There was a steady winter wind blowing at Button Bay State Park in Vergennes. It is deserted this time of year, well, almost.
"Oh, this is a great spot for birding, especially in the winter. In the winter, it's lake birds; in the summer, you come to Button Bay State Park and it's a lot of nesting birds," Ian Worley said.
Worley was the director of the environmental program at the University of Vermont until his retirement four years ago. He now devotes his time to bird-watching.
"We are looking for a greater white-fronted goose that is about the same size as Canada geese," Worley said. "And in eastern North America it is really scarce."
Scarce, but not unheard of.
"It's got some white around the base of the bill, that is what the white front is about, the name," Worley said.
He spotted a pair earlier this winter. They are never seen here in great numbers, and it is rare for them to be spotted east of the Mississippi.
"So, it is always exciting for birders to see them because you can't like today count on seeing them even if you think they are right here. And it is one of the treasures we always look for when geese are about in the spring and in the fall during migration," Worley said.
Another rare find-- Worley discovered a slaty-backed gull.
"You can look and look and never find it, then if you are lucky or good, all of a sudden there it is," Worley said.
And the sitings are shared with other birders on the internet; some flock to the lake to see for themselves.
"This has been a marvelous winter for birders on the lake!" Worley said.
The greater white-fronted geese will probably head back to Greenland in the spring. In the meantime, birders will continue to chase unusual sightings along the lake and beyond.
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