The annual Bird walk took place in Norwich the other day. The weather was a bit iffy with pouring rain just as the walk was about to begin. I was not able to attend the event but reached out to Chris Rimmer, a longtime Norwich resident and director of Vermont center for Ecostudies, for a report of the bird sightings and counts. The Cover photo credit belongs to Kent McFarland.
This photo credit goes to Jim Block and is from the 2010 bird count event
New Year's morning found 11 intrepid birders gathering in front of Dan and Whit's General Store in Norwich, braving rain showers and an inch-plus of fresh, wet snow to ring in 2019. They were participating in the annual Hanover-Norwich Christmas Bird Count, whereby every bird seen or heard is tallied within a 15-mile diameter circle.
The group spent 90 minutes scouring thickets, woods and feeders along a route that followed the popular 1.5-mile "Dan and Whit's loop", from Hopson Road, detouring slightly through Warner Meadows and along Bloody Brook, up to Elm Street, and down Elm back to Dan and Whit's.
The showers ended just before we began, and clearing skies were accompanied by a rising northwest wind, which kept avian activity on the quiet side. However, human spirits were high, and we managed to find 12 species, which included the expected cast of local winter residents. Six White-throated Sparrows were noteworthy, as this "half-hardy" species normally winters south of the Upper Valley.
Click here for National Audubon Christmas Bird count site photos:
Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola Enucleator) credit for photo goes to Kent McFarland
Our full list included:
Rock Pigeon -- 4
Mourning Dove -- 6
Downy Woodpecker -- 3
Hairy Woodpecker -- 1
American Crow -- 1
Black-capped Chickadee -- 12
Tufted Titmouse -- 3
White-breasted Nuthatch -- 3
Dark-eyed Junco -- 4
White-throated Sparrow -- 6
Northern Cardinal -- 6
House Sparrow -- 15
Wild Turkeys at bird feeder (photo credit goes to Kent McFarland)
This outing unofficially kicked off Norwich 2019 Year of the Bird, which is an informal effort to document 175 different species of bird within the town's borders during calendar year 2019.
Chris Rimmer, a longtime Norwich resident and director of Vermont Center for Ecostudies, led the New Year's Day bird walk and will coordinate this townwide birding quest. Chris has set his own personal goal of identifying 150 species in Norwich during 2019, and he "challenges" others birding in our town to add to that total, letting him know about any exciting avian finds.
The platform for keeping track of Norwich's yearlong sightings will be Vermont eBird, a real-time, online checklist program that has revolutionized how the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, 2019 marks the 15-year anniversary of Vermont eBird, which is managed by VCE and is the very first state portal for eBird.
In just a decade-and-a-half, the checklists that bird watchers have shared have helped make Vermont eBird the largest citizen science biodiversity project in the state and around the world. To date, 6,660 Vermont eBirders have submitted over 274,500 checklists, representing all 384 species of birds ever reported from Vermont! Worldwide, more than 390,000 eBirders have submitted over 500 million bird sightings on nearly 28 million complete checklists, representing 10,371 species across every country on earth!
Details will be forthcoming about Norwich 2019 Year of the Bird and how Norwich residents (or visitors) can participate. For now, the New Year's Day outing was fun, educational and informative. Final numbers for the larger Hanover-Norwich Christmas Bird Count are still being tallied, but it so far appears to be a fairly "normal" year, though everyone can't help but notice the large numbers of Wild Turkeys scratching about fields, woodlands and under feeders. Scattered flocks of nomadic northern finches like Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, and Pine Siskins are here from Canada, so keep an eye out for them!
Vermont Center for Ecostudies
PO Box 420 | Norwich, Vermont 05055