climate change

Why Not Climate Change?

climate-changes-across-the-country

    Despite its nastiness, the presidential election has served to educate the American public in several unexpected ways. The influence of a male-dominated culture on women has been exposed and the impact is still growing much to the dismay of the Donald, Bill Cosby and thier kind. The tragic targeting of Afro-Americans by law enforcement was important before the election but it it has now grown into an important political issue and a national movement.  Last month a spokesperson for the National Association of Police Chief offered a seemingly sincere and unprecedented apology. But one thing this election has not…

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Science, shorebird ecology

the birds lift away to the arctic

Shorebirds leave Delaware Bay for thier Arctic Breeding areas.

On our final effort to trap shorebirds on Delaware Bay, we had the remarkable opportunity to watch sanderling and ruddy turnstones lift off for the Arctic. We first saw them feeding on the wave-tossed shoreline within the protected area in Villas; 1500 birds weaving as a single thread 5 deep with the contours of the wave, acting like a flying flock on the ground. Then a disturbance, a crow flying low down the shoreline and 2000 birds fill the sky.  Most settled again but one group of about 300 flew more with greater determination than the rest. Still low but…

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Science, shorebird ecology

a shorebird paradise lost

This is  a photo of the aquaculture development zone at Rutgers Extension Lab.  The zone was originally proposed to accommodate all expansion of aquaculture until Rutgers Extension and the Division of Fish and Wildlife secretly created a emergency rule that allow expansion into all horseshoe crab habitat on the bay without any environmental review.  The listing of the red knot should have stopped it but instead the US Fish and Wildlife Service, without any public comment or review granted permits to aquaculture industry including one to the staff of Rutgers extension in Pierce Point.

We conducted our first bay wide count of shorebirds on Delaware Bay and the results suggest we are rapidly approaching the peak number of shorebirds. Last year we counted 24,700 knots and 16,000 ruddy turnstones. This year’s counts are lower because it’s early, but still over 20,000 knots and 16,000 turnstones, 10,000 sanderling have stopped over in the bay. These promising results are preliminary, but it seems we are getting close to our peak population of red knots and at the peak of the other two species – if populations are similar to last year. Bird condition also looks promising….

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, habitat management, Science, shorebird conservation

Valuable Creeks and Shoals

Knots landing on Cooks shoal  Photo by Stephanie Feiigin

In spite of the very spotty horseshoe crab spawn, the shorebirds on Delaware Bay seem to be gaining weight on schedule.  Below you will find a graph composed of the average weights of all the red knots by our team for the last 20 years. The curve is the result of combining all the data we collected and shows the sweet spot for most knots. As they arrive they take time to gain weight but after about 5 days they start gaining weight rapidly.  After the 26th or so, birds start reaching the critical weights necessary to safely reach the…

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, Uncategorized

Shorebirds out in the cold

It’s well known that the Delaware Bay shorebird stopover depends on the horseshoe crabs.  Few know that the Delaware Bay is a near perfect horseshoe crab habitat. There are many places on the eastern seaboard where horseshoe crabs breed.  Most are too small to provide sustenance for energy starved shorebirds.  Places like Cape Romain Refuge in South Carolina, have enough horseshoe crabs so that one breeding female unearths eggs of another and thus lays out a tidy meal for shorebirds.  But the areas are small and at this time unimportant to the population of shorebirds. Most of the others are…

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Science, shorebird ecology, wildlife tracking

Early News Is Good for Shorebirds on Delaware bay

Delaware Bay, New Jersey, USA

    The Early News is Good   Our team trapped over 500 shorebirds over the weekend including several hundred red knots in two catches on May 12th and 14th.   Most of the caught birds,  knots, ruddy turnstones and sanderlings arrived in good condition, always a relief at this early stage in the season .  Ruddy turnstones  arrived in better-than-average condition, weighing in at 5 grams higher than normal arrival weights.   The condition on arrival is one of the main bits of information of this work.  In some years, knots struggled to get to the bay coming in at…

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Conserving Wildlife, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology

20 years of shorebird conservation

  Thousands of red knots, ruddy turnstones sanderling, semi palmated sandpipers use the inter tidal flat near Kimble’s Beach, Delaware Bay.  They forage on eggs washed out from the beaches and spread across the flat.

We begin the 20th year of the Delaware Bay Shorebird Project this year with many of the same team members that helped start the project in 1997.  That’s 20 years of studying one of the most intellectually challenging and endlessly fascinating species of wildlife in the world.  Few have had the good fortune to do so.     Unfortunately, we do not start this year with the same shorebird population.  In the last twenty years the Delaware Bay Stopover fell precipitously from its once lofty perch as one of the top three stopovers in the world.  Where once we counted…

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conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Expeditions and Travels, Uncategorized

Inuit Wisdom on Conservation

Mark collects water from the Sutton in an Arctic sunset.

In July of last year, our trip in search of red knots from my home in Greenwich, NJ to the small Arctic town of Coral Harbor in Southampton Island took us to some of the most remote wilderness in this hemisphere. But we also leaped from a modern socially connected world to one with third world communication and economic systems. You can’t use your cell phone in Coral Harbor, in fact neither can the mostly Inuit population. They use Facebook with enthusiasm but have virtually dial-up internet speeds. The cost of a case of coke is $45. An overnight stay…

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conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife

long ago conservationists forcefully protected wildlife

A Ding Darling Cartoon from the 1930's

There was another time when greedy people overexploited the country’s wild lands destroying wildlife wholesale. Early in the century the killing of wildlife for meat, fur, feather and entertainment created income for many and without regulation ended in ecological collapse. Things got better after passage of national laws that stopped market hunting of wildlife but lawlessness and habitat destruction went on until populations of highly productive species were being lost. The collapse of huntable populations of game animals, deer, turkey and especially waterfowl, slowly fueled public outrage. The nation was hobbled by the Great Depression and yet activists like Ding…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Expeditions and Travels

Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate

Evening on the Tred Avon River near the town of Oxford Md.  Here the tide range is about 2 feet and the water is deep enough for boats almost to the shoreline.

Two Bays Two Worlds Most see the Delaware Bay as the poor and sad relation to the more prosperous and vibrant Chesapeake Bay. There is no doubt the Chesapeake bay is far wealthier than it’s sister bay only a few miles to the east. With cities like Annapolis or towns like St Michaels, the Chesapeake attracts millions to its shores each year, and this propels a vibrant economy. The Delaware Bay remains mired in an economic funk, one could argue started over three decades ago. Wildlife conservationists would see it differently however.  The Chesapeake sports a persistent oxygen-free dead zone…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Expeditions and Travels

Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate a photo journal

Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal
Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate  a photo journal

This gallery is a photographic journal of  our sailing trip from Oxford Md, on the Choptank River that flows into middle section of the Chesapeake Bay to our home port of Greenwich, NJ on the Cohansey River which flows into the upper Delaware Bay .  Our trip started on December 28,2015 and ended 4 days later.  Our Sailboat is a Cape Dory 26, a classic full keel  Alberg design with standing headroom and room enough for two on a trip.  It’s a very sweet boat. In the following post this author describes impressions while sailing from one powerful and beautiful…

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climate change, Science

Adapting to a new world

sunset over a marsh

The Paris Climate Agreement provides us with a historic and far reaching consensus that will help us adapt to a changing world. It could literally save our lush, productive yet fragile planet.  The agreement rests on its “shall” and “should” tasks.  The difference is important.  Imagine your choking on a chicken bone and your wife says, “I should give you the heimlich maneuver”.  Shall would be more appropriate.  In the agreement the “shells” would get us to limiting the world temperature increase to 2 degrees C (3.5 degrees F).  This would stop the climate from going off the rails.     But more…

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conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife

Murder and Mayham on Delaware Bay

IMG_4534 (1)

The winter sun moves low across the Delaware Bayshore indifferent to the violence that has sadly become commonplace only a few miles away.  This uninhabited sandy beach and the expansive marsh behind gradually give way to  an unpeopled forest and productive farm land all the way to Bridgeton, NJ.  In stark contrast, this run-down small city is an epicenter of violence that rings the bayshore.  At least in this respect the bay is like few other natural areas in North America.  Eleven people were murdered in Cumberland County in 2014, which typically sees 10 or more a year.  Bridgeton, the county seat, is one…

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Conserving Wildlife, Science

Changing the World’s Climate

changing the world

The world is changing and not in a good way. For people of my age its a familiar whine: kids are getting smarter or dumber; parents work too much, or not enough;  politicians won’t solve the nation’s problems or… politicians won’t solve the nation’s problems. But when a conservationist says the world is changing in a bad way, she means it literally. Every day the world’s climate grows ever more dangerous and catastrophic.  Alarming evidence grows. Stephen Hanson, the retired NASA climate expert first to bring the world’s attention to the danger of climate change, just published a new paper…

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

2015 Delaware Bay Shorebird Banding Season Ends

Life on Delaware Bay by Jan van der Kam

All our efforts to help shorebirds on Delaware Bay this year couldn’t have been better rewarded – nearly every red knot left the bay in good condition and in one of the earliest departures in the 19 years of the Project. We counted just over 24,000 knots in our aerial count of the entire Bayshore on May 26th. Just two days later, most had left and we could find only a few hundred, feeding on eggs like human shoppers feed on bargains at a half-price sale. By May 31st, virtually all were gone, along with the ruddy turnstones, sanderlings and…

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