East Montpelier, Vermont 05651
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Sodom Pond is really two ponds: Sodom Pond and Adamant Pond, slightly up the road past the music school. The first is a more popular birding destination, largely because it is easier to access the pond edges. To access either, park at the Adaman Co-op, or up the road at the church, which has a parking lot next to it that is rarely, if ever, full. You can also park on the sides of Quarry Road, but be careful not to block traffic and to park safely. When parking at the Co-op, avoid peak hours or buy something for good measure.
To get the best view of Sodom Pond, head east on Adamant Road and then turn south on Sodom Pond Road, which loops around the pond and provides several excellent viewing areas of the pond itself. The south and west edges of the pond are much more difficult to access (although not impossible), whereas Sodom Pond Road should give you enough scoping abilities to see any birds tucked into any corners. The first stretch of the walk from the Co-op to the pond is excellent for shrub birds: Gray Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, and warbler swarms, especially Yellow Warblers and Yellow-Rumped Warblers in the spring. Further into the pond, there are stands of cattails and mats of vegetation, which often hold Swamp Sparrows, Wood Ducks, and Mallards. At the turn of the road where the power lines cut up to a private residence, there is an excellent marshy inlet, which often hosts Black-capped Chickadees, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and warblers of all types, including Mourning Warblers at times. Heading south, the road weaves among apple trees and spruce. This is one of the best spots to find migrating warblers in the spring, or all of the species of swallows flying overhead and on the pond itself. Looking out onto the pond, you’re likely to see Canada Geese most of the year, Great Blue Herons, and all manner of ducks. Keep an ear open for Northern Goshawks, which nest a mile to the east and have been known to call here. Bitterns and Virginia Rail are known to hang out in the northeast edge of the pond at times, and shorebirds visit the lily-pad flats in late August and September. Keep an eye out for Northern Harriers, Osprey, and the nesting Pied-billed Grebes, a rarity in the state and the only known nesting location for them in the county at present.
To approach Adamant Pond, go the other way, past the waterfalls and mill ponds uphill towards the church. You can stand on the small bit of lawn, often with two chairs. The owner, in the house to the north with the large lawn and beautiful flower gardens, calls this his “people trap”, and likes to chat about birds if you give him the chance. This is a great spot to use a scope to find distant shorebirds far out in the marsh, the many American Bitterns that can be seen in the edges of the marsh (and occasionally in the open!), and all manner of waterfowl. If you continue up the road, another woody swamp appears to the north, which is one of the best locations in the county for consistent Black-billed Cuckoos. If you continue up Martin Road, you’ll approach the Adamant Community Center, a small white building. Walking behind it and through the woods to your north will give you access to abandoned quarries and tailings going out into the marsh, which is an excellent location to look at a beautiful sedge marsh that is quite expansive comparatively. This is a great spot for both Yellowlegs species, distant Marsh Wrens, and occasionally flocks of Snow Geese. Beware of porcupines, which hole up in the caves in the tailings.
From Richard Littauer
Birds of Interest
Some excellent birds that have come through include Short-billed Dowitchers, Common Gallinule, Black Tern, Cackling Goose, and Greater White-fronted Goose. Other excellent birds include American Goldfinch, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, and the ubiquitous kejegigihlasis, as the Black-capped Chickadee is called in Abenaki, one of the Algonquian-speaking peoples of northeastern North America.
About Sodom Pond
Sodom Pond is one of the best hotspots in Washington County because it has such a varied ecosystem. There are marshes, open water, scrub, deciduous and coniferous woods, and some small fields. This hotspot is best known as a great shorebird migration spot, only fifteen minutes from Montpelier.