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Summer guide: Addison County is awash in wildlife

Addison County is a wildlife viewing showcase. With a variety of habitats for wildlife to choose from, the Champlain Valley contains vast green woods, bogs straight out of a fairy tale, and even alpine tundra on top of Mount Abraham. The state is an avian crossroads, where snowy owls spend the winter and magnolia warblers spend the summer. From birds singing to moose bugling to fish jumping, here are Vermont’s premiere wildlife watching opportunities, and many of them can be enjoyed right here in Addison County.
Hear the forest come alive with songbirds
A YELLOW WARBLER sings. Photo by Tom Rogers
No harbinger of nature is more distinctive than the sound of the birds singing in the forest. Whether it’s the flute-like song of our state bird the hermit thrush or the trills and beeps of a song sparrow, the forests and fields of Vermont become awash with music during the warmer months. Many green spaces are likely to have birds singing in the early morning hours. The area along Lake Champlain can be particularly good for songbirds, and can be accessed via several state parks or wildlife management areas.
Listen as a loon call breaks the silence of a Vermont pond
Haunting, eerie and unforgettable, the call of the loon may be the quintessential sound of Vermont’s waters. While it may be relatively common now, not too long ago these waters were silent, as loons were on the brink of becoming extinct in the Green Mountain State. Fortunately, loon populations have started to rebound thanks to efforts from conservationists, but wildlife watchers should still take care not to disturb them during nesting season. Loon locations vary from year to year, but any large Vermont lake or pond surrounded by wilderness is likely to have loons calling during the summer months, particularly around sunrise and sunset. Loons have been seen at Lake Dunmore for many years now.
Spot a migrating hawk from atop Mt. Philo
A HAWK TAKES flight.  Photo by Tom Rogers
Hawks are well known for their incredible eyesight, but a good pair of binoculars or even a spotting scope can level the playing field for birdwatchers when scanning for incoming raptors. One especially good place to view hawks is Mt. Philo State Parklocated in Charlotte, just north of Ferrisburgh. Birdwatchers may see just about every type of hawk, owl and eagle in the region, which can start as just a distant speck on the horizon before whizzing overhead and streaking away again into the distance. A short hike or drive up to the 968-foot Mt. Philo summit gives a broad view of the Champlain Valley and the Adirondacks in the distance.
Witness the multitude of colors on waterfowl in Addison County
West Addison contains a birders’ paradise, Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area, where all types of birds can be spotted — marshbirds, shorebirds, hawks, owls, woodpeckers and songbirds all frequent the area. But the ducks and geese truly capture the attention of birders at Dead Creek. From the exquisitely colored plumage of the wood duck, to the elusive flashes of color on mallards and teal, to the deep shading of ring-necked ducks and hooded mergansers, Dead Creek’s waterfowl display spectacular colors. The best places to view waterfowl are in the ponds next to the Route 17 viewing area and from Brilyea Road along the refuge, where ducks swim among the cattails and rest on logs. The birds are most abundant in the spring and fall and, as with all birding, sunrise and sunset are the best times to go.
For more information on places to watch wildlife, head online to vtfishandwildlife.com and search for “watch wildlife” or check out a wildlife management area near you.

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