Waterfowl continues to be the biggest contributor to the high number of species seen so far in Rutland County this year. With most bodies of water completely open by mid-March, ducks and geese are now free to move out to smaller lakes and ponds Some of the species that have been reported, and that will disappear as spring moves into summer, include Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, both scaup, Red-breasted Merganser and Ruddy Duck. While Common Merganser is abundant, the less common Red-breasted Merganser has been spotted at Lake St. Catherine, Lake Bomoseen and Kent Pond.
With only one quarter of 2012 behind us, Rutland County has already tallied 101 species, about half what we see in any given year. Even more amazing, it is 13 species MORE than what we saw as of March 2011. Click here to see a full list of this year’s species.
Common Loon returned to Lake Bomoseen late in the month after a short hiatus since early January. Very shortly they will start to be seen on our smaller ponds and lakes, claiming some for their nesting activities. Pied-billed Grebes have been spotted on Lake Bomoseen and also a pond in Benson. Horned and Red-necked grebe have also been seen on Lake Bomoseen.
At long last Barred Owl made it onto this year’s Rutland County list with reports from Hubbardton, Chittenden, Mendon, West Rutland and Clarendon. Red-shouldered Hawk has been spotted in Danby and also Bomoseen State Park. Reports of American Kestrel, while seen off and on over the winter, have increased.
While Black Vulture sightings have increased in Vermont over the past several years, they certainly can’t be counted on. Fortunately, one was spotted along Route 7 in Wallingford. It’s worth taking a second look when you see any vulture - the Black Vulture’s silhouettte is distinctly different than that of the Turkey Vulture.
Improbable as it seems for insect eaters, Eastern Phoebe, Tree Swallow and Eastern Meadowlark are all back as are Killdeer. Perhaps staking out an early claim for nesting territory is worth the risk.
Winter Wren appeared by mid-March and has begun to fill the woods with their improbable song with reports from Lake St. Catherine State Park, Lefferts Pond and Aitken State Forest among others. There have been two reports of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker so far, at West Rutland Marsh and in Danby.
Song Sparrows are back in full song and Fox Sparrows have begun to move through.
So far 227 eBird checklists have been submitted this year. Keep up the good work, eBirders!