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Old 05-03-2008, 08:27 PM
Location: Maine
5,945 posts, read 10,947,948 times
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I volunteer for the Department of the Interior a couple of evenings a year. This time each spring we drive to Danforth and count male woodcock in their singing grounds. Tonight was slow. The route is 3.6 miles long and takes up to 38 minutes. Tonight I counted only four males. I don't officially count females but did count three. This is the lowest count so far. One night next week we'll drive to Amity to count that route.

Counting involves the exact timing of sunset plus 15 or 22 minutes depending on cloud cover. You listen for two minutes then drive .4 miles, listen two minutes then drive .4 miles, and repeat for a total of 10 stops. If the temperature is lower than 40 at starting time the count is canceled for the night. I have from April 10 to May 20 this year. Steve recorded the GPS coordinates for me on my first counts in 2006. I have to mark down the level of disturbance (no to high) and make any necessary notes. One of tonight's notes is about stop number nine. It's the parts yard for the wind farm. Speaking of the wind farm, there are blades on one turbine now. Four or five more are up but without blades.

When I finish counting I log into the Dept of the Interior website and enter my data. When both counts are finished I mail paper copies to a biologist at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Baring and to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Div of Migratory Bird Management in Laurel, MD.

In other states where counts are conducted singing grounds are decreasing. Open fields are either developed or returning to forest. The number of males counted in the 1960's was 3.8 birds per route. That number has fallen to 2. Maine is the only state where singing grounds aren't changing as drastically according to the data I read tonight.
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Old 05-03-2008, 09:38 PM
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Maine Writer - what an interesting and important thing to do! In NY state, orangized bird counts are conducted, but I've never read such a descriptive methodology. Thanks for posting!
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Old 05-03-2008, 09:39 PM
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What a great public service you are providing by helping out the Migratory Bird
Division! You are truly dedicated- hats off to you Maine Writer
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Old 05-03-2008, 10:29 PM
Location: Chaos Central
1,122 posts, read 3,554,231 times
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I think it's wonderful that you are participating in this research.
I used to love to hear the woodcocks in the lower pasture of my old place. Almost never saw them though.

They sound like they're giving somebody a raspberry
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Old 05-03-2008, 10:41 PM
Location: Louisiana - someday Maine
474 posts, read 1,220,366 times
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Maine Writer,

Forgive my ignorance from this city girl! How can you tell if the ones you are counting weren't already in the number you counted? BTW, I thinks it is a wonderful thing you're doing too.
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:03 AM
Location: Maine
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It's easy to count individual birds. Males are solitary except for the female they're courting. They peent. The space between them makes it easy to count individual birds. You count individual peents. I was hoping the reports were online but they must have taken them off. We used to be able to log in and see how many birds were counted. Now we can only see what routes have been done (only six in Maine so far).

Every time I walk up on a woodcock it startles me. They burst straight up into the air before flying away.
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:40 AM
Location: Northern Maine
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I heard the spring peepers last night for the first time. These are the frogs calling for a mate before they breed in small ponds.

I was going in to a property to take photos and as I crossed a logging bridge I saw a salmon over 2 feet long. Mental note; Fish that brook.

The rites of spring.
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:03 AM
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Very cool Robin. Not as many people hunt woodcock now and the numbers in our area seem down. On the Ellis River around the edge of the potato fields, are some of the best habitat. It usually takes flushing three or four birds before I don't jump out of my skin.
Now do you count turkeys?
Three years ago a state biologist was visiting and said they figured 35,000 birds were in Maine and the next fall, while checking my deer books, he claimed the estimated population of turkeys was 55,000!
Sileo in pacis matris.
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:01 AM
Location: Maine
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I count just woodcock. I had an opportunity to head to your area last month to count owls but I couldn't make it work. I'm hoping to get there for it next year. I'm counting on a turkey to show up in my sights this week or two weeks from now when a friend of Steve's takes me turkey hunting. I've been saying I want to go for years. Steve came home with all the camo a girl could (n)ever want so I'm going. I think S is going this week. He's an odd year and I'm an even so we can't hunt together.

NMLM, are you hearing the croakers yet? Funny story. I do the most embarrassing things on a regular basis. The first spring we were here I was delighted to hear the ducks out back. They were quacking up a storm in the middle of the afternoon. I stopped what I was doing and went to look for them but I couldn't find them. I couldn't ever find them! I did this for two or three years before someone told me I was hearing frogs. FROGS? mmmm.... frogs. I was so disappointed about not finding the mysterious ducks that stopped quacking when I got close.
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:07 AM
Status: "The world is so full of a number of things..." (set 23 days ago)
Location: Florida (SW)
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My son told me that the frogs that sound like ducks are tree frogs; as distinguished from the peepers. (I had thought they were ducks as well )
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