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Shorebird

Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2015, habitat management, Red Knot, Science, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

2015 Delaware Bay Shorebird Banding Season Ends

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Previous Post 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,…

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Arctic, Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2015, Expeditions and Travels, habitat management, Red Knot, Restoring Habitat, Science, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

The Red Knots “Vote with their Wings”

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Previous Post Clive Minton is fond of saying, “the knots vote with their wings” as a way of saying knots concentrate in the best places for knots. Of course it’s true, animals move to the habitats they find most suitable, nature leaves little room for anything but. Sometimes however, animals use a habitat only because they have little choice — in other words, they are making the best of a bad situation. The job of a good wildlife biologist is to understand the difference. Unfortunately, it’s often not obvious. In all the places studied by this author — Tierra del…

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Arctic, Bird Study, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2015, Expeditions and Travels, habitat management, Red Knot, Restoring Habitat, Science, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

19,077 Red Knots Observed in New Jersey

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Previous Post Despite the threatening forecast of a cold drizzle and strong winds, our team persevered to complete the first bay-wide count of this season. On the New Jersey side of Delaware Bay, we counted 19,077 red knots – the most seen in the state in a decade. With Delaware’s shorebird team recording 2,000 knots along their entire shoreline, the total knot count of 21,077 is not far from the 24,000 seasonal maximum of the last three years. This is good news in either of two completely different ways. One explanation is that perhaps most of the knots have already…

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Bird Study, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2015, habitat management, Red Knot, Restoring Habitat, Science, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

13,000 Red Knots on New Jersey’s Delaware Bay

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Previous Post We had about 13,000 knots on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Bay (an additional reported 2,000 on the Delaware side of the Bay). Yesterday, we suffered strong NW winds in excess of 20 kts and the birds virtually disappeared. Our daily survey turned up about 6,000 knots, the rest we suspect, finding refuge in Egg Island and Goshen Marshes or with a flyover to Delaware. We will know where they went today. The team will comb the Bayshore for shorebirds with a coordinated ground, boat and aerial survey. The birds gain weight in good time and…

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Bird Study, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2015, habitat management, Red Knot, Restoring Habitat, Science, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

2015 Shorebird Migration and Horseshoe Crab Spawn on Delaware Bay

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Previous Post Thousands of shorebirds now fill Delaware Bay’s beaches and marshes in a determined effort to regain lost reserves with free-for-the-taking fatty eggs of the horseshoe crab. The crab spawn began ten days ago and has gained momentum over the last week as the volume of eggs grows like a well-funded savings account. The eggs surface as each new female crab digs up egg clusters laid by other crabs or as wind-driven waves pound the always-fluid sandy beaches. At least 8,000 red knots slowly get fat on the eggs scattered on New Jersey’s Delaware Bay beaches.   Both crabs…

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Bird Study, Brazil, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2015, Expeditions and Travels, habitat management, Red Knot, Science, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Delaware Bay Shorebird Project Continues for 2015 Season!

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  The value of a shorebird stopover like Delaware Bay can be seen in the shaky cam movie by this author.  Red knots – some recently arrived after a grueling 6,000-mile flight over 6 days of continuous flying – arrive on the Bayshore desperate for food. Over the last 10,000 years, the species has evolved to fly directly to the Bay to feed on the eggs of the horseshoe crab. The 450-million year-old crab – which is actually in the spider family – crawls ashore and lays pin-sized eggs about 6 inches deep in the sand. When there are many crabs,…

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Bird Study, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2015, habitat management, Red Knot, Restoring Habitat, Science, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

The 2015 Delaware Bay Shorebird Project Begins!

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Our 2015 Delaware Bay Shorebird Project began on one of the hottest early-May weekends in memory. Clive Minton, an English-expatriate Australian, and I began the project with an early morning survey of each bay beach – Reeds, Cooks, Kimbles, Pierces, Rutgers, Norburys, Villas – dripping sweat and swatting biting gnats as though it was early June, not early May. The sudden burst of summer weather warmed the bay waters, triggering our first horseshoe crab spawn providing sufficient eggs for newly arriving birds. The birds, on the other hand, followed a more normal schedule. We counted only 400 knots, a smaller…

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Brazil, Brazil 2014, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

Two Countries One Problem (cont.) – A Problem in Common

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Previous Post Historically in the United States, an alliance of sportsmen and animal lovers formed coalitions that aided politicians to get the job done. Now sportsmen are more concerned by gun rights and conservative politics than their own wildlife (bobwhite quail for example), and the people who love wild animals pretend they have no useful role in their conservation and sit by idly paying nothing for the privilege of their recreation. Both groups buy into industry-led efforts to draw conservationists into fratricidal bickering over issues that divide, as they do in most issues of importance in our nation. From my…

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Brazil, Brazil 2014, Conserving Wildlife, Red Knot, Science, Shorebird

Two Countries One Problem – Industry Uncontrolled

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Previous Post The contrast between the states of New Jersey in the United States and Maranhão in Brazil cannot be greater. In Maranhão, Brazil, the small town of Panaquatira, the larger town of São José de Ribamar, and the city of São Luís would shock most visitors from the U.S. They lack proper sanitation, litter fouls most roadsides and intertidal areas, theft and violence abound, and by all appearances poverty pervades all but the most exclusive communities. New Jersey suffers the same problems, but on a much smaller scale. Here in Brazil, most people endure these harsh conditions while only…

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Brazil, Brazil 2014, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Science, Shorebird

Maranhão Lost and Found

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Previous Post We knew it was too good to be true. On the first day of trapping, we set our net in a section of the Panaquatira beach close to a site where we caught 85 ruddy turnstones last year. Our success depends most on catching turnstones, and most importantly, re-catching the ones we affixed with geolocators last year. We knew the geolocators had accumulated a full year of movement data and hoped to catch more than a few during our trip. With this effort, our team could create a new emphasis on the migratory ecology of ruddy turnstones, a…

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Brazil, Brazil 2014, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Science, Shorebird

Curupu: Kindness and Grim Deprivation

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Previous Post Last year, our work at Curupu went off without a hitch. Curupu is an island just off the coast of Panaquatira, composed mostly of mangrove swamp and miles of unpopulated sandy beach. Two years ago Guy Morrison, then with the Canadian Wildlife Service, performed an aerial survey of the island and found nearly 800 red knots. Last February, after catching ruddy turnstones on Panaquatira, we took the hour-long boat trip to Curupu Island, and in fairly short order found Guy’s knots and caught 110 of them. We were off the island by the next day. And when we…

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Brazil, Brazil 2014, Red Knot, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology

Down to Work

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Previous Post 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…

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Brazil, Brazil 2014, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Science, Shorebird

Good Water is Hard to Find

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Previous Post We finally reached Panaquatira beach just as the tropical sun fell like a stone, leaving us under a brilliant starry sky. The several-hour trip from São Luís to Panaquatira through the sprawling city of São José de Ribamar once again left me sad and discouraged. The roads shift from dirt to pothole-strewn asphalt without warning. The houses and commercial establishments look like there was once prosperity, but it has since been lost – or everyone just gave up trying. The disparity of income is obvious and frightening. Slums of unimaginable squalor lie adjacent to wealthy enclaves with high,…

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Brazil, Brazil 2014, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Science, Shorebird

Braving Brazil

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When most people think of Brazil, they think of Rio de Janeiro, a modern city that will soon host the World Cup, and in a few years, the Summer Olympics. Or they may think of the Amazon jungle, and all the wonders of a wilderness alive with fascinating wildlife and plants that can found in no other place. Except for an eight-hour layover in Rio, we are not going to these places. Instead, we will go to a tiny town on the northern equatorial coast near the bustling city of São Luís, about 250 miles east of the mouth of…

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