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Nine people came together on a cold February morning for this month’s wildlife walk at Otter View Park and The Hurd Grassland. Besides the squeaking of our boots on freshly fallen snow, things were quite as we walked down the trail to the end of the boardwalk at Otter View Park, but when we got down there, as the sun started to come out, the birds came out too. First was a Tufted Titmouse loudly tooting away. Then light squeaking alerted us to the presence of American Tree Sparrows which had the consideration to pose for us in bushes. A pair of House Finches were spotted in a tree engaged in some pair-bonding activities. As we walked out Dark-eyed Juncos flew across our path into the marsh, and a couple of Carolina Wrens started singing and calling loudly.

A quick carpool later over at the Hurd Grassland, we were greeted by a good number of American Goldfinches. Down in the fields we paused to look at Pigeons perched on the silo across the road, and discussed how most of the local ones have darker plumage which helps them absorb heat from the sun on cold winter days. A bit further around the trail, three Eastern Bluebirds were seen and heard making their distinctive call. Blue Jays noisily made their presence known moving through the trees above a hedgerow. More Juncos and Tree Sparrows were found in bushes here as well, and we spooked a flock of seven Mourning Doves from a thicket at the end of our walk.

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. 11, at 8:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Rd. We hope to see you there.

Four hearty souls came out on what is turning out to be a rare chilly morning this winter for our monthly wildlife walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland. Birds must have also been feeling the chill as they were very hard to come by, but we did manage a few sightings. A flock of American Robins were seen flying high over the park likely on a search for food. Down on the boardwalk we enjoyed the way a light dusting of snow, and the wind had worked together to make the names on the boards really stand out. Also in that area we were a bit sad to see one of the most prominent Ash trees, which has been one of the best perches for birds to pose for pictures on, had been felled by the very active beavers. There was no activity on the open river while we were down there, but as we were walking back up onto the main trail, a flock of sixty Canada Geese flew in to take advantage.

Over at the Hurd Grassland, there were more birds to be seen, but most of them were around the houses on Meadow Ln. where the feeders are. Thirty or so American Goldfinches were seen in that area, along with Chickadees and a White-breasted Nuthatch. Walking around the big field didn’t profit us much except a lone Eastern Bluebird seen on the other side of Weybridge Rd. spotted when we were looking for Pigeons that weren’t there. A Common Raven flew over as we were entering the shrubby area, and we were just talking about how it is unusual to see just one alone, when a second one came along trailing behind. The most activity we had was when we came back up through the hedgerow and found Dark-eyed Juncos, House Sparrows, and Blue Jays, again near the feeders. And then we spooked a flock of eight Mourning Doves out of the bushes a little further on.

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, Feb. 11, at 8:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Rd. We hope to see you there.

The remnants of Hurricane Nicole must have kept most people away from our November wildlife walk at Otter View Park and The Hurd Grassland, but the three who came out were rewarded with rapidly clearing skies, warming temperatures, and some interesting sightings.

At the park Carolina Wrens were being their noisy selves, loudly calling as is their tendency for this time of year. The recently brush-hogged fields were relatively quiet, but down at the end of the boardwalk we observed some similar recent cutting done by Beavers, clipped Red Osier Dogwood stems cached for winter eating in the river at the edge of the bank. We seemed to run into talkative flocks of Tufted Titmice everywhere we went that morning. One of our best finds of the day came as we came back off the boardwalk and spotted a Winter Wren crossing the trail into the bushes. These small birds have become regular winter visitors to the marsh at the park for the past several years. Much less likely to be seen here in November though, were the pair of Gray Catbirds foraging in the grass along the trail back around to the sidewalk. To cap it off, nearby, we also found a pair of White-throated Sparrows who defied multiple attempts to get pictures of them.

Over at the Hurd Grassland, we were greeted by the sight of a Mosquito, likely one of the overwintering species tricked by the warm weather into leaving its hiding spot. Other unseasonal insect sightings on our walk included still a extant grasshopper, and a couple of Fall Crickets attempting to make it into winter. Six Eastern Bluebirds were seen around the edges of the fields. In a large tree at the north end of the shrubby section, a couple of Red-tailed Hawks were seen hanging their wings attempting to dry themselves out. The hedgerows were filled with Black-capped Chickadees, of which we estimated fifteen, but that was likely an undercount. A boldly patterned Song Sparrow was also seen in the bushes, as was a Dark-eyed Junco, a sure sign of winter. But on a day filled with mixed messages, we also heard two Spring Peeper Frogs calling from trees.

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, Nov. 10 at 8:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Rd. We hope to see you there.

Seven people came out on a spectacular fall morning for this month’s walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland. Action picked up right away in the parking lot with birds taking advantage of the fruiting shrubs and seeding forbs. Chipping Sparrows, Song Sparrows and House Sparrows were all busily foraging in that area. Blue Jays were also very active, some seeking food, and some higher up migrating south. Down on the boardwalk a lone Red-winged Blackbird male was singing as if it was spring. He was briefly joined by a large flock of females and juveniles, they soon headed out and left him to his solo performance. There was not much activity at all on the river itself, but in the nearby bushes we heard a lingering Gray Catbird, and had a close encounter with a group of Tufted Titmice. Back on the trail out, we spotted a flock of White-throated Sparrows busily eating dogwood berries in the bushes along the trail, and up above them, there was a flock of Purple Finches feeding on ash seeds. An Eastern Phoebe was maybe the last notable sighting at the park.

Over at the Hurd Grassland, we caught sight of some of the water birds we were missing on the river at the park, spotting flocks of Canada Geese all headed in that direction from fields in the West. As usual we counted the Pigeons who hang around the Silos across the road from the property. But this time we notices an all white one, likely a bird released at a wedding or some other celebration, hanging out with them. Around the trails it seemed like every patch of goldenrod had groups of Yellow-rumped Warblers looking for food among the foliage. Eastern Bluebirds were seen also in dogwood bushes, and using one of our birdhouses as a perch. The most exciting sighting we had in this portion of the walk was a passing Cooper’s Hawk which circled enough for us to go through all the field marks to be sure of our ID.

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, Nov. 12 at 8:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Rd. We hope to see you there.

Five people came out for this month’s wildlife walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland. Things at the park started out with a rather dire looking sunrise, the sky turned orange by the smoke from western wildfires. In the fields we saw a large number of dew-covered spider webs almost all of them with a Banded Garden Spider sitting in the center of them. Down on the boardwalk we had brief lesson in one of the most challenging fall warbler identification problems when we saw both Blackpoll Warbler and Bay Breasted Warbler in their non-breeding plumage. We also saw several unidentified warblers flying up high which we speculated were at the tail end of the previous nights migration. A flock of immature Cedar Waxwings perched in a spot to give us a look at their incomplete masks and orang tail tips. Maybe the best sighting of the day happened on the trail back out when we spotted a Rose-breasted Grosbeak browsing for food in a tree.

Bird activity was significantly less over at the Hurd Grassland, but we still managed to see some nice things. Gray Catbirds were still well spread around the property and being very vocal. A couple of Eastern Phoebes were seen, one of them using one of our birdhouses as a perch to hunt for bugs from. Much like last month, we spotted a Field Sparrow embedded with a flock of Song Sparrows which of course led us to wonder if it was the same bird. And on our way out we peered into Gale Hurd’s backyard to spot a Ruby-throated Hummingbird which was visiting her feeders.

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, Oct. 8 at 8:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Rd. We hope to see you there.

Birding in August means a mix of late breeding, post-breeding, and early migration behavior, and we found all three during this month’s wildlife walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland. Most of the activity at the park was seen down along the boardwalk. We saw Red-winged Blackbird carrying food, indicating it was still feeding chicks or fledglings. An immature Northern flicker was seen on its own foraging and feeding itself. We spotted a male Scarlet Tanager in non-breeding plumage which at the very least had dispersed from its woodland breeding territory, and was possibly already making its way South. Similarly we also saw a male Purple Finch, though it might be hardy enough to spend the winter locally. Another bird which is unusual to see at the park during breeding season was a Veery which briefly popped in some bushes. On our way out we got good looks at rambling flocks of Cedar Waxwings searching for food in the flower meadow.

Over at the Hurd Grassland we were greeted by an Eastern Cottontail Rabbit which was hanging out near the cover of a hedgerow. Since the fields had recently been mowed, we didn’t expect to see many birds there, but we did have Goldfinches attacking thistle plants for their seeds in the fringes. Eastern Wood Peewees were heard calling from the trees surrounding the property and Common Yellowthroats were still very active and noisy throughout our walk. A Pileated Woodpecker made itself know with its wild call. In the shrubby section we heard an Eastern Towhee calling, and nearby we saw an immature Field Sparrow embedded in a flock of Song Sparrows. One of the most interesting sightings of the day wasn’t a bird, but a dragonfly. A Black Saddlebags flew up in front of us and landed in a nice spot for us to get pictures. It is pretty unusual to see this species away from large bodies of water, so it was neat to find one here.

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 Rd. We hope to see you there.

Eleven people came out on a gorgeous July morning for this month’s walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland. Starting off at the park, most of the action was down on the boardwalk, one of our best sightings being near the start of it, a male American Redstart which gave everyone a good look at it. A bit further down it took a bit of work to ID a silent Eastern Wood Pewee which we only saw from behind. Gray Catbirds were noisy throughout the shrubs all around the Marsh, and Swamp Sparrows were heard singing from the cattails. Down the river we saw some Wood Ducks feeding in the weeds. Also spotted was a Spotted Sandpiper seen flying down the river. Cedar Waxwings were busy up and down the creek hawking for insects from the adjacent trees. And on our way out, we saw a recently fledged Red-winged Blackbird being fed by a parent.

Over at the Hurd Grassland, this was the decisive walk to judge our success with birds using our grassland habitat. I am glad I visited a few days before to confirm we had a Bobolink nest by spotting a pair repeatedly carrying food to the same area. That is because on the day of the walk we were met with twelve Bobolinks, three of the obvious adult males, the rest a mix of females and fledglings. There is no way of knowing if our pair and their young were part of this group. The additional birds were clearly families from other fields which had come to use ours as a good feeding spot. Also of note on our walk at the Hurd property were Field Sparrows, one of them seen carrying food. Two Wood Thrushes, where we are usually only able to count one. And a Rose-breasted Grosbeak which popped up when we were coming back up through a trail through the hedgerow.

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, Aug. 13 at 7:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Rd. We hope to see you there.

It was a classic, lovely June morning for this month’s wildlife walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland. Eight people came to help us view and monitor birds and other wildlife at both of these properties. We had a bit of an exciting start when a White-tailed Deer, spooked by dog walkers, was seen bounding in various directions around the field trying to find a safe place to escape. Along the trail we got a good look at a Common Yellowthroat signing in a tree. Down in the marsh we had singing Swamp Sparrows, and both Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos. At the end of the boardwalk we met a group who were able to tell us where that Deer had ended up. Apparently it had crossed the marsh and then into the river where they saw it swimming across. Down at the river we had a quick view of a passing Hooded Merganser and little later a flyby of a male Mallard still in breeding plumage. We also had both Tree Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows flying over the river.

Over at the Hurd Grassland, as we made our way into the field, we spooked yet another Deer which ran from the grass edge into a copse of trees. Since the beginning of May we have had a lone singing male Bobolink at the property, and we were hoping that now that grass is being cut around the county, maybe a refugee female might join him. As we worked our way around the trail we did have one singing male, but not long after, we spotted a second one, which was exciting. And then very shortly after that we saw that second male chasing a female. Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds were making good use of birdhouses around the property. In the shrubland we had to be content with just sightings of a Field Sparrow, but it’s possible the other focus species we saw at last month’s walk were too busy with breeding activities to be easily detected.

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, July 9 at 7:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Rd. We hope to see you there.

Seven people came out on a beautiful May morning for this month’s wildlife walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland. In the middle of migration we were a bit short on migrants, but evidence of breeding by already arrived locals was very apparent.

At Otter View Park most of the good action was found down on the boardwalk. We heard the alarm calls of Red-winged Blackbirds and looked up to see what was upsetting then, a Peregrine Falcon passing overhead. Yellow Warblers were nosily announcing their presence, as were Common Yellowthroats and Gray Catbirds. Swamp Sparrows were back in the cattails trilling away. Baltimore Orioles gave us several good looks as they passed overheard. Interestingly a female Hooded Merganser flew down out of the trees to the river, making us wonder if there was a nest nearby. And as we were walking out we were serenaded by the beautiful song of the Wood Thrush.

Over at the Hurd Grassland the story was of our managed habitat working as we planned. Bluebirds and Tree Swallow are making good use of the birdhouses around the property. An Eastern Meadowlark was seen carrying food away from the field across the road, but even if they aren’t nesting there, it’s good to know they are using the property. A Bobolink was also briefly heard singing, two walk participants reported that one had been there for the previous week or so. Down deep in the field we disturbed a Northern Harrier, which flew several circles close above our heads, agitated behavior that may also suggest a nearby nest. In the shrubland we hit a home run for shrubland species with Field Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, and best of all, a pair of Blue-winged Warblers seen chasing each other around. We also had the pleasure of having a Northern Rough-winged Swallow cruise closely overhead allowing us to see the field marks which differentiate it from Tree Swallows, and hear it’s distinctive call.

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, June 11 at 7:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Rd. We hope to see you there.

Four people came out on a misty wet morning for the April Monthly Wildlife Walk at Otter View Park and The Hurd Grassland. The walk was mostly a tale of expected returns. Song Sparrows were back in good numbers around the trail. Female Red-winged Blackbirds had joined their male counterparts, who where displaying vigorously in the marsh. A flock of Canada Goose were seen winging their way to points further north. The best sighting from this portion of the walk was probably an Eastern Phoebe seen hunting for bugs in the cattails. On our way out, we met a neighbor of the park who told us a story of seeing a Peregrine Falcon kill a Ring-billed Gull over the meadow a couple of days before. Some of the feathers from the unfortunate gull were still in evidence.

Over at the Hurd Grassland Tree Swallows were seen zooming over the field when we arrived, and were later seen already staking out a birdhouse to move into. Eastern Bluebirds were also taking an interest in our nest boxes. White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were heard singing from the hedgrows. While we were at the park we didn’t see any ducks on the river, but at the grassland we saw both Wood Ducks and Mallards flying by overhead. Down in the shrubby section we heard a mysterious bird song, probably from a sparrow, but failed to get a recording of it, so its ID will forever remain unknown.

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, May 14 at 7:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge

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