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Entries in field trips (23)

Sunday
Jan152012

winter regulars and rarities in the champlain valley

Sixteen participants rose to the challenge of temps in the low teens and a brisk wind for Rutland County Audubon’s annual winter visit to the Champlain Valley. Starting north at Shelburne Bay and ending on Gage Road in Addison, 39 species plus one hybrid were tallied and entered on 17 eBird checklists. Thanks to Roy Pilcher’s advance scouting and careful planning, the day was a great success despite the weather.

a frosty morning along Lake ChamplainShelburne Bay brought the first Bald Eagle of the trip, an adult, and one of nine eagles, seen throughout the day. Mallard, American Black Duck, Bufflehead, and Common Goldeneye were also observed here as they were at most of our other shoreline stops which included Shelburne Point, Shelburne Farms, Charlotte Town Beach and the ferry landing as well as Fort Cassin Point.

Along Harbor Road at Shelburne Point, a Merlin was seen at fairly close range, dining on a chickadee. A Pileated Woodpecker flew about the woods nearby. Four Red-breasted Mergansers were out on the bay. A Northern Flicker, one of three for the day, was also seen in the area.

Two more Bald Eagles were seen at Shelburne Farms, both immatures. Other raptors at this location included Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk and Rough-legged Hawk. At nearby Meach Cove (Shelburne Beach), an American Black Duck x Mallard hybrid was spotted among a group of other members of its gene pool. Four Horned Grebes were also present.

Fort Cassin produced four Gadwall among a group of Mallard and American Black Duck plus four more eagles, two adult and two immature.

Other sightings of the day included two Red-winged Blackbirds in a lilac bush near a feeder, a single Snow Goose among a large flock of Canadas, and a good number of American Robins. Large flocks of Snow Buntings were observed swirling over frozen farm fields in Charlotte and Gage Road in Addison. Small groups of Horned Larks were also seen as well as Wild Turkeys.

Three members of the group visited the Champlain Bridge at the end of the day and added Redhead, Ring-necked Duck and Greater Scaup to the list.

The day's list:

Canada Goose

Snow Goose

Gadwall

American Black Duck

American Black Duck x Mallard

Mallard

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup

scaup sp.

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

Wild Turkey

Horned Grebe

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Red-tailed Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk

Merlin

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Mourning Dove

Downy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Blue Jay

American Crow

Horned Lark

Black-capped Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

European Starling

Snow Bunting

American Tree Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Red-winged Blackbird

House Sparrow

 

 

 

Monday
May302011

century count XVI

With weather more like a humid day in August, 15 participants were unsure whether they would hit 100 species for this year’s Century Count XVI. Nevertheless, a respectable 109 species were tallied in our annual attempt to see or hear as many species as possible within the county.

Sora (seen on a previous occasion)As expected, the early morning visit to West Rutland Marsh was one of the most productive stops of the day with 63 species. The day started with a Blackpoll Warbler singing on Sheldon Avenue. Other highlights included Virginia Rail and Common Moorhen at the boardwalk. Participants were thrilled with great looks at a Sora.

The birdsong along the Pleasant St. powerline in West Rutland was a bit subdued, but we still managed to pick up Blue-winged and Golden-winged warblers, Prairie Warbler and Field Sparrow. Indigo Buntings have finally returned to this spot for the year.

Cerulean Warbler is back at the Route 4 rest area this year (and adding one to our County Quest numbers). An American Redstart, seen nest-building last week, is now sitting on her nest.

The Kehoe Fishing Access at Lake Bomoseen produced a Louisiana Waterthrush singing away at mid-day.

Cliff Swallows were collecting mud for nests at the Fair Haven Municipal Airport. A Savannah Sparrow sat in the open and sang for us.

West Haven and Benson in the western part of the county produced the expected Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks along with Northern Harrier, Wild Turkey, and Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Wilson's SnipeA stop at the old Brandon Training School for Northern Mockingbird also provided Wilson’s Snipe, sitting nearby on a stump and giving us a great look, and another Eastern Meadowlark singing on a wire.

After the warm day, we needed a spotting scope to make out a Common Loon and two Common Mergansers on Chittenden Reservoir. At Lefferts Pond American Woodcock were ‘peenting’ and Northern Waterthursh and White-throated Sparrow singing in the fading light.

 

Trip List:
Sharp-shinned Hawk 4
Trip List:
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Black Duck
Mallard
Common Merganser
Ruffed Grouse
Wild Turkey
Common Loon
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Virginia Rail
Sora
Common Moorhen
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Wilson’s Snipe
American Woodcock
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Winter Wren
Marsh Wren
Eastern Bluebird
Veery
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Pine Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Canada Warbler
Eastern towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Bobolink
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow
Sunday
Jan162011

winter regulars and rarities in the champlain valley

Despite early morning temperatures hovering around zero and the threat of snow, 18 participants tallied a respectable 39 species during our annual Winter Regulars and Rarities in the Champlain Valley field trip on January 15. A full list of species follows below.

Juniper Island on Lake ChamplainWaterfowl are the highlight of any winter trip along Lake Champlain as frozen portions of the lake help to concentrate numbers. Common Goldeneyes were by far the most numerous, tallied at Shelburne Point, Meach Cove, Charlotte Town Beach, and Tri-Town. At Tri-town, most of the 48 Common Mergansers were on the ice near open water. A handful of Hooded Mergansers were seen at Shelburne Point and Charlotte Town Beach. The Scaup seen at Tri-town were determined by two experienced participants to be Lesser based on the slightly pointed head profile and grayer sides.

Horned Grebes were observed at Shelburne Point and Charlotte Town Beach. A large number of Canada Geese were in a farm field along Rte 22a in Addison.

Sharp eyes spotted a Ruffed Grouse eating buds high in a tree in Ferrisburgh. Two Wild Turkey flocks, of over 40 each, were observed in Shelburne and Leicester.

Bald Eagle at Charlotte Town Beach.Raptors were well-represented with four Rough-legged Hawks (a life bird for one participant), a Northern Harrier in Ferrisburgh, several Red-tailed Hawks, and both Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks. A male American Kestrel was seen huddled on a garden arbor in Addison. Three Bald Eagles were seen, one at Shelburne Farms and two at Charlotte Town Beach, all adults. While one of the eagles at Charlotte Town Beach was far out on the lake, the other was perched near the parking area intently watching a bird carcass on the nearby ice.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was seen at a feeder in Ferrisburgh. Most of the American Tree Sparrows observed were in a flock of 30.

A large flock of American Robins flew over the group at Shelburne Point. Smaller numbers of robins were seen in Charlotte and Addison.

Despite all the Bohemian Waxwing reports this winter, all the waxwings observed, in Shelburne and Kingsland Bay, were Cedar.

Snow Buntings, a favorite winter visitor, were seen in three locations with one flock of about 100 swirling over a field in Charlotte. Horned Larks, a life bird for a couple participants, were seen in Charlotte and Addison, where a large flock of about 75 was on Gage Road. Three larks were observed at close range in a farmyard on Jersey Street. 

The day closed with Barred Owls, one each in Bridport and Leicester.

Here are the full results for the day:

Canada Goose 147
American Black Duck 60
Mallard 93
Lesser Scaup 5
Bufflehead 32
Common Goldeneye 1,060
Hooded Merganser 5
Common Merganser 83
Ruffed Grouse 1
Wild Turkey 96
Horned Grebe 3
Bald Eagle 3
Northern Harrier 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk 9
Rough-legged Hawk 4
American Kestrel 1
Ring-billed Gull 51
Herring Gull 3
Great Black-backed Gull 10
Rock Pigeon 28
Mourning Dove 1
Barred Owl 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 3
American Crow 110
Horned Lark 94
Black-capped Chickadee 5
Tufted Titmouse 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
American Robin 59
European Starling 190
Cedar Waxwing 24
American Tree Sparrow 41
Dark-eyed Junco 11
Snow Bunting 122
Northern Cardinal 4
Tuesday
Sep212010

broad-winged hawk migration at Mt. Philo

atop Mt. PhiloOn September 18, sixteen RCAS members and friends gathered to travel to Mt. Philo State Park in Charlotte to watch for migrating Broad-winged Hawks. The annual pilgrimage is a hit-or-miss affair, the hawks being very dependent on weather conditions.

Broad-winged Hawks, a common raptor in Vermont, need rising thermals to lift them into the air. The thermals are formed when warming air along ridgelines rises. Broad-winged HawkAs the hawks rise with the thermals, they “peel off” in search of the next rising bubble of warm air and thus make their way south. By doing so they minimize the use of their own energy reserves.

After striking out last year, we were fortunate enough to arrive just has several Broad-winged Hawk groups, known as kettles, flew over the rocky outcrop atop Mt. Philo and then high over the sparkling water of Lake Champlain, finally disappearing into the sky over the Adirondacks.

Red-tailed HawkIn addition to the Broad-winged Hawks, we had the opportunity to study the contrasting shapes of different groups of raptors  as they flew by – buteos (Broad-winged and Red-tailed hawks), accipiters (Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks), and falcons (American Kestrels). Knowing the different shapes is a key part of identifying migrating raptors as other field marks are most often not distinguishable at a great distance. For a view of a Broad-winged Hawk has it sailed by below us, click here.

view from Mt. PhiloAs noon drew near the wind shifted to the south and the action drew to a close. The day’s totals included three Bald Eagles, 15 Sharp-shinned Hawks, three Cooper’s Hawks, and nine American Kestrels. In addition, two Red-tailed Hawks, probably not yet in migration, nine Turkey Vultures, and one Great Blue Heron flew by. A flock of seven Wild Turkeys was seen in the fields below.

And the Broad-winged Hawks? We counted a total of 165. While nowhere near peak migration days of 1,000 at Mt. Philo, everyone was satisfied with the results, the camaraderie of fellow birders, and the beautiful view.

You can read more about Broad-winged Hawks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds website, by clicking here.

Monday
May312010

century count XV - a new record!

Rutland County Audubon’s annual Century Count and Christmas Bird Count act as bookends to the year. Although the protocols are different, it is interesting to note that this year’s Century Count produced a record of 114 species, beating 2007’s record of 109. By contrast this past Christmas Bird Count had one of the lowest species count at 43 (the average is about 49).

On May 29, 20 birders gathered at 6 a.m. for Century Count XV. Armed with binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras, and notebooks, we set out to cover the county in our annual attempt to tally 100 species.

A trip around West Rutland Marsh produced Virginia Rail and Sora. A Marsh Wren was seen carrying nesting material. Warblers, mostly along Whipple Hollow Road, were Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, and Canada Warbler. The highlight of the marsh, however, was not the warblers, but a male Orchard Oriole in full song along Marble Street. This was a first Vermont bird or life bird for many of the participants.

The Pleasant St. powerline in West Rutland was a successful stop as usual with Blue-winged Warbler (dressed and singing appropriately) and a feisty Prairie Warbler. An Eastern Towhee and a Field Sparrow were also observed.

One of the highlights of the day was our stop at the Rte 4 rest area, where a Cerulean Warbler looking at the Cerulean Warblerwas singing and observed high in the trees. RCAS Co-president Roy Pilcher first observed this bird May 11 (16 years after he saw it at the same location). Again The Cerulean was a life bird for many. Another Blue-winged Warbler (also appropriately dressed and singing) was seen here as well as a Golden-winged Warbler singing a Blue-winged Warbler song. All the field marks indicated Golden-winged and not a hybrid. A hermit thrush nest was found with two chicks, one possibly a Brown-headed Cowbird, and two blue eggs, one with the egg tooth poking through. A Louisiana Waterthrush was also heard at this location.

The Castleton College Nature Trail produced a Hairy Woodpecker nest with young, the second Canada Warbler of the day, and a Pine Warbler. A Broad-winged Hawk was seen and a Brown Creeper was singing.

The Lake Bomoseen/Hubbardton IBA produced Wood Duck, including a female with eight young, and a Cliff Swallow on its nest under the church eaves.

happy birdersAt our lunch stop at Bomoseen State Park, we observed a Herring Gull and Yellow-throated Vireo.

At the Kehoe Fishing Access at Lake Bomoseen, we heard a Tennessee Warbler singing, quite incessantly, for mid-day. Appropriately a Nashville Warbler was also heard at this spot. A Red-eyed Vireo was observed bringing in birch bark strips for its nest-building efforts.

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was seen at the Bird Mountain WMA in Castleton. No Peregrine Falcon activity was observed on the cliffs. However, two Red-tailed Hawks were seen soaring.

Wild Turkeys, a Brown Thrasher, a few Bobolinks, and two Eastern Meadowlarks were seen in Benson. Bank Swallows were seen entering and exiting their nests at the town sand supply in Brandon. The day ended at 9:20 p.m. at Lefferts Pond with, most appropriately, Great Horned Owl and Barred Owl.

Notably absent for the day were American Bittern, American Woodcock, Winter Wren, and Black-throated Green Warbler. A total of 28 checklists were submitted to eBird.

 Total Species List:

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Black Duck
Mallard
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Ruffed Grouse
Wild Turkey
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Virginia Rail
Sora
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Wilson’s Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-pewee
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Veery
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Pine Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
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
Bobolink
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow