Thursday, January 06, 2011
Vermont County Birding Quest Takes Flight
Ready for a birding challenge and some 'friendly' cross-county competition? Grab your binocs, shoulder your spotting scope, and join the 2011 Vermont County Birding Quest. The adjoining counties of Windsor, Washington, and Orange have challenged one another to identify as many species as possible during 2011.
Part fun, part discovery, part conservation, but mostly fun, this yearlong quest gives us all a welcome excuse to head outdoors and go birding. From the common to the rare, a diverse and fascinating array of birds resides in or passes through Vermont each year. These three counties now seek to document that diversity, with the added incentive of vying for top honors of the maximum species count. Vermont eBird will provide the tool for that documentation.
Expanding from the Norwich 2010 Birding Quest, which tallied 168 species within the town borders during the past year, Windsor, Washington and Orange Counties are embarking on a friendly rivalry for 2011. We expect a great deal of cross-county collaboration, some good-natured taunting, and plenty of avian surprises. Washington surged to an early lead in eliciting birder envy among its county rivals, with the late December discovery in Berlin of a Northern Hawk Owl, which lingered through January 2. Windsor and Orange County birders are, of course, hoping the bird flew south and east and will reappear in our neck of the woods!
VCE and North Branch Nature Center are co-sponsoring the County Quest challenge, and there will be prizes awarded in several categories. Stay tuned for further details and updates as we all sharpen our birding skills and share our finds in the months ahead. We hope that the Vermont County Quest will expand statewide in 2012. In the meantime, we encourage any and all birders from both inside and outside Vermont to join us in the 2011 Quest!
Photo of Northern Hawk Owl courtesy of Bryan Pfeiffer, Wings Photography