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Wednesday
Dec262018

West Rutland Marsh - December 2018

by Kathleen Guinness

Monitoring the West Rutland Marsh for birds in December can be a tricky thing; it can be bone-chillingly cold or the weather can be as warm as it is in early spring. Today, the eleven of us from RCAS who set aside our Christmas busy-ness and who set out were given the gift of a spring–like day, with a sun peeking out at us to start and becoming more bright with every step we took and temperatures rising into the 40s. It made all of us feel optimistic and maybe even a little giddy, after the cold spell we’d had just two days earlier.

But, better than the weather, even, were the exciting birds we spotted along the 3.7 mile walk. There were the usual suspects at the feeders at the kiosk: sparrows, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, and chickadees. Further up, there were titmice and nuthatches and a spectacularly harsh sounding raven. It was after we rounded the bend that we got our second gift of the day - a northern shrike, appearing at the top of a distant deciduous tree and looking like a cotton bud or a catkin to an inexperienced birder. This sighting made us jump for joy, as it is so infrequently seen. Everyone had a happy face as we headed onto Whipple Hollow Road and spied our first junco of the day.

On Whipple Hollow Road, a group of eight turkeys surprised us, too. And, then....someone spotted a big-eyed, flying squirrel poking its sweet head out of a birdhouse made by Marv Elliott. Several good pictures were taken of that special creature, even though it was not a bird (Audubon treasures all of wildlife). It was our third gift.

No, there was not a Partridge in a Pear Tree, but there were seventeen, lovely species, with the high count being friendly, chirping chickadees, on a beautiful day in mid-December. With these gifts, who could want a hippopotamus for Christmas?!

 

The List:
Wild Turkey  8
Mourning Dove  10
Downy Woodpecker  6
Hairy Woodpecker  5
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Northern Shrike  1
Blue Jay  4
American Crow  3
Common Raven  1
Black-capped Chickadee  26
Tufted Titmouse  9
White-breasted Nuthatch  3
European Starling  5
American Goldfinch  6
American Tree Sparrow  5
Dark-eyed Junco  1
Northern Cardinal  3

 

 

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