February 2011 Monthly Volunteer Meeting Recap

River Otter Tracks at Cranberry Pond in Late December 2010.
Photo By James Fischer
Last night several folks (a total of 14) came out to catch up with the program's current events and to share their observations while helping on the property.  We began with some announcements. 
  1. Wetland Bird Callback Survey and Frog Call Survey Workshop on March 19.  We are combining both surveys into one protocol.  Last year we initiated the Frog Call Survey but the season became too warm earlier than we had anticipated so we missed the peak of frog calling activity.  Several species of wetland birds inhabit the property for the breeding season and as migratory stopover habitat, so we will orient you to these calls, too.  Details will be announced soon.  Check back at the Wildlife Monitor and Forum for further information. 
  2. Connecticut Conference on Natural Resources is March 7 at the University of Connecticut, Main Campus in Storrs.  Please consider attending this conference because there will be many natural resource professionals presenting their original research performed in Connecticut.  James Fischer will be presenting a poster titled "An initial survey of crayfish (Order Decopoda) species inhabiting the White Memorial Foundation, Litchfield and Morris, Litchfield Co., Connecticut."  Check this link for more information http://www.ccnr.uconn.edu/ 
Several of our volunteers have been observing loads of meso-predators throughout the property, while some species that are traditionally observed are observed less this year.  White-tailed deer have been impacted by the deep snow so they are moving less to conserve energy, therefore their tracks are infrequently observed this year versus previous years.  Most of the meso-predators are having to move greater distances so that they can find food because most of the small mammals are living under the deep snow and are detected less.  Result of these subtle changes has been translated in our volunteer's observations on the property.  Meso-predators (bobcat, coyote, & red fox) tracks and sign are being observed throughout the property and consistently between each of the transects (a total of 19).  On the other hand, white-tailed deer spoor are observed less frequently by our volunteers even though they are distributed throughout the property.  Our Winter Track Transect Monitors logged a total of 65.5 cumulative hours of effort during the month of January!  The tracking conditions have been really challenging this year but they are all strapping on the snowshoes or lacing up the ski boots so that they can contribute their observations.  Kudos to all of them!

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