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Delaware Bay

climate change

Why Not Climate Change?

    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

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

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

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

    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

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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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Expeditions and Travels

Two Bays Two Worlds Same Fate

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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conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife

Murder and Mayham on Delaware Bay

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

2015 Delaware Bay Shorebird Banding Season Ends

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

The Red Knots “Vote with their Wings”

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 Fuego, the…

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

19,077 Red Knots Observed in New Jersey

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 come 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

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

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 we expect…

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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

2015 Shorebird Migration and Horseshoe Crab Spawn on Delaware Bay

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 and birds…

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