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
Our final talk in this season's series is to take place MOnday, April 10 in the Mayer Room of Hanover's Howe Library.
Wicked Big Puddles or Critical Wildlife Habitat?
Monday, April 10
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Vernal pools play an indispensible role 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."
Spring Birdwatching Calendar
Dates and Locations to be announced
7:15 – 9 :00 pm
The male, American woodcock’s mating flight is one of the avian world’s great spectacles, an upward spiral followed by a plunging dive back to earth. This outing will seek to observe that memorable display.
Due to the uncertainty of weather and ground conditions at this time of year, the exact date and place of the walk will not be known until early April. Look for updates on the UV-Birder List-Serv or check this website.
Walking conditions are through fields over uneven, unpaved surfaces that may be damp.
To be led by Mascoma Chapter Steering Committee member George Clark.
Co-sponsored with the Kendal Birding Club
Spring Migrant Bird Walk
Hanover and Lyme, NH
Saturday, April 15
6:30 – 9:00 am
We’ll start in Hanover at Wilson’s Landing and travel north along River Road to Lyme’s Grant Brook looking for migratory waterfowl and early arriving songbirds.
Meet in the Dartmouth Printing parking lot on NH Rt. 10 next to Hanover’s Richmond School to form carpools.
Walking conditions are level and over mostly paved surfaces.
To be led by Mascoma Chapter Steering Committee member George Clark and representatives from our co-sponsors.
Co-sponsored with The Hanover Conservancy and Upper Valley Land Trust
Boston Lot Lake -- W. Lebanon, NH
May 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31
7:00 – 10:00 am
Join our popular, early morning, May series of weekly searches for warblers and other spring migrants at Lebanon’s secluded gem, Boston Lot Lake. The walk's starting point will be the more northerly of the two parking lots on NH Rt. 10 directly across from Wilder Dam.
Walking conditions include a fairly steep, uphill climb and surfaces that are unpaved and uneven.
To be led by Mascoma Chapter Steering Committee Members Blake Allison and George Clark.
Field Trip: “Feathered Fridays”
Union Village Dam Park -- Thetford Center, VT
May 5, 12, 19 & 26
7:00 – 10:00 am
Each Friday morning in May, we’ll survey the woods and fields in VT’s Union Village Dam Park, with special focus on the park’s “Mystery Trail” area.
To rreach our starting point, take VT Rt. 113 to Thetford Center and turn onto Buzzel Bridge Rd. opposite E.C. Brown's Nursery. Follow the dirt road abour 1/3 mile to the parking area on the left just before a metal gate.
Walking conditions include a dirt road and fields with uneven surfaces that can be damp depending on whether rainfall has occurred recently.
To be led by Mascoma Chapter Steering Committee Chair Blake Allison
Bedell Bridge Bird Walk
Bedell Bridge State Historic Site -- Haverhill, NH
Saturday, May 27
7:00 – 9:00 am
This visit to the former site of the Bedell Covered Bridge, lost in a September 1979 hurricane, offers an opportunity to see a wide variety of birds due to the park’s interesting combination of riparian, mixed woodlands and agricultural land habitats.
The park entrance is located on NH Rt.10 just north of the Haverhill Green. Those participants coming from the Hanover/Norwich area who would like to carpool to the site should plan to meet in the parking lot at the Ledyard Bridge's Norwich end at 6:30 a.m. to arrive in Haverhill for the 7:00 a.m. start.
Walking conditions are level over a dirt road and grassy lawns, but it will be damp if there has been recent rain.
To be led by Mascoma Chapter Steering Committee Member Jeff MacQueen.
Northern Rail Trail Bird Walk
Saturday, June 10
8:00 – 10:00 a.m.
This event is new to our calendar. Mascoma Chapter Steering Committee member Jeff MacQueen will lead a bird walk along the Mascoma River.
We will meet at the parking area on Icehouse Road in Lebanon. We'll first check a known nearby site for breeding Cliff Swallows and then continue along the Rail Trail downstream along the Mascoma River seeking out other breeding birds.
The Rail Trail provides very level walking, but comfortable shoes, bug spray and binoculars are recommended.
To reach the rail trail parking area on Icehouse Road, travel 2.5 miles east on US Rt. 4 from I-89 Exit 17. Take a right onto Icehouse Road and travel a short distance to the Northern Rail Trail area.
Co-sponsored by the Mascoma Chapter of NH Audubon and the Mascoma River Local Advisory Committee.
An adult bald eagle keeping watch in a snag below Wilder Dam.
Photo: Wayne Benoit -- Manchester, NH
On Monday, February 13 at Hanover's Howe Library, Thetford naturalist Tig Tillinghast discussed the "remarkable nesting life of Cooper's Hawks" based on two season of observation.
Photo: Tig Tillinghast -- Thetford, VT
Tools and Tricks of the Birding Trade
Monday, March 13
Connecticut River Birding Trail Project Coordinator Bill Shepard led a group of 50 assembled attendees on a fast-paced, lively and informative tour through his birding world "sharing some juicy tips on how to make birding more fun and productive."
Bill's wide-ranging survey discussed Upper Valley birding hot spots, field guides, recommended birding optics, bird identification and the latest birding apps for smart phones and tablets.
Bill's enthusiasm for his subject was infectious leading to an animated give and take between him and the audience that continued well beyond the talk's close.
Getting Close to Coopers Hawks
Monday, February 13
It is rare for a birder to be priviliged to the intimate nesting behavior of birds, but that's just what Thetford naturalist Tig Tillinghast experienced for two nesting seasons when he was able to observe a mated pair of Coopers Hawks raise their young.
In a presentation both enlightening and entertaining, Tig shared his experience recording the hawk's nesting activity combining automatic, remote digital photography, with adventurous tree climbing. Tig's extensive photographic record provided sights into "the remarkable nesting life of Cooper's Hawks." Attendees got an insider's look into the rarely seen, daily habits of these reclusive woodland raptors from the hatching to the fledging of each season's broods.
Dr. Pamela Hunt
Expedition to the Forbidden Island
Monday, January 9
A packed house was on hand at the Howe Library for Dr. Pamela Hunt's presentation on her trip to Cuba. NH Audubon's senior avian biologist traveled to the once inaccessible island with a group of NH birders and shared her adventures and some misadventures with us.
A visit to a place a birder has never been provides an opportunity to see new birds and almost immediately Pam and her group began to encounter some of the island's twenty-plus endemic species. Their stay in Havana yielded some of the more common birds, but also gave them a chance to experience some of Cuba's rich history. They visited famous landmarks and monuments to some of Cuba's historic figures such as Che Guevara and Jose Marti.
They travelled from Havana to the Bay of Pigs, picking up most of the Cuban endemic birds along the way such as the Cuban Trogon, the Cuban Tody, the Blue-headed Quail Dove and the world's smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird. A good representation of North American migrants were also present, wintering on the island. Their stay around the Bay of Pigs included tours of the mangrove forests and the Zapata Swamp. Some bird highlights from this region included the Cuban Black Hawk, the Cuban Green Woodpecker and the Zapata Sparrow.
Dr. Hunt's presentation was both entertaining and informative. Many of us were inspired to visit the island ourselves, now that it has become easier to do so.
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.
Recent Birding Outings
Spring Migratory Waterfowl
Saturday, March 18
Conditions were anything but spring-like as thirteen intrepid birders headed south from Norwich's Foley making several stops along the Connecticut River's Vermont side searching for waterfowl and early arriving spring migrants. The sky was clear, but the temperature hovered close to zero Fahrenheit.
The party spent most of its time in Hartford making stops at the Wilder Dam, Prospect Street and Lyman Park at the US Rt. 4 bridge crossing and Lower Connecticut River Rd.
George Clark offered the following observations. "Canada Geese (35) and Mallards (135) were numerous, Hooded (two) and Common Mergansers (25) less so. A Bald Eagle was on the nest, and apparently incubating, in both West Lebanon and Wilder (the latter seen by four participants after the end of the regular walk). Other raptors included at least four Red-tailed Hawks, a Cooper's Hawk, and an unidentified falcon. One Turkey Vulture was seen. A female Red-bellied Woodpecker was calling repeatedly near the southern end of Connecticut River Road. Other species included Wild Turkeys (35), a Carolina Wren, American Robins, a Northern Mockingbird, American Tree Sparrows, a White-throated Sparrow and numerous Red-winged Blackbirds, and Common Grackles."
Special thanks to co-leaders George Clark, Blake Allison, Ed Hack, Scott Johnston (gratefully credited as compiler for eBird reports), Chris Rimmer, and to all the other participants who helped to provide such a fine morning of Upper Valley birding.
Full counts for the morning can be found using the following eBird links:
Wilder Dam Outflow Overlook:
Hartford -- Prospect Street and Environs:
Conn. River Road -- Three Houses w/Feeders
Conn. River Road -- Luce Farm to End of Road
Annual Bald Eagle Watch at Wilder Dam
Saturday, February 11
Under cloudy, sub-freezing and windy conditions at Wilder Dam, nine birders gathered to participate in the Mascoma Chapter's inaugural event of its 2017 bird watching calendar.
When the first watchers arrived at 10:00 a.m., only half a dozen common mergansers were present on the open waters below the dam. But not more than fifteen minutes later, two adult bald eagles swung into view circling just in front of the island that sits some 200 yards downstream from the dam. One of the pair made several passes over a trio of mergansers but did not try to attack.
For the next half hour, one of the pair was observed moving into and away from the shoreline below a bend in the river which resulted in sometimes obscured visibility. There was speculation that it might be working on a new nest. Earlier in the week there were reports that two great-horned owls were heard calling in the vicinity of the eagles' old nest. Might the owls, as they have been know to do with eagles' nest, have taken it over? During this time, the other eagle was perched in a tall pine on the VT side providing the observers with fine views.
Some observations from Chapter Steering Committee member George Clark. "An estimated total of 125 Mallards, in a series of separate flocks, flew upstream along the river, but, later, smaller numbers of Mallards, assumed to be part of this larger group, were flying southward along the river as though having reversed their direction of flight. A total of nine common mergansers were seen. One male merganser in a group of three was seen to have captured a relatively large fish and was pursued across the water by the two other males in a series of chases. Other birds seen this morning included two rock pigeons and about ten American crows. An apparent absence of any birds smaller in size than the pigeons and crows was notable."