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Archive for the ‘Wildlife Protection’ Category

CWF Scientists Follow At-Risk Migratory Shorebirds to Tierra del Fuego

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

by Stephanie Feigin, Wildlife Ecologist

 

Over the past two years, our team, with the help of funding from the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, has worked to create critical habitat maps and detailed threat maps for at-risk shorebird species in Northern Brazil and in Tierra Del Fuego, Chile. These projects have established the foundation for conservation planning in these important wintering areas for migratory shorebirds like red knots.

 

Brazil:

Two years ago, our team began working in Northern, Brazil covering the Atlantic coastline of both Pará and Maranhão state between Belém and São Luís. Our team conducted two successful excursions to Brazil taking point count surveys of wading shorebirds collecting approximately 44,700 individual bird sightings to add to the database our team created for the critical habitat maps (Figures 1 & 2).

Figure 2. Results from the 2017 point count survey

                    Figure 1. Results from the 2016 point count survey

 

David Santos and Larry Niles conduct point sampling surveys in Maranhão Brazil.

We conducted surveys using point count methods using fixed radius plots positioned along transects, with all wading birds counted within the 250m radius. Transects were conducted by either walking or while in a boat across various tidal stages and a variety of habitat types including mangrove creeks, sand flats, mudflats and beaches.

 

 

 

Brazil Team: Carla Meneguin,
Paulo Siqueira, Ana Paula Sousa, Larry Niles, Juliana Almeida, Carmem Fedrizzi Joe Smith, Stephanie Feigin, Yann Rochepault, Laura Reis and Christophe Buiden (photo by Juliana Almeida)

 

 

 

Our team then created threat maps of the region from coastal development, mining operations, offshore drilling, and shrimp farming to help inform future conservation planning and mitigate impacts of these activities to the critical shorebird habitat in the region.

 

Chile:

This year, with a second round of funding, our team conducted work in Tierra Del Fuego, Chile to create critical habitat and detailed threat maps for Bahia Lomas in Chile. Bahia Lomas is both a globally significant RAMSAR wetlands site and a Western Hemisphere shorebird site of hemispheric importance.  

 

Shorebirds in Bahia Lomas

Historically, Bahía Lomas and nearby Rio Grande supported wintering populations of 67,000 red knots –  the largest wintering area for knots in the Western Hemisphere. In the last 30 years, however, the population has declined to less than 15,000 knots in Bahía Lomas and the population in Rio Grande is functionally extinct (Morrison et al 1989).

 

 

Aerial Survey over Bahia Lomas

 

 

 

This January our team conducted surveys along the coast of Bahia Lomas to understand distribution of shorebird species within the region, using the same sampling methods, study key roosting and feeding habitats, and delineate critical habitat and threats to the region to inform future conservation and minimize impacts to shorebird populations.

 

Team in Chile including Ross Wood, Stu Mackenzie, Carmen Espoz, Larry Niles, Joe Smith, Yann Rochepault, Christophe Buidin, Antonio Larrea, Richard Lathrop, Stephanie Feigin and Amanda Dey.

Over two weeks our team of New Jerseyans and Canadians conducted point-count sampling surveys throughout the bay with large assistance from our partners from Universidad Santo Tomás in Chile to determine key habitats. Additionally, our team conducted four aerial surveys to get species distribution counts on a large scale of the whole bay at various tide stages, as well as a helicopter survey to continue the population counts of the region done by Dr. Guy Morrison. Finally, our partners with the Universidad Santo Tomás conducted marine invertebrate sampling surveys. These data will be combined to aid in the creation of a GIS mapping system that can identify the most important shorebird habitats in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

In the next few months our team will use these data and overlay them with threat mapping to determine the critical habitats undergoing the greatest threats.  This project is designed set the stage for proactive conservation planning that will mitigate future threats and will hopefully uncover the source of ongoing declines to the shorebirds in this region.

Citation:

 

Morrison R.I.G. & Ross R.K. (1989) Atlas of Nearctic shorebirds on the coast of South America. Canadian Wildlife Service Ottawa (Canada).

 

Piping Plovers in the Bahamas

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Our Work isn’t Done – the Ongoing Importance of Band Resighting

 By Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

Earlier in January, I attended the Abaco Science Alliance Conference to make a presentation about recent conservation and research developments for piping plovers in the Bahamas. This marks the eighth year, starting in 2011, either solo or with CWF staff and other colleagues, that I have been able to follow piping plovers to their wintering grounds in the Bahamas to conduct work to better understand and help recover this at-risk species. And in another sense, to be an international ambassador for piping plovers.

Todd Pover, CWF Senior Biologist, busy searching for piping plovers on the flats in the Bahamas

Over that time, the focus of those trips has varied widely, including conducting surveys for the International Piping Plover Census in 2011 and 2016, improving our understanding of how piping plovers use the various habitats, engaging students with our Shorebird Sister School Network from 2014-17, helping Friends of the Environment, our primary partner there, integrate piping plovers into their educational/school programs, building conservation partnerships, and even producing a video. Tremendous positive changes have occurred in that time with regard to awareness of and attitudes towards piping plovers in the Bahamas and some significant conservation progress has been made, most notably the establishment of several new national parks by the Bahamian government that help protect piping plovers and other shorebirds.

(more…)

Osprey Numbers Surge Above Post-DDT Milestone

Monday, January 22nd, 2018
Statewide Census Documents over 650 nesting pairs in New Jersey

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

An osprey prepares to land on a natural nest. Barnegat Bay, NJ.

Since we began to work more closely with ospreys in 2006, we have documented the population grow beyond the historic population estimate of 350-450 nesting pairs (Henny 1977) to a new historic milestone. In 2017, a total of 668 active nests were recorded during a statewide census of nesting ospreys, which is well above the post-DDT milestone of 500 nesting pairs, and show that the population continues to grow. This is the second census conducted without the use of manned aircraft since 2009 after all known osprey nests were released and mapped online in 2013. Despite the lack of aircraft, we’re still able to obtain an accurate representation of the size and health of the statewide population, while reducing the overall project cost. (more…)

New Jersey Falcons Remain Stable in 2017

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018
Nests on towers and buildings maintain stability in the state population

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Jersey City tiercel. photo by Ben Wurst

Results from the 2017 nesting season for peregrine falcons was released in a report from New Jersey Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered Species Program, and falcons had a decent year. New Jersey’s population remained stable with 32 active nests (with 34 known pairs) as compared to last years’ results of 30 active nests (35 known pairs). Nest success was slightly better than last year, with 22 pairs producing 52 young as compared to 20 pairs producing 47 young. The productivity rate, which is a measure of the health of the population, was very close to what was observed in 2016 at 1.59 young/active nest. (more…)

Grassland Birds of New Jersey

Thursday, December 28th, 2017
Part II: Restoring Critical Breeding Habitat

by Meghan Kolk, Wildlife Biologist

In Part I of this series, I discussed the drastic loss of grasslands in New Jersey and the importance of preserving and restoring this disappearing habitat for grassland-dependent bird species.  Due to this habitat loss, in much of the northeastern United States (including New Jersey) airports have become significant breeding grounds for many threatened and endangered grassland birds.  In fact, airports are often the only suitable habitat available for New Jersey’s rarest grassland bird, the upland sandpiper.  If these large expanses of open fields are managed properly, they can support nesting birds while still remaining safe for aircraft operation.  This is the goal of CWF’s new restoration project at one of the most critical breeding sites in New Jersey.

Restoration site at Lakehurst breeding grounds, December 2017. Photo by Meghan Kolk.

The Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL) in central New Jersey hosts the largest known breeding colony of the endangered upland sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda), and the second-largest known breeding colony of the threatened grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) in the State.  The bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis), horned lark (Eremophila alpestris) (all threatened) and eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna) (special concern) all make a home here as well during the nesting season.  CWF has  partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore hundreds of acres of this vital land to increase suitability and to alter management practices to benefit both wildlife and airfield operations. (more…)

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