Posts Tagged ‘Stewardship’

The Reserve’s Changing Landscape

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

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.

Opportunity to Make a Difference

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

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.

Rescuing a Feathery Friend

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

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.

St. Jones Reserve Boardwalk Open and Ready for Visitors!

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

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.

Thank you Wes!

Friday, September 30th, 2011

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!


A Facelift for the Boardwalk

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

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.

Delaware Celebrates National Estuaries Day

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

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.

Educating on a Changing Climate

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

This past week teachers from Delaware and Pennsylvania dawned on a salty adventure exploring the current and potential effects of climate change on the Delaware Estuary.  This 2-day exploration was part of the annual 5- day Delaware Estuary Watershed Teacher Workshop conducted by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE).  This year the Reserve partnered with PDE to provide information, activities, and tools for teachers to educate their students on climate change and sea level rise.  The teachers took part in a boat trip exploring the St. Jones River sub-estuary and heard from experts in the field of education, stewardship, and coastal issues including sea level rise and climate change.  To learn more about sea level rise and climate change visit  Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and DNREC’s  Delaware Coastal Programs Office . For more information about the teacher workshop and more information about the Delaware Estuary visit the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the Thank You Delaware Bay campaign. 

Reserve staff bands Osprey near Jug Bay

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Last week the Delaware NERR staff had the great opportunity to band osprey with staff from our sister reserve, Chesapeake Bay Maryland NERR.  We began the day learning about their stewardship, education, and research projects followed by an awesome tour of their Jug Bay site.   In the afternoon we assisted Greg Kearns with the Patuxent River Park and the Maryland Reserve staff in banding osprey.  Osprey are large raptors that typically live around bodies of water which makes it easy to catch their favorite food…fish.  They often make their large nests of twigs, bark, and grass on the top of man-made structures such as poles and platforms.  Enjoy the photos of the osprey banding!  For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Maryland NERR or about the Patuxent River Park (including the Live Osprey Cam) visit them on the web.

Thank you to our volunteers!

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Tonight is the last night for the 2011 horseshoe crab spawning survey.   We greatly appreciate those who have participated in this year’s survey and those who have helped in the past.  The information from this survey is very valuable in policy making efforts.  You are making a difference! Thank you, again!!!  We look forward to you joining us next year.  For information regarding the survey visit the Reserve webpage .