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October 2014

VTBIRD@LIST.UVM.EDU

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From:
Chris Rimmer <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Vermont Birds <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Wed, 22 Oct 2014 23:11:48 -0400
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Several of us, in tow behind Ted Murin and Big Bertha, parked ourselves 
at the Shelburne Bay access this afternoon and were treated to a 
spectacle that we may never again experience in our birding lifetimes.  
The strong northerly winds precipitated a show-stopping southward flight 
of Turkey Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks.  We arrived at 1 pm and 
initially focused on lake and shoreline birds, which included a female 
American Wigeon, 2 Greater Yellowlegs, and a lone Sanderling.  We soon 
took notice of the impressive flight taking place overhead and began 
keeping track, which was challenging, as birds were spread far and wide, 
at varying heights above ground.  Our counts of TVs and Red-tails are 
definitely lower than actual, probably by 25% or more.  We were jokingly 
confident that a Golden Eagle would appear (and we may well have missed 
one), but that hadn't happened by our 4 pm departure, at which point the 
Red-tail flight had dwindled to a trickle, though vultures were still 
moving.  We were hardly disappointed overall.

Ted did some preliminary digging this evening and reports that the 
previous recorded high count for Red-tailed Hawk in VT is 324 birds on 
10/20/91 in White River Junction.  However, he recalls that counts in 
the 400s or higher may have been recorded from the Champlain Valley some 
years ago, though these are likely buried in old hawkwatch reports and 
need to be retrieved.  Whether today's 3-hour count constitutes a new 
single-day record or not, had we been stationed there from mid-morning 
onward, there can be no doubt we'd have eclipsed the previous high.

An immature Little Gull in flight was observed clearly during several 
minutes over the middle of the bay, in the company of Bonaparte's Gulls.

A memorable 3 hours of birding, to say the least.  Highlights are below.

Chris

Shelburne bay fishing access, Chittenden, US-VT
Oct 22, 2014 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments:     With Ted Murin, Paul Wieczoreck, Ali Wagner and Pat Folsom.  Steve Antell, Larry Haugh, and Bruce MacPherson present for some of the 3 hours
27 species

Snow Goose  1     flying east to west over middle of bay
Canada Goose  85
American Wigeon  1
Mallard  65
Green-winged Teal (American)  10
White-winged Scoter  97
Common Merganser  12
Common Loon  5
Double-crested Cormorant  4
Great Blue Heron  2
Turkey Vulture  354     An absolute minimum count, and we probably missed (or failed to count) ~25% of the total number of birds that passed by during our 3 hours of observation.  Most were moving southward over the east shore of bay, but some crossed from Red Rocks to Shelburne Point, while others crossed over middle of bay itself.  An impressive spectacle, to say the least
Sharp-shinned Hawk  3     All identified by Ted Murin with the aid of Big Bertha
Bald Eagle  3
Red-tailed Hawk  359     As for Turkey Vulture, this count is undoubtedly low, probably by 25% or more of the actual number that passed.  Birds passed southward at all heights, from 100 feet to >500 feet, from middle of bay to nearly out of sight along east shore, in groups that ranged from kettles of >25 to singles of 2s and 3s.  Some were mixed in with vulture flocks.  Impossible to have accurately counted all birds passing by, and there could well have been >500.
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Sanderling  1
Bonaparte's Gull  35
Little Gull  1     First identified by Ali Wagner as it flew over middle of bay with Bonaparte's Gulls, confirmed by Ted Murin through his Big Bertha scope.  Notable for smaller size, distinctive dark 'M' wing pattern, lack of white patch in outer primaries
American Kestrel  3
American Crow  X     A prolonged loose stream moving south along east shore of bay - concentrated over ~1.5 hours from 1:30-3.  There could easily have been 2000 birds, but 1500 is a minimum estimate.  Too diffuse and distant to accurately count
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20310835

-- 
Chris Rimmer
Vermont Center for Ecostudies
P.O. Box 420
Norwich, VT 05055
802-649-1431 ext. 1
www.vtecostudies.org

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