Our August monthly wildlife walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland took place on a wet and misty morning, but eleven people still turned out to search of birds and other wildlife. Right from the parking lot we were given the nice ID challenge telling female Purple Finch from female House Finch, one of each having been sighted at the top of the same tree. An Eastern Kingbird also presented a slight identification problem since it had molted away most of its best field marks, its white tipped tail. From down at the end of the boardwalk we were able to see both male and female immature Wood Ducks, told apart by their differing patterns of white on their faces. From the middle of the marsh, a Virginia Rail belted out its grunting call one time, but stayed out of sight. As we worked our way back along the trails we looked through the flowers in the field finding among them Jagged Ambush Bugs and spider webs, one occupied by a large Black and Yellow Garden Spider.

At the Hurd Grassland, we watched a family of Eastern Phoebes and an American Redstart browsing for food among some tree tops. Nearby, a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk perched low on a tree thirty feet from the tail letting us walk past it without budging a inch. The fields had recently been cut as part of the normal management of the grassland, but some sections with milkweed patches were left standing for the benefit of monarch butterflies. A practice which paid off well as we found one monarch caterpillar on the milkweed nearly large enough to go off an pupate. In the lower field, the rain started picking up, but after some short debate, we decided to continue walking. This turned out to be a great decision as the narrow field was buzzed twice by a pair of low-flying young Cooper’s Hawks. And not far away we found a couple of young Indigo Buntings working their way through a hedge with other songbirds.


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, Sept. 10 at 7:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Road.

– Ron Payne