Quarterly Reporter June 2015


Updates from Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, Inc.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Member meeting 6:30 pm, Presentation at 7:00 pm*
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

Speaker: David La Puma
Director, Cape May Bird Observatory
NJ Audubon
Radar Love: North American Radar Ornithology,
Then and Now

David La PumaDavid’s presentation will share the history of using radar to understand bird migration, and give you the tools necessary to become your own radar ornithologists with freely available online radar data and a little understanding of how to interpret what you’re seeing. This is a presentation not to be missed!

David La Puma is the Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory, in Cape May, NJ. David has over a decade of research experience on topics ranging from using radar to quantify stopover habitat for migrating birds, to conservation of the endangered Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow in the Florida Everglades.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Member meeting 6:30 pm, Presentation at 7:00 pm*
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College


Sleeping blue birdThis meeting will be a fun night of sharing our photos on the big screen. Please bring your digital photos to the office by August 15th so we can incorporate them into a slide show for everyone to enjoy. We are thinking that 10-20 photos per person would be a good number.

Upcoming Events for Members and Friends

Sue Fenilli and Marika Masarek display Weighted Loom

Ryan admires is Paint-a-Landscape results at Barn DayBay Day and Barn Day share the same weekend: June 6 & 7 respectively. We know our volunteers and members won’t want to miss out on these traditional events. At Bay Day we anticipate doing our Weighted Loom and Paint-a-Landscape. The festival starts at 11:30 am with a “strut” down High Street, in Port Norris. There will be the usual bounty from the bay and lots for families to enjoy. At Barn Day, from noon until 5 pm, there will be an opportunity to see local artists display their canvases and hobnob with the art community. Generally there are hot dogs and baked goods available.

Horseshoe CrabReturn the Favor – This activity during the migration of the horseshoe crabs and shore birds is going very well. We had 80 volunteers come out to the training session, 35 of whom were CU participants! As of May 26th Lisa Ferguson reported that 12,021 crabs were turned and 2,381 were freed from impingement, and 97 walks were logged on 12 beaches. Great job and the crews are only part way through the season as of this report.

June 13th A Full Day of Fun is in store. We begin our trip at 10 am at the Menantico Ponds Wildlife Management Area launch off Route 49 east of Millville for a BYOB Trip – Bring Your Own Boat – for a leisurely two hour paddle; life jackets are mandatory. We will end our trip at the confluence of Buckshutem Creek and the Maurice River. We will orchestrate getting some cars on each end of the trip once we know who is attending. Canoes and kayaks can be rented from Al and Sam’s Canoe and Kayak Rental if you don’t have your own. At 5:30 pm new members are invited to an orientation by Doreen Homan, our Membership, Events and Office Manager, at the home of Tim and Mary Ann Russell. By 6:30 pm other members will be attending the Pot Luck Campfire also at the Russells’. Reservations are necessary for all events. For the paddle contact Jane at forrivers@comcast.net or call 609-774-5853. New members and pot luck folks MUST RSVP with Doreen.Homan@cumauriceriver.org 856-300-5331.

Purple MartinMake your reservations now for the Purple Martin Spectacular Cruise. Some of the cruises are already half full and we haven’t even advertised. Boats will go out on the evenings of August 14th, 15th, 21st, and 22nd. Join fellow bird enthusiasts aboard the Bodacious at sunset as we search for southbound migrating Purple Martins. Allen Jackson and CU Representatives will be on hand to share information and answer questions. Reservations are $35 which also includes fruits, pastries and soft drinks.

The Post-Carrow Garden

August 29th will be the CU Annual Cumberland County Garden Tour with Pat Sutton. This trip is limited to 25 persons and generally books up a few days after our notification. We anticipate the tour will be from 8:30 am until 4 pm at a cost of $25 per person. To sign up contact Doreen.Homan@cumauriceriver.org 856-300-5331.

Waltman Park Saturday River Walks meet at Millville’s Waltman Park off Brandriff at 9:30 am led by CU’s favorite naturalists. Upcoming walks will take place June 20th, July 18th, September 19th, October 17th, and November 21st. Tony Klock and Co. will be your tour guides.

Tuesdays on the Fly once again meets at Millville’s Waltman Park off Brandriff at 9:00 and from there we carpool to the super local environs. Upcoming walks will be: June 23rd, July 21st, September 22nd, October 20th and November 17th. Often we lunch at a venue near the destination or pack a picnic lunch. If you don’t join us for lunch you will likely return to the Park around 12:30 pm. If you enjoy a leisurely lunch with us, anticipate being back around 2-2:30 pm. The camaraderie of Tuesdays on the fly is really special. Recent Tuesdays took us to the Bayshore exploring shoreline sustainability issues and historic places, Bellplain State Forest to view spring avian migrants, and Parvin State Forest for migrants and plants.

On the Advocacy Front

Two billboard proposals were to go before Millville’s Zoning Board on May 7th. The CU Board felt the location near the Menantico River, on the Superior Walls property, was too close to the Wild and Scenic corridor and therefore inappropriate. The other billboard was proposed for Wheaton Arts. In the 24-hour period before the Zoning Board was to hear the two applications, our Attorney José Silva was able to negotiate an agreement in which the billboard company pulled the Superior Walls site from consideration. Ultimately, the board voted against the Wheaton Arts proposal as well. So, for now Route 55 remains a more scenic roadway.

We have continued to follow the fate of a DEP proposal to sell off 80 acres of protected space in the Menantico Ponds Wildlife Management Area. We testified December 3, 2014 in Millville and January 6, 2015 in Trenton. If the State House Committee approves the sale, the ramifications would be catastrophic for protected space in NJ. If all lands’ highest and best public use is deemed to be development then many protected spaces will be jeopardized. Our environmental brethren from around the state have joined us in objecting to the DEP’s defiance of their own mission of protecting NJ’s open spaces. It is a violation of the public mandate to protect open space for future generations. It is thought the State House Committee will decide the fate of the property in an upcoming meeting.

Habitat Happenings

Osprey PlatformOn March 15th we replaced an osprey platform that had been ripped out by ice and added an additional platform. As of May 23rd all platforms but one on the river had eggs. This year osprey got a late start so we will see how the season pans out.

On March 29th and April 23rd we made modifications to the ramp at East Point Light House to keep crabs from getting caught between pilings and the ramp. A special thank you to Laurie Pettigrew and NJ Fish and Wildlife for providing and distributing the crushed concrete.

Ramp modifications

Members are participating under the guidance of Allen Jackson in blue bird trails and purple martin landlord projects. Elizabeth Thompson and Allen are gearing up a chimney swift nesting project as well at Wheaton Arts. So stay tuned.

Karla Rossini, Suzy Merighi, Wendy Walker and Jan Dwyer LoBiondo went on a field trip to Bowman’s Hill. There they were introduced to the Plant Stewardship Index, a means of surveying native plants and adding them to a larger database.

Opportunity to Volunteer

Camp MerrywoodSue Fenili is looking for volunteers for the YMCA’s Camp Merrywood in Pittsgrove Twp. Sue has developed an exceptional partnership with the YMCA, in which different CU volunteers take a day to present a topic or lead an activity at the camp. It is wonderful to open the young campers up to the rich variety nature has to offer. Educators will especially like the program. The YMCA camp runs Tuesdays and Thursdays from mid-June to mid-August on. Please contact Sue at sfenili@comcast.net or 856-691-7459 if you would like to volunteer. Thank you in advance for your help.

We have not yet set a date with the Elevate Program for our day on the river. This is one of our volunteers’ favorite days of the year. If you like introducing young adults to the out-of-doors this is a fun-packed event. To volunteer contact Jane forrivers@comcast.net or call 609-774-5853.

Elevate program

August 21 Pledge to Fledge is a NJ Audubon program at Cape May Point State Park. For the past two years we have run an information table and CU Paint-A-Landscape. The day is really busy and any help would be most appreciated. To sign up contact Doreen.Homan@cumauriceriver.org 856-300-5331.

On September 12th we plan once again to be involved in Artist’s Day in Mauricetown. Generally we orchestrate CU Paint-A-Landscape and talk to folks about what CU does. CU Ambassadors, please contact Doreen Homan if you are interested.

Recent Events

May 29th 7:30 pm to 9 pm is the most Family Fun Evening of All – The Annual Frog Slog with Fred Akers. Discover the secret life of frogs on this night excursion. Learn to identify frogs by their breeding songs and more. Come with a flashlight and be prepared for wet, frog-sloggy conditions – knee-high mud boots or higher preferred. This year we will be going to Sahara Sands in Monroe Township. Free and open to all ages. KIDS LOVE THIS EVENT! Touch tanks available! Please register in advance with Karla.Rossini@cumauriceriver.org or call 856-300-5331. (This program is happening concurrently with the transcribing of the newsletter, be sure to sign up for our electronic mailings to stay more current with events.)

Chili Bowl auctionOur last newsletter talked about preparation for the Chili Bowl. But we have not shared the outcome. About 240 folks attended. It was a great night of camaraderie. The auction looked super, the chilis were all eaten, and the appetizers were tasty as were the desserts. In fact we all outdid our selves again. Beyond having fun this is our biggest and most important fundraiser. The net from the event was our largest to date. These proceeds are critical to the administration of CU Maurice River and we are grateful to everyone who makes it happen. A special thanks to the Events Committee who met numerous times in advance of the Bowl. There are at least 50 key folks who deserve special recognition but rather than call out each one, permit us to mention the major areas – planning, setup and tear-down crew, auction organizers, kitchen crew, beverages, appetizers and desserts. Without a doubt everyone cites Treasurer Suzanne Olah as over the top in making this a successful event. Thanks, everyone! We hope you have each gotten your individual notes, as well.

10th Annual Wild About Cumberland was held March 24th & 25th and was a great experience. Our volunteers lead the school children through the wilds with expertise. ANJEC and The Nature Conservancy helped round out our field experience. Indoors the Bayshore Center at Bivalve and Woodford Cedar Run Nature Center did a great job of offering lessons that added to the outdoor activities and which gave the day a super balance.

Wild About Cumberland

Sadly, Wild About Cumberland was Celia Rodrigues’ last activity that she coordinated as our Program Manager. A Hammonton environmental consulting firm lured her to what we hope will be a fulfilling next step in her career.

In April we participated in Cumberland County College’s Earth Day, letting students know how they might become more involved in CU Maurice River. We also sponsored the RRCA Associate Artists’ show.

The Campfire and Potluck at the Burcham Farm on April 25th was a great success. Folks toured the farm beforehand with Jane Morton Galetto learning its history. Then we settled into a nice meal around the campfire and a bit of a sing-along. It was a well-attended event and everyone had a relaxing time.

Saturday May 2nd 10am- 5pm was the Wheaton EcoFest. Our CU Ambassadors did a wonderful job of helping to make it enjoyable. They staffed the table and offered a weighted loom, microscopes, a nature walk, leaf rubbings and notifications sign-up.

May 9th starting at 2 am The Mighty Fish Hawks, CU’s World Series of Birding Team, explored the wilds of the Bayshore in search of as many different species of birds as they could identify. The team consisted of Captain Mary Watkins, Tony Klock, Kathy Michel, and Clay Sutton. Early on Mary reported that fog was keeping the morning song rather muted. In spite of that they hit the 100 mark by 10 am. Unfortunately, the first wave of spring migrants had moved north. In the end they scored 132 species and a placement of 13th among a field of 60+ competing teams. They competed in the statewide category but only covered the bayshore! Also their efforts raised a record $9000 for CU Maurice River. Go Hawks! Funds will help with our avian work. This year’s commemorative T-shirt featured an osprey reading a page from Hawks in Flight, a book co-authored by team member Clay Sutton.

The Mighty Fish Hawks

May 16, 2015 The day started with our Annual Walk at Hansey Creek Road in Commercial Township, which was led by the World Series of Birding Team members Tony Klock, Clay Sutton, Mary Watkins, and Kathy Michel. It was great having our star birders lead us through the varied habitats of Hansey Creek Rd. There was virtually no traffic and the birds did not disappoint. Indigo buntings, glossy ibis, warblers, cuckoos, osprey, oven birds, egrets, shorebirds, orioles and so many more feathered friends made appearances to everyone’s delight.

By 4:30 over 140 guests had joined us for the Annual Pig Roast and Ah Why Knot Awards. Everyone came bearing great eats and a huge thank you to all who put on a terrific spread. Special thanks to Rob Huntley for performing wonderful tunes.

Sherry receives Ah Why Knot AwardThe Ah Why Knot Awards – These annual awards are presented to folks who when asked to serve are likely to reply, “Ah Why Knot.” Knot is a little twist on our recently-declared endangered Red Knot. We started by presenting Sharry Masarek and Barbara Aronoff with two well-deserved awards. By profession Sharry Masarek is a calibration specialist while Barbara Aronoff is a retired special education teacher. They have Barbary Aronoffboth been very active in the Events Committee, pulling off programs that are important to our sustainability. Be it the Chili Bowl or the fall fundraiser, they are busy working behind the scenes to”make ‘er happen.” Both are bakers and sweeten up our events. Sharry is an especially welcome office visitor, tempting the staff with her offerings of cookies. Both regularly join teams that provide meals to the Shorebird Recovery Team. Sharry is also involved in habitat projects. And they are both terrific CU Ambassadors.

Pat and Clay SuttonThen we recognized the renowned Pat and Clay Sutton for their generosity toward the natural community and in helping others appreciate it. They have given tours, penned the series “How to Spot…,”offered countless presentations, written a plethora of books on the natural world, and built an enthusiasm for nature unmatched in our region. Pat’s roots are with NJ Audubon, since she worked there as a naturalist for decades. She has guided birders and gardeners in locations as diverse as backyard habitats and the wilds of the Galapagos. Clay is an ornithologist extraordinaire; he and Jimmy Dowdell have conducted our avian studies for nearly 30 years. Recently Clay donated his time to produce an avian comparative study of the Maurice and Egg Harbor Rivers. Both lead trips worldwide. We are blessed to have Clay and Pat as members of the Bayshore Community and CU Maurice River. Their devotion to deepening the understanding of the great out-of-doors is inspirational to us all. After our regular volunteers were awarded we recognized the Shorebird Recovery Team members, of which one is also a bit of a regular.

Dick VeitchFrom the land of the Kiwis we honored biologist Dick Veitch, whose work with island bird recovery is world famous. Dick coordinated the eradication of exotic and feral species that destroyed nesting colonies of birds on New Zealand’s archipelago, the most famous of these being kakapa, also called owl parrot, a large 24″ flightless bird species that nests on the ground. For eighteen years Dick has kept track of shorebird counts, banding and geolocator data, weight gain statistics for birds (and biologists); he oversees the accurate recording of data in the field and ensures the team has what it needs. Data collection is at the heart of any study — without scrupulous attention to detail (and the ability to work during the nightly-dinner uproar) — a lot can go wrong. Dick also keeps track of the meal schedule, provisions the team, catalogs the season’s photographs, has a gift for repairs of all kinds and provides wood-turned specialties as gifts for dignitaries – he does it all and does it well.

Susan TaylorNext we moved on to Susan Taylor, our “Down Under,” an Aussie. At home she is a government field botanist. In the wake of Australia’s dreadful droughts she gets pulled off her regular duties to help coordinate emergency measures when fire threatens residents. She enters her 12th year of managing the Shorebird Recovery Team’s banding operation. Keeping her eyes on everything, and everyone, after the net is fired requires extraordinary skill and a cool head. Susan oversees the team’s catches, ensuring safe extraction of birds from nets, proper handling, transport and holding – Susan directs people with a smile and a delivery that is confident and reassuring. She leads banding teams and teaches newcomers, who are often so afraid of hurting birds that they wouldn’t otherwise participate if not for Susan’s generosity and patience – these folks leave the Bay with their lives changed forever. Above all else she is modest, and seemingly doesn’t notice her crucial importance to the cause at hand.

Jeannine ParvinThen we recognized shorebird team member and local Jeannine Parvin. Jeannine is a database managerfor the shorebird resighting data archive – www.BandedBirds.org. She has been a part of the team since the Delaware Bay Shorebird Project started in 1997. Initially focused on catching birds to monitor their weight gains, the work expanded in 2003 to include marking birds with unique leg flags. Jeannine’s skill with resighting marked birds matched perfectly her prodigious database expertise, and she was pivotal in developing and launching www.bandedbirds.org, the largest archive of marked-bird data in the world. Jeannine manages banding, resightings, geolocator, telemetry and other information on shorebirds from 58 projects in nine countries, with resightings data coming in from 33 countries/territories throughout the Western Hemisphere. In a typical day, Jeannine may exchange e-mails with researchers from Canada, Uruguay, Brazil, Alaska, Australia, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, or the USGS Bird Banding Lab. A few days a week she is an employee, but for many more days she volunteers, especially in carrying out the important task of resightings. This involves countless hours of scanning with a scope for leg flags that give critical information about the birds’ movements and survival.

Jeannine’s contribution to the conservation community doesn’t stop there. She and Suzanne Olah are a duo on the Chili Bowl stats; yes, you heard that correctly. When it comes to entering the hundreds of auction items for raising the dollars that support our efforts, Jeannine is one of the trackers. In fact, she helped teach others how to use the software that tracks our items from gift to sale.

Without these three selfless and dedicated experts, the Delaware Bay Shorebird Project would not be the success that it is. To the outside world this project seems to run itself, but from the inside, we all know that it takes a great deal of attention, persistence and fortitude to successfully get though a season of field work.

Then the Presidential Award was bestowed on Mary Ann Russell. Her administrative expertise was unmatched this year as we tackled starting a new office and hiring and reorganizing our staff’s duties. She also chairs our Events Committee and is on the Executive Board. Her role in helping us to maintain the professionalism the organization deserves is incomparable. She was given a glass bowl made by glass artist and member Peter Galetto, Jr. We thank him for his kindness.

Mary Ann enjoys CU Event with comrades

We topped off the evening with a sing-along and dispensed with the usual campfire, knowing that the forest was simply too dry to risk stray embers. This did not dampen everyone’s high spirits. A special thank you to our regular musicians who make this so much fun, in particular Tom McKee, Lisa Garrison, Susan Bishop, Walt Birbeck, Tracy Treadway, Greg Honachefsky, Carl Homan and visiting banjo player Jim Applegate aka “Doc.”

On May 27th sixth grade students from St. Vincent and Cape May County Special Services High School successfully launched five new boats at Lake Lenape Park East in Mays Landing. These boats were constructed through the Building Kids Project led by Bill Sheridan. CU members who accumulated over 80 volunteer hours of boat building with the students include Dave Fenili, Dave Zane, and Mike Golla. Other volunteers who participated are Terry Shaw, Bruce Lippincott, and Mary Ann Balen. On the day of the Boat Float, six more CU volunteers assisted the students in sailing their boats for the very first time. The event was a great celebration of the culmination of the kids’ endeavors.

Karla Rossi with daughter, VeraWhen Celia Rodrigues departed we needed to find another person to fill her position, and that led to the hiring of Karla Rossini as our Program Manager. She brings many important skills to the position that will open new avenues for involvement in our community. She is primarily an educator, having taught English to executives and English Literature to high school students in South America. Her Bachelor of Arts degrees at Colorado State were in Political Science and German Literature & Culture, while her master’s studies involve human rights and disparity.

Karla has lived half of her life in other countries and is a world traveler. She speaks three languages fluently: English, Spanish and German; and is learning Italian. In spite of her wide geographical experience Karla has always had an affinity for Southern NJ, where she attended Millville Junior and Senior High and where her mother and grandparents have lived.

Karla became more familiar with the issues facing laborers while at South Jersey Family Medical Center, educating migrant farmworkers on healthy living and medical issues. She learned about the region’s environmental resources while working as a naturalist for the Wetlands Institute. Her hobbies include activities such as camping, travel, skiing, and horseback riding. You will surely see her at our outdoor events with her husband Julian and baby daughter Vera.

Beyond her diverse résumé, this is how Karla phrased her readiness to serve CU Maurice River and her community:
Throughout my life, Citizens United has had an undeniable influence on my personal and professional development and values. I have had the pleasure of informally participating in many CU events including cooking for the shorebird scientists, organizing donations for silent auctions, birdwatching from the deck of the AJ Meerwald, and not only raising osprey platforms but raising funds for CU too. During my time abroad, the memories of my experience with CU grounded me and always reminded me of home. Having been influenced by CU’s mission, I feel a bond to our region and a responsibility to sustaining its future. It is a great honor to become part of the CU team. I look forward to empowering younger Down Jersey generations with a sense of place and advocating for the region’s well-being not only as an employee but as a proud resident.

CU Maurice River Board President states, “Karla is charismatic, a good communicator, and a wonderful educator. But then I must confess that I am biased, for I have known Karla since even before she was born. She is one of my many gifted nieces and I’m thrilled to share her with you. During high school our house was her second home. So I expect soon you will all be calling me ‘Aunt Jane.'”

Our annual Memorial Day Sail on the A.J. Meerwald turned out to be a motor excursion on the Bodacious. The cruise was quite delightful. The Bayshore Center and Tim Smith of the Bodacious in Bivalve did a wonderful job of accomodating our birding sail when the AJ was still in dry dock for a larger than anticipated overhaul. Tony Klock and Kathy Michel helped get participants to spot 63 different species of birds! The brunch was said to be one of the best spreads to date. Thanks to everyone for making it happen. On Labor Day we will feature an actual sail on the AJ Meerwald, so mark those calendars if you’re interested.

The hosting of the International Shorebird Recovery Team in May has been going splendidly. We estimate that at least 60 folks have participated in making meals for the Team. Most nights there have been 35-40 folks for dinner. Everyone has done an amazing job of making our visitors and locals feel very welcome. The preparation of dinner has allowed the team to focus on their studies and get in a little fun and relaxation.

Address Changes
Please keep us posted on any changes in your email address. Our emails contain a constant stream of reminders and updates that you won’t want to miss.

Membership Info
Do keep your membership up-to-date and/or invite a friend to join. Membership is set at $20 for individuals and $30 for families, although our average annual donation is approximately $75. Mail your check to PO Box 474, Millville, NJ 08332 or click here to pay on line.

A special thanks to all those who give the equally important gift of your time. We couldn’t do this without you!

CU on the River!