Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘volunteer’

Tiger Salamander Season

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Volunteers Survey For This Rare and Elusive NJ Salamander.

by: Larissa Smith, CWF Wildlife Biologist

Adult Tiger Salamander @ M. Tribulski

On a cold December evening I met up with ENSP biologists and dedicated Tiger Salamander project volunteers to survey for Eastern Tiger Salamanders. The group had been out surveying all day in Atlantic County without spotting any tiger salamanders and were cold but still raring to go. The pool we surveyed has been a successful tiger salamander breeding pool, within a complex of enhanced vernal pools. We weren’t disappointed as we quickly found adult salamanders in the pool and egg masses.

Another great find was a neotenic (gilled adult).  This was a larvae, most likely, from last season that didn’t metamorphose and still had external gills. It had not yet left the pool, whereas most larvae metamorphose and leave the pools in June to July of their hatching year.

Neotenic adult @ M. Tribulski

Surveying for TS@ M. Tribulski

We surveyed a second pool in the complex, but found no sign of adults or egg masses. We found fish in the pool, which is an indicator that there won’t be salamanders since the fish eat the eggs and larvae.

New Tiger Salamander breeding pools have been found by the TS volunteers, in Cape May and Cumberland Counties. It is encouraging to know that these salamanders continue to live and breed in New Jersey and that gives me hope for the future of all NJ wildlife.


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Giving Absecon’s ospreys a boost

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
Volunteers brave rain and high water to benefit ospreys!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

 

Volunteers work on a flooded saltmash to remove an osprey nesting platform in Atlantic City.

Volunteers work on a flooded saltmarsh to remove an osprey nesting platform in Atlantic City.

I’ve been surveying osprey colony on Absecon Bay since 2008, after I moved to the local area. It’s been an area with a small but slowly growing colony. In 2008 there were a total of 11 active nests. This year there were 23 active nests. Productivity has been good with an average of 1.72 young/active (known-outcome) nest over the past nine years (more than double what’s needed to sustain the population). Many of the nests in this area were installed in 2005 for mitigation for nests that were removed when the ACUA installed large wind turbines off Route 30. But, some platforms that were placed near the turbines, have been slowly abandoned by ospreys. This year only one nest was occupied there and it did not produce any young.  (more…)

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.

A Tribute to Elmer Clegg, Eagle Project Volunteer

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
Loyal Eagle Project Volunteer Contributes to Conservation for over Two Decades

by Dr. Larry Niles, LJ Niles Associates LLC

Dr. Erica Miller and Elmer Clegg.

Dr. Erica Miller and Elmer Clegg.

In the early days of the Bald Eagle project, when we really didn’t know whether the species could be restored back to New Jersey, there were a few people that offered their help without reservation to help the birds. Elmer Clegg and his wife Bunny were two and among the most dedicated. Elmer died May 20th at 79 years old. He was a loyal eagle volunteer for more than two decades.

 

To understand Elmer and Bunny’s contribution its important to remember the circumstances in which the eagles found themselves. The historic population of eagles, about 22 in 1950 but probably much higher in history, had been whittled down to just one unproductive pair by 1981. Biologists at the newly formed Endangered Species Program, including me, worked hard to restore the Delaware Bayshore population with new projects, like hacking young birds into the wild. By the early 2000’s, we had new nests but in places that had not known eagles for decades. In many places they were unwelcome because they thwarted sprawl development or short sighted resource use. They had to be defended, but then we couldn’t afford staff.

Dr. Erica Miller and Elmer and Bunny Clegg.

Dr. Erica Miller and Elmer and Bunny Clegg.

Into that breach stood Elmer and Bunny and others like them, John and Sheryl Healy and Red and Mary Jane Horner. They were stalwart defenders of wildlife that brooked no insult to the birds by watching the nest throughout the nesting period until the young birds fledged. It was rewarding but difficult work trying to persuade farmers, businessmen, irate suburbanites and many others that the eagles deserved to be where they were. A few times our conservation officers had to step in, or DEP had to drop the regulatory hammer, but mostly it was the calm persuasion of people, like Elmer, who’s true love for these birds spoke convincingly to those against the bird.

 

Elmer helped me understand that the future of wildlife doesn’t lie in the agencies or their staff, but in the hearts of people who care for wildlife. People like Elmer deserve to return to this earth as the species they loved so much.

 

Dr. Larry Niles has led conservation efforts for over 30 years.

Thank You, Shorebird Stewards!

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
CWF’s Shorebird Stewards Protect Delaware Bay Shorebirds and Educate the Public

by Larissa Smith, wildlife biologist

Shorebirds at Reed's Beach @ Bob Bocci

Shorebirds at Reed’s Beach Photo by Bob Bocci

This shorebird season, twenty-one stewards helped to patrol the closed shorebird beaches in Cape May and Cumberland Counties. Stewards not only make sure that no one is entering the closed areas but also educate beach goers about the shorebirds and horseshoe crabs.

Thank you to all Shorebird Stewards!

Steward Bob Bocci at Fortescue @M. Tribulski

Steward Bob Bocci at Fortescue Photo by M. Tribulski

Stewards Dan & Cheryl Alexander at Cook's Beach

Stewards Dan & Cheryl Alexander at Cook’s Beach

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Larissa Smith is the volunteer manager/wildlife biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.