Coot Meets Eagle
Birding down at Vernon Dam on the Connecticut River, I noticed what looked like a big black phalarope swimming around in on of the ice-free pools. On putting the scope on it I realized that it was a coot with its neck fully extended upward and swimming in tight circles. Looked very agitated. I realized why when one of the local adult bald eagles rocketed into the field of view, dropped its talons and made a pass at the coot, which immediately dived in a gout of water. The eagle circled back around and begun hovering like some giant kestrel above the spot where the coot dived. After about 20 seconds the coot surfaced and the eagle dived on it. The coot then dived again to evade a surprise demise and the eagle began its hovering again. This happened about 4 times over the course of a couple of minutes. At no time was the coot able to spend any more than a second or so on the surface and, my guess, was unable to replenish its oxygen supply. Eventually, the coot was barely able to get under the surface at which time the eagle splashed down into the water where the coot had dived. The eagle lay on the water surface with its wings outstretched for buoyancy for about 30 seconds then took off, at which time I saw that it was holding in its talons the struggling coot. The eagle carried the coot (which was stretching its neck out and peering around and kicking its legs) to a half-submerged log where the eagle began to eat its prey alive. Nature red in tooth and claw?
---Hector Galbraith, Dummerston, VT
Goose Viewing Area, Dead Creek, Addison, VT
Yesterday morning a small group of birders from the Hampshire Bird Club of Amherst, MA stopped by Gage Road and the Goose Viewing area at Dead Creek WMA and made a count-based estimate of 4500 Snow Geese. Thanks to Mike Locher for submitting the numbers to eBird. (Delightfully, I happened to meet up with the group at Tri-town later in the day.) Then, late afternoon yesterday (11/17) I happened by the Goose Viewing area while a very large flock settled over the course of several minutes; there were two other flocks already on the ground. By counts of 50s converted to 100s, then converted to 400s and then to 1000s I came up with 4000 birds visible to me. When I first saw them, my initial estimate bracket was at least 3500 and not over 5000 Snow Geese visible. None of the birds were right by the road, but they were in several, easy-to-view groups at various distances.
---Ian Worley, from VTBird
Audubon’s 115th Christmas Bird Count
The count for the Brattleboro area will be held on Saturday, December 20th. Whether the day is mild or frigid, clear skies or cloudy, on Count Day there will be 25-30 people working in 7 teams that will scour the prescribed area around Brattleboro counting birds There will also be several people staying at home counting birds and listing species that visit their feeding stations.
YOU CAN TAKE PART!
*Join one of the seven Field Teams that count birds in the area. If you are a beginning birder, don’t worry, you will be in a group that includes experienced birders.
*If your home is within the boundaries of the Brattleboro Area Count, you can stay home and report the birds that visit your feeders.
How to do a feeder count:
You do not have to watch continuously. When you do look at your feeders, note the number of each species At the end of the day, report the highest single count for each species. For example, if during the day, you count chickadees in the numbers of 3,7,2,5,3,4 – the number that you would report is 7.
To join a team or to do a feeder count you should contact Chris Petrak (802) 348-6301 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
There will be a “Compilation Pot Luck Supper” at 6:00pm that evening at Hollie Bowen’s home at 19 Whipple Street, Brattleboro. You may call (802) 254-9087 for directions.
PLEASE share your birding news and photos with us so we can all enjoy reading about your birding experiences.
Al Merritt email@example.com
Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society: www.sevtaudubon.org