Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Sunday, December 26, 2010

{BIRD NOTES} BCBC 2010.doc--111th Audubon Christmas Bird Count + Notes




Bird Notes


The 111th Audubon Christmas Bird Count


There were 27 observers in 25 locations across Canada and the United States at the birth of the Christmas Bird Count on Christmas Day in 1900. The Count has grown to include well over 50,000 counters at 2,000 locations and ranges from above the Arctic Circle south to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.


All areas have a 15 mile diameter circle in which to count bird species and the numbers of each. The Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society’s area has its center just off Rt. 9 near the Sunset Lake Road intersection. It includes all of Dummerston, W. Brattleboro and Brattleboro proper.  It extends north to Newfane Hill, south to the Green River Bridge, west to Marlboro and Hogback Mountain, and east across the river to W. Chesterfield and the Connecticut River setbacks in Hinsdale, including Vernon Dam.


A big thank you goes out to the 32 people in the 7 groups who braved the elements and spent 182 hours and drove 286 miles in search of our feathered Christmas friends.  Thanks also to those individuals who took time out from their busy day to do a feeder count. The enthusiasm and diligence of all involved made this one of the best Brattleboro Christmas Bird Counts ever.  5,177 birds of 57 species were counted, which includes the 5 Count Week species.


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our awesome supper hosts, Hollie Bowen and Paul Love, who open the doors of their beautiful home on Whipple Street in Brattleboro year after year for the count down pot luck supper at the end of the day. Thank you, thank you, thank you!




Skies:  Partly Cloudy

Temp.:  A.M. 15    P.M. 34

Precipitation: None

Snow Cover:  Dusting

Lakes, Ponds and Rivers:  Mostly Frozen

Small Streams:  Open and Running

No. of Groups: 7

No. of Participants: 32

No. of Feeder Counts:  several

Car Miles:  286

Walk Miles:   7

People Hours:  182

No. of Species:  52

No. Count Week Species:  5

Total No. of Individuals:  5,177


CW = Count Week = 3 days before count day and 3 days after



VTBR--Brattleboro Christmas Bird Count, Saturday, December 18, 2010


Canada Goose   140

American Black Duck   21

Mallard   85

Common Goldeneye   35   CW

Barrow’s Goldeneye   1   CW

Hooded Merganser   7

Common Merganser   11

Ruffed Grouse   3

Wild Turkey   82

Great Blue Heron   1

Bald Eagle   1

Northern Harrier   1   CW

Sharp-shinned Hawk   1

Cooper’s Hawk   3

Red-tailed Hawk   12

Ring-billed Gull   7

Herring Gull   4

Rock Pigeon   349

Mourning Dove   210

Barred Owl   3

Belted Kingfisher   1

Red-bellied Woodpecker   13

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker   1

Downy Woodpecker   65

Hairy Woodpecker   49

Northern Flicker   2

Pileated Woodpecker   2

Northern Shrike   3

Blue Jay   282

American Crow   112

Common Raven   12

Horned Lark   76

Black-capped Chickadee   587

Tufted Titmouse   62

Red-breasted Nuthatch   11

White-breasted Nuthatch   87

Brown Creeper   1

Carolina Wren   9

Golden-crowned Kinglet   6

Ruby-crowned Kinglet   4

Eastern Bluebird   28

Hermit Thrush   1   CW

American Robin   31

Northern Mockingbird   8

European Starling   193

Cedar Waxwing   149

American Tree Sparrows   68

Song Sparrow   9

White-throated Sparrow   4

Dark-eyed Junco   131

Northern Cardinal   53

House Finch   167

Common Redpoll   1   CW

Pine Siskin   50

American Goldfinch   183

Evening Grosbeak   58

House Sparrow   213







A Gift of Redpolls

Barbara Cole called on Christmas Day with news of the appearance of a flock of 40 Common Redpolls and several Pine Siskins at her feeders in Wilmington, VT.


Redpolls Are Here

This morning (Sunday, Dec. 26) around 8 a.m., our feeders were pleased to play host to a visit by Common Redpolls. We can confirm three to four. A larger flock of about a dozen appeared to also be redpolls, but didn’t come close enough for a positive ID.

---Ned Pokras & Meg Kluge, W. Brattleboro, VT


Here are some birds from Guilford on Sunday, Dec. 19th.

1 White-throated Sparrow

1 Red-tailed Hawk

3 Bluebirds

Lots of Jays and Chickadees, but few Juncos and Finches this year.

---Susan James, Guilford, VT








Please share your birding news with us.

What have you got coming to your feeders?

Are there any birds nesting in your yard?

What have you seen while on a trip?

Drop us an e-mail


 Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


Check out our website:


A friend is someone who reaches for your hand

and touches your heart.



































Friday, December 17, 2010

FW: {BIRD NOTES} December 17, 2010


Bird Notes


Power Canal in Turners Falls, MA

A male BARROWS GOLDENEYE was on the power canal in Turners Falls yesterday (12/13).  He was with a large number of Common Goldeneyes.  It was late and I was losing light, so I did not search the crowd for a female.  In addition, there was one Iceland Gull and many Great Black-backed Gulls.  I was also told that there had been a Glaucous Gull there, but they all flew before I could locate it.

---Nori Howe, W. Brattleboro, VT



Common Redpolls & Evening Grosbeaks (12/14)

This morning there were 3 C. Redpolls along with ~ 15 Goldfinches feeding on
birch catkins at our home in W. Brattleboro. At the same time 14 Evening
flew in under the feeders to feast on sunflower seeds,
---Dave Johnston, W. Brattleboro, VT



Snow Goose (12/14)

There was a single white Snow Goose among the many Canada Geese on the waters of the
Retreat Meadow in Brattleboro this morning.

---Hilke Breder, Brattleboro, VT




Hello, my name is Jordan Fletcher. I am writing to ask your opinion about a possible Northern Shrike sighting just 10 minutes ago in my yard. I saw a strange bird in my yard, about 300' away and at first thought it was a killdeer doing a courtship display with the wings out, sitting squat and going in circles. But knew that couldn't be it this time of year. I got right on it with binoculars and saw that it was two birds fighting. One was larger (maybe the size of a blue jay) and the other was a sparrow or junco. It got still and I could see only one bird standing on top of the other, pulling out feathers. A car drove past and the larger bird flew off with the smaller bird in its claws -- dead.


I did not see the eye bar but could see dark wings and a plain, light colored breast. I couldn't tell if it had a longer, dark colored tail or if it was the bird in tow. My only thought was a shrike.  Is this the right time of year and would a shrike be this far east? If so, I saw one.

Please contact me with your impression.

---Jordan Fletcher, Westminster West, VT


  • From your description I would say that your assumption was correct.



More on the Power Canal

After receiving the heads up from Nori Howe, we stopped by the Power Canal in Turner’s Falls on Wednesday on our way back to Brattleboro from Shopping in Massachusetts. It was bitter cold and windy. The thermometer read 27 but a 10-15mph wind made it feel like single digits. There was ice in the cove of the canal where the water is very shallow and it was thick enough to hold the weight of about a hundred or more Canada Geese and many of the three common species of gulls. Also in the mix were a GLAUCOUS GULL and 2 ICELAND GULLS. Out in the open water we scoped a CACKLING GOOSE, a pair of American Wigeon, a pair of Common Goldeneyes, 2 male Hooded Mergansers with hoods spread vying for the attention of several females, and a very large flock of Mallards.



Please share your birding news with us.

What have you got coming to your feeders?

Are there any birds nesting in your yard?

What have you seen while on a trip?

Drop us an e-mail


 Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT

Check out our website:


A friend is someone who reaches for your hand

and touches your heart.





Sunday, December 12, 2010

{BIRD NOTES} December 13, 2010


Bird Notes



Cotton Mill Hill

After reading a report of a possible Red-headed Woodpecker in the wooded area at the south end of the mill, I scoured the area shortly after 8:00 am today (12/7) and found no birds.  I returned around noon, and the birds had moved in, but I did not find the Red-headed Woodpecker.  I did see the following:  Pileated Woodpecker (1), Red-bellied Woodpecker (2), Downy Woodpecker (1), Eastern Bluebird (~8), American Goldfinch (~20), Black-capped Chickadee (~6), Tufted Titmouse (~4), White-breasted Nuthatch (~4), Junco (1).  It was very birdy for about 20 minutes, and then the birds all moved off!

     In addition to the usuals at the feeders behind our house, I am seeing a Carolina Wren and a Brown Creeper quite regularly.

---Nori Howe, W. Brattleboro, VT



A Good Day for Brattleboro Birding

Today was a birdy day (12/11) around Brattleboro. At home in West Brattleboro the day started with a good show at the feeders: 2 Downies, 2 Hairies, male Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches along with the other regulars, 17 Evening Grosbeaks, and a Raven fly over. Orchard Street, Brattleboro: 4 House Finches, and a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers. Meadowbrook Road, Brattleboro: A total of 10 Bluebirds, a flock of ~ 60 Cedar Waxwings, ~ 20 Pine Siskins, and 1 hungry Northern Shrike. Upper Dummerston Road Brattleboro: a flock of ~75 Cedar Waxwings, 1 Red-tailed Hawk, a flock of 18 House Finches chasing the Red-tailed around. Good numbers of Goldfinches and Robins throughout the morning at all of the locations listed above.
---Dave Johnston. W. Brattleboro, VT



Lapwing NO, Barnacle Goose & White-fronted Goose YES

We tried for the Northern Lapwing in Storrs, CT but it had left the area the day before and didn’t return. We had heard of these other two geese in the area and proceeded with the chase. We found them nearly side by side in a nearby horse pasture with a sizeable number of Canada Geese. They were striking in the late afternoon sun. Also in the field were more than a dozen Killdeer and a lone Wilson’s Snipe wading and poking in a shallow puddle.




While checking out Abbott Road on Saturday for whatever birds might be present I ran across a sizeable flock of Cedar Waxwings that were flying into some sumac trees while others were alighting in the large clumps of bittersweet hanging from the roadside trees and still more were in the drainage ditch trying to get a drink from the frozen water. If you see any Waxwings, be sure to look them over carefully. They could be Bohemian Waxwings, a rarer northern species that shows up in our area for various reasons. Mostly from lack of food in the north country. There have been numerous reports of large numbers showing up in northern and central Vermont. So, check out the fruit bearing ornamentals in and around Brattleboro. They are attracted to them like bees to honey.



New York Eagles

Word from our friends in New York told of their birding trip to Plank Road in Forestburg, Sullivan County and seeing 26 Bald Eagles perched in the trees along the Neversink River. Many years ago we remember going to look for wintering eagles in that area, but we never came close to seeing that number. It must have been an incredible sight.




Please share your birding news with us.

What have you got coming to your feeders?

Are there any birds nesting in your yard?

What have you seen while on a trip?

Drop us an e-mail


 Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


Check out our website:


A friend is someone who reaches for your hand

and touches your heart.






Monday, December 06, 2010

{Bird Notes} December 6, 2010


Bird Notes



In my South Newfane backyard yesterday (12/1) I counted:


Evening Grosbeak 40+(a few photos of the flock are posted at

Mourning Dove 50+

Blue Jays 25+

Downy Woodpecker 4

Hairy Woodpecker 2

Black-capped Chickadee 10

Tufted Titmouse 6

White-breasted Nuthatch 4

Song Sparrow 1

Pine Siskin 6

American Goldfinch 20+

Dark-eyed Junco 15 +/-

Northern Cardinal 1 (usually 5)

Rock Pigeon 10


Also regular at the feeders:

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Cooper’s Hawk

---Chris Petrak, South Newfane, VT


Coastal Birding

The weekend of Nov. 20-21 we led the annual trip to Plum Island/Cape Ann for the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club of Orange County, NY. The weather was sunny with a NW wind and temperatures in the mid 40s.


Day 1: Plum Island, MA

We met at 8 a.m. at parking lot #1 at the Parker River NWR on Plum Island. On the way out the boardwalk to the beach, a couple of Horned Larks sounded off overhead as they flew over the dunes and dropped out of sight. We arrived at the observation deck and set up our scopes. The ocean was fairly calm with ground swells and occasional white caps. Looking south at waters edge we spotted a small flock of Snow Buntings cavorting on the beach. Approaching beach strollers soon scattered them and they took flight toward the safety of the sand dunes. Out to sea we caught sight of many Northern Gannets flying, then diving headlong into the briny waters in search of their morning meal. A couple of Red-throated Loons came into view very near the shore. Out a little farther were more and more Loons swimming and diving. However, the Red-throateds outnumbered the Commons at about 10 to 1. I can safely say that there were many more Red-Throated Loons than we have seen in a lifetime. The ocean was teeming with them as they moved south. In winter plumage their necks are white. So, when we first noticed them we thought their necks were the sticks of the many lobster buoys. It was phenomenal! We continued to watch the parade and soon had added White–winged Scoter, Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, Red-necked Grebe, Horned Grebe and a lone RAZORBILL. Common Eider were indeed common. Long strings of them flew very low over the water, sometimes disappearing for seconds in the trough of a wave, then reappearing farther along their route.


With all of the activity, we hated to leave our overlook, but finally did and proceeded down the Island to the salt pannes where we added one of the best birds of the day, a EUROPEAN WIGEON that was snoozing in the sun with a few of the many American Wigeon. We also added Pintails, Gadwall, Black Ducks, a pair of Shovelers and a couple of Northern Harriers were tipping their wings just above the marsh grasses. Three Dunlin and a lone Black-bellied Plover were hunkered down on the lee side of the panne’s edge. The wind was whistling at this point, blowing hard enough to raise the small dog and toupee warning flags.


At Hellcat swamp we added Red-breasted Nuthatch and had good looks at a dark phased and a light phased Rough-legged Hawk circling above. A drive to the end of the island added more of the species that we had already ticked off so it was time to head back to Newburyport for a look at the Merrimac River. At the American Yacht Club we viewed a flock of Bonaparte Gulls, several Common Goldeneye and Long-tailed Ducks. Buffleheads were here too with the male birds throwing their heads back to their shoulders as they tried to get the attention of their girl friends. Daylight was waning and a quick stop at Salisbury Beach added nothing new to our day list, so we headed on to our motel room in Gloucester.


At 6:30 we all met for dinner at the Gloucester House Restaurant on the waterfront in town, for a sumptuous seafood dinner. With our appetites satisfied and all of that fresh air and sunshine we happily retired with visions of alcids dancing in our heads.


Day 2: Rockport/Gloucester, MA

We started our day at 7:30 by driving to Cathedral Ledge in Rockport. It is the most likely spot to find the most beautiful of ducks, the Harlequin. They obliged us by being there along the rocky shore in the swirling white froth. We counted 30 plus of those gorgeous creatures. What a nice way to start a day of birding. At Andrews Point there were many more of them flying by, some landing close to our vantage point, then diving and surfacing. We can never seem to get enough of them. We also had good looks at Razorbills, Red-necked Grebes, and the ever present Common Eiders in varying plumages. Long lines of Black Scoters skimmed the waves with an occasional Surf Scoter or White-winged Scoter in their midst. Once in awhile a Northern Gannet would surprise us with a close fly-by and a high dive that would hardly show a splash of water as their sleek, streamlined bodies with folded wings hit the surface of the ocean. I hated to leave this spot, but there was more to be seen. So, on to Gloucester.



A stop at the Fishermen’s Memorial on the walkway along Gloucester harbor afforded us repeat views of the more common of the waterfowl and gull species. At the Jondrow Fish Pier we could see the reported Peregrine Falcon sitting on a ledge of the City Hall tower. Both the Great Cormorant and the Double-crested Cormorant were within close range at the inner harbor. Niles Pond at Eastern Point produced a number of freshwater species. There were Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Ruddy Duck, American Coot and Great Blue Heron. Last stop of the day was at Bass Rocks along Atlantic Avenue. Here at the Gloucester Elk’s Club parking lot we scoped the ocean while munching a late lunch. Bufflehead, White-winged Scoters, Red-necked Grebe and last but not least a bird that we had looked for at every ocean stop but did not find until now, BLACK GUILLEMOTS. There were 3 of them sticking quite close together, not too far out, and not doing much diving. So, we had great looks at them in their winter plumage.


By this time most of the group had broken off and headed for home, so we decided to call it a day. Fifteen of us had counted 69 species on a sunny but cool weekend. And oh yes! I can’t forget to mention the evening’s fresh seafood repasts. They were scrumptious.


Happy Holidays!

Al & Barbara Merritt

West Brattleboro, VT


*   *   *

Don’t forget the annual Christmas Bird Count is coming up on

Saturday December 18th

Also there is a coastal trip to Cape Ann/Plum Island being led by Chris Petrak on January 8th.

For more information on the trip and to sign up: email Chris –




Please share your birding news with us.

What have you got coming to your feeders?

Are there any birds nesting in your yard?

What have you seen while on a trip?

Drop us an e-mail


 Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


Check out our website:


A friend is someone who reaches for your hand

and touches your heart.