Past Events - Walk & Talk Series

Walk and Talk Series - May 5, 2012
Toads, Frogs, Snakes, and Salamanders
with James Andrews, Vermont Reptile/Amphibian Advisory

      Walk and Talk Series - January 11, 2013 
Raptors Encounter
with Hannah Putnam, Vermont Institute of Natural Science

Mary McCallum: For The Birds

Her account of her CCCA Audubon Walk!

Vermont Public Radio Commentary Series 

7:55 a.m. and 5:55 p.m. Weekdays on VPR


(HOST) While commentator Mary McCallum loves the outdoors, it took an organized outing to help her appreciate how important it is to involve the community in appreciating the natural world. 

(MCCALLUM) I am not a birder. In fact, my lifelong impression of bird watchers was shaped by a 1950s television sitcom character named Miss Livingstone, a pith-helmeted fanatic in a raincoat and orthopedic shoes, running behind oversized binoculars. And a friend who was so sharp at identifying bird calls that he'd lean over at the movies and whisper the names of birds tweeting in the soundtrack's background. Of course, he now works for the National Audubon Society. 

Then recently, I joined a group of local nature lovers for a Sunday morning bird walk. It was one of a series of community strolls that highlight the beauty and importance of what Mother Nature has installed in our backyard. My knowledge about the feathered population was definitely lacking, limited to identifications of robins and woodpeckers. 

We began our hike through meadowland as fog lifted and cool mist sifted through soft air. And sure enough - I couldn't help thinking that we resembled a group of Miss Livingstones, moving like a slow herd of nerds in baggy raincoats and floppy canvas hats, staring upward through binoculars. 

Bird watching is not aerobic. I remarked on the glacial speed of our pace as we halted every few yards to peer at treetops and meadow grasses. We stopped at every call, ears perked up, and someone guessed the name of the bird. I marveled at the low call of a snipe, the energetic songs of redwinged blackbirds and the surprise sighting of a bittern when it leaped high above the tall grass. 

As we slogged through wet undergrowth, a woman in the group remarked that this walk was a great way to meet people, and that the focus on an activity made it easier to connect with strangers. Another confessed to knowing little about birds but saw the outing as a way to learn something about the outdoors. 

I returned home soggy but inspired. While none of us gained a huge body of knowledge that morning, each took home a few tidbits to remember about the natural world. For some, it was the first outdoor walk they'd taken in months. 

We live in the country, yet many people's interaction with it is slight. In fact, there is a growing national awareness of what the writer Richard Louv calls nature deficit disorder.  In his groundbreaking book, Last Child in the Woods , Louv writes that today's kids are increasingly disconnected from nature, yet they are next in line to be stewards of this precious resource. 

He recommends that we reacquaint them and ourselves with nature through hiking, fishing, bird-watching and other outdoor activities that widen the tunneled world of sedentary electronic entertainment. In a deft play on words, Louv promotes the idea of "no child left inside" as a way to lessen the growing and alarming divide between children and the outdoors. My own walk in the woods reminded me that although I am surrounded by a teeming universe of outdoor life, my awareness of it is small if I don't literally open the door and step out into it.
List of Past Walk and Talk Events
  • Feb 2011 - The importance of wildlife corridors in Cavendish
    • With Forrest Hammond of Vt Fish and Wildlife.
  • April 2011 - Bobcats in Southern Vermont
    • With Jane Lazorchak of Vt. Fish and Wildlife.
  • May 2011 - Beavers and their habitat
    • A walk in the woods off Newton Rd. with Tim O'Donoghue, Wildlife Biologist, Cavendish resident and member of the Conservation Committee.
  • June 2011 - A look at migratory birds
    • A walk along 20 Mile Stream Rd. with Alma Beals of the Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society
      • (reference article by Mary McCallum, click here)
  • March 2012, 6PM Talk on moose and black bear in Vermont
    • Forrest Hammond, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife District Biologist, will present a talk on moose and black bear in Vermont. These two charismatic animals are the state’s largest, native wild animals. The talk will highlight their ecology, habitat, and behavior – and the best ways for humans to avoid conflicts with moose and bear, including auto accidents. You will learn about where bear and moose spend their time in Cavendish and their home ranges, preferred travel routes and food sources. Both of the species have seen big changes in their populations over past twenty years. Forrest will discuss what the future may hold for these animals and the management challenges ahead
  • Saturday, May 5th, 2012. Toads, frogs, snakes, salamanders and other creatures

    • Join CCCA for a real treat when we gather at the Cavendish Town Office for another event in the Walk and Talk Series. James Andrews, Vermont’s foremost state herpetologist and Chair of the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Scientific Advisory Group will come to Cavendish to share with us his knowledge about the various species of toads, frogs, snakes, salamanders and other creatures that live in our midst. This one hour presentation will be followed by a guided field trip in Cavendish expected to last three hours.