But a chance conversation with someone at the general store in Island Pond (a couple of towns to the west of the NWR) gleaned the information that there is a maintained service road that is open to the public in the summertime. Eureka! Lewis would be mine after all. Today I went to explore that access road, but before dropping into the massive VerizonWireless dead zone that is this part of the Northeast Kingdom, I stopped in Lyndonville and logged GPS coordinates of where the proposed access route would cross into Lewis -- I would need to travel beyond that coordinate to make a valid survey. I drove out VT-15 from Island Pond thru Brighton, Ferdinand, and Brunswick, passed the NWR Visitors Center, and then down to Stone Dam Road. Sure enough the gate was open, and there was even a Welcome sign. The road was well maintained, and was not fraught with potholes and pop-up boulders, as many back roads are. I drove in comfortably in my Honda FIT for 5.6 kms until I reached the intersection where my coordinate was set. I was there at last! Lewis.
I decided to press on along Stone Dam Road -- now called Canal Road -- to see what lay further into the interior of Lewis. Another 5 kms down the road and I arrived at a major junction -- this would be my survey base. I had lunch (I'd picked up a hamburger and beverage in Island Pond), sprayed with Deep Woods Off, then headed off down the road.
The weather was almost ideal for birds and butterflies, and the butterflies didn't disappoint. During my 3 km outward hike, I counted 106 butterflies of 16 species -- more species than the birds. My only bird sighting was a pair of Winter Wrens, but I did hear many other birds along my walk.
I will add Silvio Conte NWR to my Northeast Kingdom itinerary, along with Moose Bog in the Wenlock State Wildlife Management Area, which is only 5 miles back towards Island Pond.
Red-eyed Vireo Cedar Waxwing
Unidentified Vireo species Ovenbird
Golden-crowned Kinglet Common Yellowthroat
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Northern Parula
Winter Wren Black-throated Blue Warbler
Hermit Thrush Black-throated Green Warbler