Bird Study, Brazil, rural communities

Our Brazilian Expedition – Conducting a Scientific Investigation in a Tropical Wilderness

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  Tough Conditions for Scientific Investigation   It’s hard to imagine the difficulties of people living at latitude 37 degrees north when coming to the equator in northern Brazil. It challenges even the best-prepared field investigations.  But after three days our team has not only acclimated but accomplished surveys in two separate estuaries.     The tide cut short our first day in the field.  High tide persisted longer than we expected and our survey must take place when birds forage.  Shorebirds typically forage until 1 to 2 after before high tide and start again 1-2 hours after, usually resting…

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Brazil, Expeditions and Travels

Our Brazilian Expedition – investigating the plight of shorebirds and rural people

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We leave a cold and dark NJ with mix feelings for our destination tropical Brazil.  It will be warm and sunnyish –  forecasts predict drenching thunderstorms threatening us every day of our trip.  We will explore a very new place, the ocean coast of Para, a largely unsurveyed coast known to be a wintering shorebird mecca.  At the same time, we will undergo trials experienced by few biologists.  Zeke is prevalent in Para, but recent cases of malaria are equally alarming.  Of course one must be ever vigilant for food and water pathogens.  Last year I developed food poisoning ending…

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climate change, faith, Science

Having Faith in Action on Climate Change?

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What hope do we have now? A Trump presidency has so many implications for our world, it would be hard to know where to start. For at least half the country it would be a path of fear, lost ideals and calamities. But of all potential misfortunes that could befall us,  the worst will almost certainly ride behind all the others. The delay could make action to solve the problem of global warming too little too late. Climate may defeat us. Soon the string of climate firsts will add up to a national awareness. The unprecedented and ferocious floods,  fires, tornadoes,…

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climate change

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

the birds lift away to the arctic

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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

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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

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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

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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

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    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

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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

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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

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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

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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
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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
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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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