June’s record 16-inch rainfall on Mt. Mansfield didn’t deter VCE biologists or our hardy visiting friends. The past two weeks brought enthusiasts from Puerto Rico, England, Ireland (indirectly), MA, CT and VT to experience firsthand our long-term avian population study and to witness Bicknell’s Thrush up close and personal.
First, newfound friends from Puerto Rico, where VCE is conducting an islandwide survey of Bicknell’s Thrush, made the trek in inclement weather. Jorge Gonzalez and Ramon Lloveras each brought family members to see the bird that has forged a strong hemispheric connection, but so far proved highly elusive on their home island. We were able to dodge the rain just long enough to open three mist nets and capture a Bicknell’s Thrush. Now, we hope to show them one in Puerto Rico next January or February!
We next hosted a group of four youth birders from CT, who managed to sandwich their visit between rain events. These teenagers radiated an exuberance and passion for birds all too rarely found in the younger generation nowadays. After accomplishing the coveted boreal “Grand Slam” in Moose Bog (Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee), each added Bicknell’s Thrush to his life list. Moreover, each released a banded Bicknell’s Thrush and inspired hope in this VCE biologist about the future of bird conservation in North America! The Connecticut team was joined by 3 equally enthused veteran birders, one from the UK and two from MA, as well as VT birder Linda Gionti from Huntington.
Last week we were joined by friends Colm Darcy and Carol Radic from Bedford, NH, via Ireland. They came over from their camp on Lake Willoughby, forsaking loon yodels and wails for a first-ever encounter with Bicknell’s Thrush. Both were visibly thrilled to release several mist-netted songbirds.
As important as VCE’s studies are to track population dynamics of Bicknell’s Thrush and other montane forest species, we’re convinced that the value of touching people’s lives through close encounters with handheld birds and telling the story of full life cycle conservation is priceless.