Asian longhorn tick, bird banding, sandpipers, Cape Cod channel, fishing, surf-casting, black bear, duck hunting
It’s a mystery how some exotic species get here. I dropped all the ticks our bird banding team pulled from this spring’s migratory songbirds so that Dr. Sam telford, an infectious disease specialist at Tufts, could analyze them under a microscope.
We know that birds are parasitized by deer ticks which carry the bacteria Borrelia, which causes Lyme disease. But we need to check whether the birds are carriers of different ticks which harbor other diseases.
One little-known species that Dr. Telford is starting to study more carefully is the Asian longhorn tick – our latest threat. It is now in the United States near us. We don’t know how he got here. He will certainly be arriving in Massachusetts soon.
Dr Telford will look carefully for them in our spring specimens now and even more carefully in late next fall when we have completed the fall migration banding, which will resume at Auburn Sportsmen’s Club research station in late August. when songbirds begin to migrate south in huge numbers.
Sandpipers are heading towards us
But now, with our first sweet corn ready to be picked, the far north migration has already started in the sandpiper world. Adult sandpipers, which began frantically rearing their young right after the ice melted in pools of permafrost filled with mosquitoes and briefly melted, are leaving the Arctic. Already, they are seen by shellfishers on our mudflats as well as by bird watchers and surfers on the beaches of Plum Island in Monomoy. These adults do not hesitate to let their young discover the migratory route of several thousand kilometers on their own a few weeks later.
Semi-webbed and black-bellied plovers, red tourniquets, crows curlews, solitary sandpipers, greater and lesser knights, pectorals, white-rumped sandpipers, and short- and long-billed sandpipers, now descend and have desperately hungry to refuel. Beaked sandpipers, stilt and semi-webbed sandpipers, Hudsonian Godwits, sanderlings – and always a few thrilling and out of reach rarities.
Some of our earliest songbirds will also begin to migrate to the tropics soon. Their early August migration will be far less urgent than their spring migration which has made them desperate to claim territory and breed here.
With plenty of food and plenty of time to get back to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, they’ll take their time on the way. The vast majority of our migrating songbirds will start leaving in September, just as cooler temperatures and reduced light in the north reduce insect production. This is our best month to witness the fall songbird migration.
Clean bird feeders are a must
There has been an alarming outbreak among many species of songbirds – particularly blackbirds, blue jays, starlings and robins in the central and southeast Atlantic. Infected birds have been recorded as far away as New Jersey. In response, Rhode Island and now MassWildlife recommend removing feeders – especially in hot weather – to limit potential spread here.
Unfortunately, wherever wildlife congregates, the possibility of disease spread increases exponentially. We see this phenomenon in areas where people attract deer with corn. The fact that most people don’t properly clean their feeders every week with a wash in a 1:10 solution of bleach and water makes the problem worse.
We have seen this kind of infection before. In England, up to 70% of finch relatives have died from exposure to feeder diseases. In recent years, we have also witnessed an accident in our own domestic finches, who symptomatically presented with crusty and closed eyelids. Their subsequent blindness resulted in starvation.
If we’re going to feed the birds for our entertainment, education, and closer connection to nature, we have an obligation to ethically keep their feeders clean – and their populations as healthy as possible.
Great week in Cape Town
One of the wettest and freshest July months made too many Cape Cod vacations more shopping and dining than the beach. Nonetheless, ocean fishing has been good – sometimes excellent – when the boats were able to get out. But more reliably, there has always been the incomparable Cape Cod Canal for surfcasting.
Old Graftonite, Eric Cellucci flew from elk country in Colorado to fish for bluefin tuna in the canal and our offshore waters. He was not disappointed.
Captain Matt blazis took him to Crab Ledge, where they found huge schools of menhaden, spectacularly feeding whales, shearwaters – and a giant bluefin tuna that pulled them for nearly 3 hours at the Hemingway over 6 miles high sea before breaking up. The colossal fish as it surfaced near the boat appeared to be over 100 inches tall. It could have been worth between $ 3,000 and $ 7,000. At least they didn’t lose any fish the next day while surfing the canal.
Tuesday, the bite was there! Dozens of great blue herons eagerly stood alongside herrings and black-backed gulls, eagerly lining the shore, hoping strippers fed abundantly to fend off the schools of menhaden on the rocks. The only drawbacks were the ubiquitous and treacherously slippery rocks that present the possibility of a bone-shattering spill at any moment.
Blazis and Cellucci took their strippers, as did dozens of other Canal surfcasters. After a photo, Cellucci happily put his big 30-pounder back in the water as it exceeded the legal limit of 28 to 35 inches.
The canal has actually been on impulse fire since July 8. According to East End Eddie DohertyHundreds of anglers swarmed the rocky shores, catching several 20 to 30 pound – and larger – plotters with a 44-inch plotter taken from a white Hurley Canal Killer. The rising tide in the east was productive for Vito Marsico, an experienced Canal Rat from Long Island. Sing Sing’s affable Corrections officer landed several large fish, culminating Sunday with a 45-pounder that was tricked by a large Savage Gear pink sand eel.
Auburn Bill Therrien successfully fished in Narragansett Bay this week. His crew caught a few plate-sized stripers, moats, bass and scup. The stripers were taken off Prudence Island. All other fish were caught between Whale Rock and Point Judith.
Black bear season is approaching
MassWildlife reminds hunters that black bear season will open on the Tuesday after Labor Day. The time for scouting is now.
The most successful hunters tend to hunt food rich areas in the west. It means farms with cornfields – or forests filled with nuts. On opening day, you want to be on their travel routes to their current food sources. Farmers who experience crop damage are often very welcoming to hunters who politely ask permission to hunt their land.
Massachusetts hunters last year captured a record 325 black bears during the shoulder seasons of September and November. This number is not enough to stop an ever expanding population. The first season, this year from September 7 to 25, always eclipses the second in number of bears captured. The second season, from November 1 to 20, and the shotgun season, from November 29 to December 20. 11, are still problematic. Lack of wild food and falling temperatures can cause bears to go into hibernation early.
Update of the duck hunting season
Waterfowl hunters can look forward to the Canada geese season opening this year before Labor Day, September 1. The regular goose and duck seasons will open in the Central and Berkshire areas on the same day, October 11.
Results are for the 2021 spring wild turkey harvest. Hunters reported capturing 2,929 birds, including 2,081 adult males, 840 jakes (smaller and younger males with beards) and 8 bearded hens. Just as a small percentage of human females with hormonal abnormalities can grow beards, so can female wild turkeys.
The young hunters were able to harvest 95 wild turkeys, including 57 adult males and 38 jacques. With excellent mentoring, the success rates of the supervised youth were an impressive almost 50%. This was remarkable, given that the overall adult success rate for the spring hunt was less than 20%.
Contact Mark Blazis at [email protected]