Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

[BIRD NOTES] October 31, 2006

Bird Notes

Nature is sometimes very cruel and the following account is truly appalling. I know for a fact that burdock is not easy to dig up, but the next time you run across it break it off before it matures. The life you save may be that of your favorite avian creature.

Common Burdock a Kinglet Killer

While walking the usual 500 yard path at Milwaukee's North Point-Lake Park lakeshore in mid- October, during the peak of Kinglet migration, I found 2 Golden-crowns caught in burdock seed heads, still alive. One was easy to extricate, the other was so badly fastened that I had to very carefully, slowly manipulate and gently pull the heads off of the bird's face. Had I not had experience with handling and removing Kinglets from mist nets I might have killed this bird. The 3rd bird I found is pictured below. In retrospect, I realize that a small group of hikers with clippers could have cut the entire Burdock along this 500 yard path in about 15 minutes. This plant must kill thousands of Kinglets and other small birds each year. ---John Idzikowski


Today (10/27) along the Connecticut river between Springfield and Bellows Falls I had: 79 Black Scoters, 4 Surf Scoters (together in one flock), 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Common Loon, 2 Bufflehead, 7 Ring-necked Ducks, and 1 Hooded Merganser, along with other more common ducks for a total of 9 duck species. There was also a large flock of Scoters that flew over at Herrick's Cove. Don and I believe them to be White-winged Scoters, but I wasn't positive on the ID. I birded for part of the time with Don Clark, and I also met and birded with Denny Abbott (I hope i got your first name right!?) for part of the time. On a side note, I got some photos of the Long-tailed Duck, however I don't yet have a sight on the internet to post my digiscoping photos. Do people know of good websites that let you create a photo album with some text for free? If you have any suggestion respond to me off the list. Good birding.

---Taj Schottland, Putney

BEEC Beaks

While in the fields at the Brattleboro Environmental Education Center, Ned Pokras flushed two Woodcock and reported seeing several Bluebirds.

Hinsdale Setback

We stopped by to catch glimpse of any migrating waterfowl today (10/30). Instead we were entertained by a pair of mature Bald Eagles. Lying on the shore with its tail floating in the water was what appeared to be a humongous dead Carp. The eagles took turns and while one watched from a nearby tree the other proceeded to gorge itself on their newly found delicacy. A pair of Crows paced back and forth close by waiting like jackals for a chance to grab a tasty morsel. We backed the car out of their sight and turned around to head out so as not to disturb their repast.

While waiting to get out onto the main road, we observed two Myrtle Warblers foraging in the thick undergrowth. They appeared to be finding insects in a sunny sheltered spot.

Retreat Meadow

The winds at the Meadow had subsided to a breeze when we stopped by today. At first we only saw the usual large numbers of Canada Geese. But upon closer scrutiny with a scope, first one and then a second bird popped up in the water like a cork, female Common Mergansers. Off to the right of the island were two groups of birds. The smaller of the two was showing a lot of white. Looking down the barrel of a 20X gave us good looks at 4 Buffleheads, 3 of them were males with their flashy white head gear. We swung further right to the larger group and found them to be Ring-necked Ducks, 5 males and 4 females.

Along the path at the water treatment plant we came upon a Green Heron standing in a puddle and concentrating on a possible meal. Problems Continue

We have found out, in a round about way, that subscribers are not receiving BIRD NOTES due to technical difficulties at their home office in Bellows Falls. After contacting the Sover.Net support team they have promised that new changes are in the works that should solve the dilemma. Unfortunately I have no way of contacting the couple of dozen people that have been affected. So, if you should know of anyone that has been affected tell them that BIRD NOTES is available online at:

Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


Thursday, October 26, 2006

BIRD NOTES~~October 25, 2006



Bird Notes


Cape May in October

The following is a comment from a friend in New York State about a field trip to Cape May, New Jersey in early October:


“It was an incredible trip.  From Cape May south through the Carolinas we had a nor'easter. Sat. AM, right after we parked the cars at Stone Harbor behind the beach, emergency sirens blared followed by an announcement "Move all cars to higher ground".  From there south to North Wildwood was solid water with no visible vegetation.  It was a full moon, the highest tide of the year and the bays could not empty at low tide due to the high winds.  Below the Hawk watch platform was a Clay-colored Sparrow & a Dickcissel.  But, it will always be remembered as the Merlin Trip.  Saturday we had hundreds everywhere throughout the day!  We had a total of 121 species for the trip.”


So you see my friends, good birding doesn’t always happen in good weather.




Crucial Legislation Signed Into Law
In the waning hours before Congress recessed, the Senate unanimously passed a revised Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Improvement Act of 2006 (NMBCIA, H.R. 518). The legislation, originally authored by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), was added to H.R. 4957, the Tylersville Fish Hatchery Conveyance Act. The Act was signed into law by the President on October 17th.

NMBCIA is the only federal funding program designed specifically for migratory bird species throughout North America, and it also provides the only dedicated source of funds for migratory birds on their wintering grounds in Latin America and the Caribbean.

NMBCIA enables the only significant federal funding source for neotropical migratory birds to continue through 2010. For more information, see:

Darin C. Schroeder
Deputy Director of Conservation Advocacy

American Bird Conservancy




S  I  G  H  T  I  N  G  S


Retreat Meadow & West River Cornfield

On Saturday Oct. 21st after checking out the water treatment path and tallying only a Great Blue Heron and a Mockingbird I drove to Marina Rd. along the West River. At the puddle in the cornfield past the Quonset hut I found the Wilson’s Snipe still there. While watching it a lone EASTERN MEADOWLARK flew into the drier portion of the field.

---Dave Johnston, W. Brattleboro



Word from Wilmington

Not many birds to speak of here - Hermit Thrush, Chickadees, a few Juncos, a confusing fall warbler, though I think it is a Myrtle, and very few woodpeckers.  Maybe it’s the lull before the storm situation. Today after saying I had not many birds a little flock of Juncos arrived and two laggard Robins chirped from the treetops, and a Raven, but not much else.

---Barbara Cole, Wilmington




Demise of the Hermits

I recently found a dead Hermit Thrush in my yard. A short time later I found another. Neither appeared to have been mauled, every feather seemed to be in place. I am concerned that maybe there is a fatal disease that is taking a toll on them or just avians in general. Has anyone else out there experienced anything like this?

---Burt Tepfer, Putney



Area Birds

On Sunday we checked out the setback at the base of Cotton Mill Hill and tallied 3 Ring-necked Ducks, 16 Common Mergansers and a Double-crested Cormorant. At Peck’s Pond there were a dozen Green-winged Teal and many Mallards. Upon returning to Brattleboro a check of the Water Treatment Plant path gave us good looks at an immature White-crowned Sparrow, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a couple of Dark-eyed Juncos and some Song Sparrows. On Mather Road this morning (10/24) a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER flew in front of our car and over the open field to a cottonwood tree on the hillside. Here at Chipmunk Crossing there have been 3 juvenile Wild Turkeys a couple of White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and the usual Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, Black-capped Chickadees, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mourning Doves and 5 obnoxious Crows.


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Bird Notes

Bird Notes


Trick or Treat

Keene has its pumpkins, BEEC has its Forest of Mystery, but Putney Road has its real live ghoulish creatures in the Turkey Vultures that roost there. In case you haven’t noticed, they are frequently seen circling over Brattleboro and hang out in the dead trees near the Shell station. They must have a reason for being there but as yet we haven’t figured out what that reason is. Happy Halloween.

Click on this link for some vulture photos by Julie Waters. The face only a mother could love.

Addison’s Snows and More

In the Dead Creek area of Addison, VT, the several thousand Snow Geese present two days ago were no where to be found. Around noon, about 75 Snows thought about landing, but never did. On the other hand, three hours earlier and 15 miles to the south, an old corn field hosted about 150 Snows, 800 Canada Geese, and one Cackling Goose, probably a Richardson's. Photos aren't real good, but my companions (who have had a lot of experience with Cackling) were certain. We searched the Dead Creek are north and south on many roads looking for the snows. About 2:30 we returned to the field where we had seen the Snows and Cackling. Some Canada still remained, but the others were over the hill, or had decamped elsewhere.

Working between the corn field and shrubs was a sizeable flock of mixed blackbirds, including around 50 Rusty Blackbirds. Photos are at

---Chris Petrak, S. Newfane, VT

New at the Meadows

This morning at Brattleboro Retreat Meadows there were 4 Wilson's Snipe. Also there - about 600 Canada Geese (no cacklers). For a photo of the snipe go to my website at then to photos - New England and click on the thumbnail for a larger image.

---Hector Galbraith PhD, Dummerston, VT

Power Canal Birds

A couple of days ago we stopped by the Turners Falls Power Canal for a quick look see. Besides the common regulars, we found:

Pied-billed Grebe (2)

Northern Pintail

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Bald Eagle (3)

Red-tailed Hawk

Belted Kingfisher

Yellow-rumped Warbler

At Barton Cove we added:

Double-crested Cormorant (6)

Mute Swan (12)

Cool Air Stirs Migrants

Yesterday a fast moving cold front pushed through the area and kindled what was probably the last thunderstorm of the season. It brought with it high wind gusts that denuded most of the colorful trees on our little acre and stirred the Juncos and White-throated Sparrows into making an appearance at our ground feeders. The incessant winds, still blowing this morning, make the 40s feel like the 30s, giving us the first taste of things to come. The small streams have been rejuvenated and are gushing over the rocks and rills in search of the Connecticut River and points south. The human snowbirds are probably already on their way to warmer climes while several migrant bird species have been hanging in enjoying the milder weather.

Now is the time of year for observing waterfowl in migration. Species that we only see in the spring and fall are stopping by not only in the rivers, but in local lakes, ponds and stubbled cornfields.

The Addison, VT Snow Geese put on spectacular flight displays as hundreds and some time thousands circle and land in the fields bordering the provided goose viewing area. Here is a link that will give you a preview of what to expect there from now through most of November.

Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT

Friday, October 13, 2006

BIRD NOTES ~~~~~ Oct. 14, 2006 ~~~~~

Bird Notes

Home Again

We have just returned from a two week stay in the Catskills of New York State. So, we are a little behind in gathering bird news for the area. If you should have any bird feeder/environs news, please share it with us.

SVAS Web Site is Up and Running

The Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society has revived its web site to serve its membership and any other interested parties worldwide. It has a new webmaster — Geoff Burgess. The site can be reached at:


A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher has been at our feeder for several days (10/5). It's my first time to see it - are others also seeing it? ---Judy Myrick, West Brattleboro

More on the Say’s Phoebe

Kai Reed emailed me a description of the phoebe, saying why he believes it to be Say’s. Here is his description: "the bird was about the same size, but maybe longer winged than the Easterns that were around at the time. Upper body was uniform light gray with contrastingly darker black tail. Breast was unstreaked light gray, but still noticeably lighter than the back and wings. Lower breast and belly light rufus/pinkish that was very noticeable even from a long distance. I've also received more emails from people saying they believe the bird to be a Say's"-------------- Now it's up to the records committee! ---Taj Schottland, Putney, VT

Sparrows in the Meadow

This morning(10/4), Hector Galbraith and I found a Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow in the weedy field and reeds behind the water treatment plant along Rt. 30 in Brattleboro - also present were Lincoln's, Song, Savannah, White-throat, White-crowned Sparrows, just to mention the sparrow species.

Earlier in the morning, Taj Shottland joined us in looking for the Cackling Goose sighted yesterday morning by Hector. Canada Goose numbers were down from yesterday's 800+ to somewhere around 400, and we were unsuccessful in finding the Cackling Goose. ---Chris Petrak, South Newfane, VT
Tails of Birding -

Cackling in Turners Falls

Two (Richardson’s) Cackling Geese have been observed at the Power Canal in Turners Falls, MA., as late as today (10/13). This is a great spot for observing migrating waterfowl. If you need directions, let me know. I would be glad to e-mail them to you.

Fall is Official

Here at Chipmunk Crossing, Fall was made official yesterday (10/12) by the arrival of the first small flocks of White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos.

Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT



Tuesday, October 17, at 7pm

The program will center on one of the northeast's most popular birds, the Common Loon. The presenter will be Dr. Mark Pokras, the Director of the Wildlife Clinic & Center for Conservation Medicine at Tufts School of Veterinary medicine. In 1987 a biologist brought a dead common loon to the Clinic asking if it could figure out why the loon died. This program will explain how the question was answered, and the major study which resulted, assisted by dozens of students, scientists and members of the public. After nearly 20 years several thousand loons have been examined, investigating diseases, parasites, pollution and impacts from fishing gear. The program will also address loons as sentinel species which can alert us to the health threats associated with many environmental problems.

Eric Hanson, Coordinator of the Loon Recovery Program at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, will provide an update of the status of loons in Vermont.

This program will be held in Brooks Memorial Library's conference room at 7 p.m. It is sponsored by Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society and is FREE and open to the public.