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Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve

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  Archived Posts From: 2012


Shhh…there is a secret in the marsh!

Written on: June 13th, 2012 in ResearchSt. Jones Reserve

When I was approached by one of our researchers to assist with the Secretive Marsh Bird survey I had to ask, “Are we secretive or are the birds secretive?”   I know you were thinking the same thing.   I was quickly informed that the birds are the ones who are secretive.  They include birds such as the clapper rail, king rail, American bittern, and least bittern just to name a few.  These birds exhibit secretive behaviors and are difficult to visually survey.   In fact, the majority of the survey is conducted by sound.  I have found that you must be a great listener to conduct this type of survey!

So needless to say, this past Monday I was excited to assist with such an interesting project.   We launched our boat just after 5 am into the St. Jones River, and we were off to survey set points along the marshes for these “secretive” birds.  It was quite an enjoyable experience as we diligently listened for the birds and was quite delighted to see a few.  The most exciting sighting was a mother clapper rail with her chicks following closely behind.  Our resident bird expert said this was quite an unusual sight as it is rare to see the chicks (don’t forget…they are secretive).  It was certainly an interesting morning on the River and an experience I won’t soon forget.  In fact, I’m looking forward to going back out in July.  It’s amazing the wildlife you see early in the morning.   You never know what might be lurking in the marsh.

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