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shorebird ecology

conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Constructing Fortescue and Thompson’s Beach in 2015

The construction teams in Fortescue and Thompson’s are now moving as fast as possible to finish the restoration work before the arrival of the horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay. Each company follows a different procedure for building Fortescue and Thompson’s beaches. At Fortescue, the town rebuilt an existing berm of rubble that protected the beach road after Hurricane Sandy destroyed ​the berm​. They then capped it with unformed concrete. H4’s excavator moves slowly down the reformed berm to load sand on the inter​-​tidal beach to create an out-of-tide roadway for the bulldozer (see video above). Subsequent sand is used to…

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

Fortescue and Thompson’s Beach: “It’s all labor”

In the video above, Humphrey Sitters counts 16,000 red knots on Egg Island Point, just east of our new beach. The flock is the largest concentration in the hemisphere. The construction of Fortescue Beach has finally reached that early stage known to most people in construction where they say “it’s all labor”. The early logistical problems have been ironed out and our goal is simple, to get as much sand onto the beach as fast as is possible. On Tuesday and Wednesday, H4 hauled over 4000 tons of sand. The beach gradually takes shape. Boomer Huen and Eric Johnson use…

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

Fortescue Beach Takes Form on Delaware Bay

Fortescue beach begins to take form as a constant line of 24 ton trucks deliver sand and H4 operators lift it over the sea wall and onto the intertidal edge of the sea. On Monday, March 23, they hauled 2,000 tons. The benefit of our work became apparent on Tuesday, March 24, as the high tide washed against the derelict bulkheads that once protected this road south out of Fortescue connecting it to Raybin’s Beach. In the clip above Boomer Huen’s bulldozer heroically extends the high tide line out against the Delaware Bay waves lap the new shoreline. When horseshoe…

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Restoration Continues, Regardless of Snow

Both projects, Thompson’s Beach and South Fortescue Beach continued under a cold and very wet snow storm this past Friday (March 20, 2015). Just the five mile difference made for snowfall on Fortescue, but rain on Thompson’s. With rubble removed in the first section of Fortescue beach, Boomer Huen started building the beach on South Fortescue. With 7 trucks carrying loads of sand from Ricci Brothers Sand Plan, we were able to place over 1,000 yards of sand. The geographical orientation of this new beach will be similar to those on the Cape May peninsula including North and South Reeds Beach….

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Work at Fortescue Beach Begins

With the help of the New Jersey Division of Land Use Regulation, we were cleared to work on Fortescue Beach last Friday, March 20, 2015. It’s a big project! We will be moving over 40,000 yards of sand, nearly twice as much as was used in 2013 on the five beaches between Reeds Beach to Pierce’s Point. Restoring South Fortescue Beach will be vital to achieving the goals of our project. The most important goal is to remove the threat posed by a rubble strewn shoreline. The rubble served as a stopgap attempt to protect the road that connects Fortescue…

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Bird Study, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Thompson’s Beach Restoration is Underway

Earlier this month, this season’s restoration work began at Thompson’s Beach. Wickberg Marine restored the road out to the Beach. The road once served the community of Thompson’s Beach, a small bayside enclave of Maurice River Township. After a series of punishing storms, the State DEP and Maurice River Township gained control of the small overwashed beach community and removed the houses. Two years ago, the DEP’s Bureau of Coastal Engineering and NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife removed much of the rubble that residents once used to protect their homes from angry Delaware Bay storms, but left a significant portion…

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Brazil, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology

Down to Work

We spent most of our first day in the field getting ready for the second day in the field. A trapping expedition differs significantly from most ecological investigations in that failure is a real possibility. Usually when a biologist goes into the field, he or she looks for or counts something. If there is nothing to be seen or counted, it might be disappointing, but it’s still data. In other words, zeroes count. When trapping birds, however, there is no such thing as a zero. If we are unable to catch birds, it’s simply failure. Cannon netting in a remote…

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Arctic, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife tracking

Arctic Field Notes: A Daily Log from Mark Peck

Ever wonder what field scientists record in their notebooks during their day-to-day work? In July 2013, biologist Mark Peck (Royal Ontario Museum) was one of five scientists who traveled to Southampton Island, a large island in northern Canada, in search of nesting red knots and other shorebirds. His daily field notes and photographs provide a fascinating look at the trials and tribulations faced by the scientists seeking to protect these imperiled species. 1 July 2013 – Left at 20:30 for Winnipeg. Arrived at 22:30 and checked into the Hampton Inn. Larry Niles, Mandy Dey, Steve Gates, and Rick Lathrop came…

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Arctic, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife tracking

Our Last Day in the Arctic

We woke to a brilliant sunny day on our last day on Knot Plateau, a perfect contrast to the penetratingly cold rain of the day before. While Rick, Steve, and Mandy broke camp, Mark and I drove our ATV out to the two knot nests we had found two days prior. As we had only banded one parent at each nest, we were hoping to find the unbanded birds this time. On the way we saw our first (and last) polar bear. When it saw us coming, he slowly lumbered off in the opposite direction, posing no threat to us….

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shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology

The beaches of Brigantine Natural Area are covered in shorebirds

Looking north on Brigantine Natural Area. Looking south from Brigantine Natural Area, NJ.Most of the shorebirds are semipalmated sandpipers and semipalmated plovers with some knot ( in the foreground) and sanderling.Encouraged by the reports of shorebirds at Stone Harbor,  I drove out to North Brigantine Natural Area, NJ, one of the most important southbound migratory shorebird stopovers on the east coast.  This Natural Area is oddly placed, just north of Atlantic City (the  casino skyline can be seen from the Natural Area) and smack in the middle of the most densely populated shoreline in the country.  Exhausted by the long…

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shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation

The early news is knot good

NJ’s shorebird team The most important variables describing the status of red knots on Delaware Bay are the size of the migrant population and the percentage of the flock that reaches 180 g, the minimum weight necessary to make it to the Arctic to breed successfully.  We knew before the May 2011 season that the number of red knots in their main wintering areas were down by as much as 30% or more.   We knew that the percentage of knots making weight is far below what it once was in the late 90’s.  This was a direct result of the…

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shorebird ecology, sustainable land use

Protection only partly done

Mark Peck of Royal Ontario Museum scans shorebirds on the Delaware BayshoreA few days ago Mark Peck and I did a shorebird survey by boat that took us to all the nooks and crannies of NJ’s Delaware Bayshore. Leaving Smokey’s Marina at Reed’s Beach, we took our 16 ft Carolina Skiff all the way to Gandys Beach on the upper Bay.   It was a stunning journey .  One can’t help but admire the results of decades of conservation that led to this mostly protected and wild shoreline.   A map of the Delaware Bayshore showing the vast tidal and non…

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shorebird ecology

what we still don’t know

Our work here on Delaware Bay has gone into hyper drive.  Surveys nearly everyday just after dawn, then trapping  and scanning the rest of the day.  As with all other years, Mandy and I are indebted to the volunteers that have come to the bay from nearby and those from South America, Australia, Great Britain.  This year we even had a volunteer from Kenya, Chege Wa KariukiPart of our banding team having dinner The knots have voted with their wings throughout the month.  First in New Jersey, then to Delaware, then back again all in the search of the best…

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shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation

new season on Delaware Bay

Curlew Sandpipers have been the great attraction of the Heislerville Impoundments but they are of great value to marsh shorebirds as a roosting area at high tide. Photo by D WelchThe red knots of Delaware Bay have returned and with them the NJ shorebird banding team.  Over the last few days, we and the DE team have counted about 3,500 knot, mostly in Delaware’s Mispillion Harbor, but about 500 in the Reeds Beach area.   We estimate only a small number of ruddy turnstones and sanderlings in the bay but NJ Audubon’s David Mizrahi reports nearly 25,000 semipalmated sandpipers and semipalmated…

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