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Entries in West Rutland Marsh (66)

Thursday
Dec082016

west rutland marsh - december monitoring report

There were a lot of new faces among the 16 participants in today’s walk around West Rutland Marsh, which made it a lot of fun. Temperatures in the mid-30s and a light breeze made it a pleasant walk. Bird numbers were on target for December with 20 species tallied. This compares to 22 last year and is above our average of 19 for this month of the year.

Two large flocks of American robins in flight put that species in the lead for the most counted bird today.

A murder of crows was dive-bombing an unseen enemy along the tree tops. A common raven appeared in the fray and may have been the foe.

Three red-tailed hawks were circling high in the clouds and were our only raptors of the day.

Fourteen wild turkeys were seen along the edge of the woods on Whipple Hollow Road and a golden-crowned kinglet was heard in the white cedars a little further along that section. A small flock of cedar waxwings flew over our heads as well.

We reached a new high for red-bellied woodpeckers today – three! This species has only recently appeared during our marsh walks. The only other woodpecker was a downy. Heavy tapping may have been from a pileated, but that was not confirmed.

Our next walk is scheduled for Saturday, January 28, at 8 a.m.

Today’s list:

Wild Turkey  14
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  11
Mourning Dove  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  11
American Crow  19
Common Raven  1
Black-capped Chickadee  26
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
American Robin  76
European Starling  13
Cedar Waxwing  7
American Tree Sparrow  8
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  5
Northern Cardinal  4
American Goldfinch  1
House Sparrow  6

Saturday
Nov192016

west rutland marsh - november monitoring report

Birders almost equaled bird species for RCAS’s monthly monitoring walk around West Rutland Marsh this morning. With clear skies and the forecast promising temperatures in the 60s, no one minded much.

Nineteen observers counted 21 species. Although this seems low it still beats last year’s 19 which is also our 16-year average. Past November walks have yielded anywhere from 11 to 27 species.

There were no real surprises. Raptors consisted of five red-tailed hawks and one Cooper’s hawk.

A belted kingfisher was seen from the boardwalk as it flew from Water Street to the power lines. A northern flicker was heard and a red-bellied woodpecker was seen.

Eastern bluebirds were heard singing, but not seen.  Sparrows were represented by three American tree sparrows and a lone junco.

The next walk is scheduled for Thursday, December 8.

Today’s list:

Mallard  4
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  5
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  6
Mourning Dove  4
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  4
Northern Flicker  1
Blue Jay  23
American Crow  9
Common Raven  2
Black-capped Chickadee  43
Tufted Titmouse  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Eastern Bluebird  2
European Starling  20
American Tree Sparrow  3
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  1
Northern Cardinal  4
American Goldfinch  20

Sunday
Oct162016

west rutland marsh - october monitoring report

The fall foliage is still brilliant on the hillsides, but the crystal coating on the cattails and other marsh vegetation this morning was a reminder of what is to come. Eighteen participants, sporting wool caps and warm gloves for the first time this season, joined together for our monthly monitoring of West Rutland Marsh.

Today’s tally was 37, three more than one year ago, and five more than our average for October (the high was 39 in October 2007).

Many species have departed or are at least packing their bags. In sharp contrast with September, only one gray catbird was recorded. No common yellowthroats or marsh wrens were observed, but a swamp sparrow sang weakly in the cattails.

Several ruby-crowned kinglets were flitting in the trees and goldenrod seedheads along with a few golden-crowned kinglets. Their contrasting call notes were quite obvious.

White-throated sparrows and dark-eyed juncos were seen in several spots along the route as well as song sparrows. Our first vesper sparrow for this walk was seen briefly along Marble Street. This is the third month in a row we have added a new species to our monitoring list.

Three purple finches, the two males looking particularly bright in the morning sun, sat in a bare tree. One was heard singing.

Three red-tailed hawks were noted, but no turkey vultures.

Our next walk: November 19 (Saturday) at 8 a.m.

Today’s list:

Canada Goose  2
Wood Duck  2
Mallard  2
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  6
Mourning Dove  6
Belted Kingfisher  2
Downy Woodpecker  6
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  1
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Blue Jay  19
American Crow  45
Common Raven  4
Black-capped Chickadee  25
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  3
Brown Creeper  1
Carolina Wren  1
Golden-crowned Kinglet  4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  5
American Robin  65
Gray Catbird  1
European Starling  3
Chipping Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  17
White-crowned Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  10
Vesper Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  9
Swamp Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  5
Red-winged Blackbird  49
Purple Finch  4
American Goldfinch  17

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