Field Journal 2

March 2, 2023
Start time: 1:45 PM
End time: 2:45 PM
Location: North Beach/Rock Point, Burlington VT
Weather: mid 30°s, mix of rain and snow, coming down at a medium pace, windy by the lake but calm in the woods and beyond
Habitats: lakeshore, spruce tree crowns, thickets near ground, general forest patches, open field
I started this bird walk with very low hopes. It was a mix of rain and snow, and I had not heard anything on campus all day. But the beach and Rock Point were abundant with species! Mallards, Black Ducks, a Common Goldeneye, and some Mergansers could be seen from the shore of Lake Champlain. Mallards were eating leaf litter that had become revealed by the melted snow. Mallards eat plant material, which is sparser in winter, so I assume leaf litter is something they settle for in the colder months to get energy. Mergansers were further from the shore, ducking under the water for their food unlike the Mallard. With the lake no longer being frozen, I would assume it is easier for Mergansers to get fish for their energy. Other than food, ducks stay warm using their down feathers. Their preen gland produces and oil that ducks spread over their outer feathers to waterproof them. This prevents the down from getting wet, and keeps them warm.
A Rough-legged Hawk was also spotted circling above the lake close to shore. According to e-bird, there hasn't been a siting at North Beach in 10 years, and there are none recorded in the direct vicinity on iNaturalist. This was really exciting for me, and it was the first time I've been very excited about observing and seeing a specific bird species. This Rough-legged was seen just soaring and circling overhead. There was no clear action the hawk was doing that signaled it was keeping warm. With lake not being frozen, the hawk may have been looking for smaller mammals near the lake shore since they do not catch/eat fish, unless they do eat fish in the winter when smaller rodents are harder to find in snow covered fields.
Many of the other birds heard nearer Rock Point were resting in trees, and very few were seen in flight. Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatch, and a Carolina Wren were heard in a patch of forest, with the Carolina Wren calling loudly from a tall and thick spruce tree. These smaller birds were resting which seems to be how they were staying warm on this rainy and cold winter's day. At night, these birds most likely find a tree cavity or thick underbrush to stay warm in. No cavities were observed to be actively housing anything this day.

There were not many snags or cavities in sight in the woods at Rock Point, but the one that was knocked on showed no sign of critters holing up inside. Snags are important for many different species including birds (specifically owls), squirrels, raccoons, and fisher cat. Cavities are likely larger in larger snags, and the larger the cavity, the larger the animal it can host.

Posted on March 03, 2023 02:51 AM by evostal evostal

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 01:52 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 02:08 PM EST

Description

had under-wing pattern of a usual Rough-legged; hovered and circled in classic hawk fashion; confirmed by pictures taken by walk buddy, Conor Moses

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 02:24 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 02:25 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 02:07 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 02:33 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 02:37 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

What

American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 02:11 PM EST

Description

2 seen in water

Photos / Sounds

What

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 02:11 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 02:00 PM EST

Description

2 seen eating leaf litter on shore

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 01:58 PM EST

Description

2 seen far from shore

Photos / Sounds

What

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

Observer

evostal

Date

March 2, 2023 02:28 PM EST

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