Creating young forests to save the N.E. cottontail rabbit

Twenty four girls and boys hunted pheasants over some of the finest bird dogs in Connecticut Sunday when the Groton Sportsmen’s Club opened its land for the annual youth hunt.

Mike Marchand photo, N.H. Fish & Game

Mike Marchand photo, N.H. Fish & Game

Inside the club lodge, meanwhile, the conversation was about rabbits. Bill Salisbury and Ray Thiel, two of the club’s committee chairmen, were discussing how they have been working with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to manage club land for the threatened New England cottontail.

It’s being displaced by the eastern cottontail, a rabbit which is much more tolerant of humans and their suburban sprawl, Bill says.

necottontail.org

necottontail.org

Working with foresters and wildlife biologists — and supported by government grants — the club and other private landowners have been restoring woodlands to provide the native plants and the coverts New England cottontail need. Some areas required clear cutting.

When the old trees were felled, new brush appeared, and in other spots, state workers, biologists and club volunteers planted native shrubs that were grown in Connecticut nurseries.

It’s too early to tell how much the New England cottontails will benefit from the work, but Ray says that birders already are noticing that songbirds such as the eastern towhee, have moved in. The population of this beautiful sparrow has declined dramatically, due, in part, to forests maturing and the lack of new shrub growth.

Deer also love the new growth. They like it so much that the sportsmen’s club had to erect fences to keep the deer out of certain areas.

If you’re interested in learning more about Connecticut’s Young Forest Initiative, click here.

Save #CT and #RI forests to save birds, scientist says

For the first time in 300 years, residents of Rhode Island and Connecticut are seeing old-growth trees, says Robert Craig, executive director of Bird Conservation Research, Inc., a non-profit group tracking forest birds in southern New England. “Unless we set aside vast areas of forest now,” he says, the size and diversity of bird populations will be diminished.

Audubon Craig croppedCraig summarized his study, “The Forest Bird Survey of Southern New England,” at the 116th annual meeting of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island yesterday. Before he spoke, Candace Powell of Jamestown RI, Audubon’s president, reminded members that birds are indicators of health in the environment.

To save the size and diversity of bird population, it is critical to prevent the fragmentation of forests, Craig said.

His study of forest birds and their surroundings revealed the links between bird populations and habitat. “Extensive forests host the most diversity,” he said. Citing Rhode Island’s Arcadia Management Area and State Forest (which abuts Connecticut’s Pachaug State Forest) Craig said such vast tracts must be saved now, when they contain trees as old as 300 years as well as farm land.

To complete his study, Craig walked more than 1,000 miles and made 50,172 birds observation of 87 species. He examined 17,760 habitat sites.

NY parents sue summer camp for $41.75 million after tick bite

The parents of a New York girl are suing a Connecticut summer camp for $41.75 million after, they allege, their daughter was bitten by a tick and contracted Lyme disease.

ticks

The federal lawsuit names YMCA Camp Mohawk in Litchfield, CT. It was filed filed by attorney Antonio Ponvert III on behalf of Ariana Sierzputowski and her parents, Abby Horowitz and Joseph Sierzputowski.

For the whole story as it appeared in The Courant, click here.

Photo courtesy lymediseaseassociation.org

It’s Walktober in The Last Green Valley

Farmers Market at the Nathan Hale Homestead

Farmers Market at the Nathan Hale Homestead

It’s Walktober, a celebration of The Last Green Valley, in southern Massachusetts and eastern Connecticut, along the  Rhode Island border.

The 23rd edition of Walktober features scores of walks and paddle trips among natural wonders and important historical sites from Sturbridge, MA to Griswold, CT.

Sunday, we visited the Coventry CT Farmers Market at the Nathan Hale Homestead (pictured above), and walked around a bit through the rain. It was wet and muddy, but several children had a blast in the puddles. (And the farmers market was wonderful.)

Walktober includes 106 walks, hikes, paddles and bike rides as well as 36 events that highlight the cultural, historic or natural resources of The Last Green Valley.  The Walktober Calendar labels each walk as easy, moderate, or difficult. Many offerings are geared specifically for families with children. The family dog is welcome at pet-friendly walks. Adventurers will enjoy 13 paddles and three bike rides included in this year’s schedule. To download the schedule as a PDF file, click here.

Walktober is such a gift!

Places to hike or paddle for leaf peeping now

pawcatuck autumnFall colors are flowing through southern New England now. Along some streams and through many beaver ponds, autumn colors are at their peak, so it’s a great time to pck up the paddling gear and go for a boat ride.

In southern Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut, the Pawcatuck River is aflame in some places. The stretch between the Bradford fishing area (pictured above) and the Burdickville Bridge is stunning, and the foliage should be even more brilliant this weekend.

In the Arcadia Management Area, near the Connecticut – Rhode Island border, Breakheart Pond is one of the first ponds to display color in the fall. Nearby, the shores of the Wood River are beginning to show their autumn colors and scarlet cardinal flowers are still in bloom in some spots.

Too shallow to paddle, the Falls River has a lovely hiking trail to Stepstone Falls, a scenic place for a picnic beneath fall foliage. It is off Route 165, a short way from the Connecticut – Rhode Island border.

Together, Pachaug State Forest and Arcadia Management Area offer thousands of acres and miles of trails and streams with free access for a autumn adventure.

Discover 825 miles of trails in southern New England

Connecticut residents, and the rest of us who live in nearby Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island, are lucky to be near the Nutmeg State’s Blue Blazed Hiking Trails. They cover 825 miles and pass through 88 towns. This video is a great introduction to some of the hiking possibilities.

LI Sound offers variety for anglers

On Long Island Sound, Pat Abate of Rivers End Tackle, says the number of school stripers is increasing on many of the reefs where the bass are feeding on coin-sized buttefish.

There are larger bass at the Race, Plum Gut, Cornfield and Long Sand Shoal, he said. “Live or chunked bunker are the best bets except for the Race where eels at night are the best producer.”

Rhode Island angler Dan Carlson took a striper just ounces shy of 40 pounds this week in the waters off Watch Hill.

Medium-size bluefish are appearing all over Long Island Sound and Block Island Sound this week “The usual rips are holding blues well under 10 pounds,” he said. “The mouths of the Connecticut, Thames, Quinnipiac and Housatonic Rivers – if they have bunker – are the best spots to find a teen sized blue, but don’t look for schools. The bigger fish are still loners in August. Some of the smaller reefs such as Cranes, Hens and Chickens and Cornfield can hold bigger blues. If size doesn’t matter try Plum Gut or Pigeon Rip. Not as many as across the Sound but Southwest Reef has some.”

Snapper blues are appearing in larger numbers in most coastal rivers, he said.

The best fluke fishing appears to be on the south side of Montauk, but the fishing of Black Point can be rewarding, he said.

Positive porgy reports are coming from Bartletts, Hatchetts, Race Rock, Cranes and Southwest reefs, Pat said.

For bonito and false albacore, check out the waters off Weekapaug, Watch Hill and Charlestown, RI.