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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Polar Bear's Revenge Part 2

Yesterday, Saturday, day 2 of the Great Backyard Bird Count my efforts were again focused on the roads in our "colony" here in Rochester,VT in the Green Mountains. It was overcast, dark, snowing and 0 degrees when I set out at 7:30 am to drive to some favorite spots on the mountain. For some reason the birds weren't up yet.  I was met with total silence at every stop except the feeder at the "redpoll house" sported at least 30 Common Redpolls and a smattering of chickadees.  I did add one new species for the count at this location. A ghostly Blue Jay flew silently overhead nearly obscured in the dark gray sky and swirling snow. Eight species and counting!

At 9:45 I went back out to walk the 1.6 mile loop I had done yesterday thinking there would be more activity at that time.  The skies were still gray, the snow still fell steadily and the temperature had risen all the way to 2 degrees.  A single White-breasted Nuthatch was all I heard or saw for the first half of the walk in mostly maple/birch woods at about 1800'. The second half was 100-200' lower in elevation but more importantly has some nice dense spruce/hemlock stands. Here the chickadees were more active and I got the two "must have" species I needed: a completely silent (thanks a lot buddy!) Red-breasted Nuthatch , and a Golden-crowned Kinglet which thankfully was calling or I never would have found it. Hooray! I reached double digits on my species count! 10!

downy woodpecker
blue jay
common raven
black-capped chickadee
tufted titmouse
red-breasted nuthatch
white-breasted nuthatch
brown creeper
golden-crowned kinglet
common redpoll

The snow continued all day but accumulations were only a couple inches. In the afternoon my son Tim and I went snowshoeing on the unplowed part of the same National Forest road (Bingo Road-love the name) where we had walked on Friday. Although I wasn't focused on birding I think I heard just one chickadee the entire 2 hours we were out there.
A picture of Tim taking a picture
I'm headed off to help Gary find that legal nude sunbathing beach.

Today is day 3 of the GBBC and we head home tomorrow morning. From here on out it's a matter of chance. If I'm lucky I'll happen upon a nomadic flock of Evening Grosbeaks, Red Crossbills, or Bohemian Waxwings but they are tough to chase. Needles in the proverbial haystack.

Yesterday a woman in Hinesburg in the Champlain Valley just over the mountain from us posted this sighting on VTBIRD:

"After a quiet morning of attempted-birding
in Chittenden County with my friend Larry Clarfeld, I arrived back at the
house I'm staying at in Hinesburg on Lavigne Hill with a very short day
list.  But WAIT!  I literally drove off the driveway when I was distracted
by what appeared to be waxwings in a row of trees.  Luckily the driveway is
flat and I was able to regain my composure. I was hoping for a  Bohemian or
two (don't want to be a greedy birder) and took a quick scan, then a more
careful count of what I estimated to be 400 waxwings, but alas, not a
single CEDAR!"

You never know.


  1. Looks like fun, how's the wild food crop?

  2. Good question Nick. I'm hardly an expert but the spruce cones look plentiful to me. I don't see much in the way of residual fruit on the trees. I did stop at a nearby berry farm today thinking there could be some fruit eaters hanging out there. It was desolate & the viewing was impaired by the blowing snow. Most of the birds are found in the Champlain Valley this time of the year with it's Lancaster County-like farm land.


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