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conservation

conservation

Choosing Extinction

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previous post “Tierra del Fuego an island of contrast” 83 Red Knots and A Study Begins We caught 83 red knots today along the edge of the Straits of Magellan. We did this with a house-sized net propelled by powerful cannons loaded with black powder. It happened fast. I yelled “3,2,1 fire!”, and our team of 10 biologists scrambled to the edge of the cold wind-tortured southern sea. We spent tense minutes that seemed hours extracting the birds from the net before gently tucking them into their temporary but warm burlap keeping cages. After nearly a week of preparations and…

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conservation, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, shorebird conservation

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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conservation

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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conservation

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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conservation

Why Not Climate Change?

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    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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Chile, conservation, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird, Tierra Del Fuego 2002

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – 2002: Introduction

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In our third trip to Tierra Del Fuego, we will continue assessing the status of wintering red knots with a international team of biologists from Chile, Argentina, US, Canada, and Australia. We do this to accomplish two major conservation goals. The first goal is to help focus attention on the important concentration areas for wintering birds like Bahia Lomas in Chile, Bahia San Sebastion in Argentina, and the Atlantic Coast beach of Rio Grande in Argentina. Our second goal is to determine the population numbers and the age ratio of the wintering flocks in Bahia Lomas, which accounts for a…

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Bird Study, conservation, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2016, Red Knot, Science, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology

Shorebirds out in the cold

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Previous Post 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…

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conservation, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Expeditions and Travels

Inuit Wisdom on Conservation

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A long way from home In July of last year, we took a trip from my home in Greenwich, NJ to the small Arctic town of Coral Harbor in Southampton Island in search of red knots.  It 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…

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conservation, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Machi and Goshen’s last flight to Guadeloupe was not forgotten

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  The attached video by Amanda Dey, starts with shots fired at shorebirds in a shooting swamp on the French island of Guadeloupe . It was at this site that two whimbrels were shot last year. The two birds, named Machi and Goshen, were outfitted with satellite transmitters by William and Mary Biologists Bryan Watts and Flecher Smith. The two whimbrels fought different storms, one a hurricane, the other a tropical storm, to reach safety on Guadeloupe, as do thousands of other shorebirds including red knots, ruddy turnstones, greater and lesser yellowlegs, golden plovers and more. Upon arrival they eventually…

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conservation, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Expeditions and Travels, hunting

Hunting Shorebirds in Guadeloupe

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The hunting in Guadeloupe is very different than in French Guiana.  Here hunters are better organized and command greater political power.  They are skilled at using guns of quality and most seem expert at attracting and shooting shorebirds.  In the US you might compare them to waterfowl hunters.   They manage wetlands for the hunting of shorebirds called, in English, “killing swamps”.   For over three months hunters will ring the swamps shooting at greater and lesser yellowlegs, golden plovers, stilt sandpipers and many other species.  Whimbrels are the favorite targets. Hunter shooting a shorebird in Guadeloupe In many ways you would…

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conservation

the challege of the rice fields of Mana

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Knots in a rice field lost to the sea Our work in French Guiana has proven to be fruitful.   We found over 1700 red knots and at least 1000 turnstones in one location, in the rice fields of Mana.   Moreover we resighted knots with a disproportionately high number of red flags indicating they were heading to the Bahia Lomas wintering grounds in Tierra del Fuego.  We know these birds because we banded them.  With the data collected by Alexandre Vinot, a volunteer from French Guiana, and data from our geolocators caught in Delaware Bay, we can be fairly…

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conservation, French Guiana, Guadeloupe

Hunting Shorebirds

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I owe my carreer to the sport of hunting.  As a young man, barely 12 year old, my father and I hunted pheasants, squirrels, rabbits and deer.   I have to say for my part mostly without success ( my father was a much better hunter),  but i will always remember the thrill of the hunt, the profund experience of killing an animal and satisfaction of eating my valued prey, enjoying all over again the experience of the day.   I hunted all my life, stopping only because my career gave me other ways of pursuing animals,  now it is…

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conservation

the bay by the city

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San Francisco evokes an image that is all its own.  The city and the surrounding landscape, that includes lovely places like Napa Valley as well as powerful economic engines like the Oakland waterfront and Silicon Valley, is a wonderful expression of how nature can fit within a human-dominated environment.  But deep in the bowels of this wonderful place is an unfamiliar feature, a spectacle really, witnessed only by the most determined. The industrial beating heart of the bay area surrounds south San Francisco Bay, where over a million shorebirds winter or stage each year.  Starting just below the Oakland bridge…

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conservation

burying our political differences for conservation

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In my last four blogs, I pointed to the collapse of two very different species, the red knot and bobwhite quail.   Most know they have very different life histories — one migrates to the other end of the world while the quail never leaves home.  Few would know these two birds are the concern of disparate political constituencies; hunters defend quail, bird watchers defend red knots.   That both species have declined, despite this diverse constituency, points to significant failure of the American conservation system and the need for new and transformational approaches. I suggested in my last blog that one…

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conservation

the decline of quail and red knots – what does it say about conservation?

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In my last two blogs (here and here) I have described the separate plight of red knots and bobwhite quail, two birds at the opposite ends of life history strategies: one a homebody who wants to go no further than their own breeding territory, the other flying as far from their territory as one can in this big round world. Quail produce young with abandon hoping sheer numbers will overcome the suffering and loss that is their lot in life. Knots produce a relative few offspring banking on the virtues of a long life as the key to the survival…

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