Michelle Meyer and I had a really nice two days in the southern Green Mountains of Vermont, based in Wilmington, just last weekend (June 20-22). Quiet and relaxing, it was exactly how we were hoping to spend our weekend free from work and other obligations. On Saturday the 21st we hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail & Long Trail to the summit of Stratton Mountain, elevation 3,940 feet. The round-trip was about seven miles and took us five hours to complete at a leisurely pace including a lunch break at the top.
Despite hitting the trail at noon, several birds were still vocalizing. Our hike began in mixed hardwoods and hemlock, with Blackburnian and Black-throated Green Warblers dominating, plus a few Hermit Thrushes and Red-eyed Vireos mixed in.
As we ascended we left behind the hemlocks and found ourselves in northern hardwoods. Black-throated Blue became the dominant warbler, and while Hermit Thrushes faded away, they were replaced by Swainson's Thrushes.
|A peek through the trees on our ascent up Stratton Mountain|
We knew we were approaching the summit as we quickly transitioned into the thick spruce-fir zone. Here, the only vireos were Blue-headeds and the most common warblers were Blackpoll, Yellow-rumped, and Magnolia.
|Appalachian Trail through the spruce-fir zone|
After a peaceful lunch at the summit and a tense walk up and down the fire tower (let's just say that skydiving did not help me get over my fear of heights), we quickly found a few BICKNELL'S THRUSHES on our way back down. One bird perched motionless on an exposed branch along the trail, allowing for photos with the short zoom lens I took along mainly for scenery shots.
|View from the Stratton Mountain summit fire tower|
Highly recommended for anyone seeking Bicknell's Thrush and other high elevation breeders, and so close to southern New England. If you stay in Wilmington, check out the Wilmington Inn & Tavern...Patrick is a great host and cooks a heck of a breakfast!
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