Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tidelands Bureau

Seventeen staff from the NJDEP Tidelands Bureau attended a one-day retreat at Sedge in Early May. Although the weather was predicted to be less that beautiful, it turned out to be a sunny day. This was appreciated by many of the group whose last visit to Sedge in the fall was on a very rainy day.

We took the opportunity to kayak in the salt marsh. In spite of the heavy rain from Monday’s strong North-Easter, the water was relatively clear. Unfortunately the high waster from the storm had flooded most of the ground nesting birds wiping out the eggs that were due to hatch this week. We stopped to talk about Pete McLain and his work with the osprey and peregrine falcon about 200 yards from the hacking tower. As we were sitting in our kayaks, we observed a red fox hunting on the marsh. This was only the second time that I have seen a fox on the marsh. The last time was several years ago when one came to Sedge and ate most of the Raniero’s chickens.

When we returned for lunch we watched four volunteers from the Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration Program wading in the shellfish lease to clean the predator nets above the 2007 crop of 10mm clams. Kate, one of our new interns, showed the group how we test water quality. Her lesson was so successful that she was given a standing ovation by the group.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Master Naturalists

The first Master Naturalist program in New Jersey visited Sedge for one day in early May. Twenty students in the program arrived at the Island Beach State Park dock at 9:00AM to find that the fog made it impossible to see most of the Marine Conservation Zone. Undaunted by the cold, clammy conditions, most members of the group were eager to explore the marsh by kayak. We split the group in two with Dr. Stan Hales, Director of the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program assisted by Mr. Art Webster, Director of the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge at Brigantine, leading half the participants in one direction and Dr. Jim Merritt leading the others in the opposite direction. Although it continued to be foggy, the mist did lift enough at times to be able to see many osprey, the peregrine falcon and a variety of other birds of the salt marsh.

When we returned to the house we ate lunch on the porch and discussed some of the things we had seen on our paddle. We talked about some teaching techniques in outdoor settings. Stan pointed out the many opportunities available to become more involved in working as naturalists in the Barnegat Bay watershed. Many people in the group realize that their time at Sedge was too short and they vowed to return.