Beginning our trek

Beginning our trek

On Sunday, OCAS took a trip down to the West Rutland Marsh, a group of 14 people variously carpooled or met in West Rutland, and then were led to the marsh by our gracious hosts from Rutland County Audubon. To start things off we got a great example of  the differences between Alder and Willow Flycatcher songs from two birds singing alternately from their own exposed perch. Along the boardwalk we heard the sounds of grunting Virginia Rail, some of us catching a brief glimpse of one taking a short flight. The end of the boardwalk, we got full enjoyment of this premier spot on the property surrounded by the rattling song of Marsh Wrens, Swamp Sparrows and other marsh birds. The only disappointment we may have had was not finding a Least Bittern that had been reported from there in previous days.

After the boardwalk we were led around the 3.6 mile loop that encircles the marsh which took us past a variety of habitats including fields,  woodland and homes. Some of the highlights along the way were several young ducks and geese with their parents, an Eastern Bluebird on the roof of a house, a Hooded Merganser flying south, an American Bittern flying north and a recently fledged Common Grackle which was still sporting an underdeveloped short tail. One fun moment was when we observed two young American Crows playing together in the fields to the east in a way that made it look like they were dancing. When they were done, we watched one of their parent’s fussily cleaned them off. Nearby them, a perched Red-tailed Hawk screamed in complaint as it was harassed by both a Red-winged Blackbird and an Eastern Kingbird.

Probably the best bird of the day was found on Whipple Hollow Road, a Canada Warbler that flitted in the trees near the road so persistently that everyone got a good look at it. Also in that area were a beautiful male Indigo Bunting and male American Restart, and the sounds of forest birds such as Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Winter Wren.

When we completed the loop we took one more walk out onto the boardwalk where we got the briefest glimpse of a small black fuzzball immature Virginia Rail as it skittered through the sedge. We also discovered an Eastern Kingbird nest in a Birch Tree just above the informational kiosk.

We thank Sue Wetmore and Marv and Sue Elliott from Rutland County Audubon for for being such great hosts and leaders for the morning. If you haven’t been to the marsh before and would like a guided tour, RCAS holds monthly monitoring walks there which are open to the public. You can see a schedule of when they occour on their website at http://rutlandcountyaudubon.org/events/ .

All our bird sightings were reported to eBird and a full checklist can be viewd here:
http://ebird.org/ebird/vt/view/checklist?subID=S14379726

– Ron Payne

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