Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘2012’

Keeping Wildlife Range Maps Current

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012
RECENT UPDATES TO SPECIES RANGE MAPS

By Michael Davenport, Marine Species & GIS Programs Manager

The former and revised range maps for the Checkered White butterfly in New Jersey.

Just as world maps get updated with the addition of new countries (most recently South Sudan in 2011), wildlife range maps also need to be revised occasionally as new information becomes available.

There are 173 range maps available on Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s on-line field guide web pages for New Jersey’s endangered, threatened, and special concern species.  Although some of these maps were created only two years ago, 23 range maps were in need of minor to major revisions since new data had become available.  The range maps are based upon data within the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Biotics database, the official statewide database of rare wildlife.  While some new data was received from biologists’ surveys, a portion of it was received from the general public who submitted Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Forms for their own personal observations.

One of the most striking range map revisions is the Checkered White Butterfly.  Previously documented only at Newark Airport, this species has now also been documented in southern New Jersey.  Whether or not this disjunct population has been there all these years and not reported (flying under the radar so to speak), or this represents a recent natural range expansion or introduction is unknown at this point.

Take a tour of our on-line field guide – revised maps are labeled “2012”.

New Jersey’s Wildlife on Display

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
CWF Facebook Cover Photo Contest – Vote Today!

We recently decided to have a photo contest to choose a new cover photo for our Facebook page. We wanted to do this as a way to engage people with our work and generate some conversations around the wildlife photographs we received.

Black Skimmer by Zachary Kirby.

We were thrilled to receive an amazing response to the contest and today we opened voting on 89 photos submitted from across New Jersey. Yes, we received a lot of photos of ospreys which speaks to their photogenic quality and the fact that many photographers are down the shore this season. We also received photographs of a wide range of species – mostly birds but also reptiles, amphibians, insects and a mammal.

The album of 89 photos represents New Jersey’s biodiversity in all its glory. The album also represents New Jersey’s geography and clearly illustrates how habitats occur across the state from the busiest beaches to urban parks and from National Wildlife Refuges to suburban backyards.

Check out our Facebook page  and the cover photo contest album.  Be sure to LIKE our page and cast your vote for a new cover photo (just “like” the photos you want to vote for).  You can vote for as many photos as you want.

The photo with the most likes becomes our cover photo. Voting closes on Friday at 12:00 pm.

A year in the life of a juvenile eagle…

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Male eagle with transmitter sighted June 28, 2012 at Spruce Run Reservoir, NJ © William Gumulak

Update on tracking NJ eagles

by Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager

In June of 2011 two chicks (male & female) from the Merrill Creek Reservoir eagle nest in Warren County were fitted with solar-powered transmitters that are monitored via satellites. The males movements have been tracked for over a year starting when he left the nest in June.  You can see the eagles movements by going to: http://www.merrillcreek.com/eagletracking.html  In September the male flew as far West as Harrisburg, PA and in January spent a few days at the upper Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.  He has spent the majority of his time in New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. It is very interesting to see where the eagle is spending his time and the type of habitat he is using.  When you go to the map you can zoom in to get a close up look at his locations.

Unfortunately the female chick died in October due to starvation. She tested positive for West Nile Virus which could have contributed to her death.  The transmitter was recovered from the female and in May of this year the transmitter was placed on the largest of three chicks, a female, in the Merrill Creek nest.  She just recently left the nest and is still in the area of the nest taking short flights. To follow her movements go to http://www.merrillcreek.com/eagletracking.html

 

Female eagle with transmitter placed May 29, 2012 © Kathy Clark

 

Hiking at Ballanger Creek

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
New trails open to public!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

I might be a little biased in saying that Bass River State Forest is one of the most beautiful state parks in New Jersey, only because I live in the same town where it’s located. There is so much to explore at BRSF: large pine plantations by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that helped build NJ’s state parks, Atlantic white-cedar swamps galore, sugar sand, and all the wildlife that occupy pinelands habitats. One new and much different portion of Bass River State Forest is Ballanger Creek, pronounced “Baa-lan’-ger”. The surrounding forested habitat is mostly unfragmented and is comprised of mature pine-oak woodlands. There are some very large pitch pines that cover many species that are shade tolerant like, american holly. Two old freshwater impoundments were drained after Hurricane Irene blew out an earthen dam. Now freshwater wetlands have emerged and atlantic white-cedar seedlings are beginning to sprout.

Common along much of the coast of New Jersey, this site has had a lot of use in its history. A saw mill once operated here in the mid-19th century and in the early 1900s fields along the creek were used for agriculture. It was also used as a dump site for fill and other debris. A house and several out buildings were demolished when the property was acquired by the Green Acres Program in the mid-90s. Since its acquisition the site has not been actively managed for wildlife. That all changed in late 2009 when Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ acquired funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to enhance the degraded wildlife habitat on site. We’re all done with the project and there’s a lot to explore here. We invite you to explore this site and enjoy its natural beauty and its wildlife residents. Click on the map to download or print a copy of it. Here is a link to the site via Google Maps.

Check out some photos from my recent visit:

Osprey surveys completed

Monday, July 30th, 2012
Severe weather may have reduced productivity this year

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Surveys of nesting osprey have ended for 2012. Each year volunteers, state biologist and CWF staff complete nesting surveys of ospreys. These “osprey banders” complete “ground surveys” (referred to as ground surveys because they are surveying nests by land/sea, not by helicopter) that cover around 70% of the state population. The surveys are meant to keep tabs on the state population and data collected from the surveys are used to determine the health of the population. Young are also banded for future tracking. Next year a state wide aerial survey will be conducted; the last aerial survey was in 2009 where 486 nesting pairs were found. We won’t know the total size of the population until then. Nesting success is mixed this year and is highly variable by different regions, mainly because of severe weather.

I never heard of a “derecho” until this summer. According to Wikipedia it is “a widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms.” A derecho hit Cumberland, Salem, Atlantic & southern Ocean County in the early morning hours on June 30th, right in the middle of the nesting season for ospreys. Weather plays a significant factor in the success of nesting ospreys. They nest in open areas, which makes them vulnerable to high winds and severe weather, and since they primarily feed on fish, water clarity affects foraging success.

“In South Jersey, Atlantic City Electric reported that 206,000 customers lost power from downed trees. Most of the outages were in Atlantic County, which prompted a county-wide state of emergency. Near Atlantic City, a boater died while trying to bring his vessel ashore. Officials believed that lightning struck a 104-year-old church in Longport and caused a fire that damaged the building. An elderly couple was killed when a tree fell on their house. In Vineland, damage was preliminarily estimated at $125 million. On July 19th, 2012, President Barack Obama declared three counties in New Jersey (Atlantic, Cumberland, and Salem) federal disaster areas. This assured disaster relief through federal assistance to local and state governments and some non-profit organizations.” (from Wikipedia.com) I also know that two people were killed while sleeping in a tent at Parvin State Park.

Kristin, an intern with CWF puts an osprey nestling back in the nest. © Ben Wurst

At this time most young were between 2-3 weeks old, with some a little older and some younger. All young are very vulnerable to severe weather, especially when wind gusts reach 70-100 mph, they can be easily blown from their nests and if not retrieved quickly could become food for ground predators or washed away with the tide. Winds gusted to 81 mph in Tuckerton, 74 mph in Absecon (Reported by the NJ State Climatologist Dr. David A. Robinson). In three areas that I survey (Absecon, Mullica River, & Little Egg Harbor) many young were either lost or blown from their nests and found dead or live on the marsh. In Absecon 9 of the 22 young produced had been lost or found dead on the marsh as a result of the storm. At a couple other nests to the north a few young were found on the ground shortly after the storm. Off of Great Bay Blvd. many nests that had young before the storm had lost them. One of our volunteers reported that many nests in Ventnor that were previously occupied had no young after the storm.

We can only hope that severe weather like this will not occur during the middle of the osprey nesting season again, but with a warmer climate these might become commonplace in New Jersey. One thing that we might consider is to take a long look at our current design for nesting platforms and look to see if we can make changes to allow for a deeper nest bowl. More of a problem is that some ospreys do not build substantial nests and use little sticks and branches, while others build large nests that are not easily blown away with the wind.