Date: 8/26/19 8:48 am
From: Bennett, Chris (DNREC) <Chris.Bennett...>
Subject: [de-birds] Evening Heronry Survey Wednesday
Staff from the Environmental Stewardship Program of DNRECs - Division of Parks and Recreation will be conducting the final evening heronry survey of 2019 this Wednesday starting at 5:40 pm in Battery Park at the end of the Clinton Street in Delaware City. Anyone interested in helping with the survey are welcome to join us. While the August survey usually has fewer birds, and they tend to come back to the heronry later in the survey period than the other warm months, the slow pace (at least at the beginning) allows us to more time to provide instruction in identifying wading birds in flight (especially the finer points of IDing the white birds - including juvenile Little Blue Heron) and look for other birds including terns and gulls, shorebirds, waterfowl, bald eagles and hopefully a few migrating Common Nighthawks. The bulk of the herons and egrets we see in August are Little Blue Herons and Cattle Egrets and the majority return in a brief one hour period right before sunset. With luck we will also spot at least a few White Ibis flying in to the heronry to roost for the night.

The survey, in its sixteenth year, is designed to monitor the population of herons, egrets and ibis that nest each year in the heronry on Pea Patch Island. The island also is home to Fort Delaware (part of the coast defenses of the Delaware River from the mid-1800s through WWI and a prison for confederate POWs during the Civil War) and Fort Delaware State Park. The mixed species heronry has been active for more than 50 years. It reached its zenith in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the population was estimated at more than 12,000 nesting pairs. By the mid-1990s a period of decline began with the population dropping precipitously to a few thousand pairs by the beginning of the 21st Century. The current nesting population is estimated to be between one and two thousand nesting pairs of nine species of colonial wading birds - Great Blue, Little Blue and Tricolored Heron, Great, Snowy and Cattle Egret, Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and Glossy Ibis.

I hope that you can join us. If not, surveys will begin anew on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 at 3:51 pm. I can guarantee that it will be a little bit cooler than this Wednesday's survey.

Chris Bennett
Environmental Stewardship Program Manager
DNREC- Division of Parks and Recreation

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