The National Park Service has announced the beginning of the planning process for the West Pond at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. As you are probably aware, the West Pond was breached in October 2012 during Hurricane Sandy. The breach opened the pond to the tides and destroyed the valuable freshwater habitat that was one of New York State's premier birding destinations. I am writing to alert you the upcoming opportunities for public comment on the future of the West Pond, and to ask that you reach out to inform your members. Please feel free to use the material below in your outreach.
Birders must speak up to ensure the pond is restored to support birds and wildlife. The Birders' Coalition for Gateway, in which NYSOA is participating, has taken the position that the pond should be restored to the habitat values that existed after the West Pond was created in the 1950s. This includes a large freshwater pond and emergent wetlands with water level regulation to encourage seasonal shorebird and waterfowl use; and open dune to encourage tern and Diamondback Terrapin nesting. High salt marsh is uncommon in Jamaica Bay and is another habitat element of interest for restoration of the West Pond. Currently the breach in the dike of the West Pond has turned the pond into a mudflat and caused the destruction of vegetation that is not salt tolerant. The former open dune area, called Terrapin Point, is overgrown into a dense thicket due to years of neglect by the Park Service. Thus the area has virtually no habitat value and does not contribute to ecosystem diversity.
So what can birders do?
- Attend the public scoping meeting on July 17 at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (see information attached >here<).
- Sign the Birders' Coalition's petition at http://tinyurl.com/WestPondPetition
- Write to Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Jennifer Nersesian and other public officials and tell them you want the West Pond restored for birds and wildlife.
Additional information on the public scoping process and the July 17 public meeting is attached. Public comments are being accepted through July 30, 2014. The full recommendations for restoration of the West Pond by the Birders' Coalition for Gateway can be found on New York City Audubon's web site at http://tinyurl.com/NYCAudubonWestPond
A variety of interest groups will undoubtedly be very vocal in the upcoming scoping process. The National Park Service has a history of giving priority to active recreational interests at the expense of wildlife in the Gateway National Recreation Area.
It is critical that birders participate and make their views known!
On May 17, 2014 the first-ever Bronx Zoo Birdathon will take place. For more info see:Bx Zoo Birdathon
Jamaica Bay NWR was devastated by superstorm Sandy. Join us and get this petition signed so that we can restore the refuge, and restore it properly. If you have not done so yet, DON'T DELAY! Go to this link http://tinyurl.com/West-Pond-Petition , sign it, and forward the link to friends, family, colleagues, and whomever.
It is that important.
The federal government has published a report on 'who is a birder' and 'what are the economic impacts of birders.'Click here to read it
“Get Rusty” this spring to save a declining blackbird!
Why? Over the past half-century, the historically abundant Rusty Blackbird has endured one of the steepest population declines ever documented among North American landbirds. Within the last 15 years, scientists have learned more about this bird’s breeding and wintering ecology, and this knowledge allows us to target conservation initiatives during these phases of this bird’s annual cycle. However, as with many migratory species, we know very little about Rusty Blackbird ecology, distribution, and habitat use during migration. Are there hot spots where many individuals congregate? Are there stopover areas that are used predictably each year, and are these locations protected? The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz will address these and other questions to help focus future research and conservation of one of North America’s most vulnerable blackbirds. We’re recruiting an army of birders to participate in this effort to help conserve this fascinating songbird. Will you accept our birding challenge?
Who? The International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, eBird, and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies are partnering with local organizations to recruit volunteer observers from across the southeastern U.S., East Coast, Midwest, Alaska, and Canada.
What? Each participating state, province, and territory will have a 3-8 week target window during which birders will search for Rusty Blackbirds. Within this window, birders may explore favored birding haunts or newly identified areas that they suspect may harbor Rusty Blackbirds. We’ll provide some guidance on potential habitats to explore, but birders should feel free to get creative – and ambitious! – with their searching.
When? Spring 2014 kicks off the first year of this three-year Spring Migration Blitz; the Blitz window will span early March through mid-June, with more specific time frames identified for each state or province to account for the northward migratory progression. Target dates for New York State are March through April.
Where? Get ready for a continent-wide event! The Spring Blitz will span the Rusty Blackbird’s entire spring migration range, from the wintering grounds in the southeastern United States, up the East Coast and through the Midwest to Canada and Alaska.
How do I get involved? Easy! If you’d like to contribute data to the Spring Migration Blitz effort, bird as you normally do, focusing on potential Rusty Blackbird habitat during the Blitz time frame established for your region. You can seek out the best-known places for Rusty sightings or explore uncharted territory. Make sure to report ALL of your observations to eBird – we want to know both where you saw these birds and where you didn’t. Check out the newly revamped website of the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group (http://rustyblackbird.org/outreach/migration-blitz/) for information about identification, vocalizations, habitat preferences, and types of data to collect to support this initiative. Also, check with your NYC/LI coordinator Derek Rogers (email@example.com) for additional ways you can help with the Blitz efforts in your region, or contact Spring Migration Blitz Coordinator Judith Scarl (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get involved in the broader Blitz initiative!
Thanks for “Getting Rusty” with us this spring! Like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rustyblackbirdspringblitz) to follow up-to-the minute information about our Blitz, and happy birding!
The International Rusty Blackbird Working Group
eBird and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Vermont Center for Ecostudies
... to come
Corey Finger of 10,000 Birds.com, QCBC member, and the enthusiastic holder of the reigns of QCBC's CBC Compilation has written up a fantastic historical account of the QCBC CBC, and how the territories came to be. Read it -here- and decide "how sweet it is" or "fuggedaboutit"
The Queens County Christmas Bird Count was held yesterday, Sunday, 15 December. A total of 44 birders covered our circle for the day. We had pretty good weather for the count, with temperatures ranging from just below the freezing mark to just over 40 and no precipitation at all.
We totaled 118 species, which ties our "modern" record and is just 6 short of our all time best. (We'll have 119 if NYSARC accepts the Common Linnet which is still hanging in there at Kissena Corridor Park but what are the chances of that?) We also have, so far, a single count-week bird.
Highlights included King Eider, Nashville Warbler, Palm Warbler, 2 Glaucous Gulls, Marsh Wren, Common Raven and 5 Snowy Owls. Misses didn't include many terribly obvious birds, with Red-breasted Nuthatch probably being the worst. We also missed snipe, Common Eider (though we got it for count week), American Bittern, all of the winter finches excepting goldfinch, and Eurasian Wigeon, though none of those birds are a huge surprise as a miss.
Mostly we got all of the expected birds though some we only got by the skin of our teeth. White-winged Scoter, Merlin, Razorbill, Short-eared Owl, Fish Crow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, and Orange-crowned Warbler were all found as individuals and the Fish Crow was only identified as such because it looked small and responded to a Fish Crow tape with its own "caa-ing."
We had ten species in quadruple digits. They were: Snow Goose, 2276; Brant, 2314; Canada Goose, 3597; Mallard, 1188; Greater Scaup, 6302; Ring-billed Gull, 4251; Herring Gull, 1441; Rock Pigeon, 1616; European Starling, 2081; and Common Grackle, 2821.
Our Black-capped Chickadee count was 30 and Tufted Titmouse was 22. The former was pretty much only found in areas where they breed so it looks like we did not have a migratory influx. The latter is slightly less than the average for recent years.
Because this is my first year compiling I don't have all of the data from previous years organized in such a way that I can quickly figure out what species for which we had high counts. Hopefully, I'll have that information at my fingertips next time - I just have to spend more time on spreadsheets when I'd rather be out birding.
Many thanks to all who participated, especially Mary Normandia who stepped in as a sector leader at the last second and Jean Loscalzo who coordinated a large group of birders in the Forest Park sector.
Here's hoping we get 50 participants and 120 species next year!
Good (Christmas Bird Count) Birding,
Click -here- for the letter QCBC sent to the superintendent; feel free to use it to stimulate your thoughts on Jamaica Bay, and make your opinions known!
The Jamaica Bay Sanctuary of the Gateway National Recreation Area is the only wildlife refuge administered by the National Park Service. It is renowned throughout the United States and abroad as a major haven for birds and other wildlife, and provides unmatched opportunities for observation, nature study, and environmental education in an urban setting.Join QCBC, NY Audubon, and other concerned organizations and people like yourself to make sure our voice is heard about this remarkable sanctuary in one of the largst metropolitan areas in the world.
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