Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge
The town of Charlotte boast some outstanding birding sites that are well-known throughout Vermont. Examples include Mount Philo State Park, Charlotte Town Beach, McNeil Cove, and Converse Bay are all highly regarded spots among birders. But location that is the subject of this essay–the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge, is less well-known even among birders in Chittenden County, despite the fact that the site offers excellent birding opportunities and at times turn up rarities.
Charlotte Park consists of 290 acres of early successional woodlands, meadows, and pastures that provide outstanding habitat for birds and other wildlife. A well-maintained hiking trail marked by many interpretive stations threads its way through the park, offering great views of Lake Champlain and the surrounding countryside. However, the use of this park by hikers and joggers is remarkably low in comparison to Colchester Pond, not that I am complaining, mind you. Likewise, my search of the VT Bird list archives revealed only12 postings referring to the Charlotte Park (including reports by some outstanding birders, I might add). This observation suggests to me that this site is relatively undiscovered by the birding community. Last May I went to Charlotte Park in search of warblers. I was not disappointed. On my first visit I spotted a Canada Warbler – a lifer for me. Later in the season I got the best look at an Eastern Towhee I have had to date. A sampling of other notables seen by me, or reported by others, includes Black-and-white, Magnolia, Blue-winged, Tennessee, Nashville, Chestnut-sided and Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireo, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Northern Cardinal, Cedar Waxwing, Wood Thrush, American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, and Northern Harrier. This is an impressive list by any standard.
To reach the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge take Greenbush Road from Route 7 in Shelburne. Immediately after driving past Lake Road in Charlotte and passing under the railroad bridge just beyond, look for a left turn into a small, but well-marked parking lot. The Robert’s Way trail starts here. In season, an informative brochure and trail map is available to guide you on your walk. Enjoy!