אפריל 23, 2024

Field Journal 6

On Monday, April 22, I decided to head to the Colchester Causeway. I started my walk at 1:48 pm (end: 2:02 pm) when it was around 44 degrees Fahrenheit with a 8-12 mph breeze. There were a few clouds in the sky, but was very sunny. I spent most of my time close to the forest, as the wind along the water made it difficult to use the scope.

I started my walk on the bike trail next to conifers. Here, the birds were mostly quiet due to the wind gusts. When there was a particularly strong breeze, the birds remained silent for around 15-30 seconds. The two Black-capped Chickadees were singing, mostly around denser forest cover. This area provides more cover from predators compared to areas closer to the water. Black-capped Chickadees, or any species, that are defending prime territory would have a higher fitness, as that bird is competing with many others for that territory.

I also saw a single Wood Duck swimming next to snags, possibly close to where it has its nest. Wood ducks likely line their nests with nearby reeds inside cavities. The cavity itself provides some outside protection from the elements, and lifts the nest off the ground which can prevent the nest from being threatened by changes in water level.

The mini activity allowed me to focus on the birds that surrounded me, without focusing too much on movement from the birds themselves. Sound was concentrated away from the path itself, but if a bird was calling close to the path, they were high up in the trees. Sound ID was also easier the closer birds were to the trail. Some species, like Ruby-crowned Kinglets, were difficult to pinpoint where they were because they moved constantly.

הועלה ב-אפריל 23, 2024 03:13 לפנה"צ על ידי lannunziata2 lannunziata2 | 18 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

אפריל 9, 2024

Field Journal -- Eclipse

On Monday, April 8, I decided to see how birds react to the eclipse in Centennial Woods. I started my walk at 1:43 pm (end: 4:05 pm) when it was around 57 degrees Fahrenheit with a 2-3 mph breeze. There were a few clouds in the sky, but overall remained very sunny. I started my walk in a mixed hardwood stand but was in a field next to the inner retention pond and pine trees.

I started my walk slow and quiet, in the hopes that species I do not normally see will come closer to the forest floor. Black-capped Chickadees, American Robins, and Song Sparrows were constantly calling. Once I moved to a conifer stand, a Red-breasted Nuthatch and Golden-crowned Kinglet were calling back and forth on the same branch. The nuthatch scared off the kinglet, and the kinglet flew onto another branch, flashed its crown, and flew away.

I continued onwards towards the retention pond near the baseball field and saw a few Dark-eyed Juncos near the sumac and on the ground. American Crows were cawing overhead, and a Red-tailed Hawk flew across the river. There were fewer birds here overall compared to within the forest.

As it got darker, the Tufted Titmice started hanging onto the sumac and calling to each other. They were by far the loudest birds in the area. An Eastern Phoebe landed silently on another sumac, and flew down into the brush. Many of the other birds I could not identify did something similar. As the light faded away in the sky, they followed their nighttime routine. When totality occurred, it became completely silent.

When totality ended, the Song Sparrows were the first ones to start calling again. If I were quieter during the eclipse, I wonder if I could have seen an owl or other birds I generally do not see. Regardless, being quiet and slow on this walk, compared to other walks, yielded better results and insight into bird behavior.

הועלה ב-אפריל 9, 2024 02:38 לפנה"צ על ידי lannunziata2 lannunziata2 | 23 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 26, 2024

Field Journal 4

On Friday, March 22, I was at Shelburne Bay from 2:45 pm to 3:56 pm. It was 30 degrees Fahrenheit, with winds from the Northeast at 5 mph with 10 mph gusts. It was gray and cloudy, and a winter storm warning was rolling in soon. Although it felt like 25 degrees Fahrenheit, it still felt warmer. The clouds were on the thin side, and it felt like midday with how bright the bay was. The water was relatively calm. Behind the bay, there was a large density of conifers around the LaPlatte River.

I saw many species I am used to seeing throughout the year, including Northern Cardinals and American Crows. These species stuck to the middle of hardwood trees closest to the bay and smaller thickets closer to the ground. These species likely have ways of dealing with the cold, including extra down feathers for insulation, and ways of dealing with a decrease in food supply, like altering sources of food.

Of the species I saw, the one I was most excited to see was the Wood Ducks. They were not directly in the bay, instead choosing to spend their time near the trees, swimming in the river. Nearby, there was a pair of Ring-necked Ducks swimming near the middle of the river. I saw these two species not from a trail, but from the side of the road, so while I wish I could stay and observe them longer, I did not want to be hit by a car or hold up traffic. The wood ducks likely came from somewhere in the southeastern United States, probably around North Carolina and Georgia, so they are facultative migrants that migrate due to changes in food supply or changes in temperature. Burlington, before the recent snowstorm this weekend, has been relatively warm and some trees are already starting to bud. If temperature is the reason some migrants migrated, then warmer temperatures would likely encourage them to migrate back to Vermont.

Early obligate migrants, on the other hand, likely migrate due to changes in daylight. They are more likely to migrate at the same time every year. For an obligate migrant to migrate early, they would likely face challenges in obtaining food and maintaining warmth.

The majority of the migrant species I saw wintered in the southeastern U.S., with the center area of the wintering range settled around North Carolina and Georgia. This distance is around 750 miles. Using this number, this would mean that all the species I saw migrated around 23,250 miles to make it to Vermont. While this is just an estimate, it is an extremely impressive collective distance to travel.

הועלה ב-מרץ 26, 2024 03:42 לפנה"צ על ידי lannunziata2 lannunziata2 | 23 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 9, 2024

Field Journal 3

On Tuesday, March 5, I was at the Colchester Causeway from 10:28 am to 11:31 am. It was an uncharacteristically warm day for March, around 45 degrees Fahrenheit and warming as the day went on. The sky was mostly blue, with some clouds moving slowly overhead. At the beginning of the Causeway, the wind was not at all bothersome, but out on the water, the breeze was much stronger. I would say, without having written this down at the time, the wind speed was around 3 mph from the south, with gusts up to 8-10 mph.

The entrance to the Causeway trail is a forest edge. The trees are primarily conifers with some hardwoods mixed in. Houses alongside the path often showcased more edges of the treeline, where lawns were managed next to the water. On this part of the path, Black-capped Chickadees were the primary species seen. They stuck in groups and tended to fly and hop between trees. Once, we heard a Northern Cardinal call that was slightly different from other more common calls the species makes. Upon finding a group of Black-capped Chickadees, we started pishing to try and get the chickadees to come closer. At first, nothing seemed to happen, but some of the more curious birds soon found their way closer to the concrete path. However, they were easily spooked by movement and sound and retreated back into the trees. These chickadees were likely looking for food near trees, and their behavior of staying close to the treeline reflected that. If they were not, it is likely that dense areas of forest cover help protect them from larger predators. This sound likely makes them think that other small birds are around and that a certain area is safe, so they congregate closer to other birds. During nesting season, this may also mean that potential mates are nearby, and they gather for that reason.

On the water, the two most common species we saw were Buffleheads and Common Mergansers. The Common Mergansers were found both close to shore and further out into Lake Champlain. The Buffleheads were primarily found away from shore. The males of both species have a large amount of white on them, which makes them stand out and easy to spot. Male Common Mergansers also have a green head, and male Buffleheads have a black back. When there is a glare, these areas of white make the bird harder to see through binoculars. However, from above, these white feathers would make them easy to see as well. The females of both species are slightly darker. Female Common Mergansers have a red head with a gray back and wings and Buffleheads are primarily gray-black. While this coloring makes them easy to spot with a glare, from above, they may blend in well with darker water. the lighter gray back of female Common Mergansers may make it more beneficial for them to be closer to shore, where the water is not as dark as in the center of the lake. Female Buffleheads may have a better time in the center of bodies of water because their feathers are so dark, and it makes them incredibly hard to see from above.

Buffleheads are also much smaller than Common Mergansers, even if they are both diving ducks. These birds may also use their plumage to their advantage. If they can remain safe from aerial predators while looking for food, they can manage their high metabolism and fly when needed. Diving also requires a lot of energy, so remaining in an area with ample amounts of food is also necessary.

הועלה ב-מרץ 9, 2024 04:08 לפנה"צ על ידי lannunziata2 lannunziata2 | 12 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 24, 2024

Field Journal 2

I visited Fort Cassin on February 18, 2024, and started birding at 12:27 pm (end time: 1:49 pm). It was colder and windier than my last journal entry, with temperatures hovering around 34 degrees Fahrenheit and 12 mph winds. It was cloudy, which did not help me stay warm. I followed the road out to Fort Cassin Point, where Otter Creek enters into Lake Champlain. The further I walked from the boat launch (where the car was parked) the fewer trees there were and the more open the area became. At the end of the road, I had an almost completely clear view of the lake and the waterfowl on it.

Due to the location I was at, I mostly saw waterfowl. The Mallards and American Black Ducks were in separate but close-knit groups closest to the road and water's edge. I saw neither species dabbling, instead choosing to swim along Otter Creek with the current. Unlike the dabbling ducks, the Hooded Mergansers, Common Mergansers, and Common Goldeneyes were further out on the lake. While they were still mostly in groups, some Common Goldeneyes were seemingly alone. The Double-Crested Cormorant was also alone, and much further out than all the other species. When in a group, all the diving ducks seemed to dive at the same time. Due to the cold temperatures which are likely colder on the water, it is possible that sticking in a group allows them to retain some heat. At night, they probably stick closer to the treeline to have some sort of windbreak while also not straying too far from the water.

The Mallards and American Black Ducks likely stuck closer to shore to feed on vegetation, while the diving ducks were further out and dove for fish. There was some ice on Lake Champlain, but not enough to hinder their success at finding food. Perhaps if the lake freezes over enough, waterfowl will move to find open water where they can feed.

There were many snags along the road, but many of them had only small cavities. When I knocked on them, no wildlife popped their heads out. I did see a woodpecker of some sort, but it flew off into the distance before I could ID it. It was most likely a Hairy Woodpecker based on size alone, which would explain the smaller cavity sizes on snags. Woodpeckers are reliant on snags for food, but other species like Eastern Screech-Owls use cavities as places to nest and sleep.

הועלה ב-פברואר 24, 2024 03:28 לפנה"צ על ידי lannunziata2 lannunziata2 | 10 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 10, 2024

Field Journal 1

I visited the Burlington Intervale on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, and started birding at 11:35 am (end time: 12:36 pm) It was a warm day for February, with temperatures at 30 degrees Fahrenheit and a light 2 mph southeast wind. Unlike January, the sun was visible but was occasionally obscured by clouds. The trail entrance was next to two fields, one of which looked like it was being used to grow crops of some kind. The other side was more open, with longer grasses organized in plots. The trees were primarily silver maples of considerable size. The closer the trail got to the river, the larger the maples seemed to get.

Unlike the trail entrance, the area next to the river was bustling with life. Black-capped Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches were the most vocal residents, with the chickadees staying close to the tops of trees and the nuthatches hopping from tree to tree. Many of the species I logged were those I only heard or saw briefly. This includes each of the woodpeckers. The only woodpecker that stayed in one place for longer than 30 seconds was the Hairy Woodpecker, which allowed me to get within 10 feet of the tree it was on before flying away.

The further away I got from the trail entrance, the more I saw and heard birds closer to the ground. The Black-capped Chickadees there were more likely to fly to lower branches and perch near the trunks of trees. Tufted titmice were the opposite, in that they preferred to perch close to the ends of branches. Many of the titmice would look directly at me before flying away. They took around two to three wing beats to fly from branch to branch. On their short travels, they would jump off one branch, dip a bit in height, and then start flapping. I did not see any of them on the ground, but if I did, I would assume they would have to jump forward or use forward momentum to gain enough thrust to start flying. Perhaps Tufted Titmouse prefer denser patches of forest for this reason.

While I overall had great luck with birds, I wonder if the lack of birds I saw during the beginning of my walk was influenced by people walking their dogs nearby. While the dogs did not bark or chase after birds, they are still large animals that could spook birds. The light winds I had also could have helped my luck. If I were birding during a time of high winds, I likely would pick a more densely vegetated area where some of the plants could break some of the wind.

הועלה ב-פברואר 10, 2024 02:14 לפנה"צ על ידי lannunziata2 lannunziata2 | 11 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

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