Just before the turn of the season, Don Riepe, the Littoral Society's Jamaica Bay Guardian, found himself involved in some Spring cleaning, as well as a late winter rescue.
The cleaning effort revolved around preparations for the return of Barn Owls and Osprey to the Jamaica Bay area, which typically occurs around the middle of March each year.
A number of nesting platforms and owl boxes have been set up support natural roosting and nesting behaviors of these important raptors. Don and staff from the Littoral Society, with additional support from the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, took some time in early March to clean and repair one of the favorite boxes in the neighborhood.
More than 30 pounds of pellets, containing the remains of countless rodents, were removed and the box was restored to prime summer-residence condition.
On Sunday, March 5, Don received a call from a birder friend, Michele Truong, regarding a duck tangled in fishing line in Sheepshead Bay.
Since his boat was at the marine shop, Don wasn't sure anything could be done. Still, he grabbed a large pole net and drove over to where the bird had been reported in the water.
The situation seemed hopeless, given that the duck was more than 20 feet from the last of the piers off Emmons Avenue. Then it swam very close to the pedestrian bridge that connects Emmons Avenue with Manhattan Beach. He ran over to the bridge and was able to scoop it up in the net.
Once ashore, a bystander came with a knife cut the fishing line that was still attached to something in the water. A quick examination showed that the duck (a Lesser Scaup) seemed uninjured, so it was put back into the bay where it swam off to meet up with a flock of other scaup.
"It's nice when there is a happy ending to a wildlife rescue event," Don said afterwards. "Too often, discarded fishing line is a death trap for many species of coastal wildlife."
Since 2018, the Littoral Society has partnered with the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy to repair already established fishing line recycling bins and greatly increase the number of bins throughout Jamaica Bay. This work was implemented with the support of the National Park Service and NYC Parks. Collected fishing line is sorted, cleaned and sent to a recycling facility.
Learn more about our work in and around Jamaica Bay.