Date: 8/2/17 8:05 pm
From: <eric...>
Subject: Henslow's Sparrows and VOA gamelands use
Having conducted breeding bird surveys in Henslow's Sparrow habitat in
the Great Plains and Midwest, it is with interest that I read this
article. In reference to one issue raised in the article, the vast
majority of Henslow's Sparrows would be finished nesting by August,
meaning a conservative implementation of a September 1st date for field
dog trials should have no effect on the birds and I would think that
would be early for field trials. I don't think one could make a case for
field dog trials contributing to Henslow Sparrow mortality - no one is
going to be shooting them and dogs aren't going to catch them. Field dog
trials shouldn't have a deleterious effect on habitat. Apply a fee for
dog trials participation and raise funding to create even more Henslow
Sparrow habitat on the property.

Can't speak for their nest site selection on the property in question,
but in the areas that I surveyed, Henslow's used the highest (knee-high
on up) grass on the landscape.

Thankfully it was put into the hands of NCWRC as opposed to other state
entities. At least the deer won't consume everything of conservation

Eric Harrold

Hays, NC


John Wright talks about the Henslow's Sparrow, an uncommon grasslands
bird that breeds at the Voice of America Game Lands site.

By Kim Grizzard
The Daily Reflector
The Henslow's sparrow is an inconspicuous bird with a song so faint that
it sounds more like an insect. So perhaps it was fitting that when the
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission opened the rare bird's
breeding habitat to the public, it was done quietly and without fanfare.

There was no dedication ceremony or ribbon-cutting to mark Tuesday's
opening of the Voice of America Game Land in Beaufort County. Wildlife
Resources Commission employees simply unlocked the gate on Cherry Run
Road and let people come inside.
That was enough for Steve Howell, who made the drive from Morehead City
for a chance to walk the grassy plain that had been inaccessible to the
public for more than 50 years.
"I knew this was the opening day of it," said Howell, of Rocky Mount.
"I've always wanted to make the trip here."
Located 13 miles northeast of Greenville, the former federal government
broadcasting facility, closed a little more than a decade ago, became
the property of the Wildlife Resources Commission last year. The
property, which is more than twice the size of Goose Creek State Park,
is among the largest land transfers in the 65-year history of the
Federal Lands to Parks program.
While vehicular traffic is restricted and access to the gated building
compound is prohibited, sections of the nearly 3,000-acre property are
scheduled to be open this fall for permit-only hunting of deer, quail,
dove, rabbit and woodcock. The land also is being explored for possible
uses such as horseback riding and a shooting range.
John Thomas, a spokesman for the Old North State Retriever Association,
said the association, which represents 13 retriever clubs in the state,
has asked the Wildlife Resources Commission to consider making a portion
of the property available for field trials and hunt tests.
"Up to this time, most of the property on which we hold these tests and
trials are privately owned," Thomas said. "There's not a publicly owned
facility in the state for the retrievers."
He would like to see the VOA Game Land developed like the H. Cooper
Black Jr. Memorial Field Trial and Recreation Area in Cheraw, S.C.,
which has both retriever field trials and equestrian trails.
"With Currituck County and all the duck hunting up and down in our
coastal region, it's a natural for the state to have a place for dogs to
train and to compete," said Thompson, adding that a retriever trials
facility would be an economic boon to the area.
Brian McRae, chief of the land and water access section of the state
Wildlife Resources Commission, said the management plan for the property
is still in development. In an earlier interview, McRae confirmed that
the commission's top priority for the property is to conserve the
habitat of the Henslow's sparrow.
That's good news to John Wright, a Wilson birding enthusiast who for
years tracked the Henslow's sparrow's population in eastern North
Carolina. Wright, who visited the VOA Game Land site on Tuesday, has
worked behind the scenes for years to try to protect the birds at the
site, sharing his site surveys of the birds with the Wildlife Resources
Commission and appealing to VOA to avoid mowing areas where the bird was
"It's basically the only spot where it has a chance," Wright said of the
former VOA Site A, which is listed as "Henslow's Fields," one of the
Audubon Society's Important Bird Areas of North Carolina. The site also
is included in the "National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of
North America."
Henslow's sparrow is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch
List, which includes 432 bird species that are most at risk of
extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines
and reduce threats. The bird does not have federally protected status in
the United States, but is listed as endangered in seven states and in
"It's not an endangered species officially, but really it is," Wright
said. "The Henslow's is certainly in the category that should be
declared endangered."
The bird is not the only uncommon species that calls the site home. In
2011, experts surveying the site identified 104 plant species (including
yellow and purple pitcher plants, the yellow loosestrife and the slender
blue iris) and 58 animals (including the oak toad, the reversed roadside
skipper and the helicta satyr butterflies). Besides the Henslow's
sparrow, the site is home to numerous birds, including the grasshopper
sparrow, Eastern meadowlark, Eastern kingbird, bobwhite quail and the
bald eagle.
Previously proposed uses of the property, made public when Beaufort
County was considering acquiring former VOA Site A, included developing
a section for all-terrain vehicles and reforesting a large portion of
the site. Wright worried that they would drive Henslow's sparrow and
other birds from the site.
He believes uses that are now being considered for the property are more
compatible with the birds.
"I think they just need to make sure that the retriever trials and the
horseback riding, things of that nature, are away from the prime
breeding area of the Henslow's sparrows," he said. "The Henslow's
sparrows have never covered this whole area. They've used portions of
it, but never the whole area."
Henslow's sparrows eat, nest and spend almost all their time on or near
the ground. The birds prefer grasslands that are not too high (too many
woody stems) or too low (frequently mowed.)
Voice of America's once-a-year mowing schedule (designed to reduce the
threat of wildfire) turned out to be just right for the bird, but much
of the property has become overgrown since the facility was abandoned.
The Wildlife Resources Commission has burned more than 1,000 acres on
the property to control vegetation growth and plans to burn another 335
acres later this summer.
"I think from the standpoint of an ecological venture, Wildlife
Resources Commission knows a heck of a lot more about what they're
doing," Wright said.
"I'm just pleased that some of the work that I did has paid off," he
said. "... Now I don't worry about it. It's in good hands." _Voice of
America Game Lands is located at 10000 Cherry Run Road in Beaufort
County. A small parking area is available inside the gate. The entire
game _land_ will be closed to the public from Aug. 26-29 due to a
commission-sanctioned training event. To apply for a hunting permit,
visit [2]._

> On Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 6:46 AM, Jamie Adams <carolinabirds...> wrote:
>> Does anyone know if the gate at Lake Landing is open for driving to the east impoundments?
>> Also, is the VOA site open to the public now?
>> Jamie Adams
>> Wilmington, NC
>> Sent from my iPad
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