"You can find the coolest things if you have your eyes open," says Chip Darmstadt, Executive Director with the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier.
A trek out on the trails here at North Branch Nature Center, and pretty much anywhere in Vermont, yields some sort of wildlife encounter -- you just may have to look a little harder for it.
"It doesn't matter if you're new at it or you've been doing it for many, many years -- it's enjoyable no matter what. And you're always learning something new," he says.
Many times it isn't flashy -- a bird high up in a tree or bugs on a leaf. And wildlife watching is a major part of Vermont's recreation year-round. According to a 2011 survey, 53 percent of Vermonters participate, the highest rate of any state in the country. That includes observing, feeding, or photographing wildlife. We asked you to send us some of those pictures and had no shortage of submissions, from snapping turtles to rodents -- deer -- moose -- and quite a few birds.
What seems like a low-cost activity actually has a fairly sizeable economic impact. In 2011, people spent nearly 290 million dollars just to watch wildlife in Vermont.
"Bird feeding is probably one of the most popular ways," says Darmstadt.
Travel, equipment, and any needed permits contribute to that number, as does birdseed. Feeding birds at home is considered the primary wildlife watching activity.
"There's a lot of field guides you can get. There's always been great birding field guides, bird watching field guides. But you can get field guides in just about anything," Darmstadt.
For beginners, Darmstadt recommends going on a guided bird walk, and for parents looking to take kids out for a day, he suggests finding a pond or stream where ducks may be easily visible and where kids can get their feet wet.
"Kids will spend an hour looking for crayfish. And catching one crayfish isn't enough -- you have to catch ALL the crayfish. And then we let them go," he says.
Though spring and summer are typically the best seasons to see lots of wildlife out and about, one plus as the leaves fall off the trees now -- it's easier to see the birds that have stuck around.
Friday, December 6 2013 11:16 PM EST2013-12-07 04:16:55 GMT
A Connecticut man is charged with DUI after police say he admitted to overdosing on prescribed Ritalin when he was pulled over. The incident happened on Route 105 in Berkshire late Friday afternoon. AuthoritiesMore >>
A Connecticut man is charged with DUI after police say he admitted to overdosing on prescribed Ritalin when he was pulled over.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:03 PM EST2013-12-07 03:03:22 GMT
In Dorset, a car crashed into a bank and there was no drive-through lane.The car jumped the curb in front of the Berkshire Bank Friday morning, taking out a railing and getting hung up on the front steps.More >>
In Dorset, a car crashed into a bank -- and there was no drive-through lane. More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:01 PM EST2013-12-07 03:01:17 GMT
The longtime bookkeeper at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is expected to plead guilty to embezzling from the business and a local youth hockey program.Cold Hollow in Waterbury is one of Vermont's top tourist attractions.More >>
The longtime bookkeeper at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is expected to plead guilty to embezzling from the business and a local youth hockey program.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:00 PM EST2013-12-07 03:00:14 GMT
Police in Burlington say they've caught an armed robber.Investigators arrested Tyran Sprauve, 19, Friday afternoon for assault and robbery. Police say last month he and two other men broke into a homeMore >>
Police in Burlington say they've caught an armed robber.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 9:59 PM EST2013-12-07 02:59:17 GMT
A Claremont, New Hampshire couple is behind bars, charged with sexually assaulting two children under the age of five.Police say 25-year-old Kevin Blood and his 25-year-old wife, Ashley, were arrestedMore >>
A Claremont, New Hampshire couple is behind bars, charged with sexually assaulting two children under the age of five.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 9:40 PM EST2013-12-07 02:40:47 GMT
College students at St. Mike's have some strong words for Vermont's Senators. The groups of young people are part of a national organization known as the Student Global AIDS Campaign. Friday they marchedMore >>
Leahy spokesman says students mininformed on Senator's record.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 9:01 PM EST2013-12-07 02:01:01 GMT
In Burlington's Old North End there are still hints of what used to be -- a bustling Little Jerusalem years go. But one symbol of the area's past is not so obvious."It's priceless, it literally is oneMore >>
In Burlington's Old North End there are still hints of what used to be -- a bustling Little Jerusalem years go. But one symbol of the area's past is not so obvious.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 8:50 PM EST2013-12-07 01:50:18 GMT
It's that time of the week when almost everybody says TGIF. It's the first weekend in December and that has special meaning for Plattsburgh residents like Leigh Mundy, who loves spending time in the city.More >>
A tradition in the making for Plattsburgh -- it's called First Weekends. The idea is to have a special event in downtown Plattsburgh the first weekend of every month.More >>