CU Reporter August/September 2011

Updates from Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, Inc.
Next Member Meeting: September 14, 2011 – 6:30 PM
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

Bats of New Jersey

Presentation by Rick Dutko
(The presentation will begin about 7 pm following a brief business meeting)

Rick Dutko has worked for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for over twenty years, fifteen of which were as a nongame zoologist for the Natural Heritage Program within the Division of Parks & Forestry. Rick also worked briefly for the Endangered and Nongame Species Program within the Division of Fish, Game & Wildlife, where his interest in bats began. Intrigued by the public’s general misconceptions about bats, Rick soon became a self-educated bat enthusiast, spending much of his personal time pursuing this new-found hobby. Since that time, Rick has become an advocate in educating the public about the benefits of bats and dispelling those myths about bats that still persist today.

Rick’s interest in bats has taken him into the homes and attics of hundreds of New Jerseyans who have had these unexpected nocturnal visitors, and into the depths of mines and caves in New Jersey (where he discovered the presence of the federally endangered Indiana bat) and to bat research symposia in Florida, Massachusetts and Texas. His program is an extension of his passion for these misunderstood mammals and a reflection of his personal experiences and challenges to protect New Jersey’s nine native bat species. Rick is also a member of Bat Conservation International, based in Austin, Texas.

Up-Coming Events and Fundraisers

Saturday, October 15th, 6:30 p.m. “Ah Why Knot” Steak and Fish Dinner. Please RSVP! Space Limited: Invite your family and friends to this annual event, which celebrates our membersí and volunteersí hard work and dedication to CU and our mission. As in previous years, Red Knot Awards will be given to several volunteers whose efforts have been outstanding. This yearís honorees will be announced in the invitation you will receive in mid-September. A donation of $50 per person is suggested for this festive occasion. Contact Lillian to make reservations or to help with planning, shopping, set-up, cooking, beverage set-up, and breakdown, 856-305-3238 or If you or a corporation you know are interested in sponsoring this event with a donation of over $200 please contact Jane at 856-327-1161 or

Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 6:30 pm, Wine Tasting Party and Fundraiser: Kick off the holiday season and try some interesting wine selections in the comfortable atmosphere of the Running Deer Country Clubís restaurant.ÝThere is no better way to celebrate than with folks who care about the future of Down Jersey. There will a delicious buffet dinner, music and fun. The cost is $60 per person. We are hoping to have over 150 in attendance, so please make your reservation early and invite your friends.Ý Contact CU member Suzanne Olah, or 856-327-5118.Ý You may mail your check to CU, PO Box 474 or use your credit card on our ìJoin Usî page on the website. Running DeerÝ Golf ClubÝis located at 1111Parvin Mill Road, Pittsgrove, NJ, near the entrance to Parvin State Park.

Field Trips and Fun Stuff
Saturday, September 24th, 1 p.m. Monarch Mania in Cape May: This will be led by Karen Johnson, Sue Fenili and company. The focus of the walk is Monarch butterflies at a time when these fascinating long-distance migrants are massing in large numbers at Cape May Point. Learn the natural history, see them banded and watch them adorn branches and leaves as they await the right moment to cross the Delaware Bay for their journey to points south. Enjoy a leisurely hike, a visit to a local butterfly garden, and an information-packed Monarch banding talk. Meet at Cape May Point State Park next to the Hawk Watch platform. Bring binoculars and comfortable walking shoes for sandy areas. Call or email Sue Fenili to let her know you will be attending or 856-691-7459. The event is expected to conclude by 3:30 p.m., plenty of time to explore the wilds or not-so-wilds of Cape May.

Tuesdays, September 27th, October 4th, and October 11th, 9:00 a.m. Breakfast Walks in Millville. We will meet in Waltman Park in Millville off of Brandriff Ave. Our Executive Director, Lillian Armstrong, will be leading the first two walks with an emphasis on birds and fall migration. Sheíll be looking skyward for passing hawks, for sure. Join her!

Saturday, October 8th, 6:30 p.m. Campfire time! Our location is still TBD, but weíre cooking up something interesting. Be on the lookout for details, or call Lillian closer to the date for information (contact info above).

CU in the Community: Volunteer Opportunities – Have Fun. Do Good.
Saturday, September 17th, 10:00 am until- East Point Lighthouse Artist’s Day Volunteers needed to lead the CU Paint a Landscape Activity, which encourages young children to really see what surrounds them, and be an artist for a day. If you haven’t yet toured the lighthouse or you love to paint outdoors, this is a great opportunity. Please contact Lillian (contact info above).

Sunday, September 18th, 10:30 a.m. Osprey Work Day: We plan to erect one new pole and move two existing platforms that have not been successful in attracting osprey. Volunteers will need a minimum of knee high boots or serious water shoes. If you have a boat to help out with the process please let Jane know. Please contact Jane Morton Galetto (contact info above) for more details and to sign up.

Noteworthy News and Happenings from the Past Few Months

This summer CU volunteers enriched the YMCA Camp Merrywoodís summer programming. Approximately 40 students attend the camp each day and many of them were led along a previously unexplored nature trail on the grounds, which one of the Y counselors suggested hadnít been utilized by the camp until our volunteers discovered it! CUís volunteers were primarily certified teachers, including Tony Klock, Jane Morton Galetto, Sue Leopold, Ceci Brandt, Cindy Ahern, Carol Bell and, heading up this new partnership, Sue Fenili. GPS specialist and watershed expert Tom McKee also led a session. If you want to be involved in next yearís sessions please contact Sue Fenili at contact info above.

Recently, we sent out our membership renewals for folks who commonly give during the summer months. And what a fantastic response! Over a third of the respondents have increased their annual donation ñ many by 30 to 50 percent or more. If you have not yet donated in 2011, please consider doing so soon. We promise to put your funds toward continuing our good work. Simply send donations to CU, PO Box 474, Millville, NJ 08332.

Osprey Reports from the Front: Well, this has been a hair-raising time for osprey, or is that hackle-raising time? Anyway, we started off the spring with some wind storms that blew nesting materials off the nesting platforms. In spite of that, we banded 67 chicks. But the entire affair wasnít without some interesting times. The osprey cam mounted by Hugh Richards actually caught on camera what we long suspected to be a problem — a Great Horned Owl abducting an osprey chick. There were a total of three chicks and by morning only one remained. The adult female had a bit of blood on her chest so we surmised she put up a defense.

Ultimately, the surviving chick was banded on camera by our banding crew. Although the owl attack was sad, it gave us a window into natureís world. Interestingly, one chick was found dead at the base of the nest so it would appear food was not a motive.

Near the end of July our members went into full emergency response mode, as we received calls from Fortescue that a wind storm had blown down one natural nest and damaged two platform nests as well. One of the platform nests was not properly maintained (not a CU platform) and it had gotten much too large. As a result, most of it toppled over in the wind and crushed the chicks. At the natural nest, nothing was left but two surviving chicks on the ground. One of the young was fostered into the nesting platform where the chicks had perished, and thankfully, the adults quickly adopted it as their own. The second damaged platform nest took in the second chick from the natural nest and a chick from another damaged platform.

How did all this happen? It was a combination of individuals who cared. A special thanks goes to Maureen Barrett who is the steward of one of the Fortescue nests and who replaced the chicks into the platform she watches. Brian Johnson, CU Member and Natural Lands Trust staff member, is the main hero who braved crossing long distances of marsh to fetch the homeless and foster them into new nests. Ben Wurst of Conserve Wildlife/Endangered and Nongame Species Program walked Brian through the procedure. So, it was primarily a happy ending.

Lastly, wild-for-banding Rick Abbott — you know the guy for whom no challenge goes unmet? — suggested we band the osprey at the Millville ball field lights. Knowing Rick always has something up his sleeve, I agreed, and it turns out he had a lift downtown to service the roof of Winfieldís. The rest is history. Another day for BIG boysí toys. Each year we wonder what new adventures await the osprey and our CU volunteers!

In other important news, Marine and Coastal Sciences Professor Dr. David Bushek led a meeting in Commercial Township, convened by Maurice River Township Mayor Kathy Ireland, regarding the Delaware Bayshore and more specifically the coastal erosion at the mouth of the Maurice on July 11, 2011. Numerous stakeholders, 21-plus, gave their perspective on the status of wetland loss and river course changes. Individuals represented state and federal agencies including U.S. Fish and Wildlife, US Army Corp of Engineers, DEP biologists and engineers, land trusts, fisherman, and non-profits from the watershed. Some of our members attended, and CU Trustee Leslie Ficcaglia took the minutes of the proceedings and shared them with us.

Our August Paddle was our first group trip up the Manumuskin. Thanks to the hospitality of Eric Sprengle and Diana Pierce, we had a super launch site and a wonderful spot for the BBQ. We saw sensitive joint vetch, eagles, osprey, red-tailed hawks, red-winged black birds, marsh wren nests and lots of other wonders of nature. Jane Galetto provided a tour narrative. The trip up river was leisurely but the wind made the return a tad more challenging. Our entire event beat any bad weather and a great time was had by all. Special thanks to Eric, Diana, Sue Leopold and all who brought a covered dish for taking care of the particulars. There were 31 participants.

The best way to describe this year’s Purple Martin Migration Spectacular would be to use the words of our Purple Martin coordinator Allen Jackson, ‘The martins never disappoint!’ And indeed they did not. Months ago Maurice River Township asked if we might step up to the plate and take on the responsibility of the financial aspect of the festival, boat costs, etc. We agreed to do that because we did not want to see the event go by the wayside. In the end the cruise boats were full both nights, in spite of some nasty weather on the second night. In fact the martins seemed not to mind at all and put on a great show. On Friday night 87 folks, and Saturday night 61 folks enjoyed the spectacle. For weeks additional people have been going to the Causeway to watch the martins gather at dusk. A special thanks to Leslie Ficcaglia, Karen Johnson, Linda Costello, Pete Dunne, Jody Carrara, Tony Klock, Janet Crawford, Jane Galetto, Carrie Bell, David Lord, Sue and John Leopold, Sue and Dave Fenili, Mary Jane and Chuck Slugg, Mary Fusco, Alicia Bjornson, Laurie Pettigrew, Laura Johnson, and other dessert makers, and naturally Lillian Armstrong who effectively coordinated our efforts.

Our annual Environmental Summit with Congressman LoBiondo is coming up next week – hurricane permitting. We will have something to report on issues or items of interest from this gathering in our next newsletter.

One of our favorite events of the year, Raptor Discovery Days, is once again in limbo due to lack of funding. What a joy it has been to take thousands of children through the woods experiencing nature and learning about birds of prey over the years in the days preceding the Cumberland County Eagle Festival. We have had meetings with New Jersey Audubon and we are exploring fundraising opportunities, but nothing is firm at this time. We will strive to make this event happen. For Citizens United the costs are in the neighborhood of $7,000, if we take on the bus costs and our portion of administration. But the additional hard costs exceed $15,000. The outcome is presently uncertain.

Seven years of Elevate! Each year a summer enrichment program from Vineland joins us on the shores of the Maurice River for a day of fun. Once again we started out the visit with a slide show of the previous yearsí participants. This really set the mood for a great time. The kids were a wide range of ages; we had young teens and even a four-year-old. They painted, canoed, bird watched, and went for a river tour as they moved from station to station. We had about 22 visitors and 13 volunteers. Two additional members loaned canoes to the event. The weather was picture perfect and it was hard to tell who had the most fun — the kids or adults! It is a day that will long be remembered.

Executive Director Lillian Armstrong has been reaching out to the individual trustees for their input and directions. She called a meeting of the board to review what tasks we need to accomplish and what future goals we aspire to, based on their input and her leadership. We think we have great things on the horizon.

From previous newsletters you might recall we are co-publishing a book with Conserve Wildlife about the Delaware Bayshore. We are fortune to have Sun National Bank take an interest in the project as a major sponsor. We expect the book to be completed in fall of 2012.

We have just received this yearís Raptor Waterfowl and Shorebird Survey. This completes the 24th year of the project, and a contract has been signed for year 25, making it the longest project of its kind in the country.

Recently, we were asked by a local family to verify the sighting of Red-headed Woodpeckers on their property. We went on-site to see what activity the homeowners were noting. In fact, there were at least three different Red-headed Woodpeckers, and a few other beautiful birds showed up for good measure, including a showy Baltimore Oriole. The family had taken wonderful photographs to further substantiate their sightings, and promised to fill out the Endangered Species Reporting forms CU provided.

And, on the operations side of CU, we have nailed down the final details of our budget for fiscal 2012, with thanks to Dave McCann for his help and guidance.

Like the floods of a few years ago, the August 2011 floods managed to out-do the 1940 storm of record. Many bridges, dams and road crossings were lost during the heavy downpours. At the time of writing this newsletter, we are closely watching the progress of hurricane Irene, which is expected to work its way up the east coast, albeit off shore. And, as we write, we just had an earthquake! Our thoughts are with our members who may have been impacted by the flooding, and all our members and friends who care so much about the Maurice River and its surroundings. Be safe.

Jane and Lillian

Other opportunities for involvement can be found on the calendar.



Wednesday the 14th, 6:30 p.m.
Bi-Monthly Meeting, Rick Dutko on the Bats of New Jersey
Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

Saturday the 17th, 10:00 a.m.
East Point Artist’s Day
East Point Light House
Volunteers Needed

Saturday the 24th, 1 p.m.
Monarch Mania with Karen Johnson and Sue Fenili
Cape May Point State Park

Tuesday the 27th, 9 a.m.
Nature Walk
Waltman Park, Millville


Tuesday, the 4th, 9 a.m.
Nature Walk
Waltman Park, Millville

Saturday the 8th, 6:30 p.m.
Location TBD

Tuesday the 11th, 9 a.m.
Nature Walk
Waltman Park, Millville

Saturday the 15th, 6:30 p.m.
Ah Why Knot Awards Dinner
Union Lake Sailing and Tennis Club
Keynote Speaker Jeff Alpert, Riverside Management Practices


Wednesday the 9th, 6:30 p.m
Annual Meeting
Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

Wednesday the 30th, 6:30 p.m.
Wine Tasting Party
Running Deer Country Club

And Save the Date in 2012

Saturday, February 11th, 6:00 pm
Annual Chili Bowl and Silent Auction
Maurice River Fire Hall

CU on the River!