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Wednesday
May162018

West Rutland Marsh - May 2018

The May 12 West Rutland Marsh walk started off with a remarkable display of American bitterns. Ordinarily a shy bird of the cattails, two pairs flew repeatedly up and down the marsh. We wondered if this was a territorial display or a mating ritual. After that exciting spectacle we continued along and spring was evident with other birds that have returned and were singing. Marsh wrens, swamp and song sparrows were noted.

Golden-winged WarblerThe big excitement of the morning was the number of warbler species seen. A stunning Blackburnian warbler was seen high in a hemlock while a black-throated blue warbler foraged low near the ground. Ovenbirds called their song of "teacher, teacher" while warbling vireos did indeed warble. A real prize was a golden-winged warbler seen by all and for one participant it was a life bird!

Great-crested flycatchers were heard and seen, but we noted the absence of willow and alder flycatchers. Four species of swallows coursed over the marsh as did a lone chimney swift catching insects. Canada geese had five goslings in tow. Other waterfowl included the beautiful wood duck and mallards.

A merlin flew by seemingly on a mission while other raptors were soaring overhead. The nesting ravens have fledged their young while other birds are just beginning the nesting season. The marsh has come alive not only with birds but amphibians which were calling as well.

By the time we had completed the loop we had tallied 68 species of birds. This month’s walk attracted 15 participants.

Join us for our next trip around the marsh on Thursday, June 21, at 7:00 a.m. Our new meeting place is at the boardwalk in the marsh.

The List:
Canada Goose  14    
Wood Duck  3
Mallard  4
American Bittern  4    
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  5
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Virginia Rail  3
Mourning Dove  7
Chimney Swift  1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  3
Belted Kingfisher  3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  4
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Pileated Woodpecker  2
Merlin  1
Least Flycatcher  3
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  2
Eastern Kingbird  8
Warbling Vireo  7
Red-eyed Vireo  3
Blue Jay  13
American Crow  3
Common Raven  8    
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  4
Barn Swallow  7
Cliff Swallow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  12
Tufted Titmouse  2
House Wren  1
Winter Wren  1
Marsh Wren  2    
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Veery  5
Wood Thrush  3
American Robin  13
Gray Catbird  14    feeding on sumac fruit
European Starling  18
Ovenbird  7
Northern Waterthrush  1
Golden-winged Warbler  1    
Golden-winged/Blue-winged Warbler  1    
Black-and-white Warbler  7
Nashville Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  15
American Redstart  4
Magnolia Warbler  2
Blackburnian Warbler  1
Yellow Warbler  12
Chestnut-sided Warbler  2
Black-throated Blue Warbler  2
Black-throated Green Warbler  3
White-throated Sparrow  2
Savannah Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  9
Swamp Sparrow  16
Northern Cardinal  3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  4
Baltimore Oriole  4
Red-winged Blackbird  26
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Common Grackle  13
Purple Finch  2
American Goldfinch  12

 

Wednesday
May162018

West Rutland Marsh - May 2018

The May 12 West Rutland Marsh walk started off with a remarkable display of American bitterns. Ordinarily a shy bird of the cattails, two pairs flew repeatedly up and down the marsh. We wondered if this was a territorial display or a mating ritual. After that exciting spectacle we continued along and spring was evident with other birds that have returned and were singing. Marsh wrens, swamp and song sparrows were noted.

Golden-winged WarblerThe big excitement of the morning was the number of warbler species seen. A stunning Blackburnian warbler was seen high in a hemlock while a black-throated blue warbler foraged low near the ground. Ovenbirds called their song of "teacher, teacher" while warbling vireos did indeed warble. A real prize was a golden-winged warbler seen by all and for one participant it was a life bird!

Great-crested flycatchers were heard and seen, but we noted the absence of willow and alder flycatchers. Four species of swallows coursed over the marsh as did a lone chimney swift catching insects. Canada geese had five goslings in tow. Other waterfowl included the beautiful wood duck and mallards.

A merlin flew by seemingly on a mission while other raptors were soaring overhead. The nesting ravens have fledged their young while other birds are just beginning the nesting season. The marsh has come alive not only with birds but amphibians which were calling as well.

By the time we had completed the loop we had tallied 68 species of birds. This month’s walk attracted 15 participants.

Join us for our next trip around the marsh on Thursday, June 21, at 7:00 a.m. Our new meeting place is at the boardwalk in the marsh.

The list:

 

Canada Goose  14    
Wood Duck  3
Mallard  4
American Bittern  4    
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  5
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Virginia Rail  3
Mourning Dove  7
Chimney Swift  1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  3
Belted Kingfisher  3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  4
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Pileated Woodpecker  2
Merlin  1
Least Flycatcher  3
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  2
Eastern Kingbird  8
Warbling Vireo  7
Red-eyed Vireo  3
Blue Jay  13
American Crow  3
Common Raven  8   
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  4
Barn Swallow  7
Cliff Swallow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  12
Tufted Titmouse  2
House Wren  1
Winter Wren  1
Marsh Wren  2    
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Veery  5
Wood Thrush  3
American Robin  13
Gray Catbird  14    
European Starling  18
Ovenbird  7
Northern Waterthrush  1
Golden-winged Warbler  1    
Golden-winged/Blue-winged Warbler  1    
Black-and-white Warbler  7
Nashville Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  15
American Redstart  4
Magnolia Warbler  2
Blackburnian Warbler  1
Yellow Warbler  12
Chestnut-sided Warbler  2
Black-throated Blue Warbler  2
Black-throated Green Warbler  3
White-throated Sparrow  2
Savannah Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  9
Swamp Sparrow  16
Northern Cardinal  3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  4
Baltimore Oriole  4
Red-winged Blackbird  26
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Common Grackle  13
Purple Finch  2
American Goldfinch  12

 

 

 

Friday
May042018

West Rutland Marsh - April 2018

American BitternClear blue skies and sunshine greeted the 35 participants for the West Rutland Marsh walk on April 21. The birds were as happy as the birders with the promising spring-like day. The feeders by the boardwalk were still busy with chickadees and American tree sparrows. Out on the boardwalk swamp sparrows were singing and seen as they proclaimed their territories. A Virginia rail was heard but remained hidden in the cattails. Red-winged blackbirds sang their rusty hinge sounding song and some displayed their red epaulets.

Notable were several raptor species overhead. No doubt glad for a day for hunting after so many gloomy ones.

As we proceeded around the route both ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets were seen flitting among tree branches seeking a meal. The unseasonably cool weather has made insects hard to find for some of our early migrants. The importance of the marsh with insects rising from the waters make it a haven for these birds.

Swamp SparrowOne sharp-eyed observer found a chickadee excavating a nest hole in a broken stub of a rotten tree.

A yellow-bellied sapsucker was observed attending the wells it had drilled, while other woodpecker species were heard drumming. A winter wren, only 4 inches long, joyously sang its complicated song and a yellow-rumped warbler was seen high in the treetops. A total of 40 species was tallied for the morning. Our next walk takes place May 12th at 7:00 a.m. Many returning migrants should be present!

The list:

 

Canada Goose  11
Wood Duck  3
Mallard  4
American Bittern  1
Great Blue Heron  2
Turkey Vulture  7
Northern Harrier  1
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Wilson's Snipe  1
Mourning Dove  3
Belted Kingfisher  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  6
Northern Flicker  1
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  3
Blue Jay  6
American Crow  2
Common Raven  2
Tree Swallow  5
Black-capped Chickadee  13
Tufted Titmouse  1
Winter Wren  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  7
American Robin  17
European Starling  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
American Tree Sparrow  3
Dark-eyed Junco  13
White-throated Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  18
Swamp Sparrow  6
Northern Cardinal  4
Red-winged Blackbird  14
Common Grackle  12
American Goldfinch  17

 

 

Saturday
Feb102018

West Rutland Marsh - February 2018

Today’s weather did not deter seven participants in today’s West Rutland Marsh walk, our 199th consecutive walk around the 3.7-mile loop. We tallied 19 species, one more than our February average, but two less than a year ago.

Not much out of the ordinary was seen this morning. The feeders at the kiosk at the boardwalk were busy with American tree sparrows, black-capped chickadees and a lone male red-winged blackbird. Red-winged blackbirds were seen again later in the walk, keeping company with European starlings.

Cedar WaxwingA flock of cedar waxwings was a bright spot in a very overcast morning. Several of them were taking advantage of the high-bush cranberry still heavy with fruit.

A singled golden-crowned kinglet was flitting low to the ground along Whipple Hollow Road. A short time later two ruffed grouse were flushed from the shrubs on side of the road. This is the area we have seen grouse on recent walks.

Our single raptor of the day was a red-tailed hawk, sitting in a tree and harassed by American crows.

Our next walk is scheduled for Saturday, March 24, at 8 a.m.

 

 

 

 

Today’s list:

 

Ruffed Grouse  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Downy Woodpecker  3
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  22
American Crow  9
Black-capped Chickadee  23
Tufted Titmouse  3
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
European Starling  12
Cedar Waxwing  27
American Tree Sparrow  14
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  26
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  13    
American Goldfinch  1
House Sparrow  4

 

 

 

 

Monday
Jan222018

Field Trip Report: Winter Regulars & Rarities

We could not have asked for a better day for our Winter Regulars and Rarities in the Champlain Valley field trip on January 20. Temperatures pushed up to 46 degrees and the light breeze made standing on the shores of Lake Champlain better than just bearable. The winter scenery was spectacular.

Spotting waterfowl is one of the goals of this annual trip. The morning kicked off at Shelburne Point which was rather quiet with several American black ducks, a few mallards and a single common goldeneye. Shelburne Farms was more productive as we added several passerine species including a flock of snow buntings, one of our winter visitors, and eastern bluebirds. A sharp-shinned hawk was also spotted (coincidence?). We saw our first common loon of the day. A total of eight loons was seen during the day.

Gadwall at Charlotte Town BeachThree gadwalls, along with horned grebes and three more common loons, were seen at Shelburne Town Beach at Meach Cove.

No doubt the best stop of the day was at Charlotte Town Beach. A group of birders was already there and had the anticipated pair of harlequin ducks staked out. Gadwall were also present at this stop including one right below us on the shoreline. There was a large raft of common goldeneye and five red-breasted mergansers. The harlequin ducks were the real treat and a life bird or state bird for many of us. The two, a male and a female, were constantly diving, but with patience everyone had a look.

Our first bald eagle was spotted at the Charlotte Ferry Landing. A very handsome pair of hooded mergansers was also present. There were nine buffleheads as well. We saw six bald eagles during the trip.

The rest of the stops along the lake included Converse Bay, Ft Cassin, Kellogg Bay, Button Bay and Arnold Bay. More eagles, common and hooded mergansers, and common loons were seen among other species. The only concentration of gulls was at Kellogg Bay with 90 plus ring-billed gulls and a handful of herring and great black-backed gulls. 

Snowy Owl at Dead Creek WMAThe other highlight for the day was seeing THREE snowy owls, one on Walker Road in Ferrisburgh, one at the goose viewing area at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area and a third on Gage Road in Addison. The last stop had the added bonus when we heard a great horned owl hooting in the distance. This really is turning out to be another snowy owl year. On a side note, Roy Pilcher spotted one near Post Road in Rutland Town on his way to meet the field trip.

The day ended on Gage Road with a beautiful sunset and many happy birders.

Thirteen checklists were submitted for the trip. A total of 35 species was reported plus a rough-legged hawk, 16 wild turkeys and a pileated woodpecker seen along the way.

Many thanks to C. J. Frankiewicz for leading a great trip.