Maybe standing on the shores of Lake Champlain in mid-January when the temperature is in the 20s is not everyone’s idea of a good time. But it was for sixteen participants in Rutland County Audubon’s annual Winter Regulars & Rarities field trip held on January 14th.
Fourteen stops at key birding hotspots yielded 29 species. The day's count of bald eagles was six with four of them, three adults and one immature, at Shelburne Bay.
Most of the day was concentrated on winter ducks and other water birds. Numerous horned grebes were tallied, 13 in all, at Shelburne Point, Shelburne Beach, Charlotte Town Beach and at the Charlotte Ferry Landing. And five common loons were seen at these locations.
Waterfowl consisted of common goldeneye, throwing their heads back in courtship display, bufflehead and common merganser. One female red-breasted merganser was seen on the lake off Shelburne Point and four hooded mergansers, three males and female, were diving in the bay.
A single snow goose was among the thirty-one wild turkeys, 150 American crows, and 300 Canada geese frantically feeding in a cornfield on Greenbush Road in Charlotte. The geese included one leucistic goose, its head partially white and its neck a speckled black and white. This group of geese had flown from McNeil Bay at the Charlotte Town Beach while we were at that previous stop.
The highlight of the day turned out not to be ducks, but owls! A barred owl was spotted along the road to Kellogg Bay in Ferrisburgh. An eastern screech-owl was enjoying the view from the entrance hole of a wood duck box on Basin Harbor Road. And the final stop yielded a short-eared owl on Gage Road while a great horned owl hooted in the distance.
Thanks to Nate Dansereau for organizing and leading the trip and to C. J. Frankiewicz for assisting.
The full list for the day (14 eBird checklists submitted):