Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘cape may’

Costume parade and live wildlife highlight Leonardo Nature Center grand opening

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

by David Wheeler

Witches, ghosts, ghouls, bats – and even dogs in costume – helped celebrate the grand opening of the new Nature Center, a partnership between Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) and the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.

Over 200 people visited Leonardo State Marina on a gorgeous autumn afternoon to enjoy the Halloween costume contest, pet parade, pumpkin painting, and light refreshments.

 

Yet the tiniest creature of all may have been the most memorable –

CWF Wildlife Ecologist Stephanie Feigin teaches children about the big brown bat.

a live big brown bat. CWF wilflife ecologist Stephanie Feigin showed the rapt families the unique adaptations that allow bats to fly, roost, and use sonar, as well as the surprising skeletal similarity between a bat’s wing and a human hand.

 

Maggie Mitchell, Superintendent at Leonardo State Marina, had this to say, “The Marina’s new Nature Center and partnership with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ will provide continued education to the Bayshore Area and expand on our presence in the community, many residents were grateful for this event and we look forward to hosting additional events in the future.”

Stephanie Feigin, CWF wildlife ecologist, Stephanie DAlessio, CWF Education Director, and Maggie Mitchell, Superintendent at Leonardo State Marina.

 

This partnership is designed to educate the public about important coastal habitat and diverse wildlife species that utilize the Raritan Bayshore area.  The grand opening allowed visitors of the center to get up close and personal with both local species like diamondback terrapins, and invasive species like the red eared slider. In addition to those two turtle species, the Nature Center also hosts a corn snake, bearded dragon, touch tanks and other activities for children to enjoy.

 

“Children and adults alike are often amazed to find out some of the wildlife species that live right in their backyards and neighborhoods – and now our Nature Center allows visitors to experience those incredible animals up close,” said CWF Director of Education, Stephanie DAlessio. “We are so excited to create a new generation of environmental stewards to help protect our coastal habitat and the wildlife that shares it with us – all while having fun connecting local families to nature.”

 

Just south of New York City, New Jersey’s Raritan Bayshore hosts an impressive wildlife diversity for such a densely populated metropolitan area. Leonardo State Marina is located in the Leonardo section of Middletown in Monmouth County, west of Sandy Hook and just north of Route 36.

 

The Nature Center is open daily from 10 am to 3 pm, with extended hours until 6 pm on Fridays. CWF and Leonardo State Marina also offer school field trips, summer programs, and special events throughout the year.

You can learn more about the Nature Center at or to inquire about school or community programs, call 732-291-2986 or email Stephanie DAlessio at Stephanie.dalessio@conservewildlifenj.org.

 

 

David Wheeler is the Executive Director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation and the author of Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State.

Time to Get Muddy!

Thursday, September 8th, 2016
Volunteers needed to help maintain and repair osprey nests

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Map of nests that are in need of repairs in Absecon, NJ.

Map of nests that are in need of repairs in Absecon, NJ.

We have an obligation to care for and protect our wildlife, and for me, that’s what drew me into my current position. Osprey nesting platforms have been a focus of my work over the past 10+ years. They are designed specifically for ospreys and if built properly, can withstand the impacts of severe weather, including coastal flooding, high winds, and storm surge. For ospreys these platforms protect their nests from predators and flood tides, but over time the extreme salt marsh environment takes its toll on them. With the added weight of the large, perennial stick nests it can shorten the life span of a properly built platform drastically. Over the years I’ve seen older nests topple, from the weight of the nesting material and aging hardware, during the middle of the nesting season during severe storms. This is hard to prevent at every nest, during every storm, which we know are becoming more and more frequent, but we are adapting and in turn, helping our ospreys become more resilient (and productive) in the end.

New stainless screws are installed in an existing osprey nest to help prevent future catastrophe.

New stainless screws are installed in an existing osprey nest to help prevent future catastrophe.

In the past we (myself and other volunteers who survey ospreys and help maintain platforms) used to visit a nest only once a year, during nesting surveys in late June and early July. At that time we would note the condition of the platform and if repairs were needed, schedule those for the seven month long non-breeding season. Those who have volunteered to help and worked with me, know the task at hand. Most tasks include using hand tools to construct nest platforms and perches and to install them. I always say the hardest part is getting the platform to the saltmarsh where they will be installed.

To help engage and inspire others to help care for our growing osprey population, we are looking for volunteers who live within the watersheds were we are planning to conduct repairs of osprey platforms. Tasks vary by watershed but most are to add new (stainless) screws to existing platforms, install predator guards/perches, clean off excess nesting material, and do any other repairs to platforms (including moving and replacing some). We are hopeful to meet some local baymen and fishermen who are looking to help keep the nesting population stable as it has been over the past 10 years.

The work will occur in mid-late October and will be carried out through these watersheds:

  • Barnegat Bay (Point Pleasant south to LEHT)
  • Great Bay – All nests here need new hardware and one nest needs to be replaced.
  • Absecon Bay – In this area we have four platforms to replace. Three will be moved and one new one installed. Four other nests need critical repairs.
  • Sea Isle – several nests here need predator guards and a couple need minor repairs.
  • Wildwood/Cape May – After the strong storms in late June hit this area, many nests need new platform (tops) and others need to be cleaned off.

If you are interested in being notified when these platform construction and repairs occur, please email me. Let me know what you are interested in helping with and if you have a boat (and a ladder!) that can be used.

“For the Love of Wildlife” Photo Contest: First Place Winners

Monday, June 27th, 2016
CONGRATULATIONS, FRANCESCA BUCHALSKI AND BILL DALTON!

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

Earlier in 2016, Conserve Wildlife Foundation launched the “For the Love of Wildlife” Photo Contest. Our photography contest was meant to showcase the love for and need to protect the endangered and threatened wildlife that call New Jersey home. We encouraged youth and adult photographers across the Garden State to submit photographs in the following categories:

  • New Jersey’s Rarest Residents: Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern Wildlife Species Only
  • The Garden State: New Jersey Landscapes
  • Experiencing Nature: People Enjoying the Outdoors
  • Wild New Jersey: All Animals in the Garden State

We were blown away by the amount of submissions we received! Over 1,470 entries were counted! New Jersey wildlife photographers, CWF board members and staff poured over the entries to choose our winners. Today, we are thrilled to announce both first place winners.


First Place: Francesca Buchalski
Allentown, New Jersey
Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis on Lens

Praying Mantis on Lens, youth first place winner Francesca Buchalski

Francesca was so happy to have won our contest! She shared more about the image and her passion for photography with CWF: “I took that photo at the Cape May Meadow during last year’s fall hawk migration festival. My mom and I are avid birders, and we love going to the migrations in Cape May! We were bringing up the rear on a guided walk, and just as we started walking down the path through the reeds, I heard ‘Wows!’ and ‘Cools!’ up ahead. As we caught up, we saw that everyone was looking at a praying mantis perched on a man’s telephoto lens! I had my camera with me to photograph birds, but that was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed! I thought it was pretty interesting and ironic that the man couldn’t photograph the praying mantis, even though it was on his camera (he couldn’t stop laughing), and it posed there for a long time. It was a great way to start the walk!

 

“I’ve only been photographing wildlife for about 3 years, just for fun. I started off by taking pictures of the birds that came to our feeders, and now I bring my camera on all of my birding adventures. As for my favorite New Jersey species…that’s a tough one! I think I would have to go with the osprey; they’re so charismatic in their coloring, hunting habits, and cool ‘opposable’ talon. I also really enjoy how easy it is to observe them by boat; whenever I think about the wetlands or the back bays of New Jersey, I automatically think ‘osprey.’ They also have such a great comeback story, its almost impossible not to love them!

 

“A close second would be the horseshoe crab; I find it simply incredible that they have remained unchanged for millions of years, and that so many migrating shorebirds depend on them. And who can forget their incredible immune system and blue blood! I also love how you can learn about and help horseshoe crabs by participating in hands on counting, tagging, and flipping walks (my mom and I have done some of those, and they’re such great experiences!)

 

“New Jersey has such an amazing array of wildlife, and sadly, so many people miss it amid all of the big cities; big thanks to everyone at Conserve Wildlife [Foundation] for helping to promote New Jersey’s wildlife and keep them around for years to come!”


First Place: Bill Dalton
Interlaken, New Jersey
Black Skimmer

Sky Skimmer Bill Dalton

Sky Skimmer, adult first place winner Bill Dalton

Bill was so pleased to have won our contest. He said he is “truly honored to have [his] ‘Sky Skimmer’ photo selected as the grand prize winner from such a prestigious organization.”

 

Bill explained to CWF, “I once read that a photographer’s definition of luck is: Preparedness over opportunity = LUCK! That was certainly the case when I photographed the skimmers at Forsythe on a early spring morning. On a previous visit, I saw a mature peregrine falcon perched at sunrise not far from the observation tower. I returned a day or two later with the proper equipment for low light, high speed photography, with hopes to get early light shots of the peregrine. The falcon was there but I noticed 6 to 10 black skimmers feeding about 50 yards from my location. The light from the predawn sky and clouds reflected perfectly on the windless water’s surface. I took about 50 shots but one shot caught the skimmer in exactly the right position. The line between sky and water vanished! The camera should get all the credit, I just pushed a button! I’ve been a nature photographer (hobby) for decades. My first camera back in the 70’s was a Minolta SRT 101. Boy has photography come a long way since the days of only film!

 

“I love to kid people by telling them I’m an endangered species. By that, I mean, I was born and raised in Monmouth County. One of the most important goals in [CWF]’s mission statement is, ‘educating everyone who lives in New Jersey about our shared wild heritage and our shared responsibility to protect it.’ We’ve come a long way in accomplishing those goals but so much more has to be done.

 

“I must admit being a born and raised Jersey Shore boy that my favorite species is the osprey. I vividly remember back in the 1950’s asking my dad while driving down a shore road in Monmouth County, why the power company men were knocking down bird’s nests that were atop of the poles! Those nests were ospreys and the nests on the poles were considered a nuisance! Years later I am proud to have been partly responsible for one of the first osprey nesting programs in Monmouth County. I convinced the company I worked for to enter into an agreement with the NJDEP to relocate a nest from the Keansburg pier to our location in Union Beach. At that time ospreys were on the threatened and endangered species list.

 

“The transfer of the nest was successful and at that time (1987) it was the most northern osprey nest in Monmouth County. Now I see nests in dozens of locations throughout the county! The osprey is truly an example (along with many other species) on how educating the public about our wildlife heritage worked!

 

“My work has been wildly published over the years including leading magazines, books and educational publications. National Geographic has published my work several times, most recently in their book, ‘Sublime Nature: Photographs That Awe and Inspire.’ Once again, thanks to the judges and staff of the Foundation for this wonderful award.”


Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Emergency Osprey Nest Surveys in Cape May, Wildwood and Stone Harbor

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

What you won’t hear on the news!!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Matt Tribulski places a young osprey back in its nest.

Matt Tribulski places a young osprey back in its nest.

It’s osprey season. Osprey Survey Season, that is. However, we never like to start the season off with these types of emergency surveys, but with the increase of strong storms and extreme straight line wind events, they are becoming an annual event. Ospreys nest on platforms in open areas near water, so their young can easily become victims during these types of storms. After receiving a text message from my colleague Kathy Clark yesterday evening about the intensity of the storms, she said we should try to do a survey of the affected areas. I had other plans but I knew that those could wait. (more…)

Fight for the Flight: Monarch Butterfly Status Under Review

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

By: Julianne Maksym, Intern 


A monarch butterfly emerges from a chrysalis in the wild. (Courtesy: US Fish & Wildlife Service)

As the summer leaves turn brown and children head back to school, flutters of black and orange wings flitter through the skies over the beaches in Cape May. As part of its yearly migration from Canada to Mexico, the monarch butterfly passes through New Jersey in search of a warmer climate for the blistery cold winter months. Multiple generations make the trek, leaving in the fall and returning in late spring.

 

During the summer months, the monarch can be found throughout the United States where milkweed, the species’ host plant, is plentiful. Milkweed provides nutrients to hungry caterpillars as well as space for mature females to lay their eggs. Although an adult monarch may lay up to 500 eggs in its lifetime, it has now been discovered fewer and fewer butterflies make the migration each year.

 

Losses of habitat and milkweed plants, the insect’s sole food source, are having tremendously devastating effects. According to a petition from butterfly advocates, the North American population has declined by more than 90 percent based on comparisons of the most recent population size estimates to the 20-year average. Numbers of monarch butterflies east of the Rockies dropped to the lowest record ever, signifying a decline of more than 90% since 1995. Monarch numbers west of the Rockies showed a similar decline of more than 50% since 1997. These figures suggest a significant predicament as the North American population represents the vast majority of all monarchs in the world. Without it, the entire species is vulnerable to extinction.

 

On December 29th, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would be conducting a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service has reason to believe a listing may be necessary due to considerable evidence from a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Dr. Lincoln Brower. The petition stated that habitat destruction and loss of milkweed due to pesticide use are two of the most contributing factors to the declining monarch population. Other factors include disease and predation, overutilization for commercial purposes, and lack of existing conservation procedures.

 

To begin the status review, the Service is requesting scientific and commercial data and other information through a 60-day public information period. The Service is specifically seeking information regarding the following:

  • Subspecies’ biology, range and population trends, habitat requirements, genetics and taxonomy
  • Historical and current range, including distribution patterns
  • Historical and current population levels and current and projected trends;
  • Life history or behavior of the monarch butterfly that has not yet been documented
  • Thermo-tolerance range and microclimate requirements of the monarch butterfly
  • Past and ongoing conservation measures for the subspecies, its habitat or both
  • Factors that are the basis for making a listing determination under section 4(a) of the ESA

 

Starting on December 31, information can be submitted via www.regulations.gov by entering docket number FWS-R3-ES-2014-0056 in the search box and clicking on “Comment Now!” The information collection period will be open until March 2, 2015.

 

Until a decision has been made, take a moment to appreciate the beauty that is the monarch butterfly. Consider planting a few milkweed plants in your garden or speaking out against the overuse of pesticides. As much as the monarch butterfly’s migration is a group effort, the conservation of these beautiful creatures is even more so.

 

Julianne Maksym is a graduate wildlife intern for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

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