Bird Banding in Norwich

Campbell Flats in Norwich, VT is a beautiful area and a great spot for birds. Chris Rimmer and Jason Hill of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies held a bird banding demonstration there yesterday. To quote part of an email from Chris, “Banding is a time-honored avian research technique, in which small birds are harmlessly captured in fine nylon nets, fitted with uniquely-numbered leg bands, measured and weighed, their age and sex determined, and released. It is a fantastic way for anyone to experience the wonder of birds up close and to learn details of their biology and natural history. Parents are encouraged to bring kids to this. Seeing birds in the hand is wonderfully eye-opening, and releasing them makes for a memorable experience.” That accurately described the event.

Even before people arrived Chris and Jason had captured a rarity, a beautiful Canada Warbler. It was no doubt heading to the far north although there is a local “hot spot” for Canada Warblers just across the river in Canaan, NH. To celebrate this beautiful species, I posted some photos of Canada Warblers taken in the Upper Valley of NH.

After parents and kids arrived Chris displayed this tiny bird, banded it, checked its wings for wear, took some measurement like weight (less than 10 grams) and feather length, and handed it to a young girl with a very colorful jacket to release.


Next up was a colorful American Goldfinch. Chris carefully removed it from the mist net so it could be photographed. 


Chris was very pleased to get another rarity, a Lincoln’s Sparrow. It looks like a tiny Song Sparrow. It summers north of the Upper Valley.

Jason discussed its characteristics.

When it came time to release this bird it did not want to leave a warm hand.

Chris carefully freed a Black-capped Chickadee from the mist net. He let others photograph it before it was banded. Jason helped a young boy hold it in his hands for release.


A Willow Flycatcher visited the nets. Below you see Chris blowing on it to check breeding condition and then handing it off for release. This bird also liked to stay safe in the warm hands of a young boy.


A Song Sparrow was banded by Chris. It showed its appreciation by biting his hand. So he decided it was time to release this common and feisty bird.



Meanwhile some actual bird watching was happening.

Jason helped a young boy hold his fingers just right as his father looked on encouragingly.

The boy released the bird, an experience he may remember all his life.

Chris helped another boy with a Common Yellowthroat.


Thanks to Chris for another community service.

Canada Warblers in the Upper Valley

A beautiful bird passes through and nests in various spots in the Upper Valley. It is a Canada Warbler. These photos were taken at Bear Pond in Canaan, Cricenti’s Bog in New London, and along the Quinn Trail in the Mink Brook Preserve in Hanover.

King Bird Sanctuary, May 20, 2017

I will be leading a photo walk in the King Bird Sanctuary at the Hayes Farm Park in Etna, NH, Wednesday May 24 at 3 PM. It is co-sponsored by the Hanover Conservancy, Hanover Historical Society, Howe Library, and Etna Library. It is free and open to the public, even if you just want to see this beautiful spot and not carry a camera. However, I will be available for anyone who wishes help with photography. Parking is next to the Hanover Town Library, aka the Etna Library, in downtown metropolitan Etna. There is also parking a short distance to the north behind the fire station.

If you are unfamiliar with this area you can read about it and see photos by clicking HERE. The photos are from five years ago shortly after the area was created. They show the birds who reside and pass through.  This area is conserved and maintained by the Hanover Conservancy.

I did a walk-through of the area Saturday taking some photos of a few birds and the flowering trees. I photographed a warbler shown below that I could not identify.


So I asked good friend and true bird expert, George Clark. He says it is a Cape May Warbler, most likely a first year female.

I also got some photos of birds I could readily identify: Chestnut-sided Warbler, House Wren, Northern Cardinal, Common Yellowthroat, Cedar Waxwing, and Chipping Sparrow.


Please join me Wednesday rain or shine. In fact photography in the rain can be very rewarding if somewhat challenging. Either way it could be a nice learning experience, or maybe you will just see a new bird species.

Blackpoll Warbler at Harris Brook

I ventured to Harris Brook Nature Area yesterday morning. Although this area is technically in Canaan, it has been recently developed by the Enfield Conservation Commission with a nice trail circling the Enfield Reservoir which has not been used as a water supply since 1983. It is one of the six locations featured in an article I wrote and photographed for the Summer issue of Kid Stuff magazine, available free wherever kids hang out. 

As I got out of my car the loud, boring, “song” of a Red-eyed Vireo greeted me. I got a few photos.  

I walked to the reservoir expecting to see many ducks as I had before. It was empty. When I returned to my car I wrote in my notebook, “RE Vireo and little else”.  But I decided to look a bit further, and I’m glad I did. In one tree I had three nice species.

I got a brief view of a Blackpoll Warbler.

There was also a Chestnut-sided Warbler.

 And a Purple Finch.

It’s a nice spot. Check it out sometime.