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horseshoe crabs

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, 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

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

Delaware Bay Shorebird Project Continues for 2015 Season!

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, as…

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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

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

Beaches Are Growing And Reefs Are Being Built

The two beaches slowly take form but already promise better breeding habitat for horseshoe crabs. H4 adds about 2000 tons of Ricci Bros Sand every day, slowly building towards our goal of 48,000 tons on Fortescue Beach. We are now at 20,500 tons. One can now envisage the final beach and the sheer volume of sand it will take to make it. Boomer Huen running the front end loader and bulldozer pushes sand into the inter-tidal zone and the night time high tide reshapes it. Its not a loss however, the sand moves into the designed beach profile that Steve…

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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

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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Conserving Wildlife

Effective Conservation Comes With Courageous Choices

In light of the Inuits’ courageous action, let’s consider our own record on Delaware Bay. In the last 20 years or so, the Atlantic Coast fishing industry has decimated emblematic species of the Delaware Bay such as horseshoe crabs, sturgeon and weakfish. Even now, they continue to resist population restoration with a relentless political campaign to repeal the state’s moratorium on the harvest of horseshoe crabs. Our farmers and nurserymen contributed to the decimation of the bobwhite quail, the quintessential voice of South Jersey farmland wildlife. Simple changes to their method would drastically improve conditions, but even a minor hit…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Science

A recovery as slow as a horseshoe crab on a cold day

We begin our Delaware Bay Shorebird Project on both sides of the bay this week and as always, it’s a time to look at our program and see where we are and ask the question where would we like to go?  What is happening to the birds, the horseshoe crabs, are things getting better. The most recent horseshoe crabs surveys suggest there has been no improvement in horseshoe crab numbers since the ASMFC began its regulations affecting the harvest of crabs in 1998.  Moreover the survival models developed for horseshoe crab and red knots developed by a team of scientists,…

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