This month’s wildlife walks at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland happened on a snowy morning leaving us responsible for walking in fresh tracks on the trails. Things were in general very quiet at the park until we made our way down to the boardwalk where we scared up a flock of Robins that were making use of the flowing water in the stream beneath it. It was neat to see the tracks they left in the slushy edges of the water. A good tracking lesson was learned a bit later on when the walk leader, yours truly, was pointing out a set of Deer tracks that went across the frozen Otter Creek, and a late-coming walk participant walked up and asked if we saw the Deer in the woods across the river. Sure enough, at least six deer were making their way quietly through the trees, an reminder that it’s important to keep in mind animal you are tracking might be nearby.

Over at the Hurd Grassland we were treated to quite a bit more bird action with flocks of Goldfinches, Juncos and Starlings right at the start of the trail. We also noticed that the rising temperatures was starting to make the snow more dense, which made the walking a bit of a slog. Down in the shrubby section of the property we noticed a flock of angry Blue Jays and wondered what it was they were mad about. The answer came later when we reached the Northern edge of the field and spotted a Cooper’s Hawk perched on a tree in the power-line cut. Another interesting sighting was a lone male Common Merganser seen flying quite high overhead. The direction it was heading made sense though, as it was on a track to reach the open water below a hydro dam on the Otter Creek. As we came back up the tail we spished out a flock of birds including some American Tree Sparrows who were a life bird for one of our participants, always a fun thing to be part of. We ended our outing in the Kitchen of Gale Hurd and while chatting over snacks, we noticed a big stirring of goldfinches and other birds, and it hard to guess the reason for it. We weren’t surprised, but certainly were impressed when what we presume was the same Cooper’s Hawk we saw before came racing past the windows just a few feet above the ground and disappeared into a hedge. Quite a dramatic ending to our day.

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, Mar. 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