This Friday, (April 27) NH Audubon and the Lee Conservation Commission will be holding a woodcock viewing at the Joe Ford Wildlife Sanctuary, at 7:00 p.m.
The Joe Ford Wildlife Sanctuary is an established woodcock singing ground, with as many as four males observed displaying in recent weeks. We invite folks to spend an hour learning about, listening to, and observing these unique upland shorebirds. While we wait for the woodcock to get started with their courtship displays, we'll discuss their life history - what they eat, preferred habitats, courtship, nesting and migration. Also discussed will be the decline in woodcock population. Woodcock are among 46 avian species listed by NH Fish and Game as species of greatest conservation need. As lack of appropriate early successional habitats is the main factor in this species' decline, we will discuss the importance of creating and managing the type of open shrubland favored by woodcock.
As well as being able to hear, and (more difficult) see the woodcock, we'll have photographs of peenting woodcock, a weirdly wonderful woodcock skull, and a frozen woodcock to provide participants with a good look at the bird's beautiful cryptic plumage, distinctive beak, and those special primaries which create the whistling heard during the male's spiraling flight. During past events, we've often been treated to barred owl duets and the goodnight songs of hermit thrush, wood thrush, robin, song sparrow, cardinal and catbird.
The viewing area is a short walk along the field edge, which is somewhat rough and mounded; sturdy shoes are suggested. Ticks and mud are a definite possibility, and spring evenings can be damp and cool, so please dress accordingly. Feel free to bring a folding chair, and binoculars. All ages are very welcome, but children must be able to watch quietly while the woodcocks are displaying as noises and moving around can disrupt the birds - it's been our experience that this has never been an issue and that the children attending this event are extremely respectful.
Joe Ford Wildlife Sanctuary is located on Garrity Road in Lee - after turning onto Garrity from Mast Road (155A) the sanctuary is located about 1/2 mile down Garrity on the right. Traffic cones will be placed near the sanctuary entrance. Parking is along the sanctuary side of Garrity, and we request that cars pull well off the road and ask that folks not park on the crests of hills.