Sunday, May 17, 2015

We have Red Knots - because people care...

Cape May has Red Knots - it's official. Cape May Bird Observatory's Spring Weekend festival has been an awesome event once again and, though those pretty warblers were notably in short supply for us this year, everything else fell into place wonderfully. A quick straw poll of folks that were in town for a wonderful spring weekend drew one clear conclusion as to what the highlight was - the Red Knots. Delaware Bayshore beaches from Norbury's Landing to Reed's Beach, and up along the Cumberland County beaches, were favored by Red Knots yet again. Gone, of course, are the wonderful numbers of the past - as too are the stunning hordes of horeshoecrabs, but numbers are still high enough to impress - and it's all because people care.

A series of headline events in the popular media of late could make one feel that our planet is doomed (and it would be if some had their way!) but, turn the madness of the TV news channels off, ignore the nonsense from certain websites, and go look for yourself. For out on the back bays of New Jersey, Red Knots are here, because people care. Yes, there are those who simply see dollar signs when they look at the natural world, but there are those that are fighting back and there is an army of people who are realizing that we can all do good if we go out and get involved. Here's a photo essay that surely demonstrates - Red Knots are here because people care.

Because People Care - they came to our Spring Weekend Saturday evening event, where keynote speaker and author of 'The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab and an Epic Journey', Deborah Cramer, told us of the dedicated people of Argentina who care for Red Knots on the wintering grounds, way, way down in Tierra del Fuego - a place described as the "Uttermost end of the world". Because of these people, there are still Red Knots in the Western Atlantic Flyway - and here are some of them, arriving in New Jersey just a few days ago.

Because People Care - beach replenishment has been carried out along the bayshore after the ravages of hurricane Sandy. The beaches that were replenished can clearly be seen to be the ones now providing breeding opportunities for Atlantic Horseshoecrabs and these, in turn, provide feeding opportunities for Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling and Semipalmated Sandpipers. This was the scene at Cook's Beach on Saturday.

Because People Care - they came to see shorebirds being banded and learn the how, why, where and when of shorebird research. For without that knowledge, how can one make an informed decision? And surely this picture shows that you can never be too young to care about the planet!

Because People Care - they join organizations such as Cape May Bird Observatory, New Jersey Audubon, The American Littoral Society, or The Wetlands Institute. And some, like Pat Perkins here, become life members and give so generously of their time. Here, Pat is about to release a Red Knot that has just provided researchers with valuable information. The Wetlands Institute's Executive Director, Lenore Tedesco, is co-ordinating volunteers in the background.

Because People Care - they queued up for the opportunity to release a Red Knot on its way. From here, this bird will head all the way to Arctic Canada, before turning back south to southern Argentina again in late summer.

Because People Care - this Red Knot is able to continue to the Canadian Arctic, with a fat belly and a good energy supply in the tank for the journey. The application of small and lightweight leg flags allow individual birds to be identified and tracked in the field, without the need to recapture them. Birdwatchers can help with long term projects that study longevity and movements of these birds by noting the coding on the leg flag (together with the flag color) and reporting them on the shorebird banding website. Because we care about birds, we can all help in the process that allows us to understand birds better, such that we are better able to look after them.

Because People Care - they work together for the common good. Research into New Jersey's wildlife involves a consortium of many organizations; organizations that are coming together to form a powerful alliance, but which are nothing without your support. New Jersey residents regularly vote to conserve their open space and keep the Garden State green, and being a member of a conservation organization is all part of that process.

No comments: