Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge’

New Jersey’s Beach Nesting Birds Struggle in 2023

Monday, December 11th, 2023

by Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

This year was an especially challenging one for beach nesting birds in New Jersey. Most of the species fared poorly on a statewide basis, and even though they can withstand periodic down years, several trends are worrisome to biologists and wildlife managers.

The state’s piping plover breeding population remained the same as last year with 118 pairs, which is also about the same as the long-term average since federal listing. However, productivity was just 0.53 chicks fledged per pair, the second lowest since federal listing and well below the levels believed necessary to grow the population. Of particular concern, productivity has been low for three consecutive years after a number of years of above average success. Productivity is one of the main drivers of population (up or down) and small populations are especially sensitive to even small changes, so it is expected that the population is likely to drop over the next few years, further stagnating plover recovery in the state.

Meanwhile, there was a record number (53) of breeding pairs of piping plovers at Holgate, a unit of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, that is monitored by CWF through a cooperative agreement with the Refuge. This positive trend, almost a four-fold increase has occurred since Superstorm Sandy enhanced the habitat for plovers at the site, has been an ongoing highlight for the state in recent years. Nonetheless, it has not been accompanied by similar increases elsewhere in the state, so it has not led to any statewide recovery. Productivity for the large concentration of piping plovers at Holgate was above the statewide average in 2023 but the lowest level over the past decade, so it was also a down year for this site, where expectations typically run high that it will help boost statewide productivity.

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A Return to Horseshoe Island

Thursday, November 16th, 2023

by Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

This marked the second year that CWF worked in close partnership with New Jersey Fish and Wildlife and Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBF) to monitor and manage birds on Horseshoe Island. The island, located just offshore on the southern edge of the Little Egg Inlet, has quickly become one of the most important sites for beach nesting birds in the state, as well as a critical resting and feeding site for migratory shorebirds.

Horseshoe Island hosted the state’s largest black skimmer (state endangered) colony this year with just over 1400 total adults or about 700 pairs. Although flooding and some avian predators impacted the overall nesting success at the island, at least 225 skimmer chicks “fledged” from the site. Horseshoe’s skimmer fledglings, along with those from nearby Holgate, a unit of EBF, and especially from Stone Harbor Point in Cape May County, made 2023 a moderately good productivity year for black skimmers in New Jersey.

A small portion of the black skimmer and royal tern colony on Horseshoe Island.
Photo credit: Teri Bowers
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Beach Nesting Birds- an Insider’s Look from CWF’s Seasonal Monitors

Friday, June 30th, 2023

By Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

With about 50 pairs of both piping plovers and American oystercatchers nesting this year at Holgate, a unit of the Edwin B. Forsythe NWR, CWF’s seasonal staff that monitors breeding activity for the Refuge has been working at a non-stop pace. We asked them to take a short break from their field tasks to reflect on their season, for some this is their first experience with beach nesting birds. Specifically, they were asked about their favorite and most surprising things about the birds, so far. Read their responses below, including a little twist of the “least favorite” thing in one case.

CWF’s 2023 beach nesting bird monitoring crew for Edwin B. Forsythe NWR and Horseshoe Island.
Morgan Phillips, Gianna Canale, Audrey Randazzo, Amy Kopec, Dakota Bell (l to r).
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“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.

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

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
CONGRATULATIONS, KAYLEIGH YOUNG AND HOWIE WILLIAMS!

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 second place winners.


Youth Photographer: Kayleigh Young
Cresskill, New Jersey
Golden-crowned kinglet

Youth second place winner Kayleigh Young.

Golden-crowned kinglet, youth second place winner Kayleigh Young.

Kayleigh was happy to share more about her image with us! She said, “after placing third in CWF’s 2015 Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest, I was invited to join a birding trip on which I took this picture. I’ve always loved photographing wildlife, because I absolutely love nature, hiking, and the outdoors. I don’t think I can choose a single favorite species because I truly do love all animals; if I had to, I would say a fox maybe.”


Howie Williams: Adult Photographer
Oceanville, New Jersey
Mobbed Eagle

Mobbed eagle, adult second place winner Howie Williams.

Mobbed eagle, adult second place winner Howie Williams.

Howie Williams has been photographing nature, especially raptors, for over 8 years. Peregrine falcons are his favorite bird (because of their raw speed), followed by ospreys, and eagles are a close third. Howie was hooked on photography after watching an osprey family at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) several years ago. He watched the chicks grow from when they were two weeks old to their first flight!

 

Howie frequents Forsythe NWR, which is where his winning photograph was taken. A juvenile eagle was sitting on an osprey nest platform. Howie heard a screech and a yell, looked up and saw another juvenile eagle fly in and land on the platform too. He took the above photograph at that moment! Howie couldn’t get both eagles in the frame. In the original shot, you can see just the talons from the other eagle, but he cropped them out for the image he submitted for our contest.

 

Howie is retired and spends five days a week photographing raptors. He often posts his photographs in the “visitor post” section of our Facebook page. Howie told CWF, “what’s the point of taking pictures without sharing them with people? Where’s the fun in that?”

 


Stay tuned as we announce the second place winners of the “For the Love of Wildlife” Photo Contest over the next few days!

 

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