Delaware Bay, New Jersey, USA - Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Two events dominated our third day of trapping shorebirds on the
The welfare of the birds is our number one concern; after all the reason why we are here doing this work is to protect them. We all should be concerned. Kathy Clark of the NJ ENSP conducts the yearly survey of shorebirds on the
Fortunately, courageous leadership by the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection led to a two-year moratorium on harvesting horseshoe crabs in NJ starting in 2006. Delaware Fish and Wildlife has also bravely opposed significant political opposition and imposed their own two-year moratorium on the harvest of crabs starting this year. Four of the people who helped create this sea change, David Chanda, the NJ Fish and Wildlife Director, Gil Ewing of the NJ Marine Fish Council as well as Fran Puskas and John Messerol of NJ Fish and Wildlife Council, were among the group watching while Clive Minton, Dick Veitch and I sat in the dune grass getting ready to catch shorebirds. We wanted to give them a first hand experience with the birds they helped protect. But first we had to catch them!
Clive and I stared through our binoculars watching several hundred ruddy turnstones, sanderlings and red knots walking across the long net and into danger zone. Three feet in front of the net we had laid a thin cord with small swatches of material spaced every couple of feet known as a “jiggler”. We can pull the jiggler from the firing position to scare the birds just enough to encourage them to walk out of the danger zone. But each time Clive yanked the jiggler it scared the birds to the backside of the net and when he stopped they would walk back across into the danger zone and spread out into the catching area. We were in a bind. So we decided to wait it out until a natural change occurred in the birds’ behavior. Minutes seem like hours when your decision to fire can mean a good catch, a poor catch or no catch. In a flash the danger zone cleared, we fired and within seconds the team went to work calming the birds by covering them with a shade cloth and moving them into the keeping catches. We caught and processed 78 turnstones, 62 sanderlings and 1 red knot. We were please to have the Director and Council members join in the processing of the birds.
The cannon net firing in sequence
John Messerol and his granddaughter Amber
Kathy Clark, Ron Porter and Humphrey Sitters surveying shorebird from a Cessna 172