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Monday, November 22, 2010

Sept 20, 2010 11:00-1:30 Sunny, wind from the North East, Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, Newport RI

Wings traversed the sky. The raptor migration was in full swing at Sachuest Point. Sharp-Shinned and Coopers Hawks were constantly soaring overhead along with a couple of American Kestrels. They flew over in twos and threes; eyes scanning the bushes for a tasty passerine. I have never seen so many raptors on the same day probably because we have never had much success with raptor migrations.

Graceful and vibrant Monarch Butterflies covered the bushes they too were making a journey to warmer parts to spend the winter months. A few Tree Swallows darted over us also migrating.

A Yellow Warbler suddenly appeared in the bushes,big black eyes watching our every move. Its plumage was dull green, very different from their yellow feathers in Spring. This was very likely the last Yellow Warbler we would see this year!

Double-Crested Cormorants, Herring Gulls, Ring-Billed Gulls and Great Black-Backed Gulls littered rocks. The water was spotted with big white blotches on closer inspection we found that they were Common Eiders.

Goldfinches fluttered overhead and a Red-Tailed Hawk soared in the distance. A Northern Mockingbird sang happily from a bush, two Laughing Gulls flapped lazily by. Suddenly a snake darted out from the bushes and slithered across the path solving the question people have asked for centuries "why did the snake cross the path when there were people coming" the answer being "to get to the other side" " ha ha ha ha ha". The snake was a dull red in color and about twenty inches long it was very unusual snake.

A Mourning Dove zipped through the air above us its wings whistling as he flew past. A few minutes later a Great Egret flew past. Three White-Tailed Deer watched us suspiciously from the meadow by the parking lot as we passed by to hop into our car.

After a few minutes of pleading we managed to get our mother to take a stop at the Sachuest Salt marsh here we found: 8 American Crows, 2 Coopers Hawks, 4 Snowy Egrets, 1 Semipalmated Plover, Sanderlings, 1 Turkey Vulture, 1 Great-Blue Heron and 1 Northern Harrier. All in all it was a good day!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Backyard Bird List

Our backyard is a small urban plot, we have some bird feeders, two Maple Trees and two Apple Trees. It is nothing spectacular though the bird seem to like it!

Birds seen and heard in our backyard:
Coopers Hawk,
Rock Pigeons,
Mourning Doves,
Ringed Turtle-Dove,
Eastern Screech Owl (heard),
Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds,
Downy Woodpeckers,
Blue Jays,
Black-Capped Chickadees,
Tufted Titmice,
White-Breasted Nuthatches,
Carolina Wrens,
Northern Mockingbirds,
American Robins,
Ruby-Crowned Kinglets,
Cedar Waxwings,
European Starlings,
Yellow Warblers,
Blackpoll Warblers,
Palm Warbler (moments after seeing the Palm we saw a Purple Finch! Both new to our yard!),
House Sparrows,
Red-Winged Blackbirds,
Baltimore Orioles,
Common Grackles,
Brown-Headed Cowbirds,
Northern Cardinals
Purple Finch,
House Finches,
American Goldfinches,
Dark-Eyed Juncos,
Chipping Sparrows,
White-Throated Sparrows,
Fox Sparrow
and Song Sparrows.

Birds seen from our backyard:
Double-Crested Cormorants,
Great-Blue Herons,
Black-Crowned Night Herons?,
Great Egret,
Mute Swans,
Canada Geese,
Wild Turkeys,
Turkey Vultures,
Sharp-Shinned Hawk,
Red-Tailed Hawks,
Peregrine Falcon,
Great Black-Backed Gulls,
Herring Gulls,
Ring-Billed Gulls,
Chimney Swifts,
Tree Swallows,
Barn Swallow
and Fish Crows.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Trustom Pond part two

As we drove into the parking lot we passed a solitary and injured Canada Goose wandering recklessly about the road. Its neck was covered with blood. Sadly though we could do nothing for it, there was no ranger posted at the ranger hut.

The flourishing bird feeders were, as always, coated with a thick layer of birds: White-Breasted Nuthatches and Downy Woodpeckers patrolled the suet feeders; Chickadees, Titmice and Goldfinches kept the seed feeders active, while below them Towhees, Mourning Doves and Cardinals kept the ground free from seeds which fell constantly from the feeders above. A Chipmunk darted out after a seed and then hurried away with its prize.

We have seen deer tracks and occasionally a deer here but never a shocking six (unfortunately I only saw five). The first two we discovered were feeding in a grassy section only feet from the foot path. They were incredibly tame and stayed for at least seven minutes. The handsome buck was much tamer than the timid doe who quickly moved away from us (maybe she smelled Ben?). The male had a small pair of beautiful nubs which protruded elegantly from his furry head. The next one we chanced upon was a gentle fawn crossing the path - he/she glanced at us momentarily and then moved hastily into the woods. Its spotted behind was the last thing we saw before the lovely deer vanished from sight. The next deer was the one I missed because I went ahead but it was a doe as far as I have heard. Then we found a deer which was surprisingly small (maybe it had just lost its spots). Then we scared another one out of hiding. It went to join its comrade. It too was very small.

So ends the tale of the White-Tailed Deer!

Next we met up with a foraging flock of birds hungrily devouring Concord Grapes. Though most flew off we were able to pick out three Black and White Warblers and a Blue-Headed Vireo. Further down the path we crossed paths with a Common Yellowthroat, a Downy Woodpecker and some Catbirds. On the trail to the pond we found a White-Breasted Nuthatch and a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher, a tiny little blue and gray bird (as its name suggests) with a white eye ring and a long black and white tail. The pond was fairly unsuccessful - a few Canada Geese, a Great Egret, an Osprey and some turtles were all that we could see from our perspective. Unfortunately the Blue-Winged Teal which was reported here on the local bird alert (RIbirds) but we sadly were unable to add this bird to our list of the day (it would have been a lifer for us).

At the small pond all was fairly quiet. Some Painted Turtles sun bathed on the scattered logs which littered its murky surface, huge bloated forms of Bullfrog Tadpoles were visible beneath the Lily Pads, a Green Heron watched us suspiciously from the far bank, a Wooly Bear lumbered across the path. The caterpillars three thick brown and black stripes were easy to pick out on the gray of the gravel which covered the path. Huge colorful Dragonflies darted through the air, eyes scanning for a tasty delicacy known as a fly, and a loan Turkey Vulture soared gracefully above.

It was a great day all in all (hopefully we will be back at Trustom soon for another fascinating experience)!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sept 16, 2010 10:30-11:30 am Sunny and breezy Moonstone Beach and Trustom Pond, South Kingstown RI part 1

The sand was blue and white and then, within the time you could say "weird sand", it was yellow again!

It was a swarm of swallows, they were gathering for their southward migration, thousands of nervous birds landing on the beach. Oddly all the birds were facing the ocean (maybe it was because of the wind?) and then taking off again. When we looked up, there seemed to be an unusual cloud traversing the sky above us, it was the swallow flock, they landed again covering the sand and bushes and then seconds later the swarm of penguin-like Tree Swallows with their blue backs and white bellies were back in the air. They wheeled and swooped, each maneuver more beautiful and graceful then the last. We watched them showing off their tricks for at least ten minutes before they moved on. A falcon species (either a Peregrine or a Merlin) shot by dashing after the flock.

A mystery wren darted through the bushes. Song Sparrows and Northern Mockingbirds busily sang their complex songs from the scrub.

A Northern Harrier soared over the meadows and marshes, his white rump a blazing emblem of his species, keen yellow eyes searching the ground for a tasty rodent.

A Tennessee or Palm Warbler occasionally would poke his tiny green and yellow head out of the bushes to watch the waves splashing on to the shore.

Swans, Cormorants and Mallards bustled about on Trustom Pond.

From high above eyes watched the goings on below. It was a beautiful Osprey-soon he would be on his way to South America where he would spend the winter months.

PS I will try to post the other half of our trip to Trustom and Moonstone tomorrow