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Sunday, November 13, 2011

11:00-12:15pm Moonstone Beach Nov/8/11

We pulled into the unpaved parking lot of Moonstone Beach at eleven sharp. The sky was clear and the sun shone down upon us; countering the cool breeze with its pleasant rays. Both Mud and Cards Pond had high water levels, covering up the muddy banks ringing Mud Pond and the more sandy banks of Cards. This lack of mudflats ruled out the possibility of any shorebirds. Anything other than a lone Greater Yellowlegs would be unlikely due to the lateness of the year and the habitat. (Incidentally I saw a Least Sandpiper yesterday at RISD Beach. This Least Sandpiper is apparently the latest record of a LESA reported on "eBird" (The website were 'e's and birds collide) in RI. Pretty neat ay?)

The least likely

Scanning Cards Pond I came up with a few Buffleheads, a lone female Hoodie ("Hoodie" is the cool way of saying Hooded Merganser), and a Double-crested Cormorant. Making our way up to the beach I passed a pair of Song Sparrows going about their daily business while ranting about the economy now a days and the high cost of fuel.

Looking out over the Atlantic through my spotting scope I found that there were more loons on the water than you could shake a stick at (if thats your idea of a good time!!!) Most of the loons were Red-throated but I counted four Common Loons as well. The Red-throated Loons were for the most part drifting about in a large flock of about twelve birds. I have never seen loons flocking before. Apparently a flock of loons is called a "Loomery" you'd expect it to be a "Loonery" right?.

A Red-throated Loomery

Walking about an 8th of a mile down the beach we came to the place where the main birdy action happens: the Trustom Pond overlook (at least I think overlook is the right word for it). Here the dunes had been worn away creating a wide sandy path that leads from the beach to the still waters of Trustom Pond. Here we had countless swarms of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls, Double-crested and a few Great Cormorants, Canada Geese, and on the far side of the pond American Coots. Floating about with the geese were 7 Common Goldeneyes, 5 female Common Mergansers and a pure white, pink billed Snow Goose!

We first found the Snow Goose resting on the bank with some Canada Geese, but when we approached the geese (the Snow Goose among them) waddled comically into the water - still half asleep and bleary eyed. As soon as this white goose had left the shore it tucked its pink bill back under its feathers and let its snores flow freely (in a manner of speaking). This sleepiness was probably due in part to the migration currently being undertaken by this bird and its fellows on their way to their more Southerly wintering sites (though Snow Geese do Winter in small numbers in this area).

A Snow Goose with a honking flock of canadians

Looking up I cried in excitement "GIANT Rubber Monkey?!!". Nah, I'm just kidding, what I actually said was "Snow Bunting!". But that call was a wild/hopeful but inaccurate guess. The smallish songbird that landed there on the sand actually turned out to be neither a super sized rubber monkey or a Plectrophenax nivalis (more commonly called a Snow Bunting). Nope, this was a Horned Lark. I have always loved larks there such jolly, cheerful birds always whistling and singing merrily. Soon it was joined by three more jovial larks.

Larking about on the beach

Out over the chopping waves of the Atlantic I spotted six fork tailed Forster's Terns. Nice birds for this time of year and almost certainly the last terns that I will see this year. Twice I thought I saw a Lesser Black-backed Gull fly over. Both gulls had dark backs and slim wings. They seemed to be smaller than the common Great Black-backed Gulls and lighter backed. I didn't get a good look at the mirrors (the small white dots on the primaries) and I couldn't see if they had the distinctive yellow legs of the Lesser Black Backed Gull. Either field mark would have confirmed my suspicion. Not cool.

We disappointingly missed many species reported at Moonstone such as the two American Bitterns seen here recently. We didn't have time to go looking for the Northern Shrike at East Beach and we couldn't figure out how to legally park at Perry Mill Pond where we had hoped to see the two Eurasian Wigeons reported there. Our (rare) South Kingstown excursion ended there.

Here's a list of birds seen:
Snow Goose 1
Canada Goose 300+
American Black Duck 4
Mallard 7
Bufflehead 20
Common Goldeneye 7
Hooded Merganser 1
Common Merganser 5
Red-throated Loon 20
Common Loon 4
Double-crested Cormorant 16
Great Cormorant 3
Great-blue Heron 1
Osprey 2
American Coot 80+
Ring-billed Gull 50+
Herring Gull 40+
Great Black-backed Gull 20
Forster's Tern 6
Horned Lark 4
Black-capped Chickadee 1
(politics discussing) Song Sparrow 2
and Northern Cardinal 1.

It was a fun day in the field.

Good job to anybody that ID'd the immature Black-crowned Night-Heron in the last quiz.
Here's your next photo quiz. Good luck!
This photo was taken on the first of November at RISD Beach.

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