I made two bird-related goals for this winter: to have one of "my"
chickadees eat from my hand and to have a thirty-species winter
birding day. I've been close several times, but I haven't ever seen
thirty species in one day in the winter. Cold usually drives me into
my warm car and back to my warm house too soon.
With the help of Tom Jiamachello and a perfectly lovely day, I got
the thirty-species day today. (Of course, it's not really winter yet,
but I'm still satisfied.) We drove through the Champlain Valley,
stopping at Shelburne Bay, Shelburne Point, Shelburne Town Beach,
Charlotte Town Beach, the Charlotte Ferry Dock, Converse Bay, Button
Bay State Park, Potash Bay, Oven Bay, Arnold Bay, the Brilyea Access
to Dead Creek and the Stone Bridge/West Road access.
The most astonishing sighting was a Great Egret at the Slang on the
way to Button Bay. At first, all I could think is "it has to be some
sort of decoy". The bird was with two Great Blue Herons.
Another surprise was huge flocks of Mourning Doves, over forty in one
flock that decorating two dead trees in Panton. I had no idea this
species ever gathered in such large numbers.
The total list:
Great Blue Heron
Horned Grebe - at least six at Shelburne Town Beach
Red-Tailed Hawk - two together in one tree - it's courtship time!
Rough-Legged Hawk - several
Northern Harrier - at least one male and one female
Great Black-Backed Gull
Song Sparrow - late!
Surprisingly, we missed Tree Sparrows (which were back at my house,
under the feeders). We also didn't see any Snow Buntings, which
another birder had reported seeing "in the hundreds".