic River and is a natural reservoir for Long Island's fresh water supply. Hiking trails on the property allow for sights of various plant life, birds species, reptiles and other local wildlife. Great Blue Herons fish here frequently, as do kingfishers.
Registration: Call (585) 880-0915 to register.

Directions: Take LIE east to exit 71, then take NY-24 S to Lake Ave, about a mile or so south of the traffic circle. Look for a sign that marks the entrance to the preserve.

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, May 25, 2019 (rain date Sunday, May 26)
Bashakill Marsh and Environs
Leader: John Haas
Registrar: Anne Lazarus — amlazarus47@gmail.com or 212-673-9059
Registration opens: Monday, April 29
Ride: $45

**********

New York City Audubon
Saturday, May 25, 2019, 6:30am – 12:30pm
Birding South Brooklyn: Marine Park and Plumb Beach
Guide: Tod Winston
We'll arrive early at the Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park to seek out secretive Saltmarsh and Seaside Sparrows, Clapper Rails, and waders—and then head to Plumb Beach right after low tide in search of Ruddy Turnstones, Red Knots, Black Skimmers, and terns. Bring lunch, water, and binoculars. Transport by passenger van. Limited to 12. $87 (61)
Click here to register

Saturday, May 25, 2019, 9:00am – 10:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Saturdays, April 27-July 20, 9-10:30am
Guide: 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 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, call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

Sunday, May 26, 2019, 9:00am – 10:30am
Pelham Bay Park Bird Walk Series
Sundays, March 24-June 30 9-10:30am
Guide: NYC Audubon with Pelham Bay Park
Before May 20th: Meet at Orchard Beach Parking Lot
May 20th-June 30th: Meet at Rodman's Neck Parking Lot
Join us to explore some of the best birding NYC has to offer. Come discover Pelham Bay Park's diverse habitat that attracts a variety of spring migrants. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

**********

Northshore Audubon Society
Saturday, May 25, 2019, 9:30am – 12:00pm
Nassau County Museum of Art
Leader: Joyce 516-621-6678‬
Where: Nassau County Museum of Art, One Museum Dr, Roslyn, NY 11576 (map)

Please inform walk leader that you are attending.
See "Walk Locations" for directions.
Wear water-resistant footwear, bring binoculars and drinking water. Wear long pants and socks so you do not touch poison ivy.

**********

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

**********

NYCH2O
Saturday, May 25, 2019, 6:30pm
Horseshoe Crab Discovery Walk
Join NYC H2O and Professor Lisa Jeane Moore to see the horseshoe crabs as they come ashore for their mating ritual as they have done for the last 450 million years. Horseshoe crabs are trilobites, some of the planets' oldest living creatures. They play a critical role in coastal ecology as scavengers whose eggs provide food for migrating birds. In the Northeast, horseshoe crabs numbers are declining due to loss of habitat as well as the over-harvesting of horseshoe crabs for biotech purposes and commercial bait.
More Information

**********

New York City WILD!
Sunday, May 26, 2019, 9:30am
Old Croton Aqueduct - Part 5 (of 8) Yonkers to Van Cortlandt Park, The Bronx

For the full information about each walk click HERE

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, May 25, 2019, 12:00pm-2:00pm
Buck’s Hollow
Enjoy a spring hike through the heart of the Greenbelt. Participants will discuss the diversity of flora and fauna in this rich woodland along the Red Trail. Fresh blooms and early spring bird song will welcome park visitors.
Meet at the Latourette House Golf Course parking lot.
For more information contact Ray Matarazzo at (718) 317-7666.

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Sunday, May 26, 2019
Basherkill
All day trip. Please contact trip leader for meeting time and location. Ask whether to pack a lunch or whether to plan on eating lunch out.

Trip Etiquette
• Non members are welcome on our trips and we would appreciate a nominal $5 (or more!) voluntary donation for non-member participation. We prefer if you offer instead of being asked.
• All persons (member or not) are required to offer contribution if they get a ride with another.
• All persons are requested to Notify the leader at least 2 days in advance if they want to go on a trip.
• Be on time. We depart promptly.

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, May 26, 2019
Hempstead Plains
Take Meadowbrook Parkway Exit M4, west towards Nassau Coliseum and Charles Lindbergh Blvd. Follow Charles Lindbergh Blvd. a short distance to first exit on right, East Parking Area for Nassau Community College. Turn right into East Parking Area and see entrance to Hempstead Plains ahead to the right. There is parking at the Entrance.
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.


**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 25, 2019
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Join us in the park as we focus on wildlife happenings in the park on a walk led by NYC Audubon experts.
Free!

Ecosystem Explorers: Vernal Ponds at Blue Heron Nature Center (in Blue Heron Park), Staten Island
1:00 p.m.–2:30 p.m.
Be an explorer with the Urban Park Rangers as we venture into habitats that exist in New York City Parks!
Free!

Sunday, May 26, 2019
Birding: Spring Migration at Pelham Bay Nature Center (in Pelham Bay 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!

**********

Wild Bird Fund
Saturday, May 25, 2019, 9:00am - 11:00am
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Wild Bird Fund Center, 565 Columbus Avenue New York, NY 10024 United States
Time to see who's at the Reservoir and Pinetum! Join Alan Messer, WBF member, artist, and birder, to check the Reservoir for passage and breeding waterbirds and swifts, then into the Pinetum for breeding songbirds and woodpeckers, and then the Ramble for late warblers and flycatchers. We'll be meeting at the Wild Bird Fund (address below) at 9 AM SHARP on May 25, 2019, with the rain date set for May 26, from 9:00 - 11:00 AM. The walk is…
Find out more »
...Read more

Saturday, May 18, 2019

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, May 17, 2019:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May. 17, 2019
* NYNY1905.17

- Birds mentioned
WHITE-FACED IBIS+
WILSON'S PLOVER+
BURROWING OWL+
SWAINSON'S WARBLER+
SAGE THRASHER+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
LITTLE GULL
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Red-headed Woodpecker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Evening Grosbeak
Pine Siskin
BLUE GROSBEAK
SUMMER TANAGER
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER
Orange-crowned Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
KENTUCKY WARBLER
Mourning Warbler

- Transcript

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

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44 (at)nybirds{dot}org.

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

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, May 17th 2019 at 11pm. The highlights of today's tape are BURROWING OWL, SAGE THRASHER, WILSON'S PLOVER, SWAINSON'S WARBLER, WHITE-FACED IBIS, LITTLE GULL, PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, KENTUCKY WARBLER, SUMMER TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK and much more.

Despite some rather poor spring weather this week has produced an amazing string of rarities.

Thursday evening a BURROWING OWL was found hanging around the small construction site and surrounding marshy area at Big Egg Marsh south of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Broad Channel. The owl was observed catching insects until darkness set in but could not be relocated there Friday.

However, just north of there, at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Friday afternoon a SAGE THRASHER was found feeding along a refuge trail. As gathering birders watched from a respectful distance a nicely marker THRASHER foraged back and forth along the central trail behind the visitors center just above the south garden and below the blind and small pond offering nice views. Hopefully it might continue there Saturday.

Out on eastern Long Island at Cupsogue County Park a WILSON'S PLOVER was found Wednesday around the Piping Plover exclosures on the outer beach just west of the beach buildings. The PLOVER remained in that area through Friday roaming the beachfront from as far east as the houses just east of the county park on Friday but usually more on the western side halfway to the point. It also, at lower tides, has flown to the bay side bars to feed eventually returning to the outer beach.

A reasonable week for landbird migration despite some hard weather the best find among the warblers this week was a SWAINSON'S WARBLER singing in Central Park's Ramble near Bow Bridge on Thursday.

Out at Heckscher State Park a well marked WHITE-FACED IBIS was spotted again Monday among the large gathering of Glossy Ibis in the wet areas at field 6 and today 2 WHITE-FACED were present at that site.

On Sunday during the storm an adult LITTLE GULL was seen briefly as it moved past Riis Park.

Other warbler highlights this week featured a couple of PROTHONOTARYS in Prospect Park as well as one early in the week at Westchester's Oscawana Island Park. A YELLOW-THROATED in Central Park Wednesday and Friday with a KENTUCKY there Thursday and Friday, another YELLOW-THROATED at Avalon Gardens in Stony Brook Thursday, a MOURNING in Prospect Park Friday and an ORANGE-CROWNED in Central Park Thursday. Also among the more unusual warblers were a CERULEAN or two as well as decent numbers of such species as CAPE MAY, BAY-BREASTED, BLACKBURNIAN and other expected species.

Among some SUMMER TANAGERS were birds in Central and Forest Parks while BLUE GROSBEAKS were noted in Central Park and on Governors Island Tuesday with one of each out at Jones Beach West End Thursday.

Other migrants this week featured both YELLOW-BILLED and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS and OLIVE-SIDED, YELLOW-BELLIED and ACADIAN FLYCATCHERS. One or two EVENING GROSBEAKS were noted in Central Park this week as were late PINE SISKINS and a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was found at Pelham Bay Park Wednesday.

An ICELAND GULL and 8 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were at Jones Beach West End last Sunday when another ICELAND and 10 LESSER BLACK-BACKEDS were also at Robert Moses State Park.

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, May 14, 2019

Treehugger Tuesday

From Mother Nature Network:

Scientists create a new type of plastic that can be recycled forever
Christian Cotroneo
May 8, 2019, 3:23 p.m.

Plastic wasn't born to be recycled.

Ever since 1909, when chemist Leo Baekeland developed Bakelite — the first real synthetic, mass-produced plastic — scientists have relied on an entirely unnatural process for making the stuff.

Before then, scientists were trying to make a durable, light material using rubber latex from plants or shellac from beetle secretions. Even celluloid was made mostly from plant cellulose.

But while crude oil remains a key component, plastic just has too many other prickly chemical properties to go easily back to the earth from whence it came. Blame it on additives — dyes, fillers and flame retardants.

All this may account for our woeful inability to control it today.

But scientists at Berkeley Labs have developed a new strain of plastic that they say has all the vaunted properties of modern polymers — but also happens to be 100 percent recyclable.

In a study published in April in Nature Chemistry, the team describes a new type of plastic that can be broken down at the molecular level. As a result, that plastic can be fully recovered and made into new items as pristine as the original.

"Most plastics were never made to be recycled," lead author Peter Christensen from Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry noted in a statement. "But we have discovered a new way to assemble plastics that takes recycling into consideration from a molecular perspective."

If you had a recycling bin full of items made from that new plastic, all of it would end up in someone else's recycling bin and then someone else's bin forever and ever.

Of course, the key would be to make sure it ends up in that bin. Rather than, say, the Indian Ocean. At the very least, the Berkeley team suggests, the new plastic could dramatically ease the burden on landfills and even make the all-too complicated business of recycling a lot smoother.

Why current plastics are so hard to recycle

A big reason why recycling often falls short, the researchers note, is due to the additives. The recycling process is often gummed up by chemicals that stick to monomers — the small compounds that fuse to become polymers. As such, it's hard to scrub those polymers clean at the recycling plant. Ultimately, plastics with differing chemical compositions are all lumped together at the plant, making it impossible to predict what the recycled product will look like.

And, as the team notes in the release, durability of that recycled product suffers. Plastic doesn't get a lot of rides on the recycling train before it becomes essentially useless.

Enter the new plastic — a material the Berkeley team dubs polydiketoenamine, or PDK. Unlike the traditional stuff, an acid bath is all that's needed to scrub its monomers clean from all those clingy additives. From there, those basic monomers form the building blocks of the next plastic product — whether it's a water bottle or a kid's lunch pail. Because the plastic is broken down into its most basic components, and built up again, there is no loss in quality or durability.

Recycling could actually become the perfect circle it was envisioned to be.

"This is an exciting time to start thinking about how to design both materials and recycling facilities to enable circular plastics," one of the study authors, Brett Helms, notes in the release.

Could there really be a great future in plastics — again?

The trick will be to get PDK out of a Berkeley lab and into circulation, a daunting but increasingly urgent proposition considering the toll traditional plastic is taking on our planet.

But the researchers say this plastic won't be released into the wild just yet. They're working on adding natural materials to PDK, hoping to make it not only strong and durable but greener.

Full circle indeed.
...Read more

Monday, May 13, 2019

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, May 18, 2019 to Sunday, May 19, 2019:

Bedford Audubon Society
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 7:30am - 12:00pm
Doodletown Road
Doodletown Road, Rockland County, NY
Come with us to a special place where everyone goes to find Hooded and Cerulean Warblers.
Naturalist Tait Johansson will guide you on a Field Trip to Doodletown Road which is not only known as the best place in the area to find these breeding warblers but is also a fine spot for many other songbirds, migrants and breeders alike. Enjoy the walk up the rugged trail past the ruins of a “lost civilization.”
Saturday, May 18, 7:30am-12noon. Depart Bylane at 6:30am or meet at the Doodletown Trailhead at 7:30am. Cost: Free. Level of Difficulty: Moderate. Please register with Susan at info@bedfordaudubon.org or 914-302-9713.
See more details

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 7:15am - 12:00pm
Prospect Park Saturday Walk
Leader: Dennis Hrehowsik Meet at Ocean/Parkside Avenues, “The Pergola” at 7:15 am No registration necessary.
Please review our trip guidelines here: http://brooklynbirdclub.org/information-registration

Saturday, May 18, 2019, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Prospect Park: Birdwatching for Beginners
Leader: Cyrus Baty
Birdwatching for Beginners meets at the Prospect Park Audubon Center at The Boathouse at 12 noon.
Bring binoculars if you have them; otherwise, binoculars are available for loan.

Sunday, May 19, 2019, 9:00am - 10:30am
Fort Greene Park, North Brooklyn
Meet 9 am at the Urban Park Rangers Visitors Center https://tinyurl.com/FtGreeneVCtr
Leader: August Davidson-Onsgard AugustDavidsonOnsgard.com
Focus: Spring migration of songbirds at a historical park. The park’s May list is 78 species to date. No registration necessary. Nearest train stations: DeKalb Avenue station; exit and walk 5 blocks east on DeKalb Avenue; Also Fulton Ave A and […]

**********

Eastern Long Island Audubon Society
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 9:00am
Hallockville Museum Farm and Hallock State Park Bird Walk
Leader: MaryLaura Lamont
Sparrows, wood warblers, orioles, vireos, and grosbeaks can all be found in the fields, woods and pond of these two attached parcels of land, bordering Long Island Sound. It is a good “resting and refueling” spot for birds of all kinds before they take off over the wide Sound to their northern breeding grounds. The $8.00 fee goes towards the educational programs of Hallockville Museum Farm. Call (631) 298-5292 to register or for details.

Sunday, May 19, 2019, 8:00am
Hunters Garden
Leader: Eileen Schwinn
Located on the west side of Route 51 in Northampton (border of Brookhaven and Southampton Townships, just north of Sunrise Highway), Hunters Garden is a DEC managed area which is truly unique. Vernal ponds and dirt trails lead us in a rather hilly section of the South Shore. Cuckoo, Scarlet Tanager, Vireos, Wood and Hermit Thrush, Gnat catchers, as well as many warblers, are likely to be seen. Dress for ticks, and bring a snack/water. We will meet at the clearing at the end of the dirt road (which will, hopefully, have an open yellow gate), approximately one mile from the Route 51 “entrance”. Contact Eileen at beachmed@optonline.net for more information.

**********

Feminist Bird Club
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Horseshoe Crab Festival at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

**********

Gateway National Park
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 10:00am — 11:00am
Birding for Beginners
Day(s): Every week on Saturday until September 28, 2019
View Details

Sunday, May 19, 2019, 8:30am — 1:00pm
Horseshoe Crab Festival
View Details

Sunday, May 19, 2019, 10:00am — 11:30am
Osprey Watch Guided Walk
Day(s): Every week on Sunday until September 29, 2019
View Details

**********

Great South Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, May 18, 2019 to Sunday, May 19, 2019 - 7:00am
Sterling Forest and Bashakill
Leader(s): John Gluth (631-827-0120)

From Tappan Zee Bridge, take I-87 to Sloatsburg exit 15A, take the exit for Rte 72 (Sterling Mine Rd.), 1-mile up Rte 17. Continue west on Rte 72 for 3 Miles until you reach Rte 84, Long Meadow Rd. Continue up long Meadow Rd to Sterling Lake Rd (4 Mi). Turn left there and continue to Park Visitors Center parking lot on Old Forge Rd. Overnight at Wurtsboro Days Inn (845-888-8727).

(Nature walks will be cancelled if it is raining or snowing.)

**********

Green-Wood Cemetery
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 6:00am - 7:30am
Birding in Peace
Peak Spring Migration From Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to over 20 species of colorful wood-warblers, our peak migration tours will feature many of the 163 bird species that have been recorded at Green-Wood during the month of May. Beginning just after sunrise, we will experience spring’s dawn chorus at the active time of day for birds.

Sunday, May 19, 2019, 6:00am - 7:30am
Birding in Peace
Peak Spring Migration From Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to over 20 species of colorful wood-warblers, our peak migration tours will feature many of the 163 bird species that have been recorded at Green-Wood during the month of May. Beginning just after sunrise, we will experience spring’s dawn chorus at the active time of day for birds.

$10 for members of Green-Wood and BHS / $15 for non-members

Green-Wood’s official birding checklist is available to pick up from the security guard at the main entrance on 25th Street or to print here. Comfortable footwear is recommended.

For this program you will check in at the Gothic Arches, right at the main entrance. Click here for our inclement weather policy.

**********

Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Sunday, May 19, 2019, 8:30am
Doodletown
Great spot to see upstate birds, including Cerulean and Hooded Warblers!
Registration: Call 631-885-1881 to register.

Directions: Travel west over the Tappan Zee Bridge to exit 13. Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway north. Go north to Route 6 to the Bear Mountain traffic circle. Leave the circle at the first exit, the Bear Mountain State Park exit. At the light, follow the left fork south along 9W. Within less than 1 mile there will be several small parking areas near two, white concrete abutments indicating the bridge over Doodletown Brook. Park along the road.

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, May 18, 2019 (Rain Date May 19)
Doodletown
Leader: Paul Keim
Registrar: Anne Lazarus — amlazarus47@gmail.com or 212-673-9059
Registration opens: Monday, May 6
Ride: $30

**********

New York City Audubon
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 7:30am – 2:30pm
The Birds of Rockefeller State Preserve, NY
Guide: Tod Winston
Explore the forested hills, fields, and ponds of this lovely preserve, a former country estate of the Rockefeller family. We'll look for migrant songbirds as well as local breeding species like Eastern Bluebird, Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Blue-winged Warbler. Bring lunch. Transport by passenger van. Limited to 12. $122 (85)
Click here to register

Saturday, May 18, 2019, 9:00am – 10:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Saturdays, April 27-July 20, 9-10:30am
Guide: 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 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, call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

Saturday, May 18, 2019, 9:30am – 10:30am
Queens Botanical Garden Bird Walks
Saturdays, March 30 and April 27 and May 18, 9:30-10:30am
Sundays, April 7 and April 14, 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 the Garden offers birds and other wildlife. Binoculars available. Register for one date or the whole series of five walks (walk-ins welcome). To register, email info@queensbotanical.org or visit www.queensbotanical.org/calendar. Each walk limited to 25. Free (with Garden admission)

Saturday, May 18, 2019, 1pm – 4pm
Nesting Peregrines and Red-tails of the Upper West Side
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Many New Yorkers are astonished to discover that their city of steel and glass is home to a diverse population of large birds of prey: the City boasts the world’s highest densities of the Peregrine Falcon—the world’s fastest flyer—and a growing population of Red-tailed Hawks (several pairs of which have reached celebrity status). We’ll visit the nesting site of a pair of each of these fascinating species, and may glimpse parents feeding their chicks. Limited to 15. $36 (25)
Click here to register

Saturday, May 18, 2019, 2:00pm – 3:30pm
An Afternoon Bird Walk in Central Park
PLEASE NOTE: This date has been changed
Guide: Jeff Ward
Search for spring migrants on a leisurely afternoon walk through Central Park's best birding spots with Jeff Ward, NYC Audubon’s newest trip leader (see Winter 2018-2019 The Urban Audubon for a profile on Jeff). Each walk limited to 15. $36 (25) per walk
Click here to register

Sunday, May 19, 2019, 8am – 12pm
Birding Gems of Staten Island: Clove Lakes Park
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Journey to the "forgotten borough" to discover some of the beautiful forests and incredible birding spots of 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, as well as nesting Eastern Screech-Owls and Great Blue Herons. We'll even see one of the largest and oldest trees in New York City. 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

Sunday, May 19, 2019, 8:00am – 9:30am
North Brooklyn Bird Walks
Where: Msgr. McGolrick Park, Russell Street and Nassau Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
DescriptionDescription:Come along with Heather Wolf, author of Birding at the Bridge and web developer for Cornell Lab of Ornithology's eBird.org, for a leisurely walk through McGolrick Park to see spring migrants and breeding bird residents in North Brooklyn. Registration required. Limited to 20. Free

Sunday, May 19, 2019, 8:30am – 2:00pm
3rd Annual Horseshoe Crab Festival at Jamaica Bay
With American Littoral Society, Gateway National Recreation Area
Join us for a day of celebrating the annual arrival of horseshoe crabs to our local shores. During the full and new moons of May and June, these prehistoric animals, which date back approximately 400 million years, come ashore to mate. The females lay billions of eggs at the high tide line each season. At the same time, thousands of migrating shorebirds arrive in the northeast bays to feed on the eggs, regaining the body weight they lost during their long journey north. At the festival you’ll see and hold live horseshoe crabs and learn about their important ecological and medicinal values. For more information on the festival, contact the American Littoral Society at 718-474-0896 or email Don Riepe at donriepe@gmail.com.
The program is free, but suggested donations of $20 for adults and $10 for children to NYC Audubon are suggested to offset the festival cost. No registration required.
To inquire about van transportation from Manhattan, call NYC Audubon at 212-691-7483 x304.

Sunday, May 19, 2019, 9:00am – 10:30am
Pelham Bay Park Bird Walk Series
Sundays, March 24-June 30 9-10:30am
Guide: NYC Audubon with Pelham Bay Park
Before May 20th: Meet at Orchard Beach Parking Lot
May 20th-June 30th: Meet at Rodman's Neck Parking Lot
Join us to explore some of the best birding NYC has to offer. Come discover Pelham Bay Park's diverse habitat that attracts a variety of spring migrants. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

**********

Northshore Audubon Society
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 8am – 12pm
NYIT de Serversky Center
Leader: Liz (516) 404-1984‬
Where: NYIT de Seversky Mansion, 1 Northern Blvd, Glen Head, NY 11545, USA (map)

Please inform walk leader that you are attending.
See "Walk Locations" for directions.
Wear water-resistant footwear, bring binoculars and drinking water. Wear long pants and socks so you do not touch poison ivy.

**********

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

**********

New York City WILD!
Sunday, May 19, 2019, 9:30am
Old Croton Aqueduct - Part 4 (of 8) Dobbs Ferry to Yonkers

For the full information about each walk click HERE

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 10:00am-12:00pm
Ambling through Arden
Carlton Blvd. and Legate Avenue, Staten Island
Participants will meet at the north end of Carlton Boulevard (west off Woodrow Road), and then wander through Arden Heights Woods to get some idea of the changes the Department of Parks might soon making. We’ll admire this largest of NYC hardwood wetlands, and maybe even get a little lost on the yet ill-marked trails. (It may be buggy in the low areas, so you might want to bring spray.) Inclement weather will cancel.
For more information call Don Recklies at (718) 768-9036.

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Doodletown
Leader: Ian Resnick (917) 626-9562

Trip Etiquette
• Non members are welcome on our trips and we would appreciate a nominal $5 (or more!) voluntary donation for non-member participation. We prefer if you offer instead of being asked.
• All persons (member or not) are required to offer contribution if they get a ride with another.
• All persons are requested to Notify the leader at least 2 days in advance if they want to go on a trip.
• Be on time. We depart promptly.

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Jones Beach West End 2

From the Southern State Parkway, exit onto the Meadowbrook State Parkway south. After entering Jones Beach State Park, exit right (west) into the West End. Continue west to West End 2 parking lot; we meet in the northeast corner of the lot.

From the Wantagh State Parkway, travel south. Upon entering Jones Beach State Park, exit at Bay Drive and continue west to West End 2 parking lot; we meet in the northeast corner of the 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.


**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 18, 2019
Bird Walk at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Join us in the park as we focus on wildlife happenings in the park on a walk led by NYC Audubon experts.
Free!

Bird Walk with NYC Audubon at Queens Botanical Garden, Queens
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
In this special series with NYC Audubon, spot and identify creatures of flight and learn how Queens Botanical Garden provides important resources for birds—like water, shelter, and insects to eat.

Sunday, May 19, 2019
Birding: Warbler Watch at Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island
9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Our Urban Park Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle.
Free!

**********

Wild Bird Fund
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 9:00am - 11:00am
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Wild Bird Fund Center, 565 Columbus Avenue New York, NY 10024 United States
Take a bird walk in Central Park - a Living Treasure hunt for spring migrants. Accidental birder Ricki Ravitts will lead the hunt for flighty warblers, shy thrush, jewel-toned tanagers and orioles - or whatever crosses our path. Ricki began birding some years ago when she saw her first warbler, "Did I just see a little yellow bird wearing a black Zorro mask?" Yes, indeed. Her obsession grew over years of birding in local parks, plus trips throughout Central and…
Find out more »
...Read more

Saturday, May 11, 2019

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, May 10, 2019:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May 10, 2019
* NYNY1905.10

- Birds Mentioned

BLACK-NECKED STILT+
COMMON GREENSHANK+
RUFF+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Red-necked Grebe
American Bittern
Tricolored Heron
Cattle Egret
Greater Yellowlegs
Stilt Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Roseate Tern
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Common Nighthawk
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Pine Siskin
Evening Grosbeak
Purple Finch
Vesper Sparrow
Saltmarsh Sparrow
Worm-eating Warbler
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER
Orange-crowned Warbler
Mourning Warbler
KENTUCKY WARBLER
Hooded Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
TOWNSEND’S WARBLER (Extralimital)
SUMMER TANAGER
BLUE GROSBEAK


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, May 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm.

The highlights of today's tape are COMMON GREENSHANK, RUFF, BLACK-NECKED STILT, PROTHONOTARY, YELLOW-THROATED, KENTUCKY, GOLDEN-WINGED and extralimital TOWNSEND’S WARBLERS, SUMMER TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK and much more.

Well, it is Warbler time, but what a fine week for Shorebirds! Last Sunday at the rain pools on Timber Point Golf Course in Great River a COMMON GREENSHANK was discovered feeding with GREATER YELLOWLEGS and other Shorebirds and Gulls on what was fortunately a rather unpleasant rainy day that kept golf course activity to an absolute minimum. For all of Sunday birders were able to enjoy nice views of what, pending NYSARC acceptance, will be a first NYS record. With conditions improving overnight, golf course play resumed Monday, and the bird was only seen very early and not thereafter and has not been uncovered since.

This morning at Marshlands Conservancy in Rye a nicely plumaged male white and black RUFF appeared on the mud flats with some GREATER YELLOWLEGS, but after a 40 minute stay it suddenly took off and joined a migrating flock of shorebirds moving overhead. The flock circled as though considering landing on the flats but then rose higher and continued southwest down the Westchester coast towards New York City. Among the other shorebirds at Marshlands today were three WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS.

A BLACK-NECKED STILT extended its stay at the Lido Beach Passive Natural Area at least to Tuesday, and a second one was found Sunday out on eastern Long Island at Georgica Pond in East Hampton, this one not reported after Sunday.

Another Shorebird of note was a STILT SANDPIPER reported from the lagoon at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx today.

Among the Herons, two lingering CATTLE EGRETS were at Oakwood Beach on Staten Island Saturday, an AMERICAN BITTERN was flushed at Southards Pond Park in Babylon Sunday, and a TRICOLORED HERON was at Captree Island Monday.

Last Saturday single CASPIAN TERNS were at Jones Beach West End and Sagg Pond, and among scattered numbers of LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were 61 counted last Sunday along the beachfront at Robert Moses State Park off Fields 2 and 5.

Six RED-NECKED GREBES were off Playland Park in Rye on Monday.

Single EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILLS were seen at Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery Monday and in Central Park Wednesday and heard in northern Manhattan early Friday morning.

Despite some continuing rather poor migration weather locally, some Warbler highlights have included PROTHONOTARY WARBLER in Central and Prospect Parks Saturday and later, with two in Prospect Tuesday, in Massapequa Preserve and one at Southards Pond Wednesday. YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was noted in Central Park Monday and again today and at Rye Nature Center during the week. A GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER visited the Forest Park waterhole Sunday. KENTUCKY WARBLERS were in Central Park Wednesday and Thursday and Forest Park Thursday, and Central Park provided a MOURNING WARBLER Sunday and Tuesday. The excellent Warbler variety also included an ORANGE-CROWNED at Robert Moses State Park Saturday; CERULEAN WARBLERS in Central and Prospect Parks and at Southards Pond, and such other species as WORM-EATING, BAY-BREASTED, CAPE MAY, HOODED and twenty or so other species. And there was also an extralimital TOWNSEND’S WARBLER at Bashakill in Sullivan County last Saturday.

Over a dozen SUMMER TANAGERS this week included birds in Central and Prospect Parks, Forest Park, with two there Wednesday, Alley Pond Park and Hempstead Lake State Park, Cunningham Park, the Bronx Zoo, Jones Beach West End, and a couple on eastern Long Island.

BLUE GROSBEAKS too had a good week, with birds in Central Park, Owls Head and Calvert Vaux Parks in Brooklyn, Jones Beach West End and Marshlands Conservancy in Rye.

Some arrivals noted this week have included COMMON NIGHTHAWK, ROSEATE TERN, YELLOW-BILLED and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS, OLIVE-SIDED, WILLOW and YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS, GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH and SALTMARSH SPARROW.

An EVENING GROSBEAK visited the Central Park feeders Wednesday, and some PINE SISKINS and PURPLE FINCHES are still around.

A VESPER SPARROW was at Floyd Bennett Field Sunday.

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, May 07, 2019

Treehugger Tuesday

From Slate:

When the Internet Lets Us Love Nature a Little Too Much
April Glaser
April 04, 2019

Our enthusiasm for sharing birds, plants, and superblooms has unintended consequences. But we can use the same tools that made the problem to fix it.

Birders like to make lists. The other day, just walking by the lake in Oakland, California, I saw an Anna’s hummingbird, a couple different types of finches, grebes, sparrows, a kingfisher, a great blue heron, and an egret. Soon, I plan to upload that list to eBird, the online bird-watching community based out of Cornell University, which is the largest citizen science open data archive in the world. None of these species are particularly threatened, so I feel good about sharing my list. But had I been in a region where birds are struggling for their lives and I spotted a threatened species, like the violet-necked lory of Indonesia, the Dulit frogmouth of Borneo, or the golden-winged laughing thrush of Vietnam, I would think twice before posting those findings to an app with nearly half a million other eBirders who have clocked some 590 million bird observations since the project started in 2002.

The whole point of eBird is to share birding data, so that other birders can enjoy the same delights. But a couple years ago, in October 2017, the project under went one of the largest overhauls to its code to date: The database started hiding birds entered into its system that were endangered and threatened. “Basically, the whole database had been built to share bird data and show it publicly on maps,” Marshall Iliff, a project leader at eBird, told me in an interview. “We put basically 10 years of development and PR behind asking users to show us exactly where they found the birds, so it’d be most useful for science. And suddenly we were in this situation where we realized we have to hide certain birds.”

When it comes to enjoying nature in real life, most people’s intention in sharing their experiences online is to celebrate it. But these increasingly ubiquitous acts are also opening the door to abuse. Apps and databases made for identifying and mapping native plants and birds have had to rebuild their infrastructure in recent years to obfuscate endangered species.
It’s the only way to protect them from poachers who are savvy enough to take advantage of the citizen science open data projects and nature forums where enthusiasts share photos and locations of plants and animals with fellow nature lovers.

Though Iliff says he hasn’t heard specific reports of eBird data being used by poachers, with open data it’s pretty hard to know what people who access the information do with it. “We do know that there were anecdotal reports of people in Indonesian markets saying that some of the bird trappers were familiar with eBird and pull it up on their phone to say, ‘This is where the bird lives,’ ” Iliff sighed, adding that the poachers were also reportedly savvy about downloading birdsongs from other websites, like xeno-canto.org, a bird sound database that likewise takes precautions to protect sensitive species. The market incentivizes the poachers—the beak of the helmeted hornbill in Indonesia, for example, with its red rubbery neck, remarkably expressive eyes, and prized casque that resembles ivory, can sell for thousands of dollars. Now, after the changes, birdwatchers can log data for the helmeted hornbill, but it’s not sharable.

Thanks to the well-meaning efforts of citizen scientists and open data projects, what in a previous generation may have taken poachers years to map can now be downloaded in minutes.

Closing select parts of a fundamentally open platform wasn’t easy. Over the course of about eight months, eBird built in features that allowed a person who entered the data of a protected species to see it, as well as eBird’s data review team, but no one else. EBird flags birds that are on its Sensitive Species List, which are at risk of being captured, targeted, and killed, or are at risk of detrimental disturbance in specific locations. There are hundreds of birds listed as sensitive. When a threatened species is logged, it’ll show that the bird is within a 20-kilometer area but won’t allow users to drill down to the specific location of the sighting. And if you share your bird list with a friend, only you’ll be able to see the endangered species you recorded—they won’t show up on the shared list. The same goes with photos of threatened birds and other tools that eBird has built to share bird spotting data.

It’s not only birds that need privacy online. In 2015, a Spanish husband and wife team were arrested after a park ranger found them with a pickup truck just outside the remote Knersvlakte Nature Reserve near the central west coast of South Africa. When a ranger asked to look in the couple’s backpacks, she found 49 of the miniature succulents that grow between the quartz that blankets the arid flatland. The couple, it turns out, was anonymously operating a website, africansucculents.eu, where they sold poached plants, according to a report from Yale Environment 360. The Knersvlakte is one of the richest succulent diversity zones in the world, with 1,500 species of plants, including more than 150 that are threatened with extinction.

Back at the succulent thieves’ guest room, authorities discovered more than 2,200 succulents worth around $100,000. Beyond the thousands of plants, hundreds of which were threatened species, the couple’s room was also packed with pages of research. There were reportedly pictures and detailed maps printed from social media and the online citizen science database iSpot, as well as pages from the digital museum project JSTOR Global Plants. Thanks to the well-meaning efforts of citizen scientists and open data projects, what in a previous generation may have taken poachers years to map can now be downloaded in minutes.

In recent years, other wildlife data projects that opened with the primary intention of sharing as much data on the natural world as possible have started to batten down, too. INaturalist, a citizen science portal that records sightings of all kinds of wildlife, from plants to birds to insects and fish, started hiding endangered taxa in 2011, though Ken-ichi Ueda, one of the founders and directors of iNaturalist, told me it was a problem they considered since starting in 2008. Today, iNaturalist logs about 135,000 observations a month, of which about 4,600 obscure the location data because the wildlife is marked as threatened. The push to hide plants and animals that are at risk, Ueda says, was driven by the launch of a project on iNaturalist called the Global Amphibian BioBlitz that encourages sharing citizen data of amphibians around the world by gamifying the observations and highlighting users who log the most. So far, more than 11,000 identifiers have logged in nearly 300,000 observations. Before the project launched, Ueda told me that many of the groups iNaturalist was partnering with in the world of amphibian conservation, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature, were concerned that the project wasn’t hiding location data and asked that the database be built in a way to obscure the coordinates of threatened wildlife before they collaborated.

Hiding data puts open data projects in an obvious bind. “A great deal of what I have learned about the natural history of California comes from information others have shared in public on the internet, and one of my purposes in developing iNaturalist was to facilitate the same kind of sharing so others could learn as I have,” Ueda commented on a Facebook post I made asking about how citizen science projects grapple with threatened species on the California Native Plant Society group. “Hiding the locations of threatened species is ultimately about hiding information, not sharing it, so I think it’s important for everyone to understand there’s a tradeoff: the more you hide, the less you share, and the less useful the information becomes.”

Databases for nature obsessives aren’t the only way our online habits threaten wildlife. Virality on social media can be deadly as well. The wildflowers of Southern California are so stunning this year they’re causing what Lake Elsinore officials are calling “a public safety crisis.” Hundreds of thousands of people have descended on the small Southern California city to photograph the rare cascade of poppies that paints the hillsides with delicate apricot flowers. The mania is sparked by enviable Instagram posts of people frolicking in the bloom, likely crushing flowers underfoot as they venture, against the advisement of the park rangers, off trail to get that perfect shot drenched in California sunshine. A couple even flew a helicopter into a field of poppies recently at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve to take a hike—likely killing hundreds of the beautiful buds visitors exactly like them would wish to see upon landing. “We have brought in all available staff, as many outside traffic controllers that we could, more shuttles, and our small City cannot sustain crowds of this magnitude,” read a recent post on the Facebook page of Lake Elsinore City Hall. The mayor of Lake Elsinore dubbed the uncontrollable throngs of flower tourists a “Poppy Apocalypse” and last month the city even had to shut down two interstate ramps to keep tourists away, announcing the closures on Instagram with the hashtags #Poppyshutdown, #IsItOver, and #PoppyNightmare.

There’s something just a little too 2019 about the internet finding a way to ruin wildflowers. But all of this is an inevitable consequence of how online our lives have become. The internet is perhaps best at making the world seem so much smaller than it really is. The popularization of natural wonders, like California’s superbloom, fueled by sun dappled photos on Facebook and Instagram, attracting thousands of onlookers and social media influencers who step on the flowers, scratches at a larger question how we can revel in nature without inadvertently ruining it. When we share an image online of a place or a bird or a flower that we love, we are sharing our experience with it. But even as we aim to spread beauty, we must also reckon with the truth about the human-induced fragility of our ever-deteriorating natural world. And that might sometimes mean not sharing everything.

Northern California is currently in the midst of a succulent poaching crisis of its own. The crown jewels the thieves are after are the Dudleya farinosa, a thick-leafed roseate flushed with pink tips and a bizarre flowering yellow stalk that towers from its center. When mature, the plants can fetch as much $100 where they’re currently in vogue in South Korea, where people display them as a windowsill decoration. That’s why they’re being plundered by poachers who often fly in, load up on cardboard boxes, snag a hotel room, and spend their days digging up succulents off oceanside cliffs. Stephen McCabe, a dudleya expert and emeritus director of research for the UC–Santa Cruz Arboretum, told me that thousands are being pulled from the ground a month. Many are decades old—some are as old as a 100. McCabe, who helps law enforcement identify poached plants, told me that while he hasn’t heard of any of the poachers specifically using sightings from citizen science projects, he did say he’s been asked on online plant forums for help spotting suspicious activity. “I saw posts on social media where someone was looking for identification of plants that looked wild collected. And then I looked on eBay and the person was selling them,” McCabe tells me. “I said something about how I am not going to help you. And they stopped posting and disappeared.” That’s the thing about the internet—it’s just the tool. What really matters is how we use it.
...Read more

Monday, May 06, 2019

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, May 11, 2019 to Sunday, May 12, 2019:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, May 11, 2019
“The Birdathon”, World Migratory Bird Day (for teams)
The Brooklyn Bird Club celebrates World Migratory Bird Day every year by holding a Birdathon, in which members form or join a team and go out and count bird species. Typically participants reach out to friends and family for donations, usually a set amount per bird species counted during the course of the day. This […]

Saturday, May 11, 2019, 7:00am
“The Birdathon walk” in Prospect Park
Meet 7:00 at the Grand Army Plaza park entrance (Stranahan Statue) Leader Paul Keim Note: Participants can elect to support this year's Birdathon beneficiary, "Save the Choco." Save the Chocó’s mission is to build awareness and collaborate with local and global organizations to help protect vital areas and species throughout the Chocó region of Ecuador–a […]

Saturday, May 11, 2019, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Prospect Park: Birdwatching for Beginners
Leader: Cyrus Baty
Birdwatching for Beginners meets at the Prospect Park Audubon Center at The Boathouse at 12 noon.
Bring binoculars if you have them; otherwise, binoculars are available for loan.

Sunday, May 12, 2019, 9:00am - 10:30am
Fort Greene Park, North Brooklyn
Meet 9 am at the Urban Park Rangers Visitors Center https://tinyurl.com/FtGreeneVCtr
Leader: August Davidson-Onsgard AugustDavidsonOnsgard.com
Focus: Spring migration of songbirds at a historical park. The park’s May list is 78 species to date. No registration necessary. Nearest train stations: DeKalb Avenue station; exit and walk 5 blocks east on DeKalb Avenue; Also Fulton Ave A and […]

**********

Eastern Long Island Audubon Society
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:00am
International Migratory Bird Day Walk at the William Floyd Estate
Leader: MaryLaura Lamont
The 613 acre William Floyd Estate bordering Moriches Bay is a magnate for migratory songbirds, many of which are in steep decline. Neotropical species, such as vireos, thrush, grosbeaks and warblers and many shorebirds should all be found on this 3-mile round-trip walk through the varied habitats of field, woods, creeks and marshlands. The Estate is located at 245 Park Drive, Mastic Beach. Call MaryLaura Lamont at (631)399-2030 for info.

**********

Freshkills Park Alliance
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 10:00am
Family Nature Walk
Lace up your shoes for a family-friendly nature walk at Freshkills Park! Learn about the different plants and animals found in the park.
Read More

**********

Gateway National Park
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 10:00am
World Migratory Bird Day at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Come celebrate World Migratory Bird Day with us here at the Refuge. This year’s theme is “Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution.” Attend guided birding walks, participate in family friendly activities and partici-pate in a beach cleanup. For more information and schedule of events, call 718-318-4340.
Reservation or Registration: No

**********

Great South Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 7:00am
Alley Pond Park
Leader(s): Mike Cooper (516-523-2369) and Bob Grover (516-318-8536)
Northern State Pkwy to Exit 23, which reads: Cross Island Parkway, Union Turnpike and Alley Pond Park. Go to Union Turnpike (NOT Alley Pond Park). At the signal light, turn right onto Union Turnpike. Proceed to the next signal light which is Springfield Blvd and turn right. Go about 4 blocks to 76th Ave. Turn right onto 76th Ave. and proceed to Alley Pond Parking lot on your left.

Sunday, May 12, 2019, 8:00am
Birding and Breakfast, Connetquot River SPP
Leader(s): Edith and Bob Wilson, Helga Merryman, Ken Thompson, Jack Carlson
Continental breakfast. Reservations required - call Connetquot River State Park Preserve at 581-1072 or fill out the form on our programs page to register. Registration fee $4. plus $8 parking fee per car - unless you have yearly Empire pass.

(Nature walks will be cancelled if it is raining or snowing.)

**********

Green-Wood Cemetery
Sunday, May 12, 2019, 6:00am - 7:30am
Birding in Peace
Peak Spring Migration From Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to over 20 species of colorful wood-warblers, our peak migration tours will feature many of the 163 bird species that have been recorded at Green-Wood during the month of May. Beginning just after sunrise, we will experience spring’s dawn chorus at the active time of day for birds.

$10 for members of Green-Wood and BHS / $15 for non-members

Green-Wood’s official birding checklist is available to pick up from the security guard at the main entrance on 25th Street or to print here. Comfortable footwear is recommended.

For this program you will check in at the Gothic Arches, right at the main entrance. Click here for our inclement weather policy.

**********

Hudson River Audubon Society
Sunday May 12, 2019, 10:00am
Mother’s Day Warbler at Lenoir Nature Preserve
19 Dudley Street Yonkers
Join us for our yearly Audubon tradition. Spring migrants will be searched for; followed by refreshments at the nature center.
http://www.hras.org/wtobird/lenoir.html

**********

Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Sunday, May 12, 2019, 8:00am
Sterling Forest, Tuxedo Park, NY
Celebrate Mother's Day by checking out this great spot in upstate New York. Sterling Forest is known for its Golden-winged Warblers.
Registration: 585-880-0915
Directions: Meet at the end of Ironwood Drive in the park.

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, May 11, and Sunday, May 12, 2019
Great Gull Island Birdathon

Sunday, May 12, 2019
Bashakill Marsh and Environs
Leader: John Haas
Registrar: Dale Dancis — ddancis@gmail.com or 212-724-3269
Registration opens: Monday, April 29
Ride: $45

**********

New York City Audubon
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 7am – 3pm
Sterling Forest Warblers
Guides: Don Riepe, Tod Winston
Explore the woodland and pond habitat of the 20,000-acre Sterling Forest preserve during peak spring migration. Look for nesting warblers as well as spring wildflowers, reptiles, and amphibians. Trip involves four-mile hike and some rocky terrain. Bring lunch and water. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $115 (80)
Click here to register

Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:00am – 11:30am
Spring Migrants at Inwood Hill Park
Guide: Annie Barry
Join Annie Barry for a hike through a mature forest in search of kinglets, warblers, flycatchers, sparrows, and other migrants and residents. We’ll then head to the shores of recently restored Muscota Marsh, the last natural saltmarsh in Manhattan, to search for herons and ducks. Some hilly walking required. Limited to 15. $36 (25)
Click here to register

Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:00am – 10:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Saturdays, April 27-July 20, 9-10:30am
Guide: 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 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, call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

Saturday, May 11, 2019, 10am – 1pm
Randall's Island Birding Bonanza
Guide: NYC Audubon with Randall's Island Park Alliance
Meet at Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh, south of Icahn Stadium. Randall's Island is home to over 180 species of birds. Enjoy a day of free, family-friendly activities and birding. Learn about the amazing adaptations of birds as they thrive in the Island's restored habitats. No registration required. No Limit. Free

Sunday, May 12, 2019, 8am – 11am
Spring Warblers Field Trip
Class: Friday, May 10, 6:30-8:30pm
Trip: Sunday, May 12, 8-11am
Instructor: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC
First learn to identify the 30-plus species of warblers that migrate through our area each spring, using field marks and other techniques. Then go out in the field and reinforce what you’ve learned on our field trip to Central Park. Limited to 12. $72 (50)
Click here to register

Sunday, May 12, 2019, 9:00am – 10:30am
Pelham Bay Park Bird Walk Series
Sundays, March 24-June 30 9-10:30am
Guide: NYC Audubon with Pelham Bay Park
Before May 20th: Meet at Orchard Beach Parking Lot
May 20th-June 30th: Meet at Rodman's Neck Parking Lot
Join us to explore some of the best birding NYC has to offer. Come discover Pelham Bay Park's diverse habitat that attracts a variety of spring migrants. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

**********

Newtown Historical Society
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:00am
All Faiths Cemetery Nature and History Tour
Meet at the cemetery office. Tour will take 2-3 hours.
Rob Jett will co-lead this tour at the peak of bird migration.
RSVP/Questions: (718) 366-3715 or newtownhistory@gmail.com

**********

Northshore Audubon Society
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 6:30am – 12:00pm
"Big DAY" - start early at Alley Pond Park
Leader: Ian (917) 626-9562
Where: 40.740640, -73.747500 (map)
NOTE: VERY EARLY START TIME

Please inform walk leader that you are attending.
See "Walk Locations" for directions.
Wear water-resistant footwear, bring binoculars and drinking water. Wear long pants and socks so you do not touch poison ivy.

**********

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

**********

New York City WILD!
Sunday, May 12, 2019, 9:30am
Old Croton Aqueduct - Part 3 (of 8) Sleepy Hollow to Dobbs Ferry

For the full information about each walk click HERE

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, May 11, 2019
Big Day
Leaders: Ian Resnick (917) 626-9562 / Corey Finger 10000birdsblogger@gmail.com

Trip Etiquette
• Non members are welcome on our trips and we would appreciate a nominal $5 (or more!) voluntary donation for non-member participation. We prefer if you offer instead of being asked.
• All persons (member or not) are required to offer contribution if they get a ride with another.
• All persons are requested to Notify the leader at least 2 days in advance if they want to go on a trip.
• Be on time. We depart promptly.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 11, 2019
International Migratory Bird Day at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Help Prospect Park Alliance celebrate the importance of stop-over locations like Prospect Park to migratory birds. More than 250 species have been recorded in the park!
Free!

Birding Bonanza at Touchdown of the 103rd Street Footbridge (in Randall's Island Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Join us for a day of free, family-friendly bird watching! Learn about the amazing adaptations of birds as they thrive in the Island’s restored habitats. Guided bird walk, crafts, and more. For ages 7+ (with an adult).
Free!

The New York City Naturalist Club: Hawk Watch at Saint Marks Place and Avenue A (in Tompkins Square Park), Manhattan
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle.
Free!

Ridgewood Reservoir Community Tour at Vermont Place Parking Lot (in Highland Park), Queens
12:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m.
Guides from NYCH2O will lead a history, engineering, and ecology tour of the Reservoir and Brooklyn Waterworks.
Free!

Sunday, May 12, 2019
Spring Birding at Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
9:30 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Explore the gardens and woodlands on a quest to spot both resident and rare birds as they pass through on their northern journey or settle down for the season.
Free!

Birding: Shorebirds at Bay 32nd Street and Beach Channel Drive (in Bayswater Park), Queens
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Our Urban Park Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in New York City. Wildlife viewing is a perfect activity for any age.
Free!
**********

Wild Bird Fund
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:00am - 11:00am
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Take a bird walk in Central Park - a Living Treasure hunt for spring migrants. Accidental birder Ricki Ravitts will lead the hunt for flighty warblers, shy thrush, jewel-toned tanagers and orioles - or whatever crosses our path. Ricki began birding some years ago when she saw her first warbler, "Did I just see a little yellow bird wearing a black Zorro mask?" Yes, indeed. Her obsession grew over years of birding in local parks, plus trips throughout Central and South…
Find out more »
...Read more

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Treehugger Tuesday

From my friend Ryan over at Gizmodo:

We Have to Do Something About Outdoor Cats
Ryan F. Mandelbaum
April 29, 2019

I hate outdoor cats with a burning passion. I set out to write a blog calling for an Isle of Dogs-style roundup of feral cats, a mass adoption drive and cat cull, and outlawing outdoor and community cats. But I’ve realized that things aren’t that simple.

Humans have already drastically altered the environment, and our impacts, including our beloved cats, come with us wherever we go. Cats are an extension of our destruction, and humans are passionate about their love or hatred of the animal. But when you try and distill the discussion down to facts, two contradictory things become clear: cats are a huge problem, and you can’t just undo the problem.

Humans domesticated the modern cat thousands of years ago as a form of early pest control, normally to keep rodents away from crops. The domestic cat is its own species of animal, created by our selective breeding. We keep cats in our homes and allow them to roam the streets. We’ve brought them with us wherever we’ve settled, where they serve as either companions or as pest controllers. Many have established feral populations. Some humans consider those feral populations “community cats” and care for them.

Outdoor cats—both the ones we leave outside and the ones that have established their own populations—are an environmental catastrophe. One highly-cited 2013 study found that cats (mostly feral cats) kill around 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals annually in the United States alone, likely leading to population declines in some species. Cats are partially responsible for the extinction of 33 species endemic to islands and at least 20 species in Australia.

As for whether the indoor lifestyle is better for the cats, that’s unclear. Some sites claim that outdoor cats have shorter lifespans than indoor cats, or that community cats have similar lifespans to indoor cats, but these claims seem to be based on anecdote. However, what’s clear is that outdoor cats face threats that indoor cats do not.

So, you might wonder, if they’re so bad for the environment, what do we do about cats? Presently, we attempt to control cat populations either through adoption or through trap-neuter-return programs—collecting cats off of the street, neutering them, and returning them to where they were found. Sometimes these programs work, and sometimes they don’t—as one study explains: “This suggests that all these efforts without an effective education of people to control the reproduction of house cats (as a prevention for abandonment) are a waste of money, time and energy.” In Australia, things have gotten so bad that they’re resulting to a mass feral cat cull, hoping to kill two million cats by 2020.

But studies show that you can’t just remove all of the cats from a place once they’ve shown up without putting some thought into it. On Macquarie Island between Australia and Antarctica, removing the non-native cats caused the non-native rabbit population to spike, destroying much of the island’s native vegetation, according to one study. (Other authors took issue with that study’s methodology.) Another study based on a model found a similar surge in rat populations. The rats, like cats, attack the native fauna.

Environmental groups take various conflicting stances on what should be done. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals promotes trap, neuter, and return programs, or relocating feral cats as a last resort. The American Bird Conservancy promotes putting all cats indoors, and does not support trap neuter, return programs. PETA, too, supports bringing all cats indoors rather than trap, neuter, return programs, and only implementing these programs when the cats are also removed from the potential harms of outdoor life.

There aren’t United States federal laws that deal with outdoor cats, feral cats, or trap, neuter, return programs. State laws vary, and most state laws don’t mention feral or outdoor cats, according to one 2010 analysis, which notes that those states that do have cat laws typically leave it up to communities to pass ordinances about their cats.

(By the way, I love indoor cats. I have a plump tuxedo cat with a crooked white mustache and a charming, hoarse meow named Dinah.)

After wading through the information available, it’s clear that there are more opinions than facts on the matter and most of those opinions are extreme, driven by the differences in opinion on how to interpret the conflicting data. It is clear that outdoor cats are a huge problem caused by humans that must be fixed by humans. But in order to solve the problem, it’s going to take more than just milquetoast trap-neuter-release policies in a few cities. It’s going to take committed, global, and united action, with towns around the world devoting the necessary financial resources to take feral cat population control measures seriously. This will require that people keep their cats inside or on a leash, just like we do with dogs.

But the real solution is to realize that cats aren’t the problem. Humans are the problem, and the cats are just living in the world that humans created for them. Fixing the issues caused by outdoor cats requires a holistic look at the landscape more generally: controlling rats, Asian longhorned beetles, and other invasive species, combatting climate change, cleaning up the ocean, and so on. The Earth isn’t a piecemeal collection of species and habitats. It’s one big interconnected thing. You can’t just undo the damage you cause.
...Read more

Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope