Birder's Guide

MAR 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 30 of 73

tailed Flycatcher, Purple Gallinule, and Painted Bunting. Coney Island and Gravesend Bay At the southernmost end of Brooklyn lies Coney Island, bordered by Lower New York Bay to its south and Gravesend Bay to its north. Once several islands of sand dunes and marshes, until connected to mainland Brooklyn by landfill, Coney Island is today a land of cultural icons. The south coastal swath of Coney Island hosts the original Nathan's Famous, an illustrious temple of gluttony home to a notorious annual hotdog-eating con- test that by some accounts dates back to 1916. The skyline is dominated by the long-disused and exceptionally con - spicuous 250-foot-tall Parachute Jump, formerly a dangerous amusement park ride, today a historical landmark. Its neighboring landmarks, the Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel and the Cyclone, an 80-year-old wooden roller coaster that never gives you the same ride twice, are still in use today. Of course, these urban amusements are clustered here for a rea- son: the beach. The Coney Island beach - front was historically the only classic sandy beach in Brooklyn. Coney Island Beach | Since the south- ern beaches of Coney Island, which look out onto Lower New York Bay, are mani- cured and maintained for beach-goers, there is no longer any natural dune habitat. Still, it is a good place to find gulls and terns roosting on the beaches and jetties, and it is also a productive seawatching vantage. Black Skimmers can number well over 500 in late sum- mer and fall, and the stone jetties scat- tered along the beach typically host a few Purple Sandpipers from late fall to early spring. In the winter, a couple thousand gulls can be found here daily, especially in the afternoon. Mixed in may be Lesser Black-backed, Iceland, and Glaucous gulls. The late winter and early spring bring huge numbers of Long-tailed Ducks and Red-breasted Mergansers into the bay, visible look- ing south. Early spring is also when the Northern Gannet spectacle rolls through town: On a good day you can n Coney Island is easily accessible by public transit, as the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue sub - way station is the terminal for several different lines. Gravesend Bay is not well-serviced by the subway, but there are several bus lines, including but not limited to the x28 and x38 (both starting in Manhattan). If coming by car, the parking areas off the Belt Parkway make ideal viewing points, but beware that they are accessible only from the eastbound lanes. There is a parking lot at Calvert Vaux Park, accessed by Shore Road eastbound, on the south side of the Belt Parkway. (If coming from the east, take 26th Street to the south under the parkway). Street parking is available widely at Gravesend Bay and all the Coney Island birding sites, but observe signs for daily street sweeping regulations. The streets that abut the boardwalk in the amusement park area have parking me - ters. The parking lot at MCU Park, adjacent to Coney Island Pier, is usually free in the winter, but you will have to pay during summer beach months. Map © Rad Smith 29 April 2018 | Birder's Guide to Travel top to bottom: n Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Calvert Vaux Park. Photo © Douglas Gochfeld n Chuck-will's- widow in Prospect Park. Photo © Douglas Gochfeld

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