Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Saturday, November 29, 2008

BIRD NOTES ~ November 29, 2008



Bird Notes



Snow Geese: A Gaggle Plus

I had an astounding experience recently. My wife Harriet and I were driving to Montreal the other day, and we had just crossed the Border on Interstate 89 at Highgate Springs into Canada. The day was steely gray but a shaft of light poured out from under the clouds in the late afternoon.  I notice a V of geese flying overhead, and they were lit by the sun as if in a spotlight. The geese were all white, except for the outside half of the wing from below which was black. Then there were more and more geese and the sky was almost covered with them in squadrons that reminded me of WWII.  Waves and waves came over our head as we pulled over and watched, entranced.


A mile or so down the road, I noted huge stubby cornfields brown in the pre snow November, absolutely covered with white geese. We stopped again to look, and walked to the edge of the road.  We frightened the nearest several thousand birds and they flew up like a wave at a red sox game, from us outward, flapping and honking their high pitched honks- what an amazing spectacle. Fields and fields of the birds were there- and the flat country there has huge expanses of open fields. I can't imagine how many birds were there but I would have to say tens and tens of thousands. Trucks were also honking (!) at us to get further off the road, and so we reluctantly had to move on. I felt like I experienced something so special, and completely by chance- The snow geese migration, up front and personal.

---Burt Tepfer, Putney, VT




Today my feeder was visited by a Carolina Wren, a first one for me, and a flock of Pine Siskins (See attachments), along with the usual suspects, Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches, Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays and Mourning Doves. 

---Hilke Breder, Brattleboro, VT




Also in Brattleboro, we have the usual suspects including a pair of Carolina Wrens and Juncos but no (Pine) Siskins. At my sister's in Dummerston we can throw in a Goldfinch and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

---Charlie La Rosa, Brattleboro, VT




Monday afternoon we had a Northern Goshawk making lazy circles over our field for several minutes, then sliding off to the west.

---Ned Pokras, W. Brattleboro, NY




There was a flock of 125 Pine Siskins feeding in a large birch tree on East Orchard St., Brattleboro, on Thanksgiving morning. After working the seeds in the branches, the birds would flutter down to eat the spilled seeds off of the roof of the house under the tree. There were a couple of House Finches and a few Goldfinches mixed in with the flock.

---Dave Johnston, W. Brattleboro, VT




 Yesterday, we had a male Red-bellied Woodpecker at our feeder.  It was the 2nd time it has been seen here in the last two weeks. According to our Audubon Field Guide, they are not usually this far north.  Any other sightings of this particular species?  We have lived in this area for our entire lives, and have never seen this before.

---Billie Stark, W. Brattleboro, VT




Yesterday (11/27) Lance Tanino of Keene,NH e-mailed us that he had visited Minards Pond in Bellows Falls and saw 963 Canada Geese, 6 American Black Ducks, 13 Mallards 1 Hooded Merganser, 17 Common Mergansers and 1 Dark-eyed Junco.


On Abbott Road in W. Brattleboro we counted 40+ Cedar Waxwings foraging at roadside just west of the Gateway Farm. At our feeder at home we had our first Tree Sparrow of the season.



Please keep us abreast of what birds you are seeing, whether at home or on a trip in or out of the Windham County area.


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT



A friend is someone who reaches for your hand

and touches your heart.




Friday, November 28, 2008

BIRD NOTES ~ Nov. 25, 2008

Bird Notes



Cape Ann/Plum Island—11/22-23/08  

We couldn’t have picked a colder, windier, November weekend to look for birds along the coast with the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club of Orange County, NY. The NW winds were constant at 15 to 20 with gusts to 35 mph. Most of the birds were hunkered down out of the wind and out of sight. The braver seabirds were on the water riding out the white-caps and enjoying the 50 degree ocean water temperatures. While we, as land lubber birders, were enduring 29 degree temperatures with a wind chill factor that was in the teens. According to that bit of reasoning, we should have joined the birds in the water.


Despite the unseasonable conditions, we made the rounds from Kettle Cove in Magnolia, MA to Andrews Point in Rockport, MA and penciled in a number of good species. At the Fisherman’s Monument in Gloucester Harbor, we started with Red-breasted Merganser, Common Eider, White-winged Scoter and a lone Black Scoter, (also 2 Harbor Seals) and went on from there adding Horned Grebe, Red-throated and Common Loon, Iceland Gull, Bonaparte’s Gull, Great Cormorant, Snow Bunting, Coot, Guillemot, Gannet, Surf Scoter, Black-bellied Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Harlequin Duck, White-winged Crossbill, Bald Eagle, Snowy Owl, and King Eider(See attachment).


All told 13 of us counted 57 species. It was a frigid couple of days and we all ended up with rosy red cheeks, but we relished the rush we received in finding birds that we rarely see if we don’t visit that rocky coast of Massachusetts in mid-November. Will we do it again next year? You bet. If the good Lord’s willing, we’ll be there.

---Al & Barb Merritt, W. Brattleboro, VT


I believe I had a small flock of approx 12 White-winged Crossbills pass by the house yesterday a.m.(11/21). Light was dim, so I my ID isn't 100%, but I saw wingbars and distinctive hooks on the beaks.
---Ian Martin, Dummerston, VT


This morning (11/21) I watched out my office window as an immature Bald Eagle was sailing over the Connecticut River, with a flock of gulls flying nearby. Nice inspiration for the upcoming (Christmas Bird) count.

---Jeff Nugent, Brattleboro, VT





Has the celebration of Thanksgiving always been on the fourth Thursday in November? The answer is No. The date was changed to make a longer shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 1863 President Lincoln set the date as the last Thursday in November. In 1939 it was moved to the second-to-last Thursday. Then in 1941 it was moved to the fourth Thursday.

There are many myths and historical oddities connected with Thanksgiving. Did you know the Mayflower was headed for Virginia but, oops, it ended up in Massachusetts?

Indians were not invited to the celebration. A large group of men just showed up--the 17th-century version of party crashers. There were probably twice as many Indians as Pilgrims, so it seems unlikely the Pilgrims would have asked them to leave. Unfortunately, no one is sure why they came. Perhaps they heard the musket shots and were curious. But they did bring deer to eat. No popcorn, though. It wasn't even grown in New England then. But Indian corn was, and it was probably dried, pounded and cooked into a porridge. They probably ate waterfowl and turkeys, too, all living in the wild. Also available were fish, squash, cabbage, carrots, turnips, spinach and onions. No potatoes--they were still grown only in South America. Although cranberries were growing nearby, no records show they were cooked and eaten until the 1670s.

Forget the black clothes, too. Pilgrim women wore green, blue and purple. Men liked red linings in their cloaks. And they didn't have buckles on their shoes and hats. Buckles were not in style until years later. Next time you see a painting of the first Thanksgiving, look carefully. An iron cooking pot was really used; it may even be the one that survives in a museum. But there were no log cabins. They were built by Swedes who came 18 years later.

---The Kovels





Please keep us abreast of what birds you are seeing, whether at home or on a trip in or out of the Windham County area.


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


Thursday, November 20, 2008

BIRD NOTES ~ Nov. 20, 2008



Bird Notes



Out-of-Town Birds

Today (11/14) we stopped by the power canal in Turners Falls, MA to check on any activity there. Except for a couple of Canada Geese and a pair or two of Mallards, it was void of any waterfowl. But we did get to watch an immature Bald Eagle as it sat atop a telephone pole preening its feathers. Several people walked by the pole and stopped to look up at it. The youngster seemed oblivious of their presence and continued with its cleanup chores.  A female Kingfisher sitting on the wires was more cautious and flew across the canal, rattling all the way. While scouting the corn stubble in the farm fields along Caldwell Rd. in West Northfield, MA, we scared up 3 large flocks of Horned Larks that were gleaning the newly manured soil. Along Pond Road in Vernon we counted 10 Bluebirds that were hunting from the electric wires along the road.



At Herricks Cove

On Sunday I flushed 130+ Green-winged Teal along with 40 Blacks, 18 Mallards, 12 Hooded Mergansers & 1 Bufflehead.

---Don Clark, Grafton, VT



Cave Swallows

Be aware that Cliff Swallows have long since headed for warmer climes. So, if you should happen to see swallows with buffy rumps, chances are what you are seeing are Cave Swallows and not Cliffs. This is a Caribbean species that is apparently expanding its range north in the U.S. They nest in colonies in limestone caves, in culverts, and under bridges. A lone bird has recently been sighted and photographed at Charlotte Beach on Lake Champlain. (See attached photo by Dave Hoag)



Please keep us abreast of what birds you are seeing, whether at home or on a trip in or out of the Windham County area.


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


A friend is someone who reaches for your hand

and touches your heart.





Friday, November 14, 2008

BIRD NOTES ~ Nov. 14, 2008


Bird Notes


We may have had Hollie Bowen's Cardinal at one of our Marlboro feeders on November 3.  We left for N.J. the next day, so I'm not sure if it stayed beyond that brief visit.  I frequently have one or even a pair of Cardinals come by in the fall but, so far, none have ever stayed through the winter. 

---Molly Martin, Marlboro, VT 



Life on and around my little marsh was very, very busy this week:  on a morning walk, I saw a pair of red-bellied woodpeckers immediately adjacent to a downy, six bluebirds, too-many-to-count purple and yellow finches, a red-tailed hawk followed by screeching crows, the usual suspects of nuthatches, blue jays, chickadees, and a lingering pair of mallards and a lone black duck.  Great start to the day!   

---Phyllis Benay



I had a Ruffed Grouse last week and a

Fox Sparrow in the yard yesterday afternoon & probably 40 Dark-eyed Juncos making the grass look as if it was moving!  Have you seen the HUGE flock of (Canada) geese in the big meadow on Abbott Road?  I had no binoculars with me but think there were a couple hundred or so.  I haven't seen the cardinal since that one time.

---Hollie Bowen, Marlboro, VT



Bear Beware

At least one Marlboro bear is still out and about.  The feeder pole closest to my house is down and the seed feeder is lying next to it.  It's too early and too dark to see if the other feeders were taken down as well.  I was planning to do my first "Feeder Watch" count this weekend, but that will have to wait.  The gathering flocks of goldfinches and purple finches are going to be very disappointed to find breakfast missing this morning. 

---Molly Martin



Area Waterfowl

If you wish to see some of the migrating waterfowl, you must visit the Fort Dummer setback at the base of Cotton Mill Hill and the Retreat Meadows at the boat launch on Rt. 30. You will find Ring-necked Ducks, Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Canada Geese, Mallards and Black Ducks. One Canada Goose at the Meadow is sporting a yellow leg band and a yellow collar marked with a G23. Someone suggested that the “G” stood for a banding station in Greenland.



At Chipmunk Crossing

A Winter Wren made a brief appearance at the base of the willow bush yesterday. A minute later it was in our window flower box peering in the window. The 2 Fox Sparrows have finally departed after spending a week with us. The Pileated Woodpecker that seems to return each Fall is often heard but not seen. 11 Mourning Doves have now been arriving for brunch each morning before taking up their roosting spots in the cottonwood trees.


Please keep us abreast of what birds you are seeing, whether at home or on a trip in or out of the Windham County area.


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


A friend is someone who reaches for your hand

and touches your heart.




Friday, November 07, 2008

BIRD NOTES ~ Nov. 8, 2008



Dickcissel by Len Medlock

Bird Notes




The attachment is a photo that appears to be a first year Dickcissel that was taken by Len Medlock on a Brookline Bird Club field trip to the New Hampshire seacoast last weekend. Dave Johnston of Brattleboro was credited with the spotting of this rare visitor that so many times gets overlooked because of its “just another sparrow” appearance.



Enjoyed the newsletter today! 

Our five Bluebirds were hanging around the fence yesterday.

Today the Great Horned Owls were hooting about 4:00 a.m.

---Paul Miller, Vernon, VT



Well, I have some birds out there who are angry at me as I forgot to mention them in my recent report on bird visitors to our yard.  The staid and stolid, steadfast visitors who keep us with smiles on our faces and warmth in our hearts are the White and the Red–breasted Nuthatches, the Chickadees, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers and the Blue Jays. A most dependable group!  

---Barbara Cole, Wilmington,VT



Can Anyone Help

This afternoon, from our picture window overlooking the ridge across Western Ave. (is it callled Meeting House Lane Ridge?), I watched a flock of white birds fly back and forth below the ridge for about half an hour.  I was unable to tell at this distance what they were, but I wonder what they were doing.... maybe just enjoying the late afternoon sunshine!

---Judy Myrick,  W. Brattleboro, VT



Retreat Meadows

There has been an adult Bald Eagle fishing the waters of the Retreat Meadows over the past three days, 11/4-11/6. There were also ~30 Hoodies, 35 C. Mergansers, 15 Ring-necked ducks, 1 Bufflehead, and 1 Pied- billed Grebe. Yesterday afternoon there was one C. Goose that had a yellow neck band labeled "G23".

Dave Johnston


Your Canada Goose would be worth reporting. I believe the 'G' indicates that the bird was banded in Greenland. I don't have the details with me now, but remember reading an online request about a month ago for reports of Greenland Canada Geese.        ---James P. Smith, Amherst, MA.



VT PBS Program Worth Watching

Sunday, Nov. 16, at 8 p.m., “Nature” presents “American Eagle,” the story of how the once endangered bald eagle has come roaring back.  Emmy-winning cinematographer Neil Rettig documents life in an eagle nest.




Redbird in Marlboro

Hollie Bowen called with voice filled with excitement, “I had a redbird in the top of a tree in my yard at 1013 Stark Road. Upon further examination with my binoculars it was a male CARDINAL! That was the furthest thing from mind because we had never had a cardinal here before at this high elevation. It was beautiful.”



East Orchard Street, W. Brattleboro

While driving home along E. Orchard we came across a pocket of bird activity in a brushy area across from the corn field. One Eastern Bluebird, a small flock of Goldfinch with a few Pine Siskins mixed in, and a couple of Robins and several immature Cedar Waxwings that were feeding on some unidentified red berries.



Fishing Eagle

From the parking area near Curves just above the West River we spotted the Bald Eagle that Dave Johnston had reported, as it fished the waters of the West River. On the first pass it swooped low over the water with talons extended, and came up empty footed. After perching in a tree for a short period of time, it made another attempt. This time we could see that it had successfully snagged a fish. It flew with it to a low tree stump where it  enjoyed its repast. This is the 4th day that it has been reported there, so the food must be good. If you are in the area check it out. You may be lucky enough to catch our nation’s symbol in action.




Please keep us abreast of what birds you are seeing, whether at home or on a trip in or out of the Windham County area.


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


A friend is someone who reaches for your hand

and touches your heart.