I’ve discovered a new place to hike just around the corner from my house. The Burlington Landlocked Forest is a hilly tract of land with a high-tension electric line passing through that is cut off from the rest of Burlington by big highways. One trail is right beside the highway, but others are at a distance that keeps the car noise more muted. I’ve been going there almost every day since I discovered it a couple of weeks ago, and its interesting up-and-down trails are helping me get back into exercising regularly.
I’m surprised by the unusual wildlife I’ve seen here, more than in other conservation areas in town. Whenever I come out of the forest and head down the gravel path in the electric right-of-way, I’ve seen an interesting bird. (Pictures are from Wikimedia Commons; hover over the pictures to see the credits.)
Today it was a female rose-breasted grosbeak that caught my attention. It was in the bush like the ubiquitous song sparrow, but it had a heavy two-toned bill and strong white line above and below the eye. Of course it is also larger, but that is harder to judge in the nice closeup view in the binoculars. I guessed grosbeak but didn’t know that it was rose-breasted until it flew up to the tree to join the beautiful male. (If I had brushed up on my birding study, I’d know that rose-breasted is the only streaked female around here.)
On other days, in the open brush of the right-of-way, I’ve seen indigo buntings and a scarlet tanager. I usually hear towhees singing and occasionally see them. A wood thrush, perhaps more than one, sings deeper in the forest, along with jays, titmice, chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches.
On Thursday, in the forest, I heard a riot of blue jays, which usually means they’re mobbing some predator, perhaps an owl. In my walking-briskly trance, I almost didn’t notice. When my consciousness came back to the forest, I started scanning the trees around the birds. Up in the crotch of a tree, I saw a fuzzy tail, then the head of a fisher! Fishers are part of the weasel family and seem to be making a comeback from what friends who live near woods have said, but this is the first one I’ve seen.