Your wildlife sightings are news to us! If you have pictures or stories of encounters with fauna or flora in the area, please email them to us and interesting ones will be posted to this page.

Ron Payne
rpayne72@myfairpoint.net

Do you live in or near one of the circles in the map above? If so, you should consider participating in the Christmas Bird Count. One of the oldest, continuously running, citizen science projects, the CBC has accumulated over a century’s worth of data on the occurrence of wintering birds. There are two ways to participate, as a field observer Read the rest of this entry »

Swelled by the presence of a goodly number of Middlebury College students, twenty people in all came out for the start of our walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland. Birds were unfortunately a bit hard to come by at the park this morning. Our best sightings along the trails included Red-bellied Woodpecker and Tufted Titmice. A flock of Red-winged Blackbirds didn’t have any interest in the marsh as they winged down the valley. At the end of the boardwalk there was a large flock of Canada Geese down river from us which kept increasing in size while we were there to 135.

Twelve participants continued on to the Hurd Grassland portion of our walk where the birds were much more lively. A Cooper’s Hawk was seen flying low across the field, disappearing into a hedge. We paused on our walk to check out the footbridge being built for us at the property by Boys Scout troop 536, and while in that area spotted three American Tree Sparrows, and three lingering Yellow-rumped Warblers. A Northern Flicker was heard calling from the hedges. In the shrubland section things were very busy with a mixed flock of White-crowned Sparrows, American Robins and Purple Finches making a meal of juniper berries. And much like the Red-winged Blackbirds we saw at the park, a flock of thirty Common Grackles did not pause for us on their trek south.

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

This month’s walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland featured our regular autumnal switch from a 7am to an 8am start time so that we have enough daylight to bird it. Fortunately most of us knew about that change, but those who didn’t had a bit of a wait.

At the park we started off with Song Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows in the bushes along the trail. Carolina Wrens were singing their heads off from two different directions. Fifty-seven Canada Geese were seen while we were there, including a group we watched land on the river from the end of the boardwalk. Along the edges of the marsh we good enough a look at a non-breeding plumaged Blackpoll Warbler to see its yellow feet. And while looking at that bird, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet popped up too. At one point we had a Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker together in the same Ash tree, allowing us to compare and contrast their field marks. We also saw what was likely one of the last Gray Catbirds at the park this year.

The Hurd Grassland gave us a nice welcome with a pair of Eastern Bluebirds near the entrance. Down in the middle of the field we spotted a Great Blue Heron hunting in the grass for more terrestrial prey than usual. We lucked into spotting a very pregnant Praying Mantis well camouflaged against its background. A Monarch Butterfly was seen too, and we debated its chances of making it to Mexico at such a late date. The most notable thing during our walk here were the Yellow-rumped Warblers scattered all around the property, or which were tallied sixteen. An Eastern Phoebe, Cedar Waxwings and a noisy Pileated Woodpecker were also good sightings.

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

In this issue of Otter Tracks you will find the following articles:

  • Spotlight: An Environmental Education Grant
  • Endangered Species
  • A Hurd Grassland Housing Development
  • 19th Annual Dead Creek Wildlife Day
  • Chlorpyrifos’ Last Chapter
  • Update on Wisdom
  • Calendar of Events

Otter Creek Audubon Society members will receive a copy in the mail but you can always find the latest issues of Otter Tracks in color on our home page. You can also browse issues going back to the year 2000 in our Otter Tracks Archive.

Otter Creek Audubon Society (OCAS), the Addison County chapter of the National Audubon Society, is pleased to announce the availability of a limited number of grants to help finance environmental education projects for Addison County schools. The mission of Otter Creek Audubon Society is to protect birds, other wildlife and their habitats by encouraging a culture of conservation within Addison County.  All local efforts are volunteer-run.  

Grant funds may be used to help defer the cost of transportation, admission fees, equipment, outside presentations, or other expenses that will improve students’ understanding of the natural world. Grants of up to a maximum of $800 per request will be awarded for use in 2022. Otter Creek Audubon Society seeks to assist schools in multiple school districts. Also, proposals that get students into the natural world will be favored. Applicants will be judged based on their response to the following questions: 

  • What is the environmental education value of the field trip/event/project?
  • What are the education outcomes you expect for your students?
  • How many students will the field trip/event/project serve?

OCAS realizes that educators must follow certain guidelines this year because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage teachers to be creative in designing their proposals around these guidelines.  For example, given the relative safety of the out-of-doors, grant writers might consider an innovative outdoor learning space project.  Requests for other resources, such as the loan of materials from the OCAS Lending Library, might not be available until the spring of 2022.  OCAS wants to support Addison County educators, and we look forward to hearing what teachers need as they strive to provide their students with natural world experiences.  Keep in mind, though, that OCAS volunteers will be unable to offer in-class programs for the time being.

Please distribute the attached application materials widely to your school’s teachers.  Applications are due by Monday, November 1, 2021, and can be sent to cgramsmac@mac.com. Successful grant recipients will likely be contacted by Monday, December 20, 2021. Grant recipients will also be asked to provide a one to two-page summary, including photos, of their field trip/event/project after it takes place. 

To find out more about Otter Creek Audubon Society’s mission and activities, please visit our website at www.ottercreekaudubon.org.  There you can also find a “Join Us” link to take you to the membership page, where member benefits are described.  (Please note that membership is not a factor in grant decisions.)

Otter Creek Audubon is continually refining the field trip/event/project grant application process.  If there are any questions or recommendations about the application process please email Carol Ramsayer at cgramsmac@mac.com.   

CLICK HERE FOR AN APPLICATION:
PDF or DOC

This month’s Wildlife Walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland took place on one of the first real cool mornings of the fall, driving our participants to show up in jackets for the first time since spring. We did still catch some good migrant activity, as you would expect for this time of year.

At Otter View Park flocks of American Goldfinches were still bopping around the property making a lot of noise while visiting seeded out thistles. A Northern Flicker was heard making it’s loud “keew” call as it flew around the area. Down in the marsh, a Swamp Sparrow was heard still singing, as was a Warbling Vireo up in nearby trees. Red-eyed Vireos were well visible as they fattened themselves up eating dogwood berries, joined in this activity by a Gray Catbird. A Belted Kingfisher was heard rattling down by the river, and seen flying overhead. The best sighting of the day came when we were coming back out on the boardwalk and spotted a Magnolia Warbler in the trees, and were allowed good enough looks at it to identify it as an immature male. 

Over at the Hurd Grassland birds were a little less active, but we still found some nice things. A flock of Cedar Waxwings, now getting together in groups like this after breeding, was a good find. A Common Raven announced its presence with its croaking call. Also nice to see was a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the midst of molting its flight feathers which posed long enough to have its picture taken. The most exciting thing found on the property this day was not wildlife, but instead a new stone bench added to the field at a junction in the trails overlooking the prime grassland bird breeding habitat. This bench was donated to OCAS by Nate Dansereau, who has been an OCAS friend for a while in his role as a Rutland County Audubon Society board member, and as a participant of these walks. We thank Nate for his contribution to the property and hope people will enjoy having a nice place to sit well into the future. 

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

In this issue of Otter Tracks you will find the following articles:

  • Book Review: A World on the Wing by Scott Weidensaul
  • American Bittern on a Bike
  • Mystery Bird Mortality Event
  • The Grants Go On
  • 6th IPCC Climate Change Report
  • Wind Towers Off the California Coast
  • Calendar of Events

Otter Creek Audubon Society members will receive a copy in the mail but you can always find the latest issues of Otter Tracks in color on our home page. You can also browse issues going back to the year 2000 in our Otter Tracks Archive.

Eight people came out for the August wildlife walks at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland to help us catalog birds and other species. August is often a quiet time of year being at the end of breeding season for most birds, and before the start of migration, but we did manage to observe some nice things.

The best action at the park happened down on the boardwalk where there were a good number of Gray Catbirds being conspicuous and noisy. This is one of the best times of year to see Red-eyed Vireos as they come out of the treetops and down to eye level to fatten up for migration on berries and we did in fact get to see one. A Virginia Rail was heard not seen in the cattails as was later a Marsh Wren. A Spotted Sandpiper was seen flying down Otter Creek, where nearby a group of immature Mallards were floating. In the reeds we spotted the smallest American Bullfrog anyone in our group had ever seen, which made us decide that rather than a bull, it must be a “calf frog.” Another interesting sighting was pointed out to us by a neighbor of the park. A collection of red material at the bottom of a beaver-dammed basin that one might write off as algae or some other detritus were in fact tubifex worms, a harmless organism often found in wastewater effluent. Sure enough, looking at them through binoculars or cameras we could see their many clustered bodies wriggling in the water.

Over at the Hurd Grassland, with the fields now mowed, there wasn’t much action there other than some Barn Swallows hunting low over the grass. In a hedge we saw Cedar Waxwings as well as an Eastern Bluebird. In the shrubland section we heard and saw Field Sparrows making use of the habitat we are maintaining for them, along with an Eastern Towhee which also briefly let off a quick call. At the north end of the property, looking up a power line right of way, we caught sight of a Pileated Woodpecker oddly perched up high in a power poll. Several Common Yellowthroats were heard calling in the shrubs, and we finished off our walk with a fly-over by an Osprey.

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

Nine people came out for this month’s wildlife walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland. The weather was perfect for an early July morning, and the birds were deep in their breeding cycles. Speaking of which, one of the neatest finds of the morning came when we spotted an American Goldfinch nest right in the parking lot of the Park. Also seen nearby was an Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, one of a bumper crop of these guys in the area this year. Down on the boardwalk Marsh Wrens were still making a bunch of noise in the marsh, and Red-winged Blackbirds were seen tending recently fledged chicks. A Mulberry Tree on a slope near the marsh was loaded with ripe berries, and this attracted all sorts of birds, most prominently American Robins and Gray Catbirds.

Over at the Hurd Grassland Brown Thrashers were found skulking around a hedge near the entrance where they are often seen. In the field we saw a Song Sparrow catch a large insect which pictures later revealed to be a Preying Mantis. Song Sparrows were very agitated when we got near one of the new birdhouses we added to the property this year suggesting they were still nesting in it. In the shrubland we both saw and heard Field Sparrows. The most unusual observation of the day was hearing a Scarlet Tanager singing at the property. They are much more usually found in denser woods than at the Grassland. And as a nice bookend to our walk, we again saw Thrashers in the same hedge as we were leaving.

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

This month’s walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland took place on a classic early June morning featuring near perfect weather. Eight people in total came together to help survey birds and other wildlife at the two properties, and had a very enjoyable morning. 

At Otter View Park most of the action took place down on the boardwalk. The big news of this summer is that we have at least two pairs of nesting Marsh Wrens, making a lot of racket rattling around their nest sites in the cattails. Also quite active were Green Herons, two of which were seen hunting from logs down the river and flying over the marsh. Also spied on the river was a small family of Hooded Mergansers, a mother with at least three ducklings. Another nice treat was seeing a River Otter pop its head out of the water very near the end of the boardwalk. And a male Baltimore Oriole provided a nice look at its blaze orange belly as it flew past overhead.

Over at the Hurd Grassland, we were very happy to see Tree Swallows making use of some of the 11 new bird houses recently installed on the property. Barn Swallows were also seen zooming back and forth over the grass. In pleasing news for our management of the fields, we saw three Bobolinks doing display flights, the timing of their appearance suggesting they are refugees from other cut fields in the area. In the shrubland we had both Field Sparrows and Brown Thrashers present, both focus species for that section, as well as Chestnut-sided Warblers, another good shrubland species. We also had nice looks at several butterfly species, including Black Swallowtails and Eastern Wood Nymphs.

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, Jul. 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. We hope to see you there.

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