What's New at the GMAS: Winter, 2011

Northern PintailWhat happened this winter? Plenty! The 2010 Burlington area Christmas Bird Count took place on December 19, 2010 and the results are in. Shirley Johnson organized 48 CBC participants, who scoured the Burlington circle for birds from dawn to dusk. Seventy-five species were identified, exceeding the old record of 73 set in 2005. New high counts were obtained for Greater and Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Peregrine Falcon, Rock Pigeon, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, and Golden Eagle. Beautiful winter weather contributed to the enthusiasm of the counters as well as the entertaining round-up at the Johnson's home that evening. Thanks to all of the participants.

Northern PintailThe GMAS held its first field trip of 2011 along the shores of Lake Champlain on January 8. bohemian waxwingTwenty-three hardy birders counted 25 species of ducks, geese, grebes, raptors, and songbirds at Shelburne Bay, Shelburne Town Beach, and Charlotte Town Beach. Highlights included a flock of Canada Geese that flew overhead led by two Snow Geese, a Bald Eagle at Shelburne Bay harassing the winter ducks, a handsome male Northern Pintail at the Charlotte Town Beach, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker at the Shelburne Town Beach.Bohemian Waxwing

Here is a photo of the Northern Pintail taken by Scott Sainsbury and used with his permission.

Later in January Sean Beckett, our 2008 Haidee Antram Award recipient, presented an entertaining program focused on Northern Saw-whet Owls. Sean conducted research on Saw-whet Owls as an undergraduate at Vassar, then spent this past summer banding Saw-whet Owls at the Idaho Bird Observatory near Boise.Red Polls Despite their wide range in North America, little is known about the habits and migration patterns of these diminutive owls. Sean's program answered many of our questions about these fascinating, elusive creatures.

Red PollThen in early February naturalist David Govatski presented an informative program describing the behavior of irruptive species, especially Bohemian Waxwings and Common Redpolls, both of which are abundant in Vermont this winter. Predicting irruptions is more art than science, but David shared his vast knowledge of forests and birds with us to help us better understand these irruptions.

We thank David for his excellent presentation, Larry Clarfeld for a spectacular photo of a Bohemian Waxwing, and Jim Morris for a great photo of irruptive Common Redpolls.

The GMAS has more programs, field trips, and bird monitoring surveys scheduled for March and April. Consult our Calendar of Events for details.