Last week, I spent a wonderful evening, overnight and morning with Chris Rimmer and John Lloyd from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, banding birds atop Mt. Mansfield.
The effort was part of VCE's now 21 year long critical Mountain EcoStudies assessment of Bicknell's Thrush on the mountain.
A hearty group of birders from around the state (names withheld as I did not ask their permission) joined us.
At about 5pm, we set up nets along the Long Trail and on several secondary trails that branch off from the upper parking lot. Then, we checked the nets and banded birds until dark, when one last trip around the mountain in the dark closed the nets for the evening. The last few birds caught -- including 2 Bicknell's and a Winter Wren -- came back to the camp with us for the night. Chris's experience is that they are safer and guaranteed of finding their way back to their territory if we release them where they were caught, in the morning. They all did fine.
In all, Chris said there were many fewer birds than earlier in the year -- and they were singing less. Breeding season is winding down. This will be the team's last visit to the top for 2012. Even so, we made friends with: Bicknell's, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Blackpolls, Winter Wren, Yellow-bellied Fly Catchers and White-throateds. No Swainson's despite the fact that they have been numerous this year.
It was a great experience. And very moving to meet this fragile island-in-the-sky resident up close, and to think about the journey and uncertain future each individual and the species faces in the future.
This study has given VCE great insight into one of our rarest summer residents. Their work is so important. If you haven't already done so, please visit their website, and send them a donation. They are doing the work to improve the future for the birds we all cherish. vtecostudies.org
Here are some pictures I took. (lots of them are scenic, but who can resist at the top of the mountain on a beautiful evening and morning) Enjoy! http://www.flickr.com/photos/57452593@N05/sets/72157630739743178/
Waitsfield, Vt. 05673
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