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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!

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