Birding Hubbard Park

Last week, I had the truck in for maintenance and rather than sit in the waiting room with a mindless tv program blaring, I decided to take a walk with the dog and do a little birding. Fortunately, we have a wonderful forested park right in downtown Montpelier so off I headed toward the golden dome of the statehouse.

Hubbard Park rises straight up behind the statehouse and has a winding trail that weavesbup through tall pine and hardwood trees to an observation tower. No sooner did I enter the wood when I heard an Ovenbird over the din of morning traffic. There is construction underway downtown so the singing Red-eyed Vieros and Hermit Thrushes competed with back-up signals from dump trucks. This faded as we climbed and I began to hear Black-throated Greens (and Blues) and other woodland birds as we climbed.

The trail was rebuilt by Youth Conservation Corps teams who also built some clever resting spots like this one.

The trail was rebuilt by Youth Conservation Corps teams who also built some clever resting spots like this one.

In 1899, Montpelier was given 134 acres of land by John E. Hubbard for use as a park and then, in 1911, was donated additional land was donated where the present stone observation  tower stands.

You come out of the woods into a lovely clearing, filled with birds, in which stands the Hubbard Park tower.  Penny and I don't do towers -- but I hear the view is great.

You come out of the woods into a lovely clearing, filled with birds, in which stands the Hubbard Park tower. Penny and I don’t do towers — but I hear the view is great.

We started to encounter dogs and walkers as we entered into the roads of the park.  It is a popular exercise spot for canines and at present, there is no leash requirement so it can be a little dicey with a bossy Vizsla, who is on a leash.  We maneuvered by several groups of people and dogs as we moved down toward the new shelter.  There were some American Redstarts and Blackburnian Warblers calling high in the foliage and a half dozed Red-eyed Vireos.

The park is extensive and hooks up with trails at the North Branch Nature Center and other city land.

The park is extensive and hooks up with trails at the North Branch Nature Center and other city land.

As we descended back toward the “Meadow Area” of Montpelier, we started running into some field-habitat birds and I grabbed a couple of photos:

This American Goldfinch was chowing down on some plants and ignored us.

This American Goldfinch was chowing down on some plants and ignored us.

A juvenile Common Yellowthroat played hide and seek as I tried to take a photo.

A juvenile Common Yellowthroat played hide and seek as I tried to take a photo.

We were soon back on city streets and heading back toward the garage to pick up the Ford. It was such a lovely outing, right smack in the middle of the capitol city of Vermont.  Without a lot of work, I logged 20 species, and know that I missed some.  So if you are visiting Montpelier, carve out some time to walk the trails of this great resource.  You can drive most of the way up this time of year and avoid some pretty steep climbs.  It is a safe place and a great place to air out a restless pooch — and see and hear some neat birds.

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