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2014 Nature Walk/Event Recap and Reports

Morton Wildlife Refuge Nature Walk Recap

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Today we did our annual walk at the Elizabeth A. Morton Wildlife Refuge in Sag Harbor. The weather was a little overcast but no wind and moderate temperatures. As soon as we stepped onto the path the birds were hollering at us to start feeding them. We wonder who is trained, us or them?

We had the usual Chickadees, Titmice and White-breasted Nuthatches eating out of our hands. It is always a pleasure to walk the preserve and have to birds accompany us. At the beach there were Surf Scoters in the bay and Buffleheads in the harbor.

We always enjoy our walks at Morton Wildlife Refuge.

Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, Shirley - Nature Walk Recap

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Recap by Alice Heller and John Gluth, GSBAS Co-Trip Leaders

On Sunday, November 9, 2014, a cool cloudy fall morning to start, GSBAS's Wertheim Nature Walk took place with 15 plus/minus attendees including Co-Trip Leaders John Gluth and Alice Heller. After our group assembled and met up with Ranger Rebecca Hutton at the Visitor Center, we proceeded to car pooling into Wertheim’s Impoundment Area to begin our Nature Walk/birding.

The highlights were sighted on our way back, two (2) Bald Eagles: both an Adult and Immature, flying the thermals as the morning warmed up and the sun tried to come out. Other highlights included: Wilson’s Snipe (Common Snipe) and Rusty Blackbird, among a total of 48 species sighted.

GSBAS’s 48 species for November 9th at Wertheim’s: Impoundment Area; deciduous trail; Feeders behind the Visitor Center and trail walk to water, included:

  1. American Black Duck
  2. American Coot
  3. American Crow
  4. American Goldfinch (H)
  5. American Robin
  6. Bald Eagle: Adult & Immature
  7. Belted Kingfisher
  8. Black-capped Chickadee
  9. Blue Jay
  10. Common Snipe (Wilson’s Snipe)
  11. Cooper’s Hawk
  12. Dark-eyed Junco
  13. Double-crested Cormorant
  14. Downy Woodpecker
  15. Gadwall
  16. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  1. Gray Catbird
  2. Great Black-backed Gull
  3. Great Blue Heron
  4. Greater Yellowlegs
  5. Green-winged Teal
  6. Hairy Woodpecker
  7. Herring Gull
  8. Hooded Merganser
  9. Mallard
  10. Marsh Wren
  11. Mourning Dove
  12. Mute Swan
  13. Northern Flicker
  14. Northern Harrier
  15. Northern Pintail
  16. Pied-billed Grebe
  1. Purple Finch (Female @ Visitor Center’s Feeders)
  2. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  3. Red-tailed Hawk
  4. Red-winged Blackbird
  5. Ring-billed Gull
  6. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  7. Ruddy Duck
  8. Rusty Blackbird
  9. Savannah Sparrow
  10. Song Sparrow
  11. Swamp Sparrow
  12. Tufted Titmouse
  13. White-breasted Nuthatch
  14. White-throated Sparrow
  15. Winter Wren (H = Heard)
  16. Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

Also along the trail in the Impoundment Area we came across a Northern Water Snake, which seemed to be just waking up with help from the sun and the rising temperature.

Sadly we did not get our Virginia rail in the Impoundment Area, although GSBAS’s Co-Trip Leader: John Gluth, tried several times to call the Virginia rail out.

We thank John Gluth for his birding expertise, which many of us availed ourselves of!

Please see the group picture below that Vera took of the trip’s attendees who did the final leg of our Nature Walk on Wertheim’s trail (just off of the Visitor’s Center) to the water. And thank you all for joining another of GSBAS’s Wertheim Nature Walks into this very special – permit only - area of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge.

Sunken Meadow State Park Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Once again shirtsleeve birding in November. With temperatures in the sixties nineteen birders set forth to see what nature can give us. We started by heading to the boardwalk to scan the sound. The water was flat, hardly a ripple as the wind was coming from the south. We some of the sea birds that are expected at this time of year. There were Horned Grebes, Common Loons, Long-tailed Ducks, Black and White-winged scoters. On the shoreline there were Sanderlings scurrying around.

After that we headed around the park to see some land birds. The “dump” was somewhat quiet with Savannah, Swamp and Song Sparows. At the tidal water ponds we saw a variety of Ducks. At the Bridge between the two tidal ponds we had a flock of Cedar Waxwings feeding in the mud flats. for the day we had over forty species of birds. This is our last Tuesday trip of the year. We will resume Tuesday trips in March of 2015.

Thanks to all who participated and made for an enjoyable fall Tuesday birding season.See you next year.

Blydenburgh County Park Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Everything thing this morning was just “ducky”. We started our walk at Blydenburgh by going out on the dock in the lake and checking out the waterfowl. The first ducks we saw were a couple of pairs of wood Ducks. The morning sun was striking the ducks a very low angle and lighting them up to display all their brilliant colors. What a treat. There were other ducks as well, we saw Northern Shovelers, American Wigeon, Ring-necked, Scaup, Gadwall and Hooded mergansers.

Then we walked through the woods and saw many of the woodland species of birds, Titmice, Chickadees, Juncoes, Sparrows and Woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatches.

On a beautiful fall day the weather was just perfect. No wind, temperatures very mild and bright sunshine. Add in a nice mix of birds and you have a very nice morning spent outdoors appreciating nature.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Our trip today was to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. It started off being another Sparrow seminar. Right out of the visitor center we encountered a flock of feeding sparrows. They continued all morning long along all the paths we walked. We eventually wound up with six different sparrow species. We had Song, Savannah, Swamp, Chipping, White-crowned and White-throated.

There were Yello-Rumped Warblers everywhere. A guess would put them at over a hundred plus. The day's final tally was thirty one species on a really beautiful fall day at Jamaica Bay.

Jones Beach West End Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Our walk this morning started with over one hundred Oystercatchers on the sand bar opposite the Coast Guard station. There were also many Black-bellied Plovers and Dunlin. A Coopers Hawk made a pass at the bar and all the birds took off at once. what a sight to see.

We then walked the edges and shrubs near the Coast Guard Station and in the median. This weekend the Sparrows came in and we had Song, White-throated and White-crowned and the first of the season, Slate-colored Juncoes. Yellow-rumped Warblers were everywhere, and to brighten the morning there was also a flock of Golden-crowned kinglets.

Connetquot State Park Preserve Nature Walk Recap

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

On a nice warm fall day we met in the parking lot at Connetquot State Park Preserve. We walked around the barns and main building. Then we headed up to to Hatchery via the roadway and went around the main pond and came back on the red trail to the main house.

We had thirty six species of birds for the morning, no significant migrants but we did have five different woodpeckers, Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Northern Flicker and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

The park is beginning to turn color and when the sun was poking through some of the trees it was beautiful. A nice walk on a nice morning.

Avalon Preserve Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Nine people showed for a walk on a beautiful, warm fall morning. We met at the grist mill and scanned the pond for ducks. There were a flock of Wood Ducks at the far end of the pond. There were nine, a mix of male and female. Others sightings included six Black-crowned Night Herons and a pair of Northern Shovelers.

We then walked up the hill through the wood to the upper fields. Things were pretty quiet so we occupied ourselves by looking at the different plants in the fields. We noticed on a Milkweed pod, a bunch of orange and black bugs. They are Milkweed Bugs. They are found primarily on Milkweed plants. By feeding on the milkweed they become toxic similar to the Monarch butterfly. The orange and black color indicates toxicity to predators.

On the way back down to the grist mill we spotted a bathing Northern Parula Warbler. Again making the best of a beautiful day and enjoying all of nature.

Massapequa Preserve Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Just when you think the birding is slow, something pops up to remind you that you never know what can happen. As we were heading back to the cars we heard what sounded like a Nuthatch just down the path. As we got closer we saw a White-breasted Nuthatch moving around in a tree right over our heads. Then a second one joined it and we had two Nuthatches climbing up and down the tree.

Around the corner from the nuthatches, on the pond were a pair of Pied-billed Grebes for us to see. You never know what you are going to see unless you get out to see it.

We then headed to Jones Beach and spent time looking around and seeing a few more birds to add to our trip list. A Peregrine Falcon was sitting on a tower and made a feeding run and came back with a Mourning Dove for brunch.

Another nice day.

Robert Moses State Park Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

On another rainy Tuesday morning six fearless birders showed up to check out Robert Moses SP.  We headed along the boardwalk in the direction of the Hawk Watch platform.  We did mange to scare up a few of the usual suspects on the way.  A Common Yellowthroat and some Eastern Towhees.  At the platform it began to rain so we moved to the kiosk and were surprised by a Eastern Kingbird and a flyover Peregrine Falcon. When the rain let up we proceeded to the Fire Island Lighthouse.  On the board walk we had a flurry of Yellow-Rumped warblers.  Bayside we saw a Belted Kingfisher.  At field 2 we checked for and found some sparrows.  For the day we had Swamp, White-throated, chipping and Song sparrows.  Another day of making the best of what nature gives us.

Heckscher State Park Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

What a great morning. The weather was just spectacular, the sun shining, the wind light and the temperature cool and enjoyable. A wonderful day to be outdoors.

We stared our walk heading west on the trail out of field five. As we turned the first bend we ran into a feeding flock of mixed birds. There were Chickadee and warblers.

We had three species of warbler there the highlight being a Tennessee Warbler in fall plumage. Late on in the walk we were an audience at a show put on by a Black-throated Green Warbler. It entertained us for ten minutes as it was feeding in a low tree top. There were Eastern Phoebes all along the paths, they must be moving south and stopping to feed on their way.

We had over thirty species for the morning, plus a nice walk in brisk sunny weather.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Between the Raindrops

We drove to Jamaica Bay wildlife Refuge on the hope that the weather forecast was accurate and we would have clearing to do our birding. We did manage to sneak in some birding and were rewarded with some very good views of a Clapper Rail. The tide was coming in and the marsh was semi covered and the Rail was doing some wandering around between the grass hummocks and the open flats.

There were some other birds hanging around the shore also, a Great Egret and an Oyster catcher. In the car on the way, we had a mini seminar on the calls of the Boat-tailed Grackle that was reinforced by a small flock of them in a pond side tree calling loudly. You can always learn something.

Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

High Tide At Oceanside

Our trip today was at the Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside. We were greeted with an unusually high tide. The main path was flooded over. We started by heading out the east boardwalk and then returning to go around the back of the visitor center to the central boardwalk. From there we got on the main path to finish our walk as the tide dropped.

This site always gives us some things to look at. We stared off with a pair of Merlins dog fighting overhead for several minutes, entertaining us all. we saw the usual collection of wading birds, Great and Snowy Egrets, lots of Yellow-crowned Night herons and on long good look at a Little Green Heron.  Palm Warblers were all over the pathways.

We then headed to Jones beach West End where aw some more shorebirds. the bar was filled with Oystercatchers and Black-bellied Plovers. to cap off the day we found a couple of Red Knots mixed in with the Plovers. Another nice day of birdwatching and enjoying the outdoors.

Shinnecock Inlet Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Fall Kickoff Field Trip

Today we started the fall season of Tuesday field trips. our location was Dune Rd starting at Shinnecock inlet. Nine people participated. The weather was the three H's Hazy, Hot and Humid. A slight breeze kept things bearable.

At the inlet, the bar on the north side of the channel had a lot of birds. There were lots a Black-bellied Plovers, Double Crested Cormorants and the usual assortment of Gulls.  At the next stop we managed to pick out a Spotted Sandpiper at Tiana Bay there was fourteen Royal Terns plus one Ruddy Turnstone and an assortment of other shorebirds. Along Dune Rd there were scattered Great and Snowy Egrets and a lot of Ospreys.

Hummingbird Sanctuary Nature Walk

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Photos courtesy of Jody Banaszak

Photos courtesy of Ellen Merryman

Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

A nice finish for the spring season.

Our last walk of the spring birding season was at the Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside. The weather was muggy, overcast and no wind which led to a lot of insects chasing us around.

The birding was slow as we are approaching the summer slowdown. We saw a couple of Night Herons, both Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned and the pair of Osprey which we were told have one egg hatched.

The highlight was a group of college students doing a study of the Saltmarsh Sparrows. They use a net to capture and band and release, then track the bird through nesting including counting eggs and fledglings. They netted one while we were there and brought it for us to look at. That is always a treat to such a beautiful bird up close.

Shinnecock Inlet Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

This Tuesday's trip was started at Shinnecock inlet and then we headed west along Dune Rd. making stops along the way. At the inlet we saw some remaining Black Scoters.

Things were pretty quiet at the first two stops but when we got to Tiana Beach things picked up. There were plenty of Ruddy Turnstones on the floating docks giving us all good looks. They are a really good looking shorebird. There was a mix of other shorebirds as well. We saw Dunlin, Semi-palmated Sandpipers and Short-billed Dowitchers.

Early in the morning we saw a Yellow Warbler at the Quouge refuge.

Massapequa Preserve Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

A quiet morning

Our walk at Massapequa Preserve was fairly quiet. Not many migrants are still around and the birds that are around are local nesters busy nesting. The preserve has changed over the last few years after the reconstruction of the water flows around the pond. We walked up to the next pond north and back. On the path back we had a calling Great Crested Flycatcher that we managed to get a look at. Further down the path we heard a Warbling Vireo singing and eventually found it sitting on it.

Hempstead State Park Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Plan B sometimes works.

Today we were scheduled to do our Tuesday walk at Hempstead State Park, but there was construction on the main road in the park that caused confusion. We couldn't get in to our regular parking lot so some of us diverted to Jones Beach west End. Some managed to get into another parking lot and birded Hempstead Park.

The folks that made it to Jones Beach had a pretty good morning, I heard that the folks at Hempstead did well also. At West End we were treated to good looks at Scarlet Tanager and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. There was an Eastern Kingbird at the turnaround. We had a smattering of shorebirds on the bar.

As we were gathering to leave we saw a pair of birders that told us about a Red-headed Wood Pecker seen at Field 10. We headed over there and minutes after getting out of the cars the Red-headed Wood Pecker popped up and gave us all good finish to the day. The picture is by Bob Glasser.

Belmont Lake State Park Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Slow start, big finish

Our Tuesday GSBAS walk today was at Belmont Lake State Park. We had fifteen people participate, a good size group after lasts night's annual dinner festivities.

We started our usual path up the path north to the top of the park and then down to the lake and on to what we call Marcy's woods. We streets slowly looking at a Black-throated Blue Warbler and Red-eyed Vireo at the ball fields and was it stayed slow until we got to the administration building. From there, down to Marcy's woods we were kept busy with birds. Warbler Vireos and Orioles added to our day list.

The highlight was a Common Nighthawk sleeping on a branch, high over the path. It was spotted by eagle eye Gail Delalla. This was enjoyed by all of us as we do not get to see many of these sitting still.

Jamaica Bay Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

Brave birders buffeted by brisk breezes bayside.

Our Tuesday trip was to Jamaica Bay, for the hardy few that showed up the morning went well. It was cold and windy and cloudy. We stared by walking out the trail to the west pond. We went as far as the breach and turned around, as we turned around we noticed a group,of seven Snowy Egrets tucked in a corner avoiding the winds. As we headed back to the visitor center a Little Blue Heron and a Tri-colored Heron flew in together and landed amidst the egrets. It was a great chance to compare the two Herons side by side.There were many Black-Bellied Plovers, Dunlins, and Oyster Catchers standing on little islands of marsh grass in the extremely high tide.

We then headed into the gardens. Still not much happening, waiting for some warmer weather. At the entrance to the Visistor Center there was a goldfinch near the feeders.

Gardiner Park Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

A snake in the grass.

Literally today on our Tuesday walk at Gardiners park we encountered a small Garter Snake sunning it self in the grass. It was very lethargic and didn't react to our viewing it, giving us all a good look at it. We left it alone and went on our way.

The birding was a little slow heading down the main trail. As we were heading back to the parking lot we turned at a corner in the trail and the we had our activity hot spot. There was a feeding flock of Chickadees, Titmice and Goldfinches. We heard a Pine Warbler before we saw them. It was a pair, male and female working the tops of the branches near the feeding flock. Just down the path we bumped into a pair of Brown Thrashers, and just past them was a very nice looking male Eastern Towhee. Five minutes of action made up for the slow start and wound up giving us another nice walk on Tuesday.

Connetquot River State Park Preserve Nature Walk Recap

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

A walk in the park.

On a beautiful spring morning a troop of fifteen birders set out for a walk in Connetquot River State Park Preserve. Right off the bat, a Yellow-throated Warbler was heard and seen by the group. This bird is expanding its breeding range and now this is the third year they have been seen in CRSPP. Then, soon after we spotted a pair of Eastern Bluebirds in box fifteen in the paddock. Overall we had thirty nine species of birds this morning. There were painted turtles sunning themselves in the ponds near the hatchery.

We were joined by students from the East IsIip School system who were working on their science nature project. They are fun to have along. We walked the three miles around the lake, up the yellow trail to the hatchery and down the red trail back to the main buildings.

It was a good morning for a walk and we took full advantage of it.

Heckscher State Park Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

After the rain last night the morning was very misty, a few hardy troopers trying to escape cabin fever ventured forth in Heckscher State Park for some birding.

We headed up the trail out of parking lot five. We did manage to see a few birds. Early on in the walk we saw our first of the season Hermit Thrush and an Eastern Towhee. We watched a pair of Ospreys try to break a branch off a tree for their nest, they didn't get it by the time we left.

Later during our caravan around the park we spotted a Great Egret flyover and at the entrance to field seven there was a pair of Killdeer. We managed to make the best of the morning.

Jamaica Bay Nature Walk Recap

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

A gorgeous day at Jamaica Bay!

What a great day after the surprise snow storm yesterday, mild temps, little to no wind and bright sunshine. Add to that some nice signs of spring from arriving birds.

The pair of Ospreys were on their nest south of the west trail, Tree Swallows were flying around their nest boxes and we saw our first Snowy Egret of the season. There were plenty of Red-wing Blackbirds and Robins around as well, spring is ready to spring.

Great South Bay Audubon Annual Bob Laskowski Memorial Duck Walk

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Recap by Bob Grover

The Great South Bay Audubon annual Bob Laskowski Memorial Duck Walk on Saturday produced a below average 17 species of waterfowl, mitigated somewhat by a lack of open water at most sites visited. The highlights included 72 Redheads, along with a few Canvasbacks, on Capri Lake in West Islip, which is the Redhead capitol of Long Island. Most interesting was the presence of Common Mergansers at virtually every freshwater pond along Montauk Highway between East Islip and West Islip.

Jones Beach West End Field Trip

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Recap by Mike Cooper

A dozen intrepid birders made the trek out to West End on a cold February morning. Temperatures hovered around 20 degrees at the start of the trip, but low winds and decent birds made the weather bearable.

Although we only had 37 species, it was a day of quality over quantity. Near the inlet west of Field 2, we found a Snowy Owl siting up in the dunes. This has been a great year for this species, and we were hoping to pick one out on the trip. We spent some time searching for a previously reported Northern Shrike, and eventually found it with the help of the West End birding network. The shrike was a life bird for several of our participants.

We missed the Gyrfalcon which has been prowling around over the Gilgo marshes, but did have distant looks at a Peregrine Falcon there. Other highlights included a pair of Water Pipits feeding along the roadway and the usual winter suspects- Snow Bunting, Horned Lark, and some loons and grebes.

It turned out to be a nice morning and well spent with a hardy group of brave souls.

Birding & Breakfast at Connetquot Preserve

Saturday, January 18 & 19, 2014

Recap by Ken Thompson

So nice, we did it twice. This Saturday Jan 18 was our winter scheduled Birding and Breakfast at Connetquot State Park Preserve. The response was so very enthusiastic, the park folks asked if we could do a second walk on Sunday, which we did.

Both days the weather was very cooperative with sunshine and relatively mild temperatures it was enjoyable to be walking and birding. We spent the first part of each day scanning the ducks on the pond right outside the main building. We had good scope looks at a bunch of different ducks. Then we split into groups and walked the paths looking for land birds. We had a nice mix of the usual winter birds for all the folks to look at and enjoy. On Saturday we had some beautiful Eastern Bluebirds to finish the day.

The feedback from the participants was very positive, they enjoyed the presentations and the walks and seeing the birds on two nice days.