Thursday, August 30, 2012

Around the world and back: The amazing feats of our feathered friends

Today you're hearing from Deb Reynolds in our Division of Migratory Birds. She has worked as their outreach coordinator for eight years, and in her free time, she likes to run and play with her girls and dogs.

Whimbrel. Credit: Lynn Schmid

I love shorebirds.

They range from the cute little fluffy piping plover chick to the greater yellowlegs and its
elegant long legs. But the shorebird I am most taken with these days is the whimbrel, a gray-brown wading bird characterized by its long, curved bill.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Roanoke makes river more popular for fish and recreation

Two years later, and the new and improved bridge that crosses the Roanoke River in Roanoke, Va., is still a gift to the fish that make the river their home, as well as to the people of the city.

Completed on May 20, 2010, the installation of the new bridge was the final step in the Wiley Drive Bridge replacement project that including replacing the previous bridge with one that would better serve the fish and other visitors to the Roanoke River.

The main purpose of the project was to allow more movement for groups of Roanoke logperch, a fish protected under the Endangered Species Act, that have been documented in upper and lower sections of the river. The former bridge acted almost as a dam, keeping the populations separated from one another and lowering genetic diversity. 

Before and after the bridge replacement. Credit: USFWS

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Breaking sweat to protect W.Va.'s bats in Trout Cave

Today you're hearing from Devin Gill, an AmeriCorps volunteer with our West Virginia Field Office.

Trout Cave is one of Pendleton County’s best kept secrets.

Its large mouth beckons cavers away from a breathtaking overlook of the North Fork River as the river navigates its way through the mountains of Pendleton County. To the average passerby on U.S. Route 33, the steep trail leading to Trout Cave’s entrance is lost amidst the roadside greenery. But to cavers in the know, Trout Cave is a 200-foot, gut-busting climb up from the highway.

Early one hot July morning, employees from our West Virginia Field Office and the West Virginia DNR set out for Trout Cave with one goal in mind: to protect native bats.

Historically, Trout Cave was home to large populations of a variety of bat species. But the sizes and diversity of bat populations within the cave have declined in recent years, presumably due to increased recreational activity in the cave since the 1960’s. The once large population of little brown bats has dwindled down to only a handful. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reviving a river: Checking in at Great Works Dam

Each week, our folks at the Maine field office are driving by to check on the progress of the Great Works Dam removal, part of the Penobscot River Restoration Project.

Our Maine hydro licensing coordinator, Steve Shepard, tells us, "The folks with the big toys are making steady progress!"

Work is starting on the remains of the Legacy Dam which dates back to days of hydromechanical power when there were reportedly 120 mills between Old Town and Bangor. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Delaware boat ramp gets a makeover

With an outdated boat ramp from the 1970s and a location popular for boat launching, the state and federal government agreed that a new boat ramp would be a smart investment to support the tourism industry for the Delaware Bayshore area.

Replacing the old ramp are eight new 16-foot wide launch lanes, along with five floatation boarding docks and one floatation aluminum dock connected to a 30-foot timber walkway. Officials dedicated the dock on July 30, 2012, in honor of Lacy E. Nichols Jr., who worked for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) for 23 years and recently retired. Located on Slaughter Beach just outside Milford, Conn., the ramp is a testament to his hard work and conservation efforts. 

Lacy E. “Nick” Nichols Jr. (left) and Governor Jack Markell (right) at the opening of the new ramp.
Credit: DNREC

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reviving a river: Checking in at Great Works Dam

Each week, our folks at the Maine field office are driving by to check on the progress of the Great Works Dam removal, part of the Penobscot River Restoration Project. 

The two big timber crib sections in the background are nearly demolished! Two excavators in the foreground are demolishing another concrete section with hoe rams (impressive hydraulic hammers that have 4-5 tons of impact).

In the center of the photo, the excavator near the dam is completing a fish passage channel that will become the thalweg of the river, or its lowest point. After that is complete, the coffer dam will be removed, and the water will drop to something close to the new level. 

Credit: Steve Shepard/USFWS

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A week with the terns: Great Gull Island

Today you're hearing from one of the interns in our regional office, Rani Jacobson. Rani is in the Career Discovery Internship Program and will be a junior this year at Ithaca College, where she studies environmental science.

Rani Jacobson with a tern chick. Credit: Venice Wong.

After an hour of flying across the water in a fishing boat, the small Great Gull Island came into view. After docking, terns flew above us, screaming, and I could not help but feel a sinking feeling of apprehension as we were dive-bombed.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Reviving a river: Checking in at Great Works Dam

Each week, our folks at the Maine field office are driving by to check on the progress of the Great Works Dam removal, part of the Penobscot River Restoration Project. 

Demolition is proceeding smoothly with the help of very low flows and the ability to work within the coffer dam. The outer timber crib section is nearly gone and the next one may be chewed up by the end of the week.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Surveying nesting American oystercatchers throughout coastal R.I.

Today, you're hearing from Pam Loring, a biological science technician in our Southern New England-New York Bight Coastal Program office. She is finishing her master of science at the University of Rhode Island, where she used satellite telemetry to study sea ducks in southern New England.

Pam holding an American oystercatcher. Credit: USFWS

Our office, the Southern New England-New York Bight Coastal Program, has monitored American oystercatchers for just over a year now as part of a collaborative effort to improve their status in the Northeast.

American oystercatchers are large, charismatic shorebirds with long orange bills that they use to shuck the shells of their favorite foods – clams, mussels, and oysters – to take advantage of nature's ultimate raw bar! During the summer breeding season, oystercatchers nest in coastal habitats, laying two or three eggs into a nest scrape on the ground decorated with bits of shell, pebbles, or shoreline wrack (the seaweed and other matter that washes up on shore).

Among shorebirds, oystercatchers provide unusually extensive parental care to their young. Fluffy young oystercatcher chicks are entirely dependent on adults to deliver them food and to eventually teach them how to find and eat shellfish with their dark, stubby bills.