Both Ticonderoga and Independence were abandoned by American forces in early July 1777 when British forces, under Gen. John Burgoyne, mounted cannon on a hilltop overlooking the two forts. The ensuing pursuit by the British culminated in the Battle of Hubbardton, about a dozen miles to the southwest.
Over the next 200 years the fortifications fell into ruin and the wooden structures rotted and disappeared. In 2009 there was a major archeological effort made to excavate various sites on the Mount, to clear away the vegetation to make the stone structures visible, and then to construct a series of pathways that would allow the public to our and learn about what had happened during the Revolution. The work was concentrated on the section of the Mount nearest to the visitors center; the trail system is over a mile in length, and is wheelchair accessible. There is another network of hiking trails that are still in the rugged condition of their original mapping in the late 1980s, and lack the elaborate informational signs that the new trails feature.
By chance, the fall migration was in full swing, and the berry tries near the visitor's center were packed with warblers; I think I spent half an hour just trying to identify and photograph the various flocks. Because of its location, terrain, and cover, Mount Independence offers a birder a wide variety of habitat settings in which to bird. I spent 4.5 hours there, and explored most but not all of the area; a later visit to cover the lakefront took another 2.5 hours.
Checklist for Orwell: * indicates birds observed on/over Lake Champlain
Canada Goose* Mallard*
Turkey Vulture Bald Eagle*
Semipalmated Sandpiper* Ring-billed Gull*
Herring Gull* Common Tern*
Belted Kingfisher* Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker Eastern Wood Pee-wee
American Crow Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee White-breasted Nuthatch
American Robin Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing Black-and-White Warbler
Nashville Warbler Blackpoll Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler Black-throated Blue Warbler
Canada Warbler Black-throated Green Warbler
Pine Warbler Chipping Sparrow
Slate-colored Junco Northern Cardinal