Three osprey chicks were saved from a possible deadly fall recently when Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ staff and volunteers repaired their nesting platform in the Wildwood back bay.

NJ Osprey Project Volunteers Matt Tribulski, Wayne Russell and John King were surveying osprey nests when they found the platform top was broken under a nest with the chicks in it.

It could have collapsed with heavy rains or winds, and the chicks weren’t old enough to fly, CWF Biologist Larissa Smith said in a blog post.

So CWF Biologist Meghan Kolk joined volunteers to replace the platform, which was assembled and taken to the nest.

“Once at the nest, the operation needed to go quickly so as not to put additional stress on the chicks,” wrote Smith. “The three chicks were carefully placed in a basket, lowered to the ground and kept in the shade of an umbrella, while the old platform was knocked down and the new, sturdy one installed.”

The chicks were placed back in the nest, along with some frozen fish, after the new platform was installed.

Smith said the whole process took just 20 minutes. Once the volunteers began leaving in boats, the adult ospreys returned to the nest.

The Conserve Wildlife blog is at: conservewildlifenj.org/blog/

Rare orchid found in Stokes State Forest: State biologists have found a third occurrence of a globally rare orchid with gray-green flowers in Sussex County.

The small whorled pogonia blooms in May and June. It was found in the 16,500-acre Stokes State Forest, said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

It does not appear above ground every year and may remain dormant underground for years, Hajna said.

Martin Rapp, a biologist with the DEP’s Office of Natural Lands Management, found the new population June 6 while surveying potential sites that could support small whorled pogonia.

It was a single plant found on stony ground in a forested area of Stokes and just the third occurrence of the rare orchid known in the state. The other known occurrences are also in Sussex County.

The small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides) is listed as endangered in New Jersey and as threatened by the federal government. It grows up to 10 inches tall and has a whorl of four to five leaves that encircle the stem.

“While small and inconspicuous, this plant’s presence indicates a healthy and thriving forest ecosystem,” said New Jersey Parks and Forestry Director Olivia Glenn.

Glenn said her staff will monitor, manage and protect the plant.

Historically, the plant’s range included 21 eastern states and parts of Canada. However, the orchid has never been a common species and typically grows in small populations. It prefers drier upland sites, usually in mixed deciduous forests.

Like many other orchids, it depends on soil organisms to thrive, especially fungi, according to DEP.

DEP seeks comments on revisions to Delaware Estuary Program management plan: The Delaware Estuary Program’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the Delaware Estuary is a roadmap to guide conservation and water-quality decisions for the coming decade.

The program, one of 28 National Estuary Programs administered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, includes the Delaware Bay and tidal portions of the Delaware River from Trenton to the mouth of the bay, and tributaries.

The plan serves as the guide for the work that New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware – along with other federal, regional, state and local partners – will do to enhance the estuary. It will also steer how federal National Estuary Program funds will be used.

The public may submit comments through Friday, July 20, at delawareestuary.org/our-plan.

— Michelle Brunetti Post

Contact: 609-272-7219

mpost@pressofac.com

Twitter @MichelleBPost

Facebook.com/EnvironmentSouthJersey

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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