[CT Birds] Seed donations for Stratford Point and habitat updates
PCOMINS at audubon.org
Tue Nov 17 10:35:51 EST 2015
I don't think I can keep Stratford Point stocked with seed like I did last winter. If anyone wants to bring a bag of mixed seed with them when they come birding at Stratford Point it would be much appreciated. Last winter we were able to keep the Snow Buntings hanging around all winter when they had left most places and it would be good to keep some of the sparrow areas supplemented with seed.
We're looking into splitting the feed plot into two areas for next season. I think this year's results were impressive considering that we got such a late start with planting. Some birds that were observed in the feed plots included: Blue Grosbeak, Vesper Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow (several), Lincoln's Sparrow (several) and Clay-colored Sparrow, not to mention the regular supply of Field, Swamp and Savannah Sparrows. Much of the footprint of this year's plot is being converted into a wildflower meadow, but the densest corner (to the east of the arbor vitae) around the brush pile remains and will continue to be stocked with seed if we can keep our supplies up. Next year that corner will be expanded to the east and a second feed plot will be established next to the WildLife Guards "stadium effect" garden along the entrance driveway...pending receipt of a grant we applied for.
There are some other things on the horizon for the habitats here. Sacred Heart University recently received a grant from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to create two acres of pollinator meadows at the Point, in the aforementioned footprint of the former clubhouse and in the meadow across the driveway that was choked with mugwort. This will improve habitat for insects and for the birds that like to eat them. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers who helped us collect acorns and hickory nuts we have planted 1,000 white, black, red, chestnut and swamp white oak as well as shagbark, pignut and bitternut hickory seeds between the pines and the garage to establish a path of coastal forest and improve habitat diversity. We have also planted several sassafrass saplings near the auxiliary entrance. In the spring we plan to plant a bird and butterfly garden on the hill next to the garage and we are working hard on a plan to increase the availability of fresh water on the site. We have recently mowed about 1/3 of the site to restore grassland habitat and plan to mow other areas in the spring or late winter. We will leave a small area of cherry saplings directly south of the office though for habitat diversity.
Some future projects we are looking at include:
* Planting a grove of cedars, holly and other evergreens to create improved owl roosting habitat.
* Creating a hedgerow under the powerlines to improve cover for migrant birds
* A small orchard of crab apples and other orchard trees to improve habitat for spring migrants and wintering birds
* Cone-bearing trees to improve chances for winter finches
* Planting of trees along the fence-line to improve habitat for migrants
* More butterfly host plants
* Improving and expanding foundation plantings around the office
* Magnolia and dogwood trees to improve habitat for fall thrushes and vireos.
We're just getting going with fall and winter birding season, but looking forward to exciting improvements for birds and birding for next year!
Special thanks go out to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History (RTPI) for being such a wonderful partner at Stratford Point and on our shorebird conservation efforts!
Patrick M. Comins
Director of Bird Conservation
President, Friends of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
185 East Flat Hill Road
Southbury, CT 06488
pcomins at audubon.org<mailto:pcomins at audubon.org>
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