From the category archives:

Promoting the Red Knot Survival Project through Global Conservation Alliance

State of the Union at Global Conservation Alliance

by Lanny McDowell on February 15, 2010

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Here is an update on where we stand right now.  By the way, the new name for our shorebird project within GCA is The Red Knot Survival Project.

I was just reading about non-profits and who gives to them, who the supporters are.  Well it turns out that 75% of the money donated comes from private individuals.  That is pretty astounding, and also encouraging.  As of this writing, Global Conservation Alliance has received money donations from various individuals, from one corporate contributor and from one conservation organization donor.

GCA members have traveled to Delaware Bay to work there the last two years, in 2008 and 2009; and we anticipate going back this year.  Our target dates are May 22 until June 1st.  The full moon, when horseshoe crabs gather in the most dense numbers to lay their eggs, because the higher tides of the full and new moons take them further up the beach, occurs on the 27th of May this year, right in the middle of our stay.  Also, it happens that the historical departure date for Red Knots leaving en masse for the Arctic occurs on some afternoon between the 27th and the 29th of May. [click to continue...]

shore bird photos up close & personal

by Lanny McDowell on June 17, 2009

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Take a course in good water and air
, and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own.  Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.
John Muir

Especially when someone looking at bird photography sees a lot of detail in the avian subject, feathers in sharp focus or a shiny glint in the bird’s eye, he or she wonders how it is accomplished.  Often the viewer concludes, “Oh, well, the big lens!”   “What kind of glass are you using?” is the more camera-savvy question.  Guess what?  It can be the humongous and fast prime lens on the oversized gimbled tripod … on a bright sunny day … bird posed at the edge of the nest … shot from the sturdy platform of the observation tower in the well-managed nature sanctuary.  Nothing wrong with that.  Do whatcha gotta do, I say.

Here’s what I go for, though.  What I seek out and what rings my avian art bell is:   first of all, it almost does not matter what the species is;  [click to continue...]

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Our Pennsylvania-based associate John Patrick Brown arranged a just-in-time house rental which offered us the option of either staying in a nice old farmhouse once owned by Lucky Luciano or using the current owners’ beach house right on Delaware Bay at a place called Highs Beach, which is just south from Cook’s and Reeds beaches, both well known as annual shorebird feeding and resting sites situated up the bay coast from Cape May.

The permits for Global Conservation Alliance (GCA)  to conduct research this year specified Cook’s, Reeds, Moore’s and Gandy’s beaches as locations for our work.  The procedure to collect Horseshoe crab eggs involved sampling certain marked plots according to  protocols developed by Norm Famous, who has the credentials and background to do that sort of thing.  Three of the four beaches were associated with the outlets of estuary systems draining out of extensive marshlands emptying into Delaware Bay from the New Jersey side.  Two of the beaches were long uninterrupted stretches of sand.  Two contained a variety of bayshore surfaces and substrata, including clay and silt layers, sections of peat and areas of mixed sand and pebbles washed by strong tidal currents.

Our objective was to identify places on the beach [click to continue...]

All three of us had pretty much given up on getting to the Jersey shore during spring migration this year. It looked like our non-profit, Global Conservation Alliance, was going to be a blowout for 2009, which , if that did not concern Red Knots and other declining stocks of migrant shorebirds, might not be such a big deal in itself; but wasting a year would have been a real shame in this case.

In order to have a chance of carrying out work on the beaches of Delaware Bay that might result in healthier (and heavier) Red Knots leaving on the last northern leg of their annual journey up to the Arctic, certain scientific requirements need to be met.  If anyone wants to access the restricted beaches where the birds feed, or if anyone wants to physically disturb the surface of those beaches, they have to apply for and receive permits from the state powers that be to do that work.  You can’t just show up and start digging up the sand.

Norm Famous, one of our number who is a wetlands ecologist by profession, put together GCA’s application to New Jersey Fish & Wildlife to conduct two experiments [click to continue...]