Newsletter - June 2024

CMNWR
           

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JUNE 2024 NEWSLETTER
FRIENDS of the CMNWR

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You never know what you'll find on a Saturday morning Nature Walk!

SUMMER PROGRAMS - Something for Everyone

While the Visitor Center was closed for the Winter, the Friends' Board was busy planning creative programs for our guests to enjoy.  Summer may not yet have officially begun, but we have been busy at Two Mile Beach.

Our 
Family-friendly Guided Nature Walks began the first day we opened for the season and continue every Saturday morning at 9:00 AM.  Wildlife experts lead the walks pointing out and discussing interesting birds, insects, crabs and amphibians, as well as what is growing and blooming on the Refuge. Sometimes we are joined by Fish and Wildlife Shorebird Disturbance Ranger, Sam Dill, who shares his unique perspective.

On Thursdays from 10:00-11:00, beginning June 27, we will host Nature Story Time and Activity Hour at the Visitor Center.  This will include reading a nature-themed story followed by a relevant creative activity. This program is designed for the young explorer, but a parent or guardian is required to attend.

Beginning June 20, award-winning artist, Janet McShain, will present 
Plein Air Watercolor Workshops on the first and third Thursday of every month from 1:00-3:00.  This was an extremely popular program last summer, so we are delighted that Janet has agreed to lead us in developing our creativity while outdoors.  Adult artists, beginners through advanced, are invited to
register at friendsofcapemayrefuge@gmail.com

Bike and Hike is back again this year and will be available any day the Visitor Center is open-Thursdays through Mondays. Register before 12 noon, complete an easy scavenger hunt and return to the Visitor Center for a pack of goodies you or your group can share.

Popular with our younger (and sometimes older) visitors is the 
Junior Refuge Manager Badge program. Participants complete a scavenger hunt including a simple drawing, take a pledge to protect the environment and the Refuge, and receive their badge. Great photo op!

Am I late for the new volunteer Meet and Greet?

See DATES TO REMEMBER below for additional information on these programs. We hope to see you soon!

REFUGE BIRDS.....ON THE MOVE  with Chris Heimer
Chris cautions us to drive carefully as we enter the Refuge since the diamondback terrapins have started crossing the road as they get ready to lay eggs. Juvenile red tail hawks can also sometimes be seen hanging out and hunting for food near the road.  Osprey are easily spotted overhead carrying fish in their sharp claws. As we move on to the salt marsh, forster's and least terns are diving for fish.  Red-winged blackbirds are nesting in the trees or tall grasses near the marsh. Many cat birds have returned to the Refuge and are very noisy with their whistles and squeaks. If you listen carefully, you can hear vireos, flycatchers and yellow warblers. On the path towards the beach, box turtles and loads of ghost crabs are busy looking for food. A box turtle was found on the steps of the Visitor Center last week. News is out about the terrific shopping in our Nature Store. While difficult to believe he or she managed the stairs on its own, many sources say box turtles are very good climbers! Not to worry, a kind volunteer gently placed the turtle back in the grass. Be sure to check out Olivia and Oliver our nesting osprey couple. They are clearly visible from the Visitor Center porch scope during hours the Visitor Center is open. Sam Dill, Wildlife Disturbance Ranger, informed us that there are currently two piping plover nests on the beach with many "scratches" in the sand where others may be thinking of nesting. There are also five oystercatcher nests. Fingers crossed!

In other wildlife related news: On Sunday, June 9th, a diamondback terrapin laid eggs at the entrance walk to the Visitor Center. An attached enclosure was created to protect the eggs from predators. The mom never returns after diligently burying her eggs in a safe, sandy location. We look forward to tracking their progress over the next 7 weeks.

Kerstin helps young environmentalists make rain barrels!

On Saturday, June 1, Friends hosted Watershed Ambassador, Kerstin Axe, who showed a brief power point presentation and spoke about the need for water conservation.  According to AmeriCorps, their goal is to "...explore relationships between people and the environment, nurturing community-based environmental activities and empowering residents to make responsible and informed decisions regarding their watershed."  Kerstin leads discussions all over southern NJ.  Collecting rain water in barrels reduces the amount of pollutants making its way to the streets and drains. As Kerstin pointed out, however, barrel water is NOT safe for human consumption. This water can be used to irrigate gardens, wash pets, and cars and give one the satisfaction of contributing to the solution instead of the problem. If you were unable to attend this event and would still like a completed rain barrel, we have a limited number available at the visitor Center for a $25.00 donation.

Friends Partner with reTURN the Favor NJ
Horseshoe Crab rescues have been ongoing this Spring on the Delaware Bay.  Its not too late to
participate in this amazing activity-organized walks by trained reTurn the
Favor volunteers are listed on their website: returnthefavornj.org

Learn more

COMMITTED TO REDUCING PLASTIC POLLUTION
Federal agencies are working to reduce and eliminate single-use plastics (SUP) in compliance with President Biden's Executive Order 14057.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to end the sale of SUP on federal lands by 2032, but our Refuge hopes to accomplish this by the end of 2024.  Fortunately, the Friends organization has already eliminated the sale of SUP water bottles in
favor of paper cartons and aluminum cans in our Nature Store.  Our guests have been happy with the switch, many pleasantly surprised that such products exist.  We have had a water bottle refilling station for many years.

Nationally, U.S. FWS has other initiatives planned to reduce plastic pollution: increasing the number of water bottle filling stations, working with vendors to eliminate SUP water bottles sold in Visitor Center stores, cleaning up plastic debris in oceans, beaches, waterways and lands, and educating the public about alternatives to plastic.  If this sounds familiar, it is because, in our Nature Store, we sell reusable cloth bags, package purchases in paper, sponsor beach clean-ups twice a year with help from the public and participate in ongoing efforts to educate our visitors.

We all know the importance of cleaning the environment and the harmful effects of plastic on marine life, birds and our ecosystem.  What has come to light lately is the detrimental impact of microplastics (particles less than 5 mm long) and nanoplastics (particles less than 1 micrometer-1,000 times smaller than a mm) on human health.  A recent study published by the Harvard University Heart Letter, stated: "When researchers tested the plaque removed from the neck arteries of 257 people, they found tiny particles of plastic-mostly polyethylene but also polyvinylchloride-in 58% of the people. After nearly
three years, the rate of heart attack, stroke, and death was 4.5 times higher in people with microplastics in their plaque than those without." 
(Julie Corliss, Harvard Heart Letter, June1, 2024, https://health.harvard.edu).

It is frightening to learn that nanoplastics can be ingested through food and drink, absorbed through our skin and inhaled through our lungs and accumulates in our tissues and organs. How to rid our bodies of plastic is unclear.  The scientific community seems to agree that reducing our exposure is key. Replacing plastic water bottles is a given. Recycling is important but not all
categories of plastic are accepted. Some sources mention replacing plastic cooking utensils and food storage containers with silicone, wood, metal or glass-while not perfect-is better than plastic. Eating whole foods rather than processed is helpful. Do you have any ideas or feedback to share?  Please post on Facebook, Friends of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge.

LOOKING FORWARD: DATES TO REMEMBER

All activities are held at the Refuge at Two Mile Beach, 
12001 Pacific Ave, Wildwood Crest, unless otherwise noted



VISITOR CENTER/ NATURE STORE
Open Thursday-Monday, 9:00-3:00, closed Tuesday.

EVERY SATURDAY
FAMILY-FRIENDLY, GUIDED NATURE WALKS

Enjoy these 
free exciting, educational, easy hikes every Saturday at 9:00 AM. Children definitely welcome! Loaner binoculars available.  Meet in the parking lot in front of the Visitor center.  Please bring water and wear sunscreen.

THURSDAYS THROUGH MONDAYS BIKE & HIKE
ride your bike to the Refuge anytime between 9-12,
complete an activity and receive a free sport pack and goodies for the family. Please bring water and sunscreen.

EVERY THURSDAY (except July 4)
NATURE STORY TIME AND ACTIVITY HOUR 10-11

Families can enjoy a nature-themed story followed by an activity or craft.  We may be outside in the gazebo on the side of the Visitor
Center, so bring your sunscreen, insect repellant and water.
This program is FREE but a parent or guardian must attend.

THURSDAY, JUNE 20, 1-3
PLEIN AIR WATERCOLOR WORKSHOPS

(Also Thursday
 July 4 & 18, August 1 & 15, & September 5)
Adult artists, beginners through advanced, may register at friendsofcapemayrefuge@gmail.com
Janet McShain will impart her expertise as she empowers us to paint in the outdoors. Bring your own supplies or use ours.
A $5.00 donation is requested.

Cancellations due to weather will be posted on Facebook.

Thank you for supporting the Refuge,
Roseann Writing for Friends

Mailing Address:
Friends of CMNWR
24 Kimble's Beach Road
Cape May Court House NJ 08210
United States
friendsofcapemayrefuge@gmail.com