Sunday, February 14, 2016

Moonbird being coy with researchers

No reports of B95 sightings since Friday. Researchers are on the lookout.

Moonbird being coy with researchers

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Here's a link to a story that ran in this morning's print edition of the Inquirer about B95, the Moonbird, and how researchers are heartened by not just one, but TWO sightings of this iconic little red knot.

No word of any more sightings since then.

But I talked with Larry Niles, a biologist who has been studying this bird for more than a decade -- and following it to the ends of the earth to do so.

He said that knowing B95 is back on the bay is like "seeing an old friend." Thursday, it was spotted at Delaware'e Mispillion Harbor. Friday, the bird was over at Cooks Beach in New Jersey.

"We’re on the lookout. Everyone is instructed to, if they see it, to take a picture," Niles said.

Niles and an international team of researchers have been out netting birds so they can take various measurements -- weight being among the most important. The birds arrive on the bay famished and emaciated. They have about two weeks to double their weight to 180 grams.

Although not all the birds had arrived as of Saturday, "It’s getting to be that time," Niles said. And of the weights he is logging: "They're progressing nicely. In fact, birds are a little ahead of their schedule" for weight gain.

Earlier this year, the situation didn't look so good. Superstorm Sandy had scoured the Delaware Bay beaches where the crabs lay their fat-rich eggs -- dinner for the birds. But some fast work by biologists, regulators and others resulted in truckloads of sand being dumped and spread on the most important beaches.

"We thought it was going to be a disaster after Sandy," Niles Said. "Now, we gor all our beaches in . Crabs are coming in. Some are just jammed with crabs."

Good news, to be sure. And spotting B95 to boot?

“Things are looking positive," Niles said, "and seeing B95 just puts a bow on it.”

 

Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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