This month’s wildlife walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland took place on a frosty morning when the starting time temperature was a mere 9°F. It was however a sunny and windless morning so the four people who came out did not suffer too badly from the cold.

At the park, as often happens, one of our best sightings came right from the parking lot when we spotted a flock of Purple Finches on the other side of Weybridge St. Down along the trail we took note of a dead Elm tree that has less and less bark on it every time we have a walk, Hairy and Down Woodpeckers being the most likely suspects for flaking the bark off to find insects underneath. Down on the boardwalk we ‘spished’ up some American Tree Sparrows, one of which was nice enough to pose at the top of some Red Osier Dogwood for photos. The Otter Creek was filled with frazil ice and occasional pieces of pancake ice, two interesting ice formations that are worth googling to read about.

Over at the Hurd Grassland the field was covered in a frosty sheen, with lovely, crystalline hoar frost formations poking up in wetter areas. We had a hard time counting a huge flock of European Starlings that was constantly moving between trees and grape vines, but we eventually settled on an estimate of 200. The highlight of the day was a group of eight Eastern Bluebirds which seemed to follow us around the lower field, wowing us with their spectacular blue color. Along with them were some Dark-eyed Juncos and American Goldfinches that were feeding from wildflower seeds. We also had a brief look at a fast-moving Sharp- shinned Hawk as it crossed the field. And our last good sighting of the day was a White-throated Sparrow that popped out of a hedge.

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, Jan. 12 at 8:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Road.

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