Thursday, September 30, 2010

Changes in Wildlife at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn NY...

Jean and her husband Ron Bourque have been involved with trying to save the Floyd Bennett Field Grasslands for many years. Their knowledge and hands on experience with Floyd Bennett Field is an invaluable asset and it is my hope that they are heavily involved in influencing the changes to come. The following is an article written by Jean Bourque. This article, originally appeared in the Transactions of the Linnaean Society of New York, vol. 10, and is reproduced here courtesy of the Society.

Changes in Wildlife at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn NY Over 20 Years

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday... looks like you caught me.

It's daily stretching exercise.

You know, lifting the leg, stretching the leg.

Sigh, alright...I confess, it was just an itch.  But I do it with style, baby, style....
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Floyd Bennett Field Blue Ribbon Panel Meeting (Queens)...

Yesterday evening, I attended the second of two Blue Ribbon Panel Meetings that were convened by Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Anthony Weiner. The Panel, is an effort to bring together community, city, state and federal parties to partner in reviewing and sharing ideas on what we would like to see happen with Floyd Bennett Field, as National Park Service prepares their new General Management Plan for Gateway National Recreation Area.

Queens Borough Deputy President, Barry Grodenchik speaking to the audience.

The meeting was kicked off by Queens Borough Deputy President, Barry Grodenchik, who unlike Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, did not mention things like, "Drive in movie theaters", but instead had a more cautious approach.  Mr. Grodenchik urged the groups to lay out their concerns and told us that it was going to be an open process (we shall see).

My group - Dan Mundy, Dave Berg, Don Riepe, Sharon Seitz, and Alexandra Karnik

There was a lot of information to go around in yesterday’s meeting and I need to take some time to digest and gather my thoughts to formulate my opinions on these developments. However, I will say that for the most part the discussions were cordial with the exception of the journalist from the Rockaway Wave who kept on harping about a "battle" that no one in the room seemed to be privy least we hope there is none.

Dan Mundy, Dave Berg, Don Riepe, Sharon Seitz, Alexandra Karnik and Jacqueline

Despite the poor attendance by the birding community (birders who attended the meeting in Brooklyn gets a pass), there was adequate representation, by a few of us, who repeated quite vocally our positions that saving the grasslands and keeping any development to a minimum, was of the utmost importance.

The image immediately above, is a blown up map of Floyd Bennett Field and one that we worked with during last night's discussions.  At our table, we drew some demarcations on the map to indicate the grassland areas that should not be touched along with possible areas that could be further enhanced for wildlife.  I photographed this map and edited the image adding paw prints to indicate which areas should be considered "untouchable".  In addition, I also added hand prints to indicate areas that some of us would like to "get our hands on" for wildlife restoration.  Thoughts of creeks and a wetland area in the location where the NYPD and Sanitation departments are currently using.  This would mean that the NYPD and Sanitation would have to be relocated.

We have lots of ideas and work to do, which requires engagement; we cannot be on the sidelines talking without actively participating.  If I had my way, I would wish for some sort of committee on the grassroots level that could work closely with the "planners" so that we don't have folks who have never set foot in FBF at places like, "Dead Horse Bay", or the "North Forty Trail" making plans for Floyd Bennett Field.  Two people, who I would strongly support for this level of participation would be Ron and Jean Bourque.  I have said enough for now - more to come.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Today's Photos - Fall Female Blackpoll Warbler...

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Save Floyd Bennett Fields Grasslands...

With Peter Dororsh's permission, I have published after some modifications, his letter he addressed to NYS birders. I encourage all of my readers to please read this letter and do what you can to assist in helping us preserve what, is the only place we in NYC could call our own sizable patch of grasslands.

Dear Birders of Brooklyn,NYC and NYS:

I am bringing this critical issue to your attention over Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Fields grasslands ( formerly an decommissioned airport) now threatened by potential development discussions ( info also based from the recent Blue Ribbon Panel set up by US Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Anthony Weiner). Last Tuesday evening, I attended a listening session/public hearing at Floyd Bennett. Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz (attended and also spoke), a NYC elective city official, is trying to tell the Federal Gateway National Parks Service to turn Floyd Bennett Field into more of a recreational amusement emphasis driven park.

If you are not familiar with the location. Floyd Bennett, is located on the southeastern part of Brooklyn , NYC, a critical bird migration hotspot where for the few past weeks Buff-breasted Sandpipers were feeding right next to the Aviator Sports complex (which itself opened the Pandora's box for more potential commercial development). Mr Markowitz's zeal, obviously has no idea of the potential habitat loss and impact to threatened and fragile grass birds that use Floyd Bennett, especially rare birds including RED KNOT(seen on the runway in 2007) and Upland Sandpiper recorded on the Ebird Cornell database (Check out the list and see "View and Explore Data"). Since 2003, over 215 species have touched down or used Floyd Bennett for breeding or migration purposes. The grasslands, have been impacted over the years and it needs a buffer perimeter which currently, is impacted by an overabundance of speeding cars and motorcycles (the main old airport runway) using Aviator Sports purposes.

I am hoping you will be deeply concerned and act on Brooklyn Birds' behalf to stop this nonsense and save the last grassland spot in Brooklyn and which grasslands of this size is rare for NYC. This preserve, though it is not pretty in some spots, is a rich bird spot where in recent days also saw Bairds Sandpiper and numerous raptors (frequent Peregrine Falcon) as well as some wintering owls (Saw-whet, Long-eared, Snowy sometimes, Barn and on occasions Short-eared) I hope you will act on behalf of New York City birders. You can contact Mr Markowitz's office or further, contact Gateway NPS administrator (google Gateway National Park or NYC Harbors Parks) or the Director of the Interior Ken Salazar. A city official should not delve into Federal natural habitat (but they do).

Peter Dorosh
Brooklyn Bird Club

If you wish to contact Mr Markowitz's office, you could do so by visiting

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Field Notes From JBWR 9-21, 9-22 and 9-25

An uncommon sight - a Baird's Sandpiper in water.
The water level is up at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, but I still continue to survey for shorebirds (thanks to Shai Mitra, for his encouragement). This week, the numbers again reflected the continued decrease, but the diversity, is still holding. Shorebirds seen consistently throughout the week unless otherwise noted are as follows.

Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Stilt Sandpipers
White-rumped Sandpipers
Short-billed Dowitchers
Semipalmated Sandpipers
WESTERN SANDPIPERS (9-21 & 9-22 East Pond)
BAIRD'S SANDPIPER (9-21 East Pond)
Pectoral Sandpiper (9-21)
Willet (9-21)
MARBLED GODWIT (9-22 East Pond)

Marbled Godwit at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
Waterfowl, continue to increase as the number of American Wigeons were easily over 30 as of 9-22. The number of Blue and Green-winged Teals are also up.  I also had a high count of 7 Pied-billed Grebes and there could have been more that I missed.  The American White-Pelican who has now reached the status of Dopus Pelecanus erythrorhynchos, is still around and seem to be holding court over the hundreds of Double-crested Cormorants.

Lord of the Double-crested Cormorants?
 Northern Pintails are starting to arrive as the numbers went from 1-2 last week to 20 by yesterday 9-25 (conservative count). Other notables, include SWAMP SPARROWS and 1 LINCOLN SPARROW (seen behind the visitor's center).  The birding requires a bit more work this time of the year, but I am loving every bit of it. I hope you are seeing lots of birds as well.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Van Courtlandt Bird Walk Report...

Some of our regulars - note the runners in the background
Our walk began with a quick scan of the parade ground and we were rewarded with the sight of 3 Killdeers that were scurrying around in the midst of some 600 + Canada Geese. Last week, we did not pick up the Killdeers, so it was nice to get them out of the way early before the ground got active. We then, worked our way to the restoration area behind the Van Cortlandt House Museum, were we had Ruby-throated Hummingbird, though they were not in the same numbers we had last week, we ended up with 3 in total for the walk. Our best bird for that spot was a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow. It was one that we were very proud of since we later learned from Urban Park Ranger Deli, that they had not recorded any WCS on their walks ever at Van Courtlandt. We would find another White-crowned Sparrow, near the golf course along Vault Hill.

Green Heron and Wood Ducks in the same frame.
We did take a peek in at Tibbets brook along the golf course and had Green Heron along with several Wood Ducks. We also had one Solitary Sandpiper and a few other birds in that area including 2 Great Blue Herons and crippling looks at a Carolina Wren. Later on at Vault Hill, we hit a nice little pocket of activity that nabbed us our second White-crowned Sparrow and several warblers. We continued over Vault hill and made our way to the stables all the while birding. Unfortunately, it was once again quite busy with several cross country races that made birding quite challenging along the trails as we kept on having to dodge runners. Eventually, we ended up taking the cross country trail near the stables and worked our way back to the Van Courtlandt Nature Center. Below is a list of the birds seen on the walk.

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Mallard
  3. Great Blue Heron
  4. Green Heron
  5. Osprey
  6. Cooper's Hawk
  7. Killdeer
  8. Solitary Sandpiper
  9. Mourning Dove
  10. Chimney Swift
  11. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  12. Belted Kingfisher
  13. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  14. Downy Woodpecker
  15. Hairy Woodpecker
  16. Northern Flicker
  17. Eastern Phoebe
  18. American Crow
  19. Black-capped Chickadee
  20. Tufted Titmouse
  21. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  22. White-breasted Nuthatch
  23. Carolina Wren
  24. House Wren
  25. American Robin
  26. Gray Catbird
  27. Northern Mockingbird
  28. European Starling
  29. Northern Parula
  30. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  31. Black-throated Green Warbler
  32. Blackpoll Warbler
  33. Black-and-white Warbler
  34. Northern Waterthrush
  35. Common Yellowthroat
  36. Song Sparrow
  37. White-crowned Sparrow
  38. Northern Cardinal
  39. Red-winged Blackbird
  40. Common Grackle
  41. House Finch
  42. American Goldfinch
  43. House Sparrow

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Photos...

All cleared for landing!

Steady, steady...

Getting my bearings...

Ah yes, perfect landing...time for a drink!
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Photo of the Day...

Get out of my way!

Move it NOW!!!
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

(9-20) Quest For Migrants at Floyd Bennett Field and Fort Tilden...

Fall Migration, is in full swing and many birders are out and about in search of migrants.  Birding Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn on Monday turned up a few birds with the most notable bird being a DICKCISSEL (seen twice) moving around and feeding on grass seeds. Other notables included SWAINSON's THRUSH, NASHVILLE WARBLER and several MAGNOLIA WARBLERS.

Common Yellowthroats kept popping up instead of a Connecticut Warbler :)

The 4 Buff-breasted Sandpipers continued in the field across from the aviator center; however, they seemed very skittish and took flight several times while I watched them via scope views from the parking lot. This, was quite in contrast to a few weeks ago when these birds appeared very comfortable allowing many folks to get close to them with their point and shoot cameras for photos. Maybe these birds are getting ready to move on?  Over on the grasslands there were numerous American Kestrels hunting over the mowed fields. On a conservative count, I estimated well over 40 Kestrels hunting.

Since I am on the topic of birding at Floyd Bennett Field, let me remind readers that there are scheduled public meetings (one already held in Brooklyn); the other to be held in Queens to discuss what politicians are referring to as the "improvements" of Floyd Bennett Field. Are you shuddering as I am at this? The Queens meeting will be held on September 27th, 2010 from 6-8 PM at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

Following Floyd Bennett Field, I visited Fort Tilden, where the action was slow probably due to all the activity on the fields.  Nevertheless, I did manage to add a FIELD SPARROW to my day list.   Hopefully, more birds continue to come through and I get to share them with you.

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Wordless Wednesday...

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Photo of the Day - Grimace From An American Golden Plover

Ugh!  This does not taste as well as it looks.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Van Courtlandt Bird Walk Report...

Digiscoped Wood Duck
This is the second week that I have led the group at Van Courtlandt Park in the Bronx since moving up the walk to 8:00 a.m. Despite the constant stream of cross country runners that seemed to be able to access trails that I would love to be off limits, we have seen an uptick with our species count. You think it has anything to do with the change in the start time? This week, our group started with 5, maxed out at 10 and ended up with 8 birders. I changed up our starting point and it paid off as we hit a nice little pocket of activity around the pines near the Ranger Station; we picked up 2 Pine Warblers in that flock, which was my first at Van Courtlandt.

Our "hot" spot over at the restoration area behind the Van Courtlandt Museum was buzzing with Hummingbirds.
Digiscoped Eastern Phoebe

On a conservative count, we settled for 7 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, though there could have been as many as 9-10 around. In that same area we had Eastern Phoebe, an unidentified Empid and a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak that was not very cooperative.

Out on the parade ground, I heard and then spotted Savannah Sparrows and got the early arrivals on a couple that perched on the chain link fence. No sign or sound of the Killdeers, on the field, but that could be as a result of all the activity on the field. Additional highlights were two Solitary Sandpipers seen near the Golf Course at Tibbets Brook.  Below is a list of the birds seen.
  1. Canada Goose
  2. Wood Duck
  3. Mallard
  4. Green-winged Teal
  5. Great Blue Heron
  6. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  7. Cooper's Hawk
  8. Red-tail Hawk
  9. American Kestrel
  10. Solitary Sandpiper
  11. Rock Pigeon
  12. Mourning Dove
  13. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  14. Belted Kingfisher
  15. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  16. Downy Woodpecker
  17. Northern Flicker
  18. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  19. Empidonax sp.
  20. Eastern Phoebe
  21. Blue Jay
  22. American Crow
  23. Black-capped Chickadee
  24. Tufted Titmouse
  25. House Wren
  26. American Robin
  27. Gray Catbird
  28. Northern Mockingbird
  29. European Starling
  30. Northern Parula
  31. Yellow Warbler
  32. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  33. Pine Warbler
  34. Palm Warbler
  35. American Redstart
  36. Eastern Towhee
  37. Savannah Sparrow
  38. Song Sparrow
  39. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  40. Red-winged Blackbird
  41. Common Grackle
  42. Boat-tailed Grackle
  43. House Finch
  44. American Goldfinch
  45. House Sparrow

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