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Entries in field trips (23)


trip report - winter regulars and rarities in the Champlain Valley

RCAS had a spectacular day for the annual Winter Regulars and Rarities in the Champlain Valley trip on January 16. Nineteen participants, perhaps suffering from cabin fever and inspired by the day’s beautiful weather, gathered to tally 42 species at various points along Lake Champlain. Previous years’ trips have averaged about 33 species.

Sunshine, no wind, and warm temperatures made for good, and comfortable, viewing conditions. The day was even fair enough to enjoy lunch outdoors at Ferrisburg Town Beach once the picnic table was cleared of snow with a snowbrush.

Waterfowl, the highlight of any winter trip along the lake, included a good number of Common Goldeneye (581). At Meach Cove in Shelburne they were in close enough to shore to see them in close detail, including the males throwing their heads back in courtship display. One Horned Grebe was also seen at Meach Cove. Another eight grebes were at Charlotte Town Beach. Two Common Loons, no longer sporting their formal summer attire, were also seen there. A third Common Loon was observed at Converse Bay, but what drew the observers’ attention was a Double-crested Cormorant, about seven weeks out of season. A Belted Kingfisher, also uncommon in winter, was also heard.

Other highlights included a high number of Red-tailed Hawk (29) and Bald Eagle (16). The eagles included two immatures bathing side by side in the water along the shore. Four Rough-legged Hawks, being reported in lower numbers this year, were observed. Last year we reported 19.

Other birds which birders search for in winter are Northern Shrike and Snow Bunting. The group enjoyed good looks at a shrike through a spotting scope as perched high in a tree in the bright sunshine. Snow Buntings were located in two locations, sparkling across snowy fields in small flocks.

Eastern Bluebirds and American Robins in several locations were another cheerful addition to the day as was a Red-bellied Woodpecker at Kingsland Bay. The day ended with 80 Horned Larks on Nortontown Road in Addison.

A total of 25 checklists were submitted to eBird.

A special thanks to Roy Pilcher for leading a sometimes unruly, but grateful, crowd through the Champlain Valley.

Total Species List:

Canada Goose 9 Bufflehead 6 Common Merganser 94
American Black Duck 36 Mallard 44 Common Goldeneye 581
Hooded Merganser 8 Wild Turkey 2 Common Loon 3
Horned Grebe 9 Double-crested Cormorant 1 Bald Eagle 16
Cooper's Hawk 1 Red-tailed Hawk 29 Rough-legged Hawk 4
Ring-billed Gull 167 Herring Gull 9 Great Black-backed Gull 16
Rock Pigeon 3 Mourning Dove 3 Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 Downy Woodpecker 2 Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Shrike 2 Blue Jay 4 American Crow 25
Common Raven 2 Horned Lark 80 Black-capped Chickadee 7
Tufted Titmouse 2 White-breasted Nuthatch 4 Eastern Bluebird 5
American Robin 20 European Starling X American Tree Sparrow 8
Dark-eyed Junco 2 Snow Bunting 54 Northern Cardinal 2
House Finch 1 American Goldfinch 1 House Sparrow 4

trip report - September hawk watch

Each year Rutland County Audubon takes a trip to Mt. Philo State Park in Charlotte to watch for migrating Broad-winged Hawks. Some years we hit it right. On September 12 we didn’t. Hawks are pretty particular about the weather when they migrate moving en masse following the passage of a cold front and winds from the north. The big flight occurred a few days later with 2,855 counted at Mt. Philo on September 16.

Nevertheless it was a worthwhile trip because of one bird in particular - an immature Golden Eagle Golden Eagle (immature) that soared over our heads and circled giving all a fine view. It was a life bird or a first Vermont bird for many of us. Sometimes birding is like that. You don’t always see what you set out to see, but if you stick with it you are sure to see something good.

So how many Broad-winged Hawks were seen during our trip? Two, to be exact. Other migrating raptors included five Osprey, one Bald Eagle, four Sharp-shinned Hawks, and two American Kestrels.

Other stops and highlights for the day included four Common Loons at Charlotte Town Beach, two Blue-winged Teal and seven Hooded Mergansers at the Charlotte ferry landing, and two Green-winged Teal and two Marsh Wrens at Dead Creek Wildlife Management.


Century Count XIV

Rutland County Audubon had a very successful Century Count XIV with 22 participants and 108 species in Rutland County on May 30.Our record was 109 species in 2007. Thanks to Roy Pilcher for planning the productive route! Twenty-six checklists were submitted to eBird.

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