Why Olympic Skaters Fall

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

Did you watch the figure skating the other night? Did you notice almost every skater on the ice falling and making really embarrassing gaffes? Did you perhaps compare this to a typical Icecapades where falls almost never happen, or at least don’t happen nearly as frequently? There is a reason for this, and unlike what some TV commentators say it has little or nothing to do with pressure and the new scoring system and quite a lot to do with statistics and strategy.

Save the Eurasian Wigeon!

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

Scanning the results of the Great Backyard Bird Count, it looks like the Brooklyn Bird Club can claim at least one save for New York. Saturday’s Brooklyn Bird Club trip with Steve Nanz turned up the only two Eurasian Wigeons found in the state. Update: a later version of the results shows two Eurasian Wigeons in Mettituck, so it’s turns out not to be a save after all.

Boat-tailed Grackle Found

Monday, February 20th, 2006

Today I hopped the A-train to Broad Channel to see if I could add Boat-tailed Grackle to the GBBC results for New York state; and I was successful. In fact, I found my first grackle before I’d even reached Crossbay Blvd. Eventually I counted six of these majestic (and noisy) birds:

Boat-tailed Grackle

Cold Day at Breezy Point

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

Yesterday Steve Nanz led a Brooklyn Bird Trip to the coast; that is, the end of Flatbush Ave. (People sometimes forget New York is a coastal city). We started about 8:15 A.M. at Breezy Point, where I was hoping for Purple Sandpiper. So was a birder from Iowa we happened to run into out there. The Jetty at Breezy is one of the best places in New York City to find them.

Anne Lazarus, Sandi Paci, Steve Nanz with scopes


Banded Goose Returns

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

Friday I spotted H7H6 in Prospect Lake again. As you may recall, H7H6 is the banded goose I first saw in Prospect Lake on January 29, over two weeks earlier. I hadn’t seen it again since, though I had looked for it. I assumed it had flown on. Now it’s back.

Where was it for two weeks? Was it simply hiding in the phragmites? Had it crossed the road to the Parade Grounds where I rarely go? Flown a few blocks to Greenwood Cemetery? or out to the coast and Jamaica Bay? or even further? Why did it leave (if it did) and why did it return? I don’t know, but these are the sorts of questions bird banding is intended to answer.

What’s Missing

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

I’ve been scanning the list of birds reported so far for New York State in the Great Backyard Bird Count. We’re two days in, and there are some missing birds that might be gettable within the greater New York City area. These include:

  • Boat-tailed Grackle (Jamaica Bay)
  • Northern Sawwhet Owl (Fort Tilden, Floyd Bennett)
  • American Bittern (Jamaica Bay)
  • Short-eared Owl (Croton Point)
  • Great Horned Owl (Croton Point, Central Park)
  • Yellow Breasted Chat (Clove Lakes, Staten Island)
  • Dunlin (Jones Beach)
  • Purple Sandpiper (Coney Island, Breezy Point, various locations)

Of that list, Boat-tailed Grackle is by far the easiest. I’m surprised it hasn’t been reported yet. I think I’m going to have to hop an A train out to Jamaica Bay to try for it. I’ll probably look for American Bittern while I’m out there too; but that’s a long shot. Purple Sandpiper shouldn’t be that hard, but it’s eluded me repeatedly.