Birding a New Patch

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.

Lamoille County is about 10 miles from the house and the "patch" is 2 miles further.

Lamoille County is about 10 miles from the house and the “patch” is 2 miles further.

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.

Note the post, with a lock, to keep out four-wheelers and snow machines.

Note the post, with a lock, to keep out four-wheelers and snow machines.

The North Branch is a lovely stream here, colored brown with tannic acid.

The North Branch is a lovely stream here, colored brown with tannic acid.

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.

Ovenbirds are probably the most common bird along the trail -- usually hear five or ten -- but rarely see them.

Ovenbirds are probably the most common bird along the trail — usually hear five or ten — but rarely see them.  This one was more accommodating than most.

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.

A "Selfie" along the trail - birding was slow.

A “Selfie” along the trail – birding was slow.

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.

Why haul it out when you can just leave it in the woods?

Why haul it out when you can just leave it in the woods?

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.

SandpiperW

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.

Fungi on yellow birch

Fungi on yellow birch

Many patches of violets adorn the pathway.

Many patches of violets adorn the pathway.

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