As I have launched a County Big Year for Lamoille County, I have found a “patch” where I have been focusing much of my attention: it is close and pretty, and it is productive.
The patch is a hiking/bike/ski trail from Route 12 up to Little Elmore Pond. Here’s the starting point with a bridge across the North Branch of the Winooski River.
Yesterday, I had a couple of hours so the dog and I went up for some birding. I hadn’t even got out of the truck when I heard two Ovenbirds calling back and forth.
There’s little traffic on the highway but it’s nice to get up the trail a bit and get away from what road noise there is. The the woods come alive with the calls of warblers however the new foliage makes sightings a challenge. I never meet anyone along the way and it is wonderful just walking along, listening. I usually keep the dog leashed going up so that she doesn’t spook everything before I get there and it pays off, we heard and saw a Tennessee Warbler early on the trail.
The trail has water in vernal pools and a small brook runs alongside and the black flies are out and about. Last week, about a quarter-mile in, I heard a loud bird up ahead, low in the underbrush, but didn’t recognize the call. Quietly moving ahead with the dog straining, I saw a small bird moving and got it in the binoculars (one-handed since the leash was in the other) and saw an Ovenbird-like bird with a different call. I realized that I had my first Northern Waterthrush of the year.
Of course, although the landscape is wild and beautiful, there is debris — some from hunters (shell cases), and some from former logging operations. I spotted this big black object off the trail and thinking “bear cub,” saw that it was just an abandoned skidder tire.
It’s really been fun getting to know this little area. I see Common Yellowthroats in the same spots each visit and am getting to know the hot spots along the way. I took my bike a few weeks ago and rode/pushed the six or seven miles up to Little Elmore Pond. I approached the pond carefully, thinking that I might see some waterfowl but nothing was there. I sat by the water’s edge, hearing a Barred Owl and a Pileated Woodpecker, when a shorebird whizzed past. It settled on a rock and I got a few shots of this lonely Spotted Sandpiper.
So far, in about a month I have over 60 species in this birding patch and got three new birds yesterday. It’s been a good find and in fifteen minutes I can get there and be in wild country filled with some pretty good birds. It’s a great place to slow down and enjoy things. Here are a couple more shots of things along the way. Good birding.