Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bobolink Survey photos - Charlotte Vermont

Photo by Shirley Zundell

We joined a Bobolink Survey, organized by Green Mountain Audubon Society and students of Noah Perlut, on Lake Road in Charlotte, Vermont. 

The goal was to look for Bobolinks and other grassland birds, especially birds that have been banded in the past or those carrying geolocators. 

Many Bobolinks were seen, including nesting pairs. The male above is carrying a grasshopper. He waited to go down to the nest until we pesky humans were out of the way. 

Another male Bobolink viewed had a silver leg band, indicating that it had been banded as a nestling at Shelburne Farms. (No photo available of the banded bird.)

A banded Savannah Sparrow was also seen. This was an unusual sighting because the bird had been banded three times, each time across from The Inn at Shelburne Farms - but it was seen today twelve miles from there, and apparently involved in nesting. One of the purposes of Perlut's study is to determine if grassland birds tend to nest where they themselves fledged. 

We found one nest that looked like a Savannah Sparrow's. It looked quite new but was upside down and empty.

The above photo and the one below were taken by Shirley Zundell.

The male Bobolinks and sparrows were all strutting their stuff. 

Cows, calves and bulls were watching us as we were watching birds.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge - Bird Photos

Every now and then, a bird walk is just blah. The birds skulk in the undergrowth. They hide behind foliage. They choose to perch directly between us and the bright sun. They taunt us by refusing to leave the tops of the highest trees around.

Last Saturday, at Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge, was exactly the opposite! 

Birds wanted to be seen. They wanted to be admired. They perched in the open. They tilted back their heads and sang. They turned this way and that, giving us views of back, front, and both profiles.
Cardinals ignored us humans completely, intent on finding yummy insects in the pine needles and leaf litter right next to the parking lot.
Elegant Cedar Waxwings whirled in and out and among branches right over our heads.
A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak selected a bare branch in a little clearing and shared his beautiful song with us.
An Eastern Wood-Pewee (often a shy and elusive little creature) posed for photos, first on one branch and then another.

This photo was taken by Barbara Mines.

A pair of Scarlet Tanagers stayed in the same tree in the sun for at least a half an hour, the male holding a large bug in his beak. 

Female Scarlet Tanager
A nest full of young tanagers must have been close by. The cautious papa wasn’t about to show us where it was by flying in with the food!

Chestnut-sided Warblers emphatically repeated, “Yay ME! I’ve got CHESTNUT SIDES!”

A Savannah Sparrow was also busy feeding babies, pausing at the top of a little bush with a tasty morsel in its beak.

And, almost most exciting (although it’s difficult to choose!), at least ten Bobolinks fluttered over an open field singing their tinkling flight song.

Other critters were also basking in the warm sunshine.  

The outing was an OLLI-UVM (Osher Lifelong Living Institutefield trip with 15 participants. 

For more information about this beautiful location, click here: Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge 

Maeve and Bernie endorse the Vermont outdoors and your participation in "Stop, Look, and Listen" allowing nature to come to you!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

American Bittern - Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge

Sometimes a bird you seldom see shows up where you least expect, sticks around longer than you would hope for, and makes one a believer in letting the birds come to you. The American Bittern 

images were taken at the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge in Swanton, Vermont on the day before International Migratory Bird Day. This bird was viewed just off the parking lot of the refuge building site as we arrived for Maeve's talk on migratory birds. We viewed many species of birds on the refuge trails the next day. This bittern was the ice breaker for excellent birding at the refuge.

American Bittern images taken at Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge on May 19, 2017.

   With a bit of stealth of my own, I was able to get comfortably close to the bittern.

 We watched the bittern swallow air and swell up like a bellows than release the air making a pump-er-lunk sound. 
Photo Credit: Sarah Rosedahl

According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, "The male's call is preceded by clacking and gulping. To accomplish the pump-er-lunk sound, the male inflates his esophagus by way of almost violent body contortions-opening and closing his bill as if lunging for flying insects-and then uses the stored air to unleash his call." 

Photo Credit: Sarah Rosedahl

Photo Credit: Maeve

Photo Credit: Maeve

American Bittern, we salute you! Happy International Migratory Bird Day
     P.S. A birding tip from Jim Osborne along our 5am bird walk. During spring migration, on early AM bird walks, expect warblers and other birds to visit trees where the sun first reaches - that is where insects may converge first followed by their prey the birds. Oak trees seemed to be a favorite of the birds during our walk. We viewed many warbler species in one tree for about 10 minutes while the sun shone on it; once it was shaded, the birds moved on to other sun laden trees. 
     Of course, the birds occasionally like to watch us as did this Black-throated Blue Warbler 
who was behind our group (fortunately someone turned around and spotted it) and about six feet off the ground watching us with our heads arched looking high up in the canopy at other warblers.