This month’s walks at Otter View Park took place on such a cold morning that the 8 observers who attended wondered whether we might see many interesting birds at all, but our fears were allayed almost immediately when a Yellow-rumped Warber was spotted at the top of a tree near the parking lot. Conditions on the boardwalk gave us an additional challenge trying to find birds as the sounds of our feet creaking on the powder covered planks made it impossible to hear any birds, but the snow did show many tracks from other animals who had passed through recently. Down at the end of the boardwalk we found a newly frozen Otter Creek, making it uninhabitable for waterfowl that were there just two days before. Down the river towards the Pulp Mill Bridge we made note of a large Beaver lodge that had been constructed in the time since our last walk. Back up on the trail among a flock of Chickadees we had discovered and had a nice look at a male Golden-crowned Kinglet. That bird, along with the Yellow-rumped Warbler would have usually been the sightings of the day here this time of year, but they were trumped by what happened next. The sound of a flock of Canada Goose nearby made us look up, and when we did we were amazed to see skein after skein of Snow Geese flying very high overhead looking like strings of pearls against the blue sky. Several of us immediately started counting them and after conferring came up with an estimated number of 1200 Snow Geese in those flocks.

Excited to see what else we could find, six of us continued on to the Hurd Grassland. A Red-tailed Hawk was spotted in a tree across Weybridge Rd. eyes straight down in search of prey. Along the trail mice tracks and a nice Vole trail were easy to find in the snow, but the best tracking find of the day was a set of Bobcat tracks spotted by our leader, Craig Zondag. Cedar Waxwings and Robins weren’t unexpected in the abundant Juniper berries, but also eating them alongside were a more surprising pair of Northern Flickers. As is traditional, we visited with Gale Hurd at the end of the walk and very much appreciated warming our hands on the mugs of warm cider she treated us to.

All our bird sightings have been submitted to eBird and the full checklists can be viewed at the following links:

Otter View Park
Hurd Grassland

Other wildlife sightings have been submitted to the Vermont Atlas of Life.

Our Next walk will take place Saturday, January 11 at 8:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Road.

– Ron Payne

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