March Newsletter

Mar 15, 2024 | The Sandpiper

Presidents Message

by Jody Banaszak

Hello, my little birding friends! Hope this newsletter finds you all well and hope you enjoyed the holidays and got a lot of nice presents!! I can’t believe how warm it was in December.  I saw people wearing shorts, t-shirts and flop flops! We’ll see how January goes. February had some warm days as did March with people wearing t-shirts! Then on our bird walk in March it was freezing and very windy!! I always say Mother Nature is going through menopause! I’m sure the weather messed up a lot of birds with migrating, even though I’ve seen robins in the winter before. One winter they came by and ate all the berries on my big holly tree! Hasn’t happened yet this year. I hope you’ve been out looking for the winter ducks. I’ve seen some Hooded Mergansers in the canal, and we saw some Winter Ducks on our duck walk in March. Ken said there weren’t as many as usual. 

So, how do you like the new newsletter? It has gone digital!! You can also get it by mail if you don’t use or have a computer. We’ll see how it goes. As you know we have ring cameras at Brookside County Park. It rings on my phone all the time!  

So many people go there with their dogs, themselves, or their kids for a walk in the woods. There’s even an elderly woman who comes with her shopping bags and sits on the deck watching the birds at the feeders or by the pond. I’ve even seen turkeys and deer on the cameras. I haven’t seen too many of our darling highschoolers though, so that’s good. That will probably start up in the spring and summer! And the park police drop by at different times of the day and night too. It’s such a great place. I wish the old main house was still there for us to see.  

We have pictures of it in the cottage and it looks really nice with the Green’s in their suits, dresses and hats and in little row boats on the pond. Isaac Green was the one who owned the property. Now the County does. Isaac Green designed many houses on the South Shore in Sayville, Oakdale and other towns during the turn of the last century including Meadowcroft and houses for the Vanderbilts, the Bournes and the Cuttings. Must have been nice!!! Wonder if they had birdfeeders!!

Well folks, I hope you enjoy the new newsletter. It will save on paper and the environment.

We will be having our annual dinner at Captain Bill’s on May 6th. This is always a great event with great food, a great speaker, and nice raffles. Karen will be working on the new garden at Brookside County Park. It really needed a makeover! We will have events at Brookside, one being with the ribbon cutting for the garden in September. It will not be completed but will have a good start. We will have music by Buddy Merriam and an art show. If you’d like to be in the art show email me. This is always a good event.

We will have a live animal event at Brookside in June. Shakespear in the Park will be in July at Brookside. I’m thinking about having a plein air art painting class at Brookside in the summer. We could also use help on the planning committee for the dinner and for hospitality for our meetings, which happen on the third Thursday of the month. Please remember for the meetings and events, parking is at the Sayville High School across the street from Brookside. All these events with the date and time will be on a news blast so check your computers. So have a good spring and enjoy watching the birds, ducks, and seabirds!

Pheasants for Hunting

by Annette Brownell

An article appeared in Newsday, Sunday, January 14, 2024, titled “Some oppose breeding pheasants for hunters.” In the article it explains how, since 1909, New York State has bred Ring Neck pheasants (not native to North America) for the purpose of releasing them to provide sport for hunters. I am not debating gun ownership or even hunting. But as the article revealed, only about 44% of these birds are actually “bagged” by hunters. The majority are hit by cars, eaten by predators or starve to death because, since having no parents to teach them foraging, they have no skills for survival. This seems like a rather cruel activity that is designed, according to the DEC, “as the introduction to hunting for many people and provides an opportunity for new hunters to learn safe and ethical practices.” I have to question the ethical part. 

Every fall approximately 30,000 pheasant are released on state-owned land by the DEC. The program costs $750,000 and “serves no conservational purposes” states Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (Manhattan). Rosenthal goes on to say “The state would engage in the business of bringing animals to life to be shot and killed. I don’t think it’s the appropriate role for the agency charged with protecting wildlife and the environment. It’s state-sponsored cruelty.”

She has a point. How does this differ from raising mink for fashion – or killing birds to put feathers on hats (Migratory Bird Treaty Act)?

It seems to me that with all the poor deer out there starving to death and destroying New York State forests, a different approach can be taken to “get young people and other novice hunters outdoors learning firsthand about our natural resources” as is suggested by the DEC. Another thought – Deer Tick and Lyme Disease. It seems that figuring out how to repopulate the woods with fowl would go a long way in managing Deer Tick. Maryland has a quail restoration program and have found that introducing adult quail into an area is much more successful than releasing thousands of chicks. I imagine the same would be true with pheasant. It seems this would be a much better way to spend $750,000.

Bird Mania
by Karen Andres

Did you see the Bald Eagle in town? Well, they have been discovered in many towns recently and the bird watchers are flocking to see them. They are quite impressive. I have seen them fly over my house. Just the other day while taking my dog for a walk I saw our local Eagle fly over with some sticks to “feather the nest” so the saying goes. It is so exciting when you spot an unusual bird and naturally you want to get a closer look not realizing exactly where you are or if you are entering a private space. Its so exciting but possibly disruptive to the locals who have them nesting nearby.

The GSBAS received an email recently regarding such an event. There is a Bald Eagle nesting in a cemetery. The person was upset because the people coming to watch the birds were trampling all over the gravesites. She asked if we could please ask our birding community to please respect those in the cemetery as well as their families who come to visit with loved ones.

It is easy to forget where you are when a bird siting occurs. Please try to remember where you are and be courteous to anyone you might run into while birding. Be mindful, your actions are a representation of the entire birding community. We want to maintain a positive image to the community. Although the people are the ones who will speak out please remember the bird you are trying to capture with your camera lens. We don’t want to scare them, taunt them so we can get that awesome shot of them fleeing their nest etc. Most birders are respectful, but I have run into some who will not reveal where their photos come from to keep the “crazy birders” away.

Please keep in mind that your actions can also have a major impact on others you are birding with. Beginner birders can benefit immensely from the knowledge and enthusiasm of a patient and friendly expert who is willing to share their knowledge. I recommend going on one of the Bird Walks the Audubon offers and ask questions.

In the meantime, here are some tips I found on to keep in mind when you are out in the field with binoculars and cameras at the ready.

Ethical Birding Guidelines:

● Be aware of sensitive and threatened species that might be vulnerable to disturbance.

● Do not share nest locations of sensitive species except with appropriate wildlife officials or conservation scientists.

● Stay at a distance where you are not agitating birds or modifying their behavior, especially near nests.

● Leave dogs at home or on a leash if in an area with ground nesting birds. Shorebirds, such as Snowy Plovers, that nest on beaches, are especially vulnerable to loose dogs.

● Do not use in heavily birded areas or for sensitive species.

● Drive slowly and carefully.

● Stay on designated trails, do not trample vegetation.

● If leading a birding group, be aware of group size and make sure it is not so large that it is damaging the habitat or interfering with others using the same area.

● Make sure all group members are aware of and practicing ethical birding guidelines

● Respect private property rights, only enter with express permission.

● Follow all traffic rules, drive the speed limit, dont park on the road.

● Don’t point binoculars towards other people or directly into yards or windows.

● Always be polite and courteous to non-birders you encounter, share your knowledge when appropriate.

● If birding with others, be respectful of the ability of all group members, be encouraging and share your knowledge with beginners.

Reader Submission

by Rachel Peden

“I don’t know how people deal with their moods when they have no garden, raspberry patch or field to work in. You can take your angers, frustrations, bewilderments to the earth, working savagely, working up a sweat and an ache and a weariness. The work rinses out the cup of your spirit, leaves it washed and clean and ready to be freshly filled with new hope. It is one of the reasons I am addicted to raspberry patches. The pie is purely symbolic.”

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