Field Guide to August 2018
We’ve still got plenty of summer here in Vermont and points north. So in this edition of VCE’s monthly field guide to nature, we’ll celebrate a few audacious summer insects. But we’ll also alert you to animals on the move.
Mansfield Update: Hatch-years Predominate
VCE’s penultimate summer banding session featured relatively few birds, some very warm and humid weather, a preponderance of youthful banders, and several family members.
Outdoor Radio: Grassland Ambassadors Help Globetrotting Bobolinks Successfully Nest
In this month’s episode of Outdoor Radio, biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra join VCE ornithologist Dr. Roz Renfrew on a visit to a farm in South Woodstock where Bobolinks and other grassland birds successfully breed each summer.
2018 Peregrine Falcon Nesting Season Complete
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department recently announced that Peregrine Falcon nesting season has ended, so hikers and rock climbers can return to Vermont cliffs starting August 1, 2018.
Mansfield Update: the Ridgeline Quiets, Planets Shine
VCE’s mid-July banding session on Mt. Mansfield featured diminished bird song, but a surprise Tennessee Warbler and spectacular planetary viewing.
Join Us During National Moth Week – July 21-29
National Moth Week celebrates the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths. “Moth-ers” of all ages and abilities are encouraged to learn about, observe, and document moths in their backyards, parks, and neighborhoods.
Weathering Whitcomb for Mountain Birdwatch
Tara Rodkey, VCE’s 2018 Alexander Dickey Conservation Intern, shares her reflections on a particular Mountain Birdwatch site on a mid-summer’s day (and night).
Mansfield Update: Kids (Avian and Human) Steal the Show
VCE’s sixth banding session of 2018 on the Mt. Mansfield ridgeline featured several free-flying juvenile birds in our nets and some enthusiastically engaged youth in our work .
June 2018 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to shawneevt for winning the June 2018 iNaturalist Vermont photo-observation of the month. The image of a Northern Saw-whet Owl in a nest cavity was the most popular photo-observation.
A Field Guide to July 2018
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 now fades from northern woodlands, fields and wetlands erupt in the sparkle and drama of summer insects. Here’s a short guide to some of July’s lesser known natural history.
Field Update: Mountain Birdwatch
Jason Hill sheds light on the status of Mountain Birdwatch 2018.
Prepare to be impressed.
A Plethora of PUFIs on Mansfield
VCE’s fifth weekly banding session of 2018 on Mt. Mansfield featured a plethora of Purple Finches, a bounty of Bicknell’s Thrushes, and a chance to mentor our three eager bird banding apprentices.
New Study Reveals e-Butterfly Volunteers Provide Unique and Important Data
New peer-reviewed research shows that opportunistic citizen science programs like e-Butterfly, in conjunction with professional datasets, provide unique information on species distributions and phenology which are important for understanding global change.
Give ‘Em Space: Observe Nesting Loons from a Distance
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is asking boaters and anglers to enjoy loons from a safe distance this summer.
Take Part in the 2018 International Monarch Monitoring Blitz!
From July 28 to August 5, butterfly watchers across North America are invited to take part in the International Monarch Monitoring Blitz to help provide a valuable snapshot of Monarch population status across their late summer range.
Field Update: Mansfield Yields Avian Surprises
Philadelphia Vireo, Least Flycatcher, juvenile White-winged Crossbill — VCE’s third 2018 field session on Mt. Mansfield produced several notable surprises among our 61 mist net captures. The addition of our Board of Directors provided energy, enthusiasm, and learning for all.
VCE Co-sponsors Upcoming Montpelier BioBlitz
Break out the binoculars and bandstands for BioBlitz 2018: a citywide nature festival and quest to catalog every form of life within Montpelier’s boundaries.
VCE Vlog: Field Update from the Great North Woods
VCE Director of Science John Lloyd recently emerged from the Great North Woods long enough to seek out a WiFi signal to share this brief update from the field. All of us here at VCE were relieved to see that the mosquitoes had not yet carried him away.
Grassland Ambassadors: Laughing Brook Farm
The Bobolink’s bubbly song has filled the summer fields of Julia and Greg Smist’s 100-acre farm in Westminster, VT for at least 30 years. A decade or so after buying the farm, Julia noticed fewer Bobolinks in the fields. Her observations echo a grim region-wide statistic: Bobolinks have declined by 75% in the region over the past 50 years.
Hayfield Heroes: Landowners Key to Grassland Bird Conservation
Landowners often unknowingly control the fate of migratory grassland birds, and the possibilities for providing nesting habitat vary from one piece of land, and one landowner, to the next.
Lead Fishing Tackle Detrimental to NH Loon Population
A recent study of mortality in New Hampshire loons over 24 years reveals that ingestion of lead fishing gear (primarily jigs and sinkers) is the leading cause of death among adults. This troubling discovery helped spur a regulatory ban on sale and use of lead tackle, and lead-caused loon mortality rates have since declined statewide.
VCE Study Predicts Prime Habitat for Bicknell’s Thrush
A new study led by VCE biologist Kent McFarland used statistical modelling methods to identify remaining key habitat for female Bicknell’s Thrush in the fragmented forests of the Dominican Republic. Further, this study served as the driving force to conserve additional land to expand the thrush’s wintering habitat.
VCE Launches Field Season #27 on Mt. Mansfield
VCE’s inaugural 2018 field visit to Mt. Mansfield on May 30-31 yielded good weather, some surprise mist net captures, and an enthusiastic group of visitors, who were treated to a very obliging Bicknell’s Thrush in the hand.
VCE Awarded 2018 TechGrant
VCE’s scientists continually seek to incorporate emerging technologies to enhance their data gathering and analysis capabilities, and thanks to a generous 2018 TechGrant award from the TechFoundation, VCE’s Vernal Pool Monitoring Project will benefit from such a technological boost.
May 2018 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Shirley Zundell for winning the May 2018 iNaturalist Vermont photo-observation of the month. The image of a Peregrine Falcon was the most popular photo-observation.
Field Guide to June 2018
Here in Vermont, we dream of June during the darkest days of winter. June is a dream here. Its days last forever. Here are some natural history wonders for the month from the Green Mountains.
Success: Crossing Boundaries for Conservation
VCE announces finalization of the Strategic Conservation Plan for Sierra de Bahoruco National Park in the Dominican Republic. The plan, which VCE helped to both fund and facilitate, aims to preserve the park’s unique forested habitats for the benefit of plants, wildlife, and humans alike.
VCE Birdathon Terns up a Last-minute Surprise
Boreal birds, balsam fir spires and peat bogs proved an irresistible lure to the Green Mountain Goatsuckers, drawing us back to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom for our 2018 Birdathon. From the Barton River wetlands to the larch and fir forests of Victory, we covered a lot of ground. Our species count topped out at 103, and the day’s most surprising bird was our very last tally.
Outdoor Radio: Turkey Vultures Soar over the Capital
Outdoor Radio usually takes us to a mountain top, pond or forest to get close to wildlife. But this month, biologists Sara Zahendra and Kent McFarland are on top of the National Life building in Montpelier. For the past several years, National Life employees have been able to watch Turkey Vultures right out their windows.
Vermont Cliff Tops and Overlooks Closed to Protect Nesting Peregrines
Hiking Vermont’s hillsides is a great way to enjoy a spring day, but the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Audubon Vermont recommend checking to see if the area you’re planning to hike or climb is open. Several cliff areas are currently closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons.