Despite early season gains and encouragement at two large sites, the tally elsewhere has been poor involving about 50% of the nest boxes. Counts are not finalized but the overall yield may indicate the most significant drop in production recorded by MWDI – an 8-12% decline. Habitat has been very good but the drop in total eggs being laid and the increased level of nests failures at modest – moderate clutch sizes is baffling.
My optimism for the final 2017 production summary was also misplaced as the total hatch dropped 1.5% to 7,746 from7,863 instead of exceeding 8,000 as projected. Production was from 117 sites involving 1,775 boxes. New sites the past two years while showing moderate performance have been below expectations but this only accounts for a portion of the decline as final reports from a host of smaller projects were also below expectations. The annual survey routinely includes a drop in production from old sites where supervision has been lacking. Gains elsewhere were insufficient or non-existent to offset these estimated reductions.
The relationship with Phoenix Metals continues to be great. We note that private program sponsors continue to add predator guards at a more rapid pace than boxes which is a tangible “best practices” enhancement that will benefit overall Maryland production.
Two additional box assembly events have been held since April and two additional ones are scheduled for this fall at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center and Maret School bringing MWDI’s total to 6 this year.
MWDI has supplies for new public projects if you wish to initiate one. We will review site habitat, assist box location and train volunteers but you must have a project manager idetified to monitor the project after installation.
As always, thank you to our dedicated volunteers for helping to make a difference.
We need your help. Our sister refuge Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge (in Rock Hall, Maryland) is in danger of closing due to lack of funds needed to hire a manager. The nonprofit Friends of Eastern Neck have been helping to fill the labor void at the refuge, but if funding for a new manager does not come soon, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has said they could close the refuge.
Closing would impact wildlife protection, habitat and food management, and recreational access for birders, photographers, families, school groups, hunters, anglers, and the volunteers. It would also impact tourism dollars in local towns.
We need all citizens to write an email to Scott Kahan, Northeast Regional Chief in the National Wildlife Refuge System, urging that they hire a new manager – visit our web page for details on sending an email. email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org).
U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, as well as U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (MD-1) https://harris.house.gov/contact/email have offered their support for hiring a new manager. If you live in Maryland, we would appreciate you emailing them about this issue and tagging them in social media using information on our web page. We greatly appreciate any help you can provide to raise awareness and increase the response from citizens supporting the refuge
Please visit Friends of Blackwater Water and Eastern Neck for links
MDWFA sent a letter to Chief Scott Kahan, Chief of National Refuge System urging replacement of on-site Refuge Manager as thousands of wintering waterfowl are dependent on historical and traditional management of Eastern Neck N.W.F.
Greg Tracey, Paul Donhauser, and I attended the Baltimore County Council meeting on Tuesday to address Bill 42-16 which would have made it illegal for anyone to possess firearms or knives on Baltimore Co. parks or property and subject such weapons to confiscation. The bill would also not allow retriever dog training on county property or parks. We thought the bill was poorly written and too broad and would hurt those stakeholders that have contributed so much in way of licenses etc.
The council agreed that the bill was hastily written and amended it on the spot to allow a licensed hunter to transport cased weapons at boat ramps, etc. during hunting seasons. They are also going to amend the bill to outlaw only weapon type knives and not pen knives and fillet knives. As was pointed out by the council, it has ALWAYS been illegal to have guns on county park property even though a blind eye was turned to allow us to hunt, now it will be totally LEGAL to have our guns on property with boat ramps. They are also going to address the hunting dog issue. We are waiting to read all of the amendments before signing off on them. Councilman Wade Koch was definitely on our side as was another councilman that I don’t know.
Barry Williams, the Director of Baltimore County Parks and Recreation followed us out of the room to speak with us and was very amenable to our proposed changes. I spoke with him on the Baltimore County land offshore waterfowl hunting and, again, explained that it’s never been a safety issue and the only place we had any problem was at Cox’s Point. I know the land is tied up in riparian licensing for another 2 years (I think) and proposed that we, MDWFA, submit a map to him of the properties we would like turned back on and he agreed that he would entertain such an exercise. So, it looks much more positive that we may get Baltimore Co property turned back on.
So, all in all it was a double win for MDWFA yesterday at the County Council meeting. The vote on the Bill is July 5th and I will be out of state but Greg and Paul will monitor the amendments.
Greetings from the Lower Shore. Just in time for the 2016 nesting season, MDWFA & Maryland Wood Duck Initiative volunteers have concluded Wood Duck box inspections in Worcester County for the 2015 nesting season.
The Scope: In Worcester County volunteers manage approximately 125 boxes on public lands. Inspections take between 14-20 hours per year (for one person) to conclude.
The Numbers: Overall ducks hatched were slightly lower (41 eggs) from 2014, but the hatched percentage (74%) was up 1% over 2014 (73%) and up 12% over 2013 (62%). The average number of eggs per nest was 9.
The Conclusion: Feel good about the contribution we are making to keep Wood Ducks a successful species in Maryland. With our efforts, we are making it possible for hens to have a safe place to nest & produce more ducklings. Once they leave the nest, it’s totally up to her & the environment. Hopefully more ducks produced will result in more hens returning in coming years!
If you haven’t already volunteered in your local area & would like to assist in the cooperative Wood Duck project, please contact me. I’d love to share my experience with you and fuel your fire to keep them squealing through the trees for generations to come!
It is with great sadness that the MDWFA has learned of the passing of Jack “Doc” Scanlon on Wednesday night. Doc was a true gentleman and an avid hunter, fisherman and dog trainer.
Doc was a Lifetime member of the MDWFA and a volunteer to countless other organizations. Doc served as the Dorchester county rep for the MDWFA for many years. We offer our condolences to his wife Kathy and his family.
John W. Scanlon, Jr. MD, 75, of Cambridge passed away on Wednesday evening November 5, 2014 at his home. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 15, 2014 at Zion United Methodist Church in Cambridge with Rev. William Davis officiating. Family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. In lieu flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Dorchester Center for the Arts, 321 High Street, Cambridge, MD 21613 or to the Stripers Forever, P.O. Box 2781, South Portland, ME, 04116-2781.
The Maryland Waterfowlers Association (MDWFA) sponsored an essay contest where youths were asked to describe why they wanted to hunt ducks and geese. One of the winners was 13 year old Will Waibel from Bel Air. Will’s prize was a youth day hunt last Saturday at Garyview Farm in Cambridge hosted by Dr Jack Scanlon.
More elaboration on yesterday’s wonderful youth hunt at Garyview Farm. Bill, Will’s father, is a fine gentleman. Bill is a head football coach and teacher in Bellaire. He also had guided for ducks and geese in the past and carved his own dekes (he generously gifted one to me). Bill is also a fly fisherman for trout and smallies. We had many mutual friends from my old Trout Unlimited days fishing local streams. I personally want to thank MDWFA for this opportunity to give something back and watch a boy grow into adulthood doing those things MDWFA stands for.
Students in Courtland Lilley’s Transportation Technology class at James M. Bennett High school in Salisbury, MD recently transformed 25 empty Freon canisters into Wood Duck nesting boxes. Wood Ducks are cavity nesters and to promote their come back (seasons were once closed do to low population numbers) artificial nesting boxes are placed in critical habitat locations to increase their nesting success. Wood (primarily cedar) is traditionally used to make a rectangular box that we hope they call home for a few months.
The Freon canisters were donated to Maryland Wood Duck Initiative (MWDI), extreme home makeover by Mr. Lilley’s class, and will be installed, monitored, and maintained on a Lower Shore Wood Duck box project by the Maryland Waterfowlers Association. Six of these nesting boxes are installed on Nassawango Creek in Worcester County as part of a 2008 nesting project.
As all raw material prices rise, the use of alternative sources such as this one benefits both man and nature. All eyes will be focused on the hatch/use data that comes from these boxes to evaluate their success. MDWFA works in cooperation on with MWDI on many Wood Duck box projects throughout the state to increase the success of Maryland’s Wood Duck population.
The students that participated in this project (Jalonzo Bateman, Tai’Rell Copper, Eric Farrell, Nathan Hetzler, Tim Hull, Vince Lowery, TJ Martin, Jeremay Moats, and Grendi Zunun) not only gained service learning hours required by all high school students for graduation, but a deeper knowledge of what everyone can do for their environment.