Foliage Time inVermont's Northeast Kingdom

Wildlife Watching
By Deborah Straw

Nature watching is perhaps at its best in the Northeast Kingdom becausewe have taken over less of the wilderness habitat. There are fewer shopping malls, condo villages, super highways, and instead miles and miles of untouched, deep forests and dozens of pristine lakes.

One of the largest and most obvious creatures you may see is thegangly moose. This section of Vermont is its favorite habitat. Itparticularly likes the area's bogs and is not afraid to cross a road, minor or major, at any time. Spots where they are often seen include Route 2 East between St. Johnsbury and Lunenburg; Route 105 nearAverill; and Route 114 in Ferdinand (not on all maps), near Island Pond.

The moose population is increasing in Vermont, which now even has a moose hunting season around the same time as the deer hunt in the fall. Caution: give this large animal a wide berth as it is slow moving andcould cause a lot of damage to any vehicle or to you. Moose are gentlebeings, but they move only as and when they want to.

You may also see or at least hear the haunting cry of a common loon inour northeast corner. It is more shy than the moose I've never seen one, but I've heard them. They are to be found on numerous lakes such as Peacham Pond. Loon nesting and chick survival rates have been on the rise in recent years, but the bird is still on the endangered list in Vermont. There are several threats to its existence, principally lead poisoning from fishing sinkers, human interference during nesting and chick rearing, and predation by raccoons and other animals.

The peregrine falcon, which as of a report from August 20, 1999, has just been removed from the nationwide endangered species list, is also making inroads in the area. By 1990, seven territorial pairs included three pairs that raised six chicks. These have been seen around Mount Pisgah near Lake Willoughby in Westmore. During the falcon breeding season, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department closes public areas and encourages landowners to post their land near nesting sites.

Other species widely in residence in the area include white-taileddeer, raccoons, red fox, wild turkeys, pheasant or grouse, bluebirds(in the summer), lots of Canada geese (in the fall), groundhogs and thepossibility of a coyote or a black bear. Victory Bog and the Victory Basin Wildlife Management area, in the farthest northern corner, along the Moose River, are home to many of the common New England critters as well as moose, river otters, American bittern, and ruffed grouse.

If it's plants you most admire, besides admiring the elms and maplesin their fall costumes, you'll see a lot of wild asters in a range offall colors, from light pink to deep purple. You may still see fields of purple loosestrife, a European import, which while beautiful is ahighly aggressive invader of Vermont (and other) wetlands. But thebrilliant hillside and solitary dooryard trees remain the scene-stealers of the season.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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