Field Guide to December 2023
Fear not—during December’s short days and long nights, there’s still plenty of life in the fading light. Once we pass the winter solstice, which strikes at 10:27 PM on December 21, more light will creep back. Until then, here’s some wintry natural history to keep you going.
November 2023 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Stephanie McCaull for winning the November 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Her photos of a remarkable chance encounter with one of Vermont’s most secretive owls received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
2023 Loon Field Season Summary
Well folks, it’s that time of year, and the 2023 field season is officially behind us. What a year it was, filled with loon chick rescues, raft building, dedicated volunteers, and historic flooding throughout the state. Here is a 2023 recap of everything loon.
2023 VCE Gift Guide for Nature Lovers
Need a gift for the naturalist in your life? Look no further than VCE’s Gift Guide! We have apparel, books, mugs, art, and more that will truly inspire you to get back outdoors.
A Tale of Two Loon Chick Rescues
This past summer VCE was involved in two very different loon chick rescues with very different outcomes. Although these ordeals did not have a lot in common, they each had dedicated and caring volunteers, willing to use their time and resources to help these birds.
Field Guide to November 2023
“Stick Season,” as we call this gray, leafless time in New England, is anything but lifeless. With November comes the rushed activity of wildlife either preparing for their winter stay or leaving Vermont for their winter location. There is a sense of fall finality as the last deciduous trees drop their leaves. November also hails some of Vermont’s winter migrants, coming just in time to catch the first flakes. Learn more in our Field Guide to November.
October 2023 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Craig Hunt for winning the October 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His head-on portrait of a handsome Hermit Thrush received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
Field Guide to October 2023
The month of October reminds us of the cyclical nature of life. Like spring, autumn is a season of change. The forested hills fade from summer emerald to a watercolor painting of red and gold and brown. Here’s your field guide to some moments that you might not otherwise notice during these few precious weeks that feature colored hills beneath a deep blue sky, with the calls of migrating geese high overhead and the last Monarchs gliding silently southward.
The Rising Seas and Stakes for Coastal New England Wildlife
Many conversations about sea level rise in New England center the disastrous effects it will have on coastal infrastructure and economies. But damage to fragile coastal ecosystems and the species that rely on them may be unmeasurable and irrecoverable. A recent study reveals new predictions about Saltmarsh Sparrows’ fate under moderate sea level rise scenarios.
VCE Wraps 32 Years on Mansfield with a Flourish
It’s impossible to keep VCE biologists away from Mt. Mansfield’s ridgeline, even after 32 years. Following a summer of record wet weather, VCE’s annual fall pilgrimage to the mountain yielded 183 mist net captures, including a fat-encased female Blackpoll Warbler about to undertake her 5th nonstop transoceanic fall migration to northern South America.
Using Both Old and New Technology to Monitor Forests
When VCE first partnered with Raritan Valley Community College to monitor forest response to prescribed burning in the Green Mountain National Forest, we had some basic questions to address—what data do we want to collect and how will we collect it?
September 2023 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Joshua Phillips for winning the September 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His photo of an unexpected bird house occupant received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
Field Guide to September 2023
It can happen almost anywhere. On a cool, foggy morning, when fall warblers drop from their nocturnal migratory flights into your backyard. Or on a hilltop when the Broad-winged Hawks circling above and Monarchs gliding southward convince you that summer is indeed coming to a close. Here is your field guide to some life on the move in September.
August 2023 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Erin Talmage for winning the August 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Her adorable photo of a young Gray Treefrog (or perhaps Treefroglet?) received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
2023 Marks the Second Successful Community Science Teacher Workshop
Vermont and New Hampshire educators alike joined to explore field methods and focus on enhancing science in their curriculums. Our goals for the workshop aimed to give teachers the toolkit to engage students in the outdoors and develop place-based community science that addresses both local and regional conservation issues.
Vermont eBird Volunteer Data Experts Retire
After more than a decade of service, two of the first-ever Vermont eBird volunteer data experts are hanging up their keyboards. Ian Worley and Craig Provost first joined the project in 2010. Over the past 13 years, they have reviewed tens of thousands of records submitted by bird watchers and have been outreach champions for Vermont eBird.
Bumblebee Photographed in Backyard is a New Species for Vermont
It took a photo, a drawing, a naturalist’s boundless curiosity, and bee experts from across the nation for Vermont to claim a new bumblebee species for the state last week.
Field Guide to August 2023
The dog days of summer are here, hot and sultry. The Romans referred to this time of year as the days of the dog star, when Sirius appears in the sky just before the sun and marks the hottest days of summer. Read all about August’s natural wonders in this month’s field guide.
Mansfield Update: VCE Interns Reflect on a Summer on the Mountain
An essay on our summer interns’ final trip to Mount Mansfield, written by two of the interns themselves, Emily Marple and Julia Stahl.
Maximizing the Value of Your eBird Checklists from the Mountains
There are several easy steps you can take to complete bird checklists that are helpful to scientists when you’re in the mountains.
July 2023 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Spencer Hardy for winning the July 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His exciting record of a rare bee species received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
Join the 7th Annual Monarch Blitz
The International Monarch Monitoring Blitz is back for a 7th edition! From July 28 to August 6, 2023, join thousands of volunteers across Canada, the United States and Mexico in supporting conservation of the monarch butterfly.
Dodging Downpours on Mansfield
Dodging downpours and sitting out showers has become routine for VCE’s Mansfield banding team this summer. Yet, astonishing discoveries keep on coming, most recently via a GPS-tagged female Bicknell’s Thrush who returned to the exact same territory In Cuba’s remote cloud forest in consecutive winters.
The Road (that Used to Be) Less Traveled: Off-trail Hiking, The Catskills and Montane Birds
Historically, bushwhackers had to be highly skilled at backcountry orienteering to summit trailless peaks. In the age of the internet however, the hurdles to bushwhacking are considerably lower, and there are many websites with accessible step-by-step route instructions for anyone with a smartphone to use. This is all too obvious in the nearby Catskill Mountains.
Egg Dumping: A Firsthand Account
Egg dumping can be a common occurrence among cavity-nesting waterfowl like Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, and Common Mergansers. This happens when a female of one species (often a first-year breeder) lays her eggs in a neighbor’s nest (usually of the same species).
Ten Years of Bumble Bees
The summer after I graduated high school, I found a dream job. Kent Mcfarland had just launched the Vermont Bumble Bee Atlas and needed help tracking down Bumble Bees throughout the state.
The Caretakers: Reflections from 40 Years of Loon Volunteers
Loon conservation in Vermont is as much a story of people as it is of birds. From the most disheartening days of the state’s loon census in the 1980s through the incredible recovery we’re witnessing today, VCE volunteers on the Vermont Loon Conservation Project have been the beating heart of the stewardship effort.
Baby Birds and Bicknell’s Backpacks
This week marked the beginning of a very exciting time of the summer–when we start catching fledgling baby birds!
Field Guide to July 2023
The avian breeding season is winding down. Even a few southbound shorebirds will trickle through the region this month on their “fall” migration. But as the dawn bird chorus fades from northern woodlands, fields and wetlands erupt in the sparkle and drama of summer insects. Here’s a short guide to some of the other glitter now on the wing.
June 2023 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Craig Hunt for winning the June 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His photo of a rare Prothonotary Warbler perched on his truck’s windshield received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.