Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘beach nesting birds’

Good horseshoe crab egg densities draw 34,500 Red Knots to the bay

Monday, July 9th, 2018

by Larry Niles (Part 2 of 3)

The best news is a direct consequence of these good conditions, the number of knots and turnstones increased this year. Our season-high estimates show that there are 34,500 knots in the bay and 21,000 ruddy turnstones. These may be the highest counts on the bay in at least 15 years.

Why? At first one would conclude the increased numbers on the bay represent a real increase in the size of the population, but it is not. Shorebirds need time to respond to improving conditions because they are relatively slow breeders, as are most Arctic breeders. Knot numbers on Delaware Bay basically depend on the availability of crab eggs. In bad years, numbers go down because birds come to the bay and leave quickly. (more…)

Horseshoe crabs expanded breeding into neap tides

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

by Larry Niles (Part 1 of 3)

The horseshoe crabs extended their breeding period into the neap tide phase after the cold weather of mid-May decreased water temperature during the spring tides.  The crabs roughly require a water temperature of about 59 degrees F before breeding begins in earnest.  Crabs still breed at a lower temperature, but many more will breed above the temperature threshold.

At the same time, crabs also look for spring tides, the higher high tides that come with full and new moons, because they can breed in sandy places unavailable at lower tides. This year the water cooled during the new moon spring tide and warmed in the neap.  Good spawning during the neap tides of the last week was welcome good news.  This May good spawning conditions will raise average egg densities about 50% higher than last year. (more…)

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).

 

2017: Piping Plover Nesting Season

Thursday, November 16th, 2017
How did they do?

Emily Heiser, CWFNJ Wildlife Biologist

Statewide pair-nest success was down this year, but remains above the long-term average. photo by Northside Jim.

For the 12th year in a row, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, in partnership with New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species, assisted in monitoring and managing the state’s Beach Nesting Bird Project.  Four species are regularly monitored throughout the field season: piping plovers (federally threatened, state endangered), least terns (state endangered), black skimmers (state endangered), and American oystercatchers (state species of special concern). Statewide, piping plovers are of particular concern as their numbers continue to decline and federal recovery goals have not been achieved.  (more…)

Kids are Back in School – but Their Summer Wildlife Lessons Endure!

Thursday, September 29th, 2016
Conserve Wildlife Foundation brought three conservation-themed summer learning experiences to the New Jersey coast.

By: Kendall Miller

I went back to “camp” this summer, seeing schoolkids learn first-hand about wildlife and what biologists do. CWF offered three summer learning experiences for the first time, each with a different theme, content, and location.

Observing the kids’ excitement and enthusiasm for nature was uplifting, and I was also impressed with how knowledgeable they all were. Offering hands-on opportunities – to learn about wildlife while experiencing these habitats – is so important in fostering an appreciation in the younger generations.

“Education is a major goal of CWF’s mission. Through project-based, experiential learning, we hope that camps like these leave impressions with children,” said CWF Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio, who developed the new program. “While we are out having fun, we are also learning about the importance of protecting and preserving wildlife and their habitats in New Jersey.”

This summer was a great start, and CWF is excited for the years to come!

Bayshore Adventure at Leonardo Marina
Seining, special wildlife guests and sandcastles along the Raritan Bayshore!

Located in the harbor, across from Sandy Hook, noisy terns and gulls fight over their catches as kids arrive in the morning to spend the part of their day learning about the bayshore environment. Sunny, sand-filled learning about marine and coastal wildlife and habitats, seining for coastal creatures, mini-science activities and special guests were balanced with a healthy dose of wiffleball games and sandcastle-building contests.

Kids met biologist and beach nesting bird manager Todd Pover. He talked about - of course - the piping plover, and issues with conserving threatened and endangered beach nesting birds.

Kids met biologist and beach nesting bird manager Todd Pover. He talked about – of course – the piping plover, and issues with conserving threatened and endangered beach nesting birds.

NJ State Park police officer Karl Mott and K9 Kelly, a police dog who finds lost cellphones, wallets, and even people. Campers were able to see her in action and participate in hiding drills.

NJ State Park police officer Karl Mott and K9 Kelly, a police dog who finds lost cellphones, wallets, and even people. Campers were able to see her in action and participate in hiding drills.

Wildlife Explorer Program at Duke Farms
Raptors, art and orchids on a North Jersey nature oasis!

Set in the lovely Duke Farms in Hillsborough, every day of this week-long camp was a new and exciting experience featuring different types of wildlife! Kids spent time exploring the grounds at Duke, played games and explored their creativity through art projects alongside famed artist James Fiorentino, met real life biologists and best of all – got up close and personal with all kinds of raptors (like the red-tailed hawk below), amphibians and reptiles. These memorable experiences will hopefully cement in their minds the importance of being stewards to their environment.

Campers explored the Orchid Range and saw a collection of plants from all over the world.

Campers explored the Orchid Range and saw a collection of plants from all over the world.

Bill Streeter of Delaware Valley Raptor Center visited to talk about amazing birds of prey, bringing with him their resident educational birds. Campers sat in awe of these raptors like this red-tailed hawk.

Bill Streeter of Delaware Valley Raptor Center visited to talk about amazing birds of prey, bringing with him their resident educational birds. Campers sat in awe of these raptors like this red-tailed hawk.

Beach.Birds.Biology
A day afield with a beach nesting birds biologist!

Shorebird biologists know the importance of educating people about the plight of beach nesting birds in New Jersey, who rely on the beaches that people flock to in the summertime. So on three different occasions, parents signed their kids up to spend a day on the beach learning about these birds with CWF biologist, Emily Heiser – like the piping plover, American oystercatcher, black skimmer and least tern. Kids got to practice being wildlife biologists. They used spotting scopes to read tags on decoy birds and searched for camouflaged eggs in the sand. The day was also filled with games, beach scavenger hunts, and a fun poster drawing project to be put on display.

Campers spot some plovers and oystercatchers feeding in vernal pools along the inlet at Barnegat Light.

Campers spot some plovers and oystercatchers feeding in vernal pools along the inlet at Barnegat Light.

After learning about the plight of beach nesting birds, the kids got creative by drawing signs to be posted near nesting and feeding sites.

After learning about the plight of beach nesting birds, the kids got creative by drawing signs to be posted near nesting and feeding sites.


For more information about these educational programs, please visit our website at www.ConserveWildlifeNJ.org , or contact our  Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio at (609) 292-9451.


Kendall Miller is a Program Coordinator at Conserve Wildlife Foundation.