WildMetro Offers GIS Class

On Friday, February 15 and 22, John Mickleson, friend to WildMetro and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) expert, taught a two-part seminar on Introduction to GIS.    Attending the class were five young volunteers for WildMetro: Danny Ulhar, Nudhbi Choudhury, Sogol Jafarzadeh, Richard Aracil, and Andrew Kaplan.  John provided the attendees with the basics of navigation in a graphic user interface (GUI) like Google Earth.  He also taught how to store and create information for a GIS program through the use of KML and KMZ files.  WildMetro plans to use our new found GIS knowledge, skills, and ability to digitalize our extensive plant, bird, and mammal data studies throughout the New York metropolitan region.  Once we digitalize the data, we will use image overlays on Google Earth to track changes in the landscape and species’ population.

Sample Image Overlay of Bird Species' Location in Pelham Bay Park

If you want to learn the basics of GIS or are interested in helping on this project, please contact David Burg at wildmetro@gmail.com.

WildMetro Launches New Insect Survey in Pelham Bay Park

On Tuesday, March 27th Jeff Zirlin, Harry Zirlin, David Burg, and I (Tim Penman) went out to survey sites for a planned Insect survey in Pelham Bay Park (located in the Bronx). Over the course of the day we observed a variety of birds and insects as well as one species of salamander.

We are currently applying for a research permit from the New York Parks and Rec. Department. We will be using several techniques in an effort to catalog the Insect biodiversity of the park. We are also curious to see what effect the warm winter has had on the fauna of the park so we will be on the lookout for any unusual activity( i.e. southern species, early broods). We already encountered a White M Hairstreak( a butterfly whose name is derived from the M shaped marks on its wings) which was surprising to see at this time of year.

We will be comparing the upcoming survey to an Insect study WildMetro completed in 2003. If you are interested in helping out with this new Insect survey in Pelham Bay Park please contact us at wildmetro@gmail.com or call Jeff Zirlin at 914-874-7960. Jeff is a student at Yale University who has been collecting Insects his entire life and is heading this project along with his father Harry Zirlin, a well known amateur entomologist.

Here are some photos from our great outing on Tuesday (click to enlarge):

Great Leopard Moth Caterpillar, Ecpantheria scribonia

When alarmed, the Caterpillar curls up and displays
crimson rings which serve as a warning to predators.

                 Red-backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus

                 White M Hairstreak Butterfly, Parrhasius m-album

Here is the complete list of the 54 species that were encountered:

  Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
  Grey Squirrel

 Red Backed Salamander

Birds 34 species:

  Red-breasted Merganser
  Black Duck
  Canada Goose
  Mute Swan
  Greater Yellowlegs
  Herring Gull
  Great Black Backed Gull
  Great Horned Owl
  American Kestrel
  Red Tailed Hawk
  Morning Dove
  Downy Woodpecker
  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  Common Flciker
  Red Bellied Woodpecker
  American Goldfinch
  American Robin
  Dark-eyed Junco
  Blue Jay
  Carolina Wren
  Brown Headed Cowbird
  White Throated Sparrow
  Song Sparrow
  Red-winged Blackbird
  Common Grackle
  Common Crow
  House Sparrow

  Butterflies- 4 species:

  Cabbage White
  Yellow Suplhur
  Organe Suphlur
  White M Hairstreak

  Moths- 2 species:

  Great Leopard Moth
  Forage Looper


 Ground Beetles(carabids)- 5 species
 Rove Beetles 2 secies
 Hister Beetles 1 species

Notable flowers:

  Trout Lily
  Spring Beauty

New Facebook and Twitter Account!

Become a fan of the WildMetro group on facebook and follow WildMetro on twitter for updates, news, and upcoming events!  Add any events or ideas of interest to the page and twitter account as well!

Wildmetro Member Discovers a First for the New York City area!

      Wildmetro is pleased to say that a long-time friend and supporter discovered something interesting on our Superb Owl walk last week!  Below is a picture of the fungi commonly known as Conifer Parchment that Gary Lincoff, one of the world's leading mushroom experts, says seems to be a first record for the NYC area!  What a find!  

"Here’s our find of the day - the Conifer Parchment - called Peniophora gigantea in the Audubon Guide - now being called Phlebiopsis gigantea - occurs on branches of eastern white pine! - It was right next to the long-eared owl!!!" - Gary Lincoff
Photo credit to Gary Lincoff

      Make sure to stay updated and come out to Wildmetro events to be able to be a part of amazing new discoveries and opportunities like this in the New York City area!

Written by Jenny Cocciardi.

“SUPERB OWL,” Not Superbowl

        On the famous Sunday when thousands gather around their TV to watch football, Wildmetro and friends traveled to New York City’s largest park: Pelham Bay Park.  It was a day full of nature, ice, snow, and of course, owls!  Pelham Bay is known as the “hotspot” in the greater Manhattan area to spot owls (I know, wildlife in and around New York City? – Don’t be so surprised!).  We started the hike on Hunter Island, and hiked our way through the evergreen groves. It was here where we first encountered two Long-Eared Owls.    

What a site to see!
 These owls were roosting in the winter sun, and if we didn’t have our Avian Experts at hand, the owls would definitely have gone undetected.
Photo taken by Wildmetro member Sogol Jafarzadeh.  

We then traveled around to the bay and stopped for a chance to see some other birds in the area. Canada geese, bufflehead, red-breasted mergansers, and greater scaup were all spotted on the water.  A killdeer shorebird, uncommon in winter and beautiful to see, was also spotted along with some purple sandpiper shorebirds!
Photo by Sogol Jafarzadeh.

         It was a fun, bird-packed day full of wonderful people! Among the 20+ participants were many nature experts, including five wildlife biologists, an attorney who is a well-known amateur entomologist (and who also represents WildMetro in our efforts to protect natural areas), one of the world's leading mushroom experts, and a botanist who is the woodlands manager for Central Park.  It was an international group, with people from Iran, Italy, South Africa, and Hungary.  Among the non-naturalists were 3 college undergrads, several lawyers, a nurse practitioner and a family doctor.  It was a day for the Wildmetro community to re-connect and make new friends, and was a day for us New Yorkers to step away from the fast-pace of the city and enjoy nature in its pristine and beautiful manner. 

Photo taken by intern Jenny Cocciardi.


 Here is some information on what species of owls to look out for in the greater New York City area:

·      Long-Eared Owl- This owl will begin to arrive in the New York City area from late-November to mid-December and can be seen until mid-March.  The long-eared owl is mottled brown in color with long ears poking out of the top of the head.  They can get very big and are usually spotted to be the size of a crow.  Look out for these birds near the trunk of the tree, in evergreen groves.  These owls are nocturnal, however in the cold winter, it is not unusual to see a couple in trees close to each other soaking up the suns heat. 
·      Great Horned Owls- this owl is known to be in the area from late November to early March, as well.  They are found in old pine groves and are known to be the largest of the “American” Owls.  Look for a large owl varying in color from white to dark brown.
·      Saw-Whet Owl- These owls are very small and can be found in the same date-range as the two mentioned above.  They are earless with typical huge, yellow eyes and are brown in color.  Look for these owls roosting in younger pines.
·      Sometimes it is also possible to see the Snowy Owl, which can be recognized by its vivid white color, and the Barn Owl, recognized by its heart-shaped face. 

Photo by Jenny Cocciardi.

Written by Jenny Cocciardi.  
        Jenny Cocciardi is a junior at NYU who is currently an intern at WildMetro.  She is studying Environmental Science and Environmental Biology and hopes to continue her education after college in conservation biology.

Volunteer Opportunities!!

We have two exciting events scheduled for Sunday Jan. 31, 2010.

Click on image to enlarge.

Van Cortlandt Park
                       Pelham Bay Park                           
Don't forget to RSVP to reserve your tools.
We hope to see you there!