JOHN HOLYOKE

Hawk count an outdoor option

Posted March 18, 2011, at 11:28 p.m.

Welcome to the last weekend of winter, a perfect time for breaking loose from months of inactivity and celebrating the warmer weather that we’ll be enjoying any day now. Or not.

As Mainers know, the worst winter-ish weather may still be ahead of us. We might get a foot of snow in mid-April. We might end up with frostbite while fishing on opening day. We might — well, let’s not focus on the negative.

Instead, let’s look at the positive: Warm weather will come. Someday. And it’s time to start planning for it. Here, then, are a few outdoor options that might serve to keep us looking forward eagerly (that always-possible mid-April snowstorm notwithstanding).

What to do? Well, why not go count hawks?

The Maine Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Lands is publicizing the state’s fifth annual hawk watch, which is taking place at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal. The event runs for two months, and visitors to the park are encouraged to participate.

So, how do you count hawks? Just head to the park between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. between now and May 15, take a short climb to the top of Bradbury Mountain, and join the study’s official hawk-tallier, Andy Northrup, as he observes the migratory birds. You’re encouraged to take your own binoculars, but four pairs have been supplied by Nikon Sport Optics, and if they’re still available when you show up, you’re welcome to borrow them.

According to a DOC press release, the hawk-watchers spied 4,474 hawks, including 52 bald eagles, 500 ospreys and 1,746 broad-winged hawks in last year’s study. More than 1,100 visitors flocked to the park for the event.

Results of the study are posted at www.hawkcount.org.

If fishing’s more your thing, the Penobscot Fly Fishers have planned a pair of classes that will get you prepared for the coming season.

First, the PFF will offer a classic wet-fly-tying class with renowned tier Don Bastian on March 26. The class starts at 9 a.m. and will be held at the Penobscot County Conservation Association clubhouse in Brewer. Class size is limited, and the $50 fee covers lunch and materials. Contact Don Corey at 843-5634 or don@annikarodandfly.com for information.

According to the PFF, Bastian will be displaying his complete collection of Bergman wet flies at several venues over the next month. Details are available at www.streamerlist.com.

In addition, the PFF will stage a class on trolling streamer flies on April 9, also at the PCCA headquarters. The class fee is $20, which includes all materials. To sign up for that class, contact Rob Dunnett at thedunnetts@gmail.com or Corey at 843-5634 or don@annikarodandfly.com.

Time to enter our contest

Maybe you didn’t get the chance to attend the Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show, where we were signing up entrants in our ninth annual Win a Drift Boat Trip Contest. And maybe you’re still eager to take a shot at spending June 19 on the East Outlet of the Kennebec River with Dan Legere of the Maine Guide Fly Shop (and me).

Don’t fret. You’ve got plenty of time to earn a chance for what I assure you would be the fishing trip of the year.

We’re still accepting entries here at the Bangor Daily News. Keep looking for our in-paper applications, mail or hand-deliver them to us, and we’ll take care of the rest.

If you’re not yet a fly fisher, there’s still nothing to worry about. If you have a positive attitude and the willingness to learn, this could be the perfect way to learn the basics of what could be a lifelong outdoor pursuit.

You don’t need a fly rod. You don’t need flies. You don’t even need to know how to tie any of those tricky fly-fishing knots. Legere will take care of all that. In addition, he’ll cook us up a fantastic shore lunch and tell us all kinds of great stories about the Maine woods and waters that he loves.

So keep entering. Keep reading. Come April, we’ll let you know what time you should show up to join us on this fantastic trip.

A brief plug …

Finally, if you find yourselves with a few minutes to spare on Sunday night, you might consider tuning in to “Maine Outdoors,” a radio show that airs on WVOM, 103.9 FM, at 7 p.m.

I’ll be stopping by the studio to chat with host Matt Dunlap, and we’ll spend the hour talking about all things outdoors. Since the public unveiling of Maine’s deer game plan on Thursday in Augusta, I’d imagine that we’ll spend at least a bit of time on that topic.

And if you find yourself feeling especially ambitious, feel free to call in and join the conversation.

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