February, 2010

February, 2010

Saturday, January 16, Auburn (Map 11)

Went for a snowshoe in Mount Apatite Park this afternoon. There is a large network of trails to enjoy with the highlight being a visit to the old mineral quarries. The quarries now long silent offer up some nice views of some rather large ice falls. Along the trial there was some scant with a great deal of hair in it which I think must have been from a coyote. Later on I came across a large area in the snow that was stained with blood and a good deal of deer hair left behind. It was hard to tell what really happened there. Was a deer all ready dead,sick or injured? Or had the coyotes made a fresh kill the night before. This was before the big snows that covered part of the state on Jan. 18 and 19 so I would think a healthy deer would have no problem getting away from a hungry coyote. SY
Thursday, January 21, Brunswick (Map 6)
During the winter months these ducks call this open stream on the campus of the Parkview Medical Center home. SY
Tuesday, January 26, Alna (Map 13)
Close to 2″ of rain fell on much of the state on Monday and it caused a number of ice jams on the states rivers. My travels for the day took me through the Head Tide section of Alna where a jam had formed on the Sheepscot River causing the closing of a road earlier in the day. SY

Sunday, January 31, Rangeley (Map 28)
All winter I’ve had a flock of snow buntings at my feeder and out in the field. On Sunday afternoon, I glanced out the back window and say this flash of red. Running to the window I saw a red fox stalking the birds. By the time I got my camera and the telephoto attached the birds flew off and and the fox walked off.  KB


Quoddy Nature Notes

by Fred Gralenski


What’s a ‘Bebop’?  Well, many years ago, before I was reincarnated as a Mainer, I lived in New Hampshire.  Even then I was interested in nature, and I would read the nature column in the Manchester Union Leader.  At that time there was a casual movement to get a state-wide hunting season on Mourning doves, and the nature writer that I had often read  rose up in indignation against the idea, and wrote passionately against the prospect of hunting the ‘…beloved bird of peace’.  Unfortunately I’m afflicted with a big slab of sarcasm, and ‘BEloved  Bird Of Peace’ evolved into ‘Bebop’ as my name for mourning doves.  Now Cranky the Bebop spends a lot of time under our bird feeders picking up the dropped sunflower seeds and cracked corn.  He’s obviously cranky, because he is always alone while most other bebops in the Quoddy region are in flocks.  He also doesn’t tolerate bluejays on his turf, and vigorously chases them away.  Now in a slam bang tussle I would bet on the smaller bluejay as a bluejay is more agile and equipped with a pretty formidable beak.  Critters, however, very seldom get into slam-bang tussles, and the aggressor usually gets his way.  I think that animals, especially birds, realize that the perils of getting banged up, even just a little, may compromise their ability for survival, and take a practical view of the situation and generally retreat from serious conflict.

Under real wilderness circumstances, Cranky, or any other mourning dove for that matter, wouldn’t be here.  Mourning doves normally migrate to warmer climates where they can get natural food and don’t have to depend on bird feeding people to survive.  But maybe Cranky and his ilk are weighing their chances, as most states have a hunting season on Mourning doves, but in New England the only state with a season for this bird is Rhode Island.  Hunting seasons anywhere are somewhat controversial, but the emotional rhetoric rises astronomically when the subject of dove hunting is addressed.  At about 500 million strong, mourning doves nest in all states except Hawaii.  They typically have two offspring per brood and have from two to five broods a year.  Here in the Quoddy region mourning doves usually have two and sometimes three broods.  In some states, like Alabama, the economic impact of mourning dove hunting is significant, and nation-wide the harvest is about 20 million birds.  Since mourning doves are skilled fliers and capable of speeds greater than 50 miles per hour, it is estimated that for each bird harvested about 8 shots are fired, for an ammunition expenditure alone of this sport of about $48 million.  Are mourning doves a major pest anywhere and do the numbers need to be managed by hunting?  Probably not, unless you have just seeded your lawn.  Mourning doves provide food for wild critters such as Peregrine falcons and hawks and owls, and I once saw a bobcat make a half-hearted effort to catch a mourning dove, but he was unsuccessful.

I don’t feel that hunting presently impacts the numbers of mourning doves, but I am concerned about the future.  According to my calculations there are over 5600 tons of shot, usually #7 1/2 or 8, fired at just mourning doves annually.  I would like to see the requirement that only non-toxic shot be used on all upland and field game, as is the present requirement for all waterfowl.  Since this may result in more wounded animals, I would like to require all hunters who pursue this sport to utilize a dog.  A pooch is pretty handy at finding and retrieving a wounded or lost bird.  And lastly for my tirade, push edibility of all game.  I don’t always agree with Gerry Lavigne, the well known wildlife biologist, but I enthusiastically support his recommendation of eating wild game, even the unusual stuff.  From his own words, “ I operate a commercial smoke-house for wild game, and everyone thinks my coyote-meat pepperoni  ‘yodel sticks’  are delicious.”And as for you, Cranky, act a little more like the beloved bird of peace and quit harassing my bluejays.  The stuff I put out there is for all of you critters.