Brian Smith: (603) 868-1095
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
November 25, 2003


CONCORD, N.H. -- Mark your calendars for the annual introductory meeting of the Great Bay winter waterfowl monitors on Thursday, December 11, at 7 p.m. at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Region 3 office in Durham. This will be the 13th year volunteers have braved the elements to count wintering waterfowl in the Great Bay estuarine system. Monitoring is conducted every other Saturday morning, and this year it will run from January 3 to March 27.

The survey is coordinated by the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR), a program administered by N.H. Fish and Game. The data generated help document the importance of Great Bay, and estuaries like it, to the thousands of migrating birds stopping there each year. Fish and Game waterfowl biologists also use the data to supplement their annual fly-over count conducted in January.

The December 11 meeting will include a review of survey methods, monitoring teams, coverage areas and access points, as well as creation of new teams. Participants are also invited to stay for an optional slide presentation reviewing waterfowl identification techniques and migration facts.

The monitoring program is a great chance to get to know the bay -- and its thousands of waterfowl residents -- at a time of year that it doesn't get many human visitors, according to Brian Smith, N.H. Fish and Game marine biologist and GBNERR research coordinator. "The survey gets people interested in appreciating the bay at this time of year. It's fun because you get to see all these birds out on the estuary," Smith says. "We do give our new volunteers some training in bird identification, because it's not always easy to tell the difference between species like bufflehead and goldeneye."

Monitors need to be in good physical condition and must be able to spend several hours outside in cold weather. For more information on taking part in the winter waterfowl survey, contact Volunteer Coordinator Sheila Roberge at (603) 778-0015.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources. Click here for more information on the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR), which Fish and Game administers.


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