Wild Apple Kennel and Guide Service

Wild Apple Kennel and Guide Service
The 2007 Grand National Grouse Champion, Winner 2008 Northern New England Woodcock Championship, Winner 2010 Lake States Grouse Championship, Runner-up 2011 Northeast Grouse and Woodcock Championship, Winner 2011 International Amateur Woodcock Championship, Winner 2012 Southern New England Woodcock Championship

Wild Apple Kennel Training Blog

This blog will try to present a running account of the training and field trialing season for the pointers of Wild Apple Kennel. NOW ACCEPTING BOOKINGS FOR THE 2015 GROUSE AND WOODCOCK SEASON WITH WILD APPLE KENNEL GUIDE SERVICE! PHONE NUMBERS 603-449-3419 OR CELL 603-381-8763.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Grand National Puppy Classic April 1, 2012

Wild Apple LJ's first win picture – 3rd in the Grand National Puppy Classics – I had planned to run him over in Maine this weekend as his puppy career is fast coming to an end, but spent Friday getting a green laser prostrate vaporization and I am spending the weekend recuperating.  I expect his next outing will be as a derby Labor Day on wild birds in Canada.  Tomorrow, I'll try to find something from the Field Trial Magazine archives to post here.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

More Woodcock Adventures

The picture above is of my house.  It sits at the top of an old hay field surrounded by various stages of woodland cover that includes over 200 apple trees both original orchard and volunteers.  The last time we ran a dog, just on the bottom 20 acres or so of the 100 acre property, she had four finds – 3 woodcock and a grouse.  That was back in early April and we haven't run a dog on the property since.  Another time, Katie and I just walked our 45 minute training loop without a dog and flushed 5 grouse.  We had at least three male woodcock we could hear singing in late March and early April just by standing out on the porch.  All of this has been reported in early blogs and I'm just giving you the recap here.  I'm not doing it to make you all jealous – although that's a real bonus – I'm telling you this so you'll better appreciate the rest of today's story.

It's 80 paces from the spot I was standing this afternoon when I took this picture to the door into the porch.  Every night, if I remember to go out at the right time, there has been a woodcock singing right there.  Last night when I let the dogs back in, I stayed outside and walked down the hill to just beyond that big rock you can see in the foreground.  I could see the woodcock on the ground and hear his distinctive peent, peent, peent.  Then I'd hear his wings whistle and although it was to dark to see him, I could track his flight as he flew to my left, circled around the opening which took him over the house and garage and then back to where he would once again start peenting.  It was pretty darn cool. But I had to wonder what the heck he's doing since many of the woodcock clutches have hatched out or will be shortly and the successful hens will stay with their chicks for 4 or 5 weeks and do not raise a second clutch. THey instead spend the rest of the summer fattening back up for their trip south.  So, I did a little research and this is the best conclusion that I can come up with.

According to the literature, 75% of all woodcock nesting are successful at hatching out their eggs.  If a hen loses her whole clutch of eggs or chicks or to predation or the elements and she is healthy enough to lay more eggs, she will re-nest.  So, my little guy on the lawn who is still singing and flying his courtship flights is an optimist.  He's hoping that some of those 25% of unsuccessful hens are in his territory and will come back for more bird sex.  Personally, I hope they were all successful the first time around, but I'm glad he's still out their advertising his services in case he's needed.  The literature talks about some males maintaining their singing until almost the end of May.  I'll keep track of this little optimist and let you know.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

She's Gone!

On March 20th, I drove up to this large field to listen for singing woodcock.  Just before 7:30 after the sun had set and it was close to full dark, first one male went peent, then another in a different location.  After listening for a few minutes, I moved about a half mile down the road that runs along the edge of the field and heard two or three other birds.  One was within a few yards of the truck just in the field.  As March and early April progressed we got lots of good work on these returning woodcock.  Once they started to nest we tried to stay away from them, but Frankie pointed one on a nest and we've been keeping track of her ever since.  As of Sunday she was still there.  We didn't get a chance to check her again until this morning.
This large field is about 1/2 mile long and 300 yards wide at it's
widest point.  A brook runs down the right side and a gravel road
on the left.  The house you can see at the end of the field is owned
by someone from away and is mostly uninhabited.  It obviously
serves as singing grounds and nesting cover.
 She's gone and four eggshells remained.  There were a number of amazing things about this experience.  First was the site of the nest.  As you can see from the second picture below the nest was right on the edge of the field with heavy cover behind it where I assume she has gone with her chicks.  The scientific literature says that the chicks will be able to fly short distances in two weeks and will be almost fully grown in about a month.  Even though the woodcock chicks will be flying a month from now, we won't be back in the woods for a few more weeks after that to give the grouse time to hatch and also be flying when we loose the "hounds."

The four eggshells were all within a couple of inches of the
nest.  I put them back in for the picture.
The area around this field contains all types of cover including some that has been managed specifically for grouse and woodcock.  Not far away from this nest site are parcels that contain everything from alder jungle to recent clearcuts to mature stands of both hardwood and softwood trees.  In addition to this hen we think there were at three other hens that we found and there were probably more.  If each hen hatches out four chicks there will be plenty of birds around this summer.  The big problem for us is how the cover will change in the next month as everything leafs out.  

The woodcock nest is just to the left of this small tree.  Standing next
to it you have an unobstructed view down to the field.  A picture of
her on the nest is in an earlier post.
I addition to the obvious camouflage of the birds the mottled and muted colors of the egg make them equally hard to see.  The fact that woodcock only lay four eggs where grouse may lay a dozen or more probably accounts for the fact that the swings in woodcock numbers is not as volatile as grouse.

I brought the eggshells home to get this close-up.  The literature
states that woodcock are the only bird that split their eggs the
long way.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Not yet!

As of 1:00pm Sunday, our pet hen woodcock is still on the nest.  Some rain in the 10 day forecast but nothing severe as far as temperature is concerned.  It was a beautiful weekend and a great time to get caught up on yard work as the black flies are not out yet.  Got the brush saw out and cleared a section of an old orchard next to the bird field.  The raspberries and small chokecherries were getting so bad the quail would fly in there from the bird field and then you could never get them in the air again as the scooted around on the ground.

The other type of yardwork is also continuing on a regular basis.  LJ is getting very good on the Wonder lead for heel and whoa but, as you can see in the picture hasn't yet come to accept being left standing on the barrel.  Repetition and patience are the key to success here.  Once we get a little further along with this I'll start using the belly-band in the yard so it will be one of the tools in the box this summer as we work towards getting derby broke for the fall wild bird trials.