Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Long Beach Island’

Osprey 78/D: A Second Chance

Thursday, August 31st, 2017
“Chump” is rescued, rehabbed, and released

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Chump, what are you doing down there? Photo by Northside Jim.

On Sunday, July 30th I woke and checked my email early that morning. I had an urgent message from Deb Traster, who lives adjacent to the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences (LBIF). She said that something was not right with one of the young ospreys that fledged from a nearby nesting platform where I banded three nestlings with red bands on July 5. One was on the ground and could not take off. Fearing the worst (entanglement), she checked it out and sought help. After getting in touch with me, I reached out to my buddy, Northside Jim to see if he could get there that morning. (more…)

Volunteer Work Day at LBIF

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

LBIF Work Day Flyer 11-20-15

Photography Show to Celebrate Long Beach Island’s Wildlife

Thursday, August 6th, 2015
Hiding in Plain Sight” to Take Place on Friday, August 14 at Ann Coen Gallery in Surf City

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

Ann Coen Conserve Wildlife Postcard

On Friday, August 14 at 6 PM, the Ann Coen Gallery will host “’Hiding in Plain Sight:’ Celebrating LBI’s Wildlife,” a photography show featuring three talented local outdoor photographers.


This – free and open to the public – event will feature a clam bar, refreshments, acoustic music, and the work of three local photographers, Eric Hance, Northside Jim and Ben Wurst, including handmade frames.


Despite their different backgrounds, all three shutterbugs are known to brave the elements all four seasons to bring rarely seen perspectives of our coastal species.


Eric Hance is a professionally trained photographer with beautiful fine art wildlife photographs. Northside Jim is an enthusiast with some outrageous and whimsical pictures showing the lives of local wildlife that live on the Island. Ben Wurst is the osprey expert who takes care of LBI’s osprey and habitat and captures stunning images of both in their most intimate moments.


“Hiding in Plain Sight” is a free event, and proceeds from the sale of photographs will benefit the work of Conserve Wildlife Foundation, a private, statewide nonprofit dedicated to protecting New Jersey’s endangered and threatened species. Photos of Humpback Whales, Bald Eagles, Osprey, Piping Plover, Terrapin, Black Skimmers, and other amazing endangered species that can be found on the Island will be on display at the Ann Coen Gallery.


“I am really excited to host this show and these three photographers. The body of work between them should prove to be very eye-opening to locals and vacationers,” explained Gallery Owner Ann Coen. “I don’t think too many people realize the wildlife we have right in our own backyard. When I approached each photographer for the show, they were all in agreement right from the start that a portion of their sales would go right back to Conserve Wildlife Foundation, which really motivated me and showed the importance each photographer places on the conservation of our wildlife here in New Jersey.”


Eric Hance is a photographer for Ann Coen Photography. His goal is to captivate viewers in the simplest form; to capture a specific scene in the strongest way.


Northside Jim is a self-proclaimed “beach bum with a camera,” from North Beach. He uses a camera to experience, to learn about, and to share stories about LBI’s creatures on his popular blog, Readings From The Northside.


Ben Wurst, photographer and Habitat Program Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation, is responsible for managing and protecting ospreys as part of the New Jersey Osprey Project. In addition to photography, Wurst is known for his woodworking with reclaimed materials with his small business, reclaimed LLC.


“Being able to utilize my skills to help raise critical funding and awareness for rare wildlife is a dream come true for me,” exclaimed Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Ben Wurst. “Working with these species in New Jersey is what spawned my interests in both hobbies. Now they have progressed into lifelong passions of mine. I consider myself lucky to be on the roster for this show!”


Doors open at the Ann Coen Gallery, 1418 Long Beach Blvd. in Surf City, New Jersey, at 6 PM on Friday, August 14 for Hiding in Plain Sight: Celebrating LBI’s Wildlife. The show will remain on display until Friday, August 21.


Learn more:


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


Project RedBand continues on Barnegat Bay

Friday, July 24th, 2015
92 Ospreys Enlisted in Citizen Science Based Re-sighting Project

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

A young osprey was banded with a color auxiliary band: 76/C for future tracking at a nest on Long Beach Island.

A young osprey named “Danny” was banded with a color auxiliary band 76/C for future tracking at a nest on Long Beach Island. Photo by Northside Jim.

This is the critical time of year for monitoring our nesting ospreys. Each year biologists and specially trained volunteers, aka Osprey Banders, conduct ground surveys by boat to monitor the state population. They visit or survey the most densely populated colonies of nesting ospreys: Sandy Hook, Barnegat Bay, Great Bay, Absecon, Ventnor-Margate-Ocean City, Great Egg Harbor Watershed, Sea Isle, Avalon-Stone Harbor, Wildwood, Maurice River, and parts of the Delaware Bay. These surveys have been conducted since the early 1970s when ospreys were not so common, with only 50 pairs in 1973.


Their recovery has been quite remarkable. With an estimated 600 nesting pairs throughout the state, our ospreys are in a much better position today. Why put so much time and effort into monitoring a seemingly healthy population? Even though their population is much larger than it was decades ago, ospreys still face a variety of threats that jeopardize their ultimate survival. It’s commonly known that ospreys face very high mortality rates in their first year of life. Before even leaving the nest their young are so vulnerable. They can fall or be blown out of the nest, predated by raccoons, crows, or eagles, killed by their own siblings, or die from starvation. After they fledge, then they need to learn to find and catch prey and avoid power lines and wind turbines. Then they need to learn to migrate south and avoid being shot in the process. Once they find a suitable wintering site, then they remain in the same area for the next two years. Then they return to their natal areas to find a suitable nest site and start their own osprey family!


Today, we need your help! We cannot reach all active nests in New Jersey. There is still plenty of time to help us keep track of the state population. Citizens are encouraged to submit sightings of activity at osprey nests on Osprey Watch, a global osprey watching community. In 2013 all of the known locations for osprey nests was released on Osprey Watch’s website. As a partner with Osprey Watch, we share and use the data collected to help determine the overall health of the population, which is summarized in our annual report.


To help engage our Osprey Watchers, we started Project RedBand, a citizen science based osprey re-sighting project. This is year two of the project. So far we’ve deployed 92 red bands (out of 100) on young produced at nests on Barnegat Bay (62 in 2014 and 30 in 2015). The young that were banded last year will start to return to New Jersey in 2016. Usually young adults return later than older adults, so the red banded birds might not be seen until May or June. That’s when they’ll find areas with high prey availability and suitable nest sites. Usually males don’t stray far from their natal areas but females do. With these red bands, we hope to learn a little more about where our ospreys are dispersing to and at the same time engaging our coastal communities in osprey conservation.


Learn more:


Ben Wurst is the Habitat Program Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Impacts from Severe Weather minimal

Friday, June 26th, 2015
Nesting ospreys fared well from June 23rd storms on B. Bay

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

We had some pretty insane weather blow through on Tuesday evening. I saw it first hand while driving to Long Beach Island to visit some relatives in town. The storm front brought high winds and driving rain to the area. The National Weather Service has even declared that there was even a water spout in Brant Beach (which was right where I was driving on the LBI Blvd. southward). Winds gusted to 70-80mph blowing all sorts of debris (and lawn furniture) across the road. I immediately pulled over to where I was protected from the wind. While I sat there I thought of all the osprey nests out on the bay with young in them…

Photo by Ben Wurst

One is better than none! Photo by Ben Wurst

At this time of year almost all nests have young. They range in age from only hatchlings to 4 week old nestlings. Some can be easily blown from shallow or weakly built nests and can be easily blown from the top of nesting platforms. This has happened in the past (in 2012 when we had a “derecho” blow through the area in late June) and almost half the young present were blown from their nests (in Absecon).

To get a better idea of what we experienced, I asked Jonathan Carr, with Weather NJ, what we saw. This would also give me a better idea of what to expect when conducted post-storm surveys. “What we saw in SNJ on Tuesday was a bow echo as evident by radar signature. A macroburst hit SWNJ which generated substantial straight line winds that fueled the system all the way to the coast. In addition, multiple rotation signatures were picked up via velocity analysis which sparked the tornado warnings in perfect alignment from PA through SWNJ and ultimately the Jersey Shore. The NWS officially ruled the incident near Brant Beach a waterspout but little damage was done from such. All damage across SNJ was again, from straight line wind gusts which reached 80mph in several locations. Harvey Cedars actually clocked a 92mph wind gust. I wasn’t surprised given that instability and wind parameters were screaming for this to happen in the prior 24 hours, especially with the cold front trigger moving through. These type of winds are disastrous for any coastal wildlife or nesting grounds with open exposures.”

With that news on the weather front, I knew we’d have young ospreys on the ground. On Wednesday I got my first report from Osprey watchers Ray and Leslee on Cedar Run Dock Rd. They noticed the adults acting funny, who were now on the ground and not on the nest (where they were before the storm). I gave Leslee permission to walk out to the nest. She found two 3 week old young on the ground. I had plans that day so I couldn’t make it there until 9pm. But when I met Leslee and Ray the nestlings were still on the ground. We picked them up and put them back into the nest (and we also fed a good amount of mosquitoes!!)

Four stripes!! Photo by Ben Wurst

Four stripes!! Photo by Ben Wurst

The following day we rallied to get out on our boat to conduct some more “post-storm surveys,” the first of the season. We checked nests from Bonnet Island to Loveladies and Barnegat. A total of 18 active nests were surveyed. At the first nest we checked we found four young (this nest has failed to produce young for the past two years, amazing!)!! The second had two nestlings in the nest and none were found on the ground. GREAT! But, as the clouds moved in the survey took a darker turn… The next nest we checked was empty but had the remains of a very young osprey. Then the next one had two alive in the nest and one dead on the ground (a 14 day old). The next two nests had 2 and 3 young in them and they all looked very healthy. Then at the next nest we saw the whole nest down on the marsh. When we dug through it we found the bodies of two young. They were instantly crushed under the weight of the nest. So sad. The adult female was still sitting on the nest, surely hoping they were found alive. 🙁 It is now too late to get out to other areas to rescue young. I have learned that young are NOT fed when they are grounded. So there is little chance that any young would still be alive if found on the ground. Future surveys will determine how many other areas were affected by the strong storms.

Despite the gloomy outcome, nests in this severely impacted area had overall good results. We counted a total of 27 young from 18 active nests which gives us an average productivity rate of 1.5 young (per active-known-outcome nest). This is almost twice the level needed to sustain the population. Most young were around 17 days old. Only five were banded for future tracking.

It’s too early to tell how the entire population will fare this year. It could be a down year, with reports of no large schools of menhaden that are close to shore. Menhaden (bunker) are one of the most crucial food sources for many coastal species, including osprey.

Photos from the Survey:
Photo by Ben Wurst

Remains of a young osprey. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

One. Two. Three. All in the nest! Photo by Ben Wurst

Female on her nest. Photo by Ben Wurst

Female on her nest. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

The oldest in this historic nest got a little feisty. Photo by Ben Wurst

Female hovers over her nest to check on her young (3) after we surveyed her nest. This is one of the oldest nests in NJ. Photo by Ben Wurst.

Female hovers over her nest to check on her young (3) after we surveyed her nest. This is one of the oldest nests in NJ. Photo by Ben Wurst.

Photo by Ben Wurst

Young that were found on the ground were decomposing very quickly. We moved them out of sight from the adults. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

An empty nest off Loveladies. Last year this nest was productive. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

A week old chick and an egg on a channel marker nest of LBI. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

A four week old nestling that was banded with a red auxiliary band for future tracking. Photo by Ben Wurst