Arctic, Expeditions and Travels

Expeditions to the Arctic: 2000-2003

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2000 Introduction June 28 June 30 July 1 July 3 July 4 July 6 July 8 July 10 July 12 Conclusion 2001 June 27 June 30 July 3 July 6 July 9 July 13 July 15 2002 June 18 June 21 June 25 June 30 July 2 July 4 2003 Red Knot Field Journals June 21 June 23 June 26 June 28 July 4 July 6 July 8 Red Knot/Brant Aerial Surveys June 29 June 30 July 1 July 2 July 4

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Expeditions and Travels, Tierra Del Fuego

Expeditions to Tierra del Fuego: 2001-2004

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It was passed from one bird to another, the whole gift of the day. The day went from flute to flute, went dressed in vegetation, in flights which opened a tunnel through the wind would pass to where birds were breaking open the dense blue air – and there, night came in. -Pablo Neruda “Bird” 2001 Introduction February 3 February 4 February 5 February 6 February 7 February 8 February 9 February 10 February 12   2002 Introduction January 25-26 January 27 January 29 January 31 February 3 February 7   2003 Introduction January 29 January 30 February 3 February…

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Brazil, Expeditions and Travels, Travel

On the Birds and Boats of Brazil

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Birds and Boats I am a biologist that loves the birds and boats of northern Brazil. For good reason. In addition to the enormous bird diversity inherent in all tropical environments, the northern coast of Brazil in the states of Para and Maranhao stands out as one of the most important shorebird wintering areas in the western hemisphere.  It’s an amazingly vast area of mostly unpopulated beaches, intertidal sand and mud flats and mangrove forests. This ecological wonder also produces an abundance of fish and shellfish, on which the birds depend.  It also supports a network of traditional villages and…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay

Greater Expectations For Wildlife

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Hope For More Tucked away among some long forgotten and useless legal papers, I found a newspaper clipping from July 13, 1988, on NJ’s Bald Eagle restoration program. The uncredited article for the Beacon, a defunct local paper serving Cape May County,  described our efforts to bring Bald Eagles back to the Delaware Bay.  As a young wildlife biologist for the Endangered Species Program, (and still sporting a full head of hair), I piloted this effort. It was a grim time for Eagles then.  After decades of decline, the estimated original population of nearly 30 pairs, plummeted to just one…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, shorebird conservation, Uncategorized

20 Years on Delaware Bay – Shorebirds lift off to an uncertain end

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  I am reviewing a new paper by Sjoerd Duijns, a student working on the benefits of being a fat shorebird.   Still, a draft, the paper analyses data from radio-tagged red knots leaving the bay in good condition (ie fat)and finds they may leave later from Delaware Bay than lighter birds but arrive earlier in the breeding grounds because they can pick the best time to leave. They are also more likely to breed successfully and survive the Arctic breeding season to the following fall.  In other words being a fat knot on Delaware Bay makes life good. So in light…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, shorebird conservation

Abstracts from the meeting on 20 years of conservation and research on Delaware Bay

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Program   May 10, 2017: 09:00 – 17:00   Note: the program only identifies the name of each speaker. Co-authors are indentified in the abstracts that follow.   09:00   Welcome and introduction: Larry Niles   Research and conservation of shorebirds in Delaware Bay – Chair Larry Niles 09:10   Clive Minton: Twenty years of scientific and conservation work on Delaware Bay 09:30   Humphrey Sitters: The daily rate of mass gain of Red Knots in Delaware Bay in relation to horseshoe crab egg density and from year to year 09:50   Robert A. Robinson: Mass gain in a spring-staging long distance migrant shorebird,…

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Uncategorized

20 years on Delaware Bay: Shorebird Need More Horseshoe Crabs

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  We Need More Horseshoe Crabs The story of shorebirds on the Delaware Bay stopover this year boils down to the need for more horseshoe crabs. The population remains at only 1/3 of it’s carrying capacity, the maximum number the bay can naturally support.  There has been no sign of sustained recovery in the 15 years of a survey done by Virginia Tech and under the auspices of the Atlantic States Marine Fish Commission, the group that fell asleep at the wheel and allowing the population to be plundered.  There have been no signs of recovery for the red knot or any…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, shorebird conservation

20 Years on Delaware Bay: Scarcity and Abundance -Shorebirds Near the Finish Line

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Our latest catch of red knots and ruddy turnstones two days ago ( May 27)  suggests 2017 to be one of the most challenging years of our 20 years of work on Delaware Bay.  It challenged the birds for certain. For example, as of two days, ago ( May 27th) average weights of red knots remain mired in the mid 160’s when it should be in the 180-gram range.    This seems a minor difference but to red knots, it means a flight through the cold and often inhospitable north country of Canada and dropping out of the sky never…

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Uncategorized

20  Years on Delaware Bay: In Dangerous Territory

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Four days ago, the shorebirds of Delaware Bay could look forward to a bright future. But in the last week their chances for survival and good production have diminished.  In fact they are as dismal as the cold drizzle pockmarking the murky water in front of our house in Reed Beach. The following two graphs tell the story.  We captured red knots on May 12 and 16th  that showed a normal although not spectacular progression.  Than we made a catch of knots on the 19th and again today on the 23rd and in total they gained only 2 grams of…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, shorebird conservation

20 Years on Delaware Bay – The Importance of water temperatures, windstorms and shoals

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As we begin our field work on Delaware Bay shorebirds, our 21st season, oddly enough we are once again faced with extraordinary circumstances.   As usual, the birds, after various flight of up to 6  days of nonstop flying,  arrive in emaciated condition.   For example in one catch this week we caught several red knots at around 86 grams far lower than it normal weight of 130 grams.  Putting that into perspective, a women of 145 pounds would tip the scale at 93 lbs while a male of 175 lbs at 113 lbs!  In other words these birds are…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, shorebird conservation

20 Years of Shorebird Conservation and Research on Delaware Bay

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A Monumental Work of Conservation This year marks the 21st year of the Delaware Bay Shorebird Project. As one of the longest running shorebird conservation projects in the world, the only one of its kind in the US, we wanted to memorialize this monumental work. To do so we convened a daylong series of presentations by scientists and managers from all over the world who have worked on the bay.  Here are the abstracts. They are worth a look by nearly anyone interested in shorebirds and Delaware Bay.   DelawareBay_Workshop_Program&Abstract_CWF The presentations ranged widely. We heard talks diving deep into the…

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Bird Study, Brazil

Our Brazilian Expedition – Trapping Shorebirds in Panaquatira

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The capture of Arctic nesting shorebirds first brought us to Brazil in 2013.  We also brought 125 geolocators and caught both ruddy turnstones and red knots, attaching 85 on the former and 30 on the latter.  But we also came to create a new perspective on shorebirds in this place, one of the most important shorebird habitats in the world. For all intents and purposes, shorebird work in this area started In the mid-1980’s, when Canadian biologists, Guy Morrison and Ken Ross surveyed from an airplane, the entire coast of South America.  In this monumental and dangerous survey, they established…

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Brazil, rural communities

Our Brazilian Expedition – The Rights of Traditional Communities

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Over the last few days of our expedition, we left the state of Para and flew to Sao Luis in the adjacent state of Maranhao.  There we begin the next phase of our work, trapping red knots, ruddy turnstones and other species, as we have done since 2014.     Traditional Communities Have Rights But prior to leaving Para, while we stayed in the village of Apiu Salvatore, the fishermen asked to meet with Max.  He hadn’t planned it, so at first, the reason was unknown. The fishermen of the village knew Max represented ICMBio, and that Apiu Salvatore fell within…

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Bird Study, Brazil, rural communities

Our Brazilian Expedition – Going to the heart of the Mangrove and Beach Ecosystem

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It took us long into the night to reach our next port.  We went from the relatively populated area of Braganca to the dark heart of this coastal region of Viseu.   In three trucks, we caravanned through a maze of remnant tropical rainforests, cattle pasture and impenetrable second-growth woodland.  Along the rain-slicked red clay road, small and desperate looking towns popped out of nowhere always looking like the past was a better day. The road cut through countless mangrove forests that define this region.  We reached Viseu too late to do anything but find a place to stay the night….

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