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Monday, September 12, 2011

RISD Beach, September 8, 2011 cloudy 69' 2pm-3.15pm

A few days ago we visited RISD Beach in hopes of a life bird, year bird or rarity - we got all three!

A Marsh Wren was of the first birds discovered. I pished it into view for a minute or two before it slipped back into its marshy home (hence its name, Marsh Wren). It was the year bird.

Out on the marsh was a large flock of Mallards, all of them were molting making them look very weird. Standing by the Mallards were two immature Little Blue Herons which are uncommon birds for this area. As we watched them a third Little Blue Heron immature soared over. Unfortunately it did not land but kept flying Northwest.

We hadn't been on the beach for more than a minute when I spotted the lifer. A Stilt Sandpiper! It moved about the marsh with dainty steps while constantly picking insects and worms from the muck. They are scarce here at this time of the year and are far from common at any season in Rhode Island.
This is the juvenile Stilt Sandpiper. It was about the size of a Pectoral Sandpiper and a bit larger than its not too distant relatives the Semipalmated Sandpipers which he/she was foraging with.

Scanning the flock of Mallards I came up with an American Wigeon. After a minute I lost sight the wigeon. While trying to re-find the Wigeon. I came across a female Green-winged Teal (which I ID by the green secondaries), and a Mallard with a blue bill and a cinnamon tinge on the body-which were the main two field marks which I used to identify the Wigeon. I decided that the American Wigeon which I had seen was actually this Mallard (though I don't know what caused the Mallard to have a blue bill).

A female Green-winged Teal and a male Mallard

Mallards and a wigeon

A few minutes later I re-found the wigeon and thus re-changed my Mallard hypotheses! Wigeons are scarce in this area at this time of year.

A flyover Purple Martin added a nice finishing touch to the walk.

Here's a list:
Green Heron 2
Little Blue Heron 3
Green-winged Teal 1
American Black Duck 1-2
Mallards 40+
American Wigeon 1
Double-crested Cormorants
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs 1
Semipalmated Sandpipers
Stilt Sandpiper 1
Herring Gulls
laughing Gulls
Purple Martin 1
Tree Swallows
Barn Swallows
American Crows
Black-capped Chickadees
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Carolina Wren 1-2
Marsh Wren 1
American Robins
Song Sparrow 1-2 and American Goldfinches 2.

On September 9th we went birding at Beavertail State Park and Mackerel Cove, both in Jamestown RI.

At Beavertail highlights included: 50+ Black Terns (very good birds for Rhode Island. They were constantly flying over the water in groups of threes or fours.), a single Semipalmated Sandpiper (who landed very briefly on the rocks) and a flyby falcon species which, due to the colors I saw on it, I ID it as American Kestrel.

At Mackerel Cove we had a single White-rumped Sandpiper, a year bird. Here is the list from the cove:
Double-crested Cormorants
Great Blue Heron 1
Mallards 5
Semipalmated Plovers
Greater Yellowlegs fly overs
Ruddy Turnstone 5
Semipalmated Sandpipers
Least Sandpipers
White-rumped Sandpiper 1
Herring Gulls
Ring-billed Gulls
Great Black-backed Gulls
Common Terns 2
Blue Jay 1
American Crows
House Sparrows.

White-rumped Sandpiper and a Semipalmated Plover

A Herring Gull at Beavertail

Huge waves at Beavertail, do you see the surfer? The waves were huge due to Hurricane Katia passing of the coast.

I am going to start adding photo quizzes to my blog. I will tell you the answers to each quiz in the next post. I would appreciate it if you gave me your answers by putting them in the comment box. I will put a quiz at the bottom of each post and give the location and date.

Hint: this is not what you are expecting to find in a tree!

This photo was taken yesterday at RISD Beach. Other highlights from yesterday included a Pectoral Sandpiper, some Little Blue Herons and a possible life bird and rarity Long-billed Dowitcher. I will do a post on yesterday hopefully in a few days. Photos of the dowitcher can be seen on my flickr page which can be reached from this blog.

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