In Virginia, hunters should expect some improvements during their next waterfowl hunt at Hog Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA). But in the meantime, bird enthusiasts can enjoy a unique visitor: the ruff.
Ruffs are Eurasian sandpipers whose visits to North America are sparse but are especially unique to Hog Island. They have not been sighted there since May of 1986. Birders reported the recent ruff sighting on Friday, July 20.
The current WMA improvement projects involve updating water control structures. These allow the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) to adjust water levels, which provide a variety of habitats to serve waterfowl and other birds over the course of their life cycle. For example, DGIF can produce the water level that encourages plants attractive to the invertebrates that female ducks need to eat before heading north to breeding areas.
To update those systems, the water had to be drawn out of Hog Island WMA, creating the muddy environment migratory shorebirds like the ruff search for on their journey.
Hog Island WMA has deer, dove, quail, squirrel, rabbit, turkey, and waterfowl hunting opportunities. To read more about this “island” where waterfowl flock by the thousands, check out their website.
Source: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries