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Return of Finger

The long awaited return of MNSA's unofficial Mascot Mr. Finger Lick'en


Red Knots

These are the first Red Knots to the Marine Nature Study Area since 1994, why so long?, why now? the possiblities are endless, but the strong Low pressure in our area this week with off shore breezes might have just pushed this pair in.

New Blood

We currently have a New Pair of Osprey in the Platform, sorry fans, but the don't like visitors.

From observations today, and video records, We have new tenants to the MNSA Platform. We were spoiled with the tolerance of the last residences for a few years. Now we must welcome a new pair and give then their space until they let us into their living room.

From the video record from Sun and Mon, their seems to be a bit of a territory dispute, this new pair did not moving in easy.


Irruptive "Winter Finches."

This week we are experiencing the most Pine Siskins ever seen here at MNSA.  In the past we would maybe get one ore two at the feeders if we were lucky.  This week we had a flock of over 20 hanging around the feeding stations. The Pine Siskin is the commonest of the irruptive "winter finches."  The arrival of winter finches to your backyard does not necessarily indicate a harsh winter ahead. It is generally believed that irruptions are driven by a lack of food on the normal wintering grounds.  For example, seeds, especially thistle, red alder, birch, and spruce seeds, make up the majority of the Pine Siskin's diet.  Also mixed in with them are Purple Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse and our standard Black-capped Chickadees.
Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus

Royal Terns

On final patrol at the Marine Nature Study Area 8/20/10, a family of Royal Terns enter the area and adult and 2 fledglings sat on the mud flat west of the south pond and feed out in Bedell Creek later that evening. The last sighting of Royal Terns to the MNSA was back on 6/18/02.

American Avocet  Visit

On late afternoon patrol, at the Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside,
NY at 4:38pm, an American Avocet was seen with Greater Yellowlegs,
Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Plovers, Black-bellied
Plovers, Least Sandpipers and Short-billed Dowitchers. It was located in
the mudflat on the westside of the south pond, Oceanside Park side. Last
Avocet seen at MNSA was back on 9/15/04 9:19am.
Return of Finger Lic'en

The might Mr. Finger returns to the MNSA from an undisclosed location during the winter months.  He's out inspecting the changes around the facility.
Legend of "Snowball" Returns

Snowball is an albino muskrat that lives at the Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside, NY. Rarely seen, it pops out as often as Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster. Last photographed in the late '90's, seen briefly less than a handful of time since....... until today. Startled John earlier this week while on final patrol, the legend was reborn to those new to the office. If you venture forth on the trails, and you happen to see a white flash in the bushes, across the trail, or swimming in the creek you might have stumble upon Snowball.
The Surface to the Frame

This new surface in not like a traditional boardwalk, it is a grate material that will allow water and sunlight through.  The extra light transfer may help to restore grass growth under the walkway.  The will help to minimize the effect of the walkway on the habitat.
First New Section in Place

The first premade 20ft framework goes into place.  This will be the model that will span the gap between the main trail to the dune area.  It will be test on design and method.
Boardwalk reconstruction Begins

The section of boardwalk that connects from the main trail to the Dune Area is being rebuild with new materials.  The new construction will be of a composite/ fiberglass material supported 25ft 6"x6".  This will be a solid structure.
The MNSA Osprey Pair's Runt

On the morning of July 5th, one of the osprey chicks was showing definite signs of a problem.  Having lost the ability to stand on its own, the runt hobbled and crawled itself around the nest with great trouble.  Using its wings like training wheels, it found itself last on line for food, and out matched by its other siblings.  At points throughout the day, with its wings stretched out the others would literally walk all over it.  As the day drew to an end, the winds picked up at closing time.  Between 5pm and 7pm its huge wings acted like an umbrella catching the wind and tossing it into the bay.  Luckily Mike was home watching the cam and noticed a bird missing and drove back to the MNSA only to find the bird struggling in the water being blown by the wind and waves.  After swimming out to retrieve it, it was dried and fed.  Its currently under the care of a rehabber and if it gains its strength it will be placed back into the nest.

UPDATE 7/8/09: In the early evening hours we received word that the runt has past away.  The only thing of note has been the abnormally large number of rainy days in the month of June.  With rain hitting the surface of the water, the ability of the Osprey to see fish to catch is an added factor in there success rate of grabbing fish.  Their were some days in June when only one fish was brought to the nest for the whole day.  My opinion would be not a lack of fish but a problem in gathering them during the rain periods. 
Biologists would call this event an example of natural selection: a struggle for life in which only those osprey chicks best adapted to existing conditions are able to survive and reproduce.  Our humanization of this would be that this chick sacrificed its life to insure that there would be enough food for its two siblings.  I'll let you decide which explanation best comforts you.


Return of the Black-necked Stilt

After a return from a successful trip to Florida, Rich Carlan and Pat Egan, on there excursion on the trails of MNSA , came back to the office to report a Black-necked Stilt to the staff with photo verification.  The bird was first sited at ~11:30am and continued throughout the day, and was seen on final patrol upon closing of the MNSA.  The bird is seen must frequently in the mud flats between our south pond and Middle Bay Country Club, our eastern border.  With a little luck this rare LI visitor will continue through the weekend so others can catch a glimpse.

Note: Two Black-necked Stilts, Himantopus mexicanus, were first observed and added to the MNSA Life List by a group of South Shore Audubon birders participating in the annual Birdathon, on the morning of May 11, 2002.  This is the second record here at the MNSA.

UPDATE 1: Last sighting of the Stilt was Sun. 10, 2009 late afternoon as it flew off.
UPDATE 2: Bird was absent on 5/12/09 but returned on 5/13/09 and continues as of 5/15/09
Black-necked stilt Himantopus mexicanus
Chat and a New Visitor
Sy Schiff:

However, around the main building, the feeders brought in a large number and variety of the usual feeder birds. I took the opportunity to try photographing some through the windows from the warm and security of the display room in back. A YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT came to the peanut butter filled pine cones on the north side of the building.

Most of the birds were on the South side facing the marsh. While focusing on a male Brown-headed Cowbird surrounded by House Sparrows, a bird with an eyeing appeared on a twig. I took two quick pictures, before it disappeared., but not before I saw the bright yellow under parts. A quick review of the photo showed a DICKCISSEL.
Chat Returns

The Yellow-breasted Chat, sighted a few weeks ago, continues to be spotted infrequently around the Visitor Center.  It has grown fond of the suet filled pine cones that were created by a recent Girl Scout Troop 2426 visit.  Another notable visitor is an Orange-crowned Warbler spotted around the large pond and in the Dune area
Bald Eagle

Kim spotted an immature Bald Eagle that was flushed by crows from a tree east of the parking lot on golf course. It flew over the marsh spiraling upward until it became a dot heading west.

Also in that Dunes a Yellow-breasted Chat was seen briefly and then relocated briefly in a Holly feeding on berries.
Banded Shorebirds

Update 7/5/08
I received the background information from the USGS, on the banded and flagged Ruddy Turnstone.  The bird was banded in Reeds Beach, Cape May NJ on 5/29/2007 by NJ state biologists.

On a brisk rainy overcast morning on 22 May a group of shorebirds were feeding along the blue bulkhead along the trail to the pond feeding on horseshoe crab eggs.  Among the group were six Ruddy Turnstones, of which one was flagged and banded.  After logging a report to the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory, I began search the web for more information on the possible location of this bird.  It lead me to the Pan American Shore Bird Program part of the Canada Wildlife Service.  A list of colors suggests this bird was banded in Suriname which uses light green flags and bands.  A report was submitted to the CWS as well.  I will add any new information I receive from my reports when I am contacted.

Flagged & Banded
New Bird to the MNSA Life List
On a rainy overcast morning on 8 May, as Kim and Mike head out to do
the daily morning bird count, neither of them knew they would be
discovering a new species to the MNSA life list.  While rounding the
pond on the east side a sparrow caught their attention.  It has
characteristics of a Savannah and Sharp-tailed Sparrow but not a perfect
match, thinking the bird was also wet and may appear a little different.
Upon returning to the office Mike breezed through the field guides and
found the bird they just saw.  As he panned up to read the name he was
surprised to read Grasshopper Sparrow.  He checked the list… no record,
he then checked the index cards… no record.  “New bird!” Mike
shouted, with camera in hand he went back in hopes it would be still
there for some photo documentation, and it was.  The Grasshopper was
feeding on the trail near the northern bench on the east side, in the same area.  Singing in the tops of the cut phragmites was a Seaside Sparrow, and at the base scurrying among the grass line was a Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow as well.

1st record at MNSA
Exotic Visitor
On 2 May, after loud and unfamiliar calls, Kim’s curiosity finally
got to her, while working near to office.   A loud squawking was coming
from along the northeast fence line from the parking lot.  As she
approached the trail the noise continued.   One of our neighbors
collects pet birds; with the beautiful weather they had them outside
enjoying the day.  It sounded like their birds were responding to the
loud calls.  As she got closer the call was coming from atop a tree.  To
her surprise, sitting on the branch in all its brilliance was a Monk
.  She quickly called Mike from the dunes to witness her
discovery.  Mike was able to snap a few photos before the bird flew north
into the neighborhood.  Later that day the parakeet was seen flying over
the marsh into the dunes, before disappearing.  The next time it was
seen was on 7 May in the late afternoon.  It flew over the parking lot
from its original location, on the northeast fence line, west to the

1st photo record, last observed 11/05/2005