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shorebirds

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

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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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”

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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, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Work at Fortescue Beach Begins

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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

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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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Arctic, Expeditions and Travels

The Search Continues

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The rigors of conducting field work and sleeping on therm-a-rest mattresses in unheated, low-ceilinged tents are starting to wear us out. Of course, much of this is age-related. The author of this blog, being on the older side of the crew, finds the need to get dressed in a tent the size of a refrigerator box to be the most difficult part of our field experience. Ironically Joshua, the youngest of our crew, has a small campaign tent in which he can stand. We are finally settling into a routine. The days of battling the Sutton River basin were exhausting…

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Arctic, Expeditions and Travels

Knot Plateau

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Prior to this trip, our last expedition to the Arctic was over five years ago. At the time, filmmaker Allison Argo was in the middle of producing the documentary Crash: A Tale of Two Species for the PBS series Nature, and we brought her to the site we thought would provide us with the best chance to see red knots. It had been ten years since we had visited that particular region, and we were eager to resurvey the area. But the knots were nowhere to be found. We ruminated about the sad fact that the Arctic had been depopulated…

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Arctic, Expeditions and Travels

Third Time’s a Charm to find Arctic Shorebirds

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We finally made it to knot plateau! Anyone else would have looked at this barren tundra and wondered what all the fuss was about, but our team fist-bumped with pride. After three tries, we had finally made it – and as it turned out, this final approach was the easiest. Rick found a north/south ridge of high ground about 3 miles to the west of our camp on the Sutton River. Starting on the west side of the river basin, we began our journey on the same side of the river as the plateau, so we didn’t have the difficulty…

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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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Arctic, Expeditions and Travels

On to the Land – the Search for Arctic Knots

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We left yesterday with high hopes of getting out to the plateau of barren tundra where we previously located 10 knots with transmitters over a five-year period. Remotely, the area looks like habitat similar to our 2000-2005 study area – slightly higher elevation than most of Southampton Island’s tundra, less than 5% vegetation, and inland at least 5 km. Unlike our study area, however, we can get to the plateau without a plane. We left Coral Harbor by the newly created road two days ago, and yesterday we set out to get the rest of the way by ATV. We…

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Arctic, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Polar Bears and Roadless Tundra

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We left Coral Harbor on Wednesday afternoon to find knot habitat in the interior portion of Southampton Island. We left town with three ATVs and a truck on what we hoped was a new access road to knot habitat. The road out of town had always existed, but only went about 10 miles to the Kirchoffer Falls, a wonderful feature seen mostly by residents and the modest number of people who visit the island. Recently the town extended the road, but oddly no one we could find knew how far it went or if it was passable. Ostensibly, it had…

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Arctic, Expeditions and Travels, Science

In Search of Knots

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While flying from Winnipeg to Nunavut, we focused on a strategy for finding red knot nests and adults with broods. We know from our 9 years of Arctic work that knots don’t occur randomly across the tundra landscape. Quite the opposite, they choose very specific places that distinguish knots from other Arctic nesting shorebirds. Most knots choose to nest in relatively barren tundra slightly higher in elevation than more common Arctic nesting shorebirds. The latter prefer the lush wetland tundra along the coast and in the bigger river drainages because of the abundant prey early in the season. So why…

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Arctic, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Returning to the Arctic

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The odd thing about the shorebirds of Delaware Bay is that they are not really of Delaware Bay but of the Canadian Arctic. The most important part of their lives is spent in the barren high tundra of the Arctic, in places like Southampton Island, located on the north end of Hudson Bay. We have worked in Southampton Island for 6 years studying the red knot but stopped because the decline seen in Delaware Bay was more than apparent in the Arctic – birds literally disappeared from our wilderness study site. It’s been 8 years since then, and now we…

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conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Expeditions and Travels, hunting, Uncategorized

Hunting Shorebirds in Guadeloupe

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The hunting in Guadeloupe is very different than in French Guiana.  Here hunters are better organized and command greater political power.  They are skilled at using guns of quality and most seem expert at attracting and shooting shorebirds.  In the US you might compare them to waterfowl hunters.   They manage wetlands for the hunting of shorebirds called, in English, “killing swamps”.   For over three months hunters will ring the swamps shooting at greater and lesser yellowlegs, golden plovers, stilt sandpipers and many other species.  Whimbrels are the favorite targets. Hunter shooting a shorebird in Guadeloupe In many ways you would…

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Uncategorized

the challege of the rice fields of Mana

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Knots in a rice field lost to the sea Our work in French Guiana has proven to be fruitful.   We found over 1700 red knots and at least 1000 turnstones in one location, in the rice fields of Mana.   Moreover we resighted knots with a disproportionately high number of red flags indicating they were heading to the Bahia Lomas wintering grounds in Tierra del Fuego.  We know these birds because we banded them.  With the data collected by Alexandre Vinot, a volunteer from French Guiana, and data from our geolocators caught in Delaware Bay, we can be fairly…

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