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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Champlain Valley Birding: Trip Report

The group observes a Snowy Owl perched on a treetop
at the "Goose Viewing Area" at Dead Creek WMA

The weather was perfect for birding in the Champlain Valley today, January 18, with the water like glass, minimal heat distortion on the lake, and mild temperatures.  A group of 15 birders ventured out with the North Branch Nature Center to have fun, make friends, and see birds.  All three objectives were accomplished.  Here are the highlights:

The day began at Shelburne Bay, where a drake Canvasback has been hanging out for about a week.  This handsome duck is rare in Vermont, with only a handful of sightings in the state each year.  We trekked onward to Shelburne Point, where a nice assortment of waterfowl were congregated along the lakeshore.  Several Gadwall were a rare winter treat, as was a drake Ring-necked Duck.  Far offshore, a number of Red-breasted Mergansers were present.  On most days, they would have been hard to see, but the perfect conditions allowed us to see them well through spotting scopes.  

Snowy Owl 4/5 for the day
En route to our Charlotte Town Beach, we came across a flock of Eastern Bluebirds along Orchard Road.  A winter bluebird always warms the heart.  We also came across our third Red-bellied Woodpecker of the day at this location.  After arriving at the beach, a group of 4 Long-tailed Ducks were spotted far out on the lake.  A Common Loon was also seen, associating with a group of Common Goldeneye far offshore.

After a stop at the Old Brick Store in Charlotte, we were off to Addison County in search of Snowy Owls.  We were not disappointed!  A total of 5 Snowy Owls were seen throughout the afternoon.  We admired each, noticing their different plumages and behaviors.  Raptors abounded in the open landscapes of Addison, with Red-tailed Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, and even a few American Kestrels.  After moving from spot to spot, with another stop at the West Addison General Store, our final bird of the day was a Snowy Owl, seen right around sunset.  A full bird list is included below:

(note: all observations were posted to eBird)

Canada Goose
American Black Duck 
Ring-necked Duck 
Long-tailed Duck 
Common Goldeneye 
Common Merganser 
Red-breasted Merganser 
Common Loon 
Horned Grebe 
Cooper's Hawk 
Bald Eagle 
Red-tailed Hawk 
Rough-legged Hawk 
Ring-billed Gull 
Herring Gull 
Great Black-backed Gull 
Rock Pigeon 
Mourning Dove 
Snowy Owl 
Red-bellied Woodpecker 
Pileated Woodpecker 
American Kestrel 
Blue Jay 
American Crow 
Black-capped Chickadee 
Tufted Titmouse 
White-breasted Nuthatch 
Eastern Bluebird 
American Robin 
European Starling 
Cedar Waxwing 
Northern Cardinal 
American Goldfinch 
House Sparrow

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