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 34 of 73

region. These have included Franklin's Gull, LeConte's Sparrow, Northern Wheatear, and a mind-boggling and un- precedented Eastern Yellow Wagtail, the only record of this species for the East Coast of North America. Floyd Bennett Field | Floyd Bennett Field was created by filling in saltmarsh at the western edge of Jamaica Bay to build New York City's first municipal airport in 1930. During World War II, it served as a naval air station, and in 1972 the land was transferred to the National Park Service. It consists mostly of open grasslands around the runways bordered by maritime forest and coastal scrub, with several other microhabitats interspersed throughout the grounds. This mix of habitats hosts good numbers of breeding Willow Flycatchers, White- eyed Vireos, and Savannah Sparrows. The grasslands are the only place locally to see high numbers of Bobolinks on the ground (in August), and the entire site is excellent in fall migration for sparrow diversity. The community garden on the west side of the property is usually a great bet for all kinds of migrant songbirds (and butterflies!), and the second New York State record of Cassin's Kingbird spent a couple months here in 2014–2015. The boat ramp at the eastern edge of Floyd Bennett hosts a large evening roost of Ring-billed Gulls (often over 2,000) in the winter, and features mud- flats at low tide, where Franklin's Gull, Black-headed Gull, Barrow's Goldeneye, and Ross's Goose have occurred. Up to eight (!) Snowy Owls were here during the regional mega-irruption in winter 2013–2014, and it's the only spot in the borough to semi-reliably see this Arctic species during its winter wanderings. Marine Park | The Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park, which abuts Floyd Bennett Field, features a nice gravel path around the edge of a salt- marsh and through some newly plant- ed upland grassland habitat which has proven great for Bobolink and American Kestrel. It is a phenomenal spot to see breeding Clapper Rail and also very good for nesting Seaside Sparrow, Marsh Wren, and Willow Flycatcher. Rarities found at the marsh include a flock of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks and the state's second record of "Common Gull". The area can also be great for butterflies, especially in late summer and fall. Brooklyn Bridge Park At the opposite end of Brooklyn, this wonderful new urban park in the shad- ow of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge of - fers one of the great views of the lower Manhattan skyline, while also provid- ing a diverse array of microhabitats that can be fantastic for avian migrants. Construction on the park began in 2008 and is ongoing, but what used to be several unused derelict piers is now a patchwork of good bird habitat and public use areas, including basketball courts, a soccer field, and a picnic area. Because of the small amount of habitat, and the fact that it's mostly deciduous, this is a place to target during migration (though there is a December record of an Ovenbird from here). Migrants like Connecticut Warbler and an out-of- place Sora have been tallied here amidst the more typical migrants. A large roost of gulls is a daily specta- cle in winter: from 2015 through 2017, there were consistent peaks of over 4,000 Ring-billed Gulls and a few hun- dred Herring Gulls, and the roost has also featured Iceland and Black-headed gulls. The floating marina docks be - tween Piers 3 and 5 are the main roost- ing area, and stopping by just before dusk is very productive. Pier 3, which was the last undeveloped pier on the park grounds and which the gulls use as a staging area before roosting, is being improved for public use; it is unclear what this will do to the gull roost in fu- ture winters. If you find yourself birding in this fantastic juxtaposition of habitat and cityscape, swing by one of two rightly famous pizza joints just down the block: Juliana's and Grimaldi's. n Northern Saw-whet Owl. Photo © Douglas Gochfeld 33 April 2018 | Birder's Guide to Travel n Nelson's Sparrow. Photo © Douglas Gochfeld

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