Date: 11/1/20 6:45 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] November 1, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
6:18 a.m. (the *new* time). 30 degrees, wind SSE 4 mph. Sky: pink, vaporous fingers in the east, coalesce in the west, an admirable vault. Permanent streams: the first sign of ice gleams from petioles just above the current, little shiny stems like freshly blown glass. Intermittent streams: alive and well. Wetlands: marsh lightly frosted. Pond: three hooded mergansers, one adult female and two juveniles. No sign of mink.
AOR: junco flock
Yesterday: myrtle warbler, female, lands on the pasture fence. Eats a small red berry, yellow rump flashing. Then, off to New Jersey.
Three red-breasted nuthatches tooting in the pines. Chickadee investigating the broken ends of pine branches finds something to his liking. Jays everywhere and rowdy, back and forth across the road, screaming from tops of pines, pasture fence, feeders, invisible avenues in the sky.
For anyone not already convinced: 1) We no longer have to look at images of a hapless (and helpless) polar bear treading water or a collapsing Antarctic icecap to see the effects of climate change. Black vultures, which, forty years ago, barely crossed the Mason-Dixon Line, first nested in Massachusetts in 1999, Connecticut in 2002, and have been seen as far north as Bangor, Maine. I've seen them above Hadley, Massachusetts, drifting north with an air of triumphant ascendancy. , Foraged in the crucible of sun and rock, black vultures depend on columns of warm air rising from outcrops and roads to stay aloft, moored to thermals as sailboats to the wind. A short-winged, short-tailed vulture anywhere near Vermont is a sign of a changing climate.
2) In the past decade, Lake Champlain only froze over *three* times, and in January 2020, Vermont temperature ran 7.4 degrees warmer than normal. Curious about Champlain's freezing records, I checked the NOAA website and discovered that from 1816 to 1969, portions of the lake remained ice-free *six* times, approximately four percent of the winters; then, between 1970 and 2016, the lake remained open twenty-six times, more than half the winters.
3) And, on a personal level, the rattlesnakes I've been watching have responded to a warming world. I'd visit dens from mid- to late-May in the eighties when snakes basked beneath a filigree of nearly leafless branches. Viewing season now often begins tentatively and tenuously in mid-April and ends well before Memorial Day, when den-side basking rocks lie in full shade.
The arrival of the black vulture in northern New England suggests the climate warming *rapidly.* If our leaders continue to deny a link between our lifestyles and a bipolar climate, who's to say we won't soon see king vultures and Andean condors above the Connecticut River.