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Entries in field trips (24)


wetland restoration field trip - july 13

suitable habitat for a variety of birds along Otter CreekOver the last five years, private landowners, federal/state agencies and non-profit groups have been working together to restore wetlands along Otter Creek. Find out what was done and why and see the results firsthand. RCAS and SER-New England will have a joint field trip to Rte 73 in on the Brandon/Sudbury line to visit restored land there. 

Click here to read more about the property.

Rain or shine. Bring boots. 9 AM at the pull-off on the east side of the the Otter Creek bridge on Rte 73 (approximately 3.25 miles west of Brandon).


century count XVIII

BobolinkFew of us thought we would reach more than 75 species for Century Count XVIII. With perhaps the worst possible Memorial Day weekend weather in several years – rain, wind, cold temperatures – the prospects were not good. Ten participants, however, rose to the challenge and tallied 102 species in a day-long marathon through Rutland County.

Many of the expected species at West Rutland Marsh were found, such as Virginia Rail, Marsh Wren and both Alder and Willow flycatchers, but a good number of the usuals were missed at this location.

In deteriorating weather, the group trudged up the Pleasant Street power line and was pleasantly surprised. Although the Blue-winged Warblers may have been singing ‘bee-brrr’ instead of ‘bee-buzz’ four of them were found. Indigo Buntings, Prairie Warblers, Eastern Towhees and Field Sparrows were singing away.

The Route 4 rest area, although hosting an unpleasant number of ticks, provided several warbler species including Blackburnian, Magnolia and Canada. There was no sign of a Cerulean Warbler as in past years, but that area was inaccessible due to a swollen stream caused by a blocked culvert.

At the north end of Lake Bomoseen an American Coot was a nice find in the heavy vegetation along with a few Wood Ducks including young.

A welcome rest for a picnic lunch at Bomoseen State Park provided the opportunity to find a Yellow-throated Vireo and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher plus a Baltimore Oriole sitting on a nest.

A Bald Eagle was seen from the Kehoe Fishing Access upper lot on Lake Bomoseen along with four Common Loons (two more loons were also seen on Lake Hortonia and six on Chittenden Reservoir, no doubt related to the bad weather).

A Northern Harrier, a Savannah Sparrow and a handful of bubbling Bobolinks were found during a brief stop at Fair Haven Municipal Airport. A good number of Bobolinks were found in Benson as well as a Meadowlark and an American Kestrel.

The highlight of the day was a stop along Route 73 in Brandon along the Otter Creek. A Pied-billed Grebe, two American Bittern, one Least Bittern and three Common Gallinule were observed. Click here to find out why this area is so special.

The day ended at Lefferts Pond as it traditionally does. A Wilson’s Snipe was seen calling atop a phone pole. The day closed out with the songs of a Purple Finch and a White-throated Sparrow.

All sightings have been contributed to eBird (25 checklists).

Despite the conditions, the group remained good humor all day. Everyone contributed to the effort of seeing, hearing and identifying 102 species. Special thanks once again go to Roy Pilcher for planning another successful Century Count.

The day's list:

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Black Duck
Common Merganser
Wild Turkey
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
American Bittern
Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Virginia Rail
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Spotted Sandpiper
Wilson's Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Black-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Winter Wren
Marsh Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow


century count XVIII

How would you like to go birding?

How would you like to go birding in Rutland County?

How would you like to go birding in Rutland County with the prospect of tallying 100 or more species?

How would you like to go birding in Rutland County with the prospect of tallying 100 or more species in one day?

Chestnut-sided WarblerIf you answered yes to the final question then meet Rutland County Audubon and friends on Sunday, May 26, at the West Rutland Price Chopper parking area at 6:00 am. For those who stay to “the glorious end” some 15 hours later we hope to have tallied over 100 species. If the past is any guide, the number of species tallied over the past five years is 106, 108, 114, 109 and 110!

We will be visiting many of Rutland County's best birding spots and see a wide variety of birds. It is a long day so be prepared with a lunch and beverage which we have taken in the past at Bomoseen State Park. There is a lot more driving than walking. It is a go-go-go, kind of a day but a lot of fun!

All our Audubon field trips are open to the public and are free. However, we will be collecting donations to be split between Audubon Vermont and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, both bird friendly organizations. You may make out your check to either organization or cash is just fine.

Contact Roy Pilcher 775-3461 or email us at birding@rutlandcountyaudubon.org


winter regulars & rarities field trip report

hardy birders at Shelburne BayIt is with some trepidation participants set out on the annual RCAS Winter Regulars & Rarities field trip to the Champlain Valley. Past trips have produced temperatures hovering around zero, gale force winds and even rain. This year, however, we were uncommonly lucky as the sun came out at mid-morning and the temperature rose to 42, melting ice in slick parking lots. Lighting conditions on the lake were quite good.

Thirteen participants made eleven stops starting north at Shelburne Point and working south as far as Button Bay. There were several highlights of the day and more than one life bird for some participants.

Gadwall were present at both Shelburne Point and Fort Cassin, seven in all for the day as well as six American Wigeon, also at Fort Cassin. A handsome male Northern Pintail flew into Shelburne Town Beach (Meach Cove).

Common Goldeneye, living up to its name, was the most common bird of the day with 450 seen. Hooded and Common mergansers were also represented at several locations with a lone female Red-breasted Merganser at Shelburne Point.

Sharp eyes spotted two Mallard x American Black Duck hybrids, one each at Shelburne Bay and Fort Cassin, a splash of green on the head and dark body distinguishing them.

Gadwall at Shelburne PointA lone Snow Goose flyover in Charlotte was spotted by most members of the group as was a Rough-legged Hawk as it took off from a tree revealing its distinct under-wing pattern.

A total of 11 Horned Grebes were present at Shelburne Point, Shelburne Farms, Meach Cove, Charlotte Town Beach, Charlotte Ferry Landing and Button Bay.

Bald Eagles, despite their increasing presence in Vermont, never cease to thrill birders. A total of ten eagles were seen during the day. At Kingsland Bay, an adult Bald Eagle made several unsuccessful passes at duck. At Fields Bay (near Kellogg Bay Road), an adult Bald Eagle was dining on duck, which attracted not only our attention, but the attention of three other eagles that flew in to investigate.

In stark contrast with last year, only 14 American Robins were observed, a sharp decline from last year’s robin boom.

 In our commitment to citizen science, 14 eBird checklists were submitted with a total species count for the day of 33. Many thanks to Roy Pilcher for putting together such a productive itinerary.


annual hawk watch - trip report

Each year Rutland County Audubon members venture north to Mt. Philo State Park in Charlotte to look for southbound Broad-winged Hawks. Migrating birds are picky about weather conditions none more so than raptors. Knowing Broad-wings travel within a three-week window in September, the date is set well in advance so the annual trips meet with varying degrees of success.

After a refresher in hawk profiles and migration behavior by Roy Pilcher, 16 RCAS participants set off to Mt. Philo. There an auto road delivers hawk watchers to the top of the mountain. From a rocky outcrop viewers can scan for hawks from a 180-degree viewpoint as they travel southwest across Lake Champlain before disappearing from view. The lake, with the Adirondacks as a backdrop, and the convivial atmosphere always make for a pleasant morning no matter the results.

This year the weather was fair – cool and mostly cloudy with an unmaterilized threat of showers so the results were also fair. A few groups of Broad-winged Hawks came directly overhead allowing for a good look at their profile (see photo).  Also observed were two Sharp-shinned Hawks, several Osprey and Turkey Vultures. As the RCAS group left a mature Bald Eagle soared over, a good end to the morning. 

Least Sandpiper at Meach CoveFollowing a picnic lunch, the group traveled home making stops along Lake Champlain. At Shelburne Bay several ducks were present including many Mallards, a couple American Black Ducks, three Wood Ducks and one mystery duck. After much discussion, it was determined to be a Northern Pintail, possibly a hybrid. A juvenile Pied-billed Grebe and three Greater Yellowlegs were also present. At Meach Cove in Shelburne, a small group of Least Sandpipers was close enough for good viewing. A Common Loon was also present.