Conserve Wildlife Blog

Photos From the Field

December 3rd, 2012

Oystercatcher Technician shows diversity of tasks in wildlife conservation

By Alfred Breed, CWF Technician

My official job title with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is  “American Oystercatcher Technician”.  As such I am tasked during nesting season with monitoring Oystercatcher nesting sites, and during migratory season with locating flocks of Oystercatchers, counting them, resighting marked birds in each flock, recording data of field survey results and reporting our NJ counts and resights to a central database that holds data from the other reporting states in the migratory flyway.

As is usually the case in any job that has a “description”, the phrase “and other such tasks as assigned” is included as a catch-all for things that aren’t specifically listed in the description, but can be an important part of the duties of the position nonetheless. In my case these ancillary tasks are different each day, and often involve three of my favorite things: wildlife (of course!), science, and gear.  Working around my Oystercatcher surveys, which can only be conducted at high tide, I might be tasked to go to a location anywhere in the state and survey for a particular species of plant or animal; or to site select, construct, install, use, maintain, and troubleshoot various types of data collection or other equipment throughout South Jersey.

Trucks, trailers, boats and kayaks are the big-ticket items that I use every day, but I’m lucky enough to use a large variety of other cool tools and equipment as well. Driving is often a big part of my day, with travel times between sites eating up significant portions of the workday.  Sometimes I’m a wildlife EMT or ambulance driver, saving sick or injured animals from their immediate predicament and/or transporting them to various certified rehabilitation facilities located throughout the state.

Best of all is when I’m asked to assist visiting scientists or other conservation partners in their work, which can mean bio-sampling or banding.  Direct human/wildlife interaction is only appropriate when it is  for valid scientific or conservation management purposes, and is sanctioned and a permit issued by the appropriate governing body.  To be a staff member and so to be included in these sanctioned and permitted activities is a rare privilege indeed.

Each day is different, always interesting, occasionally exciting, and always personally rewarding as I play a small part in the management of threatened and endangered wildlife and the habitat that we share.

3 Responses to “Photos From the Field”

  1. Debi Rabin says:

    I am in awe of what you do and accomplish. I spend my time just photographing and watching these beautiful American Oystercastchers near my home in Margate. I would so love to help in their protection, volunteer in any way I can.

    I’m a responsible adult and an very anxious to volunteer my time. If you feel you can use another pair of hands, please get in touch with me.

    Hoping to hear from you.

    Regards – Debi

  2. Alf Breed says:

    Thanks so much for your encouragement! We often use volunteers for our numerous Beach Nesting Bird fencing projects, and many other volunteer opportunities are also available. If you contact our Volunteer Manager Larrisa at and let her know your specific interest in Oystercatchers she will keep you abreast of any projects that come up that you might be interested in.
    Thanks again for your kind words!

  3. Alf Breed says:

    This link gives great info about all our volunteer opportunities!

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