Given the iffy road conditions on Thursday from the snow storm over the previous two days it wasn’t surprising to have only a small group of two in attendance for this month’s wildlife walk. But we persevered anyway and had an interesting trek. With twelve inches of snow on the ground, the walking was slow, and it became even slower when we reached the ramp down to the boardwalk because it was completely blocked by black birches bowed to the ground under the weight of heavy snow. Some gentle shaking let the trees rise enough to allow us to pass until we reached a broken branch across the boardwalk that needed to be sawed away. After that we we able to make our way to the end of the boardwalk where we found glassy smooth water perfectly reflecting the trees above. The birds seen were mostly the common winter species, but we did have a good find for the park on our way back when we spotted a group of Eastern Bluebirds.

The craziest bird we saw on the day came when we were driving over to the Hurd Grassland when in a marshy area that Sheep Farm Rd. crosses, we found a Gray Catbird hanging out with a mixed group of Sparrows. A very late find for a bird that should have been on its way to the Gulf Coast by the end of October. As we arrived at the Hurd property we found a mixed flock of Cedar Waxwings and American Goldfinches eating seeds in birch trees. Down in the field we had a nice view of a Piliated Woodpecker as it crossed from one side of the field to the other. The deep snow made tracks indistinct and hard to discern, but we did marvel at a set of deer tracks that made their way under what seemed like an impossibly low set of bowed branches. Our walk ended in Gale Hurd’s kitchen where we enjoyed some much-appreciated warm apple cider.

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 are submitted to the Vermont Atlas of Life.

Our Next walk will take place Saturday, January 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

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