Conserve Wildlife Blog

May 28th, 2015

Help Clean-up the Barnegat Bay Watershed!

Barnegat Bay Blitz set for Wednesday, June 3, 2015

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

Barnegat Bay

Concerned about the health of the Barnegat Bay ecosystem? Consider participating in a day of action for the Bay! The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will be hosting its next Barnegat Bay Blitz clean-up day on Wednesday, June 3.


You can join thousands of volunteers as they fan out across the watershed, which includes all of Ocean County amd parts of Monmouth County, to clean up the Barnegat Bay Watershed and spread awareness about the people pollution impacting the Bay. Clean-up events are happening in all 37 municipalities!


To register for a clean-up, visit DEP’s website.


Barnegat Bay Blitz highlights include:

  • DEP Commissioner Bob Martin will be kicking off this year’s Barnegat Bay Blitz at the iconic Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. Hundreds of volunteers will gather at this one location to learn about the Bay and start a day full of awesome stewardship activities. Take part in the fun at 10 AM on June 3rd at the Lighthouse! To volunteer, visit DEP’s website.
  • In the middle of Barnegat Bay, there are many small islands called Sedges. These islands are home to a number of species of plants and animals, but unfortunately are impacted by litter that the tide washes in. Volunteers by boat, kayak and standup paddle board will make their way out to many of these islands, including Island Beach State Park, Seaside Heights and Brick to sweep them clean of debris. Get involved!
  • It’s not just the bayfront communities that impact Barnegat Bay. Communities miles and miles inland also play a role. After all, we are all downstream! That is why at the Barnegat Bay Blitz, volunteers will work to clean up all over the watershed, from inland areas of Plumsted to the barrier islands. In Plumsted, a farming community, volunteers include more than just people! Llamas will also join the crew to help haul out trash and debris that volunteers collect from the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management area. To make friends with llamas, register for the Plumsted clean-up on DEP’s website.

We hope to see you on Wednesday, June 3, for DEP’s next Barnegat Bay Blitz!


Questions? Feel free to contact:

May 28th, 2015

Photo From the Field: Frosted Elfins in Cape May County

Surveying for a Rare and Elusive Butterfly

By: Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist and Volunteer Manager

Last week ENSP Biologist, Robert Somes and I surveyed a site in Cape May County for the New Jersey threatened butterfly the Frosted Elfin. We found a few flying around near their host plant Batpisia and were lucky to see a female ovipositing eggs.

Frosted Elfin with recently deposited egg on Baptisia plant@Rober Somes

Frosted Elfin with recently oviposited egg on Baptisia plant@ Robert Somes

Learn more:


Larissa Smith is the Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

May 27th, 2015

Delaware Bay Shell-a-Bration Captured on Video

South Reeds Beach Oyster Reef Event Filmed by Local Delaware Bay Producer

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

A record number of Red Knots were counted on New Jersey’s Delaware Bay this year, in part because of innovative restoration projects like our South Reeds Beach oyster reef.


Over 130 volunteers and veterans worked alongside Conserve Wildlife Foundation and American Littoral Society to establish a near-shore whelk shell bar at South Reeds Beach in Cape May Court House on the Delaware Bayshore in early April.


Shorebirds, like the federally listed Red Knot, depend on an uninterrupted supply of horseshoe crab eggs when they stopover in Delaware Bay during their migration. In recent years, countless horseshoe crab eggs have been lost because of the devastating storms that swept away the beaches they depend on.


The oyster reef was built to prevent sand loss from wind-driven waves. The approximately 200-foot project will test whether the reef bars help reduce beach erosion and create calmer water for spawning horseshoe crabs.


Learn more about the project and our “Shell-a-Bration” event in the video above produced by Kathleen Poliski of K. Productions, LLC!


The South Reeds Beach Oyster Reef is one of the many projects that American Littoral Society and Conserve Wildlife Foundation are working on to restore the ecology and economy of the Delaware Bayshore, thanks to generous funding by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. To learn more, visit


Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

May 26th, 2015

Pondering the Plovers

Researching the Causes of Chick Loss in Piping Plovers

By: Emily Heiser, Biological Assistant

Double the fun! We were able to capture both birds in one try at this nest!

Double the fun! We were able to capture both birds in one try at this nest!

I often find myself contemplating the lives of Piping Plovers. What happened to that nest? Why did they choose that exact spot to lay their eggs? Why did those chicks disappear? Where will they go for the winter? As wildlife biologists and conservationists who spend hours and hours each summer watching them, we tend to question every aspect of the Piping Plover’s life cycle. These questions also push us to work harder and do more for this species, which is so imperiled throughout its range.


This summer, thanks to the extraordinary support of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, and along with the blessings of Conserve Wildlife Foundations’s own Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager Todd Pover, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) received the green light to proceed with a chick mortality study of Piping Plovers along New Jersey’s coast.


Funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, SUNY-ESF’s Jonathan Cohen and Michelle Stantial have teamed up once again to make some plover magic happen here in New Jersey. Having had the great privilege of working for this dynamic duo in the past, I am over the moon to be able to assist them once again.


Nest camera being readied so it can keep a watchful eye on the nest for predators at all times.

Nest camera being readied so it can keep a watchful eye on the nest for predators at all times.

The big question of this study is simple on the surface: what are the causes of chick mortality? The methods of finding those answers are much more complex. On April 15th, we kicked off another fantastic field season collecting data from Barnegat Light to Cape May. In order to determine the causes of chick loss we first need to locate nests, determine nest fate, track the adults, and then finally track the chicks. We hit the ground running and so far there are 26 active nests between all of our study sites! One of the most interesting parts of this study pertains to the cameras we are placing at a number of nests.


Our high tech plovers are now enjoying a 24/7 monitor that never bothers them, but is always watching. On more occasions than I can count, I have come across a nest that was lost in the past 10-24 hours.


We make our best guess as to what happened based on the evidence…Was it a flood? An avian predator? A mammalian predator? What happened?! It’s frustrating, but now we can know with certainty and we can learn much more about the threats Piping Plovers face on their breeding grounds.

A male piping plover in "holding pen" awaiting his debut sporting his new bands and transmitter to be used for tracking.

A male piping plover in “holding pen” awaiting his debut sporting his new bands and transmitter to be used for tracking.


Another important component of this project revolves around the banding and nano-tagging the adults. It is essential to the study that we are able to determine survival and movement of the adults. So far we have been able to band 24 adults, with 10 of those also receiving a transmitter. There are two telemetry towers between our study sites. These towers are able to pick up multiple radio-tagged birds and track of them day and night.


Interestingly, in a previous study developed by SUNY-ESF adult female Piping Plovers spent much of the evening away from the nest and leave the males to do all of the nocturnal incubating! The most advantageous part of these towers will, in theory, be able to tell us what happens to the chicks. Each chick will receive a tiny transmitter and as depressing as it may seem, those towers can tell us the speed and trajectory a chick was carried away from the site by a predator.


My vote was to give the chicks an iPhone and shoot me a text when they were in danger, but that doesn’t seem to be possible…yet.


I am not sure there will ever come a day when I am not pondering the lives of Piping Plovers, but I believe that science and research will continue to supply more answers. I believe that this particular study will contribute to a greater understanding of these birds, and on a personal level, I believe it will enable me to become a better steward and manager of all New Jersey’s beach nesting birds.


We look forward to bringing spectacular photos and updates whenever we can, so stayed tuned for more pondering of plovers!

Learn more:

Emily Heiser is the Biological Assistant for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.


May 26th, 2015

Twins! Two osprey eggs hatch overnight!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Overnight two osprey eggs hatched at the Osprey Cam nest inside Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in Oceanville on day 40 of incubation. Ospreys exhibit asynchronous hatching or they hatch in the order they are laid. This ensures that the oldest and strongest young survive if there would ever be a shortage of prey. The third egg should hatch within the next 2 days.

You can tell when osprey eggs hatch by the behavior of the sitting adult. They sit higher, with their wings down and they are a bit more concerned with the young that sit beneath them. Young are born semi-altricial which means that they are downy and can open their eyes, but they require very close parental care.

Two osprey eggs hatched overnight on May 25-26th at Forsythe NWR in Oceanville.

Two osprey eggs hatched overnight on May 25-26th at Forsythe NWR in Oceanville.

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