Winter’s unwavering grip meant that this March’s walk did not feature many signs of early migrants such as Red-winged Blackbirds that must have still been waiting the cold out further south in marshes that aren’t complete frozen. We did manage some good sightings anyway, some of them giving us some hope for the true arrival of spring. For example, at Otter View Park A House Sparrow was seen laying claim to the service cap atop a tube on a power pole that appeared to have been filled with new nesting material. Though not our favorite species locally due to their invasive nature, this activity marks the beginning of the nesting season. Another couple of nice bird find, now regulars at the park, a Red-bellied Woodpecker was heard calling from nearby trees and a Carolina Wren was heard singing from across the Otter Creek. If you are looking for an upside to the cold, the persisting snow cover means an extension to the winter tracking season. That allowed us to find and examine a great set of Mink tracks along the boardwalk.

At the Hurd Grassland we were treated right off the bat by the sight of some beautiful Eastern Bluebirds. American Robins, now apparently migrating north in numbers, were covering the fields, our tally of them on the walk reaching 80 in all. We enjoyed watching a Northern Flicker as it methodically probed one fence post after another along a row in search of food. Good tracking was to be had there too with a nicely defined Bobcat trail, probably from just the night before. Closer to Gale Hurd’s, we were able to look at some domestic cat tracks for size comparison, and though this was a great educational opportunity, we do urge everyone to keep their pet cats indoors. Our outing ended as usual in Gale’s kitchen watching birds at her feeders, but this time we were given the additional treat of watching a pair of Bluebirds deciding which nest box they wanted to take up residence in.

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 Thursday, April 10 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