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Sunday, December 14, 2008

December 14 , 2008

The 49th annual Plainfield Christmas Bird Count took place today, and while results are still being compiled, some of the biggest surprises included two Hermit Thrushes and a Turkey Vultures, both new to this count. Lingering birds of summer seemed to be the theme, with American Robins, Canada Geese, Brown-headed Cowbird and even a White-throated Sparrow recorded during the day. Winter visitors from further north included Bohemian Waxwings, Pine Grosbeaks and Snow Buntings. Overall 45 species were found by a record 38 birders. Complete results will be posted shortly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 11 , 2008

A flock of roughly a dozen Pine Siskins visited the feeder today at the Nature Center. A Brown Creeper has been seen regularly, including this morning, on the large Maple in front of the main building.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December 10 , 2008

You can take comfort in the fact that the sun will be setting later from here on in. Today is the earliest sunset of the year, however the total length of the day will continue to decrease until the solstice. You can come celebrate the solstice with us on December 19th at 7 pm. See programs for more details.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November 25, 2008

An Adamant resident called today reporting a Spotted Salamander walking atop the snow. Although rare, sightings of this species can occur in late November as long as the ground is not completely frozen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

November 24, 2008

Under the parking lot light post, a lone moth was fluttering about. After catching the moth, it was discovered to be a Bruce Spanworm(Operophtera bruceata). A mating pair of these late-flying moths were seen last year on November 14th (see previous e-news entry for photos).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November 19, 2008

While observing one of the beaver ponds, ice could be seen breaking on the surface, signaling that something was swimming underneath. When the creature reached an opening in the ice and surfaced, it turned out to be a muskrat. What made this sighting peculiar was that this muskrat was carrying something large behind it. It set the mystery object, which was nearly as big as the muskrat itself, down on the beaver dam. As it dragged the object over the dam, it was clear as day that there were two tails slipping out of sight; the mystery object was a dead muskrat!

It turns out that "Although few people seem to realize it, the muskrat, although rodent, eats a quantity of animal foods. He will eat clams, snails, crayfish, fish, frogs, reptiles, young birds, and carrion, including other muskrats." (source: North American Mammals by Roger A. Caras)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

November 13, 2008

A dreadful 'thud' was heard this morning, from a bird striking a window (a rare event at NBNC). We're not sure what species, since it flew off unharmed directly afterwards, but this prompted the idea to post some tips to keep birds from striking your windows:

* Placing feeders and baths at least 25 feet from windows, or no more than 1-3 feet (so impacts will be at low-velocity) from windows.
* Draping a thin netting or soft fabric screen over the outside of the window. This is supposedly 100% effective, and netting shouldn't obstruct your view too much.
* Making sure windows are shaded to reduce reflections which can trick birds.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 11, 2008

It seems that the unseasonable weather has come to an end, with snow falling here at the Nature Center. Many amphibians and reptiles had been sighted during the past week's warm spell. Larry observed a Common Gartersnake on 11/2 in Winooski, Painted Turtles on 11/6 in Shelburne, and a Green Frog on 11/8 in Essex. Also seen on that date in Essex was a lone female Monarch butterfly!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October 29, 2008

Today we had a sneak-peak of winter, allowing for the first snowball fights of the season. This day of firsts may also be a day of lasts, for a Yellow-rumped Warbler and a Hermit Thrush were both seen near the NBNC building. Will they be the last of the season? We'll see... In addition to those migrants, a dozen species were seen throughout the day including large flocks of American Robins and Cedar Waxwings, as well as a Dark-eyed Junco and Common Grackles.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 16, 2008

At around 5:00, just as Larry was leaving for the evening, he heard a soft, nasal sounding, "yank yank". After a quick dash for some binoculars, Larry confirmed his suspicion. High in the White Pines that shade the Nature Center barn, were two Red-breasted Nuthatches.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October 14, 2008

During an outdoor lunch meeting, a very interesting bug called a Western Conifer Seed Bug was found. Although this one was found outside, it is common to find them indoors or around buildings at this time of year, as they attempt to flee from the cold weather. If you find one inside, don't worry! Despite their large size (up to 2 cm.) and intimidating appearance, they are harmless to humans and pets (except for a foul odor they can produce when threatened).

Monday, October 13, 2008

October 13, 2008

An unusual visitor made an appearance at the Nature Center this morning. A MOOSE was spotted at the far end of the field near the community gardens, just as it trotted towards the river and out of sight. It's presence prompted an outing by NBNC staff in an attempt to relocate the massive mammal, but our efforts failed to find the moose again. We did, however, see/hear many birds including Hairy Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Cedar Waxwing, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Pine Siskin, and American Goldfinch.
Witch Hazel

Saturday, October 11, 2008

October 11, 2008

Another beautiful day at the Nature Center. One of our latest blooming flowers, Witch Hazel, began to blossom this week. Look for this indicator of autumn directly adjacent to the NBNC parking lot, on the far side from the building.

To identify Witch Hazel, look for the broadly obovate (egg shaped), alternating leaves, which are asymmetrical at the base, with wavy margins. A popular ornamental plant, Witch Hazel has been revered for its use by "water diviners", who use the branches to locate underground water. More practically, an extract can be obtained from its bark, and mixed with alcohol for use as an astringent.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

October 9, 2008

Monarchs have still been passing through the Nature Center, and after some re-fueling at the butterfly garden, three Monarchs were tagged as part of our Monarch Tagging efforts. Also, possibly the same Mourning Cloak seen earlier in the week has stuck close to the building. It has been nectaring on crab apples, occasionally fluttering its wings to dissuade the flies and wasps which compete for the fruits.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October 7, 2008

NBNC staff enjoyed lunch outside under the sunshine, while temperatures are still tolerable. We were able to tag a lone female Monarch as it passed through. Other wildlife sightings included Mourning Cloak and Cabbage White butterflies, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a small group of Common Ravens.

Monday, October 6, 2008

October 6, 2008

Hawk migration is underway, as seen from the Nature Center today. During a ten-minute span, Cooper's Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, and Merlin all cruised by overhead, heading south.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

October 4, 2008

It was a bright and sunny day for the Dead Creek Wildlife Festival. Painted Turtles basked on logs. Butterflies were still aloft (Clouded Sulfur pictured on left), as were many birds. Some highlights included Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Participants of the bird banding demonstration were welcomed with the opportunity to view songbirds and raptors up close(Sharp-shinned Hawk on right). With a myriad of activities from carving decoys to building bird houses, a good time was had by all.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

September 20, 2008

A rare Variegated Fritillary was discovered in the Community Garden today, found by a participant of our Monarch tagging workshop. This butterfly is known to stray north from their usual southern breeding grounds south of New England. This is actually the second time Variegated Fritillary has been observed at the Nature Center, but the last time was nearly ten years ago!

Friday, September 5, 2008

September 5, 2008

Mosquitos were out in force for our first bird walk of the fall, but so were the warblers!

Barred Owl (calling)
Empidonax sp.
Blue-headed Vireo (2)
Red-eyed Vireo
House Wren
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Parula
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler (2)
Blackburnian Warbler (1)
Pine Warbler (singing)
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart (2)
Common Yellowthroat
Canada Warbler (1)
Scarlet Tanager (female)
American Goldfinch (feeding young)

A possible Merlin also zipped passed the group, but was not seen well or again .

Thursday, August 14, 2008

August 14 , 2008

Montpelier BioBlitzAugust 14 , 2008

The summer camp season is winding down, and it is time for a long hiatus from Nature News updates to come to a close. The first news item to break the silence will be that of the Montpelier BioBlitz, which took place from 3pm July 11th to 3pm July 12th. Nearly 200 scientists from as far as Kansas converged on Montpelier, and identified approximately 1,500 species. A full list of results can be found at the BioBlitz website: www.NorthBranchNatureCenter.org/bioblitz.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June 24 , 2008

The Giant Ichneumon sighted yesterday remained near the same tree trunk most of the day. Another pleasant surprise was a visit from a Merlin, which perched on the large Maple outside the office windows.

The entire summer camp group was able to witness the Merlin as it hopped about in the leaves, and eventually took off across the street. Other highlights from the camp's morning bird walks were Ravens being mobbed by crows, and good looks at an Ovenbird.

Monday, June 23, 2008

June 23 , 2008

Today, a parasitic wasp called a Giant Ichneumon visited a tree trunk which had been marred by a Pileated Woodpecker. The tree needed to be cut due to proximity to the road, and has been standing as decoration at the Nature Center's front door. The wasp remained on the trunk throughout the day, with its ovipositor embedded within the bark, giving our summer campers ample opportunities to observe this unique and beautiful insect.

Friday, June 6, 2008

June 6 , 2008

A bird walk led by Chip along the Winooski in Waterbury yielded a big surprise. Alarm calls from nearby Red-winged Blackbirds alerted the group to a Peregrine Falcon, which swooped down to capture and carry off a grackle or starling. Other bird sightings included American Redstart, Warbling Vireo, Savannah Sparrow, Spotted Sandpiper, Baltimore Oriole and an Eastern Kingbird revealing its hidden reddish crest.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

June 5 , 2008

During a school group visit today, the discussion was about Salamanders. On our hike in search of the slippery amphibians, we found an impressive five species of salamander (half of the ten species found in Vermont)! Our list is as follows:

* Eastern Red-backed Salamander
* Northern Dusky Salamander
* Northern Two-lined Salamander
* Spring Salamander
* Eastern Newt (Red Eft) [pictured to the right]

Although our attention was focused on the ground while we searched, we heard many birds during our hike, including American Crow, Winter Wren , Blackburnian Warbler, Ovenbird, and Scarlet Tanager.

Monday, June 2, 2008

June 2 , 2008

For many years, NBNC has participated in a Monarch Butterfly tagging program, placing little stickers with "serial numbers" on the wings of the Mexico-bound butterflies. Last year we allowed the public to join us in this project, and it appears our efforts have paid off. For the first time, a monarch tagged at the Nature Center was recovered in Mexico!

The butterfly was tagged on September 12th, 2007 (our first public-tagging day) with the "serial number" of JNH 286. The butterfly, a male captured from the wild, was recovered in Cerro Pelon, Mexico by Melquieles Moreno, on March 6th, 2008. Having flown over 2,000 miles to reach his overwintering site, it is truly an extraordinary feat that this migration occurs, and that we have been able to track this individual butterfly. Thanks to those who helped with the tagging effort last year!

On another lepidopteral note, a Nessus Sphinx moth, which is a type of hummingbird moth, visited the Lilac bushes during lunch today. Photo by Larry Clarfeld

Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 31 , 2008

A few brave souls tolerated rain and mosquitos for our teen birding trip to Moose Bog. The Spruce Grouse eluded us, but despite the rain, we managed to pick up 33 species including boreals such as Gray Jay and Black-backed Woodpecker. Other highlights included extended looks at male Blackburnian Warbles (plus one female gathering nesting material). The morning's list is below:

Wood Duck
American Black Duck
Great Blue Heron
Wilson's Snipe
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Hairy Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Blue-headed Vireo
Tree Swallow
Blue Jay
Gray Jay
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Nashville Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Canada Warbler
Swamp Sparrow
Purple Finch

Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30 , 2008

Our weekly bird walk returned to North Branch today, where one of the morning's highlights was a Black-billed Cuckoo, which after being spotted, actually flew towards our group, giving us great views. Our bird list for the morning is below:

Great Blue Heron
Spotted Sandpiper
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
Black-billed Cuckoo
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Downy Woodpecker
Alder Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird (building nest)
Tree Swallow
Blue Jay
Tufted Titmouse
House Wren
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Canada Warbler
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
American Goldfinch

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 28 , 2008

Bog Haunter Wednesday was Dragonfly Day at a fen in Washington County. There we encountered one of Vermon'ts rarest insects, Ebony Boghaunter (pictured to the right). This tiny dark dragonfly is known from only three sites in the state. We also found the following other dragonflies on the wing (with a few photo links):

Eastern Forktail
Dusky Clubtail
Beaverpond Clubtail
American Emerald
Four-spotted Skimmer
Chalk-fronted Corporal
Hudsonian Whiteface
Belted Whiteface

Other notable sightings included Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, Mustard White, Spring Azure and Brown Elfin.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

May 25 , 2008

A short walk by the Community Gardens, in search of an Indigo Bunting heard singing during lunch, produced some nice birds... however no buntings. Chestnut-sided Warblers were seen in the tall trees along the river, along with the sounds of House Wrens, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Song Sparrows singing loudly in the vicinity. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird whizzed by, as we searched some thickets for a singing Alder Flycatcher. A Gray Catbird danced in the branches, and a Yellow Warbler collecting nesting material was seen on the way back to the building. Even a ten-minute walk can reveal wonderous things.

Friday, May 23, 2008

May 23 , 2008

The spring bird walk today at Cow Pasture in Barre yielded a number of surprises. The first noteworthy sighting was that of three Field Sparrows, which are quite uncommon in Central Vermont. Nashville Warbler and Indigo Bunting were some other notables. Lastly, as the group was on its way out, a Peregrine Falcon flew over the road near Hope Cemetery, and then a female Merlin was seen calling... perhaps she was nesting nearby?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

May 22 , 2008

Today, we had the first Spotted Sandpiper of the year by the bridge... a treat for our afterschool birding. Also heard was an American Redstart.

Monday, May 19, 2008

May 19 , 2008

May is certainly a busy time for conservation folk and outdoors-lovers, and the e-news has been somewhat neglected as of late. A rainy afternoon seems the perfect time to retroactively post some of the events of the past several weeks. We'll start with some sightings from last week: Kingbirds have been active in the field, and Baltimore Orioles have been visiting the feeders. On Thursday, a pair of Bobolinks were seen singing from the fields. Flowers are blooming, and creatures continue to wake up/return from a long winter

Friday, May 16, 2008

May 16 , 2008

The bird walk this morning at Hubbard Park yielded a fine variety of Warblers, which are becoming increasingly difficult to see as the leaves return, but our keen ears and eyes turned up twenty-three species:
Pileated Woodpecker White-breasted Nuthatch Black-throated Green Warbler
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Winter Wren Blackburnian Warbler
Eastern Phoebe Veery Pine Warbler
Red-eyed Vireo Hermit Thrush American Redstart
Blue Jay American Robin Ovenbird
American Crow Northern Parula Scarlet Tanager
Black-capped Chickadee Black-throated Blue Warbler American Goldfinch
Red-breasted Nuthatch Yellow-rumped Warbler

Sunday, May 11, 2008

May 11 , 2008

Late this evening, a group of teens and chaperones arrived back from the World Series of Birding, in Cape May County, New Jersey. This birding marathon, which NBNC youths have participated in eight years since 1999, is a 24-hour event in which every minute is spent looking and listening for birds. After a day and a half of scouting, the team competed Saturday, May 10th and saw/heard 154 different species, ranking fifth in the Cape May County Division. Some highlights included a Ruby-throated Hummingbird mobbing an Indigo Bunting, the now famous Red-headed Woodpecker, and five Bald Eagles seen over the course of the day. A complete list, pictures, and short essays will be available shortly in the Youth Birding section.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

World Series of Birding

NBNC teens competed for the eighth time since 1999 in the World Series of Birding competition in New Jersey. For 24-straight hours, we looked for and listened to every tweet and twitter of avian life in Cape May County. Hearing the Chuck-will's-widow at quarter-to-midnight, our team raced to the finish line, having seen or heard 154 species in the day, and ranking fifth in our division. In addition, we expect our team to have raised $5,000 for youth birding programs at NBNC. A complete checklist is below. Birds seen during the scouting day, but not the competition, include Black Skimmer, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Meadowlark.
Muse Swan Short-billed Dowitcher Marsh Wren
Snow Goose American Woodcock Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Brant Laughing Gull Eastern Bluebird
Canada Goose Ring-billed Gull Veery
Wood Duck Herring Gull Wood Thrush
Gadwall Great Black-backed Gull American Robin
American Black Duck Gull-billed Tern Gray Catbird
Mallard Royal Tern Northern Mockingbird
Blue-winged Teal Common Tern Brown Thrasher
Black Scoter Forster's Tern European Starling
Red-breasted Merganaser Least Tern Cedar Waxwing
Wild Turkey Mourning Dove Nashville Warbler
Common Looon Rock Pigeon Northern Parula
Northern Gannet Black-billed Cuckoo Yellow Warbler
Double-crested Cormorant Eastern Screech-Owl Chestnut-sided Warbler
Great Blue Heron Great Horned Owl Magnolia Warbler
Great Egret Barred Owl Black-throated Blue Warbler
Snowy Egret Common Nighthawk Yellow-rumped Warbler
Little Blue Heron Chuck-will's-widow Black-throated Green Warbler
Tricolored Heron Whip-poor-will Pine Warbler
Cattle Egret Chimney Swift Prairie Warler
Black-crowned Night-Heron Ruby-throated Hummingbird Black-and-white Warbler
Glossy Ibis Belted Kingfisher American Redstart
Black Vulture Red-headed Woodpecker Prothonotary Warbler
Turkey Vulture Red-bellied Woodpecker Worm-eating Warbler
Osprey Downy Woodpecker Ovenbird
Bald Eagle Hairy Woodpecker Louisiana Waterthrush
Red-tailed Hawk Northern Flicker Common Yellowthroat
Merlin Eastern Wood-Pewee Hooded Warbler
Peregrine Falcon Acadian Flycatcher Yellow-breasted Chat
Clapper Rail Eastern Phoebe Scarlet Tanager
Sora Great Crested Flycatcher Eastern Towhee
Black-bellied Plover Eastern Kingbird Chipping Sparrow
Semipalmated Plover White-eyed Vireo Field Sparrow
Piping Plover Red-eyed Vireo Savannah Sparrow
Killdeer Purple Martin Seaside Sparrow
American Oystercatcher Gree Swallow Song Sparrow
Greater Yellowlegs Northern Rough-winged Swallow White-throated Sparrow
Lesser Yellowlegs Bank Swallow Northern Cardinal
Solitary Sandpiper Cliff Swallow Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Willet Barn Swallow Blue Grosbeak
Spotted Sandpiper Blue Jay Indigo Bunting
Whimbrel American Crow Bobolink
Ruddy Turnstone Fish Crow Red-winged Blackbird
Red Knot Carolina Chickadee Boat-tailed Grackle
Sanderling Tufted Titmouse Common Grackle
Semipalmated Sandpiper White-breasted Nuthatch Brown-headed Cowbird
Least Sandpiper Brown Creeper Orchard Oriole
Purple Sandpiper Carolina Wren House Finch
Dunlin House Wren American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

Friday, May 9, 2008

May 9 , 2008

The bird walk this morning was at Sodom Pond, in Adamant, where highlights included Canada Goose, an American Bittern fly-over, Blue Jay, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Red-winged Blackbird, and Baltimore Oriole. A distant flock of shorebirds was also seen, but could not be identified.

Friday, May 2, 2008

May 2 , 2008

Clear skies were welcomed on this cold, May morning for our second Spring Bird Walk, which took place at Berlin Pond. Our list is shown below:

Common Loon (pair)
Canada Goose (at least 6)
Wood Duck (pair)
Mallard (pair)
Green-winged Teal (3)
Hooded Merganser (at least 6)
Turkey Vulture
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
American Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Swamp Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch

Also seen around Berlin Pond before and after the walk were American Robin, European Starlings, and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April 30 , 2008

Wood Frog Update #2: Starting yesterday, our Wood Frog eggs began to hatch. Although some are still in the eggs, (and their shape can now be seen through the clear, jelly-like eggs) many are now swimming about, dining on boiled lettuce, and other debris in their tank. They sure do grow fast!

Monday, April 28, 2008

April 28 , 2008

A large bunch of wet birds have been in-and-out of the large maple outside the office windows. Over a dozen species perched within the maple's branches over the course of the day, including Purple Finch, Chipping Sparrow (first of the year here) and Northern Cardinal.

Also, Heather's Women's Walk on Sunday yielded some nice blooming wildflowers. Trilliums, Bloodroot, Cut-leafed Toothwart, and Meadow Rue (not yet in bloom) were among the botanical treasures that the group encountered.

Friday, April 25, 2008

April 25 , 2008

Our first Spring Bird Walk commenced this morning. This first walk of the season took place at the Nature Center, and our group observed:

Wood Frogs 1
Canada Goose (flock of 17 overhead) Tree Swallow
Duck sp. Black-capped Chickadee (1 seen entering nesting cavity)
Turkey Vulture White-breasted Nuthatch
Ruffed Grouse Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Rock Pigeon American Robin
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Yellow-rumped Warbler
Downy Woodpecker Northern Cardinal
Hairy Woodpecker Savannah Sparrow
Northern Flicker Song Sparrow
Eastern Phoebe White-throated Sparrow
Blue Jay Red-winged Blackbird
Blue-headed Vireo Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird

On another note, with yesterday's Vacation Camp group, we were discussing frogs. The Wood Frogs just recently (this week) began laying their eggs. The group helped start a tank in which we will be rearing the frogs, and we will be posting their progress in development in the Nature News. The first update is from today, at which point not much development has occurred.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 24 , 2008

While hiking with our camp group, we came upon a Spring Azure, the third butterfly species of the year! On Monday, Cabbage Whites were seen around the center, and several other Milbert's Tortiseshells have been seen over the last two weeks.

Friday, April 18, 2008

April 18 , 2008

An early morning trip to Berlin Pond yielded a Bald Eagle, Rusty Blackbird, and American Bittern, to name a few of the highlights! Later in the morning a hike around the property yielded Ruffed Grouse drumming, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers hammering, and Flickers searching the field. A Palm Warbler also showed up by the river.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April 16 , 2008

Some exciting visitors came to the Nature Center today. A Palm Warbler was around for the better part of the afternoon, hopping around the lawn, picking off the cluster flies. A Rusty Blackbird also stopped by, and sung from atop a tall Sugar Maple by the building.
Palm Warbler

Photo by Larry Clarfeld

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April 9 , 2008

A warm-weather ski to the Marshfield Cliffs, to monitor Peregrines turned up two falcons, who exhibited nesting behaviors. It also turned up a pair of Great-blue Herons, which perched atop the cliffs! Golden-crowned Kinglets and Brown Creepers were heard singing throughout the day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

April 8 , 2008

Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Our first butterfly of the year, a Milbert's Tortoiseshell, was spotted sunning itself on the building today. NBNC staff also enjoyed lunch outside for the first time this year, soaking up the sun's rays. During lunch, a pair of Ravens cruised across the fields, and Song Sparrow's and Red-winged Blackbirds sung for us as we ate.

Monday, April 7, 2008

April 7 , 2008

Spring is an exciting time to be a nature enthusiast. Every day seems to bring a new surprise. Today, at NBNC, we were greeted by our first Savannah Sparrow and our first Common Grackle of the year! What new arrivals have you seen lately? Let us know and we'll post your observations!

Photo by Larry Clarfeld

Monday, March 31, 2008

March 31, 2008

The first Song Sparrow's of the year visited the bird feeders this morning. Larry also saw his first Great Blue Heron of the year in Winooski. Other avian visitors today have been the usual mob of Chickadees, a Tufted Titmouse, American Crows, and an American Tree Sparrow.

On other spring-time notes, Larry saw a barrage of invertebrates in Winooski yesterday, including moths, stoneflies, and spiders.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March 27, 2008

The Amphibian Monitoring Program has been in the press yet again! Click here to read the piece which appeared in the Burlington Free Press today. Also, if you haven't already, try to attend one of our training sessions, and take part in this exciting program.

In other news, Common Redpolls were present at the feeders this morning, along with a Red-winged Blackbird, and the usual mass of Chickadees.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March 26, 2008

The talk of the town today was certainly the Great Gray Owl, which made an appearance in Burlington yesterday, and which Larry was lucky enough to see. This is, however, a sign of the troubled times faced by owls after a long winter. NBNC has been receiving calls regularly about dead or sickly owls. Fortunately, the harshness of winter is coming to an end.

Other bird sightings made by Larry yesterday include a Killdeer near Warren, a Turkey Vulture near the town of Middlesex, a Barred Owl in Wocester, and a Northern Shrike on Rt. 12 between Wocester and the Nature Center.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

March 20, 2008

Happy first day of spring, on a very un-spring-like day. The upcoming Montpelier BioBlitz was featured in a column in the Burlington Free Press today. Click here to check it out!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

March 12, 2008

We received our first visit from Red-winged Blackbirds here at NBNC, with a flock of eight descending into the trees. We also received a visit to our feeders from an American Goldfinch, the first appearance from one of those in a number of months.

Monday, March 10, 2008

March 10, 2008

The clocks have turned back, and it feels more spring-like every day. With the return of Red-winged Blackbirds being reported from throughout the state (Larry observed about 20 in South Burlington) there is no doubt that spring is right around the corner. The return of migrants and emergence of hibernators is exciting, and is a great way for us to track the changing seasons here at NBNC.

Friday, March 7, 2008

March 7 , 2008

It is starting to feel like spring is right around the corner. Cluster Flies are waking from their dormancy from around the Nature Center and sunning themselves in the mild warmth. Also, yesterday, Chip spotted a Common Merganser on the North Branch.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

February 16 , 2008

What a marvelous day for the Great Backyard Bird Count! Sightings included the following: At South Hero there were a large flock (130+) European Starlings, a few House Sparrows, and a Rock Dove. At the Grand Isle ferry landing there were 25 Common Mergansers and a few Herring Gulls. At a feeder in Grand Isle there were Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, Mourning Doves, and a pair of House Finches, and a Hairy Woodpecker. By Winooski High School there were large mixed flocks of American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, and at least one Bohemian Waxwing. At Technology Park in South Burlington there was a flock of about 30 Pine Grosbeaks. Also seen were American Crows throughout the day, and a Red-tailed Hawk and a Great Black-backed Gull on the Islands.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

February 6 , 2008

The snow didn't stop NBNC staff from making some interesting observations today. Larry spotted a flock of 10-15 Pine Grosbeaks on the corner of Bailey Ave and State St, feeding on berries. Chip spotted a winter crane fly resting on the snow. And Sandal spotted a firefly larvae, also resting atop the plentiful snow. Also keep your eyes out for "snow fleas", which are actually springtails, for they too are insects that can be found on warm winter days when carpets of snow still cover the ground.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

January 30, 2008

Today has brought some wild weather, from rain to sleet to snow. A small group of crows has been hanging around the Nature Center, searching the field for scraps from the Ice on Fire celebration this past Sunday. We're glad the weather waited until after the weekend to put on its show!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

January 23, 2008

While scouting a trail for the full moon snowshoe hike, Sandal and Heather stumbled upon fresh beaver clippings resting on the snow's surface. This is among the many signs you may come across during these cold winter months which remind us that some animals in Vermont remain active all winter long.

Monday, January 21, 2008

January 21, 2008

A group of intrepid teens enjoyed a day of birding in the Champlain Valley today, and made some exciting observations. Highlights included a flock of Bluebirds near the Crown Point Bridge in Addison, a Rough-legged Hawk off rt-117 in Addison. In the Shelburne Bay area, two Common Loons were sighted, along with several Horned Grebes. Perhaps the most notable observation was that of a juvenile Northern Shrike, which was caching pieces of meat in the tree branches. What a gift it was to see! Next teen birding program: Great Backyard Bird Count.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

January 16, 2008

Bright sunny skies are always enjoyed here at the Nature Center. In addition to the mobs of Chickadees at our birdfeeders, a pair of Mallards was seen on the river.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

January 15, 2008

Participants of our astronomy program braved cold temperatures and peered through thin clouds to observe the constilations of winter, the craters of the moon, and the red glow of Mars.

Monday, January 14, 2008

January 14, 2008

14/08Plainfield Christmas Bird Count Results

Twelve teams, totaling 29 participants participated in this year's Plainfield Christmas Bird Count, recording 4855 birds of 36 species. Some highlights include 12 American Robins, 40 Northern Cardinals, and 412 Bohemian Waxwings (all record high counts for the Plainfield CBC). Along with Bohemian Waxwings, Pine Grosbeaks were also seen in greater-than-usual numbers, indicating the major irruption of these northern species this winter. Lower-than-usual numbers of Golden-crowned Kinglets and Red-breasted Nuthatches were reported this year. The complete results of the Plainfield CBC are shown below:

Canada Goose 1 Tufted Titmouse 7
Mallard 21 Red-breasted Nuthatch 15
Hooded Merganser 2 White-breasted Nuthatch 39
Ruffed Grouse 2 Brown Creeper 2
Wild Turkey 384 Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
Northern Goshawk
2 American Robin 12
Red-tailed Hawk
2 European Starling 478
Rock Pigeon 557 Bohemian Waxwing 412
Mourning Dove 174 Cedar Waxwing 1
Barred Owl 3 American Tree Sparrow 59
Downy Woodpecker 50 Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco 42
Hairy Woodpecker 41 Northern Cardinal 40
Pileated Woodpecker 3 Pine Grosbeak 202
Blue Jay 200 House Finch 25
American Crow 221 Common Redpoll 162
Common Raven 35 American Goldfinch 19
Horned Lark 11 Evening Grosbeak 48
Black-capped Chickadee 1521 House Sparrow 60

Also seen Count Week were Carolina Wren and Snow Bunting.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

January 8, 2008

Nature News is back, after a short winter hiatus! It feels more like March than January today, and the animals feel it too! A Wooly Bear caterpillar was found walking atop the snow around the Nature Center today. It will be quite disappointed when the thaw ends, and it has to go back into hiding for several more months.