West Rutland Marsh is a favorite stop for Vermont birders, including me. I will always remember a family of Virginia Rails crossing the road ahead of our birding group and a Least Bittern flying the length of the marsh. Hearing the oong-ka-choonk of the American Bittern or the rattle of a Marsh Wren for the first time each spring is a thrill.
A large cattail marsh along with a wide variety of other habitats makes this the perfect spot to spend a rewarding morning or evening of birding. Ten stops on the Bridge-to-Bridge Interpretive Trail show off the habitats. The site is a breeding ground for bitterns, rails, and other marsh birds – plenty of reasons why it was designated an Important Bird Area.
In 2001, Rutland County Audubon began monthly, year-round monitoring walks around a 3.7-mile section of the marsh. To date, we’ve tallied 136 species. We haven’t missed a month and are still adding species. The marsh is a great spot to distinguish Willow and Alder Flycatchers by voice. Or watch Marsh Wrens, Swamp Sparrows, and Yellow Warblers ferry food to their young during nesting season. There is always something to see. — Susan Elliott
Susan Elliott is a member and secretary of the Rutland County Audubon Society board of directors and a big fan of citizen science.