Thirty people came out on a lovely morning for our annual First Day Hike at Button Bay State Park. This is the fifth year we have held this event in collaboration with Vermont State Parks. This event combines the tradition of birding on New Year’s Day to start building a birding year list, with the relatively new tradition of holding walks at parks on the first day of the year.

The search for birds proved a little challenging at first with just common species like Chickadees, Blue Jays and Crows being seen at first. But as when we reached the first overlook of the lake, we spotted a nice flock of White-throated Sparrows in the bushes along the shore. With them were a Dark-eyed Junco, Cardinals and a Carolina Wren which didn’t allow us to see it, but went through all it’s variety of calls except for it’s main song.

On the water, we found four Common Loon, all far enough away that we needed spotting scopes to see them well. Also popping out from marsh along the shore edge were a group of American Black Ducks which may or may not have been flushed out by the exuberant explorations of some of our younger walk participants. An overflight by a Bald Eagle was also a highlight from this point.

Further along the trails we stirred up some Cedar Waxwings and a Robin, in and around some Red Cedar trees, which we noted had plenty of berries for the birds to eat. We also spotted a Downy Woodpecker too.

Down at the end of the trail on the point opposite Button Island, we added a few more water birds with a passing Common Goldeneye, several Common Mergansers, and a group of Mallards. Far across the lake we were also able to observe some Ring-Billed Gulls actively flying and diving in the water.

On our way back we had one of our most unusual sightings of the day, a Large Yellow Underwing moth caterpillar seen crossing the snow encrusted roads. This is a non-native species that is occasionally seen in winter locally for whatever reason.

This walk has become a favorite for its leaders and our many repeat participants over the years. We look forward to holding it again next year, and hope you will join us too.