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Vermont’s First Snowy Owl — and Other Snow (Birds) in your Forecast
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The Arctic has come visiting. Vermont’s first Snowy Owl of the season showed up yesterday, November 12, at the Whiting Library in Addison. Renee Traverse reported it on eBird (with a photo). Snowy Owls have also been turning up on the Massachusetts coast for the past few days.
I can’t say we’ll have another Snowy Owl invasion. Probably not — unless you live in the Midwest, particularly Wisconsin, where Snowys have descended in big numbers so far this fall. But do watch for the white out there — on utility poles, fence posts, farm buildings, and in open fields. Here’s an eBird map with recent Snowy Owl sightings; you can see the surge in the Midwest, particularly along water.
Meanwhile, in other white bird news, we’ve got a good, feisty flight of Snow Buntings so far this fall. I nearly stepped on a flock at Dyer Point on the Maine coast last weekend. Here in Vermont, birders from Mt. Mansfield to the Champlain Valley have been reporting Snow Bunting encounters since late October. Away from Champlain Lowlands (which is traditionally the best bunting winter habitat here in Vermont), watch for flocks at windswept farm fields (where they find meals of grass seeds) or at your bird feeders. Here’s an eBird map with live reports since November 1.
Not to be outdone by any white bird, Snow Geese numbers continue to rise in Vermont and New York. This weekend may be among the best for seeing them by the thousands. Our latest report from Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison comes in at a reliable 3200 from Ian Worley (who counted from a plane). But the geese at Dead Creek, even when thousands gather there, aren’t always visible from the goose viewing area on Route 17. Sometimes they drop into a slang out of sight.
Your next best bet — and it’s a damned good bet right now — is the shoreline of Lake Champlain and nearby fields in New York south of Rouse’s Point, near Point Au Roche State Park. Sharp-eyed birder and photographer Dave Hoag counted at least 10,000 Snow Geese in the area a few days ago. The count could go higher — much higher. Keep track of it all on my 2015 Snow Goose Scoop.
Oh, we’re also expecting snow in the mountains here tonight. Yeah, precipitation.