Hi all,

I was in Burlington this afternoon for meetings, and so decided to return to Moretown via Sandbar State Park and Grand Isle -- only a slight detour.

The marshes on both sides of Rt. 2 in the Sandbar WMA are opening up.  I did not see large numbers of ducks in there -- a few Blacks and Mallards.  But I did not stop alongside Rt 2 where the populations are sometimes heaviest, because so was the traffic today.  Teal are often seen there, but I didn't get to search for them.  I did see 2 Great Blue Herons.  No doubt, dozens more and the Ospreys will be along soon -- but not yet.

Heading across the causeway there is open water at the gap between Mallott's Bay and the Inland Sea.  And, there were gulls and ducks there.  I didn't have a scope, so the best I can say is that the 3 expected gull species were there in good numbers.  And that there were 16 Goldeneye and 2 Ring-neck ducks.

South Hero Marsh was also partially iced in, but - considering the conditions -- there were lots of birds there.  I saw 2 Gadwell, 3 Mallard, 6 Wood Duck, 2 Canada Geese, 14 American Crow, 1 Cedar Waxwing, 25 Red-winged Black Birds, 6 Common Grackle, 1 Song Sparrow, and 200 European Starlings in an adjoining farm field.  These populations will also likely increase as the ice comes off.  I'm sure I heard a Creeper there, but with my bad hearing, I always need a visual to confirm those squeakers -- didn't find it.  (Frustrating as I haven't stumbled across one yet this year)

I drove to the western shore of Grand Isle (West Shore & Lake View) to the place where the 100's of bird houses and several feeders are located (if you've never seen it, it's worth the drive.  If this is the home of one of our e-birding community, congratulations, it's a labor of love and a wonderfully whimsical work of art!).  The lake was still iced-in, but there were good numbers of Goldfinches, House Finches, Chickadees, House Sparrows and Robins there.

Then, I pressed north for the ferry dock.  Nothing happening there.  Again, the lake was iced in, and I didn't see more than a few distant gulls using the open water where the ferry transits.

I drove into the Ed Weed Fish Hatchery and took a look at the pond.  I guess all the birds from the lake were hanging out there -- greater warmth and protection.  There were 37 Mallards, 68 Canada Geese, 2 Gadwell, 4 Black Ducks, 2 Goldeneye, 6 Red-winged Black birds and 2 Robins.

I was out of time then and bolted for home.  There were turkeys and many many Canada's in the field and on the bays (geese not turkeys) as I made my way back down 2.  I really wanted to stop and look for Brant or White-fronted Geese, but time was up.

So, my quick 1 man birding-while-driving scouting report says I was a little early, but the islands are going to be popping soon!  I'll bet we'll be hearing some impressive reports from e-birders who live on or visit the islands.

Scott Sainsbury