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 35 of 73

Jamaica Bay After Central Park, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is probably the most well-known birding location in New York City. Most of the trails at the refuge lie in Queens, so the refuge itself is not addressed in this article. However, much of Jamaica Bay lies in Brooklyn, and several birding sites are accessible along the west side of the bay (one of which, Floyd Bennett Field, is discussed above). One very interesting new development — occurring just as this article was headed to press — was the proposal for a new 400-acre state park on the site of two capped landfills along the Jamaica Bay shoreline. This is a double-edged sword. Right now, these capped landfills contain very good open land habitat, but there is no public access (it is birded once a year during the Christmas Bird Count). If this park is established, it will open public access to a huge swath of habitat in a very geographically interesting area, but the landscaping inherent in the design of a park targeted for the use of all residents in a city of 8 million may also dramatically reduce the size of useful native habitat for wildlife. Hendrix Creek | The discharge of warm water from a wastewater plant makes this perhaps the best spot around for winter duck diversity ("Eurasian" Green-winged Teal has been seen in the teal flock here), as well as Wilson's Snipe. The good edge habitat and the warm microclimate allow insectivorous passerines—including Black-throated Green, Blackpoll, and Yellow warblers; Northern Parula; and other "half- hardies"—to persist much later into the fall and winter than they otherwise would. As for regionally scarcer species, the creek has hosted Prothonotary Warbler in the spring and Clay- colored Sparrow in the fall. Given how infrequently the site is birded, this is surely just the tip of the iceberg. Paerdegat Basin | The saltmarsh edges can be good for Ammodramus sparrows or Marsh Wrens, the coastal scrub can be great for passerines in late fall and winter, and there are new parks opening to the public over the next couple years along its eastern and western flanks that should be fruitful for sparrows in the fall. This is also a consistent spot for Barn Owl, though there is no known nest site in the immediate vicinity. Accessing the basin from Bergen Avenue on the south side is the best bet, though the seldomly-birded habitat on the north side of the creek, along Paerdegat Ave., is quite good. Canarsie Pier | The pier offers a good vantage point for the bay and a decent spot to scan for Red-necked Grebe within the masses of Horned Grebes in the fall and winter, when there is also typically a roving troop of Fish Crows nearby. There have been two "Bro Geese" (Brant x Snow Goose hybrids) wintering in the area for the past decade or so, often just east of the pier; this is a fine place to scan the neighboring landfills for raptors such as Northern Harrier and the occasional Rough-legged Hawk. It is very easy to access by car, as the pier itself is a parking lot and a popular spot for fishing. Canarsie Park | This rejuvenated park just east of Paerdegat Basin features an impressive variety of habitats jammed into a small area. Prothonotary Warbler, Birding Brooklyn 34 Birder's Guide to Travel | April 2018

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