Can you feel it? It’s almost here. Horseshoe crabs are getting ready for another busy breeding season.
Soon after the herring have migrated upstream to spawn in selected rivers and waterways around the harbor, horseshoe crabs begin to have similar urges to reproduce.
Days are getting longer, the sun is climbing higher in the sky, and the thermometer responds accordingly. Water temperatures are starting to get warm, with readings in the mid to upper 50s, some shallow parts of the lower bay even have readings in the 60 + degree range. Mother Nature is setting the stage for a busy breeding season for horseshoe crabs.
The need to breed must be strong. Starting in early April, people, including myself, have been encountering crabs crawling out of the ocean or bay looking for love on the beach. Yet, the time wasn’t ready yet.
Small ermine moth (Yponomeuta cagnagella). Animals of this species were used to study the attraction light has on moths in areas with heavy light pollution and areas with low light pollution.PHOTO CREDIT: F. Altermatt
PUBLIC RELEASE: 13-APR-2016
City moths avoid the light
UNIVERSITY OF BASEL
The globally increasing light pollution has negative effects on organisms and entire ecosystems. The consequences are especially hard on nocturnal insects, since their attraction to artificial light sources generally ends fatal. A new study by Swiss zoologists from the Universities of Basel and Zurich now shows that urban moths have learned to avoid light. The journal Biology Letters has published their results.
Some insects are attracted by light while others shy away from it. Proverbial is the attraction light has on moths. Street lamps and other artificial light sources often become death traps for nocturnal insects such as moths. Either they die through direct burning or through increased exposure to predators. Mortality of urban insects can thus be 40- to 100- fold higher than in rural populations.
From Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ:
Back in 2015, a new pair of falcons took up residence at 101 Hudson Street, and while they appeared to be mature birds, they did not lay any eggs last season. So we've been anxiously spying on these two birds, waiting and hoping, waiting and hoping, waiting and hoping...
At last! On Sunday, April 17, female 41/AX laid the first egg of the season. She seemed to be rather enamored of her first egg! This is the first nesting attempt for these two newbies.
The North American Coastal Plain biospot covers more than 800,000 square miles from Florida to Maine. Map: Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund
Coastal Plain Is One of World’s “Bio” Hotspots
04/21/2016 by Allison Ballard
The ecology of the N.C. coast is teeming with a variety of life, but this area is also part of a larger region now recognized by an international environmental group as one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth.
The Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund in February recognized the North American Coastal Plain, a more than 800,000-square-mile area that stretches from Florida to Maine, as the world’s 36th biodiversity hotspot. The organization, based in Arlington, Va., is a joint initiative with French, European Union, Japanese and other interests around the world focused on biodiversity conservation of the most biologically rich and threatened areas by non-governmental, private-sector and community groups.
Now, the North American Coastal Plain joins areas such as the Cape Floristic Region in South Africa, the Mediterranean Basin and the Tropical Andes as biodiversity hotspots.
Spring is here and ospreys have returned to raise a family near the water. When the birds first arrive, they often looked exhausted. For good reason, migration isn’t easy.
Ospreys travel as individuals, not in flocks, from wintering grounds in the tropics. A 2014 study published by Mark S. Martell and others in the Journal of Raptor Research, shows that many of our east coast ospreys winter in South America with smaller amounts in Florida or in the Caribbean. As spring approaches, wintering ospreys in South America make a long distance journey past the Gulf of Venezuela and over the Caribbean Sea, a trip of between 400 and 700 miles, to briefly rest in Haiti, Jamaica, or Cuba. It’s a tiring flight that typically takes 27 to 40 hours and involves risky nighttime travel. Once across the Caribbean Sea, nearly all ospreys will cross Cuba to the Florida Keys and then northward to breeding grounds. An amazing journey that normally takes two to three weeks from start to finish.
Along the way, ospreys have many dangers. One is the weather, especially when crossing large bodies of water. Birds can be blown off course or get caught up in a severe thunderstorm. This drains fat and puts an osprey at risk of being too weak to continue. Another risk is an osprey getting shot. This happens when a hungry osprey tries to take a fish from a private or commercial fish farm in the Dominican Republic, Haiti or Cuba. Many poor farmers do not take kindly to someone, even a bird, “stealing” a fish.
One day in March, not exactly sure of the date, I spotted a lone Great White Egret wading in a tidal wetland near Sandy Hook Bay. The bright white-feathered bird was foraging in the water seeking a fishy meal, probably killifish or mummichogs, which are common critters in the harbor’s muddy marshes and tidal creeks. Some mummichogs will even bury themselves in mud to avoid freezing temperatures during winter and early spring.
As time went forward, I started seeing more egrets foraging for food in just about every available wetland. Their numbers grew and included other wading birds including Snowy Egrets, Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night Herons, and Glossy Ibises. The hungry and tired birds had migrated to the harbor from far away coastlines along the Carolinas or down to the Gulf of Mexico where they had just spent the winter.
Look out into the wetlands and you will probably see at least a few egrets feeding or standing together with other wading birds. The rookeries are now getting active and the birds are anxious to start another busy breeding season.
I know, I know. I shouldn’t like this plant. It’s non-native, brought over to the United States from Europe in the mid 1800s as an ornamental plant. It’s also invasive, spreads quickly and displaces native vegetation.
Yet, there is something about Cypress or leafy spurge in bloom that seems so seductive. The little inconspicuous yellowish-green flowers are so darn appealing. A single plant may have several clusters of flowers on branching stems. I’m a sucker for lively yellow flowers.
What’s more, spurge is a hardy plant. Perfectly suited to exist in the open sunny fields along roadsides, disturbed construction sites, and sandy dunes. An ideal urban coastal plant.
Too bad it’s highly invasive and noxious. It may even cause dermatitis to humans if the white, milky sap is touched. Best to look from afar.
From: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Published April 6, 2016 06:51 AM
When conjuring up an image of a healthy ecosystem, few of us would think of a modern city. But scientists are increasingly recognizing that the majority of ecosystems are now influenced by humans, and even home gardens in urban landscapes can contribute important ecosystem services.
“Ecosystem services are the benefits that ecosystems provide to humans. In a natural ecosystem, these are things like natural medicinal products or carbon that’s sequestered by forest trees. In an urban context, it would be similar types of things. For example, shade from trees provides microclimate control to keep us more comfortable,” explains University of Illinois landscape agroecologist Sarah Taylor Lovell.
Artificial flowers CREDIT: STUART HAYGARTH
It would be great if we didn't have beach trash that polluted our coastline and waters, but until that day arrives, we need to pick up what careless people dumped and perhaps recycle some of it into beautiful art!
Stuart Haygarth photographed objects he found during an epic hike along Britain’s coast. The results are strange and beautiful, says Robert Macfarlane
On first seeing Stuart Haygarth’s remarkable series of photographs, Strand, I was reminded of Roland Barthes’s line in a catalogue essay from 1976: “The essence of an object has something to do with the way it turns into trash.” Barthes meant, I think, that once an object has been discarded – and thus absolved of its function – its form becomes brightly visible. Freed from its status as commodity, and no longer treated in terms of its use-value, the thingness of an item intensifies as it “turns into trash”.
It’s not easy being a harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in the often muddled and murky waters of New York Harbor. It’s a small aquatic creature. Less than six feet in length, making it one of the smallest cetacean species in the North Atlantic. Unlike its cousin the bottlenose dolphin, harbor porpoises don’t crave attention. It’s a shy animal, regularly elusive and reserved.
You would never know that during the colder months of the year the harbor porpoise is a native and common creature of New York Harbor. Yet bad things can happen in a busy and bustling harbor.
Research in the Netherlands has shown that underwater noise from ships and construction equipment can interfere with a harbor porpoise’s ability to use echolocation to locate prey and may even oust them from otherwise suitable habitats. Toxins such as PCBs, which are ingested by small fish and then eaten by porpoises might affect reproduction and immune function. Marine debris including plastics and ship strike incidents also pose major threats to the long-term survival of harbor porpoises.
Some of these threats could have been the reason for one harbor porpoise to have a difficult few days downstream from New York City during the first weekend of April.
The boom in rebuilding homes along the coast isn't just for people. Volunteers with the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council have been spending time each spring for the past five years to install, rebuild, and remodel osprey platforms along Raritan Bay.
On Sunday, April 3, their work continued in Union Beach, a small bayside community on the banks of Raritan Bay in New Jersey. About a dozen volunteers spent time on a blustery, but blue-skied afternoon slogging through wetland mud and muck with a heavy wooden pole and nesting basket in their hands. The goal was to replace an old osprey platform that was badly damaged by recent winter storms.
BY JOHN MARZULLI
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, March 31, 2016, 5:28 PM
This lawsuit is for the birds.
Piping plovers, a threatened species of birds, are under attack by feral cats at Jones Beach and state parks officials are doing nothing to protect them, a new lawsuit charges.
The American Bird Conservancy is seeking an injunction requiring that the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation take action to remove the cats which pose a threat to piping plovers. There are at least two feral cat colonies at the seashore park — at the West Bathhouse and Field No. 10.
The Winter Flounder, a Master of Disguise With a Wandering Eye
By DAVE TAFT
APRIL 1, 2016
The New York Times
N.Y. / REGION | N.Y.C. NATURE
Nothing suits a winter flounder like cold water. Unlike most local fish, winter flounder enter shallow bays and coves in midwinter to spawn and stay until the sun warms the water to temperatures above what they prefer. This habit earned these flatfish their name. It also brought them closer to humans, who found that they were fine eating.
Sadly, more accessible fish were easier to exploit, and near-shore waters were more prone to degradation. In New York and southern New England, flounder numbers are low, and their harvest has been regulated for decades. Still, as spring arrives, enthusiasts head excitedly to docks and piers to cast their lines.
STOP THE WILLIAMS FRACKED GAS PIPELINE THROUGH NY HARBOR!
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT NY HARBOR
1. Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City by Leslie Day
2.Heartbeats in the Muck by John Waldman
3. The Fisheries of Raritan Bay by Clyde L. MacKenzie Jr.
4. Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate
5. The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell