Saturday, July 26, 2008

NYC Audubon Shorebird Walk at Jamaica Bay

On July 26th, I volunteered as an assistant for a NYC Audubon Shorebird Walk at the Jamaica Bay wildlife refuge.   The walk was led by well known naturalist and long time Jamaica Bay guardian, Don Riepe. Walks with Don are never boring and he did not disappoint enamoring us with anecdotes of his upbringing in the neighborhood and also educating us on various butterflies, shrubs and wildflowers.   The walk started at 1:00 p.m. a late start of sorts by birding standards, since we would then be dealing with the midday/afternoon sun and indeed, it was a hot day.

We had about 15 of us, in attendance including two lovely ladies that I have come to know and appreciate Doris and Hela, who are actively involved in volunteer work around Jamaica Bay.   In fact, Doris always takes bags with her on her walks to pick up litter; she is truly a conscientious birder/naturalist and we love her for that.

Our bird sighting was not too shabby as we saw a number of birds including, the Ospreys and their fledglings, Dowitchers, Least Sand Pipers, Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, a Black Skimmer, Common Terns, Ring Necked Plovers, Ducks, Swans, Geese and their goslings, Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets to name a few.   We also saw horse shoe crabs, and some butterflies including the Red-spotted purple.

Here are some pictures from the walk.

Setting up on the West Pond.

Here is a picture with Laughing Gulls, a Semipalmated Sandpiper and a Canadian Goose.

A lone Semipalmated Sandpiper.

The Spartina grass looks beautiful in the background with number of Laughing Gulls, Canadian Geese and a Great Egret in the foreground. Share with Bookmark and Share

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Piping Plover Walk With The Urban Park Rangers

On July 12th, I went on a NYC Audubon, "Piping Plover" walk with the Urban Park Rangers.   This was a very special walk, as we were given a tour of the Piping Plover nesting site, which runs from beach 35th to 89th street.  The ride on the A train was pretty quick to beach 58St. and then the walk to the boardwalk was just a couple of blocks.  Once there, the rangers gave us a briefing on the walk and of the plight of the Piping Plover, which is listed as an endangered species.

The area, was discovered as a Piping Plover nesting site in 1996 by a birder named, Don Davis.  Today, it is surrounded by symbolic fencing with orange tags as markers and signs warning beach goers to stay out of the area.  During the walk, our Urban Ranger Guides indicated that currently, there are 17 nesting pairs at that location.  We also learned that the Rangers look for a black spot that shows up on the rear of the female Piping Plover, when she is about to lay eggs.  This helps the rangers to track those females who are nesting.  Typically, a nest consist of 4 eggs that are laid 6-8 hours apart and take about 25 days to hatch.

Sadly, we also learned about many of the factors that contribute to the decline of the Piping Plovers including, over development of coastal habitat, human disturbance, pets, predation (from the likes of raccoons, skunks, foxes) and storm tides.  The Urban Park Rangers through walks like this have engaged in educating the public on how to protect the Piping Plover.  They also distribute literature that describes the plight of the Piping Plover and how best we can help them.  For more information on the Piping Plover visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Share with Bookmark and Share