Vandalism has always been a problem at West Rutland Marsh, long before Rutland County Audubon became involved. This story has a happy ending. On the afternoon of June 10 Marv and I went out to the marsh to make a minor repair near the boardwalk. A beautiful Virginia Rail photo graces the front of the information kiosk.
When we arrived, we discovered that it had been hit with green paintball paint, still wet, and completely covering the rail photo. The logbook mailbox and an interpretive trail sign had also been hit with paint.
Marv contacted the sheriff's department (are they tired of hearing from us yet?) and was told that the sheriff did not come on duty until six, but the dispatcher would contact the State Police.
As we waited for the trooper to arrive, Marv wandered across the street to check out a flicker nest we had seen earlier. He was greeted by two adult Virginia Rails raising a fuss around an old cellar hole. It was over four feet deep and filled with bags of garbage. Down in the hole were several rail chicks unable to get out and peeping frantically. We managed to capture two of them, who went waddling off in the brush to join their parents. The trooper arrived, we gave him our report, and went back to rescue two more chicks. Then we heard two MORE chicks in the cellar hole. We rushed off to buy some paper towels, a bucket and a scrub brush before the paint on the sign dried, went back and cleaned the sign, and then were able to rescue the remaining two chicks.
By the way, we also heard a Least Bittern out in the marsh, saw a House Wren bringing food to a nest box and a Gray Catbird with its mouth stuffed with bugs for its young.