Hello from the Swanton Public Library! It’s Saturday morning, I’ve got a cup of real coffee here, and our laundry is in the dryer at the laundromat. I can hear the oldies from the classic car show going on outside, and I just bought two new books to read at the library book sale. I think that this little corner of Vermont is my favorite so far, with the exception of Montpelier. It feels a little more authentic here, and everyone is just so friendly to us. It also helps that we are working in some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever had the privilege of working, and that our project partners are so friendly and generous to us.
This past week we continued work on the Discovery Trail, moving more gravel, and also working on sealing the wooden safety rails along the boardwalk. Monday and Tuesday were particularly hot, but we did our best to stay cool and hydrated. Luckily, on Wednesday, we got to work in a closed section of the Refuge to prepare a duck banding site. The US Fish & Wildlife Service monitors duck populations by banding them annually each fall. To do so, they prepare sites by mowing down the grass, raking up all the cut grass, and then baiting with corn. When the ducks are accustomed to the site, in the fall, they will then use a rocket launcher to capture the ducks with a net. After the biologists gather the data they need, the ducks are released.
What this meant for us is that we got to take a boat out to the island that the site is on! If you look up a map of the Refuge, look for a site called Cranberry Pool. It’s a controlled wetlands, and home to all kinds of waterfowl and other exciting birds like osprey. You can see the nest in the top picture. We mowed and raked and mowed and raked, and the site is now just about ready for the ducks to come back. We are really enjoying working on this project! We were also lucky to meet some staff from the US Fish & Wildlife Service Regional Office who were on a site visit. The conservation world can be an awful small one sometimes – the two who visited had come to a volunteer day for the trail I worked on last year at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge in Hadley, Mass. It was great to see them again, and even see a couple pictures of my old trail. On Thursday, we got to stop by an archaeological dig on the banks of the Missisquoi. They even let us hold one of the artifacts, a piece of pottery with patterns on it. We also worked on clearing downed branches and overgrowth on the Old Railroad Passage Trail (blueberries!!) and the Stephen Young Marsh Trail (lots of pretty flowers and wooded sections).
We also enjoyed a cookout yesterday with the Refuge staff. It was such a treat to relax in the air conditioned visitor center and get to know the staff better. We were also delighted and humbled to receive maple syrups from one of the staff here who also owns his own sugaring business. The maple syrup is obviously excellent in Vermont, but it’s so much more meaningful to know the person who boiled all that sap down. Thank you, Joe!!
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Sittin’ in Swanton,