Great report Eric. Thanks for sharing
On Jan 1, 2012, at 10:42 PM, Eric Hynes wrote:
> Hello Vermont Birders:
> Starting off a year with an owl species is always a goal of mine and this
> morning turned out to be exceptional. The conditions were pretty ideal -
> warm, calm, and overcast (dark). I was up owling in southern Chittenden
> County from a little after 0500 to sunrise and managed to find myself
> within earshot of seven Great Horned Owls and one Eastern Screech-Owl. At
> one location I could hear two pairs of Great Horned Owls dueting
> simultaneously with a screech trilling in the foreground. None of the
> Great Horned Owls were solicited by playback so the breeding season is
> getting underway it seems.
> After a sunrise pick up of my good friend, Bill Hancock, visiting from
> Maine, we headed down to the Champlain Bridge for some ducking with Ian
> Worley. The low ceiling, intermittent fog and sections of ice on the lake
> made for a study in gray and turned the horizon line into guesswork.
> Significant rafts of diving ducks kept teasing us in the distance as they
> faded in and out of view. The concentration of diving ducks at this site
> is truly impressive. A careful count of Common Mergansers yielded 1344
> individuals. Over 1,100 Common Goldeneyes were in view but I suspect even
> more were just out of sight. Relocating the previously reported pair of
> Redheads was a highlight but they took off heading up the lake. A Common
> Loon, four Hooded Mergansers, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker seemed
> noteworthy as well.
> Our waterfowl census from the bridge was interrupted by one of the most
> spectacular aerial pursuits I have ever witnessed. From out of the distant
> fog came a rattled and rattling Belted Kingfisher and an adult Peregrine
> Falcon. The peregrine made repeated dramatic stoops on the kingfisher as
> it tried its best to get to the Vermont shoreline. Each pass by the
> falcon sent the kingfisher plunging into the lake. Forced to cross a
> section of ice, the kingfisher twice resorted to belly-sliding when it felt
> the Peregrine breathing up its tail feathers. Eventually the kingfisher
> was saved by the treeline and the peregrine was forced to rest atop a tree
> at the base of the bridge. A scope view of the falcon showed a metal
> federal band on the right leg but I never saw the left leg clearly to
> determine if it was marked.
> Ian, Bill, and I moved up the road to D.A.R. State Park. Visibility was no
> better but a new set of ducks were scopable (yes I am making up words).
> The Redhead pair had joined these rafts dominated by Lesser Scaup (444) and
> Common Goldeneye (244). Other notables at this location were 11
> White-winged Scoters (all drakes) and a drake Long-tailed Duck.
> After birding the state park, Bill and I said goodbye to Ian and worked our
> way back to the Burlington area. On our way home we tallied about a half
> dozen Rough-legged Hawks and a Merlin. On Slang Road in Panton we
> encountered an adult Northern Shrike.
> What a fun way to start the new year.
> Eric Hynes
> South Burlington