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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.


  1. The migrants are starting to show up each day here in Northern Michigan.

  2. I was also there yesterday morning and believe I saw my first nighthawk. I wonder if you could tell me if you've seen it sitting on an old nest inside one of the mosoleums? It's on the inside "lip" of a cement roof. I know they normally lay eggs on the ground, but I was in maybe three feet of this one, I was checking the known nesting area for other species and was taken a back by what I found. Being alone and cornered in the small area, I didn't linger as not to disturb the bird. Nor do I know if they typically defend their nests aggresively. I plan on checking back. But noticed your older blog about spotting nighthawks in this same area and thought you may know of it. I can tell you the precise name of the plot, leaving it out for now as to not send large crowd into such a confined area. On that note, thanks for the post about the GHO in Seekonk, I enjoyed watching the owlets daily. Although it wasn't my first GHO nest, every opportunity to see them is like the first time for me. Thanks for any feed back you or others may have.

  3. Hi Lisa
    We checked out all the mausoleums I know of in the cemetery and couldn't find any nighthawks (could you give me directions in case we missed one). I think it's more likely that your bird was just resting for the day. Nightjars (the family that contains nighthawks and Whippoorwills) often rest on posts and branches, so it is definitely not inconceivable that one would sleep on a mausoleum if one was handy.
    PS have you seen the owls in the woods? They were very active earlier today and yesterday; they are worth looking for.
    Thanks for the comments Lisa and Jimmy!

  4. Hi John,

    Yes, you are absolutely right, I haven't seen it since, it was merely resting. I did search other monuments and saw that what appears to be a pheobe is nesting in the Perry Mosoleum roof. I've seen active nests there years ago.

    And yes, in fact today I saw the GHO several times this morning and when I returned at 4:30 it was still roosting where I last left it!

    Great birding the last two days, picked up 3 life birds out of 26 species recorded.

    Thanks for responding : )