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red knots

Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, shorebird conservation, Uncategorized

20 Years on Delaware Bay – Shorebirds lift off to an uncertain end

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  I am reviewing a new paper by Sjoerd Duijns, a student working on the benefits of being a fat shorebird.   Still, a draft, the paper analyses data from radio-tagged red knots leaving the bay in good condition (ie fat)and finds they may leave later from Delaware Bay than lighter birds but arrive earlier in the breeding grounds because they can pick the best time to leave. They are also more likely to breed successfully and survive the Arctic breeding season to the following fall.  In other words being a fat knot on Delaware Bay makes life good. So in light…

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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, habitat management, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

2015 Delaware Bay Shorebird Banding Season Ends

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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, 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

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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

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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!

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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, as…

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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

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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Arctic, Expeditions and Travels

River Crossings

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Our second attempt to reach the knot plateau failed, but reaching the Sutton River was no small consolation. We began the day upbeat. We broke camp at the ATV trailhead used by Inuit hunters to reach into the vast Sutton floodplain. Joshua thought it might get us to the river, and at this lower reach it would be wide and shallow. Getting there would require a 15-mile ATV trip across nasty high ground and wetland tundra, but once across the river the knot plateau would only be a short jog. Our trip to the Sutton was not as difficult as…

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Bird Study, Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Tierra del Fuego – The Beauty of This Land

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After returning from Tierra del Fuego I am often asked the question is it a beautiful place? It’s not an easy question to answer; my response, at least in my head, is to ask what makes a place beautiful? I wonder: must a place have obviously awe-inspiring features like a mighty mountain, or plunging, pristine waterfall to earn our respect? Or can we appreciate land like we do most people, not with a glance but with a relationship? Are there as many scales of beauty for land as there are among people? The part of Tierra del Fuego in which…

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Bird Study, Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Tierra del Fuego – Gale Winds and Shorebirds

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Our Seventh Expedition to Tierra del Fuego: 1/20/08 Our Friday morning started by saying goodbye to Sergio and Gabriella, the veterinary students from University of Santo Thomas. Their major professor is Carmen Espoz. Carmen left the night before. We were sorry to see them go; they are hard working intelligent people who are always willing to lend a hand. Now we have a team of 7 people, small but adequate. (Carmen with her daughter Antonia.)   While working on the catch of Magellanic Oystercatchers, Ricardo found a new roost for red knot, the oddest one we had ever encountered. Shorebird…

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Uncategorized, wildlife conservation

Delaware Bay 2007- Scanning for Shorebirds on Delaware Bay

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You can tell the beginning of the season on the Delaware Bay not only by the arrival of shorebirds but the shorebird biologists. In one day, at the Philadelphia International Airport, we retrieved Pablo Lobera Alvarez and Victor Ayala Perez from Mexico, Humphrey and Philippa Sitters from the UK and Clive Minton, Susan Taylor and Peter Fullagar from Australia. Pablo and Victor study ecology under Dr. Roberto Carmona of the University of Baja California Sur. They have come to the Bay to help us and learn how to catch shorebirds to carry out similar work in Mexico. Dr. Peter Fullagar…

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Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, wildlife conservation

Shorebirds on Delaware Bay 2007

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The Shorebird Team is convening once again at Reeds Beach on the Delaware Bayshore to trap and band shorebirds during their critical stopover enroute to the Arctic. The crew arrives from all over the globe, Australia, England, Canada and New Jersey. Each member is assigned a responsibility and a tentative schedule for trapping and banding is established. At the same time a team from Stockton University is studying horseshoe crab and horseshoe crab egg densities. The film crew that followed the team in Tierra del Fuego has arrived to capture the work at the bayshore. We will start blogging from…

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