Have you been to the Blackbird Creek Reserve lately? You may have notice some changes to our farm field. As part of our restoration plan for the Blackbird Creek Reserve, we have taken some agricultural land out of production and created/restored some freshwater wetlands. Wetlands are areas where there are water loving (hydrophytic) plants, saturation of the land or free standing water during portions of the growing season, and hydric soils (soils that are wet enough during the growing season to develop low/no oxygen conditions). Wetlands have many benefits such as absorbing water like a sponge which helps to reduce flooding, acting as a natural filter, and providing important habitat for food, shelter, and nesting. A couple of weeks ago staff and volunteers planted the wetland sites with various native water loving plants including rushes, wool grass, buttonbush, sedges, and pin oak. Visit us on the web for more information about the Blackbird Creek Reserve, Delaware Wetlands, and Wetland and Waterway permitting in Delaware.
Archive for the ‘Stewardship’ Category
How better to learn about a watershed than to experience it? On July 12, 2012 teachers from several states participated in a watershed tour of the St. Jones River coordinated by the Reserve in collaboration with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (the Partnership). The tour is one component of the Partnership’s annual watershed workshop for teachers. The teachers explored the history, habitats, impacts, and the restoration efforts occurring in and along the St. Jones River in Kent County, Delaware. At each stop along the tour teachers had the opportunity to interact with scientists, resource managers, and environmental educators about the importance of the St. Jones River; how it was impacted in the past; what impacts it today; and how it is being protected for tomorrow. If you want to learn more about the St. Jones River visit the St. Jones Reserve south of the Dover Air Force Base in Dover, DE.
If you have ever visited the St. Jones Reserve you may know that we are neighbors of the John Dickinson Plantation. At one time the St. Jones Reserve property was owned by the Dickinson family during the 18th century. Mr. Dickinson was called the “Penman of the Revolution” because he was known for his Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies. John was a politician but he identified himself as a farmer. His cattle once grazed on salt meadow hay in the upper marsh surrounding the St. Jones River. He also saw the need to be a conservationist. As he watched the trees in the area being depleted, he instituted a policy on his land where only dead tree material was to be utilized for building and repair.
If you are looking for something to do this 4th of July week , visit the John Dickinson Plantation and the St. Jones Reserve to see the land where our forefather once roamed. For more information about John Dickinson and the Plantation visit the John Dickinson Plantation on the web. Please note that the Reserve and Plantation are closed on the 4th but opened other days of the week.
It is that time of year when the Reserve gears up for all things horseshoe crab related. Every spring around May and June, the Delaware Bay beaches are covered with spawning horseshoe crabs. During this time trained volunteers help assess the horseshoe crab population by participating in the horseshoe crab spawning survey. The survey began in the 1990’s to assist scientists in monitoring changes in population of spawning horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay. Delaware’s well-trained and enthusiastic volunteers have made this program one of the most successful volunteer based wildlife surveys in the country. As part of the bay-wide survey, the Reserve coordinates the volunteer efforts on three bay beaches (Kitts Hummock, Ted Harvey, and North Bowers). The preparation for the survey begins in March by seeking volunteers who are interested in participating in research and are up for an adventure!
It is important that volunteers are trained for the survey as the data is being used in management and policy decisions. The Reserve staff holds two volunteer training sessions in April each year for anyone interested in assisting with the Horseshoe Crab Spawning survey. The trainings take place at the St. Jones Reserve, 818 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. You are only required to participate in one of the following trainings:
Thursday, April 5, 2012 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the St. Jones Reserve
Saturday, April 14, 2012 from 10 – 11:30 a.m. at the St. Jones Reserve
Are you ready and up for this awesome opportunity to be a citizen scientist? We hope so! We could definitely use your help. To register for a training or for more information visit us on the web.
Many people living on the coasts and near oceans have heard of seabirds. Some of these birds are what scientists call pelagic which means that they live mostly in the open sea or ocean; however, they will come to land to breed. That is why it was such a surprise to see one of our researchers bring a juvenile northern gannet into the Reserve. The northern gannet is a seabird known for their remarkable diving capabilities to feed on various fish species. These birds are primarily white with black wing tips, a yellowish head, and greyish eyes. However, the one brought into the Reserve was a juvenile and therefore it was brownish with white spots. This young gannet was found in a salt marsh near the Delaware Bay. An unusual spot to find a gannet as it is a pelagic species; and it’s not breeding season. Unfortuantely, the little gannet might have a respiratory issue and was taken to Tri State Bird Rescue where it is being nurtured back to health. For more information on northern gannets visit the US Fish and Wildlife Service website and for more information on bird rescue work visit the Tri State Bird Rescue and Research website.
“It’s always fun to find a nice surprise when I’m working in the field! While surveying impoundments at the Ted Harvey Wildlife Management Area from a Delaware Fish and Wildlife fanboat, one of the other scientists I was working with noticed some movement in the marsh. He asked, “Did you see that teal?” I replied, “No, I didn’t see anything?” Next thing I know he’s running through the flooded marsh after an injured teal (so much for my great birding skills). When he brought the green winged teal to me I noticed that half of its wing was missing. Luckily, the duck had found a great hiding spot where it was able to recover from its injury. Because its flying abilities were greatly hindered, it was taken to Tri-State Bird Rescue where it will find a permanent home in captivity. Another exciting field day!”
The St. Jones Reserve Trail Boardwalk has a new look! You may recall that the main boardwalk at the St. Jones Reserve was undergoing some renovations. Those renovations are complete and the boardwalk is back open to visitors. The new look includes wooden decking with more space between the deck planks and three sections of grating. Both practices allow more sunlight to penetrate to the marsh surface. The increased amount of sunlight reaching the marsh surface should decrease the amount of impact the boardwalk has on plant growth. Come visit the Reserve and explore the marsh by taking a walk on the renovated boardwalk. The trails are open 7 days a week from dawn until dusk. Always be cautious of hunting seasons. The best time to walk the entire trail is on a Sunday when there is no hunting. For more information about the Reserve visit our website.
Today we’re celebrating 12 years of outstanding service by the Reserve’s Conservationist, Wes Conley who is starting on a new adventure – retirement! He’s been an invaluable resource to the Reserve and provided outstanding technical assistance and leadership in getting things done on the ground at the St Jones Reserve and Blackbird Creek Reserve. His work ethic and dedication have brought great credit upon himself and the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve. It has been amazing working with you Wes!
If you have been to the St. Jones Reserve recently you may have noticed that the boardwalk is being renovated. This is exciting news as the Reserve will be a demonstration site for alternative decking material which allows more light to reach the marsh surface and will hopefully lead to more plants growing under the boardwalk. In addition to alterantive decking, other areas of decking will be replaced with treated wood, but the spacing between the planks will be 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch which will also allow more light to penetrate to the marsh surface. Because of the renovations, the St. Jones Reserve Trail will temporarily be closed until the project is complete for the safety of our visitors. However, we encourage you to visit the trail after the project has been completed to experience the salt marsh from the renovated boardwalk. We greatly appreciate your patience and look forward to your future visits.
Join us for a grand celebration of National Estuaries Day! National Estuaries Day is an annual event that celebrates our estuaries, those areas where rivers meet the sea. It is a great opportunity to learn more about these ecosystems and how you can help to protect them. Delaware is celebrating National Estuaries Day through the annual Coastal Clean-up event to be held on Saturday, September 17, 2011. We encourage you to get involved and volunteer for Delaware’s Coastal Clean-up. It is a wonderful way to help protect our coasts and estuaries (such as the Delaware Bay). Visit the Delaware Coastal Clean-up webpage for more information or to register to volunteer. For information about National Estuaries Day (NED) visit the NED webpage.