I am volunteering again this year to be a Shorebird Steward along the Delaware Bayshore. The NJ Dept of Fish and Wildlife, in conjunction with Conserve Wildlife NJ closes several beaches in order to protect endangered shorebirds such as the Red Knot while they migrate from Argentina to the Arctic. I did this last year too and I think it is an important way for me to engage with wildlife conservation in addition to simply running around looking at birds. If you want to learn more about this important issue, go to http://www.conservewildlifenj.org/protecting/projects/shorebird/ and http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/ensp/redknot.htm .
Diane joined me this year, so we were stationed at either end of the closed area in the Villas. I was stationed at the north end of the closure at New Jersey Ave while Di was stationed at Rose Ave which is at the south end. I had a great time talking to people, getting them to take surveys, and scanning the thousands of birds to find any that had been banded. I met new friends, got 12 surveys completed and over 50 banded birds documented and photographed. Di didn't have such a good experience. She didn't get any surveys completed and only got 4 banded birds. I guess I had the better end of the beach!
This is what the beach looks like as the tide starts to go out. Thousands of Sanderlings and other birds running along the water's edge picking through the sand for Horseshoe Crab eggs. The birds concentrate at any point where there is a spit of sand. I guess that is where the most crab eggs are exposed.
Here is a closer look at the birds and an unfortunate Horseshoe Crab which is on its back. We walk along the beach each morning "flipping" crabs but we are not allowed inside the closed beach, so we watch in vain as these crabs lay upside down all day until the tide comes back in. Hopefully, they will flip themselves back when the water surrounds them. This photo also shows a variety of birds - Ruddy Turnstone on the left in front of the crab, Dunlin on the right closest to the camera, and 6 Sanderlings of various colors in the middle - one of them is banded.
Here are a few of the good photos of the banded birds from last weekend:
Please post a comment and let me know if you like seeing these photos. Also, let me know who is your favorite banded bird so far.