Conserve Wildlife Blog

June 26th, 2015

Impacts from Severe Weather minimal

Nesting ospreys fared well from June 23rd storms on B. Bay

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

We had some pretty insane weather blow through on Tuesday evening. I saw it first hand while driving to Long Beach Island to visit some relatives in town. The storm front brought high winds and driving rain to the area. The National Weather Service has even declared that there was even a water spout in Brant Beach (which was right where I was driving on the LBI Blvd. southward). Winds gusted to 70-80mph blowing all sorts of debris (and lawn furniture) across the road. I immediately pulled over to where I was protected from the wind. While I sat there I thought of all the osprey nests out on the bay with young in them…

Photo by Ben Wurst

One is better than none! Photo by Ben Wurst

At this time of year almost all nests have young. They range in age from only hatchlings to 4 week old nestlings. Some can be easily blown from shallow or weakly built nests and can be easily blown from the top of nesting platforms. This has happened in the past (in 2012 when we had a “derecho” blow through the area in late June) and almost half the young present were blown from their nests (in Absecon).

To get a better idea of what we experienced, I asked Jonathan Carr, with Weather NJ, what we saw. This would also give me a better idea of what to expect when conducted post-storm surveys. “What we saw in SNJ on Tuesday was a bow echo as evident by radar signature. A macroburst hit SWNJ which generated substantial straight line winds that fueled the system all the way to the coast. In addition, multiple rotation signatures were picked up via velocity analysis which sparked the tornado warnings in perfect alignment from PA through SWNJ and ultimately the Jersey Shore. The NWS officially ruled the incident near Brant Beach a waterspout but little damage was done from such. All damage across SNJ was again, from straight line wind gusts which reached 80mph in several locations. Harvey Cedars actually clocked a 92mph wind gust. I wasn’t surprised given that instability and wind parameters were screaming for this to happen in the prior 24 hours, especially with the cold front trigger moving through. These type of winds are disastrous for any coastal wildlife or nesting grounds with open exposures.”

With that news on the weather front, I knew we’d have young ospreys on the ground. On Wednesday I got my first report from Osprey watchers Ray and Leslee on Cedar Run Dock Rd. They noticed the adults acting funny, who were now on the ground and not on the nest (where they were before the storm). I gave Leslee permission to walk out to the nest. She found two 3 week old young on the ground. I had plans that day so I couldn’t make it there until 9pm. But when I met Leslee and Ray the nestlings were still on the ground. We picked them up and put them back into the nest (and we also fed a good amount of mosquitoes!!)

Four stripes!! Photo by Ben Wurst

Four stripes!! Photo by Ben Wurst

The following day we rallied to get out on our boat to conduct some more “post-storm surveys,” the first of the season. We checked nests from Bonnet Island to Loveladies and Barnegat. A total of 18 active nests were surveyed. At the first nest we checked we found four young (this nest has failed to produce young for the past two years, amazing!)!! The second had two nestlings in the nest and none were found on the ground. GREAT! But, as the clouds moved in the survey took a darker turn… The next nest we checked was empty but had the remains of a very young osprey. Then the next one had two alive in the nest and one dead on the ground (a 14 day old). The next two nests had 2 and 3 young in them and they all looked very healthy. Then at the next nest we saw the whole nest down on the marsh. When we dug through it we found the bodies of two young. They were instantly crushed under the weight of the nest. So sad. The adult female was still sitting on the nest, surely hoping they were found alive. :( It is now too late to get out to other areas to rescue young. I have learned that young are NOT fed when they are grounded. So there is little chance that any young would still be alive if found on the ground. Future surveys will determine how many other areas were affected by the strong storms.

Despite the gloomy outcome, nests in this severely impacted area had overall good results. We counted a total of 27 young from 18 active nests which gives us an average productivity rate of 1.5 young (per active-known-outcome nest). This is almost twice the level needed to sustain the population. Most young were around 17 days old. Only five were banded for future tracking.

It’s too early to tell how the entire population will fare this year. It could be a down year, with reports of no large schools of menhaden that are close to shore. Menhaden (bunker) are one of the most crucial food sources for many coastal species, including osprey.

Photos from the Survey:
Photo by Ben Wurst

Remains of a young osprey. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

One. Two. Three. All in the nest! Photo by Ben Wurst

Female on her nest. Photo by Ben Wurst

Female on her nest. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

The oldest in this historic nest got a little feisty. Photo by Ben Wurst

Female hovers over her nest to check on her young (3) after we surveyed her nest. This is one of the oldest nests in NJ. Photo by Ben Wurst.

Female hovers over her nest to check on her young (3) after we surveyed her nest. This is one of the oldest nests in NJ. Photo by Ben Wurst.

Photo by Ben Wurst

Young that were found on the ground were decomposing very quickly. We moved them out of sight from the adults. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

An empty nest off Loveladies. Last year this nest was productive. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

A week old chick and an egg on a channel marker nest of LBI. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

A four week old nestling that was banded with a red auxiliary band for future tracking. Photo by Ben Wurst

June 19th, 2015

Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest Gets Interactive

2015 Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest Winners Represented on New Story Map

By: Kathleen Wadiak, Wildlife Conservation Intern

SpeciesontheEdgeStoryMap

Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s 2015 Species on the Edge Art and Essay Contest gave fifth grade students from across the state the opportunity to research an endangered species and submit a drawing and essay written from the animal’s perspective. Meant to support awareness of endangered species in students, the Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest encourages fifth graders to think like wildlife biologists as they gather research and learn about pressing environmental issues. The results of this contest are the subject of our newest story map!

 

This interactive map allows the user to click on icons to see participating schools, first and second winners from each county, and honorable mention entries. Scrolling through the text on the left side changes the content of the points on the map. A click on each map point brings up more information, like the number of classes from each school that submitted an entry. While scrolling through the list of winners, users can even click on the schools’ icons to bring up the students’ names, essays, and artwork.

 

The format of this story map is simple and easy to use, allowing for an interesting, interactive way to display the hard work of students across New Jersey.

 

Learn more:

 

Kathleen Wadiak is a Wildlife Conservation Intern with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

June 19th, 2015

Nominate an Exceptional Woman for 2015 Women & Wildlife Awards

Women & Wildlife Awards 2015 Nominations Open Until July 24, 2015

By: Liz Silvernail, Development Director

In founding Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, past Women & Wildlife honoree Linda Tesauro helped to ensure the protection of eagles and other rare wildlife.

In founding Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, past Women & Wildlife honoree Linda Tesauro helped to ensure the protection of eagles and other rare wildlife.

For the 10th year, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey will present Women & Wildlife Awards to special individuals for their achievements, the advances they have made for women in their professions, their efforts to increase awareness of rare species and the habitats they depend on, and their contributions to New Jersey’s wildlife.

 
By acknowledging these special individuals, CWF hopes to encourage more young women to strive to make a positive impact on species and habitat protection, especially through the biological sciences. Conserve Wildlife Foundation encourages you to take this opportunity to nominate a woman who has distinguished herself in the service of New Jersey’s wildlife.

 

Nominations will be accepted in three categories:

  • Leadership
  • Inspiration
  • Education

 

The nomination form will be accepted through Friday, July 24, 2015. Nominations submitted last year will automatically be reconsidered this year.


Save the Date: Tenth Annual Women & Wildlife Awards
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Duke Farms, Hillsborough, New Jersey

 

Join us for this year’s very special event with keynote speaker Governor Christine Todd Whitman. We will be honoring outstanding women for their contributions to wildlife conservation at a wonderful cocktail party and silent auction on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

 
Please Save the Date and join us to celebrate New Jersey’s wildlife and the women who protect our unique biodiversity.

 
Tickets will be on sale in August 2015. Proceeds benefit Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey’s work to protect our rare and imperiled wildlife.

 

Learn more:

 

Liz Silvernail is the Development Director for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

June 18th, 2015

Photo from the Field: Lone peregrine falcon eyas

This week we visited the latest peregrine falcon nest in New Jersey. We were there to check for hatching. Here is what we found. A lone 17 day old male falcon. He is the youngest falcon in New Jersey. Click to view large. Photo by Ben Wurst.

This week we visited the latest peregrine falcon nest in New Jersey. We were there to check for hatching. Here is what we found. A lone 17 day old male falcon. He is the youngest falcon in New Jersey. Photo by Ben Wurst.

June 16th, 2015

Six Beautiful Butterflies that Call New Jersey Home

A Closer Look at Six At-Risk Butterflies Found in the Garden State

By: Kathleen Wadiak, Wildlife Conservation Intern

New Jersey is home to a number of butterfly species as diverse as the different habitats throughout the state. Whether you live by the shore, a forest, or open fields, you can find a few of these species during their flight period, which usually takes place during the summer months. While it is no secret that the state can be home to well-known butterflies such as the Monarch, here are six butterflies that also call New Jersey home.

 

Baltimore Checkerspot

Baltimore Checkerspot
The best time to see a Baltimore checkerspot is early June to early August. This medium-sized butterfly a wingspan of about 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches. They are black with an orange border and speckled with white and orange markings. Checkerspots can be found in the northern half of the state in wet, stream-fed meadows consisting of mostly tall herbaceous growth. White turtlehead is a necessity in its habitat as it is the food source for developing caterpillars. The checkerspot’s unique environmental needs make it particularly vulnerable to habitat destruction and fragmentation.

 

Compton Tortoiseshell

Compton Tortoiseshell
Compton tortoiseshell butterflies have a flight period of March to November, during which they can be found in northeastern New Jersey in mixed and deciduous forests. In the forests, they make use of shelters created by tree cavities and nearby building eaves. Compton tortoiseshells can be identified by their orange-brown, black spotted wings with both the forewings and hindwings having a single white spot on the leading edges. The undersides of the wings are mottled gray brown with a small white “V.” With a wingspan of 2 ½ to 3 inches, they are a relatively large butterfly. The majority of this butterfly’s diet consists of rotting fruit and sap. Populations often fluctuate dramatically from year to year depending on habitat quality and climate factors.

 

Eyed Brown

Eyed Brown
Sightings of eyed browns occur from early June to late July in northeastern New Jersey, with most reports coming from Sussex County. They occupy open wetlands including sedge meadows, cattail marshes, and tall grasses alongside slow-moving streams where there are sedges for its caterpillars to feed on. Adults feed on rotting fruit, sap, and bird droppings. The eyed brown gets its name from its wings. About 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches across, they are pale brown, with the color darkening toward the body. On both sets of wings, there are black “eye” spots that are larger on the hindwing. The undersides of the wings are also pale brown, but have jagged lines running across them.

 

 

 

 

Hickory Hairstreak

Hickory HairstreakHickory hairstreaks can be seen from mid-June to early August in the northern half of the state. Their habitat consists of deciduous and second growth forests and adjacent fields. The forests in its habitat almost always consist of hickory trees, as they are the primary food plant of its caterpillars. Adult butterflies feed on the nectar of a variety of flowering plants including common milkweed, New Jersey tea, and white sweet clover. The hickory hairstreak is a relatively small butterfly with a wingspan of approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches. It is rarely seen with its wings open and is identified by the dark postmedian “dashes” and white outline on the underside of its grayish brown wings. On the hindwing, there is a pale blue patch that extends inward further than the adjacent orange and black spots. There is one tail on each hindwing.

 

Northern Oak Hairstreak

Northern Oak Hairstreak
The flight period of the northern oak hairstreak lasts from mid-June to mid-July, during which they can be spotted in southern New Jersey oak forests and adjacent openings. Caterpillars of the northern oak hairstreak feed on the leaves of various oak species while adults feed on the nectar of flowers including New Jersey tea, milkweed, meadowsweet, and maleberry. The northern oak hairstreak is a small butterfly with a wingspan of approximately 7/8 to 1 ½ inches. The underside of the forewing and hindwing is gray-brown and has black and white, narrow postmedian bands, which form an “M” on the hindwing. There is a blue tail spot on the hindwing that is capped by orange and black. Each hindwing has one tail.

 

Rare Skipper

Rare Skipper
The rare skipper can be found along the southern coastal regions of New Jersey from May to September. Instances of rare skipper populations occur on a very local basis, and very little is known about the species. Their habitat consists of fresh and brackish wetlands along tidal rivers and marshes as well as abandoned rice paddies further inland. Caterpillar host plants include tall cordgrass in northern and coastal habitats and giant cutgrass in some southern wetland areas and abandon rice paddies. Adult rare skippers feed on nectar from wetland flowers such as swamp milkweed and pickerelweed. Rare skippers can be identified by their bright yellow-orange wings with a broad, dark border around the upper-side of the forewing and hindwing.

 

Kathleen Wadiak is a Wildlife Conservation Intern with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

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