Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Photos from the Field: Raising up hope in 2021

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

Eagle Scout candidate Kyle Agudo and Boy Scout Troop 61 give ospreys a boost in the new year

Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Troop 61 lift an osprey nest platform into place on the coastal saltmarsh. photo by Kathy Agudo.

Humans have played a key role in the recovery and stability of nesting ospreys throughout New Jersey and beyond. Today around 75% of the population, close to 500 pairs, rely on nest platforms designed specifically for them. They provide a stable nest platform, adequate perches, and protection from potential ground predators, aka raccoons. Many platforms are located in very close proximity to people, which make for excellent viewing and educational opportunities. Ospreys are a symbol of a healthy coast and resiliency in a dynamic region.

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#Thankful

Monday, November 30th, 2020

‘Tis the season for osprey nest platform repairs — and being thankful for the volunteers who make it happen!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors clean out nesting material from a 20-30 year old nest platform.

After migratory birds depart, leaves fall and northwest winds prevail, a small group of dedicated volunteers descend on our coastal saltmarshes. They’re there to maintain osprey nest platforms. Around 75% of our nesting ospreys rely on these wooden structures to reproduce. They were used to help jumpstart the early recovery efforts of ospreys in coastal New Jersey, where much of their native habitat was lost to development in the 1950-60s. Today many of these platforms are reaching their life span or are very close.

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Piping Plovers and Researchers Return to The Bahamas

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
PROTECTING PIPING PLOVER HABITAT CRITICAL PART OF CONSERVE WILDLIFE FOUNDATION’S WORK

By: Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager and Stephanie Egger, Wildlife Biologist

We talk quite a bit about “site fidelity” in connection with our beach nesting bird project. And for good reason, whether it be on the breeding or wintering grounds, these birds, like most wildlife, are strongly connected to specific places and types of habitats. Not just in the general sense; many piping plovers return to the same precise site year after year.

Aerial view of one of several hundred Bahamas islands and cays, with tidal flats, highly suitable piping plover habitat, visible stretching around the island.

Aerial view of one of several hundred Bahamas islands and cays, with tidal flats, highly suitable piping plover habitat, visible stretching around the island.

 

We were reminded of this the last several days as we made our way around Abaco, The Bahamas, in search of wintering piping plovers. Having made a number of trips to Abaco since 2011, we have started to narrow down where it is likely we will be able to find them: the Green Turtle Cay Gillam Bay flat at low tide or the adjacent upper beach hummocks at high tide, Casuarina Point to forage at low tide, a number of the main island’s southern oceanfront beaches for roosting, to name a few. We are still finding new sites, not previously surveyed or documented, but we now have a much better idea of what to look for and on what tide or wind condition.

 

The catch is, this only works if the habitat remains intact and suitable. Back in New Jersey, we know this well, as many of the formerly suitable sites for beach nesting birds are lost forever to development or are highly disturbed by recreational activities so the likelihood of reproductive success is low even if they do choose to nest at those locations. Sadly, our breeding pairs of piping plover are relegated to a limited number of suitable sites, which is not a good recipe for recovery of this endangered shorebird.

 

With its hundreds of islands and cays, many undeveloped or lightly settled, we may be inclined to think this is less of an issue on the wintering grounds in the Bahamas. And relatively speaking, this might be true to some extent, but it would be unwise to believe this will always be the case. Economic forces are a driving factor there, as in anywhere in the world, so the lure of development and commercial use of resources is strong in the Bahamas as well.

Black Flag "K2", a Canadian breeder and one of six color marked piping plovers observed on wintering grounds on Abaco, The Bahamas, this past week by CWFNJ's Todd Pover and Stephanie Egger.

Black Flag “K2”, a Canadian breeder and one of six color marked piping plovers observed on wintering grounds on Abaco, The Bahamas, this past week by CWFNJ’s Todd Pover and Stephanie Egger.

 

Fortunately, there is also a strong incentive to protect shorebirds in the Bahamas. The tidal flats and shallow water habitats that shorebirds use are also important for bonefish, conch, and other fisheries that are important to the local economy and provide jobs. Furthermore, birding and wildlife-based activities are increasing an important part of the tourist sector. However, In order to sustain those activities and opportunities, ecosystems must remain intact and pristine.

 

A number of organizations, local and from abroad, are diligently working to designate more protected areas in the Bahamas. One of the top priorities now, an effort being led by the Bahamas National Trust and National Audubon Society, is to protect the vast flats area in the Joulter Cays, Andros, which are especially important for shorebirds such as the piping plover. On Abaco, where we have been focusing our piping plover work, Friends of the Environment  is strongly advocating for protection of East Abaco Creeks, Cross Harbour, and more recently The Marls.

 

During a survey this past week on Man-O-War, one of Abaco’s offshore cays, we were able to locate a banded piping plover that had originally been marked on its breeding grounds in Canada. In discussing the bird with a local resident who had first spotted it, she was surprised that the bird was remaining in the same spot ever since she saw it two months ago. This was site fidelity illustrated in its truest sense, and in the same vein, the researchers in Canada are already anticipating it will return to the same site to nest next spring. From what we know about piping plovers that is highly likely…as long as we remain committed to protecting the habitat they use.

 

Project RedBand: 04/C from LBI to Trinidad and Tobago!

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
Auxiliary bands help link Barnegat Bay ospreys to their wintering grounds

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

04/C was banded at a nest on LBI and re-sighted on the island of Trinidad and Tobago by Nicholas Hassanali.

04/C was banded at a nest on LBI and re-sighted on the island of Trinidad and Tobago by Nicholas Hassanali.

When I started work on Monday morning I got some amazing news (at least for an osprey lover). One of the young ospreys that I banded on Barnegat Bay was re-sighted on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago!! To top that cake, the osprey was photographed to confirm its sighting. YES!! Nicholas Hassanali took the above photo and enlarged the red band to read the alpha-numeric code which reads “04/C.” I looked up in my banding records and saw that 04/C was produced at a nest behind the Long Beach Island Foundation for Arts & Sciences in Loveladies, Long Beach Island.

04/C after being banded. He was around 4 weeks old on July 7, 2014.

04/C after being banded. He was around 4 weeks old on July 7, 2014.

I banded him (I can tell its a male by the size of the band on its leg and the lack of a brown necklace of feathers on its breast) on July 7th with a CWF donor Bill C. We ventured to four nests by kayak. This was the first survey where I started to deploy the red auxiliary bands on young ospreys. I remember that it was a pleasant day. Not too hot or windy. As we made our way from one sheltered nest on a lagoon to another out on the bay we felt the winds kick up from the south making paddling difficult (especially when you’re towing another kayak with a ladder on top!).

125-A-032: 04/C's nest.

125-A-032: 04/C’s nest.

We decided to return to Bill’s house and take my truck to survey the next two nests, since we could walk to them from a side street. We walked out to one nest and found that it failed, i.e. no young were produced. Then we proceeded onto the next, 04/C’s nest. I remember climbing up the ladder to band the young and did not get a chance to take any better photos because I had to be on my way soon. While up there I remember the male dropped a fish (bunker) and Bill got it and we put it back into the nest. One thing that I will not forget about this day is the smell of smoke and burning plastic. I found out later that day that a lawyer’s office in Ship Bottom was on fire when we were out surveying these nests. Luckily no one was hurt in the fire!

I personally cannot wait to get more reports of our red banded ospreys. The young that were banded this year will not return until 2016 and even then they might not return until the late spring/early summer and will not breed. At least I know that there are people out there watching and admiring our ospreys! As Nick said in a comment on his photo on Flickr, “ I have a great love for Ospreys.” 🙂

A break in the weather

Friday, February 21st, 2014
Great Bay Blvd. Osprey Platform Install

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

We took advantage of the break in cold/wet weather along the southeast coast of New Jersey and installed a new nesting platform for ospreys this week. The new platform was installed for a pair that previously nested on sensitive equipment used by the Rutgers University Marine Field Station on Great Bay Blvd. in Little Egg Harbor. The equipment was located on a short cluster of pilings near the boardwalk to the Station. It failed to produce young in 2013. More than likely it was predated by raccoon, the main ground predator of osprey young.

A large number of volunteers showed up to help out. The actual install was quite easy considering it could be accessed by the land via Great Bay Blvd. The platform was placed along a tidal creek so that biologists can easily access the nest for future surveys. Rutgers staff will install deterrents on the old nest so birds can’t nest there when they return in late March. You can see the location of the nest on Osprey Watch or drive out on GBB to see it in person.

Thank you to all the volunteers who came out to help!