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Posted on: June 22, 2023

Woodsom Farm and the Protected Bobolinks

Woodsom Farm and the Protected Bobilinks. Bobolink bird in a field.

In recent years, the mowing of Woodsom Farm has been done by our facilities staff member at Public Works. After his sudden passing this spring, our mowing schedule was delayed and the nesting season for birds, which flourish in this area, is now well underway. As we prepared for the mowing of the field it was imperative that we received expert guidance on what we could and could not mow in an effort to balance the concern for wildlife and recreation in this area. 

MicrosoftTeams-image (38)My office contacted the Deputy Commissioner for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for guidance. The Deputy Commission then put us in touch with the State Ornithologist, Drew Vitz, Ph.D. Under his direction, two staff members from MassWildlife along with two members of Mass Audubon joined me, Public Works Director Joe Buckley, Communications Director William Donohue, and Fire Chief James Nolan for a site visit on the morning of June 16th, at Woodsom Farm. A grid search of the area was conducted looking for presence of any endangered birds. The experts with MassWildlife and Mass Audubon identified the presence of bobolinks in two areas and suspended the grid search by defining boundaries in alignment with those sightings. Two sections of the hill were identified and approved for mowing by both organizations.

Once those sections were identified, public safety officials were able to review a site map in coordination with their operations plan for the upcoming holiday event planned by Amesbury Days. Due to the inability to provide acceptable seating and spectator parking for the amount of people that typically attend this event along with the consideration for the susceptibility of these birds to disruption and harm by holding the event, it was determined that the event could not safely proceed as planned until a larger section can be cleared once nesting has concluded. As a result, the Amesbury Days Committee will be moving the date for the fireworks to Labor Day weekend. Mowing of the approved areas proceeded as recommended in order to discourage further nesting. 


I appreciate the cooperation and support from both MassWildlife and Mass Audubon North Shore for their guidance and expertise, and for their future support in Amesbury’s protection of wildlife. I sincerely enjoyed the experience of joining them for a grid search and as a lifelong resident of this community was able to gain a new appreciation for Woodsom Farm. Drew Vitz, impressed with Amesbury partnering with the State on wildlife conservation, discussed working with the city on hosting a few nesting boxes for the American Kestrel. His staff who joined us traveled hours from Western Mass to be here. They had never been to Amesbury and were in awe of the farm and its natural habitats.

Mass Audubon is currently working on a management plan for Woodsom Farm that is being paid for by the city through a grant. This plan will address the proper times to safely mow the area to prevent disrupting endangered species like the Bobolink and other wildlife. 

I hope everyone will continue to enjoy Woodsom Farm and its beauty, respect the birds who have nested in that area, and join us for fireworks in the fall!

 

My best,

Kassandra 

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