Last week Jacob and I flew out to New England to visit my brother at his house in Vermont, and my parents in Massachusetts. Jacob had never been to New Hampshire so when we drove through part of it to get to Vermont I looked for a birding hotspot close to the highway. That's how we ended up at Ballard Pond in Derry, home of the Taylor Mill Historic Site. Also home to this snapping turtle that seemed stuck but was not:
We walked part way around the pond as mosquitoes attacked and Jacob unknowingly acquired five ticks. Birding was mellow but our first pink lady's slippers of the trip were sweet:
We picked up 15 New Hampshire bird species here with the last being the only photographable one, an Eastern Bluebird perched above its nest box.
Surprisingly this was the only bluebird of the trip.
We finally reached my brother's house but he was finishing up a hike with my nephew on the mountain that can be seen from his deck. The first thing I saw when we arrived at the front door was this rosy maple moth, a lifer moth!
My sister-in-law gave us a tour of the place before setting us up outside with some cold water and chips and tasty Vermont salsa.
A Broad-winged Hawk showed up and perched in a tree, angering many birds nearby. It took off after a few minutes so we had nice views of it flying too.
There was a lot of singing in the trees next to the house and it took us awhile to sort out who was singing what. Several Indigo Buntings were around, though not easy to photograph.
There was a Chestnut-sided Warbler singing for a long time but I only barely managed a picture of one. Perfect lighting, if I do say so myself.
After an hour of watching two Eastern Phoebes catching bugs around us we realized they were probably nesting under the deck. Jacob confirmed this later.
Around the house are miles of trail systems so we set off on a nice big loop with my brother and sister-in-law and their dog, Willow.
Later that evening my brother took us up the mountain the easy way, by driving. We stopped as close to the top as the road goes, then hiked out to a hang glider launch deck. I forget hang gliding is a thing.
The next morning we decided to visit Quechee Gorge, a spot my brother had taken me on my last trip in the pouring rain. Before we left Jacob noticed the Broad-winged Hawk had returnd and was chilling in another tree.
Turns out Quechee Gorge is even better when it's not raining. We quickly found a pair of American Redstarts in one area. The male was singing away and the female bounced around the low shrubs, leading us to her nest!
The nest is in these ferns somewhere:
We walked back north along the gorge to the other side where a strip of land divides Deweys Pond and the Ottauquechee River. This area was pretty birdy.
Another flycatcher, that could be a Willow or maybe something more interesting.
We finished our walk with 28 species, viewable on our eBird checklist here.
Later after lunch my brother and I went for another hike with Willow the dog around the trails near his house. Again no bird pics, but lots of Jack-in-the-pulpits (Jacks-in-the-Pulpit?):
Also lots of toads.
After that it was time to head south to my parents' house. Many thanks to my brother for buying a house in such a birdy area! They have it on Airbnb if you need a sweet spot to stay in Vermont.