This is a late posting, but on Friday I spent a long day birding from the
Northeast Kingdom down to the Champlain Valley with some pretty nice
results. My target was to get the boreal grand slam (Gray Jay, Boreal
Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Spruce Grouse), as well as try for
7 owl species.


My first stop was at Dead Creek viewing area where I picked up a Snowy Owl
at first light. From there I headed straight for Moose Bog.

A flock of 4 Gray Jays greeted me in the parking area, along with some of
the other usual suspects like Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jays,
Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Black-capped Chickadees. I followed the
chickadees as they moved down the road where they were eventually joined by
a pair of Boreal Chickadees.

Down at the pond area, I found a drumming Black-backed Woodpecker, and
again found myself being investigated by another flock of Gray Jays.

I walked the Moose Bog trail twice in search for a Spruce Grouse and was
rewarded (briefly) on my second pass when I stumbled across a set of grouse
tracks that were not present the first time I walked through. I followed
those tracks for a short distance before I noticed a nice male hunkered
beneath a fallen spruce tree only a few feet away. I had about a 2 second
look before it flushed.

On my way back towards the Middlebury area, I stopped by to see the
Northern Hawk Owl in Waterbury and was able to find it quickly thanks to
some other birders who had already staked it out. Unfortunately I didn't
have much time to watch it because I was running out of daylight and still
needed to make it back to Middlebury to try for Short-eared Owls.

I tried South St. Extension where a SEOW had been reported a few days ago,
but did not see any owls as the daylight slipped away. However, as I was
driving home, I did see what I'm fairly certain was a SEOW cross the road
in my headlights on South St. Extension near the horse barn where the road
bisects the large field, about a mile North of the previous report. I
stopped and tried a quick playback but had no luck relocating the bird, so
for now I am calling it only a probable Short-eared Owl.

After running home and grabbing some dinner and a shower, I headed towards
Snake Mountain.

My first stop was the Snake Mountain trailhead parking area where I heard
one N. Saw-whet Owl. I also heard another N. Saw-whet Owl on Market Rd.

Next, I picked up a Barred Owl at the parking area on Mountain Rd.

On Fiddle Ln. in Bridport, 2 E. Screech Owls called in response to my best
ESOW impersonation.

Great Horned Owl proved to be the hardest owl to come by, and I struck out
on them while in the area. I even tried for Ian's birds but did not hear
them. Luckily, I had an ace up my sleeve and was able to add a pair of
GHOWs that have been calling near my house by the Salisbury Fish Hatchery
for the last several nights.

It was a tiring day but very rewarding.

Happy birding,
Tyler Pockette