Going to bed the night before Birdathon 2021 I was so excited - I felt like a kid with a playdate the next day. I pulled up and everyone was on the deck with already at least 10 birds tallied! A group of the team had spent the night camping out at Audubon to be sure to catch the owls and American Woodcock. They were up early again, catching the dawn birdsong chorus.
Since our team is fully vaccinated, we got to head out together seeing everyone’s WHOLE smiling faces. We started on the Warbler Trail. As we headed up the hill we heard my favorite bird, the Blackburnian Warbler. I lingered at the back of the group, doing my best to sneak a peek of brilliant orange and black, but only caught his white belly as he flew over way up high. Off to a great start!
Everyone spent the first part of the morning catching up and sharing life stories and memories. Re-connection seemed to be the theme of the day. This crew can be competitive on our Birdathon day (it happens only once a year) to find as many species as we can, but this year the pressure was off and the enjoyment of the day was incredible. As we reached the top of the Spear Trail and started to head down to the Birds of Vermont Museum Trail our first red eft was spotted. I spent a while laying on my side watching its chin bob up and down with each breath.
We then happened into one of my favorite parts of the day: a fern foray. Debbie and I extensively quizzed Gwen on the different species of ferns and how she knew which ones were which. I love slowing down and taking the time to intimately check out something, to look for clues as to who it is. It was fun to find the differences and repetitions from the frond to the pinna down to the pinnule. How could you not love the fertile fronds and the hairy armpits (or wooly tufts) of the cinnamon fern, and the darkly stubbled hairy legs (or stipes) of the lady fern?
Once we got to the Birds of Vermont Museum, we watched Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks at the bird feeder while looking over at the brook below. Suddenly our intern Ciara spotted a little brown bird! COULD IT BE? A waterthrush?? Debbie and I followed the brook for a while trying to sneak a good look at the bird. Just as we were almost giving up Debbie spotted it - bobbing bottom and pink legs - a Louisiana Waterthrush! We saw it with food in its beak heading into the nest. What a wow moment! Still lingering on that!
What a gift to work in such a magical place where we saw in one day 69 different species of birds - and more importantly, we had such a fun day that my stomach hurt the next day from laughing. I hope you are enjoying the birds wherever you are and get out there for birding adventures of your own!
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Audubon Vermont Staff Birdathon Birdlist
May 24, 2021
Green Mountain Audubon Center
(in order of appearance):
Black-throated Green Warbler
Great Crested Flycatcher
Black-throated Blue Warbler