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2012 Nature Walk/Event Recap and Reports

Oceanside, Marine Nature Study Area

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Recap by Ken Thompson

We went to Oceanside, Marine Nature Study Area today for our Tuesday Nature Walk. We had little or no wind, mild temperatures and bright sunshine. Just from the parking lot we saw some,nice birds. There were a couple of Eastern Phoebes and a couple of Hermit Thrushes right on the perimeter of the lot.

Today turned into a sparrow day. Everywhere we walked there were sparrows, Swamp, Savannah, Seaside, Song, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows. There were more yellow-rumpled warblers than you could count, plus ther were a good number of Pine Siskins around the area a too. Another good walk with GSBAS.

Click to enlarge photo

Jamaica Bay

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Recap by Ken Thompson

On bright crisp clear day at Jamaica Bay we first headed into the south gardens. There wasn't much happening there so we decided to head to the west pond trail. The wind was really blowing as we got further out on the trail. The first pond views on the north side of the trail included five Black-crowned Night Herons. A little further up on the south side bay view there was a gathering of wading birds, including Great Egrets, a large group of Snowy Egrets and one Little Blue Heron. There was a large raft of Ruddy Ducks, well over five hundred on the main pond.

There was a steady flight of Sharp-shinned Hawks all morning. We also had a couple,of Coopers Hawks fly over as well. On the way out of the parking lot Vera Capogna spotted a Merlin sitting in a bare tree providing excellent views. Jamaica Bay always gives you something.

Click to enlarge photo

Avalon Sanctuary

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Recap by Ken Thompson

Rainy day birding

A stalwart four birders showed up on rainy Tuesday for our GSBAS walk at the Avalon Preserve in Stony Brook. I was a light mist when we started and went to almost clearing to heavier rain to a steady drizzle by the time we finished.

We did manage to scare up a few birds despite the weather. We had some very good looks at two different Black-throated Blue Warblers. They were up close and fairly cooperative. We managed to get some looks at a pair of Hermit Thrushes, but with the darkness and mist in the air it was difficult seeing the indicative tail color. All together we did manage to see 27 species for the morning. It just goes to show, you never know what you will see when you take a walk.

Norman Levy Park

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recap by Ken Thompson

Gorgeous weather for a walk.

Our Tuesday GSBAS walk at Norman Levy Park in Merrick NY couldn't have had better weather. Beautiful sunshine and mild temperatures with a south west wind made for a very nice walk. The walk to the south viewing area was windy Which made it hard to see birds as they were hunkered down. As we got to the turnaround the view was really nice. The sun reflecting off the low tidal area was silhouetting some egrets and herons providing a great look.

As we walked back to the parking area on the sheltered side of the hill, we finally started to,see some birds. We saw a nice mix of a few warblers and some other passerines. We took the low road back this time instead of climbing to the top of the hill and exposing ourselves to the wind. Another nice day of birding. So far this season we have been batting .500 with the weather.

Robert Moses/Jones Beach

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Photo and Recap by Ken Thompson

Welcome to fall.

We had a GSBAS trip this morning to the beaches. The leaders were, John Gluth, Peter Murphy and Steve D'Amato. We started at Robert Moses and ended at Jones Beach West End. The morning was bright crisp and clear. The wind was out of the SE and moderate. We walked the boardwalk to the lighthouse first thing. A nice surprise was the spotting of a Philadelphia Vireo by Michael McBrien. That is a bird we do not see often. One by one we managed to pick off a few birds and built up a list. There were fourteen folks in attendance. As we were heading back we encountered a young Mourning Dove alongside the boardwalk. It let us walk right up to it and we almost had to shoo it out of the way. We stopped at the Hawk Watch and only spent a few minutes there as not much was flying in SE wind.

Then on to West End. What a sight when we got there. The bar was covered with Black Skimmers and American Oystercatchers, there must have been a couple hundred of each plus fifty or so Black Bellied Plovers and another fifty or so Sanderlings, with a scattering of Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstones and Willets. Spectacular is the only word I can think of, and then periodically masses of them would take flight in the bright sunlight. They would wheel and turn and pivot as a group showing the different sides and colors as they flew around in circles and then come back to land on the sand bar. This is another aspect of birding that adds to the appreciation of nature and outdoors, aside from seeing and counting individual birds.

Click to enlarge photo

GSBAS' Ed Davis Memorial Beach Cleanup

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Photos and Recap by Carol Jansch

A Big Beach Thank You!

Thank you to the group of volunteers and their time and effort in helping clean up the shores at Sailor’s Haven on Fire Island. A very special thank you to Pete Wimmet who provided me the camera that captured the clean up and the “big dig” and who then sent me all of the photos.

The results are in and our group of fourteen volunteers collected 1,300 different items on September 8th!

Last year our cleanup happened after the remnants of Hurricane Irene had passed through our area, and the bulk of what we found was older, stirred up, garbage and debris. This year, while the weather was hot, humid, windy, and many of us were soaked by the incoming tide, and some shocked by how our hair looked, we scoured the beach and collected and picked through the seaweed to find many recently discarded items. Our largest find was by Andi Green, what appeared to be a buried boogie-board, turned out to be the side of a boat and it took a team effort to dislodge it from the sand!

Highlights:

  • 173 – unidentifiable plastic pieces
  • 800+ - items relating to recreational activities (food containers, balloons, and clothing)
  • 137 – smoking related products

What we have learned from our continued efforts in cleaning up the shores of the Atlantic ocean is that we can and do make a difference.

Special thanks to NYS Park Ranger, Chris Harris in getting us outfitted with pickers and bags.

Here are links to the related web sites:

Great South Bay Audubon Society - http://www.gsbas.org/

American Littoral Society - http://www.alsnyc.org/

Thank you again for all of your help, what a great team effort! Please consider having fun again at the 2013 cleanup! I would like to expand our group of volunteers next year and I will send out an email, so keep this in mind if you have a friend or family member who would like to join us.

Thank you all,
Carol Jansch, Beach Captain

Click to enlarge photos

Saturday, August 18, 2012 - Hummingbird Sanctuary in Baiting Hollow

Recap by Alice Heller, GSBAS Trip Coordinator - Photos by Margaret Kohler

On Saturday, August 18, 2012, a rainy overcast morning, with the weather forecast calling for rain and showers throughout the morning and clearing around lunchtime, GSBAS's Hummer Nature Walk took place with 20 attendees and Field Trip Coordinator, Alice Heller, meeting Paul Adams at his Private Hummingbird Sanctuary in Baiting Hollow. This was our first rainy overcast Hummer Nature Walk to Paul’s place.

And since this Hummer Nature Walk was our first rainy overcast morning it forced us attendees to wear rain gear and/or tote and use umbrellas, but we thoroughly enjoyed yet another wonderful visit to Paul Adam's Humming Bird Sanctuary.  We got to see hummers at the numerous and various feeders and also see hummers while making visits to the many beautiful plants and shrubs Paul has planted and also growing in containers.  We heard and saw hummers zip by us in pursuit of other hummers too.  The views of the Long Island Sound matched the rainy overcast day: grey waters and a grey Connecticut horizon; everything was very quiet on the sound.  Paul introduced himself and his hummers to more first time attendees and those of us attendees who come back year after year.  Paul was very surprised when we all showed up in the rain, but that’s us crazy/dedicated birders for you!  We just couldn’t not take the chance of not showing up and miss seeing our wonderful Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Paul's special private hummer sanctuary situated on the bluff of the Long Island Sound.

This year GSBAS made a donation of three (3) chairs to Paul; Paul suggested a neat chair which was available and purchased at IKEA.

My thanks again to Sharon Kienzle for helping transporting the chairs out to Paul’s in her van!

If anyone would like to make a donation, Paul previously advised donations can be made to the Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, specifically to support: Operation Ruby Throat: The Hummingbird Project. Hilton Pond Center is located at 1432 Devinney Road, York, SC 29745, USA if you’d like to make a visit and/or visit via its website: www.hiltonpond.org. You can also visit via the web this link: www.rubythroat.org.

GSBAS's sincere thanks to Paul Adams for scheduling this August 2012 GSBAS Hummer Nature Walk and to Dr. Mark Bridgen, Professor and Director, Cornell University, Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, 3059 Sound Ave., Riverhead, NY for again allowing GSBAS to use its Sound Avenue parking lot.

GSBAS looks forward to again seeing Paul and his hummers in August 2013.

Help our Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate (fall and spring) by preparing and putting out sugar water (please note: NOT TO USE prepared mixtures with red dye). Follow this recipe to make your own sugar water: use four (4) cups water to one (1) cup sugar; boil water & sugar mixture on stove; let cool before filling hummer feeders; refresh hummer feeders after a couple of days.

Click to enlarge photos and see captions

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - Nature Walks season finale at Shinnecock

Recap by Ken Thompson

High tide on the marshes

Today was our last group walk of the spring season. We met at Shinnecock inlet and drove and stopped along Dune Rd. the weather was overcast and damp. The rain was forecast to hold off until the afternoon and it did. A moderate wind was blowing almost from the due south with some gusting. This made scoping the ocean difficult. We did manage to see a Sooty Shearwater and two Wilson's Storm Petrels.

Along Dune Rd. we made several stops at the pullouts and some of the highlights we saw were, Clapper Rail, Piping Plovers and many other shorebirds. Driving we passed a close Black-crowned Night Heron. The number of birds was down as this appears to be the end of the northward shorebird migration. A nice day with some nice birds and a good time was had by all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - Cow Meadow, Freeport and Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside

Recap by Ken Thompson

High tide on the marshes

It was a cool start to our trip to Cow Meadow, Freeport and Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside. We did have sunshine for most of the walk but a very cool north wind made us layer up against the cold. We stared around the pond at Cow Meadow and were able to see some Egrets and Herons. A lone male Wood Duck was a new bird in that spot for us. A pair of Green Herons put on a flying exhibition and one settled in a exposed tree so we could all have a good look. Then we walked to the viewing platform and found a near record high tide. Very little land or grass was exposed. We Saw an Osprey sitting on a nest with a chick sticking its head up.

When we got to Oceanside MNSA, the tide was also the highest we have ever seen it. The boardwalks and the paths were covered with water.

By walking around the back and and wading in some shallow water we did mange to cover some of the area. A pair of Oystercatchers were standing on the top of box on stilts in the marsh. Everyone could have had their own Yellow-crowned Night Heron, there were so many around the marsh. The highlight was a singing and occasionally visible Marsh Wren.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - Massapequa Preserve

Recap and Photo by Ken Thompson

Sunshine and nice birding at Massapequa Preserve.

The temperature seems to have gone from cold and damp to hot and humid with no in between. As we finished our greeting circle some one noticed a bird singing, we identified it as a Warbling Vireo and it was immediately spotted almost right above us. Then we noticed a nest and the vireo went on the nest. We got to watch a Warbling Vireo sitting on its nest not ten feet from where we started. A scope was set up and everyone got excellent looks at the nesting bird.

Just a little further down the path a Black-crowned Night Heron was perched in a tree and again the scope was set up and we had good looks for everyone. The rest of the walk was pleasant and we had more of the local nesters and a snapping turtle.

As we left we all took one last look at the sitting Warbling Vireo and wished her well.

Click to enlarge photos and see captions

Saturday, May 19, 2012 - International Migratory Bird Day at Wertheim

GSBAS's Nature Walk at Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge ("NWR"), Shirley, NY celebrating INTERNATIONAL MIGRATORY BIRD DAY ("IMBD"), May 19, 2012, Recap by Alice Heller, Trip Leader for GSBAS's joint Nature Walk with Friends of Wertheim:

On May 19, 2012, finally a bright and sunny Saturday morning, GSBAS's joint Nature Walk took place with seven (7) chapter attendees joining up with Curt Kessler, Coastal Wetlands Biologist, Long Island NWR Complex and a dozen plus Friends of Wertheim attendees for the joint Nature Walk to Wertheim’s Impoundment Area.

With car pooling arranged, Curt lead us into that very special birding area at Wertheim, its: Impoundment Area, to being our joint Nature Walk and bird/nature observations. These were some of the bird species we were treated to seeing and/or hearing:

Avian Species total: 32

  1. American Bald Eagle - adult in flight
  2. American Goldfinch
  3. Barn swallow
  4. Blue Jay
  5. Carolina wren – Heard ("H")
  6. Common grackle
  7. Common yellow throat
  8. Eastern phoebe
  9. Gadwall
  10. Glossy Ibis
  11. Great Egret
  1. Great-crested flycatcher
  2. Grey catbird (H)
  3. Least Sandpipers
  4. Mallard
  5. Mourning dove
  6. Mute swan
  7. Osprey (nesting & in flight with fish in talons)
  8. Ovenbird (H)
  9. Piping Plover
  10. Purple Martin
  11. Red-eyed vireo (first heard matching vocalization: Look up! See me? Over here! This way! Do you hear me?)
  1. Red-tailed Hawk
  2. Redwing blackbirds
  3. Sharp-tail Sparrow
  4. Snowy Egret
  5. Song Sparrow
  6. Tree swallows
  7. Tufted titmouse
  8. Virginia rail (H)
  9. Willets
  10. Yellow warbler

And a freshwater reptile: two (2) snapping turtles. Curt very carefully picked up and helped the turtles, keeping the turtles headed in their original direction, get to the water on the other side of the trail.

And lots and lots of ticks.

GSBAS's sincere thanks to Curt Kessler, Coastal Wetlands Biologist for Co-Leading the Nature Walk and to Jody DeMeyere, Visitor Services Manager, Long Island NWR Complex (Wertheim), 340 Smith Rd, Shirley, NY, for scheduling this joint birding/Nature Walk in celebration of IMBD on Saturday, May 19, 2012.

Saturday, May 5, 2012 - GSBAS "I Love My Parks Day"

Recap by Judy Davis

The Great South Bay Audubon Society (GSBAS) participated in Audubon New York’s "Audubon in the Park" program and "I Love My Parks Day" on May 5, 2012 by using the TogetherGreen grant money we received to perform a Japanese stiltgrass removal at Heckscher State Park. GSBAS’ college intern, Lauren Schnal, five Sayville High School students (Julia Cameron, Anna Elena Mizzi, Emily Nowlan, Alicia Protus and Brian Walsh) and chapter President Judy Davis spent the afternoon smothering and removing the non-native invasive Japanese stiltgrass.

The day began with Lauren having the students perform a density study of the stiltgrass. One representative sample, which appeared to be the norm for the area, was taken. There were 4,000 Japanese stiltgrass plants per square meter.

The project was undertaken in two phases. Phase one consisted of smothering the Japanese stiltgrass with a thick layer of wood chips. The wood chips were provided by the park and were a result of downed trees. Approximately 920 square meters of stiltgrass were covered with the wood chips. Phase two consisted of hand pulling the Japanese stiltgrass. The presence of endangered Bead Grass prevented the use of wood chips in an area approximately 9 square meters.

Lauren, the students, and Judy spent four hours shoveling, hauling, raking, and plucking. Occasional breaks were taken to refuel with bagels and snacks and to check out the local resident, a caterpillar the students named Pat. There was no better way to show how much we love our parks!

Click to enlarge photos and see captions

Saturday, April 28, 2012 - GSBAS at Heckscher State Park Spring Festival

Recap by Judy Davis

The Great South Bay Audubon Society had a booth at the Heckscher State Park Spring Festival on Saturday, April 28, 2012.  The nippy weather did not deter visitors from enjoying the many displays at the festival.  The GSBAS debuted its newly updated display board and had fun making pine cone bird feeders with the children and adults!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - Gardiners Park GSBAS Walk

Recap by Ken Thompson

A cold windy morning, the wind was forecast to subside but somehow the wind did not read the forecast. We were wearing winter coats and gloves and still chilly. Apparently the birds ignored the forecast and they decided to stay home out of the wind and be warm.

We walked to around the edges of the northwest side of the park and then headed down to the bay. At the bay we saw our first of the year Glossy Ibis, five of them hunkered down in the marsh grass with barely their heads sticking up in sight. Earlier we had good looks at a Yellow Warbler and some Blue-grey Gnatcatchers. The marsh sparrows were a no show.

After the walk we went to Vera Capogna's house for lunch. It was very nice, with great food and great company. A fine way to finish a good day of birding.

Saturday, April 21, 2012 - Saturday GSBAS walk at Connetquot SPP

Recap by Ken Thompson

On an overcast damp morning fifteen people showed to for our walk through Connetquot State Park Preserve. We were joined by two students from the East Islip School system on assignment to participate in a nature event.

We walked from the parking lot to the hatchery and down the other side of the lake back to the parking lot. This is about a three mile walk. On the way up to the hatchery we were treated to good looks at the Bluebirds nesting in box eighteen. Other notable birds were Black and White Warbler and a Yellow warbler and Northern Rough-winged Swallows. At the end of the walk the students reviewed their list of birds with the group.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - Hempstead Lake Sate Park

Recap by Ken Thompson

A gorgeous morning with about ten folks led to a nice day of birding. The day just got better as the sun got higher and warmer. We started by walking up the small pond and creek and saw Wood Ducks and Blue-winged Teal, two very nice looking species of ducks. On the way down a Green Heron flew out for us to see. Then a Sharp shinned hawk started chasing some birds around. We also saw Cedar Waxwings on our way to the big pond.

After Hempstead we headed down to Jones Beach Coast Guard station and did some birding there. as we still had time we decided to pursue a report of a Great Horned Owl nest. We found it and saw two of the owlets in the nest. The parents were not to be seen but we knew they were around and watching us.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - Robert Moses Nature Walk

Recap by Ken Thompson

A stalwart ten birders showed up on a chilly morning on the beach. The forecasted drop in the wind never occurred, and we were in the throes of the wind all morning, and we felt like it was still winter.

We had to fight for every bird that we saw. They were hunkered down low and not showing themselves, only to rapidly fly to the next low shrub. We spent a lot of time learning what a first year male pine warbler looked like. The pine warblers were the only birds to really make them selves available for viewing. We have to thank Bill Redshaw who suggested we sit and wait a minute.

In all we saw thirty one species of birds and had a tour of the new addition to the Fire Island Lighthouse Museum. There is a new building recently built to house the original Fresnel Lens for the original lighthouse. The structure and mechanics and optics that were used in that time frame is amazing. It is a worthwhile stop if you want to get a history of The Fire Island lighthouses.

Saturday, January 21, 2012 - Breakfast and Birding

Recap by Ken Thompson, Edith Wilson, and Judy Davis

This morning was our winter birding and breakfast at Connetquot River State Park Preserve. It was also our first snow fall of the season. Surprisingly eighteen people showed up including two kids who also brought their parents. These Birding & Breakfast programs usually draw large numbers of people; it seems the collaboration of Great South Bay Audubon Society, Friends of Connetquot, and the NY State Park’s Environmental Office is working well. Annie McIntyre from the Environmental Office presented an informative PowerPoint introduction to birding while we enjoyed the breakfast sponsored by the Friends of Connetquot and supplied by Pamela Hunter, Lauren Schnal, and Emily Efstration, all part of the Environmental Office staff. The bagels, cake and donuts with coffee, tea, hot chocolate and juice were delicious. Volunteer Christine Hartmann braved the snow as well in order to bring three Northern Bobwhite quails Cathy Wilvert has kept—from her quail reintroduction program at Connetquot Preserve—for educational purposes such as this. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to view these elusive birds up close.

After breakfast we went out to look at some birds. Everyone absolutely enjoyed walking around and looking at the birds while it was snowing. I am amazed that everyone appreciated and enjoyed the woodland park environment and the fresh falling snow. Nevertheless, falling snow did hamper looking at the ducks on the lake so we just set the scopes up on the bird feeders and the folks were ecstatic with the good looks they were able to get through a scope at woodpeckers, chickadees and other typical feeder birds. A great park, a great crew and a great crowd made for a great winter morning.

Click the photos to enlarge

Photos Courtesy of Judy Davis

Species spotted:

  1. American Coot
  2. American Goldfinch
  3. Black-capped Chickadee
  4. Canada Goose
  5. Carolina wren
  6. Dark-eyed Junco
  7. Downy Woodpecker
  8. Gadwall
  1. Hooded Merganser
  2. House Sparrow
  3. Lesser Scaup
  4. Mallard
  5. Northern Cardinal
  6. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  7. Red-winged Blackbird
  8. Ring-billed Gull
  1. Ring-necked Duck
  2. Song Sparrow
  3. Tufted Titmouse
  4. Whistling Swan
  5. White-breasted Nuthatch
  6. White-throated Sparrow

Saturday, January 7, 2012 - Montauk Point

Species List provided by Steve D'Amato

  1. American Bittern
  2. American Black Duck
  3. American Coot
  4. American Crow
  5. American Robin
  6. American Wigeon
  7. Belted Kingfisher
  8. Black Scoter
  9. Black-bellied Plover
  10. Black-capped Chickadee
  11. Black-legged Kittiwake
  12. Blue-winged Teal
  13. Brant
  14. Brown-headed Cowbird
  15. Bufflehead
  16. Cackling Goose
  17. Canada Goose
  18. Carolina wren
  19. Common Eider
  20. Common Goldeneye
  21. Common Loon
  22. Common Merganser
  23. Double-crested Cormorant
  24. Dunlin
  25. Eastern Towhee
  1. European Starling
  2. Gadwall
  3. Gray Catbird
  4. Great Black-backed Gull
  5. Great Blue Heron
  6. Great Cormorant
  7. Great Egret
  8. Greater Scaup
  9. Green-winged Teal
  10. Herring Gull
  11. Hooded Merganser
  12. Horned Grebe
  13. House Finch
  14. House Sparrow
  15. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  16. Long-tailed Duck
  17. Mallard
  18. Marsh Wren
  19. Merlin
  20. Mourning Dove
  21. Mute Swan
  22. Northern Cardinal
  23. Northern Gannet
  24. Northern Harrier
  25. Northern Mockingbird
  1. Northern Shoveler
  2. Pied-billed Grebe
  3. Purple Sandpiper
  4. Razorbill
  5. Red-breasted Merganser
  6. Red-necked Grebe
  7. Red-tailed Hawk
  8. Red-throated Loon
  9. Red-winged Blackbird
  10. Ring-billed Gull
  11. Rock Pigeon
  12. Ruddy Duck
  13. Rusty Blackbird
  14. Snowy Owl
  15. Song Sparrow
  16. Surf Scoter
  17. Swamp Sparrow
  18. Turkey Vulture
  19. White-fronted Goose
  20. White-throated Sparrow
  21. White-winged Scoter
  22. Winter Wren
  23. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  24. and possibly note a #74. – one dead Dovekie

Michael McBrien also had Northern Flicker, Blue Jay, and Brown Thrasher in Sagaponack before the group trip started.

*saw pod of ~15 dolphins in Fort Pond Bay plus Michael McBrien and Mike Cooper (and I don't know how many others) saw the spouting of a whale off Montauk Point.

**carcass of smooth dogfish shark found washed up on Ditch Plains Beach