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Delaware Bay

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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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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conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife

Murder and Mayham on Delaware Bay

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

Shorebirds Arrive on Restored Delaware Bay Beaches

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After a week of lovely spring weather, strong westerly winds blowing over a still cold sea reasserted winter’s hold on our beaches. Last week, the machine operators wore short sleeves, today they pulled out the camo down and Carhard woolen caps. I dug out my Patagonia down hoodie. The sea looked angry as wave after wave assaulted our new beach at Fortescue – three days so far. We lost sand but as Steve Hafner says, “it probably stayed in the profile” or within the beaches designed shape. Let’s hope so. The impact of the wind today demonstrates the importance of giving the horseshoe crabs and the birds choices for…

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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

New Beaches Are Shared By Fishermen And Shorebirds Alike

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Both construction teams work hard to get done as soon as is possible. Both are on track to be done late this week, in good time for the horseshoe crab spawn and shorebird stopover. Last Thursday, the water temperature hovers around 9 degrees C (48 degrees F) which is slightly lower than previous years. The crab spawn is in part triggered by a water temperature of 14-15 degree C (59 degrees F) so the spawn is still a few weeks away. Last year, it began in the first week of May. Getting done on time depends on no emerging problems, and working out…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Restoring Habitat

Sand and Spring on the Delaware Bayshore

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The movement of sand on the Delaware Bay remains a mystery to coastal geologists. Unlike the Atlantic coast, where currents create a longshore drift which pushes sand generally southward, Delaware bay sand moves at the whim of both bay and creek currents and prevailing winds. The sand on any beach can move differently than adjacent beaches and sometimes in different directions on the same beach. This is what Steve Hafner of Stockton University suspects will happen with the sand at Fortescue. A small point made by the bending road, divides the beach and may determine if sand moves to the north towards the…

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