There’s nothing really normal about weather, but we’ve been spoiled the last few years by relatively early springs here in Northern New Hampshire. However, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen this year. We’ve got a substantial snowpack in the woods, it’s snowed almost everyday for the last couple of weeks and we’ve got the potential for another Nor’easter this week. This is all great for the maple syrup guys but it really keeps us out of the woods with the bird dogs.
I’m running out of places to put this white sh**!
Often by now we have reports of a woodcock having been seen around some seeps or flying across a road at dawn or dusk. There is a silver lining to this. Last year we got a really early warm up in March and then a lot of the mast crop (apples, berries, cherries, beechnuts, etc) bloomed early then didn’t bear any fruit as we had some frost in April. I also think the birds nested early which could have put them at greater risk although we had a pretty good hatch.
If we have a later Spring this year we should have an excellent mast crop because all those fruit bearing trees, shrubs, and bushes will have extra reserves of energy for fruit-making this spring. A number of the covers we hunt have a mixture of nut-bearing size beech and those covers will be even better this fall with a good nut crop. This time of year Tony starts lighting candles and praying for mild weather at the end of May and the beginning of June when the weather can have a huge impact one way or the other on brood size.
Speaking of that, some have suggested that the lack of a mast crop last year could impact the number of eggs a grouse hen will lay this spring. There is some research done in the Southern Appalachians that supports that hypothesis. However, the crops we inspected last fall seemed to still have a wide variety of catkins and greens and were in good shape even late in the season. There also seems to be plenty of buds on the the trees they feed on in the winter. I’ve flushed them out of cherry trees, apple trees, and poplar trees this winter. Tony’s got a group of four that have been hanging around his yard this winter. There seems to be a good population of birds that have survived the winter. The snow is not an issue for the grouse as it has been perfect for snow roosting for much of the winter, and we only had one short stretch of really cold weather. So, if all goes well we should be headed for our third good grouse year in a row.