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October 2020

Vol. 48, No. 5

Musings from the Blind Birder: Climbing Jay Peak

Martha Steele


The author at Jay Peak. Photograph by Bob Stymeist.

Any given day of birding, like any activity, can be exhilarating, frustrating, joyous, slow, boring, intense, disappointing, awe-inspiring, surprising, exhausting, or calming. Many birding forays, although enjoyable, are not particularly memorable. But every once in a while, the stars align where not only the birds but everything about the moment combines to send your spirits soaring. Such was one morning in mid-June in 2020 on Jay Peak, a mountain located in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont just four miles south of the Canadian border.

My husband Bob, my guide dog Alvin, and I set out from an empty parking lot near the base lodge of the Jay Peak ski resort at 5:40 am. The day was clear and cool, perfect for a climb of about 2000 feet to the 3,858-foot Jay Peak summit. On our ascent, we barely stopped to listen to such species as Ovenbird, Hermit Thrush, Black-throated Green Warbler, or Blue-headed Vireo as we were focused on getting to the summit area as quickly as possible for our target bird, the Bicknell's Thrush.

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Our mission: to support and promote the observation, understanding, and conservation of the wild birds of New England.