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. Most bird watchers who want to see this magnificent creature often go on Costa Rica Focus tours and spot the bird in its tropical habitat, but the birds have decided to give the visitors of Hog Island a special treat this year. The birds have not been sighted at Hog Island 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. Hopefully, these improvements will encourage a vast variety of bird species, like the Ruffs, to come to Hog Island for all to see. They may even start to appear more often and give more birders the chance to see them in their natural habitat.
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