Article By DAVE TAFT
MAY 27, 2016
The New York Times
Time for Horseshoe Crabs and the Shorebirds That Love Them
Humans may be quick to judge, but only one horseshoe crab can ultimately gauge the loveliness of another. When these crabs appear on a beach — suddenly and in large numbers — they can seem fearsome and even malevolent, and that’s before you glimpse beneath their intimidating, pointy-tailed carapace at a mouth set in the center of 12 madly churning legs. Beauty, in this case, is in the compound eyes of the beholder: Horseshoe crabs each have a total of 10 eyes, through which they obviously find one another appealing. These trilobite relatives have been attracting mates successfully for well over 400 million years.
To many people, all birds seen at a beach around New York Harbor are seagulls. Yet, this isn’t true. There isn’t actually a single species of bird called a seagull. There are black-backed gulls, herring gulls, and even bagels (ha!), but not a single bird called a seagull.
The term “seagull” can be misleading, because many species of gulls can live inland, sometimes far away from the sea or ocean. Seagull is a lazy word used by lazy people used to identify any species of seabird. But this list includes a wide group of birds adapted to living in the marine environment from gannets to cormorants, from albatrosses to skimmers, from sheerwaters to terns, from petrels to pelicans, and even penguins.
Gulls are just one group of seabirds. This is why birders will often refer to “seagulls” as just “gulls,” until a species can be properly identified.
Photo from en.wikipedia.org
Spring comes sooner to urban heat islands, with potential consequences for wildlife
From: Jenny Seifert, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Published May 25, 2016 08:21 PM
With spring now fully sprung, a new study by University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers shows that buds burst earlier in dense urban areas than in their suburban and rural surroundings. This may be music to urban gardeners’ ears, but that tune could be alarming to some native and migratory birds and bugs.
Urban-dwelling plants around the globe typically get a head start on the growing season compared to their rural counterparts because of the urban heat island effect, the phenomenon in which cities tend to be warmer than nonurban areas due to their plethora of built surfaces — made of concrete, asphalt and more — and scarcity of vegetation.
Be careful when driving near forests, or beside wetlands and water during May and June. Many female turtles and terrapins are actively crossing roads to get to the other side to lay eggs and give rise to the next generation.
Unfortunately, scores of slow moving turtles die every year as road kill due to speeding vehicles. In the July 29, 2008 issue of Conservation Magazine, James Gibbs and Gregory Shriver, both of the State University of New York in Syracuse, suggest that many turtle populations in the United States, which has among the highest turtle diversity in the world, are disappearing due to deadly traffic encounters.
According to the article, Gibbs and Shriver simulated the movements of three groups of turtles: land turtles and large and small pond turtles. To estimate the likelihood that turtles would be hit while trying to cross roads, the researchers integrated the simulated turtle movements with road densities and traffic volumes for each state. The results suggest that roads threaten both land turtles and large pond turtles. In many regions more than 5 percent of these turtles are likely to die while crossing roads, which is a death rate more than these populations can sustain. Other studies have shown that most turtle species cannot withstand death rate increases of more than 2-3 percent. Turtle road kill was particularly high in the northeast, southeast, and the Great Lakes-Big Rivers region, which is where U.S. roads and traffic are most concentrated.
The other day, after a brief rain shower, a colorful rainbow appeared over the Atlantic Ocean, near the tip of Sandy Hook and at the entrance of New York Harbor. While brighter rainbows have certainly been seen, this multicolored arc still had its charm. The rainbow colored the sky with soft shades of red, orange, yellow and blue, making a lovely curve and a stunning scene across calm ocean waters.
Who doesn’t like a rainbow? Its awe-inspiring radiance and glow has the ability to bring joy to people of all ages.
Some late day birding at Sandy Hook yielded some excellent results. Within the span of just 2 hours, I spotted quite a few warblers. Some old friends were seen, including yellow-rumped warblers and pine warblers. Old acquaintances were flying and feeding as well around the maritime forests of the hook. It was good to see some Common yellowthroats, yellow warblers, black-and-white warblers, and even a lone American Redstart.
A special treat was watching a yellow warbler build a new nest not far off the multi-use path, about seven feet off the ground. Female yellow warblers are usually the nest builders taking 3 to 5 days to complete their task. The nest was nearly finished by the time I spotted it, and a beautiful nest indeed. There was already a strong cup-shaped nest of grasses, moss, and small strips of tree bark and plant fibers. Next on her to-do list was bringing in animal hair, bird feathers, and dandelion fibers to help soften the nest for what will eventually be an incubator for one to seven green or bluish white eggs with gray, olive or brown speckles. It will be a lovely home and I will have to try to return here often to check on the progress of this new yellow warbler family at Sandy Hook.
Image from Central Park Conservancy
A Secret Section of Central Park Reopens
By JAMES BARRONMAY 10, 2016
The New York Times
Since the days when Fiorello H. La Guardia was mayor and Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, it has been a well-kept secret of New York City — to people, if not to migrating birds, the occasional wandering coyote and annoying, invasive plants like wisteria: a four-acre peninsula in Central Park that the groundskeepers did not bother with and that was off limits to the public.
Now it is on its way to being less isolated. Not since the 1930s has it been open regularly; now, it will be — from 2 to 5 p.m. three days a week through June 30, and four days a week from July 1 to Aug. 31 with slightly different hours.
It was a Mother’s Day treat. A bright blue male Indigo Bunting was spotted at my bird feeders consuming some thistle seeds. The best part, mom was there to see it all and share this wonderful and rare experience.
For both of us, it was the first time we had seen a male Indigo Bunting. The bird was possibly more common around New York Harbor decades ago, when its preferred habitat of weedy fields and farmland were more prevalent. Today, the Indigo Bunting is an uncommon migrant and even a more erratic summer resident.
But the birds do love places where forests meet fields, thin thickets that surround cites and suburbs. These weedy edges, hedgerows, and thick brushy roadsides provide a good place for Indigo Bunting to forage, feed, and raise a family.
It just wasn’t roadways and real estate that got overwhelmed by higher than normal high tides last Friday night. In the wake of several days of persistent easterly winds that whipped up surf and kept pushing more and more ocean water inshore, along with very high tides because of a new moon, a combination that caused nesting shorebirds to come up short.
The sad results could be seen at Sandy Hook, an approximately seven mile long and one mile wide barrier peninsula located at the entrance to New York Harbor and part of Gateway National Recreation Area. A Saturday morning beach walk near the park entrance revealed at least one flooded Piping Plover nest and a washed away American Oystercatcher nest. The tide quickly came up and just wiped them out, not even a trace is visible.
2016 US summer forecast: More 90-degree days than normal to scorch East; West to battle drought, fires
I always like to see how right or wrong they are. Usually it's a mixed bag. While some weeks might be correct, it's difficult to summarize a whole season in just a few words.
By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
May 4, 2016; 5:47 PM ET
As a strong El Niño fades, the weather across the country will slowly change. In much of the eastern United States, a hot summer is in store.
Rain and thunderstorms will dominate the pattern in the central and southern Plains, while the opposite occurs in California and the Northwest, and scarce rainfall leads to severe drought conditions.
Children play on a flooded avenue in Atlantic City, New Jersey, last year after an October storm hit the U.S. Northeast. PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSICA KOURKOUNIS, GETTY
More proof that quite a few cities and communities in and around New York Harbor and along the coastlines of New York and New Jersey are poorly built and poorly planned to deal with Global Warming and sea level rise. More proof that we should have never built cities or towns along a shoreline or on a barrier island in the first place. Greed and scientific ignorance is strong in our species.
Atlantic City Gambles on Rising Seas
This city’s famous casinos are on high ground, while its poor are in the floodwaters’ path. The people still there "haven’t figured out a way to leave yet," one lifelong resident says.
By Michael Edison Hayden
PUBLISHED MAY 4, 2016
ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEYClaudia Waller’s anxious eyes flit across the living room of a home where her family has lived for more than 80 years as she ponders the moment when she’ll have to leave for good.
When even a moderate rain falls in Atlantic City, the streets flood, reminding her of when her family lost their house’s foundation to Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
By Alex Napoliello | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on May 02, 2016 at 11:37 AM, updated May 02, 2016 at 1:13 PM
MANASQUAN — Adam Holloway, co-owner of Bare Wires surf shop in Spring Lake, has seen a lot of bizarre things at the inlet in the early morning hours.
But nothing tops what he witnessed Monday morning: A deer stuck on the jetty.
"It was wild," Holloway said in a phone interview with NJ Advance Media. "I've seen (deer) on the beach during the wintertime, but I've never seen them run. ... It was crazy, the craziest thing I've seen up there."
Like many surfers in the area, Holloway frequents the Manasquan inlet often.
On Monday morning, Holloway went up to the inlet to check the waves, and saw three deer on the beach. What happened next is beyond his imagination.
"When we walked (on the beach), we probably spooked them and they ran as fast as they could to the water and started swimming out," Holloway said. "They got out pretty far."
A red-headed woodpecker was spotted in recent days near the Boy Scout Camp at Sandy Hook. (Bill Dix)
By Pete Bacinski | For Inside Jersey
Email the author
on May 01, 2016 at 8:00 AM, updated May 01, 2016 at 8:06 AM
TO THE DELIGHT of Jersey's birders, May is here. Spring migration is now in high gear — and what better place is there to go and enjoy newly arriving migrants than Sandy Hook?
The Sandy Hook peninsula points due north, funneling birds to the trip on southwest winds. They pause before moving toward New York City, which is several miles beyond the tip of the Hook, and a large body of water to traverse to get there. That pause is what makes for great birding in spring at the Hook. After Cape May, Sandy Hook is the best year-round birding location in the state.
The park (properly named Gateway National Recreation Area) offers a combination of great spring migrants, waterfowl migration, a variety of shorebirds — including the endangered piping plover and American oystercatchers — an excellent hawk flight and, if you are really lucky, a great rarity.
This week, a gorgeous red-headed woodpecker was observed near the Boy Scout Camp. This woodpecker is not often seen at the Hook and the sight of it made this writer say, "Wow!"
From: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Published May 2, 2016 11:21 AM
RICHLAND, Wash. – Most of us think of that sweet smell after a storm as the aftereffect of rain that has rinsed the air of pollutants and dust. But it turns out that rain also triggers the release of a mist of particles from wet soils into the air, a finding with consequences of its own for how scientists model our planet's climate and future.
The evidence comes in the form of tiny glassy spheres, less than one-hundredth the width of a human hair, discovered at the Great Plains of Oklahoma after a rainstorm and put under scrutiny by scientists at several U.S. Department of Energy facilities. The study appears May 2 in Nature Geoscience.
According to the authors, scientists have largely assumed that organic particles from the soil enter the air through erosion by wind or through agricultural work. The effects of rain splash haven't been part of the discussion.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, March set another heat record for the globe. As Earth continues to warm and is influenced by phenomena such as El Niño, global temperature records are piling up.
For 2016 year to date (January-March), the average temperature for the globe was 2.07 degrees F above the 20th-century average, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. This was the highest temperature for this period in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.50 degrees F. The globally averaged sea surface temperature for the year to date was also highest on record, surpassing the same period in 1998 by 0.42 degrees F, the last time a similar strength El Niño occurred.
New York Today: Prospect Park Goes to the Goats
By JONATHAN WOLFE MAY 2, 2016
The New York Times
Updated, 10:54 a.m.
Good morning on this overcast Monday.
To help restore a decrepit, overgrown area of Prospect Park in Brooklyn this summer, Larry and Anna Cihanek evaluated more than 150 candidates.
Ultimately, Olivia, a pushy young blonde; Diego, a good-natured loner; and six others were deemed perfect for the task: fit, eager and hungry for the job.
In fact, they have been known to eat about 20 percent of their body weight in a day.
They are goats.
Sometimes when I am riding my bike or kayaking around some of the irreplaceable marshy areas that encircle New York Harbor, including Cheesequake, Pews Creek & Comptons Creek, Matawan Creek, Blue Heron Park, and Jamaica Bay, I catch a glimpse of a wading bird foraging for food, especially fish. What I see from a distance provides wonderful insight into the lives of wildlife.
It’s all about food! As wading birds begin nesting now in large well-built nests high in tall trees or low in marshy grasses on remote islands and out-of-the-way wetlands, they are seeking food to sustain partners, young, and eventually their southbound migration in the fall. Food provides much needed energy to endure.
Watch closely and you will see that different wading birds have different foraging methods. It’s a smorgasbord of ways to seize a slimy cold-blooded vertebrate with gills and fins.
STOP THE WILLIAMS FRACKED GAS PIPELINE THROUGH NY HARBOR!
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT NY HARBOR
1. Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City by Leslie Day
2.Heartbeats in the Muck by John Waldman
3. The Fisheries of Raritan Bay by Clyde L. MacKenzie Jr.
4. Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate
5. The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell