• Robert DeCandido PhD

Breeding Bird Surveys (Central Park) in late June and Early Migrants at NYBG (Bronx) for the 4th of

Updated: Mar 1

27 June 2018 Schedule Notes: This Saturday 30 June we meet for three breeding bird walks at the north end of Central Park at 5:30am/7:30am at 106th street and 5th Avenue just outside nearby Conservatory Garden and again at 9:30am inside Conservatory Garden that opens at 8am. Sunday schedule as usual: two walks (7:30am/9:30am)...and we are adding a 4 July (Wednesday) walk at NYBG in the Bronx where admission is free all day (Wednesdays only). Our bird photos come from Deborah Allen (see her links below), and show birds from Central Park and Long Island including White-throated Sparrows, Roseate Terns, Piping Plovers, Common Eiders and more. Prompted by so many reports of amazing terns in the last two weeks on Long Island including Arctic, Sandwich and Roseate Terns, we look at the early records/status of these birds on Long Island. In this week's historical notes we feature information about what was known about terns on LI approximately 100 years ago: (a) a 1915 article on the return of the Common Tern as a regular breeder on the north shore eastern Long Island - but no mention of Least Terns (now resident) or Sandwich Terns (rare visitor); (b) the status of Terns on Long Island in 1907 (the Black Skimmer is recorded as "rare but regular visitor" - today Black Skimmers breed at several locations on LI); (c) a 1929 article on Terns on LI by Ludlow Griscom in which the status of several species has noticeably improved probably because of the establishment of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty and the decline of egg-collecting of Common and Least Terns. But note that Forster's Tern was considered a rare autumn migrant through the area - and difficult to identify! These days Forster's Terns breed in our area and are regularly seen at Jamaica Bay in summer - and distinguishing these birds from Common Terns is no longer considered difficult. Overall the situation for terns in our area has improved markedly since 1900; (d) a 1934 note about the discovery of Black Skimmers first nesting on Long Island; (e) and finally a field trip to the Greenbelt of Staten Island on 5 July 1970 to look for plants - and a few birds were found that day including nesting Eastern Kingbirds and Great Crested Flycatchers.

Least Tern with two chicks by Deborah Allen at Nickerson Beach, LI on 22 June 2018

Deborah Allen sends Photos from Central Park:

Singing White-throated Sparrow, Laupot Bridge Sunday June 24, 2018:


Common Grackle at Nest, Turtle Pond, Sunday June 24, 2018:


Terns, Piping Plovers, & Common Eiders of Long Island:

Roseate Tern in Flight, Nickerson Beach, June 22, 2018:


Common Tern with Sand Lance, Nickerson Beach, June 22, 2018:


Immature Forster’s Tern, Plumb Beach, mid-October 2016:


Caspian Tern in Flight, Jamaica Bay, mid-August 2016:


Immature Piping Plover, Nickerson Beach, early August 2009:


Common Eiders, Nickerson Beach, June 22, 2018:

https://www.photo.net/photo/18480879/Common-Eiders Deborah Allen's web site for bird photos: https://tinyurl.com/ydflkdp4 ==========================

Good! Here are the bird walks for late June - each $10***

1. Saturday, 30 June - 5:30am and 7:30am and 9:30am - Central Park breeding bird survey at North End (106th and 5th Ave) - email/call for details. The 5:30am and 7:30am walks meet at 106th street and 5th Ave. The 9:30am walk meets at our usual location inside Conservatory Garden - at the west side near the giant water spout. Conservatory Garden opens at 8am...that is why the first two walks meet on 106th and 5th Ave. 2. Sunday, 1 July - 7:30am/9:30am - Meet at the Boathouse Restaurant (Central Park) 3. Wednesday, July 4 - 10:05am - New York Botanical Garden (Bronx - NYBG) - Meet at Main Gate (Mosholu Gate) opposite the MetroNorth Train station (and not the gate opposite Fordham University). Admission is free to NYBG all day on Wednesdays! (They open at 10am on Wednesdays). So you can park your car for free at 9:30am or so on nearby Kazimiroff Blvd and enter through the Fordham gate (free) and walk five minutes to the Mosholu (Main) Gate and meet us there. OR you can take the off-peak MetroNorth Train at 9:25am (Metro-North Harlem local line to Botanical Garden Station) from Grand Central. It is only three stops and 22 minutes to NYBG (and $6.75 each way). See the NYBG web site for directions/info: https://tinyurl.com/yb9np2uf and the MTA web site for train schedules for 4 July (a Wednesday): https://tinyurl.com/y99rmyey Any questions/concerns send them our way: rdcny@earthlink.net or call: 718-828-8262 ***NOTE: on MORNINGS when two walks are scheduled (e.g., 5:30am/7:30/9:30am), you can do all walks for $10/person...you get two/three for the price of one. Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ya65n5a8

The fine print: On Sundays, our walks meet at 7:30am and again at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive). Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time!. Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is above (= rdcny@earthlink.net). We have a new web site: www.BirdingBob.com - if in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not, check the web site the morning of the walk: info will be posted on the main landing page as well as the "Schedule" page by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 11pm the night before. If still confused and as a last resort, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk! We end all our weekend Central Park walks at the Boathouse at about noon; you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $6 total). For our Friday walks, we usually end up at (or very near) Conservatory Garden, most often at 106th street and 5th Avenue.

Roseate Tern by Deborah Allen at Nickerson Beach, LI on 22 June 2018

Here is what we saw last week (selected highlights).

Not all species we saw are reported here - we list the best: Saturday, 23 June (New York Botanical Garden at 10am) - rained out!...except it did not rain. The weather forecast on Thu-Fri scared off everyone. Ultimately perhaps a slight drizzle fell for less than an hour on Saturday morning. However, Bob waited until Tuesday, 26 June to visit...and found at least three Red-breasted Nuthatches. With such an early arrival of this species (as they did in June 2016), this could be an irruption year for Red-breasted Nuthatches and possibly other boreal seed-eating birds such as Pine Siskin to Crossbills. We will be returning to NYBG on 4 July (Wednesday - admission free all day to NYBG on Wednesdays). For more information about the three Red-breasted Nuthatches seen at NYBG on 26 June, see: https://tinyurl.com/ycr2jpeg ------------------ Sunday, 24 June (Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9:30am) - our walk was notable for what we did not see: a Red-breasted Nuthatch was found and photographed sometime on Sunday morning in the Ramble by someone else! (This is not allowed.) For why this is important see the link above as part of the 23 June summary. On the other hand we did find two White-throated Sparrows (spending the summer with us), one very vocal Great Crested Flycatcher (female may be in a nest cavity); a moulting Northern Parula Warbler - that bird should be here for several more days at least given the state of its feathers...As for nesting birds we found the Eastern Kingbirds with small young at Turtle Pond; the Baltimore Orioles at Maintenance Field feeding young in the nest; at least three Warbling Vireo territories (nesting); and still nesting Cedar Waxwings - at least two nests with young. Deborah Allen's list of birds for Sunday, 24 June: https://tinyurl.com/ybcfk8b6

Piping Plover by Deborah Allen at Nickerson Beach, LI on 22 June 2018


Terns at Orient, L. I., after twenty-five years' absence, and notes on the Piping Plover (1915) - Thirty years ago [1885], Terns bred in abundance at Long Beach, Orient, L.I. They added life and beauty to the surrounding waters. Gradually, under the relentless pressure of eggers, they were forced to abandon this site, so perfectly adapted to their needs. Aged residents of Orient relate to us how they gathered and carried from this narrow strip of beach a bushel-basket full of Gulls' eggs. The eggs were used as food. They nested not only on the narrow sandy strands, but long flats of mud and gravel, back in the salt meadows, have been pointed out to me where they nested in hundreds; undoubtedly, too, the little Least Tern and the Laughing Gull were their neighbors, for the Killdeers then nested in the corn-fields of Orient. For twenty-five years no Terns nested at Orient. Although they were frequently observed fishing along our shores or resting on the fishing-ponds, they all came from the Islands to the east. On June 14, 1914, I found two pairs of Common Terns nesting near the western end of the bar, and six others surf-fishing near. This was a wonderful find to me, as I had practically given up hopes of ever seeing them return to their old breeding-grounds at Orient. A visit to the Terns' breeding-range at Gardiner's Island, in 1914, showed a pleasing increase over six seasons previous. The season's occurrence of young fish was unusual in the Sound, most of these being fingerling mackerel, and never before have I recorded the Terns in such vast numbers. There were days when the straggling flocks covered miles in area. This unusual abundance of Terns, probably due to the numerous fish, occurred between mid-June and August first. Companies of twenty-five to a hundred or more daily passed over the land between the Sound and Bay, a distance of one and a half miles; this is something that has not happened before since these birds deserted the local breeding-strands. A steady increase and a permanent breeding-site, re-established, is looked for. Two pairs of sad-voiced Piping Plovers still inhabit this beach. Although I have given hours to the search for their nest, only once have I been successful. The notes of these dainty Plovers are actually touching as they strive to lead one from the vicinity of their nest. Fluttering along close before you, wings outspread and breast brushing the sands they seem to moan. They also feign disability with skill that is interesting and worthy of note. Roy Latham, Orient, L. I. ================================ A List of the Birds of Long Island, New York. TERNS 1907 William C Braislin, M.D. Gelochelidon nilotica. Gull-billed or Marsh Tern. Rare autumnal visitor. Nesting as far north as Virginia, it sometimes wanders northward. Recent records are, South Oyster Bay, July 4, 1882 and Shinnecock Bay, July 8, 1884. Sterna caspia. Caspian Tern. Of world-wide distribution, it occurs, probably, regularly as a transient during spring and fall migrations, though not noticed by Giraud. May 11 (Amityville); and Sept. 3 (Amityville) to Sept. 13 (Shinnecock). Recent records are: six specimens from Shinnecock Bay, Sept. 7-13, 1882; three, May 11, 1898, and two Sept. 3, 1898, at Amityville. They have been noted, almost invariably, in pairs. Sterna maxima. Royal Tern. Breeding as far north as Virginia, it is known on Long Island from a single specimen only, taken at Raynor South, Aug. 27, 1831, by J. F. Ward (Chapman Guide to Local Collection of Birds, p. 17). Sterna trudeaui. Trudeau's Tern. Accidental wanderer from South America and evidence of its occurrence is open to doubt. It is included by Giraud in his work, the text leading to the inference that he had met with it. He mentions it as having been found commonly at Absecon Beach, N. J., on one occasion. Mr. Chapman probably refers to Giraud's record in stating that it has been taken once on Long Island. [See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowy-crowned_tern for a description of this species.) Sterna forsteri. Forster's Tern. Casual on Long Island, breeding chiefly in the interior of North America and on the coast as far northward as Virginia. It was twice recorded by N. T. Lawrence. Sterna hirundo. Common or Wilson's Tern. The "Summer Gull" is a common summer resident at the eastern end of Long Island. It is said to have nested, formerly, along the whole south shore. May 20 (Amagansett) to Oct. 15 (Fire Island, Dutcher). Sterna paradisaea. Arctic Tern. Apparently a rare migrant. They nest as far south as the coast of Massachusetts, occur ring widely throughout the northern hemisphere and southward to South America and Africa. The only recent Long Island specimen known to the writer is one taken on Ram Island Shoals, by William Dutcher, July 1, 1884. Sterna dougalli. Roseate Tern. A not common summer resident. It was found nesting with a large colony of Common Terns at the eastern end of Long Island, June 19, 1902, by the writer; also found at Little Gull Island Aug. 6 to 16, 1888, by Mr. B. H. Dutcher. Sterna antillarum. Least Tern. A rare migrant; formerly, abundant summer resident along the whole southern coast of Long Island. It nested as late as 1894, and probably does so in small numbers still, on Muskeget Island., Mass. "It arrives on Long Island in the month of May, and returns south in autumn" (Giraud, Birds of L. I., p. 351). Sterna fuliginosa. Sooty Tern. The only specimen of this species recorded on Long Island was taken by Mr. Chas. Earle at Lake Ronkonkoma, a small fresh-water lake in the centre of the island, during a gale, when a flock of considerable size was observed, all, presumably of the same species, September 13, 1878. Numerous records exist for the species in New England, most of them for the years 1876, 1877 and 1878. Hydrochelidon nigra surinamensis. Black Tern. Common transient in the autumn. July 21 (Amityville) to Sept. 14 (Rockaway). The writer has been able to obtain no spring records, but has met with it regularly on the south shore for several years, each autumn. Rynchops nigra. Black Skimmer. It is probably a rare but regular summer visitor off the coast of Long Island. "It is rarely seen with us except at midsummer" (Giraud, Birds of L. I., p. 349). A specimen taken near South Oyster Bay, August 2, 1884, was recorded by Mr. George Bird Grinnell, and in the same communication he refers to "a remarkable flight one year ago along Long Island and the New England coasts." The writer believes that these birds are not so rare as dearth of recent records would lead one to suppose. Baymen who fish outside the inlets frequently report seeing birds they call "Flood Gulls" which in appearance and manner of flight are scarcely to be mistaken for anything else. Mr. A. Chichester, a most reliable observer, reported one off Amityville May 20, 1898, and another record which is regarded as reliable would extend the season of occurrence here to Oct. 12. It is not known as a nesting species north of the coast of southern New Jersey. ================================ TERNS - 1929 Sterna caspia. CASPIAN TERN. The discovery of a flourishing colony of this splendid Tern in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the protection afforded it, undoubtedly account for its sudden reappearance as a transient in this region. In the last few years it has been noted every fall on Barnegat Bay (Urner and others). On May 30, 1925, one was seen flying east at Jones Beach, L. I. (Eaton, Johnson and Griscom), officially the second spring record for Long Island. In the fall of 1926 there was a marked flight of this species in August and early September along the south shore of Long Island. The number of individuals seen exceeded the sum total of all the previous records. No less than fourteen were seen on August 16 at Jones Beach (R. Friedmann). I saw three at the same place on September 4, and there were other records from Oak Island and Long Beach, L.I., and Barnegat Bay, N.J. Sterna hirundo. COMMON TERN. Now a common spring and abundant fall transient, remaining until early November. It is now of regular occurrence on the Sound, the Hudson River and Newark Bay. The breeding colony near Orient has grown to 5000 pairs (Latham and Leroy Wilcox). Sterna forsteri. FORSTER'S TERN. This species was put among the extinct and extirpated species in my 'Handbook" as there were only five records for Long Island, and none for the preceding forty years. The statement that it is indistinguishable in life from the Common Tern in the fall proves to be entirely incorrect, and will be discussed in another connection. With the general increase in Terns, thanks to protection, this species has now "come back," and must be classed as a late summer and fall visitor from the south. Mr. J. T. Nichols deserves the credit for working out the identification of th/s species in life. He positively identified one among Common Terns on the beach at Mastic, L. I., on September 3, 1923, saw another there on August 23, 1924, and three on August 23, 1925. By this time every active member was on the lookout for it. Dr. W. T. Helmuth, Jr. independently detected it at Easthampton, L.I., and collected a specimen, which I have examined. Mr. Chas. A. Urner fortified by careful study of the bird on its breeding grounds at Cobbs Island, Va., with me in 1924, discovered its presence early in August at both Barnegat Bay and Newark Bay, N.J., and it became common at both localities. Almost everybody went to one place or the other to see it, and promptly discovered its presence in their own locality. On Newark Bay it was first noted on August 9, last October 25, a maximum of 62 on September 19 and a specimen was collected, now in the American Museum. At Point Pleasant the maximum was 75 on August 30, and a specimen was collected near Manasquan Inlet on August 29. The species was also recorded from Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and various localities on the Sound in Westchester County. A straggler at Manhattan Beach on December 26 (Hix and Nathan) ended this remarkable flight. In 1926 no examples were detected in this region except on Barnegat Bay (Urner). At the present writing (August 10, 1927) the first reports of the bird locally are beginning to come in. It is a reasonable inference that like the Egret a few birds occur every year, and that there are occasional flights, as in 1925, when far greater numbers are present. It is, however, not nearly so conspicuous as the Egret which can scarcely be overlooked, while the Forster's Tern is very easily overlooked, so that in poor years there may be no records at all. Sterna dougalli. ROSEATE TERN. This species has steadily increased, and is now a regular transient even at the western end of Long Island, sometimes positively common in fall. I have seen as many as forty in one day at Jones Beach and fifty at Montauk Point. Sterna antillarum. LEAST TERN. This Tern has also become a regular transient along the whole south shore of Long Island in the past five years. While its numbers have never been as large as those of the Roseate Tern, it has re-established itself as a summer resident, after an interval of forty-four years. In 1926 four pairs nested at Long Beach (discovered independently by several observers), and this year there were eight pairs in two separate colonies. Chlidonias nigra surinamensis. BLACK TERN. Formerly casual in spring, now recorded annually in spring as well as in fall. Inland records have also multiplied in the past few years. BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops nigra) - 1923. An occasional summer visitant to Long Island years ago, when this curious bird bred commonly in southern New Jersey. Eaton gives five records, the dates ranging from May 6 to September 3, the last in 1898. There are only two recent records, and the Skimmer is now a casual visitant in spring and summer; but as it has again re-established itself as a breeding bird in southern New Jersey, it might occur more frequently in Long Island waters. One bird around Point-o'-Beach, September 5-8, 1913, collected (G. K. Noble). LONG BEACH: One recent record, May 25, 1919 (Griscom and Janvrin, Auk, 1920, p. 126). Specimens are recorded off the beach July 22, 1876 and September 3, 1876 by Newbold T. Lawrence in his notes (fide Bicknell). Ludlow Griscom

Black Skimmer feeding chick at Nickerson Beach approx. 18 June 2018 by Dr. HT Lee MD

Black Skimmer (Rynchops nigra) Breeding in New York [1934]. Black Skimmers have been observed daily this summer in the vicinity of South Oyster Bay, Long Island, and their actions led the writer to believe that they were breeding. A prolonged search, with the assistance of John Harris of Amityville, who kindly made his boat available, failed to disclose breeding evidence. On August 18, while working in Gilgo State Park, I heard a Skimmer barking not far from a place where, Harris had reported, the bird resented his intrusion. With my glasses I watched the Skimmer fly to the Bay, return with a fish, and drop to the sand near three downy young; their primaries were just beginning to emerge from their sheaths. This is, I believe, the first breeding record for New York State. WILLIAM VOGT, Jones Beach State Bird Sanctuary, Wantagh, N.Y.

Squawroot on 18 May 2010 at NYBG (Bronx)

July 5, 1970. Greenbelt Area, Staten Island, New York. From the parking lot at High Rock Park we went down the hill to Walker Pond. The area adjoining the park has been made into a parking lot, and much landscaping is needed on the bank in order to stop soil erosion there. In the pond there is a lot of new growth from the seeds of Water Lily, Nymphaea odorata. A few mature plants were in flower, and some plants of the yellow water lily could be seen but these were not in bloom. Polygonum hydropiper (Marshpepper Knotweeed) was blooming, as were some of the smaller species of St. Johnswort along the shore. In the woods we found many Indian Pipes, Monotropa uniflora, and along the right of way for the Richmond Parkway there was a stand of Pinesap, Hypopithys americana. Having also seen a seedlhead of Squaw-root [see photo above] Conoplholis americana, we felt fortunate to have found all three of these saprophytic plants. In two of the ponds we visited we found Bladderwort, Utricularia macrorhiza, in bloom. We fished out some of the floating leaves and found, on examining them with a lens, that the empty bladders looked green and transparent, while the ones that had food matter in them were dark colored. Several mother ducks with broods of five, six, or more swam away from the shore on our approach; some of the young were still downy ducklings, while others were already a little older. A kingbird kept flying over us in pursuit of dragonflies, and a [great] crested flycatcher kept up a steady series of alarm notes in the vicinity of High Rock's parking lot. He might have had a nest in a hollow tree somewhere near the swamp pond. Those of our group who were interested in mushrooms found plenty of fine specimens of Amanita, Lactarius, Russula, and other species. Attendance was 22. Leader, Mathilde P. Weingartner.

Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD Follow us on Twitter: @DAllenNYC and/or @BirdingBobNYC

#Terns #BlackSkimmer #RoseateTern #PipingPlover #LeastTern