Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘2012’

Tracking eagles in NJ

Friday, February 1st, 2013
Merrill Creek female with transmitter May 29, 2102© Kathy Clark

Merrill Creek female with transmitter May 29, 2102© Kathy Clark

Update On Merrill Creek Birds

By Larissa Smith Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager

Back in August I wrote a blog update on two eagles fitted with transmitters at Merrill Creek Reservoir.

The male eaglet was fitted with the transmitter in July 2011.  In September 2011, the male flew as far west as Harrisburg, PA, and in January 2012 spent a few days in the upper Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.  After that he spent the majority of his time in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

In early January, 2013, biologists became concerned when the signal from the transmitter was not moving.  A team of biologists from the ENSP’s Clinton office went out to search the area but were not able to locate the bird.  Another attempt was made on January 18th and the bird was found dead in the shoulder of the highway.  The carcass was saved for later examination to determine the cause of death, though we suspect it was struck by a vehicle.  The transmitter was still attached to the bird, and it will be refurbished and placed on another eaglet this nesting season.

So far, two out of the three eaglets outfitted with transmitters have not survived.  Juvenile eagles have a high rate of mortality as they learn to live on their own and aren’t yet the most skilled hunters or fliers.  We are learning a lot about these young eagles and their habitat choices and migratory movements.  Unfortunately, we are also learning that they face many perils in the wild, as we have seen with the first eagle infected with West Nile virus, and the second struck by a vehicle.

In May, 2012, a transmitter was placed on the largest of three eaglets in the Merrill Creek nest.  She fledged in July and remained in the nest area until September 10, when she took a quick flight south.  She continues to be tracked around the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula in coastal Virginia, a favorite wintering area for many immature eagles.  To follow her movements (and to see the movements of the other eagles) go to:

Herring Island Osprey Platform Install

Monday, December 17th, 2012
Helping wildlife affected by Sandy

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

An old duck blind that once held an osprey nest.

An old duck blind that once held an osprey nest.

Since Sandy slammed into the coast of New Jersey we have been actively surveying damage to habitat that wildlife need to survive. Ospreys are currently on their wintering grounds in N. South America but their many nesting platforms were right in the middle of the high winds and strong storm surge from Sandy. For the most part, the majority of the platforms weathered the storm. Some of the old, small, and weak platforms were carried away with the surge (like this old duck blind on Herring Island on N. Barnegat Bay).

Ospreys mate for life and have a high level of site fidelity, so the nesting pair (if they survive the wintering season) will return to the same nest, and do so year after year. For the platforms that were occupied and washed away, we aren’t sitting around waiting for issues to arise when ospreys return to their nest sites next March. Since Sandy hit on October 29th we have already installed 5 new nesting platforms. Two platforms were installed on December 1st on Herring Island, which is right in the middle of the area where Sandy had devastating effects on the shoreline. The platforms were built before the storm by Point Pleasant resident Tom Vannostrand. The new platforms were installed to replace an old duck blind that was damaged late last year (possibly from Irene) and washed away by Sandy. When the pair of ospreys returned to nest on the blind this year they found that their nesting structure was damaged and attempted to build a nest on a nearby home. Long story short, the homeowners weren’t so happy and had the nest removed by USDA.

You can help us build and replace other platforms damaged by Sandy. On January 19th, from 10-3pm we are hosting a volunteer build day to construct 20 nesting platforms.


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Osprey platforms faired well after Sandy

Monday, November 26th, 2012
Post-storm surveys and reports from public equal a sigh of relief!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

No doubt the effects of superstorm Sandy will be felt for a long time, especially to residents of coastal areas who experienced flooding with the associated storm surge. During the past two hurricanes, Irene last August and now Sandy, I was really worried that a lot of osprey nesting platforms would get damaged or lost during the storms. Luckily my worries didn’t become reality! So far most nesting platforms are still standing strong despite a 15′ storm surge with sustained winds of at least 70-80mph. I’ve heard of a few structures that have fallen down. Most were probably ones that were older structures that were constructed poorly or installed too close to the edge on the saltmarsh. Over the next couple weeks we’re planning on getting out to other colonies to survey for damage caused by Sandy.

An osprey platform after superstorm Sandy hit the coast of New Jersey.


Friday, November 16th, 2012


Northern Gray Treefrog © Thomas Gorman

By: Larissa Smith: Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager

When people first hear the word CAMP they might think of going out in the woods and setting up a tent, but CWF’s CAMP project is all about monitoring New Jersey’s amphibian population. CAMP stands for the Calling Amphibian Monitoring Project.

In 2012 33 volunteers participated and surveyed a total of 33 routes out of 63. Volunteers conduct roadside surveys (after dusk) for calling amphibians along designated routes throughout the state. Each 15-mile route is surveyed three times during the spring. Each route has 10 stops, where volunteers stop, listen and record all frog and toad calls for 5 minutes.

In 2012 15 out of the 16 New Jersey amphibian species were detected. The only species not detected was the Eastern Spadefoot.  Northern Spring Peepers were the most common species detected on 31 of the routes while Green Frogs were detected on 22 routes.  Both the American Bullfrog and Southern Leopard Frog were heard on 16 of the routes.

In NJ there are four frog and toad species of conservation concern; the Southern gray Treefrog  is a state endangered species, the Pine Barrens Treefrog  is a state threatened species, and the Carpenter Frog and Fowler’s Toad are both  special concern species. The Southern Gray Treefrog was detected on 2 of the CAMP route, the Pine Barren Treefrog on 3 of the routes, the Fowler’s Toad on 13 of the routes and the Carpenter Frog on 7 of the routes.

CAMP data is entered into the North American Amphibian Monitoring  Program (NAAMP)  database housed by the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. All of the occurrence data for these species is  extracted from the NAAMP database, quality checked for validity, and entered into the Biotics database by CWF & ENSP staff. These data will then be used in future versions of the Landscape Project maps.  These maps are used by planners in various state, county, municipal and private agencies to avoid conflict with critical wildlife habitat.

Thank you to all CAMP volunteers!


  • Twenty-five routes are available for the 2013 season
  • For more information on volunteering e-mail:



2012 is a Record year for nesting bald eagles in NJ.

Friday, October 5th, 2012

NJ Bald Eagle population continues to increase.

by: Larissa Smith Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager

Three chicks at the Kettle Creek nest © Alex Tongas

In 2012 a new record high of 135 eagle pairs were monitored during the nesting season. One hundred and nineteen of those were active which means they laid eggs.  A total of 165 young were produced this year and fledged (left the nest). That is 46 more than 2011’s 119 young produced.  Twenty-seven new eagle pairs were found this season, 15 in the south, 2 in central and 10 in northern NJ.  While all of these numbers are good news for NJ eagles they still need protection.  The two major threats that bald eagles in NJ face today are disturbance and habitat loss.

The NJ Bald Eagle Project has a dedicated group of volunteers who monitor nests throughout New Jersey.  They help to prevent disturbance at nest sites by educating the public about eagles.  The success of the eagle project is directly related to these wonderful volunteers.

Spruce Run Reservoir © A. W. Gumulak

More details on the 2012 nesting season will be available in the 2012 NJ Bald Eagle Project report.