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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 29, 2011 10-11:30am Sunny 50` Boyden Preserve and the East Bay Bike Path, East Providence RI

We went for a walk at the Boyden Preserve (which connects to the East Bay Bike Path which we also visited on our walk) today in search of a Eurasian Wigeon and a Tufted Duck both of which had been reported in the area on the 27th. In the woods we had found the regular species such as the chickadee and titmouse - we also come upon a Robin, 3 Mourning Doves, four Mallards, a Northern Cardinal, a Song Sparrow, 2 (sparring?) Northern Mockingbirds and a Downy Woodpecker. On the brackish ponds and the bay we had American Wigeons, American Black Ducks, a questionable Mallard/Black Duck hybrid, Red-breasted Mergansers, a Gadwall or two, and extra large flock of Greater Scaup (and possibly Lesser), a Mute Swan, Brant, Canada Geese, Ring-billed and Herring Gulls; all birds to be expected.

The bird that we hadn't surmised seeing was what appeared to be a handsome Ring-necked Duck, a bird more commonly found on fresh water lakes - but a bird at least I (as far as I can recall) is not generally seen on salt water. Another possibility was that this was the Tufted Duck we had come looking for but the nob of feathers on the back of the crown was not long enough to be a Tufted (in my opinion). A third possibility was that this was a weird Lesser Scaup with an unusual shape to the head - this I doubt because of the back coloring which was far too dark for an ordinary scaup. No, this was not an ordinary scaup this was a Super Scaup! Nah just kidding I am pretty certain that the duck was not a "Super Scaup" but most likely a Ring-necked Duck.

On our walk back we came upon a gathering of four Garter Snakes just out of hibernation. I caught one (they were cold so they moved slowly) and my brother and I photographed it before leaving it to recover from its terrifying ordeal with the hand of man and two cameras.

Near the parking lot there is a small brook which runs into a phragmites infested swamp and then turns back into a slightly larger creek which runs down to one of the brackish ponds (we saw the snakes next to the creek). As we were making our way back to the car we came across the body of a small Box Turtle floating were the stream connects to the swamp. Presumably some one had found him wondering around near the stream and mistaken him for a aquatic turtle and placed the poor creature in the water where (its habit of living on land and not being able to swim, working against it) it had subsequently drowned.

Our walk finished we drove to the Barrington Public Library-on the way passing an Osprey (an RI year bird) and some Bufflehead. The biggest surprise came when we were leaving the car and I noticed an unusual object on the ground believing it to be a black rubber toy turtle I picked it up. I instantly realized it wasn't rubber, it wasn't even a toy at all but the remains of a baby Snapping Turtle which had probably been picked by our puppy. He is quite the dog, on our walk today he found us a dead mouse and now presumably a dead turtle.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Let the Spring migration commence!

Spring migration seems to be getting underway. Already the first reports have come in of Great Egrets and Ospreys (the latter of which I believe I saw yesterday). Blackbirds seem to be back in full numbers and now we are seeing them everywhere. Though some do winter here they are mainly migratory.

A couple of days ago I saw my first flycatcher of the year; an Eastern Pheobe at the John H. Chafee Preserve (and we recently saw Lincoln Chafee, the son of the namesake of the preserve getting a pizza in Kingston). Along with the pheobe we counted 61 Harbor Seals relaxing on the rocks (the seals were not migrating yet, it was the largest number of seals I have ever seen at one time). The phoebe presumably had just arrived seeing that they usually appear in mid March-after having spent the winter months sun bathing on the beaches of Florida and generally having a good time in the Southern states and Central America. Tree Swallows are another species that have just recently arrived though I have not yet found any-soon though!

Birding's getting better!!

Sorry for not having posted in so long. Our new dog Theo is restricting us from going to some of the better birding hot spots, the National Wildlife Refuges and Audubon Societies "NO DOGS ALLOWED" policies have severely limited our intake of bird species.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Marvelous 30 Seconds

We had been checking the tree for a few days finally on the third day we saw it!

There was a pair of Great Horned Owls being seen quite reliably at Swan Point Cemetery (the famed Rhode Island Spring migration oasis). Most of the sightings of them were in a small pine tree in the woods which we had visited twice already hoping for the owl/owls but we had no luck on either occasion. We did find pellets one of which appeared to contain a Screech Owl (or some other small raptor talon) and white wash (a name for owl droppings).

Finally our luck changed.

We parked near the water and walked down the path in direction of the pine tree. As we neared it a large shadowy form took off from the pine and vanished into the forest. We went after it but it in the woods. We walked on in hopes of seeing it again. Then somewhere up ahead we heard the first caw of a crow which was quickly joined by another and then another. Seconds later there were a dozen black crows madly cawing. We sped up. Then a Red-tailed Hawk shrieked and out of a tree came two big forms pursued by the marauding American Crows! One was a Red-tailed Hawk the other was was a Great-horned Owl! The owls wings were rounded, its belly was striped with black and gold which faded into the white throat. They soared over head and just as quickly were gone. We walked back happily back to the car. On the way back we passed the Red-tailed Hawk, which had been mobbed by the crows along with the owl, and the successful mob of crows returned noisily to where ever they call home.

It was a GREAT DAY!!!!!!!!!!