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Monday, October 31, 2011

Birding Update

Sorry for not posting recently, I have been relaxing for the last few days after sending in my finished Young Birder of the Year Contest submission on the 26th. Since then I have had some cool birding experiences.

RISD Beach, Barrington RI 10:50-11:40am Oct/27/11 Raining
The water level was extremely high on this date. Flooding both sides of the marsh. To get to the beach we had to wade through at least 8 inch high waters, where usually it was less than an inch above our toes. A few Brant were floating of the edge of the beach. Being mercilessly sloshed up and down by the frolicking wavelets. These small geese had just recently migrated down from their Northern nesting grounds. They spend the winter months here, often numbering in the hundreds. A lone white bird with a large yellow spear of bill, and long black legs stood calmly in the rain-poked waters of the marsh. This Great Egret was soon joined by a second bird of the same species who flew in from the south east. A few small gull-like birds were flying about over the water. I suspect that they were Bonaparte's Gulls. But never having gotten a great look at them and having seen a Forster's Tern fly past, I was unable to confirm my suspicions.

Looking down the beach I noticed a section where the choppy water appeared to be boiling. A fin appeared in this disturbed patch and then slipped back under then another and another. They were dolphins!!! They were slowly moving up the beach, coming from the SE. After taking a bunch of photos and marveling at the swimming skills of these remarkable creatures, we went back into the warmth and dryness of our car and took the quick drive to the Barrington Public Beach. Sitting in the car we watched the dolphins feeding out in the water from the parking lot. Again we took a bunch of photos and marveled at the swimming skills of these remarkable creatures. Listening to the radio the next day we learned that these dolphins were identified by "Save the Bay" (the local bay saving agency:)) as Common Dolphins. Looking in the Peterson field guide to "Mammals of North America" I was unable to find a dolphin named the "Common Dolphin" except for the Long-nosed and the Short-nosed Common Dolphins (which the ones we saw didn't look anything like) and the famed Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin (which starred in the movie "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" in which they sang the well known song "So long and thanks for all the fish":)). The Common Bottle-nosed looked exactly like the dolphins we saw and I have to assume that they are one and the same. The next day we heard an interview with these dolphins on NPR - nah just kidding. Apparently this was the farthest a dolphin has ever been seen up the Providence River!!!
Supposedly there were 8 to 10 of these dolphins, though I was only able to count six.

Here's a list of the birds seen:
Greater Yellowlegs 3
Herring Gulls X (X means that I was unable to count their numbers)
Brant 8
Great Egrets 2
Mallards 3
American Crows 3
Black-capped Chickadees 2
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Ring-billed Gulls 2
Double-crested Cormorants 3
Horned Grebe 5
Forster's Tern 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Killdeer 1
Downy Woodpeckers 2
and Song Sparrow 1.

In Belcher Cove in Warren 12:00pm Oct/28/11
I spotted this Pied-billed Grebe while we were driving down Market Street. It had an infuriating habit of sinking submarine style below the water's surface every time I raised my camera to take a photo. The only other highlights at this location were a pair of American Black-Ducks and a fly over male Belted Kingfisher.

Mount Hope Farm, Bristol, RI 12:20-1:50pm Oct/28/11
This location always seems to rack up the biggest lists for me. I have made lists here twice - once in May and once the time I am writing about at the currant moment. My Ebird list already has 56 species for this location (a link to ebird

For the whole of the walk we were being swarmed with an intense flock of Butterbutts (also and more commonly known as Yellow-rumped Warbler). In the duck pond we had 3 Gadwalls, 1 female and two males, 3 Mallards, again 1 female and 2 males, 23 Canada Geese and a single Mute Swan (later in the walk while returning to the car I spotted a male American Black Duck feeding with one of the male Gadwalls). In a brushy patch bordering the meadow I found an Eastern Bluebird, a Swamp Sparrow and a bunch of Song Sparrows. One of these Song Sparrows was singing a strange bubbling song, completely varying from any song omitted from the beak of any Song Sparrow that I have ever heard. I guess it sounded more similar to the song of a Lincoln's Sparrow. Further down the paved path I would hear another song like this one. On the other side of the path directly across from the sparrows a Hermit Thrush popped briefly into view. While looking at the Hermit Thrush a noise came from directly above me - "peea-peaa" called the female Northern Flicker perching 12 feet above.
Out on the bay I had 4 Horned Grebe, a Common Loon, 19 Double-crested Cormorants 26 Herring Gulls and a lone Great Black-backed Gull.
On are return walk just before the pond I saw a "Yellow" Palm Warbler, the more brightly colored of the 2 Palm Warbler subspecies.

A male Gadwall, the females are similar to female Mallards.

A Horned Grebe

A Butterbutt aka. Yellow-rumped Warbler

A Swamp Sparrow

Here's a list of birds seen:
Northern Mockingbirds 2
American Crows 10
Song Sparrows 12
Yellow-rumped Warblers 37
Mallards 3
Gadwalls 3
Mute Swan 1
Canada Geese 23
Blue Jays 4
Dark-eyed Juncos 6
Eastern Bluebird 1
Northern Flickers 2
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Black-capped Chickadees 4
Swamp Sparrow 1
Hermit Thrush 1
Herring Gulls 36
Cedar Waxwings 5
Tufted Titmice 2
Carolina Wren 1
American Robins 7
Double-crested Cormorants 19
Common Loon 1
Horned Grebes 4
American Goldfinches 2
Eastern Towhees 3
House Finches 4
Northern Cardinals 2
Turkey Vulture 1
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Downy Woodpeckers 3
Eastern Phoebe 1
"Yellow" Palm Warbler 1
and American Black-Duck 1.

Blackstone Park, Providence, RI 8:15-8:50am Oct/30/11
I saw a female Wood Duck swimming with a few Mallards in the pond. A Wood Duck is a nice find in the Providence area. It had snowed about half an inch the night before. It was quite strange to see snow and green-leafed oaks in the same forest.

Bold Point, Providence, RI 11:30-1:50pm Oct/30/11
I had my father drop me and Ben off at Bold Point yesterday, having nothing better to do.
One of the first finds of the walk was an agile being of a bird who flapped briefly past to soar about with some gulls for half a minute before zipping off on another errand. I have no idea why this Peregrine Falcon chose to soar about with these gulls - maybe it was working on its halloween costume, a Herring Gull. Everyone knows that a costume is ten times more convincing when you don't just dress up like the thing mimicked, but mimic the behavior of the thing that you are mimicking.
For example my brother is dressing up as a leaf pile this halloween - he plans to sit in the backyard all night long and hope that he gets some candy. This, though being a very effective way of mimicking a leaf pile, is not the greatest way to rack up the candy. (Anyone wondering if I am going trick-or-treating? Well, I'm not). Anyways let me get back to the story. A little further down the path I came across a flock of sparrows, practically all of which were Field Sparrows. These long tailed, pink billed birds are one of my favorite sparrow species. They were RI year birds.

A Field Sparrow

Out over the water 3 Boniparte's Gulls flew past. I checked out a trail that I have never gone down before. I didn't go far due to flooding but I did find a Hermit Thrush who hopped up onto an exposed branch. Annoyingly my camera wouldn't focus and this is all that I came up with.

The Hermit Thrush

Making our way back to the parking lot I spotted a female American Kestrel perching precariously on a telephone line. I really enjoy seeing American Kestrels - they are such beautiful birds. While watching a Field Sparrow hoping about a bush, I amazingly missed a Wilson's Snipe zip 4 feet past my nose.

The Kestrel

There were many Northern Mockingbirds hanging around. Once I saw 4 mockingbirds all perched in the same small tree! That was one hell of a crowded plant!

A Northern Mockingbird

Walking down the road a little way we came across a sparrow flock. In it I found a couple of Savannah and Swamp Sparrows, along with a bunch of Song Sparrows. Flitting about with the flock was a pair of "Yellow" Palm Warblers. I really love Palm Warblers, they're very cooperative and always give me great looks and photos.

A Palm Warbler

Here is the list from Bold Point:
Red-tailed Hawks 4
American Robins 3
Northern Mockingbirds 11
Herring Gulls X
Ring-billed Gulls 31
Great Black-backed Gulls 11
Song Sparrows 20
Mourning Doves 2
Peregrine Falcon 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Rock Pigeon 12
White-throated Sparrows 2
Black-capped Chickadees 2
Yellow-rumped Warblers 12
Field Sparrows 6
Great Blue Heron 1
Double-crested Cormorants 6
Bonaparte's Gulls 3
Mute Swans 6
American Crows 4
Hermit Thrush 1
Mallards 3
Northern Cardinal 1
Cedar Waxwings 2
House Finches 7
American Kestrel 1
Blue Jays 2
Swamp Sparrows 3
"Yellow" Palm Warblers 2
and Savannah Sparrows 3.
Here is a map of Bold Point showing the route I took and what I usually look for in any season.

It has been a great few days for birding. I'm still working on the book reviews, I hope to post the next one in the next few days. Happy Halloween everyone!

Good Job to anyone that ID'd the Black-and-White Warbler in the last photo quiz.
Here's your next quiz!
This photo was taken at Bold Point on the 30th of October.
Good Luck!

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