Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Tough Year

Taking a break on a hot day.
    This year has been warmer than normal and extremely dry, and where are the grouse?  
    So far the bird season has been frustrating. Early on a few grouse were found around apple trees, perhaps for the moisture in the fruit, but many of the usual coverts are empty or nearly so. Our daily average has been the lowest in years.
    A great number of the little streams that usually wind down the hillsides dried up. In the past woodcock could often be found in the moist ground along them. Alder flats that are usually wet and muddy became easy walking. In spite of the lack of rain the apple trees had a bumper crop of fruit, and blueberries, raspberries, highbush cranberries did the same. Did the abundant fruit cause the birds to scatter?
    The spring weather wasn’t unusually wet or cold, so I expected good brood numbers. Wet cold weather right after hatching can wipe out much of a year’s young grouse. The entire year has been unusually dry, and since the spring particularly so.
The usual wet lowlands were just low.
    But the weather has turned now and the migrating woodcock have showed up. The grouse are still sketchy and hard to find, yet we keep trying. Almost all of the leaves have dropped and it is a great time to be in the woods. When a bird goes up at least we can see it.
   We’ll keep trying and perhaps figure out these grouse yet.

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