Sunday, May 31, 2009

Forest Park, Jamaica Wildlife Refuge and Big Egg Marsh...

Sticking to my local birding sites; today, I started the day by birding Forest Park. My first visit was at Stracker Pond around 7:50 am, where I picked up about 10 species including a very cooperative Green Heron. I spent a little longer there than expected, as I met a group that was on an Audubon/Urban Park Rangers bird walk. I stuck around and helped out a bit in pointing out a few birds and sharing views in my scope. After about an hour, the group left heading to the Water Hole another bird spot in the park; since the Waterhole, was in the plans for the day, I headed out there myself on my own. The Waterhole was very quiet, which I kind of expected. Activity around the water hole is dependent on water and with the hole pretty dried up there was not much happening. To help the water situation, many local birders have been carrying water in various containers and filling up a garbage pail cover, as well as a dripper. That works, but it does not bring in the numbers that a good rainfall would accomplish in filling the hole with water. Nevertheless, I picked up a few more species including a Northern Parula. I then headed out to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. I was not keen on walking the trail because it was getting towards noon and I usually like to have covered that area much earlier. However, once there I continued on and found several additional species. My last stop was Big Egg Marsh and I did not do a good job calculating the tide as I hit the spot when the tide was receding and that was not good in terms of being able to see birds closer to the shore. It was not a bad day, and even though I did not bird the gardens nor the East Pond at JBWR, I still ended up with a total of 56 species.

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  1. American Crow
  2. American Robin
  3. Baltimore Oriole
  4. Black-belied Plover
  5. Black-crowned Night Heron
  6. Boat-tailed Grackle
  7. Brandt
  8. Brown Thrasher
  9. Canada Goose
  10. Cedar Waxwing
  11. Chimney Swift
  12. Clapper Rail (Heard)
  13. Common Grackle
  14. Common Loon (fly over)
  15. Common Tern
  16. Common Yellow-throat
  17. Cowbird
  18. Double Crested Cormorant
  19. Downy Woodpecker
  20. Dunlin
  21. European Starling
  22. Forster's Tern
  23. Glossy Ibis
  24. Gray Catbird
  25. Great Egret
  26. Greater Black-backed Gull
  27. Greater Yellow Legs
  28. Green Heron
  29. Herring Gull
  30. House Sparrow
  31. House Wren
  32. Killdeer
  33. Laughing Gull
  34. Little-blue Heron
  35. Long-billed Dowitcher
  36. Mallard
  37. Mourning Dove
  38. Mute Sawn
  39. Northern Mockingbird
  40. Northern Parula
  41. Northern Shoveler
  42. Osprey
  43. Oystercatcher
  44. Red Knot
  45. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  46. Red-winged Blackbird
  47. Rudy Turnstone
  48. Semipalmated Plover
  49. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  50. Snowy Egret
  51. Song Sparrow
  52. Tree Swallow
  53. White-rumped Sandpiper
  54. Willet
  55. Yellow Warbler
  56. Yellow-crowned Night Heron
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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Audubon Birdathon - still time to pledge your support...

A huge thank you to Ron and Jean, Julia, Doris, Seena, William, Jennifer, Denis and Paul for being the early donors to my Audubon fund raising. I would really like to see more participation in this worthy cause. Remember you can pledge by species count. For more information please visit NYC Audubon "How To Participate" Click here to visit my fund raising page

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Birding Jamaica Bay; rescuing a Horseshoe Crab and a Silky Moth...

On Sunday, I had planned on helping my friend Don Riepe, who was leading a walk with the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission, at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens NY. The walk was scheduled to begin around 10:00 am. However, 10:00 am is kind of late and so I got out to the refuge around 7:45 AM and birded the South and North Gardens. The South garden had my best find of the morning as a Black Billed Cuckoo flew in and perched on one of the Pin Oaks in the garden, proving it pays to be early. Other birds moving around included, Magnolia Warblers, A Canada Warbler, Black-throated Green Warblers, Blackpoll Warblers and Northern Parulas. Along the trail to the North garden, I found a Male Scarlet Tanager, Blue Headed Vireo and Red-eyed Vireo. In the North garden itself was another nice find in a Male Cerulean Warbler, the first of the year in that location. Bay-breasted Warbler also made a show as well as several Yellow Warblers. By then it was almost 10:00 Am and so I returned to the visitor's center, where I met with Don and the folks from "Friends of East Brunswick Environmental Commission". We began our walk with a brief look around the visitor's center, then headed out along the West Pond trail. The West Pond had the usual assortment of birds with Ruddy Ducks, Glossy Ibis, Laughing Gulls, Canada Geese and Mute Swans all scattered around the pond. Along Terrapin Trail, we found some shorebirds, consisting of a mixture of Semipalmated Sandpipers, Black Bellied-plovers and Dunlins. We also found a Horse Shoe crab that was entangled in rope/twine. Don retrieved the poor fella and we worked together in removing the obstruction; I am sure that horseshoe crab was grateful to us for the rescue. Further along in the North Garden, we missed the Cerulean and Bay-breasted, but picked up a Rub-throated Hummingbird and a Scarlet Tanager...probably the same one I had seen earlier. Later on over at the East Pond, Don did another rescue...venturing out just off the East Pond shore to retrieve a Silk Moth from the pond. Truly Don continues to earn the title "Jamaica Bay Guardian". The moth appeared in poor shape; however it looked better after a few minutesin the sun, we all hoped that it made it. Overall, it turned out to be a decent walk, we saw many birds and the group got to see two rescues...not bad for a Sunday Wildlife walk.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Birding Doodletown NY...

Today, I drove up to Doodletown to do some birding and met up with the Queens County Bird Club. I got to the location around 7:15 AM, which was good time, as I wanted to get an early start. Doodletown, used to be a town of Stony Point Rockland County, New York. It was purchased by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission during the 1960s and is now part of Bear Mountain State Park. It has become a popular destination for hikers, birdwatchers, botanists, and local historians. While Ian Resnick and Arie Gilbert the leaders of the walk waited for their club members and others, I began the trek up the hill with another birder. We quickly located a couple of key birds, a male Cerulean warbler, Hooded warbler, and a Blackburnian warbler. Wow! Was all I could think of…if this was the start what else might be in store. On Lemmon Road, we heard the Kentucky Warbler as soon as we started up the road and found other birders looking for the bird. No one really got to see the bird, but we heard it quite well. Reluctantly, we moved on; around the water tank/tower we had nice looks at a cooperative Blue-winged Warbler. On the way back down, Lemmon Road, some of us including myself had a brief glimpse of a Pileated Woodpecker, which is always a thrill to find. We visited some of the other trails and found one of the neatest find of the day in a Timber Rattlesnake. After a short lunch break, we headed back to our vehicles and drove first to Iona Island Marsh and then to Mine Road. At Iona we had looks at a Green Heron and another or the same Pileated Woodpecker. Over at Mine Road, we found another target bird in Golden Winged Warbler. Later on we picked up Cliff Swallow and Prairie Warbler around Katonah Reservoir. Around 4:30 PM, I called it a day and headed back to Queens NY. It was a good day of birding with several highlights. One of my most interesting observation was first listening and then in surprise watching a Cerulean Warbler sing a Hooded Warbler song. As if birding is not hard enough, that episode makes it harder to bird by ear. Total birds seen: 62 - One Timber Rattlesnake, 3 Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies and a Tiger Beetle.
  1. American Crow
  2. American Goldfinch
  3. American Redstart
  4. American Robin
  5. Baltimore Oriole
  6. Barn Swallow
  7. Black Vulture
  8. Black-and-white Warbler
  9. Blackburnian Warbler
  10. Black-capped Chickadee
  11. Blackpoll Warbler
  12. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  13. Black-throated Green Warbler
  14. Blue Jay
  15. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  16. Blue-winged Warbler
  17. Brown-headed Cowbird
  18. Canada Warbler
  19. Cedar Waxwing
  20. Cerulean Warbler
  21. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  22. Chipping Sparrow
  23. Chimney Swift
  24. Cliff Swallow
  25. Common Yellowthroat
  26. Cooper's Hawk
  27. Eastern Phoebe
  28. Eastern Towhee
  29. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  30. Fish Crow
  31. Gray Catbird
  32. Great Crested Flycatcher
  33. Hooded Warbler
  34. Indigo Bunting
  35. Kentucky Warbler (Heard)
  36. Louisiana Waterthrush
  37. Magnolia Warbler
  38. Mallard
  39. Mourning Dove
  40. Northern Cardinal
  41. Northern Parula
  42. Northern Rough-necked Swallow
  43. Ovenbird
  44. Pileated Woodpecker
  45. Prairie Warbler
  46. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  47. Red-eyed Vireo
  48. Red-tailed Hawk
  49. Red-winged Blackbird
  50. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  51. Scarlet Tanager
  52. Swamp Sparrow
  53. Tree Swallow
  54. Tufted Titmouse
  55. Turkey Vulture
  56. Warbling Vireo
  57. White-eyed Vireo
  58. Wood Thrush
  59. Worm Eating Warbler
  60. Yellow Warbler
  61. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  62. Yellow-throated Vireo
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Shorebird Monitoring at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge...

A morning walk at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens NY to do some shorebird monitoring and photography, resulted in very exciting least it was for me. I found well over 300 Red Knots feeding out on the mudflats with many other shorebirds. The species recorded and counted include the following: Red Knots (300+), Rudy Turnstones (100+), Semipalmated Sandpipers (100+), Least Sandpipers (20+), Semipalmated Plovers (100+), Black-bellied Plovers (50+) and Short-billed Dowitchers (10). Those of you who know the "Plight of the Red Knots", would understand my exuberance at seeing Red Knots outnumbering the other shorebirds. If you are interested in understanding the situation with the Red Knots, I recommend you look at the documentary "Crash: A Tale of Two Species".

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shorebird monitoring at Big Egg Marsh...

After the Oceanside visit, I decided to make a late afternoon run over to Big Egg Marsh in Queens NY, to do some Shorebird monitoring. I have been doing the shorebird monitoring as part of my contribution to the IWASH (Improving Wetland Accessibility for Shorebirds and Horseshoe crabs) project for NYC Audubon. My observation took place from 5:45 PM to 7:45 PM. During that time I recorded and counted the following species: Willet (20), Semiplamated Sandpiper (50+), Least Sandpiper (8), Semipalmated Plovers (6), Killdeer (2), Oystercatcher (1) and Ruddy Turnstones (100 +). Share with Bookmark and Share

A morning visit to Oceanside...

After resting from the Delmarva trip, I had the itch to get out and I made a long overdue trip to the Marine Nature Area in Oceanside NY. I was late in getting there and arrived well after 10:00 AM; after chatting a bit with Assistant Biologist Kim Fessler, I headed out to walk the loop. The sun was out in full force and it made for a nice walk, though I would have preferred it to be a little cooler. Among the species, noted included Short-billled Dowitcher, Green Heron, Snowy and Great Egrets, Forster's Tern, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Nesting Ospreys, Song Sparrow, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Willet, and Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Unfortunately, the Black Necked Stilt was not around and has probably moved on or was not there when I visited. No flycatchers seen so they may not be around as yet, or I could have missed them. Kim did indicate and showed me photos of a Ruby Throat Hummingbird that was seen visiting the feeders, so they are around, but I had none that day. Share with Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 18, 2009

Birding Delmarva...

On Friday May 15th, 8 of us boarded a van and headed out to bird in the Delmarva Peninsula. This area is made up Delaware, portions of Maryland and Virginia and is considered a premier location for birding. After picking up the van for our mode of transportation, I met the rest of the group around the corner from the Audubon office at 71 West 23rd street in Manhattan and then we were on our way. We drove for a few hours, making one stop for a bite and then it was onto our first stop which was Bombay Hook. Along the way we did see some species including Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures, but we were more focued on what Bombay Hook had to offer. On the drive to the BH visitor’s center we picked up our first Eastern Bluebird of the trip. Once we arrived at the center, some of us broke for lunch and others including myself went right into birding. It paid off for those of us who skipped lunch as we picked up a Male and Female Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Buntings, Orchard Oriole as well as Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Later, as more of us walked around the visitor’s center, we found a Red Phase Eastern Screech Owl that had taken up residence in a Wood Duck nest box. We also had nice looks at a Field Sparrow more looks at the Indigo Buntings, Orchard Oriole and enjoyed the Purple Martins that were in abundance. Then it was off on the Auto loop. Our first stop on the loop was to observe a group of shorebirds that we espied from the van. Most of the peeps were Semipalmated Sandpipers with a few Least among the group and Semipalmated Plovers. A nice surprise that I found was a Solitary Sandpiper…a bird that was not even on our checklist. Further along the loop we had outstanding looks at a Marsh Wren who sung and posed for us. Also, at the same location we had very good looks at Great and Snowy Egrets and picked up a Spotted Sandpiper. As we continued along the loop we picked up Black Necked Stilt, which was another good bird to have, but disappointingly we got no Avocets. After completing Bombay Hook, it was onto Little Creek Wildlife Area another Delaware hotspot for birding. This was one of my favorite spots as we saw a large number of Dunlins easily in the thousands along with Ruddy Turnstones, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers and a few Red knots in between. The volume of shorebirds that close was very nice and while I have visited some other locations that give me easy access for shorebird photography, this was very special. I found a spot on the rocks and enjoyed looking at the birds and taking photos. In fact, I walked a bit away from the group; just, so I could have that moment to myself…it was that special. I was reluctant to leave that vision, but away we went further along Little Creek for another bird, the Seaside Sparrow. Amazingly, this bird was easily enticed out into the open for good looks. After Little Creek, we headed to our hotel the Microtel Inns and Suites, in Salisbury. We checked in had dinner and then got some rest to prepare for the long day ahead. The next day could not come soon enough and I was up at 3:00 AM checking the time. We all met for breakfast around 6:30AM, which was at the Hotel and after making one stop for water and gas we headed out to our first birding site of the day in Whaleyville, the Pocomo swamp. As soon as we got out of the van at Whaleyville we were swarmed by giant sized mosquitoes and three of us including myself who had invested in bug jackets purchased at Bombay Hook, quickly donned them. We heard a White-eyed Vireo and then heard the Worm Eating Warbler, which was a target bird at that location. The first time we saw the Worm Eating Warbler not everyone had good looks and so we tried for it a few times, until everyone had good looks. Another good bird that we located was a Prothonotary Warbler that seemed very vocal…it was thought that it was being vocal because we were near its nesting site. Another bird that we enjoyed looking at was the Acadian Flycatcher. On our way out of Pocomo swamp we stopped at an area that was reportedly good for Bobwhite and Prairie Warbler; neither of these birds showed up, however, we had excellent looks at a Male Blue Grosbeak and for bonus we twice had looks at a gorgeous Red-headed Woodpecker. After a lunch break, we headed to Assateague Island, and birded the north end. The first bird we got was the “Yellow Throated Warbler”; the looks we got were so great that one of the birders…I think it was Claude, indicated that binoculars were not necessary. Out on the boardwalk overlooking the marsh a few of us had a glimpse of a Clapper Rail, we also picked up A Great Blue Heron flying in and several Egrets. Leaving that trail, we tried another area called Marsh Trail; here, we picked up Willets and I was the only in the group to see a hummingbird that zipped by right in front of my face. On the way out we observed the famous Assateague ponies hanging out along the beach. After a stop at the visitor center where some of us brought books and other stuff, we headed out to Nassawango Creek. Along the way, we stopped at an area that had numerous Bluebird boxes and observed several Eastern Bluebirds. Someone called out for a Meadow Lark, but we could not find it and that bird ended up not being reported on our list. At Nassawango, we had spectacular looks at Both Scarlet and Summer Tanagers almost in unison proving a rare comparison. We walked the trail in search of Swainson’s but we did not land any neither did we get any Pileated Woodpecker or the Brown-headed Nuthatch. We did hear several Prothonotary and had fleeting glimpses and heard quite a few Louisiana Water thrushes. On our way out we had another Red-headed Woodpecker, making it two for the trip. The next day we got off to an early start and caught an early ferry to Cape May, NJ. The ferry ride was smooth and along the way we saw several immature Northern Gannets along with some Terns and other birds, but no Shearwater. Once we disembarked from the ferry we headed out to Reeds Beach; unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse and by the time we got to Reeds beach, there was a steady rainfall. This was disappointing to a few of us who had looked forward to birding and photographing shorebirds. Comforting ourselves that we had gotten two spectacular days of birding, we took an early lunch with the strategy that by the time we finished lunch the weather might get better. The plan worked perfectly and by the time we got to our next destination at Brigantine NJ, the weather had cleared up. Once we got to Brigantine, we birded the woods trail and picked up several new warblers for the trip, including Chestnut-sided and Magnolia Warbler. From the trail, we then headed out to the auto loop. The loop turned in some really nice birds including a rare White faced Ibis. Other good birds included Whimbrel, Clapper Rail, Gull Billed Tern, Black Skimmer, Long and Short-billed Dowitchers, and Seaside and Salt-Marsh Sharp-tailed sparrows. We got back to the NYC around 7:50 and after dropping off the van and taking the train back to Queens, I got home a little after 9:00 PM tired, but very pleased with the trip. It was a good group of birders and I met some nice folks. Total Species that I saw and recorded: 131
  1. Acadian Flycatcher
  2. American Black Duck
  3. American Crow
  4. American Goldfinch
  5. American Oystercatcher
  6. American Redstart
  7. American Robin
  8. Bald Eagle
  9. Baltimore Oriole
  10. Barn Swallow
  11. Black Skimmer
  12. Black Vulture
  13. Black-and-white Warbler
  14. Black-belied Plover
  15. Black-capped Chickadee
  16. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  17. Black-necked Stilt
  18. Blackpoll Warbler
  19. Blue Grosbeak
  20. Blue Jay
  21. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  22. Blue-headed Vireo
  23. Blue-winged Teal
  24. Blue-winged Warbler
  25. Boat-tailed Grackle
  26. Brandt
  27. Brown Thrasher
  28. Brown-headed Cowbird
  29. Canada Goose
  30. Carolina Chickadee
  31. Carolina Wren
  32. Cedar Waxwing
  33. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  34. Chimney Swift
  35. Chipping Sparrow
  36. Clapper Rail
  37. Common Grackle
  38. Common Loon
  39. Common Tern
  40. Common Yellowthroat
  41. Double Crested Cormorant
  42. Downy Woodpecker
  43. Dunlin
  44. Eastern Bluebird
  45. Eastern Kingbird
  46. Eastern Phoebe
  47. Eastern Screech Owl
  48. Eastern Towhee
  49. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  50. European Starling
  51. Field Sparrow
  52. Fish Crow
  53. Forester’s Tern
  54. Glossy Ibis
  55. Gray Catbird
  56. Great Black-backed Gull
  57. Great Blue Heron
  58. Great Crested Flycatcher
  59. Great Egret
  60. Greater Yellowlegs
  61. Green-winged Teal
  62. Gull-billedTern
  63. Herring Gull
  64. House Finch
  65. House Sparrow
  66. House Wren
  67. Indigo Bunting
  68. Killdeer
  69. Laughing Gull
  70. Least Sandpiper
  71. Lesser Yellowlegs
  72. Long-billed Dowitcher
  73. Louisiana Waterthrush
  74. Magnolia Warbler
  75. Mallard
  76. Marsh Wren
  77. Mourning Dove
  78. Mute Swan
  79. Northern Cardinal
  80. Northern Flicker
  81. Northern Gannet
  82. Northern Mockingbird
  83. Northern Parula
  84. Orchard Oriole
  85. Osprey
  86. Ovenbird
  87. Peregrine Falcon
  88. Pine Warbler
  89. Prothonotary Warbler
  90. Purple Martin
  91. Red Knot
  92. Red-belied Woodpecker
  93. Red-eyed Vireo
  94. Red-headed Woodpecker
  95. Red-tailed Hawk
  96. Red-winged Blackbird
  97. Ring-billed Gull
  98. Ring-necked Pheasant
  99. Rock Pigeon
  100. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  101. Ruddy Turnstone
  102. Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow
  103. Savannah Sparrow
  104. Scarlet Tanager
  105. Seaside Sparrow
  106. Semipalmated Plover
  107. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  108. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  109. Short-billed Dowitcher
  110. Snow Goose
  111. Snowy Egret
  112. Solitary Sandpiper
  113. Song Sparrow
  114. Spotted Sandpiper
  115. Summer Tanager
  116. Swamp Sparrow
  117. Tree Swallow
  118. Tricolored Heron
  119. Tufted Titmouse
  120. Turkey Vulture
  121. Whimbrel
  122. White-eyed Vireo
  123. White-faced Ibis
  124. Willet
  125. Wood Thrush
  126. Worm-eating Warbler
  127. Yellow Warbler
  128. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  129. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  130. Yellow-throated Vireo
  131. Yellow-throated Warbler
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Conservation work at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Queens NY...

On Tuesday, I arranged my schedule to join my friends Doris and Don in doing some planting at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Doris and I got started by planting a couple of Beach Plums behind the visitor's center. While planting the Beach Plums, I reviewed some plants that I had put into the ground in the same area. The plants included, several Virgina Roses and a Hackberry sapling; they all appeared to be doing quite well and I was very happy at the success. Once Don got back from wherever he went (probably skylarking somewhere:)), we headed out to plant Amelanchier Canadensis along the BLVD. We ended up planting about 14 plants and also did some Bittersweet removal. While we were planting we did some analysis on a few areas where the invasives were wreaking havoc on many of the native plants. We discussed organizing a day of invasive removal. Not sure when this will happen, but I fully expect a follow-up conversation and an action plan shortly. We will probably concentrate on removing the Oriental Bittersweet that is taking over several of the Cedars. Stay tuned for "Operation Take Back Jamaica Bay"...or something like that. Share with Bookmark and Share

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Birding in Central Park...

Following yesterday’s Birding Big Day event with the Urban Park Rangers, I went to Central park to bird with Joe Giunta who had a Spring Migrant class trip. The weather was not the best for birding as it was too windy and bird activity was minimal. Our walk took us through many good birding spots in the park, starting with Strawberry Fields, which turned out to be the best spot for the day. Here we had good looks at Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Black Throated Blue, Baltimore Oriole, Ruby-throated Hummingbird and a Canada Warbler that gave us spectacular looks. Other highlights of the day included a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Warbling Vireo that were called in with phishing sounds by Birding Bob who was leading another group. The best highlight for many as well as a life bird for some who were lucky to have seen it was a Wilson’s warbler that I spotted just before we got to Oak Bridge. Another good bird that we heard about was a Prothonotary warbler seen at the point, but when we got there the crowd was just too much and we did not stay there too long. At the end of the day, I had a total of 42 species. Share with Bookmark and Share

Brooklyn, Queens Birding Big Day event with the Urban Park Rangers...

Yesterday, I went out with the Urban Park Rangers on a Brooklyn, Queens Birding Big Day event. I got to the meeting place, the Woolman Rink in Prospect Park around 7:30 am and birded a bit picking up a couple of species before the group started gathering around 8:00; by 8:30, we were all boarded up and heading out to the first stop in Prospect Park. In all, we covered a total of 6 sites…well I should say 7 for me since I was up at 5:00 AM restocking the feeders in the garden and doing a bit of backyard birding. The locations birded were Prospect Park, Forest Park, Alley Pond, Rockaway Beach, Salt Marsh Nature Center in Brooklyn and Drier Hofferman. The group seemed to be a bunch with different levels of birding experience, with some better than others; for the most part everyone seemed to be helping each other finding species, though we did get the occasional “you are blocking me” comment. One that I always find amusing especially, if it comes from someone who parks themselves behind another birder and then attempt to look for a species. The toughest spot might have been Forest Park for some, as it was not easy finding warblers high in the canopy. Coincidentally, it was this location that I had my best birding, finding, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Canada Warbler and the highlight and life bird for some in Bay-breasted Warbler. I also had 4 species of vireo. At Rockaway beach, the group had nice looks of a Ring-necked Pheasant and many were pleased at seeing this bird as well as the nesting Plovers. Towards the end of the day, I had a nice surprise at Drier Offerman in finding a Prairie Warbler. There was also a reported sighting of an Orchard Oriole at this location, but I did not see it, so it did not make my list of 101 species. After about 10 hours of birding we returned to Prospect Park and departed. The rangers did an excellent job and my thanks to Anthony, Tom and Jerry for a fantastic job. It is not easy driving around a bunch of demanding birders. Share with Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 8, 2009

Spring Migrants fallout at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge...

My friend Don Riepe and I had discussed last night about the possible fall out of spring migrants that might occur after the recent steady bout of bad weather and we planned on checking out JBWR. Today, at around 8:45 AM Don called me to let me know that he was at the refuge. Ten minutes, later I pulled into the parking lot and after letting Don know that I was onsite, I headed straight for the South garden. The garden was alive with the sounds of warblers all around. The familiar tzee-tzee-tzee-tzeeeo alerted me to the presence of American Redstart and it was not long before I found one, then two and more. Black-throated Blue warblers were singing their zur-zur-zur-zree and I knew that it was going to be an interesting morning at the refuge. I met some other birders from Rockland Audubon and one of them called out a Tennessee warbler, which was a good find. By then, Don had worked his way back to the South gardens and alerted me to the sound of a Black-billed Cuckoo, whose sound of ku-ku-ku could be heard amidst the din from all the other birds. Don decided to bird the edge of the gardens to get the light behind him in the hopes of good photographs, while I decided to focus more on finding out what had arrived and so I worked my way inside the South to the North garden. Along the way, I picked up several more bird including another new arrival in Chestnut-sided warbler. Don and I met around the North garden and we picked up Magnolia warblers and Scarlet Tanagers. I decided against making the loop and turned back with Don and walked the trail back towards the visitor’s center. Along the way, we met another birder who had found a Cape May warbler…another good find. We found a Ruby-throated hummingbird and heard the Yellow-billed cuckoo before we got back the center. Here I parted ways with Don as I headed across to the East Pond. Over by Big John’s I saw many of the same warblers that we had found in the gardens and also picked a few notable additions in Green Heron and Baltimore Orioles. With southerly winds tonight, we possibly could see more arrivals tomorrow. A late evening stop by the Water Hole in Forest Park Queens, did not result in much…though I did get my FOS Kingbird.

Total Species seen: 40
American Crow
American Redstart
American Robin
Baltimore Oriole
Black Crowned Heron
Black-and-white Warbler
Black-throated Blue
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blue Headed Vireo
Brown Thrasher
Carolina Wren
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Common Yellow throat
Common Yellowthroat
Double-crested Cormorant
Eastern Towhee
Great Crested Flycatcher
Green Heron
House Wren
Kingbird (Forest Park)
Magnolia Warbler
Northern Parula
Red-winged Blackbird
Rose Breasted Grosbeak
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Scarlet Tanager
Tennessee Warbler
Tree Swallow
White Crowned Sparrow
White-eyed Vireo
White-throated Sparrow
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler Share with Bookmark and Share

Thank you to my NYC Audubon Birdathon donors...

A huge thank you to Julia, Doris and Seena for being the early donors to my Audubon fund raising. Where are all the bird lovers? Common, I would like to get some more support for a really worthy cause. Remember you can pledge by species count. For more information please visit NYC Audubon "How To Participate" Click here to visit my fund raising page Share with Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wilson's Snipe and others at Big Egg Marsh Queens NY...

After seeing the new spring arrivals in the backyard (see my "Backyard Birding News" post earlier today), I decided to visit one of the sites that I am covering for the IWASH (which stands for Improving Wetland Accessibility for Shorebirds and Horseshoe crabs.) research. Today, I went to Big Egg Marsh, in Jamaica Bay Queens. I got there late...around 12:15 PM and birded for an hour or so. In that time, I picked up Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Willets, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Savannah Sparrow, Glossy Ibis, Brandt, Laughing Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Red winged Blackbird and a Wilson's Snipe, which was the highlight. With the obvious movement of birds coming in, it bodes well for the Big Birding Event that will be taking place this weekend. Share with Bookmark and Share

Backyard Birding News...

I have been waiting patiently for one of those spectacular spring backyard birding days and this morning...just a few minutes ago, I had one. A Yellow Breasted Chat, a Male Scarlet Tanager, 2 Northern Parulas, a Male American Redstart, Ovenbird a Veery and a Wood Thrush were observed in the backyard. This suggests that more migrants came through last night. Outstanding!!! Now, all I need are some photos. Share with Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring migration at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge...

Rain over the past few days, has put a damper on my birding activities. A break from the rain today allowed me to arrange my schedule to bird the West Pond and North and South Gardens at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Arriving at the refuge around 9:45 AM, I started in the South Garden working my way towards the North Garden. In the South Garden, there were a number of Black-throated Green Warblers moving around along with a lone female Rose breasted Grosbeak. In the North Garden, things picked up with Blue-headed Vireos, White-eyed Vireos, Black-throated Green Warblers, one Blue-winged Warbler, Yellow Warblers, a single Northern Parula, and a new arrival in Blackburnian Warblers (3-4). On the West Pond Trail out on the mudflats in Pumpkin Channel, there were new shorebird arrivals. Observed were Dunlins (estimated about 50 +), Black-bellied Plovers (14), Ruddy Turnstone (10) and Willet (6). This is a very good sign that birds have moved in during the past few days. If the weather holds up tonight, we could have a good push with even more species arriving for a nice weekend of birding. I will have to watch the weather and see how it plays out the next few days. Share with Bookmark and Share

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Backyard Birding News…

With rain in the forecast, I decided that I would spend time getting caught up with my yard work. Of course, I had to squeeze in some type of birding; so, instead of heading out to some birding destination, I was sipping my morning cup of coffee and staking out the backyard at around 7:00 AM. I was not disappointed, as I had new Spring arrivals in the backyard with 4 Rose Breasted Grosbeaks (3 males and one female), my first of the season Ovenbird, a Common Yellowthroat, a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Summer Tanager. The Yellow Warbler continue to show, along with Brown Thrashers and a Hermit Thrush; a Female Eastern Towhee was also seen..though I did not see or hear the Male that has been hanging in and around the garden. Amidst the on and off drizzle I got some work done. Another good day's work or two and the garden should be in good shape. Share with Bookmark and Share

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Willet and others at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Queens NY…

I had a Jamaica Bay Task Force meeting today at the Wildlife Refuge visitor’s center. Since the meeting was scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm, I decided to get there early and bird the gardens and West Pond. I got to the refuge around 4:50 pm and headed straight for the South garden. Like Wednesday, the garden was quiet with even less activity…which probably had more to do with the time that I was there. Not much other than the sounds of Yellow Warblers and Common Yellowthroat. I did get a fleeting glimpse of a Yellow-billed cuckoo in the North Garden, before it disappeared into the canopy and out of my sight. By the time I hit the West Pond trail, the light was fading. Luckily, I had my scope with me and so I was able to scan the pond and shores for any activities. I was a bit surprised at the number of Red-breasted Mergansers on the pond. There were well over 75 hanging out with Ruddy Ducks and Greater Scaup. A lingering Bufflehead was also spotted in the crowd. Notable birds along the trail included Yellow Warblers, Savannah Sparrows, a Vesper Sparrow (missed on getting a photograph), Song Sparrows, Glossy Ibis, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, 2 flyover Killdeer and 4 Willets. I was pretty interested in the Willets because it was an increase of three from the lone Willet that was sighted last Saturday. In addition, since I am participating in the Shorebird research for IWASH, this was important data to capture. Share with Bookmark and Share