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.
Did you know that the American holly (Ilex opaca) is Delaware’s State tree? The holly was adopted as the State’s tree in 1939. This beautiful native plant is commonly used in decorations this time of year. But, I encourage you to take a hike on one of our trails to see the beauty of the American holly as it naturally decorates our woodlands and forests. The bright red berries and the thick green leaves provide a punch of color against the backdrop of late fall and early winter’s browner tones. American holly trees look great planted in a landscape and the berries are a source of food for many bird species. Enjoy a winter hike this year and explore the great outdoors! Our trails at the St. Jones and the Blackbird Creek Reserves are open dawn until dusk 7 days a week. And as always during this time of year, be aware that there is active hunting on portions of the Reserve (except on Sundays when there is no hunting).
“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.
Have you been wondering what sea level rise is and how it might impact Delaware? Delaware Coastal Programs in conjunction with the Delaware Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee would like your input about sea level rise in Delaware. They have been hosting Sea Level Rise Public Engagement Sessions throughout the state. If you have not been able to attend one as of yet, there are still two more opportunities to take part and share your thoughts. On Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 there will be a session at the Kent County Levy Court in Dover, Delaware from 4:00 – 7:00 pm. On Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 there will be a session at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, Delaware from 4:00 – 7:00 pm. At both locations presentations will be conducted at 4:30 pm and again at 6:00 pm. Visit the Delaware Sea Level Rise Public Engagement Sessions webpage for more information.