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VERMONT BREEDING BIRD ATLAS POSTING
Note: If your email does not allow you to read the newsletter below clearly (especially the table of nesting dates), you can download the issue from the web as a pdf (adobe) file at: http://www.uvm.edu/~vbba/Newsletters.htm

The Wingbeat

A Quarterly publication of the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas
Volume 3 issue 3
Summer 2005

CONTENTS

1. 2005 Sneak Preview on Charismatic Species
2. Mid-Late Summer: What Species Can We Still Expect to Confirm?
3. It’s Easier Than Ever to Follow the Birds
4. Stories From the Field
5. Meet the Coordinators


1. 2005 Sneak Preview on Charismatic Species

First Bald Eagle nest record in Vermont? Not quite…

Windham County atlas coordinator Hector Galbraith was birding near the Connecticut River in southeastern Vermont this spring, and noticed a bald eagle picking up grass in a field and carrying it off. He patiently followed the eagle to a nest. According to Hector, “The nest is in a large white pine on a steep slope and quite difficult to see except from a distance…The birds (both adults) were actively lining the nest with grasses, indicating that the nest building phase is about over. This is late for bald eagles to be nesting. My feeling is that this might be their first attempt and they will either lay very late or wait until next year.”

Bald Eagles are what biologists refer to as a “K-selected” species. Over the span of its life, a Bald Eagle will invest a lot of energy into successfully raising a few offspring, rather than pumping out tons of offspring each year in the hopes that a few survive. One of the ways eagles invest their energy to ensure a high probability of success is by “practicing” their nest building skills for at least one year before actually nesting. Sure enough, the eagles that Hector found did not nest this year, but all eyes will be on this pair next year to see if they’re confident enough to pull off the real thing.

New Peregrine Sites

Atlasser Dorothy Allard stumbles on a great discovery in Franklin County! Here is her account:
 
One cold and gray day in early May (the 2nd) Iwent up to the ridge with a friend, Annie Reed, to explore one of our favorite haunts. We were looking for mosses, new spring growth of wildflowers and ferns, and possibly to find the raven's nest on the cliffs that mark the eastern boundary ofBill's and myproperty. We had decided to walka counter-clockwise loop of about five miles--up to the ridge, down the other side, andback aroundby the road. After descending to the edge ofa beaver pond on the far side of the ridge we poked around and I collected a few Sphagnums for later identification.As we skirted around the marsh at the edge of the pond it got colder and colder. We huddled in a "cave" under a huge boulder to eat lunch while it sleeted. After the weather calmed down a bit we emerged to collect some fiddleheads and wild leeks for supper. The leaves on the trees were just starting toopen and we could see the cliff above us, although not clearly. Suddenly we saw two large raptors flying along the cliff line. They were making an ascending, wailing cry that I had not heard before. They were a long way away but we could see that they had slim, sharply pointed wings, and we discussed the possibility that they might be Peregrines. After all, it was perfect habitat, but the call was much different from the keck-keck-keck noise I had heard the birds make up at Smugglers Notch when I was doing rare plant survey work on the cliffs a couple of years ago.

Without revealing the location, I posted a note to VTBIRD asking whether the call could be attributed to Peregrines. I got two responses in the affirmative. One came from Steve Faccio. I gave him the location information andwe agreed that I wouldtake him to have a look on May 11.

Before Steve visited,I made a trip to Hazen's Notch, searching for a site to take a group of bryologists who would be visiting in less than two weeks. As I got out of the car at the top of the Notch, I heard something, looked up, and got an excellent view of a Peregrine Falcon through my binoculars, making the same cry I had heard on our ledges.I had mixed emotions: I now felt sure that the raptors Annie and I had seen were Peregrines, and I was excited about that. At the same time I was dismayed thatPeregrines had chosen to possibly nestat Hazen's, where I had hoped to bring 25 bryologists to study mosses! I was in the middle of getting a permit from the state for our field trip, and I expected the birds might put my plans in jeopardy.

On May 11 Steve and I ascendedto ourcliffs, took up a position where they could be seen most clearly, and waited. The tree leaves were starting to seriously obscure the cliff face, and so we didn't have many places from which to view it. Ears were more useful than eyes, and we heard young ravens being fed on the cliffs just to the south of the potential falcon area. Every twenty minutes or so, amazingnoises were issuing forth from the cliffs behind the trees, as the adult ravens brought food to their nestlings.

We had no luck with falcons that day. Much later, however, Margaret Fowle made a trip up to the cliffs and spotted three fledged Peregrines. Then last Monday (July 4) Bill and I went up and couldn't see anything, but heard the young birds making a noise similar to what the adults had made in early May.

I don't believe anyone has spotted the nest ledge yet. Bill and I did see an area that looked whitewashed, but it was a long way up and I don't have a spotting scope.

The bryology workshop was successful. I convinced the powers-that-be in the state's district office to let us go to Hazens Notch, and most of the mossers behaved and stayed away from potential nesting areas. We found a lot of interesting species there and in other spots in northern Vermont.


Russ Ford and LoriBrook went canoeing and camping with their kids in another location in Franklin County, and spotted a pair of Peregrine Falcons perching “vigorously disputing rights to the flight space” with a pair of ravens. Although it appears that neither this pair nor the Hazen’s Notch pair nested this year, both sites are historic Peregrine nesting sites, and this is the first time pairs have been observed in these locations since Peregrine populations declined decades ago.

This year appears to be a banner year for Peregrines, and their future in Vermont continues to look bright. This is especially encouraging news now that the Peregrine is officially off of the state endangered species list. They remain under the protection of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and will continue to be monitored. 

A Loon Nest for Every Lower State

Eric Hanson, VINS Loon Biologist, reportsa record 51 Common Loon nests this year in Vermont, to surpass the previous records of 44 nests in 2003! Plus, there may even be a couple of late nesters yet to be reported. Five of the nests are on lakes with no previous records of loon nesting. Eric reports that loons are learning to habituate to human presence, with one successful nest on Echo Lake in Charleston within 500 feet of 5 camps, although nesting was initiated when the lake wasrelatively quiet in May.Like the Peregrines, the Common Loon was recently removed from the state endangered species list. Their numbers this year lend hope that with continued monitoring and management, this species will continue to thrive in Vermont. For a complete post-season summary, look for the next Loon Caller newsletter and 2005 status report this winter at: http://www.vinsweb.org/cbd/VLRP.html


2. Mid-Late Summer: What Species Can We Still Expect to Confirm?

We all say it, and we say it every year: the summer goes so quickly. The good news is that it’s still a hot time for confirmations (pun intended). Mid-late July is a great opportunity to rack up the confirmation list. Pick a calm morning, pursue high-pitched begging calls, adult chips, and mobbings, and see what you can find. Your rewards per hour should be better than in May and early June. There are also plenty of species still within safe dates, so you can obtain any code for them. Mark these on your field card before a visit to your block with a circle or dash, as a quick reference.  

What species might we expect to confirm in the next month? The table below shows the approximate dates that species tend to be on the nest, with juveniles that cannot fly, and with juveniles that have fledged. We borrowed these data for selected species from New York state. Keep in mind that New York is generally more southerly than Vermont, so dates may vary depending on where you atlas.

Why aren’t we using Vermont data? With the exception of data collected for specific research, nest data in Vermont are actually quite limited. If you would like to monitor nests to contribute to VT nest data, consider the Nest Records Program ( http://www.vinsweb.org/cbd/vt_nestrecord.html)...results will be used in the atlas!

The table was compiled by Gordon M. Meade as an aid to atlassers. The data on which it is based were derived from Forbush (1929), Bull (1974), and Harrison (1978). Additional data submitted by surveyors and Regional Coordinators have been incorporated into it. This table is still incomplete, however, because data on breeding in New York are minimal or lacking for many species.

Egg dates: the earliest and latest dates within which eggs have been found for each species.
Unfledged juveniles: dates within which young have been found in the nest (altricial), and both in the nest and after they have left it (precocial) but before they are able to fly. These dates can be earlier than those for Egg dates because some data are incomplete, certain species may have more than one brood during the season, some single-brooded species replace broods if they are lost, and commencement of egg laying can differ within a species.
Fledglings: periods within which young have been found that are able to fly. For some species only single dates rather than a period are known.

* = No data available for New York

Species are sorted by Fledgling date. These are nesting data, not to be confused with safe dates (dates when species are generally not migratory)

The table below may appear a bit garbled in your email. For a nice clean version, you can download the pdf form of the newsletter at http://www.uvm.edu/~vbba/Newsletters.htm

Species          Egg Dates        Unfledged        Fledglings
American Black Duck     4/2-6/22         4/28-7/14        *
Mallard          3/25-7/9         4/24-8/16        *
Blue-winged Teal         5/3-7/4          5/17-8/7         *
Red-breasted Merganserearly June         *                *
Spotted Sandpiper        5/6-7/26         6/2-8/19         *
Philadelphia Vireo      June-July        *                 *
Acadian Flycatcher       5/28-7/4         19-Jun           *
American Crow   3/30-6/14        5/1-7/28         *
Bobolink                  5/18-6/20        5/30-7/20       *
Horned Lark              2/28-7/31        3/11-8/4         3/31-9/13
Common Raven    3/26-4/14        3/21, 4/12      4/17,5/30,6/14
Pine Siskin              3/15-5/25        4/13-6/10        4/17-7/16
Mourning Dove            3/9-9/28         4/6-10/5         4/24-10/26
American Woodcock        3/24-6/17        4/17-6/29        4/29-8/2
Northern Cardinal        4/10-9/9         4/23-9/23        4/30-9/23
Great Horned Owl         1/28-5/8         3/8-6/12         4/9-6/9
Eastern Bluebird         4/1-8/18         4/28-9/6         5/10-9/17
Barred Owl               3/23-5/3         4/14-6/11        5/13-7/1
Common Grackle  4/12-6/4         5/3-6/28         5/18-7/29
House Finch              4/11-8/6         4/24-8/23        5/18-8/11
Song Sparrow             4/17-8/13        5/5-9/3           5/18-9/23
Gray Jay                 3/10-4/10        *                 5/19-8/12
European Starling        4/10-6/15        5/1-7/30         5/19-8/30
Tufted Titmouse 4/29-5/27        5/13-6/30        5/20-8/4
Peregrine Falcon         3/2-5/31         4/19-7/10        5/21-7/27
Killdeer                  4/3-7/4          5/3-7/30         5/21-8/12
Black-capped Chickadee4/29-7/15 5/21-7/20        5/21-8/3
Wood Duck                3/28-7/15        5/15-8/7         5/22-9/23
American Robin  3/23-7/19        4/21-8/30        5/25-9/10
Northern Saw-whet Owl3/31-6/11  4/21-7/16        5/28-8/22
Brown-headed Cowbird    4/23-7/31        5/19-8/2         5/30-8/19
Pine Warbler             5/4-6/6           5/19-6/17        5/30-8/8
Eastern Screech-Owl     3/23-5/11        4/24-6/25        5/5-8/17
Carolina Wren            4/1-8/5           4/21-10/2        5/8-8/29
Canada Goose             3/28-5/14        4/28-6/27        From 5/18
Red-shouldered Hawk     3/25-5/26        5/5-7/5           early as 6-jun
Tree Swallow             5/5-7/18         5/22-8/10        6/10-8/2
Purple Finch             5/13-7/16        6/2-7/24         6/10-9/3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak5/6-7/19  5/30-7/26        6/11-8/15
Yellow Warbler  5/15-7/3         6/4-7/23         6/12-8/1
American Kestrel         4/5-6/29         5/19-8/2         6/12-8/10
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker4/29-6/19        5/29-7/8         6/12-8/15
Savannah Sparrow         5/11-6/16        5/30-7/23        6/12-8/30
Hairy Woodpecker         4/23-5/19        5/5-6/14         6/13-8/1
Northern Goshawk         4/20-5/15        5/18-7/1         6/14-7/27
American Bittern         5/10-6/29        5/26-7/24        6/14-8/3
Baltimore Oriole         5/15-6/13        6/6/-7/9                  6/15-7/14
Upland Sandpiper         4/23-6/15        5/28-7/18        6/15-8/11
Winter Wren              5/22-7/29        6/3-8/4           6/15-8/16
Nashville Warbler        5/19-6/10        5/30-6/22        6/15-8/17
Magnolia Warbler         5/25-7/11        6/5-7/24         6/15-8/26
Common Yellowthroat     5/15-7/12        6/2-8/22         6/15-9/11
Ruffed Grouse            4/1-6/22         5/27-7/5         6/15-9/4
Evening Grosbeak         5/19-6/4         5/31-6/17        6/15-9/5
Cedar Waxwing   6/5-9/23         6/12-10/1        6/16-10/8
Whip-poor-will           5/6-6/30         6/2-7/14         6/16-8/8
Blue Jay                 4/15-6/17        5/18-7/5         6/1-7/31
Red-tailed Hawk 3/18-5/16        4/17-6/20        6/1-7/8
Field Sparrow            5/16-8/17        5/26-8/20        6/17-6/20
Golden-crowned Kinglet5/28-7/26 6/11-7/25        6/17-8/30
Long-eared Owl  3/21-5/23        5/5-6/24         6/1-8/8
Ovenbird                  5/17-7/22        6/8-8/8          6/18-9/10
Wild Turkey              4/26-7/9         5/13-8/13        6/1-9/7
Brown Thrasher  5/6-6/26         5/19-7/29        6/19-7/26
Black-and-white Warbler5/10-6/30         6/5-7/23         6/19-7/31
Northern Flicker         4/20-6/19        5/18-7/26        6/19-8/15
Clay-colored Sparrow    May-June         15-Jun            6/20-7/15
Black-backed Woodpecker5/18-6/12         5/30-6/20        6/20-7/23
Red-winged Blackbird    4/26-7/9         5/29-7/19        6/20-7/30
Veery                     5/15-6/25        6/14 - 7/22     6/20-7/31
Canada Warbler  5/31-7/24        6/14-7/29        6/20-8/15
Common Loon              5/15-7/17        6/5-8/22         6/20-9/15
Black-billed Cuckoo     5/20-8/28        6/1-9/10         6/20-9/27
Warbling Vireo           5/16-6/16        5/31-6/29        6/21-7/24
Hooded Merganser         4/25-6/2         5/11-7/17        6/21-8/18
Eastern Kingbird         5/20-7/18        6/3-8/5          6/21-8/21
Indigo Bunting           5/20-8/3         6/18-8/14        6/21-9/20
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron4/30-6/10      5/30-6/24        6/22-7/4
Black-throated Blue Warbler5/29-7/17    6/14-7/29        6/22-8/14
Chestnut-sided Warbler5/20-7/25 6/15-8/6         6/22-8/20
Red-bellied Woodpecker4/26-6/28 5/18-8/29        6/23-8/13
Black-throated Green Warbler5/24-7/2    6/11-7/29        6/23-8/15
Cliff Swallow            5/9-7/14         5/29-8/19        6/23-8/23
Yellow-billed Cuckoo    5/26-8/19        6/21-9/17        6/23-9/23
Brown Creeper            4/24-6/30        5/27-7/28        6/24-8/20
House Sparrow   3/23-7/16        4/15-8/4         6/24-9/6
Barn Swallow             5/15-8/4         5/24-8/28        6/25-9/22
American Redstart        5/14-7/16        6/4-8/5          6/26-8/19
House Wren               5/15-7/31        5/22-8/28        6/26-9/11
Mourning Warbler         5/28-7/7         6/17-7/28        6/27-8/16
White-throated Sparrow5/30-7/21 6/14-8/16        6/27-8/31
Golden-winged Warbler5/18-6/16  6/8-7/6           6/27-8/6
Great Crested Flycatcher5/22-7/11        6/10-7/26        6/27-9/14
Eastern Towhee  5/15-8/4         5/18-8/15        6/2-8/31
Swamp Sparrow   5/5-7/22         5/21-7/30        6/28-8/3
Blue-headed Vireo        5/10-8/9         6/7-8/13         6/28-8/31
Bank Swallow             5/15-7/13        5/31-8/12        6/28-9/1
Blackpoll Warbler        6/5-7/10         *                30-Jun
Black-crowned Night-Heron4/1-7/23        5/21-7/26        6/30-8/25
Pied-billed Grebe        4/21-7/2         5/14-8/20        6/30-9/23
White-breasted Nuthatch4/13-6/6 5/8-6/11         6/3-6/22
Northern Waterthrush    5/10-6/28        5/24-7/5         6/4-7/20
Chipping Sparrow         5/2-7/19         5/23-9/3         6/4-9/21
Eastern Meadowlark       5/9-8/1          5/24-8/12        6/5-8/24
Gray Catbird             5/5-8/12         5/29-8/20        6/6-9/21
Dark-eyed Junco 4/28-8/13        5/16-8/17        6/7-8/27
Blue-winged Warbler     5/18-6/17        6/4-7/11         6/8-8/12
Red-breasted Nuthatch   4/30-6/17        5/15-7/1         6/8-8/18
Pileated Woodpecker     4/22-5/20        5/10-6/21        6/9-7/15
Downy Woodpecker         5/6-6/30         5/31-7/3         6/9-7/16
Louisiana Waterthrush   4/25-6/20        5/20-7/6         6/9-7/25
Yellow-rumped Warbler   5/19-7/10        6/2-7/22         6/9-8/17
Eastern Phoebe  4/20-8/4         5/13-8/10        6/9-8/24
Wood Thrush              5/14-7/7         5/22-8/1         6/9-8/31
Sora                      4/30-7/17        5/19-8/8         6/9-9/15
Hermit Thrush            5/10-8/24        5/30-8/31        6/9-9/23
Yellow-throated Vireo   5/17-6/18        6/16-7/30        7/1-8/14
Boreal Chickadee         6/11-7/17        6/27-7/26        7/2-8/27
Cooper's Hawk            4/20-6/16        6/2-7/2           7/2-8/3
Marsh Wren               5/22-8/7         6/21-8/12        7/2-8/31
Sharp-shinned Hawk      4/16-6/21        6/8-7/23         7/3-7/25
Black Tern               5/27-7/23        6/13-8/5         7/3-8/25
Northern Harrier         4/20-6/25        5/30-7/18        7/4-8/11
Broad-winged Hawk        4/27-6/26        5/30-7/27        7/4-8/16
Northern Parula 5/17-6/27        6/6-7/4           7/4-8/5
Green Heron              4/29-8/4         5/22-8/24        7/4-9/19
Scarlet Tanager 5/20-7/23        6/9-Aug.         7/4-9/19
Northern Bobwhite        5/25-9/14        6/11-9/27        7/5-10/11
Green-winged Teal        5/25-7/15        6/16-7/28        7/5-8/11
Common Snipe    4/20-6/16        5/19-6/20        5-Jul
N.Rough-winged Swallow5/12-7/5  6/14-7/11        7/6-7/28
Rusty Blackbird 5/17-6/15        5/30-7/8         7/7-7/24
Common Nighthawk         5/25-7/25        6/14-8/14        7/7-8/30
Least Flycatcher         5/16-6/28        6/22-8/6         7/8-8/16
Common Moorhen  5/14-7/25        6/3-8/27         7/9-9/17
Olive-sided Flycatcher  6/9-6/27         22-Jun            7/10-7/24
Swainson's Thrush        5/31-7/11        6/30-7/22        7/10-8/10
Osprey           4/27-6/21        6/18-7/25        7/10-8/227/10-8/6
Vesper Sparrow  5/5-8/16         6/11-7/16        7/11-7/31
Alder Flycatcher         6/2-7/29         6/21-8/14        7/11-8/24
Willow Flycatcher        6/11-7/29        6/21-8/14        7/11-8/24
Common Merganser         5/5-7/10         5/15-8/18        7/12-8/25
Bicknell's Thrush        6/12-6/27        7/1-7/25         7/12-8/7
Ruby-throated Hummingbird5/21-8/16       6/24-9/6         7/12-9/30
Blackburnian Warbler    6/1-6/24         6/17-7/1         7/13-8/4
Turkey Vulture           5/4-6/20         6/15-8/27        7/14-9/24
Great Blue Heron         4/15-6/9         5/19-7/17       From 7/17
Chimney Swift            5/30-7/27        6/25-8/12        7/18-9/1
Grasshopper Sparrow     5/17-8/2         6/29-8/19        7/21-9/5
Lincoln's Sparrow        6/10-6/28        18-Jun           21-Jul
Virginia Rail            5/5-7/13         5/11-8/14        7/23-9/8
Ruby-crowned Kinglet    May-6/29         2-Jul             24-Jul
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher6/10-6/27       *                25-Jul
Ring-necked Duck         5/20-6/30        5/29-7/11        7/25-8/22
Belted Kingfisher        4/28-6/10        6/8-7/14         7/29-8/9
Eastern Wood-Pewee       5/30-8/15        6/22-8/13       8/3, 9/16
Sedge Wren               5/28-7/30        6/30-8/22        8/4-9/15
Red-eyed Vireo  5/13-8/1         6/8-8/17         8/6-9/13
American Goldfinch       6/25-9/16        7/24-9/30        8/17-10/10
Spruce Grouse   Mid-early June  6/19-7/16        8/17-8/22
Rock Dove                every month


3. It’s Easier Than Ever to Follow the Birds
(reprinted from the Newsletter of the National Biological Information Infrastructure)

A bird field guide will tell you, with tiny maps, where the birds are. But can you say for certain whether the Magnolia Warbler has built its nest in your neighborhood? Or whether that Red-tailed Hawk nest in the neighbor’s sycamore is unusual?
In 2005, the NBII Bird Conservation Node continues to support the development of Web sites, tools, and applications that increase access to data on North American birds and facilitate integration of the data across geographic scales. Earlier this year, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center made available online the North American Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA) Viewer < http://mbirdims.fws.gov/nbii_bba/ > and BBA Explorer < http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bba/ >, providing access to results from multiple state and provincial Breeding Bird Atlas projects. These atlases are population surveys that assess the distribution of breeding birds based on a “block” system, with blocks about 2-3 miles on a side.
To discover whether a species nests in your local area, a breeding bird atlas is often the best source of information. If you don’t own the published atlas or want to look at data from multiple atlas projects, you now have help. The BBA Viewer is a mapping application that allows users to map species results from multiple Breeding Bird Atlases in North America for the first time. In addition to these maps, the BBA Explorer Web site allows users to learn about methods used in each Breeding Bird Atlas project, and to retrieve Atlas project results in a tabular form by species, block, or region (e.g., by county). These tools are part of a suite of tools, including BBA Manager, facilitating data management and display of BBA results, from data entry by Atlas volunteers to review by Atlas project coordinator to display of final results in maps or tables.
The online tools are intended to complement the final publications themselves (which provide informative analyses and discussion) and, as of May 2005, the BBA tools contained data for 16 states and one Canadian province. Additional states have expressed interest in participating in this effort to develop a continental repository for Breeding Bird Atlases in North America that increasingly could serve as a resource for regional and national bird conservation planning and evaluation.

4. Stories From the Field

I was out atlassing at Berlin Pond with a friend over the 4th of July weekend, and we spied a male Virginia Rail looking about furtively at the edge of the road. Luckily, traffic of all kinds was light because of the holiday. My instincts told me to stop the car and edge it a bit forward to create a blind for this bird who was becoming more and more agitated, yearning toward the other side of the road. As I did this, we saw a few fuzzy black heads pop into the open, then back again as a car came through the other way, its inhabitants noting the larger bird and my Subaru blind with quizzical looks. We quietly urged the male forward with a whispered "all clear", and he vocalized sharply. Immediately, out popped the female and several black heads, and she tucked herself together and shot across the road with the male and two chicks close to their heels. There was one other chick visible, but he stopped and turned around toward the marsh where a couple of other heads were still visible in the tall grass. Just then, two Red-winged Blackbirds zoomed down and began to harass them. The chick at the road's edge held its ground while the others darted back out of sight. It turned and held firm against the blackbirds who fluttered around and came down again. Still, the chick stood tall and would not give any ground. Finally, the larger birds lost interest, and the chick puffed itself up at the border of the road and called to its siblings. One by one they emerged into a clump, their heads bobbing in anticipation--we could see two or three more. Chick #1 leaned out in the road and took a couple of steps, and two others came out behind him. They took a few tentative steps, unable to hear the cacaphony of hissing "go--go--go!!!!" from the Subaru blind. Then, they took off, all three--wait... four--wait...five--wait...six in all! As they dropped into the border of the marsh on the other side, celebratory "oinks" could be heard coming from under cover. An important lesson of independence and survival had been successfully taught, and one very tiny little ball of black fluff seemed a little larger than the others as it huddled up to follow the adults to a safe haven for the night.

- Paula Gills, Brookfield

I went out to my block (Poultney 4) and was discovering the trail system behind
Castleton State College. Mostly the usual species were seen and heard but as I was heading south I heard something rustling the leaves. I first thought I jumped a deer because of all of the tracks I'd seen, but when I looked up I was surprised to see a bobcat twenty-five yards in front of me. The bobcat was so interested in catching a squirrel that it didn't notice me quietly walking along the trail. For about thirty seconds they went round and round and up and down the trunk of
the hemlock. I didn't know bobcats could move that fast! The squirrel was either injured or in shock and seemed to just give up. The bobcat didn't wait long to pounce. One little scream and the bobcat had its lunch. I watched hoping
to get a confirmation for bobcats, but it just wandered off into the dark hemlock forest and disappeared.

- Joel Flewelling

It appears to be the Summer of Mammals for me. This is not to be confused with the Summer of Love (for those of you old  I mean, experienced enough to be familiar with that reference).  In fact, these are encounters filled with mutual respect, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say love. Some may consider the following events to be the associated risks of atlassing, but to me, they’re excellent fringe benefits.

The first encounter was near May Pond in Barton, on an atlas block where I conduct a Forest Bird Monitoring Survey, a series of surveys conducted at fixed points every year. It was early morning. I had finished my first point, and was happily trouncing along to the second one. I stopped for a few moments to play with my GPS. Seeing that it had no satellites, I decided to find the next point without it. I stuffed the GPS back into my fanny pack, set my sights on an imaginary yet intuitive bearing that would theoretically take me to the next point, and launched off with a step - crash!! No more than 20 meters away, a moose jumped to its feet. I had been oblivious to this massive beast that had been lying nearby. It was a smallish female, thankfully for me with no calf in tow. It trotted off, stopping now and then to take a look at the perpetrator who had violated its space. I continued to my next survey point, which just happened to be in the opposite direction from the moose’s trajectory. I conducted another point count, and was happy to be heading yet further from the moose as I continued to the third point. Just as I had hit my comfortable bush-whacking stride, crash! I jumped another moose, this time at a safer 100 m or so, who quickly ran off with a grunt. For the rest of the morning I found my binoculars to be quite handy for double-checking large, dark stumps in the distance. At my fifth and final point, I still heard grunting from afar.

The other two encounters occurred the very next day, on my block in the Breadloaf Wilderness. This block is reached only on foot, and contains only two hiking trails. Such blocks are challenging. They tend to be completely forested, so obtaining 75 species is nearly impossible, and there are no “gimme” confirmations like Starlings, Grackles, Phoebes, and Song Sparrows. However, these blocks take an atlasser to remote places that they otherwise might never see, and afford encounters that may otherwise never be experienced.

I first happened on a bear that was roaming uncomfortably close to me  and towards me - through an old overgrown clearcut. Its grunts and groans convinced me to resist the temptation to find out whether it was a female with cubs. As I quietly retreated, I spooked a fisher cat even more than it startled me. It headed a few feet up a spruce tree, paused briefly to size me up, and reversed its own path of retreat, scaling back down the tree in a panic and disappearing into the forest.

My peripheral vision is a little wider these days. I’ve always been delighted at the diverse discoveries held in each day of atlassing. But those two days indelibly sharpened my focus and attentiveness towards the mammalian. 

- Rosalind Renfrew, Taftsville


5. Meet the Coordinators: George Clark

George Clark is VBBA Coordinator for northern Windsor County and resides in Norwich. Now retired as a biology professor from the University of Connecticut (Storrs), he was much involved in that state's breeding bird atlas. He has also lived and birded for more than a year each in Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington state, as well as in England. Most of his pelagic birding has been done as a study-leader for Smithsonian educational tours on cruise ships in both North Atlantic and southern South American waters. George has published numerous articles on birds, recent examples being the New World flycatcher section in David Sibley's Guide to Bird Life and Behavior and a chapter on "Form and Function: The External Bird" in the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology Home Study Course in Bird Biology. Once characterized as "never having met a bird he didn't like", George enjoys all kinds of birds and thinks that doing atlassing is really great fun.

Note from the Director: George has been an incredibly fastidious, motivational, and supportive atlas county coordinator, always on top of his game. His excellent birding skills and scientific background have also been a tremendous benefit to the atlas project. Thank you George!