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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
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
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
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
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
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

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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