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Entries in winter regulars and rarities (6)

Sunday
Jan182015

trip report: winter regulars & rarities

Meach CoveSpectacular blue skies compensated for the bitter cold experienced during RCAS’s Winter Regulars and Rarities field trip on January 17. Nineteen participants, dressed from head to toe in winter gear, stopped at various points along Lake Champlain and the open fields of Addison County and southern Chittenden County to survey for birds that spend the winter in Vermont. 

Ducks are always a highlight of a winter trip. Stops at Shelburne Point, Shelburne Farms, Meach Cove and Charlotte Town Beach were the most productive as the ice continues to close in. Shelburne Point offered Common Goldeneye, Ring-necked Duck, Common Merganser as well as Mallard and American Black Duck. 

Five Horned Grebes were seen at Shelburne Farms and two Common Loons at Charlotte Town Beach. The only Bufflehead of the day were seen here as well. A male Northern Pintail was curled up among the resting Mallards at Meach Cove (aka Shelburne Beach). 

A single Snow Goose was among a flock of Canada geese at Converse Bay. 

In addition to the above, large rafts of waterfowl, well out of identifying range, were observed at several points along the route. 

Four Bald Eagles, two adult and two immature, were seen at Meach Cove. A fifth Bald Eagle was seen later along the route. A beautiful gray male Northern Harrier was swooping over the fields along Jersey Street while just south of there a Peregrine Falcon was actively hunting pigeons around a farm.

Another highlight of the day was spotted while the group scanned the water at Kellogg Bay. One of the participants turned to find a Ruffed Grouse, unperturbed by our presence, feeding in a tree immediately behind us.

Snow Buntings were in short supply as were Horned Larks (none were seen). However, 12 Rough-legged Hawks made up for that as well as numerous Red-tailed Hawks. 

Eastern Bluebirds are always a welcome sight. A small flock was spotted along Converse Bay Road. A couple of American Robins were seen in this area as well. 

Ruffed GrouseOne of the last stops of the day was in Bridport at a feeder location that has hosted a Harris’s Sparrow, a rare visitor to the state, since November. This was a life bird for several members so the wait for its appearance in the deepening cold of the closing day was worth it. 

The total species list for the day was 42 with 20 eBird checklists were submitted. Thanks to Roy Pilcher for serving as the trip leader!

Trip list:

 

Snow Goose
Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Ring-necked Duck
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Ruffed Grouse
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Peregrine Falcon
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Harris's Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
House Sparrow

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday
Jan122014

trip report: winter regulars & rarities

A day fit for neither man nor beast, but okay for birders. Such was the weather for the RCAS Regulars and Rarities in the Champlain Valley field trip yesterday. This annual winter trip has experienced a variety of meteorological conditions – sub-zero temperatures, howling winds and even weather sunny and warm enough for a picnic. Not January 11, however. A surprising 15 participants turned out for the adventure.

Temperatures rising to just under 50 and a more than intermittent rain produced thick clouds of fog over the snow-covered fields. Road conditions were fine for driving, but parking areas were slick sheets of ice. The viewing of waterfowl on Lake Champlain was actually quite decent, but inland raptors appeared as pale apparitions.

Nevertheless, a total of 30 species, comprising 10 eBird checklists, was tallied. At Shelburne Point, Mallard and American Black Duck dabbled at the water’s edge while further out flocks of Common Goldeneye and Bufflehead bobbed in the water. A single female Red-breasted Merganser was also seen as well as an adult Bald Eagle soaring far out over an island.

More waterfowl was seen on Shelburne Bay from both Harbor Road and the fishing access. A handsome male Red-breasted Merganser was close enough for good viewing while Horned Grebes, six in all, were further out and three Hooded Mergansers hugged the opposite shore. A Canvasback was a highlight, seen from the fishing access, and a life bird for some. A second Bald Eagle, this one an immature, was sitting on the ice.

Shelburne Beach (Meach Cove) had the greatest waterfowl variety including Ring-necked Duck, both scaup and, best of all, a female Barrow’s Goldeneye.

The Charlotte Ferry landing produced another adult Bald Eagle, two Horned Grebe and three gull species – Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backed.

The rest of the day was spent in what began to seem like a fruitless search for a Snowy Owl. A couple of passes along Route 17 between the goose viewing area and the West Addison General Store came up empty although an American Kestrel, a Rough-legged Hawk and two Red-tailed Hawks were seen. Finally, along Town Line Road in Bridport the bird we were all hoping for appeared. It was sitting atop a power pole where it remained long enough for everyone to have a good look before disappearing as a ghost in the fog.

Trip List:

 

American Black Duck  
Mallard
Canvasback
Ring-necked Duck
Great Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Horned Grebe
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Snowy Owl
Hairy Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
American Robin
European Starling
Northern Cardinal
House Finch

 

 

Sunday
Jan132013

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.

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

 

 

 

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