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Entries in citizen science (33)

Thursday
Sep222016

west rutland marsh - september monitoring report

It was a glorious first day of autumn at West Rutland Marsh! Forty-five species beat last year by three and our September average of 39. We originally thought the day’s tally was 44, but a photo later revealed we actually had one additional species, a northern parula. Thirteen lucky participants all contributed to the total.

The day started with two tussling marsh wrens near the boardwalk, perhaps an immature still begging food of an adult?

One of the highlights of the day was Philadelphia vireo, with a nearby red-eyed vireo for contrast. They were both feeding frantically, but we had good looks at each. It was a life bird for some participants. Two warbling vireos were singing weakly.

Swamp SparrowRed-winged blackbird and blue jay numbers were high with 243 and 69, respectively.

Warblers included the parula, a black-throated green warbler, a magnolia warbler, a chestnut-sided warbler and several common yellowthroats.

Gray catbirds are still around in good numbers – 14 (last year we counted 13). Swamp sparrows are stilling singing away as well as a few marsh wrens. White-throated sparrows are putting in an appearance as the season changes.

Raptor numbers were low, one in fact, a sharp-shinned hawk.

Species #151 for our monitoring walk appeared today: an immature northern mockingbird, keeping company with starlings. At first we thought it was a juvenile starling, but its long tail and white wing patches gave it away.

The next monitoring walk is scheduled for Saturday, October 15, at 8 a.m.

Today’s list:

Canada Goose  9
Wood Duck  12
Mallard  7
Great Blue Heron  2
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  2
Mourning Dove  6
Belted Kingfisher  2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  8
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Pileated Woodpecker  2
Eastern Phoebe  9
Philadelphia Vireo  1    
Warbling Vireo  2    
Red-eyed Vireo  3
Blue Jay  69
American Crow  4
Common Raven  3
Black-capped Chickadee  15
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
House Wren  1
Marsh Wren  3
American Robin  1
Gray Catbird  14
Northern Mockingbird  1    
European Starling  5
Cedar Waxwing  2
Common Yellowthroat  4
Magnolia Warbler  1
Chestnut-sided Warbler  1
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
White-throated Sparrow  3
Song Sparrow  5
Swamp Sparrow  15
Northern Cardinal  2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Red-winged Blackbird  243
House Finch  1
Purple Finch  1
American Goldfinch  9
House Sparrow  1

Thursday
Jul142016

west rutland marsh - july monitoring report

It’s hard to believe 15 years has gone by. In August 2001, Rutland County Audubon members set off on a  monthly monitoring walk at West Rutland Marsh with the idea that maybe we would do it for a year or two and that would be that.

Our first walk was on August 16, 2001 with 15 participants. We reported 45 species including a least bittern, 11 marsh wrens and four unidentified empidonax flycatchers.

People have asked us at the five, ten and now fifteen year anniversaries, what have we learned? Are there fewer birds? More birds? Different birds? The answer is we really don’t know. Trained ornithologists will have to answer those questions someday. As the database at eBird, where all our marsh walk sightings have been reported, grows maybe patterns will eventually be revealed. We are the collectors of the information, boots on the ground so to speak, citizen scientists. We’ve certainly added to the marsh species list over the years. Pine Warbler was our addition this past year.

Besides adding our sightings for science, we’ve made new friends and attracted volunteers for RCAS. For some this was their first and only experience with birding. For others it was a first sighting of a sora or even a song sparrow. A Virginia rail with young has always been a highlight. Children, and even some older participants, have used binoculars for the first time. We’ve had some lively discussions about bird identification. We’ve had quite a few laughs. At times we’ve been distracted by butterflies and snakes and frogs and plants. We’ve all become better birders and naturalists.

Looking back we see we have reached many people. Although it includes many repeats, our records show we have attracted 2,061 participants. Many are now supporters of the marsh, contributing to our marsh fund, participating in Green-Up Day and convincing others the marsh is not a swamp for dumping trash.

Weather has never stopped us. Sometimes we’ve walked with a biting wind and blowing snow in our faces, other times with the sun on our backs. We’ve been caught in a couple summer downpours. During one walk in January the temperature was well below zero. The highlight that day was a pine siskin huddled at a feeder. The walks have all been memorable for one reason or another.

So what happened today, our 180th walk?

Eleven birders participated, about our average for marsh walks, and included a birder from Burlington and another from Johnson. Although it was cloudy and humid, the possible thunderstorms did not materialize.

The best sighting came last. As with the first walk, we saw a least bittern! It flew a short distance as we rounded the corner of Water Street onto Marble.

The raptor count, however, was low with one northern harrier spotted. No Virginia rails were seen or heard. Marsh wrens and swamp sparrows, however, are still singing away.

A female wood duck was spotted with young while a second female was seen in flight.

Three brown thrashers were seen; two just north of the boardwalk and another a bit further up the road. All were strangely silent. The gray catbirds are still yakking away.

Both alder and willow flycatchers were noted, fortunately still singing so we could separate them.

Near the green house, formerly known as the yellow house, there was a mixed flock of barn, tree and northern rough-winged swallows, a portent of the next season. The flock included several immatures.

Warbler action has slowed, but the common yellowthroats and American redstarts are still very vocal. Only one yellow warbler was observed, a female foraging in a tree. Other warbler species were ovenbird and black-throated green warbler.

Today’s tally: 51 species, a bit below last July's total of 57, but two above our average for this month of the year.

The next walk: August 20 (Saturday), 7 a.m.

Today’s list:

Wood Duck  10
Mallard  4
Least Bittern  1   
Northern Harrier  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  8
Mourning Dove  6
Belted Kingfisher  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  4
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  1
Alder Flycatcher  4
Willow Flycatcher  5
Least Flycatcher  2
Eastern Phoebe  2
Eastern Kingbird  5
Warbling Vireo  1
Red-eyed Vireo  6
Blue Jay  7
American Crow  6
Common Raven  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  5
Tree Swallow  12
Barn Swallow  17
Black-capped Chickadee  7
House Wren  1
Marsh Wren  11
Veery  9
American Robin  10
Gray Catbird  12
Brown Thrasher  3
European Starling  11
Cedar Waxwing  36
Ovenbird  1
Common Yellowthroat  17
American Redstart  10
Yellow Warbler  1
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
Song Sparrow  18
Swamp Sparrow  21
Eastern Towhee  1
Scarlet Tanager  1
Northern Cardinal  4
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  2
Red-winged Blackbird  16
Common Grackle  4
House Finch  2
Purple Finch  6
American Goldfinch  17
House Sparrow  1

Saturday
Jun112016

west rutland marsh - june monitoring report

Even on a cool morning in June at West Rutland Marsh, with a few showers, beats just about any other month of the year. Today 13 participants tallied 62 species, one above our June average and four below one year ago.

Gray CatbirdWe joked that today was a bit of a catwalk as we talked to newcomers about the difference between cattails (good) and phragmites (bad), plenty of yakking catbirds, the remains of a dead catfish in the road (which was really probably a sucker) and a non-Audubon approved cat that followed us down the road. Although we take our monitoring seriously we never leave fun out of the equation!

The bird of the day was a flyover Osprey, a species rarely seen at the marsh, and our only raptor of the day.

The expected marsh species were present: a Virginia Rail, two American Bitterns, a flyover Great Blue Heron as well as lots of Marsh Wrens and Swamp Sparrows. A couple sets of sharp ears picked out the low chuckle of a Least Bittern about halfway between the kiosk and the green house. A Green Heron along Pleasant Street was perched on a dead tree, giving its ‘skeow’ call and giving everyone the opportunity for a good look while a second heron flew by.

Green HeronAlong the way we saw an Eastern Kingbird nest, a Baltimore Oriole nest and a Common Grackle nest with young. We know there were plenty more we missed!

The warbler songs were bit muted along Whipple Hollow Road as a light rain started. Nevertheless, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white Warbler, Nashville Warbler, American Redstart, Blackburnian Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler were all heard. Plenty of Common Yellowthroats and Yellow Warblers were heard along the marshier parts of the route, along with more redstarts and a Chestnut-sided Warbler.

Thanks to all the new participants who joined us today. If you haven’t participated in a marsh walk we hope to see you soon at one of them!

Today’s list:

Canada Goose  6
Mallard  3   
American Bittern  2
Least Bittern  1   
Great Blue Heron  1
Green Heron  2
Osprey  1
Virginia Rail  1
Wilson's Snipe  4
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  1
Mourning Dove  8
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  2
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  2
Pileated Woodpecker  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Alder Flycatcher  7
Willow Flycatcher  5
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Eastern Kingbird  4
Warbling Vireo  6
Red-eyed Vireo  10
Blue Jay  4
American Crow  2
Common Raven  2
Tree Swallow  4
Black-capped Chickadee  7
Tufted Titmouse  1
Brown Creeper  2
House Wren  4
Marsh Wren  11
Veery  7
Wood Thrush  1
American Robin  12
Gray Catbird  8
European Starling  3
Cedar Waxwing  8
Ovenbird  4
Northern Waterthrush  1
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Nashville Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  13
American Redstart  6
Blackburnian Warbler  1
Yellow Warbler  11
Chestnut-sided Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  1
Savannah Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  9
Swamp Sparrow  10
Northern Cardinal  5
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  2
Red-winged Blackbird  17
Common Grackle  5
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Baltimore Oriole  4
House Finch  1
American Goldfinch  8
House Sparrow  3

Saturday
Apr232016

west rutland marsh - april monitoring report

American BitternA stiff north wind dispelled any notion that spring is here to stay. Nevertheless a record 31 participants showed up for the 177th monitoring walk around West Rutland Marsh. Forty-four species were tallied, more than last year's 37 and two above our April average.

The day was off to a good start when the ‘kidick kidick’ of a Virginia Rail was heard near the boardwalk. Shortly after that sharp eyes spotted an American Bittern lurking along the not yet emerged reeds. Even then it was hard to spot! Wilson’s Snipe was also heard ‘woo woo woo-ing’ and a lucky few spotted it.

If there is any doubt that nesting season is already underway, six goslings were spotted with a Canada Goose. A Blue Jay was seen carrying nesting material and its fellow corvid, a Common Raven, was carrying a sizeable bit of food. Two Belted Kingfishers were spotted near a likely nest hole above one of the quarries.

Raptors were well-represented: Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Peregrine Falcon and American Kestrel. Ten Turkey Vultures were also seen.

No Tree Swallows were seen, but three cold-looking Northern Rough-winged Swallows were huddled in a bare tree.

A Winter Wren was heard deep in the woods along Whipple Hollow Road and Marsh Wrens (2) were heard along Water Street and near the boardwalk.

A lingering American Tree Sparrow was spotted near the feeders at the kiosk. Swamp Sparrows have wasted no time and are singing throughout the marsh.

The next marsh walk is scheduled for Thursday, May 19, 7 a.m.

Today's list:

Canada Goose  29
Wood Duck  1
Mallard  7
Hooded Merganser  2
American Bittern  2
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  10
Northern Harrier  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Virginia Rail  1
Wilson's Snipe  3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  2
Mourning Dove  10
Belted Kingfisher  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  2
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  6
American Kestrel  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Phoebe  3
Blue Jay  3
American Crow  4
Common Raven  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  3
Black-capped Chickadee  12
Tufted Titmouse  3
Winter Wren  1
Marsh Wren  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  4
American Robin  9
European Starling  3
Cedar Waxwing  2
American Tree Sparrow  1    near feeders at kiosk; present consisently all winter
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  4
White-throated Sparrow  3
Song Sparrow  14
Swamp Sparrow  16
Northern Cardinal  5
Red-winged Blackbird  26
Common Grackle  8
House Finch  2
American Goldfinch  24
House Sparrow  3

 

 

Saturday
Feb132016

west rutland marsh - february monitoring report

Four hardy souls braved today’s frigid temperature and wind for this morning’s 175th consecutive monthly monitoring walk around West Rutland Marsh. Despite the weather, 18 species were tallied. This compares to 20 species a year ago.

None of the species were unexpected, but a small flock of Cedar Waxwings looked beautiful in flight in the morning light. Two Common Ravens were vocalizing and fussing near their usual nest site in the quarries.

A single American Robin was eating berries while chickadees were taking advantage of the various feeders along the route. American Tree Sparrows were also much in evidence at the feeders.

At the halfway point, with the wind at our backs and in full sun, the walk turned into a very pleasant experience.

Today’s list:

Mourning Dove  8
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  14
American Crow  8
Common Raven  2
Black-capped Chickadee  34
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Carolina Wren  1
American Robin  1
European Starling  9
Cedar Waxwing  12
American Tree Sparrow  13
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  13
Northern Cardinal  6
American Goldfinch  10
House Sparrow  4

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