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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Swan Point Cemetery, Providence RI May 26, 2011 7-10 am cloudy 64`

The day before yesterday at Swan Point Cemetery we were treated with a wide array of common birds highlighted by the discovery of a male Orchard Oriole, a Swainsons Thrush, a Canada Warbler and best of all a Cape May Warbler which we enjoyed flitting through a maple tree on the very edge of the cemetery. It was singing a very unusual song for a Cape May Warbler; every once in a while it changed the pitch of it's song. The song sounded more like that of a Bay-breasted or Blackburnian Warbler than that of a Cape May Warbler. This was the second time I have ever seen Cape May Warblers (the first sighting was a few years back when I enjoyed watching a male and a female at legendary Plum Island.)

On the way home we passed a female turkey on the side of the road. This was the same individual we saw a few weeks ago. It was a female with a chest tuft which generally females lack. This particular a female it was pretty easy to recognize.

Yesterday at Swan Point. We had more species but less interesting ones then our last visits. Here is a full list of all 40 something bird types ("X" means unknown numbers):
X Canada Goose
X Mute Swan
3 Mallard
X Double-crested Cormorant
1 Osprey
X Ring-billed Gull
4 Great Black-backed Gull
4 Mourning Dove
8 Chimney Swift
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
4 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 Downy Woodpecker
5 Northern Flicker
7 Eastern Wood-Pewee
8 Great Crested Flycatcher
7 Eastern Kingbird
1 Warbling Vireo
12 Red-eyed Vireo
9 Blue Jay
2 American Crow
1 Black-capped Chickadee
2 Tufted Titmouse
3 White-breasted Nuthatch
2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
3 Wood Thrush
X American Robin
16 Gray Catbird
2 European Starling
21 Cedar Waxwing
8 Yellow Warbler
10 Blackpoll Warbler
1 Wilson's Warbler
42 Chipping Sparrow
3 Song Sparrow
8 Northern Cardinal
20 Red-winged Blackbird
49 Common Grackle
9 Brown-headed Cowbird
3 Orchard Oriole
16 Baltimore Oriole
4 House Finch
13 American Goldfinch
8 House Sparrow
Definitely not a bad day. 
The security guard recently witnessed the brutal murder of the Great-horned Owl fledgling by talon of Red-tailed Hawk (apparently they did raise at least one owlet in the woods). I haven't seen either the owls or the security guard since.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mount Hope Farm, Bristol RI May 20, 2011 11-1pm cloudy 61`

A few days ago we went to Mount Hope Farm and were treated with a wide array of good birds highlighted by a quick glimpse of what was likely two pelicans which flew by. Though I got an extremely bad look at them but my brother saw them well and is convinced they were pelicans. He also heard one of them call, which he described as sounding like that of a heron. He said that they had broad wings, large bills, no visible legs, hunched neck, same gliding flight as a pelicans and very large bodys. I find it much more likely that we saw two herons. Basically everything he described fit a Great Blue Heron except of course the lack of obvious legs. Hopefully we will hear of a report of two pelicans in the area. We checked Mount Hope Bay but couldn't see any signs of either pelicans or herons.

Here is a full list of birds seen ("x" means uncountable or unknown numbers):
House Wren 1
Ovenbird 1
American Goldfinch 1
American Redstart 3
Great Crested Flycatcher 1
Veery 1
American Robin 4
Eastern Wood Pewee 1 (heard - year bird)
American Oystercatcher 2 (RI year birds)
Gray Catbird 12
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Canada Goose 4
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Red-winged Blackbird x
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Eastern Kingbird 3
Chimney Swift x
Mute Swan 1
Northern Cardinal 1
Yellow Warbler 4
Common Grackle 1
Tree Swallow 2
European Starling 1
Barn Swallow 1
Song Sparrow 6
Prairie Warbler 7
Tufted Titmouse 5
American Crow x
Glossy Ibis 2 (RI year birds)
Eastern Towhee 3
Herring Gull x
Common Tern x
Double-crested Cormorant x
Pelican species 2 (may have been weird herons)
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Pine Warbler 1

The next day behind Martin Middle School in East Providence we saw a Blackpoll Warbler and a fly over Pileated Woodpecker. It is really surprising seeing this large woodpecker species in the middle of the city. It was my first time I have ever seen one in Rhode Island.

Later that day we went running at Borderland State Park in Mansfield Massachusetts the highlights which we merrily jogged passed included:
Broad Winged Hawk 2
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
and a possible Bay-breasted Warbler which I heard and assumed was a weird Blackpoll Warbler. I wanted to get closer to where the warbler was singing from but there were 2 people kissing 10 feet away from the spot. Going over there would be way past my embarrassment limit. It would have been a life bird.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nokum Hill, Barington RI Cloudy, slightly raining 70~ 11:45-12:30am May 19, 2011

There were seven Ospreys soaring above the agriculture field - landing on the dirt a few moments and then taking off again. I have never seen Ospreys acting like this before in any bird species. I wonder what they doing? There is are two Osprey nests nearby, presumably this was a family from one of them.

They were constantly calling. I really enjoy their call which is a short whistle "chee chee chee". There was also one perched in a bare tree off in the distance.

In the field also were Killdeers and lots of Semipalmated Plover. I have never seen Semipalmated Plovers flocking in a corn field before, but apparentley they do! Out on the bay there were 2 Common Terns.

On the way back I noticed that another Osprey had joined the first on the bare tree.

Other highlights included: Yellow Warblers (heard), Great-crested Flycatcher (heard), Barn Swallows and a large feeding flock of cormarants.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Swan Point Cemetery, Providence RI May 14, 2011 60' mostly sunny 7 - 11:30 am

The day before yesterday we went birding at Swan Point Cemetery and met an old colleague of our fathers (Peter McCalmont) who is an accomplished a birder. We birded with him and the rest of the cemetery birders for a lot of the walk.

The woods were fairly quiet with just a few common birds hanging about here and there. The only highlight was an early migrant Mourning Warbler which we were hearing singing somewhere on the edge of the property. They usually migrate late in the Spring. We found it flitting up in the canopy which is a very unusual place to find warblers in the genus "oporornis" as they generally prefer the ground to the canopy. Sadly all I saw of it up there was a brief glimpse. Though we didn't see it fly, its song then came from off the cemetery grounds and across the street. Scanning the trees from the boundary stonewall, I got some brief, well lighted glimpses of this beautiful bird. It then flew into a low tree. At that point we all hopped the wall and walked across the street. It flitted out onto a perfectly exposed branch, eye level with us and only 15 feet from where we were standing, threw its head back and sang its lovely (House Wren like) effervescent song.

Went back across the street overjoyed at seeing this beautiful and shy life bird. Most of the group had moved on by now. Except for us of course, Peter McCalmont and two other men. We caught up with the rest of the group to learn that they had just seen two Yellow-billed Cuckoos and a Northern Waterthrush. I had spotted two handsome Brown Thrashers on the way over and showed everyone where I had seen them (luckily they were still there.)

By the compost we found a Northern Waterthrush. Around that time I reluctently ran Ben back to the arranged meeting place so that he could get a ride to his soccer game. My mother dropped me back at where we had left the birders. Moments later I was watching a small little warbler named after the famed American ornithologist Alexander Wilson.The Wilson's Warbler flitted about for a few moments longer, singing his buzzy song, before finally flitting out of sight. It was a life bird for me (though my brother has seen it before).

We heard a singing Canada Warbler somewhere in the bushes but sadly couldn't see it. A lot of the group left at this time. They were doing a bird-a-thon (which is basically a big day) and had to get to some other hotspots.

The only other highlight was a Blackpoll Warbler which I heard singing in the woods and a Little Brown Bat which I spotted clinging to a gravestone.

It was a really good day!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Swan Point Cemetery, Providence RI May 13, 2011

Today at Swan Point Cemetery we had the usual birds highlighted by the discovery of a Northern Waterthrush.

We found it down by the pond having an argument with a parula. It had a dull brown back, strongly streaked breast and a white stripe over the eye (which I couldn't see but Ben could). Its breast and eye stripes had yellowish tints to them. Later when we checked the bird alert we found that there were three Northern Waterthrush reported at the cemetery (as we had suspected, it was a northern). It was a year bird.

We noticed that were a lot of women but not to many men birding today. I presume that the men just where better camouflage.

Heres a list of birds seen:
Coopers Hawk (not positive)
Red-tailed Hawk
Herring Gulls
Mourning Doves
Great-horned Owl
Chimney Swifts
Downy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe (heard)
Great-crested Flycatcher (heard)
Eastern Kingbird
Red-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Blue Jay
Tufted Titmouse
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Ovenbird (heard)
Northern Waterthrush
Scarlet Tanager (heard)
Chipping Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch (heard)
and American Goldfinch.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Swan Point Cemetery May 12, 2011 cloudy 60' 7 - 9:30am

Early this morning we visited Swan Point Cemetery. We had quite a few lovely looks at some beautiful species of warblers like Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue and Northern Parula.

We discovered what we identified as a year bird Nashville Warbler, it was flitting unmenacingly (which wasn't a big surprise to either of us as warblers are generally quite unmenacing birds - except to insects and my little brother Ben that is) through a tree which was also being occupied by an equally unmenacing female Black-and-white Warbler. Nashville Warblers have yellow bellies, dull olive colored wings, a gray head and white eye ring and on top of all that a reddish dot positioned neatly on their crown but we couldn't see that (dot). It flew to another tree where it sang. We then couldn't see it but heard it singing away cheerfully from somewhere in the tree (we were also hearing a Parula). Then the song came from another tree, we went closer for a better look but were only treated with some lovely views of a Parula who had a very dark throat.

In the woods we enjoyed a lovely view of a Veery perched on a very handsome branch. I tried to take a photo of the branch (this was a really stunning branch) and the Veery but my camera wouldn't focus and all I got were a few blurry photos. In all I saw four thrush species: American Robins, Wood Thrushes, a Gray-cheeked or Swainson's Thrush (I didn't get a good enough look to tell which species precisely) and the Veery, which just happened to be an RI year bird!

Down behind the compost piles we found a drab little (life bird) Worm-eating Warbler. He or she (I'll refer to it as "it" from now on) was flitting lazily about the canopy seemingly with out a care in the world (though I am probably wrong on that assumption). It flitted about in the canopy before we finally lost sight of it.

My brother thought he saw the Solitary Sandpiper fly from the puddle but I, disappointingly missed it. Did you know that from 1932-1982 a Solitary Sandpiper was not reported in Swan Point Cemetery, it has not been reported (on ebird) at Swan Point Cemetery in the last three years! Another birder reported our Solitary Sandpiper at the same mud puddle yesterday evening.

Here's a full list of birds seen:
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Herring Gull
Mourning Dove
Great-horned Owl
Chimney Swift
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Great-crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Wood Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Ovenbird (heard)
Chipping Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle and
Baltimore Oriole.
We also saw a Raccoon.

Later that day we went RISD Beach where we saw two young Bald Eagles grappling and chasing each other around the lovely blue skies. Among other highlights. I have never seen eagles there before.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Swan Point Cemetery, Providence RI, cloudy rainy 50`, 7:00-9:20am May 10, 2011

Yesterday morning we visited Swan Point Cemetery where we were treated with 2 year birds, 2 RI year birds and 1 life bird.

Our first stop on our walk was generally one of the better spots which is in between two sections of the woods and has an unused road lined with bushes, pine trees and some small flowering trees (where we saw the Swainson's Thrush recently). Here we had Magnolia Warbler (a year bird), Common Yellowthroat (not a year bird) and an American Redstart (an RI year bird). All three were peaceably flitting about a flowering Flowering Crab Apple (the second flowering is part of the name).

We then did a loop in the woods but we didn't see a thing.

We walked on down to the pond passing a very handsome House Finch perched precariously on the tip of a grave angels wing.

At the pond we found a Red-eyed Vireo and a lovely male Black-throated Blue Warbler which seemed to follow us around and around the pond (we walked around the pond twice).

We then ventured to the compost area. Not surprisingly the compost area is where they keep the compost and a very small patch of bird friendly woods. In this section highlights included: Baltimore Orioles, a male Bobolink (an RI year bird) and a life bird Solitary Sandpiper!

We discovered the Solitary Sandpiper bobbing around a small mud puddle (it literally was a mud puddle. Solitary Sandpipers live up to their names - if they didn't then there wouldn't have been enough room for all the sandpipers around this puddle). It was an average sized shorebird most resembling a Spotted Sandpiper in shape, size and behavior. It had a plain back which was littered with small white spots, it had a white pair of spectacles (a field mark most commonly observed on older, short-sighted birds), its breast had a light brown wash. It bobbed its head and tail almost non-stop. We snuck closer, it took wing and flew to another puddle. We came closer, it took off again and vanished over the tree tops.

Back at the main woods some crows afforded us some quick glimpses of one the Great-horned Owls.

Later that day we went to Brickyard Pond in Barrington. Highlights included: 20 or so Double-Crested Cormorants, Ospreys (one of which was eating a fish), Great Egrets and Great-blue Herons on the heron roost(or is it a heron rookery?) and a pair of Bald Eagles resting on some submerged roots in the pond. There was an adult and a third year eagle; the third year eagle was eating a fish. A few minutes after we started watching them they both took off from the roots and landed in the shallow waters feet from their original perch (in water just a few inches deep). We left them there.

Not a bad day all in all!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Petersham May 8, 2011 partly cloudy 60`

Yesterday we visited our grandparents up in Petersham Massachusetts. Highlights included:newly arrived Bobolinks which breed each year in a field across from the house, 2 Pileated Woodpeckers, 2 possible Common Ravens, 1 Chestnut-sided Warbler (a year bird), 2 pairs (?) of Wood Ducks, Common Yellowthroats, Ovenbirds, Black-throated Green Warblers, Barred Owls calling somewhere off in the woods, American Redstarts (year birds), Downy Woodpeckers mating and a possible Least Flycatcher.

I discovered the nesting site of a pair of Wood Ducks; something which I've never found before. It was up high in a deciduous tree. Both the male and female were staring at us nervously from their woody home.

That night, at midnight, my mother reported hearing a Great Horned Owl hooting in the distant woods. We ran outside, bare footed and wearing nothing but boxer shorts and T-shirts, but were unable to hear it. Afterwards we lay on the floor next to the open windows in our room for at least 20 minutes straining to hear a distant hoot. We didn't hear anything.

We discovered the flycatcher on the edge of the Bobolink field. Its call was a short "whit...whit...whit-whit" which narrows it down to either a Willow or a Least Flycatcher (the habitat was good for either species). There are supposed to be quite a few Least Flycatchers reported by ebird users in this area of Massachusetts, but no Willows anywhere in the state right now. This bird had a very noticeable white eye ring which, in the most part, Willow Flycatchers lack. My camera unfortunately had run out of batteries but my brother managed to take some really bad photos of the flycatcher. One of them luckily enough contains the under side of the bill and the edge of one of the eye rings. Hopefully, with this photograph and the recording I took of the call, we will hopefully some other birder on Flickr be able to successfully identify this challenging Empidonax. If it's a Least Flycatcher (which I am fairly certain it is) it would be a life bird!

Later that day we visited our other grandparents in Worcester. We went for a short walk with them at a local park known as "The Cascades" where we discovered a warbler flock which mainly consisted of Yellow-rumped Warblers plus a few singing Black-throated Green Warblers and American Redstarts. I lucked out with a quick glimpse of a Blackburnian Warbler which I identified by the bright orange throat. My grandfather also thinks he saw it but my brother (unfortunately) missed it. It was the second life bird of the day! So far I've 247 on the life list.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Swan Point Cemetery, Providence RI May 5, 2011 10-11am partly cloudy

- Saw year bird: Scarlet Tanager male and female on the road next to the woods.

- Saw year bird: male Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the trees near where we saw the Swainsons Thrush.

- Year bird male Indigo Bunting in the woods.

- RI yearbird Ovenbird also in the woods.

- Many sightings of Great Horned Owls (2?).

- Baltimore Orioles, Wood Thrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Chipping Sparrows, Blue Jays and Common Grackles were the most numerous species.

- Not half as many White-throated Sparrows as last time.

- Might have seen the Lincolns Sparrow but it could have been a Song Sparrow.

- There were two Cedar Waxwings near the Hummingbird.

- Many crows and jays mobbing the owl(s?). The owl(s?) were very active and I spotted them quite often hidden up in the trees. They our one of my favorite bird species.

- I got some nice photos of the owl(s?) and the male hummingbird!

- I first saw the(?) owl take off from a branch near the ivy coated section near where we saw the hummingbird.

Full list of birds:
Wild Turkey (female. She had a beard which is not very common on female Wild Turkeys)
Mourning Dove (1)
Great-horned Owl (2?)
American Crow
Blue Jay (abundant)
Black-capped Chickadee (1 working on a nesting hole in the woods)
Tufted Titmouse
Wood Thrush (abundant)
American Robin (abundant)
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing (2)
Northern Parula (2 seen but I think I could here more in the woods)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (abundant)
Black-throated Green Warbler (heard?)
Black-and-white Warbler (1?)
Ovenbird (1)
Common Yellowthroat (1, in the ivy covered bushes by where we saw the Hummingbird)
Chipping Sparrow (abundant)
Song Sparrow (2?)
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal (2?)
Indigo Bunting (2?)
Common Grackle (abundant)
Baltimore Oriole (very common most of them were by the pond)
and American Goldfinch (2? heard).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Swan Point Cemetery, fairly sunny 62', 9:30-11am May 3, 2011

Yesterday we went for a walk at RISD Beach and lucked out with a life bird; a Pectoral Sandpiper. Swarms of Least Sandpipers (which were year birds) and a pair of Dunlin - my first ever for RI!

The Pectoral was right on the right side of the path. She (I am pretty positive that it was a female) was an average looking bird with a fairly long, slightly drooping, two-toned bill, a pair of bright yellow legs and a neatly streaked breast. Sadly my camera didn't fit in the pocket of my jeans so I had not brought it. My brother, though, did have his camera and captured a few photos of it. Other highlights included a flyby tern species presumably Common Tern and a Lesser Yellowlegs (an RI year bird).

Today, at around 9am, we visited Swan Point Cemetery. There were bountiful numbers of handsome Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting daintily through the bushes and the ground was covered with a thick layering of White-throated Sparrow, two Purple Finches, two Northern Cardinals and a few robins.

Here and there we would find Black And White Warblers scaling the trees like Nuthatches.

Way up in the top of a tree we found a beautiful male Baltimore Oriole. We could hear many buzzing Black-throated Green Warblers up in the canopy though I was only able to spot one.

Following our ears we managed to pinpoint a year bird; a Wood Thrush singing its luxurious song mid way up an oak tree.

I spotted a small flitting kinglet, which I identified a Ruby-crowned.

We then walked to the pond I spotted the following:
- a pair of Cedar Waxwings, one was bathing in the pond water
- a Common Yellowthroat (RI year bird) which was flitting about in a bush overhanging the murky water
- a Great Blue Heron who immediately took off
- a Warbling Vireo (year bird) who I saw dive into the water - presumably a bathing technique(?)
- a few calling Great-crested Flycatchers (year birds)
- a flock of female Red-winged Blackbirds (males migrate first too stake out their territory, then the females migrate up afterwards. These females were all very skinny and there were no males in the flock so I think that these females just arrived from the South)
- a Lincoln's Sparrow who I saw a quick glimpse of before he scampered under a nearby bush (year bird)!
- a Red-bellied Slider (a species of Turtle) sun bathing with a Painted Turtle on a rock.

After that we walked down to the part of the cemetery which overlooks the Seekonk River with hopes of seeing a Great-horned Owl, sadly we had no such luck (we heard from another birder that they had moved into the woods near the Blackstone Boulevard where we had seen the Wood Thrush and the Black-throated Green Warbler). We did, though, find some nice birds here such as: Palm Warbler (an RI year bird), a pair of Eastern Phoebe and another Cedar Waxwing. My brother saw a Spotted Sandpiper (year bird) but I missed it (doesn't matter though, they are really common here at this time of year so I will definitely see one in the next few weeks).

We then walked back along the side of the cemetery where we were treated with some breath-taking views of Yellow-rumped and Black And White Warblers along with a Blue-headed Vireo (another RI year bird)!

Here's a full list of birds seen and heard:
Purple Finch 2,
American Robins,
Black And White Warblers 5,
Turkey Vultures 3,
Northern Cardinals 2,
Yellow-rumped Warblers,
Common Grackles,
Red-bellied Woodpeckers 3,
Gray Catbirds 4,
White-breasted Nuthatches 2,
Baltimore Oriole,
Black-throated Green Warblers,
Wood Thrush,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
Chipping Sparrows,
Song Sparrow,
Great Blue Heron,
Eastern Kingbird,
Cedar Waxwing 3,
Lincoln's Sparrow,
Warbling Vireo,
American Goldfinch 3,
Common Yellowthroat,
Great-crested Flycatcher 3,
Red-winged Blackbirds,
Herring Gulls,
Mute Swans 12,
Palm Warbler,
Eastern Phoebe 2,
Spotted Sandpiper,
Double-crested Cormorant,
Brown-headed Cowbird
and Blue-headed Vireo.

It was a really great walk! I saw 4 year birds and 7 Rhode Island year birds.