Planning for a Washington County Big Year

Previously, I wrote that I was looking into doing a big year in 2013 since we are staying in Vermont this winter.  I was considering a state-wide effort but after giving it more thought, felt that it would be a nice challenge to bird Washington County — it’s more energy-efficient, time-efficient, and manageable with having to bird mostly with a dog along.

"I hear you're planning a big year -- can't wait."

“I hear you’re planning a big year — can’t wait.”

So, I’m already learning a lot as I plan.  We have lived in this county for about 25 years total — including the last 13 — and I am just now learning the boundaries.  It’s a 695 square miles with lot of zigs and zags.  There are only a few bodies of water so we look for shorebirds in flooded cornfields.  Here is some material that my friends at North Branch Nature Center put together for a county contest a year ago.

Q: What birds can be found in Vermont / Washington County?
  –  Vermont Daily Field Card: This is a great checklist that can be used for day-to-day
birding in Vermont. It includes rarity and time of year for each species.
  –  Bird Checklist for NBNC & Surrounding Parks: This checklist was designed for use at
NBNC and surrounging parks but also includes directions to some other local hotspots.
  –  Vermont State List: A list of all birds ever seen in Vermont, even if they were only
seen once.
  –  Breeding Bird Atlas: Contains a list of known breeding birds in Vermont and includes
maps of where breeding has occured.
  –  Vermont eBird Bar Chart: The powerful eBird website allows for a bar chart displaying the
frequency at which birds occur throughout the year in our state. You can submit your
sightings to eBird too! (added 1/12/10)
  –  Washington County eBird Bar Chart: Similar to above and specific to Washington Co.

Q: Where are the best places to see birds in Vermont / Washington County?
–  VT eBird: Has a list of birding “hot spots” and even allows you to see which birds have
been reported at those sites.
  –  Birding Guide to Chittenden County: A resource from Green Mountain Audubon.   –  Birdwatching in Vermont, by Bryan Pfeiffer and Ted Murin, is an excellent resource
for birding in the state.
  –  Birdwatching in the Mad River Valley: The “Mad Birders” have posted a list of places to
bird in the Mad River Valley on their website.
–  Lake Champlain Birding Trail: A free guide to birding spots along the lake.
–  Connecticut River Birding Trail: A $5 guide to birding spots along the Connecticut.

Q: What are good Identification Guides?
A: There are many great identification guides and you may ultimately want to obtain several. Some have different features and/or styles such as detailed life history, range maps that appear next to plates, photos vs. illustrations, etc. Some may be small & compact (for field use) while others may be bulky but comprehensive. Furthermore, some guides are specific to a certain region (ie, Eastern vs. Western) or type of bird (Gulls, warblers, shorebirds, etc.) Below are some suggestions:
–  Cornell’s “All About Birds”: an free, online guide
–  Sibley Guides
–  Peterson Guides
–  Audubon Guides
–  Stokes Guides
–  National Geographic Guides
–  Kaufman Guides

Q: What Towns are in Washington County?

Sign up by RSS feed or via email to have future articles sent to you. 

This entry was posted in Big Year, County Big Year, Vermont Birding and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.