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shorebirds

Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2018

The Horseshoe Crab Spawn Continues, Shorebirds Reach Flight Weights – Restoration Is Possible

red knots on egg island NJ
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Horseshoe crabs expanded breeding into neap tides Read the previous post The horseshoe crabs extended their breeding period into the neap tide phase after the cold weather of mid-May decreased water temperature during the spring tides.  This is good news because most experts expect breeding during the full or new moon tides ( called spring tides) The crabs roughly require a water temperature of about 59 degrees F before breeding begins in earnest.  Crabs still breed at a lower temperature, but many more will breed above the temperature threshold. At the same time, crabs also look for spring tides, the…

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Delaware Bay

Early days on Delaware Bay – Horseshoe Crabs Just Beginning To Breed Just as Shorebirds Arrive

shorebirds in a net
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Horseshoe Crabs Just Beginning To Breed Just as Shorebirds Arrive   Delaware Bay horseshoe crab eggs reach sufficient levels to give red knots and other shorebirds a good start on the fat they need to fuel the last leg of their yearly journey in the first week of the stopover ( May 12-19).  Knots need at least 180 grams to fly to the Arctic and breed successfully.  This week we caught birds that weighed 93 grams which is 30 grams below fat-free weight.  These birds had just arrived from a long flight, probably from Tierra del Fuego, Chile or Maranhão,…

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Expeditions and Travels, Tierra del Fuego 2018

Tierra del Fuego – An Island of Contrasts

mountains, chile
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 Seven years ago in Tierra del Fuego Seven years ago we finished our last expedition to Tierra del Fuego, Chile, the wintering area of the red knots and other Arctic nesting shorebirds. We expected to return. Instead, an 11-year-long investigation aimed at understanding and protecting an ecologically important and fragile place ended. For a field biologist, ending a long-term study is like ending a long-standing personal relationship. A good field biologist not only understands the ecology of a place but loves it by seeking more protection for its fragile parts. Once the connection ends, one longs for the beloved land,…

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Arctic, Expeditions and Travels, Tierra Del Fuego 2000

Our Expeditions to the Arctic and Chile in search of red knots – 2000-2004: An introduction written 17 years later

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Following are a series of blogs I wrote 15 years ago while leading expeditions to the Arctic tundra and the pampas of  Tierra del Fuego (TDF).. We were following the wandering life of the red knot, a shorebird that migrates 20,000 miles every year from one end of the earth to the other, just to survive.  On it’s return from wintering sites like Tierra del Fuego, Brazil’s Maranhao, or Florida’s Gulf coast, most red knots stop for a few weeks on Delaware Bay.  You’ll see blogs in this site that describe this amazing wildlife spectacle shorebirds hosing down horseshoe crabs…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay

Greater Expectations For Wildlife

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Hope For More Tucked away among some long forgotten and useless legal papers, I found a newspaper clipping from July 13, 1988, on NJ’s Bald Eagle restoration program. The uncredited article for the Beacon, a defunct local paper serving Cape May County,  described our efforts to bring Bald Eagles back to the Delaware Bay.  As a young wildlife biologist for the Endangered Species Program, (and still sporting a full head of hair), I piloted this effort. It was a grim time for Eagles then.  After decades of decline, the estimated original population of nearly 30 pairs, plummeted to just one…

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conservation, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, shorebird conservation

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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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2017, Red Knot, Shorebird, shorebird conservation

20 Years on Delaware Bay: Scarcity and Abundance -Shorebirds Near the Finish Line

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Previous Post Our latest catch of red knots and ruddy turnstones two days ago ( May 27)  suggests 2017 to be one of the most challenging years of our 20 years of work on Delaware Bay.  It challenged the birds for certain. For example, as of two days, ago ( May 27th) average weights of red knots remain mired in the mid 160’s when it should be in the 180-gram range.    This seems a minor difference but to red knots, it means a flight through the cold and often inhospitable north country of Canada and dropping out of the…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2017, Red Knot, Shorebird, shorebird conservation

20 Years of Shorebird Conservation and Research on Delaware Bay

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A Monumental Work of Conservation This year marks the 21st year of the Delaware Bay Shorebird Project. As one of the longest running shorebird conservation projects in the world, the only one of its kind in the US, we wanted to memorialize this monumental work. To do so we convened a daylong series of presentations by scientists and managers from all over the world who have worked on the bay.  Here are the abstracts. They are worth a look by nearly anyone interested in shorebirds and Delaware Bay.   DelawareBay_Workshop_Program&Abstract_CWF The presentations ranged widely. We heard talks diving deep into the…

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Bird Study, Brazil, Brazil 2017, Red Knot, Shorebird

Our Brazilian Expedition – Trapping Shorebirds in Panaquatira

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Previous Post The capture of Arctic nesting shorebirds first brought us to Brazil in 2013.  We also brought 125 geolocators and caught both ruddy turnstones and red knots, attaching 85 on the former and 30 on the latter.  But we also came to create a new perspective on shorebirds in this place, one of the most important shorebird habitats in the world. For all intents and purposes, shorebird work in this area started In the mid-1980’s, when Canadian biologists, Guy Morrison and Ken Ross surveyed from an airplane, the entire coast of South America.  In this monumental and dangerous survey,…

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Brazil, Brazil 2017, Red Knot, rural communities, Shorebird

Our Brazilian Expedition – The Rights of Traditional Communities

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Previous Post Over the last few days of our expedition, we left the state of Para and flew to Sao Luis in the adjacent state of Maranhao.  There we begin the next phase of our work, trapping red knots, ruddy turnstones and other species, as we have done since 2014.     Traditional Communities Have Rights But prior to leaving Para, while we stayed in the village of Apiu Salvatore, the fishermen asked to meet with Max.  He hadn’t planned it, so at first, the reason was unknown. The fishermen of the village knew Max represented ICMBio, and that Apiu Salvatore…

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Bird Study, Brazil, Brazil 2017, Red Knot, rural communities, Shorebird

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

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Previous Post 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…

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Brazil, Brazil 2017, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

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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Arctic, Arctic 2001, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

Arctic Shorebirds – Our second expedition 2001 – July 15

searching for knots
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Previous Post   Bearing Arms We must be among the few biologists who study the habits of innocent tiny bird chicks while armed. Because two bears set up temporary residence within sight of our esker we must now split into only two groups, each with shotguns. Our fifth bear, massive and slow, hauled himself over the ridge south of camp, lay down, and slept for the next three days. He slumbered near two of our three instrumented birds with broods, leaving little chance to work on them. Our sixth bear rested near the south ridge close to our only other…

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Arctic, Arctic 2002, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

Arctic Shorebirds – Our third expedition 2002 – June 30

red knot nest
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Previous Post Sunny Day Dark Outcome I can’t imagine the sun shines more brightly anywhere else in the world than it does on a clear day on the tundra. With no wind and no clouds the sun warmed us until we were compelled to work in short sleeve shirts. Although our spiritual beliefs ranged widely, we were all thankful to the same spirit on that warm day. In contrast to the day of the 50 mph winds, we felt like we had taken a trip to the Caribbean. Our luck with the birds took the opposite twist. We had delayed…

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Arctic, Arctic 2002, Expeditions and Travels

Arctic Shorebirds – Our third expedition 2002 – June 25

tents in the Arctic tundra
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Previous Post   Knots Usually Nest on Eskers  and We Endure an Arctic Summer Storm After successfully surveying the area surrounding our main esker we decided to tackle the esker to the southeast. Between the two, we found two pairs of sanderlings who were not yet nesting in the same area as the two found last year. One of those birds was banded on the Delaware Bay, thus proving that our study area is populated with sanderlings that come through the bay. Along the south esker we found only two displaying knots presumably indicating nests. We decided to return later…

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