Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘North Brigantine Natural Area’


Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
Assessing the damage to coastal wildlife and their habitat

By Stephanie Egger, Wildlife Biologist

CWFNJ Wildlife Biologist, Stephanie Egger, surveying American Oystercatchers post Hurricane Sandy.

As we all know Hurricane Sandy caused severe damage and devastation to New Jersey residents, homes, and their businesses, but we must not forget that wildlife can also suffer from the impacts of a hurricane.  CWFNJ’s Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager, Todd Pover, Alfred Breed, CWFNJ Field Technician, and myself, conducted wildlife/habitat assessments on beaches from Brigantine to Cape May after the storm.  Our nesting sites further north in Ocean and Monmouth Counties were still not accessible at that time to evaluate.  We assessed nesting habitat for beach nesting bird species, especially Piping Plover as well beach/inlet habitat used by migratory shorebirds, particularly American Oystercatchers.

A view of the severe erosion at Strathmere Natural Area, Cape May County, NJ.

As expected, many of our nesting sites and sites that are also used by migratory shorebirds for roosting were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, losing a great deal of sand and suitable habitat.  However, in some locations such as Stone Harbor Point and North Brigantine Natural Area, the storm scoured out areas with too much vegetation which is good for beach nesters as they prefer sparsely vegetated areas. Sand was also pushed back into the dunes to create blowouts and overwash areas that may serve as additional habitat.  Many of the areas seem to be very low lying now from the loss of sand and might be more flood prone which could impact the beach nesters in the spring.

We also observed migratory songbirds, golden-crowned kinglets, which were taking shelter and flittering through the back dune/bayberry habitat right after the storm.  This was a good reminder of the value of New Jersey coastal habitat for songbirds as they migrate down the coast.

American Oystercatchers roosting with juvenile Black Skimmers at Strathmere Natural Area, Cape May County, NJ

As part of our assessment, we conducted American Oystercatcher surveys as a significant number use New Jersey beaches for roosting during the fall and winter.  Luckily, approximately 900-1,000 American Oystercatchers were still using our southern coastal inlets after Sandy, about the same number of birds observed the week before the storm.  Thanks to funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation we were already conducting fall surveys for American Oystercatchers and in the position to compare their numbers before and after the storm.

Only time will tell if the habitat will build back up enough in time for the spring as the birds begin to arrive for the nesting season or if it will have lasting impacts on migratory bird species. We hope to conduct further assessments to gain a better understanding of the short- and long-term impacts to wildlife from Hurricane Sandy and how that may affect conservation and recovery effort for these species moving forward.





For CWFNJ’s videos of wildlife and habitat assessments click on the links below:

Wildlife Assessment Post Hurricane Sandy at North Brigantine Natural Area, NJ

Wildlife Assessment Post Hurricane Sandy at Stone Harbor Point, NJ

Wildlife Assessment Post Hurricane Sandy at Strathmere Natural Area, NJ

Update from the field

Monday, October 10th, 2011

by Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager

Some of you may recall an earlier blog (If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try, and Try Again, July 27, 2011) posted by Emily Heiser, one of our seasonal technicians, in which she

"Bahama Mama" - If You Look Close, You Can Detect The Color Bands On her Legs

reported on a piping plover that had nested four times this

year. One reason we know so much about this individual bird is because it is one of just a few banded piping plovers found in New Jersey-it was originally banded in the winter of 2010 in the Bahamas.

This specific bird, dubbed Bahama Mama by our staff, was first observed this year at North Brigantine Natural Area on March 29. It spend the next several months finding a mate, laying and incubating eggs, and finally trying to raise young, a cycle that ended unsuccessfully near the beginning of August. Normally that would be the end of the story for this year, but because we are conducting post-breeding/migratory piping plover surveys once a week at this site through the end of October, we have more to report.

As of last week, Bahama Mama was still present at the same site, nearly two months after breeding concluded and six months after she first arrived. The fact that she has remained there well after the nesting season ended is a huge surprise and defies conventional expectations. We fully expected her to be on her way back to the Bahamas by now. (more…)

Brigantine Shorebird Study

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
Volunteers are needed to help study migratory shorebird distribution and human use

A large flock of migratory shorebirds at North Brigantine Natural Area. © Ben Wurst

A partnership between Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, Endangered and Nongame Species Program, and Rutgers University.

Survey Period: 10/13/2010 – 10/24/2010

Volunteers are needed to help conduct a study that will measure all influences of shorebird distribution (food, predation and human use/disturbance) while altering human recreational use (close sections of beach, restricted access to key areas or to the waterline) to determine impact both to recreational use and shorebirds at a coastal stopover site (North Brigantine Natural Area). Volunteers are needed to survey shorebird behavior and distribution and/or human use of the natural area.

The ultimate goal is to recommend management programs that create the best protection with minimal impact to recreational use to all Federal and State agencies responsible for sites important to migratory shorebirds.

Shorebird Study:

Volunteers/interns must have the ability to:

  1. Identify shorebird species including Red Knot, Semi-palmated Plover, Sanderling, Sandpiper spp., Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstone is required.
  2. Accurately observe and record estimates of flock size and behaviors.
  3. Work anywhere 11-hour days with breaks throughout the day on site as needed.
  4. Walk several miles on the beach throughout the shift.
  5. Communicate effectively, intelligently and positively with the public despite potential opposition.
  6. Provide own transportation to Brigantine Natural Area.
  7. Lodging will be provided for those traveling and/or working consecutive days.

Human Use Study:

Volunteers/interns must have the ability to:

  1. Communicate effectively, intelligently and positively about the study with the public despite potential opposition. Volunteers will be supplied with a 1-page hand out about the project with contact information to share with the public.
  2. Advise public of beach closure.
  3. Interview visitors where possible to establish recreational activities, recreational rates, and perceptions.
  4. Accurately record responses.
  5. Work 11 hour days (includes two weekends) with breaks as needed on site throughout the day.
  6. Provide own transportation to Brigantine Natural Area.
  7. Lodging is available for those traveling and working consecutive days.

The schedule will be composed of 11-hour daily survey periods over the course of 12 consecutive days. This includes three pre-treatment days (10/13-10/15) followed by six treatment (beach closure) days (10/16-10/21) and three post-treatment days (10/22-10/24). Obviously, greater availability is preferred but flexible scheduling will be considered. We would like to keep this project a volunteer/intern support survey, so pay is not likely although may be considered if we are able to identify additional funding.

Please contact Cristina Frank at if you’d like to volunteer.