• December 2021 Photo-observation of the Month

    A Great Blue Heron shows off its dagger-like bill and impressive balance on the icy banks of the Missisquoi River. © Charlotte Bill

    Congratulations to Charlotte Bill for winning the December 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Charlotte’s photo of a Great Blue Heron braving the cold of a northern Vermont winter received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

    A familiar visitor of ponds, lakes, and other wetlands in the summer, Great Blue Herons are less common throughout winter in Vermont, when they can occasionally be found along streams, rivers, and other patches of open water where they might have a chance at spearing a fish for a meal. Charlotte encountered this bird a few days before the East Franklin Christmas Bird Count, but the heron was nowhere to be found on count day. The Christmas Bird Count is a century-old birding tradition of counting all the birds in a 15-mile-radius circle, with count circles spread throughout the globe. This invaluable dataset of winter bird populations is fueled by intrepid birders scouring their local habitats as well as homeowners filling their bird feeders and counting their visitors throughout the day. To learn more about the Christmas Bird Count circles in Vermont, click here.

    A heartfelt thank you is in order for Charlotte, not only for providing this wonderful photo of her Great Blue Heron encounter, but for contributing (as of this writing) a whopping 44,036 iNaturalist identifications in Vermont alone! Charlotte’s expertise and dedication to helping others on this community science platform is what makes it so fun and scientifically valuable to post sightings to iNaturalist.

    With 2,092 observations submitted by 299 observers in December, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

    Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

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