Welcome!In 1969, a group of neighbors created the Piscataquog Watershed Association (PWA) to protect critical land along the Piscataquog River. Now the Piscataquog Land Conservancy (PLC), that legacy has grown to include nearly 6,000 acres on 100 conservation tracts.
Arrivals and Departures
By Chris Borg
On a brisk fall evening I find myself walking along an old woods road, rarely traveled and forgotten by most. The road skirts the edge of a hardwood forest as it passes along an abandoned hay meadow. It’s one of my favorite places to walk and reflect. The night is clear and a crescent moon forms a Cheshire cat grin low in the western sky. A stalwart old maple, free of its leafy summer burden, braces for the coming winter and its long dormancy. Its gnarled naked branches are silhouetted by the moonlight against a deep midnight blue autumn sky. The smell of decaying leaves is ever present.
Suddenly the solitary chip of a lone White-crowned Sparrow rings loudly high above, catching my attention. “The exodus continues,” I think to myself. By now, most migratory songbirds have already headed south, but a handful still linger. These few who remain are themselves in transit, predominantly seed-eaters that span several species, including sparrows. Earlier in the day I had spotted seven different species of sparrow along the same stretch of road. The White-crowned calling above had already journeyed great distances to find this old meadow, rich with the seeds of grasses and asters.
I stop to ponder the journey of this lone sparrow and what the coming weeks might bring to this meadow. Northern Shrikes and American Tree Sparrows from the Canadian boreal are certainly possible candidates, but so too are nomadic “winter finches.” This year will likely bring New Hampshire an irruption – meaning a concentration of particular species in a given year -- of both Purple Finches and Common Redpolls from further north, while Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins, and Evening Grosbeaks will be less common. Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings will be even scarcer, and White-winged Crossbills will be virtually nonexistent.
What causes this ever-shifting canvas of winter color? Like migration, irruptions are generally linked to diminishing food resources (seed and fruit crops) in other parts of a given species’ range. However, unlike true migrations, irruptions are not a consistent annual event. For instance, this year birch seed crops -- a preferred wild food of Redpolls -- are sparse throughout much of boreal Canada; hence the expected irruption of the birds in New Hampshire. Conversely, mountain ash -- a preferred food of Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings -- are producing a bumper crop to our north. Consequently, we’ll likely see few, if any, of these species. White-winged Crossbills will likewise enjoy a heavy crop of spruce cones throughout much of eastern Canada this winter and therefore have no need to leave their northern range.
For the backyard bird feeding enthusiast, this is an exciting time. Consider using a silo feeder or mesh “sock” full of nyger thistle seeds to attract Redpolls and siskins. Purple, and many other finches prefer black oil sunflower seeds. As a result, well stocked feeders throughout this winter season shouldn’t disappoint. So get your feeders ready… the redpolls are coming, the redpolls are coming! Also get out and take a walk this winter to encounter one of these species afield. Or better still, volunteer with PLC as a monitoring steward. Currently we have a need for monitors in the following towns: Deering, Henniker, Lyndeborough, and New Boston. Getting to know a PLC preserve or conservation easement might just reward you with a feathered surprise or two!
Chris Borg is PLC’s Stewardship Coordinator and an enthusiastic birder.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Rand Brook Forest, Francestown
REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED
(see upcoming events tab)
Event is co-sponsored by PLC and the Francestown Land Trust
We are PLC
By Chris Wells, PLC President/Executive Director
“Without people, you're nothing.” – J.S.
Since arriving at Piscataquog Land Conservancy this summer, I have come to appreciate that PLC is first and foremost a community of people. Many attendees of our Annual Meeting this fall have been part of the organization for decades, and in some cases, since its founding more than forty years ago. As the social hour came to a close -- then kept right on going -- I witnessed bonds of friendship, shared history, and common cause.
This sense of community is there every day. I see it in the volunteers who drop into our little office to pick up a file or some boundary markers before heading out to their annual easement monitoring walk. In the members who stop by for a chat, then as they leave, slip me an envelope with a contribution and whisper, “Keep up the good work!” In the members of PLC’s founding generation who invite me to walk on a favorite property, to share a place they love and tell the story of how it came to be protected. PLC is in its way an extended family, and I am profoundly grateful to be part of it.
As human beings we have a need to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. I think this is why so many people have been drawn to PLC’s work. Even as we protect the local places that support and give meaning to our communities and daily lives, we protect threads in the larger web of land and water that sustains all life on earth.
Recently I walked with one PLC founder through a truly magical stream valley not far from our office in New Boston. While pausing in a stand of huge old hemlocks, we somehow got to talking about the future of the place. Would invasive bugs or a warming world extinguish the great trees and the brook trout swimming in their cool shadows? The hard truth is that this is a possible future for this place. Ecosystems are always changing and human civilization has come to influence these changes. Yet because people came together to protect this little valley, it will remain in a natural state, in some evolving incarnation, forever.
Thank you for being part of this organization because without every one of us, there truly is no PLC. Every special place we protect is our gift to each other, to our children and grandchildren, and most remarkably, to future generations we will never know. That is the human heart of what we do. Pass it on.
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Read PLC's Winter Newsletter
PLC's winter newsletter is hot off the presses. Read it here: PLC Winter 2014 Newsletter
Forestry Walk in Weare
Foresters Jeremy Turner and John Nute (Photo by Barbara Thomson)
Forty people joined PLC and UNH Cooperative Extension for a forestry walk on December 13th in Weare. The group visited two properties to learn about how foresters and loggers do their work, and see how sustainable forestry is practiced on conservation land. Our thanks to Jeremy Turner from Meadowsend Timberlands, Jake Bronnenberg of Bronnenberg Logging and Trucking, and John Nute from UNH Cooperative Extension for giving of their time and expertise! To see a full slideshow of the timber tour visit PLC's Facebook page.