With the guidance of our leader, Barry King, one of the main themes of our wildlife walk this month was winter tracking, a task made easier by nice layer of snow on the ground to show off tracks. Around Otter View Park we found rodent, Eastern Cottontail Rabbit and Red Fox tracks, many of them using the snow-free underside of the boardwalk as a highway for travel. Of course birds are always a focus on our walks and we were able to generate a nice species list. Two Common Mergansers were seen flying along the frozen river, probably traveling between the local waterfalls that keep water open.  A flock of Cedar Waxwings also passed overhead not including any Bohemians which have been almost completely absent fro the state this year. The bird of the day was a Winter Wren which briefly popped up near a small bit of open water in the marsh.

At the Hurd Grassland we were met by three vociferous Tufted Titmice near the head of the trail. Also in good voice was a Red-tailed Hawk which we saw several times crossing the fields, always screaming as it did. Award for prettiest birds of the day go to a trio of Eastern Bluebirds, two females and a male found in the lower field. A Red-bellied Woodpecker was heard calling several times, and was eventually spotted by two of our observer. Along the edges, we noted the Red Cedars which earlier in the winter were absolutely loaded with berries are now almost completely denuded of fruit. On the tracking front, both Fox and Coyote tracks were all over the property punctuated regularly with territorial markings. Bobcat tracks have become a regular find at the grassland in winter and we were pleased to find a nice fresh set of tracks from one there. The best tracking story we saw however was a mouse run that was interrupted half-way across it’s trail by the wing mark of a raptor that had apparently made a meal of it.

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, March 8 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