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Thursday
Sep202012

west rutland marsh -september monitoring results

Eleven birders, invigorated by the cool morning temperature, set out for the 134th consecutive RCAS monthly monitoring walk around West Rutland Marsh this morning. The species count was 38, right on target for our September average, but four short of this time last time.

a dense fog hangs over West Rutland MarshFor the first half of the trip, a dense fog obscured all but the near view. Oddly, however, this allowed for great views of three birds. First, a Belted Kingfisher was perched on a small tree, framed by fog, but close enough for detailed observation.

Shortly after that we came across a Cooper’s Hawk, which we determined to be an immature by its streaked breast and yellow eye. It sat patiently for several minutes giving all a good look. It was still perched, undisturbed by our movement, as we walked on.

The highlight for the morning was a Swainson’s Thrush, a life bird for several in the group. It, too, sat still for several minutes, allowing us to observe the field marks that distinguish it from other thrushes. And, after remarking at the start of the walk that we have not added any new birds in over a year, this was the first appearance of a Swainson’s Thrush on a marsh walk. Our species list now stands at 145. 

Warblers were scarce with three Common Yellowthroats and one Nashville Warbler. The only vireo observed was a Blue-headed, still singing. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird was seen speeding across a field. The day’s total would have been 39 if a cuckoo seen in flight could have been determined to be Yellow-billed or Black-billed.

It must have been a good year for Gray Catbirds – 17 were recorded. Red-winged Blackbird numbers also were high (399), but nowhere near as high as last year’s count of 2,447.

By mid-morning the fog had cleared to reveal a perfect Vermont day and a handsome male Northern Harrier coursing over the marsh.

September 20, 2012 list:

Canada Goose  2

Mallard  12

Wild Turkey  26

Great Blue Heron  2

Northern Harrier  1

Cooper's Hawk  1

Broad-winged Hawk  1

Red-tailed Hawk  1

Mourning Dove  20

Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1

Belted Kingfisher  2

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  3

Downy Woodpecker  6

Northern Flicker  5

Pileated Woodpecker  1

Eastern Phoebe  6

Blue-headed Vireo  1

Blue Jay  38

American Crow  11

Common Raven  3

Black-capped Chickadee  16

Golden-crowned Kinglet  1

Swainson's Thrush  1

American Robin  2

Gray Catbird  17

European Starling  16

Cedar Waxwing  11

Nashville Warbler  1

Common Yellowthroat  3

Savannah Sparrow  1

Song Sparrow  11

Swamp Sparrow  15

White-throated Sparrow  6

Northern Cardinal  3

Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1

Red-winged Blackbird  399

House Finch  7

American Goldfinch  15

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