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Entries in citizen science (25)

Thursday
May182017

West Rutland Marsh - May Monitoring Report

how many birders can you fit in a car?We always say nothing beats the West Rutland Marsh in May (well, June is good too!). Today 26 participants, enjoying a taste of summer, tallied 68 species.  

Although neither American nor least bittern was observed (least bittern was reported earlier in the week), both Virginia rail and sora were among today’s numbers. Marsh wrens, swamp sparrows, yellow warblers and common yellowthroat were in full voice.

Both alder and willow flycatchers have returned and a high number of eastern kingbirds – twelve – were busy defending territories. One great crested flycatcher was heard briefly along Whipple Hollow Road and the ‘che-bek’ of four least flycatchers was heard.

Hawks were in low numbers with only two red-tailed hawks and three raptor wannabes - turkey vultures.

Red Columbine along Whipple Hollow RoadA brown thrasher was observed along Marble Street (north of the green house). At least three Baltimore orioles were seen along this area where they have nested in the past.

Warblers, the joy of the season, were seen and/or heard in good number with 11 of those species. A ‘winged warbler’ sang ‘bees buzz’ from the east side of Marble street indicating the presence of a blue-winged or golden-winged warbler or a hybrid of the two. Two northern waterthrush were heard, one along Pleasant street and one along Whipple Hollow and two Canada warblers have returned to Whipple Hollow Road this year. Other warblers were black-and-white, Nashville, common yellowthroat, American redstart, yellow, chestnut-sided and black-throated green warbler.

The next marsh walk is scheduled for Saturday, June 10, at 7 a.m.

Today’s list:  

Canada Goose  9
Wood Duck  2
Mallard  1
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  3
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Virginia Rail  3
Sora  1
Wilson's Snipe  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  1
Mourning Dove  8
Chimney Swift  4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  6
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  4
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  1
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Alder Flycatcher  9
Willow Flycatcher  3
Least Flycatcher  4
Eastern Phoebe  3
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Eastern Kingbird  12    
Warbling Vireo  10
Red-eyed Vireo  7
Blue Jay  11
American Crow  2
Common Raven  4
Tree Swallow  8
Barn Swallow  8
Black-capped Chickadee  8
Tufted Titmouse  2
Brown Creeper  1
House Wren  5
Marsh Wren  10
Eastern Bluebird  2
Veery  8
Wood Thrush  1
American Robin  5
Gray Catbird  9
Brown Thrasher  1
European Starling  4
Cedar Waxwing  8
Ovenbird  7
Northern Waterthrush  2
Golden-winged/Blue-winged Warbler  1    
Black-and-white Warbler  7
Nashville Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  22
American Redstart  10
Yellow Warbler  22
Chestnut-sided Warbler  3
Black-throated Green Warbler  2
Canada Warbler  2
Song Sparrow  7
Swamp Sparrow  16
Scarlet Tanager  1
Northern Cardinal  3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Red-winged Blackbird  19
Common Grackle  12
Brown-headed Cowbird  1
Baltimore Oriole  5
House Finch  1
American Goldfinch  19
House Sparrow  2

 

 

Saturday
Apr222017

West Rutland Marsh - April Monitoring Report

It’s hard to say which was more amazing – the number of species or the number of birders – at today’s walk around West Rutland Marsh!

Thirty-six birders, from age 7 to 89, showed up despite the somewhat gloomy weather (the rain held off until the very end). Fortunately, there was no wind and, as the bird song has noticeably increased since last month, it turned out to be a very pleasant morning. There were plenty of new faces as well as a contingent from Otter Creek Audubon

Fifty-three species were tallied, a new April high, well above our average of 42 for this month of the year. It is also eight more than observed a year ago this month.

Two of the marsh’s signature species, Virginia rail and American bittern, were heard immediately from the boardwalk. We later saw a bittern in flight near the intersection of Whipple Hollow and Water streets.

Raptors were well-represented with two northern harriers, one sharp-shinned hawk, one red-shouldered hawk (not commonly observed on this walk), one red-tailed hawk and one American kestrel.

Tree SwallowsOne of the highlights of the walk was a flock of 63 tree swallows, accompanied by a handful of barn swallows and northern rough-winged swallows, swirling over Water Street, and occasionally landing in a tree.

Ruby-crowned kinglets were everywhere along the route as they have been throughout Vermont this week. One golden-crowned kinglet was also heard. Two marsh wrens were singing as well as three winter wrens and a blue-headed vireo. A brown creeper was singing as well.

A pair of eastern bluebirds was investigating a bird house, a spot where they have nested in previous years. A hermit thrush, our state bird, has also returned.

The advance front of warblers is in - yellow-rumped warblers with three seen along the route.

Twenty-six swamp sparrows were counted, all in enthusiastic song, so no doubt some females were missed. Song sparrows were heard or spotted along the route, while a couple of American tree sparrows are still hanging around the feeders near the boardwalk.

Another sign of spring was bloodroot in bloom and the budding marsh marigolds.

The next walk is scheduled for Thursday, May 18, at 7 a.m.

Today’s list:

Canada Goose  32
Wood Duck  4
Mallard  4
Ruffed Grouse  2
American Bittern  3
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  3
Northern Harrier  2
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Virginia Rail  4
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  4
Mourning Dove  10
Belted Kingfisher  2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  4
Downy Woodpecker  6
Northern Flicker  3
American Kestrel  1
Eastern Phoebe  5
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  6
American Crow  9
Common Raven  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  6
Tree Swallow  86    
Barn Swallow  10
Black-capped Chickadee  17
Tufted Titmouse  7
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Brown Creeper  1
Winter Wren  3
Marsh Wren  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  21    
Eastern Bluebird  3
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  17
Brown Thrasher  1
European Starling  7
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  4
American Tree Sparrow  2
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  7
White-throated Sparrow  5
Song Sparrow  17
Swamp Sparrow  26    
Northern Cardinal  9
Red-winged Blackbird  41
Common Grackle  8
Brown-headed Cowbird  5
Purple Finch  2
American Goldfinch  14
House Sparrow  1

 

 

Thursday
Mar232017

west rutland marsh - march monitoring report

American Tree SparrowIt was a bit hard to tell we are the third day of spring during today’s monitoring walk around West Rutland Marsh. The morning started at 9 degrees and the ground is mostly snow-covered. Fortunately, no wind and a bright sun helped mitigate the wintry feeling.

Twenty-five species were tallied, six less than last year’s March walk, but two above our average of 23.

American tree sparrows are still around, enjoying the various feeders along the route. A quick look at eBird shows we will be graced by their presence well into April. Listen for their song which they will start singing here before heading north. You can listen to their song here. One tree sparrow was on the ice apparently eating snow as there is no open water.

On the summer side of sparrows, three song sparrows were seen, but none were heard singing. Northern cardinals and tufted titmice, however, were singing vigorously.

We counted 26 chickadees including one eating the tiny seeds of a cattail. Six white-breasted nuthatches were seen, mostly in pairs.

Seven wild turkeys were observed marching in a straight line across a field and into the woods.Red-winged Blackbird

Red-bellied woodpeckers have been a regular species at the marsh now. Two were seen today. Other woodpeckers were heard drumming Hairy? Downy? Something to relearn every year!

No raptors were seen, but their absence was filled by six common ravens soaring over the marsh.

Red-winged blackbirds are already staking out their territories in the cattails. A few females were seen and are no doubt looking over their options. Brown-headed cowbirds were seen elbowing their way into the seed at feeder on Whipple Hollow Road.

The next marsh walk is scheduled for Saturday, April 22, at 8 a.m.

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s list: 

Ruffed Grouse  1
Wild Turkey  7
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  4
Mourning Dove  11
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Downy Woodpecker  5
Hairy Woodpecker  2
Blue Jay  16
American Crow  8
Common Raven  6
Black-capped Chickadee  26
Tufted Titmouse  6
White-breasted Nuthatch  6
Brown Creeper  1
American Robin  3
European Starling  7
American Tree Sparrow  7
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  3
Song Sparrow  3
Northern Cardinal  6
Red-winged Blackbird  31
Common Grackle  8
Brown-headed Cowbird  5
American Goldfinch  11
House Sparrow  5

 

 

Monday
Mar202017

patagonia picnic table effect

What do picnic tables have to do with birds? The Patagonia Picnic Table Effect is an expression that longtime birders know as the phenomenon of one ‘good’ bird attracting more birds. What it really means is the ‘good,’ or rare bird, will attract more birders who will in turn find more birds. It has its roots with a sighting of a black-capped gnatcatcher at a rest area in Patagonia, Arizona. It was an unusual sighting even for that very birdy area. Subsequent visitors to the rest area found more and more species as word of the gnatcatcher spread.

Rutland County recently had its own version of the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect. In the second week of March an alert observer noticed a swan in a flooded area off Route 73 in Brandon. Mute swans occur occasionally in Vermont, but they are not a native species and are often unwanted because of the habitat destruction they can cause. Tundra swans pass through the state on migration, infrequently, but not unexpectedly.

This swan was a bit different and expert birders, aided by today’s digital photography, determined that the Brandon swan was a trumpeter swan. Trumpeter swans are the largest of our North American swans and the shape of its beak is different, longer and straighter than a tundra swan’s beak. Further, if accepted by the Vermont Bird Records Committee, this will be only the second state record of trumpeter swan in Vermont, the other seen in Addison County on Lake Champlain in May 2014.

Kent McFarland of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies noted that reintroduction efforts in Ontario and the Great Lakes may mean that more trumpeter swans could be seen in Vermont in the future if reintroduction efforts ares successful.

As of March 20, 37 other species have been observed at the site of the trumpeter swan in Brandon. Many are the expected species such as nuthatches, woodpeckers and chickadees. Others reflect the changing season and consist of returning waterfowl, including wood duck, northern pintail, green-winged teal, bufflehead and both hooded and common merganser. Not to mention a good number of mallards, American black ducks and Canada geese!

Robins, a northern harrier and an American kestrel were seen. Red-winged blackbirds and common grackles were reported in high numbers. Most unusual was a golden eagle spotted at the site on the 9th and again on the 12th.

Just as impressive though, and maybe more important, is the fact that 65 eBird checklists were submitted, checklists that contain not only the swan, but the other species noted at the time.

Trumpeter swans may be expanding their range. We hope they do. We would love to see more of them. But if the occurrence of a rare species means more reports of the species we expect in Vermont so much the better.

Note: the swan was still present as of March 20. 

Thursday
Dec082016

west rutland marsh - december monitoring report

There were a lot of new faces among the 16 participants in today’s walk around West Rutland Marsh, which made it a lot of fun. Temperatures in the mid-30s and a light breeze made it a pleasant walk. Bird numbers were on target for December with 20 species tallied. This compares to 22 last year and is above our average of 19 for this month of the year.

Two large flocks of American robins in flight put that species in the lead for the most counted bird today.

A murder of crows was dive-bombing an unseen enemy along the tree tops. A common raven appeared in the fray and may have been the foe.

Three red-tailed hawks were circling high in the clouds and were our only raptors of the day.

Fourteen wild turkeys were seen along the edge of the woods on Whipple Hollow Road and a golden-crowned kinglet was heard in the white cedars a little further along that section. A small flock of cedar waxwings flew over our heads as well.

We reached a new high for red-bellied woodpeckers today – three! This species has only recently appeared during our marsh walks. The only other woodpecker was a downy. Heavy tapping may have been from a pileated, but that was not confirmed.

Our next walk is scheduled for Saturday, January 28, at 8 a.m.

Today’s list:

Wild Turkey  14
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  11
Mourning Dove  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  11
American Crow  19
Common Raven  1
Black-capped Chickadee  26
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
American Robin  76
European Starling  13
Cedar Waxwing  7
American Tree Sparrow  8
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  5
Northern Cardinal  4
American Goldfinch  1
House Sparrow  6