מאי 07, 2023


Time: 8:00am - 11:00am
Date: 5/6/2023
Location: Centennial Woods
Weather: Sunny, 44-60ºF, low wind
Habitat: Mixed forest and wetlands

Posted on מאי 07, 2023 02:21 לפנה"צ by catrionagoering catrionagoering | 3 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מאי 03, 2023

Field Journal 4/26/2023

On Wednesday, April 26, I sat near some bird feeders in Centennial Woods from 4:00-5:30PM. It was sunny; the temperature was in the fifties; and the wind was low. Centennial Woods consists of varied habitat including wetlands and mixed deciduous/coniferous forest. Power lines run through the forest, and staghorn sumac thrives along the cut. The site I visited was just off Carrigan Dr., where deciduous trees and thick understory grow. I saw plenty of cover for songbirds.
The site had three bird feeders: a suet feeder, a feeder with just one type of seed (safflower?), and a feeder with mixed seeds. I saw a continuous stream of White-throated Sparrows foraging beneath the feeders and occasionally flying up to visit them, and I could hear more White-throated Sparrows singing from the underbrush. There was a grey squirrel foraging for spilled seeds beneath the feeders, but the sparrows didn’t seem to care. Black-capped Chickadees visited the feeders in waves, and both a Downy Woodpecker and a Hairy Woodpecker briefly ate at the suet feeder. A male Northern Cardinal landed next to the feeders, but didn’t eat anything. One interaction I observed was a White-throated Sparrow waiting patiently for its turn at the feeder while the Hairy Woodpecker was eating. Maybe the woodpecker was big enough to intimidate the sparrow.
I didn’t see any obvious courtship behaviors, but the presence of food would likely alter the natural behavior of these birds. I didn’t even see much territorial behavior besides the loud singing of the White-throated Sparrows. There may have been an occasional scuffle at the feeders, but nothing big. I expected to see more fighting than I actually saw, because I assume the feeders would be prime territory. Maybe there is enough food that the birds don’t feel they have to fight for it. I would have thought it would be more instinctual than that though.
White-throated Sparrows tend to build ground nests in areas of thick undergrowth, so I think it’s possible nesting was taking place near the bird feeders. Maybe the sparrows will build their nests closer together than they would if the feeders weren’t there. If that’s the case, they may be in trouble when the feeders are removed in a couple of weeks.
The woodpeckers at the suet feeder would have to go elsewhere to build nests because I didn’t see many snags in the area. I have noticed a higher density of snags by the wetlands where trees routinely get flooded. Downy woodpeckers apparently line their nests with wood chips, which means they don’t have to waste energy searching for soft fibers or other nest-building material.

Posted on מאי 03, 2023 03:49 לפנה"צ by catrionagoering catrionagoering | 6 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

אפריל 18, 2023

April 7, 2023

Time: 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Date: 4/07/2023
Location: Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge
Weather: Sunny, breezy, temperature around 35 degrees F (it got cooler after dusk).
Habitat: open fields, wetlands

Posted on אפריל 18, 2023 03:28 לפנה"צ by catrionagoering catrionagoering | 5 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 29, 2023

Field Journal 3/28/2023

On Tuesday, March 28, I visited Delta Park from 3:00-4:30pm. It was sunny, 40 degrees F, with 8mph wind from the north. The habitat was mixed forest, open water, and wetlands surrounding the point at which the Winooski River meets Lake Champlain.
As I was parking, I noticed a Bald Eagle flying overhead roughly in the direction of the lake. It was gone before I could take a photo, but the bird was huge and had unmistakable coloring. I imagine Bald Eagles like Delta Park because of the access to water where they can hunt for fish.
The next bird I saw was a Barred Owl roosting about six feet off the ground in a tree about 25 feet away from the bike path. It was definitely watching as people walked past, but it appeared unconcerned. It seemed smaller than some of the other Barred Owls I’ve seen, so maybe it was a male? The Barred Owl is an example of a bird that doesn’t migrate. Barred Owls are large, fluffy, and carnivorous, factors which probably help them survive cold winters. They can find a sheltered place to roost and fluff out their feathers to trap insulative air. Additionally, eating meat probably allows them to consume large amounts of energy efficiently.

As I walked along the bike path I could hear Red-winged Blackbirds calling “conk-la-ree” in the wetlands on either side. Red-winged Blackbirds are migratory, and I’ve just started seeing them again in Vermont. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Red-winged Blackbirds spend the winter in large flocks throughout much of the United States and parts of Central America. Vermont is not part of the winter range, so the birds I saw today could have migrated from as nearby as New York (~12 mi) to as far away as approximately Guatemala (>3,000 mi). An advantage to arriving in Vermont early in the Spring is first dibs on the best nesting locations. A disadvantage is that the average temperatures are still fairly cold, which means food sources might not yet be consistent.
I saw three American Robins and a Common Grackle foraging at the edge of the flooded forest floor, as well as a male and female Downy Woodpecker foraging in the trees along the path. I sat for a while at the main bridge, watching as three Canada geese bathed and a male Common Merganser splash-landed on the river side of the bridge. I could see two Turkey Vultures circling in the distance, possibly above some neighborhoods. The Barred Owl was still roosting when I finally walked back to my car.

Posted on מרץ 29, 2023 03:34 לפנה"צ by catrionagoering catrionagoering | 4 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 24, 2023

Field Journal 3/18/2023

On Saturday, March 18, I spent a couple of hours at The Desert Conservation Area near the border of Marlborough and Sudbury, MA. It was sunny, about 50 degrees F, and there was enough wind that I could hear it blowing in the pine trees. The Desert is a 615-acre pitch pine/scrub oak community, which is fairly rare in Central Mass. I’ve been visiting The Desert for most of my life, and I remember when the Conservation Commission did a prescribed burn about 10 years ago to stop eastern white pine from becoming dominant. The soil is sandy, with lots of small, steep ridges and valleys carved by glaciers. There is also a systems of wetlands, which is where I went on Saturday from 12-2pm.
The first thing I noticed was all the signs of spring, like skunk cabbage and rows of painted turtles sunning themselves on logs. There was still ice in parts of the wetlands, but I heard a few wood frogs calling. I didn’t see any egg masses yet, but it won’t be long. I heard lots of birds, including Northern Cardinals, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Pileated Woodpeckers, Song Sparrows, and Red-winged Blackbirds. I know the birds are establishing territories this time of year. There was a Song Sparrow perched right next to the railroad bridge where I was sitting who sang the same song over and over the whole time I was there, and I heard a second one farther away. They were probably telling each other to stay away. I saw several Black-capped Chickadees tearing apart cattail heads, probably for food? They didn’t seem to be carrying away any of the material. I’m sure such a little bird has to spend a large percentage of its day foraging.
I think it’s pretty clear that the Song Sparrow’s streaky brown plumage acts as camouflage in shrubs and forests. I’m interested by the Black-capped Chickadee’s plumage, though. Maybe it’s general enough that it provides some level of camouflage in a lot of different habitat types? Maybe it blends in with the sky? As instructed, I tried pishing at some Black-capped Chickadees, and one of them got very agitated and flew right over to me. Maybe they think it sounds like the alarm call of a squirrel? I only did it once because it seems unkind to bother them. I noticed how big the buds were on all the plants and shrubs at the edge of the trail, and how high the water level was compared to last summer. There must be so much snow melt right now. I saw fairly fresh beaver activity on a stump at the edge of the water, but it didn’t look like anyone had worked on the dam recently.

Posted on מרץ 24, 2023 10:48 אחה"צ by catrionagoering catrionagoering | 5 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 04, 2023

Field Journal 3/3/2023

I went to the Burlington Waterfront on Friday, March 3, from 3:30 to 5:00pm. The temperature was 31ºF with low wind. The weather was calm and slightly overcast. The habitat was open water (Lake Champlain), and also the parking lot near the Echo Leahy Center, where eight Ring-billed Gulls were circling and vocalizing.
I walked south along the bike path to a green space a little past Perkins Pier. I saw a Common Loon in winter plumage, as well as five or six Common Goldeneyes and another four or five Common Mergansers. I also saw a pair of Mallards at the edge of the lake and a group of about eight European Starlings in a tree a little ways up the hill. It’s interesting how waterbirds form large groups in winter, probably because of limited open water and safety in numbers? Of course, waterbirds are well adapted to icy water and cold temperatures. Many of the birds I saw today were diving underwater to forage, which makes me wonder what they are eating at this time of year. I suppose there are still fish for the divers to eat, but what about dabbling ducks like Mallards? While many of the birds were feeding, one of the female Common Mergansers was sitting preening on a rock near the edge of the lake. One of the males was swimming near her. None of the ducks showed signs of moving to another place to spend the night, but I did not stay till full dusk to find out (the days are getting longer!).
The only snag I observed was a thick maple trunk at the edge of the water. It did not appear to have any large cavities, just a few small woodpecker holes. There was a noticeable lack of snags in the well-maintained parks of downtown Burlington. The lack of cavity-nesting space and foraging space that snags provide probably affects which species are able to live in Burlington. I imagine there are fewer woodpeckers in downtown Burlington, for example, than in neighboring forest.

Posted on מרץ 04, 2023 04:43 לפנה"צ by catrionagoering catrionagoering | 4 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 20, 2023

Field Journal 2/20/2023

I visited Colchester’s Delta Park from about 3:00-4:30pm on Tuesday, January 31. Delta Park is located at the junction of Lake Champlain and the Winooski River. There is habitat for many types of wildlife including waterfowl and predators like red foxes. I spent thirty minutes on the main bridge that crosses the Winooski as it joins the lake, and later another 30 minutes or so by the edge of the water. The sun was low in the sky, and the temperature was 18 degrees F with low wind.
Mostly I observed birds. I saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers and a pair of Mallards on the sheltered side of the bridge. On the open lake, at least 18 Common Goldeneyes were swimming and diving underwater to forage. Neither the lake nor the river was frozen except at the edges. I saw fox tracks jogging through the frozen marshy area on the shore of the lake. I also saw White-breasted Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, and a pair of Downy Woodpeckers in the trees. I could hear the sound of the ice shifting at the edges of the river, as well as birdsong and creaking branches. The air smelled cold.
During my visit, I had an opportunity to observe the flight of a Tufted Titmouse and some Common Goldeneyes. The difference in between the two species' anatomy and flying styles is striking. Titmice are quick, agile, and flit from branch to branch with their small wings. Goldeneyes are heavier and have to flap hard and splash with their feet as they take off from the water. They aren't particularly agile. They circle to lose altitude and land with a splash.
Later, I walked along the shore (instead of on the bike path) to try to get closer to the Goldeneyes, but that was cut short when I fell through the ice up to my waist. I thought I was on solid ground because of all the vegetation, but apparently not. I don’t remember the water being that high the last time I was there, but it makes sense there’d be variation. Luckily my camera seems to be alive.

Posted on פברואר 20, 2023 11:21 אחה"צ by catrionagoering catrionagoering | 4 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה