Mascoma Chapter of NH Audubon
Welcome to the Mascoma Chapter Home Page!
All Chapter field trips/walks and programs are free and open to the public.
2016 - 2017 Nature Series Talks Calendar
The Mascoma Chapter is pleased to post its schedule of speakers and their talks for the upcoming winter season. All presentations will be held in the Mayer Room of Hanover's Howe Library.
Dr. Pamela Hunt
Expedition to the Forbidden Island
Monday, January 9
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Cuba has long held an air of mystery for American travelers. With the normalization of political ties, it’s getting easier and easier to visit Cuba to experience all that the island has to offer.
NH Audubon’s Senior Avian Conservation Biologist Dr. Pamela Hunt visited in January of 2016. She will share stories of her bird watching exploits while offering an historical perspective both natural and cultural. Always informative and entertaining, Pam’s presentation is sure to provide a most enjoyable evening.
Getting Close to Coopers Hawks
Monday, February 13
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
For two nesting seasons, Thetford naturalist Tig Tillinghast was able to observe a mated pair of Coopers Hawks raise their young. Using automatic, remote digital photography, combined with adventurous tree climbing, Tig was able to gain intimate insights into "the remarkable nesting life of Cooper's Hawks." He’ll share some of this photo archive to provide a rarely seen, insider’s look into the daily habits of these woodland raptors.
Tools and Tricks of the Birding Trade
Monday, March 13
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Join us as Connecticut River Birding Trail Project Coordinator Bill Shepherd presents a program "devoted to giving the audience some juicy tips on how to make birding more fun and productive."
Bill will focus on Upper Valley birding hot spots, recommended birding gear, making bird identification and "perhaps even some bird technology."
Come and learn what one avid birder has to share, and add your favorite tips.
Wicked Big Puddles or Critical Wildlife Habitat?
Monday, April 3
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Vernal pools play an indispensible roll in the life cycle of many amphibian species. VT Center for Ecostudies Conservation Biologist Steve Faccio will focus on the ecology of vernal pools with an emphasis on the amphibians that depend upon them for breeding. He will discuss the characteristics of vernal pools, the life histories and ecology of the unique assemblage of wildlife, both amphibian and invertebrates, that utilize vernal pools, and the roles these small, inconspicuous wetlands play in our forest ecosystems. Steve also will discuss conservation issues surrounding vernal pools, including his research radio-tracking salamanders and investigating mercury levels in vernal pool “foodwebs."
Bird Watching Events
Annual Bald Eagle Watch at Wilder Dam
Saturday, February 11
10:00 a.m. - Noon
The Mascoma Chapter's annual February outing at Wilder Dam is the inaugural event of its 2017 bird watching calendar.
Last year's watch provided some of the best viewing of Bald Eagles that participants have experienced in recent years on these February watches. Not only were two adult eagles viewed while perched on both the NH and VT sides of the river, but, more spectacularly, both came flying upstream and for a time soared over the vicinity of the dam, providing great overhead views.
The outing is free and open to the public. Bring binoculars and/or a spotting scope as you prefer. Dress appropriately for likely cold weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be rescheduled to Sunday, the 12th at the same time.
Directions: Take US Route 5 to Wilder Village. Turn onto Depot Street. At the Post Office, turn left onto Norwich Street and then take an immediate right onto Passumpsic Street passing over the railroad tracks. Once past the tracks, take a right onto Wilder Dam Road, and follow it down to the parking area at the dam's overlook.
Snow geese on the move at Dead Creek WMA in Addison, VT.
Photo: Peg Ackerson-- Lyme, NH
Recent Outings & Events
The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake
Tuesday, December 13
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
More than 50 people gathered in the Howe Library's Mayer Room for Ted Levin's thoroughly engrossing presentation on our only native rattlesnake, the timber rattler.
The timber rattlesnake is found in 31 states including NH. Its present day range, greatly reduced since Colonial times, includes the eastern U.S. from Minnesota and NH in the north to Texas and Florida in the South.
Timber rattlers are listed as “threatened” or “endangered” throughout most of their territory. Not surprisingly, very few us have ever seen one, and they remain for many people poorly understood. Ted's talk went a long ways towards changing that circumstance.
Drawing on his more than three decades of experience studying "America's Snake," Ted discussed its place in America’s pantheon of creatures and in our own frontier history. He also reviewed its current conservation status and the heroic efforts to protect it against habitat loss, climate change and the human tendency to indisciminantly kill what we fear.
In addition, the timber rattler's survival is hampered by its own reproductive cycle. According to Ted, females don't start giving birth until they've reached between six and eleven years of age, and they don't breed every year thereafter. Further, their litters are small, only eight young on average. Loss of individual snakes is not easily overcome through replacement. Presently, timber rattlers are listed as "endangered" in both New Hampshire and Vermont and are protected by state law.
Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area
Saturday, November 5
With temperatures in the 40s, almost no breeze and occasional breaks of sunshine, more than two dozen birders participated in the Mascoma Chapter's annual journey to Vermont's Lake Champlain Valley with stops that included the Dead Creek WMA and the shores of Lake Champlain.
Following is a partial summary of finds. More complete details can be accessed by clicking on the links at the end of these notes.
With Spencer Hardy leading, more than 45 species were recorded by the group. Highlights for the day were numerous, but Snow Geese, numbering 3700 in one estimate, were a standout attraction.
Among other waterfowl seen were many Green-winged Teal, three species of scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Common Goldeneyes and Common Merganser. Other waterbirds included Red-throated and Common Loons and Horned and Red-necked Grebes.
Raptors species observed included Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, and a Peregrine Falcon at close range.
Shorebirds, seen at close distances included a remarkable three species of plovers - Black-bellied, Semipalmated, and Killdeer - as well as a White-rumped Sandpiper. The Chimney Point Area's four regularly occurring gull species, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Bonaparte's Gull and Great Black-Backer Gull, were seen.
Among land species recorded were a Pileated Woodpecker and a Golden-crowned Kinglet. Flocks of Horned Larks and Snow Buntings added to this splendid day of birding.
Special thanks go to event leader and list compiler Spencer Hardy.
Dead Creek WMA -- Goose Viewing Area
Chimney Point/Lake Champlain Bridge
McCuen Slang -- Addison, VT
Potash Bay -- Addison, VT
Dead Creek WMA -- Brilyea Access
On Monday, February 13 at Hanover's Howe Library, Thetford naturalist Tig Tillinghast will discuss the "remarkable nesting life of Cooper's Hawks."
Photo: Tig Tillinghast -- Thetford, VT
Recent Outings, cont.
Birding the Richmond Conservation Land and Other Orford Sites
Saturday, October 15
Twenty birders started out at the recently acquired Richmond Conservation Land under cold, damp and somewhat foggy conditions that no doubt caused it to be a quiet morning for birds. Highlights at the site included a quick look at a Northern Harrier, a Blue-headed Vireo and over a hundred American Crows flying north along the river.
The next stop was at Boat Landing Road where observers spotted an accipiter, (likely a Sharp-shinned Hawk), a Golden-crowned Kinglet and lots of Dark-eyed Juncos.
The group finally picked up a little waterfowl diversity at the Reed's Marsh WMA with Mallards, a Hooded Merganser and some Wood Ducks observed. A crow chasing a Red-tailed Hawk was another highlight.
The last stop was at Tullando Farm where birders had good looks at a perched Peregrine Falcon. Also found were a second-year Bald Eagle and some Common Ravens interested in a cow carcass near the river. More American Crows were seen flowing north, passing the Canada Geese that were flying south out of the Sawyer Brook cornfields where we had seen them earlier.
A total of 31 species were tallied from five spots along the Connecticut River.
Richmond Conservation Land
Orford Boat Launch
Reed Marsh WMA
Bedell Covered Bridge Bird Walk
Bedell Covered Bridge State Historic Site – NH Rt. 10
Saturday, October 1
Conditions were overcast, cool but calm when twelve observers gathered at 7:30 a.m. for a bird walk at Bedell Covered Bridge State Park in North Haverhill, NH. Over the next two hours the party found 30 bird species.
Water levels were strikingly low, most of the wetland was an exposed mud flat, but birds were plentiful being seen almost continuously.
An outstanding highlight was the presence of 24 Rusty Blackbirds that foraged on a mud flat not more than twenty feet from the viewing platform where the group was standing. That elevated vantage point, and the proximity of the birds, gave the group unrivaled views. Plumage characteristics, both for male and female, were seen in vividly defined detail.
Other species were numerous including 60 American Robins and 35 Yellow-rumped Warblers. Also seen were nine Wood Ducks, four Great Blue Herons, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, six Northern Flickers, an Eastern Phoebe, three Palm Warblers, a Blackpoll warbler, three Common Yellowthroats, and five Purple Finches. Sparrows recorded included Song, Swamp, White-throated, and White-crowned.
Special thanks go to Blake Allison and Jeff MacQueen for being coleaders and to Jeff as compiler.
Jeff's eBird report with a complete list can be seen at:
More Bird Watching Opportunties
Upper Valley Christmas Bird Count
The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season began December 14 and will close on January 5. To see this year's results and to keep abreast of developing CBC news, visit one of the following state-based links.
NH Audubon Backyard Winter Bird Survey
This annual event will take place on Saturday, February 11 and Sunday, February 12. More information about the count and how to participate can be found by clicking on the following link:
The Great Backyard Bird Count
A joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count is now in its 19th year. This year's count will take place between Friday, February 17th and Monday, February 20th. Click on the following link for more information.
The 30th season of this important "citizen science" project is underway. It's not too late to sign up. Participants record bird activity at their backyard feeders. To register your site and submit counts sign up at the following:
NH Audubon Events
Check the NH Audubon web site for activities hosted by NH Audubon and its chapters. At the website you can download the latest addition of NH Audubon's quarterly newsletter Afield, or register to receive its monthly e-letter E-field.
The wetlands at Bedell Covered Bridge State Historic Site offer opportunities to view a variety of waders, waterfowl and members of the flycatcher family.
Photo: Blake Allison -- Lyme, NH