The primary mission of the Great South Bay Audubon Society is to advocate for the conservation of habitats for native birds and other native wildlife on Long Island.

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2010 Nature Walk/Event Recap and Reports

Morton Wildlife Refuge, Sag Harbor, NY

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Report by Ken Thompson

We had a total of eight people show up for our annual Great South Bay Audubon Society visit to Morton Wildlife Refuge. It was a beautiful  fall morning with very mild temperatures, and bright sunshine. The local bird residents were out in full force to welcome us to the refuge. We had excellent looks at Titmice, Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches and  a few different varieties of Woodpecker.

On the path to the beach we had real close up looks an immature Red-tailed Hawk sitting on a low tree top right next to the path. It let us walk right underneath the pathside tree he was sitting in, posing for pictures.

Down at the beach we managed to get scope views of Common Loon, Longtailed Duck and Horned Grebe. Few in numbers but good to see. A young looking spike buck Whitetailed Deer was walking around the viewing platform to the delight of all.

Jones Beach

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Photos courtesy of Helga Merryman

Click the photos to enlarge

The last mid-week field trip for the season on November 9, 2010 was a successful day.  Some people stopped by the Captree Boat Basin on the way to Jones Beach in the hopes of viewing the Common Ground Dove.  While the dove was elusive, we did get a wonderfully up close viewing of a Western Kingbird.

Some of the species viewed at the Jones Beach area were:  Royal Tern, Dunlins, American Oystercatchers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, Northern Gannets, Coopers Hawk, Northern Harrier, and an American Kestrel eating on the wing.  The highlights of the day were what we thought at the time was a Northern Shrike but after much online debate was declared a Loggerhead Shrike and a Lark Sparrow.

Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, Shirley, NY

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Report by John Gluth

The field trip at Wertheim had 14 participants. We saw a total of 47 species (see list below.)

Location:  Wertheim NWR
Observation date:  11/7/10
Notes:  The unidentified sandpiper was flying with the 2 Yellowlegs. It was smaller than those birds and certainly a calidrid, but distance and lighting made identification to species uncertain.
Number of species:  47

  1. American Black Duck
  2. American Coot
  3. American Crow
  4. American Goldfinch
  5. American Robin
  6. Belted Kingfisher
  7. Black-capped Chickadee
  8. Blue Jay
  9. Bufflehead
  10. Canada Goose
  11. Carolina Wren
  12. Common Grackle
  13. Dark-eyed Junco
  14. Double-crested Cormorant
  15. Downy Woodpecker
  16. Eastern Phoebe
  1. Gadwall
  2. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  3. Great Black-backed Gull
  4. Great Blue Heron
  5. Greater Yellowlegs
  6. Green-winged Teal
  7. Hermit Thrush
  8. Herring Gull
  9. Hooded Merganser
  10. House Finch
  11. Mallard
  12. Merlin
  13. Mute Swan
  14. Northern Cardinal
  15. Northern Flicker
  16. Northern Harrier
  1. Northern Mockingbird
  2. Northern Pintail
  3. peep sp.
  4. Pine Siskin
  5. Purple Finch
  6. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  7. Red-tailed Hawk
  8. Red-winged Blackbird
  9. Ruddy Duck
  10. Savannah Sparrow
  11. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  12. Song Sparrow
  13. Swamp Sparrow
  14. Tree Swallow
  15. Tufted Titmouse
  16. White-throated Sparrow

Brigatine and Cape May

October 8th, 9th and 10th

Click the photos to enlarge

by Steve D'Amato; Photos courtesy of Steve D'Amato

Here are some of the photos captured by Steve D'Amato during the trip. The report should be posted soon along with more photos.

Connetquot River State Park Preserve Important Bird Area ("IBA") Dedication Ceremony

September 18, 2010

Click the photos to enlarge

by Alice Heller; Photos courtesy of Helga Merryman

Thank you one and all for working with me to put this IBA Dedication Ceremony together, for being Great South Bay Audubon Society's ("GSBAS") guest speakers, guests and Edith & Bob Wilson for being my substitute Field Trip Leader for the scheduled Breakfast & Birding.  These sorts of celebrations are always nice because after lots of hard work and effort we get an opportunity to socialize/share a laugh or too - enjoy good company and good food!

I'm so glad everyone attended, it was great to see everyone - I had a great time!

GSBAS Field Trip to Paul Adams' Private Hummingbird Sanctuary in Baiting Hollow, NY

August 14, 2010

Click the photos to enlarge

by Alice Heller; Photos courtesy of Helga Merryman and Rosanna DeVergiles

GSBAS had the best weather on Saturday morning, August 14th for its annual Hummer Field Trip to Paul Adams' Private Hummingbird Sanctuary in Baiting Hollow, NY.

Paul Adams was gracious as always and the hummers were extremely accommodating. What a very special place to go, relax and watch hummers zipping around visiting all of Paul's hummer feeders and flowers with scenic views from the bluff overlooking the Long Island sound.

GSBAS had 26+ Field Trip attendees, who all enjoyed the visit with Paul and his hummers!

GSBAS would like to again THANK PAUL for scheduling GSBAS's August 14th hummer field trip and ALSO THANK MARK BRIDGEN AT CORNELL for giving GSBAS permission to park at Cornell's facility on Sound Avenue so we could car pool up to Paul's sanctuary with its limited parking.

Thanks to Helga Merryman for sharing her two (2) great shots of the hummer coming in for a drink at one of the many hummer feeders. Enjoy Helga's pictures below!

Hoping to see Paul and his hummer and all you field trip attendees same time same place next year, Sincerely Alice, GSBAS Field Trip Coordinator.

The first two pictures below are courtesy of Helga Merryman.  The others are courtesy of Rosanna DeVergiles

GSBAS Field Trip to The Cornell University L. I. Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead

July 10, 2010

Click the photos to enlarge

by Helga Merryman

On July 10th we attended the Open House, although we were dodging raindrops we were able to walk through the lovely gardens and later take a tractor pulled wagon tour of the experimental farm area. There were various programs in which to participate and volunteers to answer any questions.

GSBAS Field Trip to Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge

May 29, 2010

by Michael McBrien

On the beautiful late spring morning of May 29th, I along with eight other birders proceeded to bird Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, searching for various shorebirds and late migrant songbirds. The South Garden yielded Yellow Warblers along with a male Blackpoll and a male American Redstart.  After receiving news of a Wilson's Phalarope on the West Pond, we soon found the breeding plumaged female phalarope feeding on the edge of the pond.  Also on the West Pond was a Gull-billed Tern among  other shorebirds and terns. Among the various wading-birds in the South Marsh, there was a stunning Little Blue Heron.  Upon the Osprey platform resided four young, which could be clearly seen when the parent flew in to bring a freshly caught fish to the nest.  Also in the area was a very cooperative Willow Flycatcher, allowing all of us to view it.  The field trip to Jamaica Bay was productive with 57 species recorded.

Birding and Breakfast

May 22, 2010

Click the photos to enlarge

May 22, 2010, was a beautiful spring day that brought thirty-seven people to Connetquot River State Park Preserve to enjoy a sumptuous array of breakfast treats and a guided bird walk on the trails of Connetquot.  Given the large number of people that attended, two groups were formed and leaders Ken Thompson and Edith Wilson were kept busy pointing out birds as well as other wildlife and fielding the questions of their respective group.

East Islip High School sent a few students who needed the program to fulfill a requirement of their curriculum.  It was a pleasure to have these young people along as they seemed very interested in not only the birds, but plants, butterflies and other animals we encountered.  As we walked, bird song filled the air and challenged us to identify the species that produced it.  We heard more birds than we saw as the copious spring rains dressed the trees and bushes with a heavy suit of leaves that effectively hid wrens, pewees, phoebes and others from our view.  Nevertheless, we managed to tally a total of forty-six species seen or only heard by either group or both, as follows below. - Co-leader Edith Wilson

(Photographs courtesy of Patrick J. Burke)

The Birding and Breakfast program is a collaboration of Friends of Connetquot, Great South Bay Audubon Society, and NYS Parks.

  1. Am. Crow
  2. American Robin
  3. Baltimore Oriole
  4. Barn Swallow
  5. Black-backed Gull
  6. Black-capped Chickadee
  7. Blackpoll Warbler
  8. Brown Creeper (H)
  9. Brown Thrasher
  10. Brown-headed Cowbird
  11. Canada Goose
  12. Carolina Wren (H)
  13. Cedar Waxwing
  14. Chipping sparrow
  15. Common Grackle
  16. Common Yellowthroat (H)
  1. Double-crested Cormorant
  2. Downy Woodpecker
  3. Eastern Kingbird
  4. Eastern Phoebe (H)
  5. Eastern Towhee
  6. Eastern Wood Pewee (H)
  7. European Starling
  8. Forsters Tern
  9. Gray Catbird
  10. Great-crested Flycatcher
  11. Green Heron
  12. Herring Gull
  13. House Sparrow
  14. House Wren (H)
  15. Mourning Dove
  16. Mute Swan
  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. Northern Mockingbird
  3. Osprey
  4. Ovenbird (H)
  5. Pine Warbler
  6. Red-eyed Vireo
  7. Red-winged Blackbird
  8. Rock Pigeon
  9. Ruby-throated Hummer
  10. Song Sparrow
  11. Tree Swallow
  12. Tufted Titmouse (H)
  13. White-breasted Nuthatch
  14. Yellow Warbler

Wertheim’s International Bird Migratory Day Celebration

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Click photos to enlarge

Recap by Michael McBrien

On the morning of May 8, 2010, former GSBAS Chapter President, Alice Heller, and I met in the parking lot of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge for our field trip for International Migratory Bird Day.  The weather forecst was ominous, with showers predicted, yet it appeared at 8 o'clock, that we had a break in the rain.  So we decided to take our group of 18 (including Alice and I) into the Impoundment section of Wertheim.

It turned out we had made the right decision. We tallied 44 species. Earlier, we had seen 3 Wild Turkeys as we entered the refuge; we found another male on the drive to the Impoundments.  Upon entering the Impoundments, we were immediately greeted by Osprey, which nest in a dead snag near the road.  In the Impoundments, we found a good variety of shorebirds, including Solitary and Least Sandpipers, 2 Willets, a single Short-billed Dowitcher, and a Greater Yellowlegs.  We saw between 10-15 Glossy Ibis, including a group of 7 that was flushed from an area of the marsh near the side of the road.

In the classic area for finding rails, our group saw a Virginia Rail.  It was quite cooperative, giving everyone in the group exceptional views.

Fog was constant throughout the day, and this may have kept some numbers down.  However, during breaks in the fog, we were able to find Great and Snowy Egrets, Gadwall, and American Wigeon, among the other more common marshland birds.

As usual, warblers and songbird numbers were not as high as places in western Long Island, yet we did tally Yellow and Blackpoll Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, a brief look at Baltimore Oriole, Red-eyed Vireo (heard), and Swamp Sparrow (heard).

All in all, it was a great day, especially for such unfavorable weather.  I look forward to next year, when I hope to once again have the pleasure of co-leading this wonderful trip.

Thanks to Jody Banaszak for the following photos of an American Kestrel (“AK”) which were taken at Wertheim’s International Bird Migratory Day Celebration held on Saturday, May 8, 2010. The AK photographed is an injured bird that is used to educate the public.

Photos Courtesy of Jody Banaszak

American Museum of National History, Ornithology Dept. Tour

February 21, 2010

Click photos to enlarge

The annual field trip to the “behind the scenes” of the Ornithology Department of the American Museum of Natural History was led by Judy Davis. We had a total of 18 who came on this field trip plus 3 who were guests of our host, Peter Capainolo, scientific assistant.

For some of us who arrived together earlier, the field trip started with visiting some of the other exhibits. An exhibit which opened in October and is in the Hall of Oceanic Birds is The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter. A closed area was set up which had the environment’s temperature and humidity controlled for the butterflies and moths. In many cases, the butterflies were actually landing on people’s clothing, hands, etc., to extract the salts and other minerals from the surfaces. Though we had to pay extra to enter this exhibit, it was well worth it. After this exhibit, we decided to finish looking at the exhibits in that hall, then seeing how much time we had left, decided to go to the Hall of Minerals and Gems.

We met up with Peter, and he brought us into the Ornithology Department where he started our tour. The American Museum of Natural History has the largest collection of bird skins and skeletons of any museum in the world at over a million specimens. He first took us to the area with the skeletal cabinets and lab drawers. Some specimens that he brought out were: 1) the pelvic region of an Ostrich, 2) the skull of a Shoebill, a type of African Stork, and 3) a full skeleton of a Rufous Hummingbird.

Peter then took us to the room where the skins are prepared and the skeletons are dried. We were treated to viewing the partial skeleton of a Dodo, Raphus cucullatus, and the only full skeleton the museum has of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

We next went to a room filled with floor to ceiling cabinets holding draw after draw of skins. Peter brought out some specimens such as Bald Eagles, Andean Condors, some New Guinea bowerbirds, etc. Some of us did ask to see some specific bird species and it was amazing to see what kind of collection they had. However, I think the highlight of the specimen display he gave us were the birds of paradise. Two that I can recall quite well are the Red Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea rubra, wherein the two central tail feathers of the male have become two long, narrow, twisted ribbon-like plumes. The other was the Blue Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea rudolphi. The colors on this species were simply remarkable and it was amazing how well it stood up over the years. But this is what the science of taxidermy and preservation is all about.

Well, until next year.

Photos Courtesy of Steve D’Amato

Children's Pinecone Feeder Workshop at Brookside

January 17, 2010

Click photos to enlarge

It was a fun time for all who made pinecone feeders at Brookside on January 17th.  Due to the misty, cold weather, we made our feeders indoors.  It was especially a delight to watch 18 month-old Sadie, with the help of her mother, spread the lard/cornmeal mixture onto the pinecones with a spoon, inspect the various materials we had on hand, and roll the sticky-coated cones in the birdseed and craisins.

Following the feeder making, we gleefully watched as Black-capped Chickadees sampled the pinecone feeders hung up near Brookside's butterfly garden and feeders, and also enjoyed seeing many gorgeous Northern Cardinals at the seed feeders.

Green, age 4, showed a great deal of enthusiasm in spreading cracked corn on the ground for the ducks out around the feeders.  It truly was a pleasure to see the interest shown by all who were there -- the children, their parents and GSBAS volunteers and tour guides Janet Gremli, Judy Davis and President Alice Heller -- in making something to be enjoyed by our feathered friends who are always a delight to watch as they go about their day.

Thank you to all who helped make the workshop a success!

Juliane Wohler, Education Chair

Connetquot River State Park Preserve “Breakfast and Birding”

January 16, 2010

Click photos to enlarge

This Saturday field trip, which was hosted by Friends of Connetquot, was lead by Steven D’Amato and Alice Heller. It started in the general meeting building at Connetquot River State Park Preserve. Here, while people had breakfast, we showed slides of the possible bird species that could be seen at the preserve at this time of year.

We had a total of 37 people show up, between the members of Great South Bay Audubon and Friends of Connetquot, and saw a total of 35 species. Most of these were birds around the river. There were 15 species of ducks/geese/swans: Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Muscovy Duck, Gadwall, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Mallard, Canvasback, Ring-necked Duck, Greater & Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Hooded & Common Merganser, and Ruddy Ducks. The other 6 species of birds in or near the water were: Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, American Coot, and Ring-billed, Herring, & Great Black-backed Gulls.

The woodland species were a little disappointing. There was a total of 14 species but almost all of these birds could have easily been seen in our own backyards. Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, pigeons and doves, crows and jays, chickadees and titmice, robins, starlings, and Song, White-throated, and House Sparrows, these birds most of us can see just as well around our own neighborhoods. I would say that the Golden-crowned Kinglet was probably the only passerine that was a more dedicated forest species than the rest we saw.

All in all, with the weather becoming sunny, it was still a good field trip.

Steve D’Amato

Montauk Point Field Trip

January 10, 2010

Click photos to enlarge

So as far as GSBAS goes, there were 5 of us: myself (Mike Cooper), Larry & Helga Merryman and Edith & Bob Wilson, plus Doug Futuyma.

As for the birds, we had a steady stream of Razorbills and a steady stream of smaller numbers of Kittiwakes. At any time you could scan and see a group or two of 8-12 Razorbills and 2 or 3 Kittiwakes. Also, probably a hundred or two of Common Eider and scoters in the low thousands. Doug found a Harlequin along East Lake Drive, which we caught up with later, and another at Ditch Plains. He also re-found Angus' 2nd winter Iceland Gull on the beach near Gosman's, and the Wilson's re-refound it later on. That bird was kind of interesting. Not only an unusual 2nd winter, but also a heavily marked bird with a dark tail band.

Otherwise, some Canvasbacks on Fort Pond, Doug had White-fronted and Cackling Geese in Amagansett...not sure if the GSBAS group caught up with those.

A cold but nice day, when you were out of the wind. Probably birdier than Saturday was.

A couple of pics from Sunday.

Good Birding, Mike Cooper.