|  Home  |   About us  |   Programs & Projects  |   Calendar  |   Birding  |   Blog  |   Get Involved  |

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Central Vermont's Big Night

After numerous photo-reports from around the state, Central Vermont has been very patient in waiting for our amphibians to finally awake and emerge. Last night they did just that, and in record numbers! Reports are still coming in, but widespread movements were reported from around central Vermont (and elsewhere). Weather looks good again tonight, so watch the roads if you must be out-and-about! Enjoy the following video and photos from crossing sites in Middlesex:

A "congress" of salamanders!

Spring Peeper

Spotted Salamander

Green Frog

Eastern Newt

American Toad

Monday, April 25, 2011

Woodland Wildflowers

For a narrow window of time each spring, our forests erupt in an explosion of color as the woodland wildflowers bloom. Many of these flowers are in a race to leaf out and blossom before the tree canopy above closes, blocking sunlight from reaching the forest floor. Our earliest wildflowers are just starting to pop up in Central Vermont (Blood Root is flowering along the river at NBNC) and many more are on the way! For all those who enjoy spring flowers and would like to take their interest a step further, researchers are recruiting citizen scientists to help study the pollinators of Spring Beauty, a lovely little wildflower found around Vermont.

Enjoy this assortment of photos from the Greater-Burlington area, all taken this past weekend (April 23/24):

Dutchman's Breeches


Marsh Marigold

Trout Lily

Blue Cohosh

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Birding in WaCo: Berlin Pond

Berlin Pond is arguably the top birding spot in all of Central Vermont. On top of providing birds with great habitat, the pond provides Montpelier residents with their drinking water. With its status as a public water supply comes a host of protections from development and recreational uses. The shoreline of Berlin Pond is undeveloped and activities such as fishing, swimming, and boating are banned. These restrictions have caused tensions with local residents who recently protested by kayaking, ice fishing, and even proposing a fishing derby. But many others have made good use of Berlin Pond even without penetrating the water’s surface. Bikers, joggers, and of course, birders frequent the roads that circle the pond and over 160 bird species have been reported in this Audubon-designated Important Bird Area.

Although winter is probably the least exciting time to visit Berlin Pond, there are always surprises waiting to be found. The pond typically freezes over in winter, but when open water remains, many species of waterfowl can be found including Common Goldeneye, a winter duck that can be difficult to find away from Lake Champlain. Even when the pond is frozen it can be worth a visit… River Otter and Bobcat have been seen walking across the ice! Wild Turkey can be seen grazing in the open fields along the road loop. A myriad of different species inhabit the surrounding forests, and lucky visitors may see Northern Goshawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and a host of other year-round residents.

In the spring, a flood of birds returning from the south arrive at Berlin Pond. In early spring, large numbers of waterfowl use the pond to rest along their migration, and some settle in to nest. At least 15 different species of ducks have been documented between March and May. The state threatened Black Tern regularly uses Berlin Pond as a stop during spring migration. Don’t forget to glance upwards for terns, gulls, and swallows; many species of these (including some rare ones) can be found catching insects and circling the water below. A wide variety of other songbirds can be found along the water’s edge and in the nearby forests.

In summer, many birds become quiet, but the numerous nesting species can still offer brilliant sights and sounds even in the hottest months. Raptors such as Osprey and Bald Eagle frequent the pond. Yellow Warblers nest in the shrubs and small trees along the shoreline, offering great eye-level views. Look for Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Kingbird, Red-winged Blackbirds, and other songbirds as they gather fish and insects to feed their young. In addition to these colorful species, a number of very elusive birds nest at Berlin Pond. You’re far more likely to hear the “gidik gidik” of the Virginia Rail or the “bloonk-adoonk” of the American Bittern than you are to see these birds. In the fall, waterfowl are again a source of excitement for visitors. Species such as Red-breasted Merganser, Long-tailed Duck, scaup, and others can be found around the pond and the brilliant fall colors make for a picturesque autumn scene.

To get to Berlin Pond, from I-89 take exit 7 (Berlin) and make your first right onto Paine Turnpike N. After 0.3 miles, make your first right onto Crosstown Rd. Immediately after passing under I-89, make a left onto Paine Turnpike S and then be ready for a quick right onto Brookfield Rd. A parking area is located at the North end of the pond off Brookfield Rd. After parking here, you can walk about a quarter-mile with nice views of the water. There is a nice viewpoint from the south end of the pond as well, which is accessible by continuing down Brookfield Rd. and turning left onto Mirror Lake Rd. Beware mud season! The road can be really rough in early spring.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another Big Night

Yesterday's rains and warm temperatures were just what our sleeping amphibians have been waiting for, and reports have been rolling in from around the state. While colder sites in the Champlain Valley were seeing their peak activity, even the warmest sites in central Vermont were just experiencing their first movements of amphibians and few frogs were heard singing. There are still many areas of central Vermont that are waiting for their first activity of the year, but if sufficient melting occurs at those sites over the course of the day we could see widespread activity throughout the area this evening. If you have to be driving, please watch the roads carefully for amphibians. Below are a few pictures from Pond Rd in Shelburne, where 8 species of amphibians and 3 species of reptiles were observed:

A whopping 44 Spotted Salamanders crossed.

We found 7 Green Frogs over the course of the evening.

Spring Peepers were the most numerous with 60 crossed.

Adult male Eastern Newts can be easily identified during breeding season by their swollen vents and black pads on the tips of their toes. We found 2, the other was a juvenile.

Only 8 Wood Frogs were seen, and none heard singing.

We had 8 Leopard Frogs, and even heard some singing!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Amphibians on the Move

It was still too cold and snowy for amphibians in central Vermont, but the migration has officially begun in the Champlain Valley. Here are a few pictures from yesterday evening's big movement:

We crossed about two dozen Spotted Salamanders.

The Jefferson/Blue-spotted Salamanders were most abundant, with around 90 crossed.

We crossed about 8 of these rare Four-toed Salamanders.

We only crossed around a half dozen Spring Peepers in the evening.

For more info about amphibian migration visit the Amphibian Monitoring Program page.