52nd Annual Meeting of the American Littoral Society
Cape May, NJ
October 25-27, 2013
Set in one of the most beautiful coastal communities on the Atlantic, we
will enjoy the ocean front views from the La Mer Beachfront Inn (www.capemaylamer.com), and
venture out into the natural areas of what has been called "one of the
last best places" for bird watching, whale watching and surf fishing
clinics. Cape May is internationally recognized as one of the most
important migratory bird stop overs in the world, and Delaware Bay is
designated a RAMSAR Wetland of International Significance, home to
horseshoe crabs, sturgeon and other fascinating marine life.
staff naturalists will lead day field trips and night time star and owl
walks, discussions and demonstrations to introduce you to the wonderful
coastal life of Cape May and the Delaware Bay, and presentations on the
work the American Littoral Society is doing to care for the coast here.
be participating in a bird banding demonstration by researchers studying
migratory hawks, go looking for migrating whales traveling past Cape
May on their way back to warmer waters, and have an opportunity to learn
the secrets of surf casting right from the beach in front of the hotel!
And remember - dolphins are often seen right from the rooms of the La Mer
weekend is informal, a time to catch up with old friends and meet new
ones, as you explore and learn about the coast in this special place.
Don't miss out - we always discover something special! We look forward
to seeing you.
Tropical Storm Andrea is knocking the heck out of our nesting shorebirds.As an example of the damage:I went out to the beach to a colony of nesting shorebirds I have been watching and photographing for the last few weeks.The high tide, large waves, surf, 45 mph winds and heavy rain had taken a heavy toll.The
Snowy Plover scrape (these birds scrape out a depression in the sand,
call it a “nest” and lay their eggs in it) which was due to hatch any
day, had been washed over and was gone.
Black Skimmers have been courting and “nesting” for a couple of weeks,
so most of them had eggs in their scrapes, but would not have started
hatching for another two weeks.There
were about 100 scrapes; today after high tide I could count only 30
skimmers that were high enough on the beach to still be on scrapes and
there were eggs all over the place in the wrack line on the beach.Those 30skimmerswere really hunkered down in their scrapes, but they looked pretty miserable.Many
of the rest of the birds were hunkered down up in the dunes away from
the surf and somewhat protected from the wind, blowing sand and rain by
the dunes and vegetation.
There were about 25 Least Terns on scrapes, several with chicks (varying in age from 1 day to 3 weeks).Last count was 14 chicks.Today there were no scrapes left and I could find only 8 chicks.Six
of the chicks were older chicks and seemed likely to make it; there was
one mid-size chick and one very young/small chick that I watched make
its way up from the wrack line to a waiting parent that tucked him under
her wing.They gradually made their way to the protection of the dunes and vegetation growing in/on the dunes.
Even though I had on boots and rain gear, I was soaked to the skin when I got home.Needless to say, I did not attempt to take my camera onto the beach.A
significant portion of a second colony of Black Skimmers that numbered
over 300 birds and had perhaps 80 to 100 birds on scrapes was washed
over by tide and surf. I counted about 40 skimmers that were high enough on the beach that they were still on scrapes.It
is going to be interesting to see if these colonies survive and note
whether the birds that lost their scrapes/eggs will renest and lay more
eggs (and whether we get any more tropical storms/hurricanes before they
can fledge their chicks).All of
the scrapes and eggs in a second colony of Least Terns were completely
wiped out by tide and surf; however, the roughly nine chicks in this
colony had been predated earlier in the week so there were no chick
casualties or survivors.The
likely culprits include house cats let loose at night, feral cats,
raccoons, crows, gulls, yellow-crowned night herons and ghost crabs.People
and dogs that get too close cause the birds to fly which leaves the
unprotected eggs and chicks vulnerable to these predators.