Follow by Email

Search This Blog

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Feb/25/2012 Pardon Gray Preserve, Tiverton, RI

Reports have recently been leaking out on a flock of Eastern Meadowlarks sharing the fields of Pardon Gray Preserve with a flock of starlings. When I said that "reports have recently been leaking out on a flock of Eastern Meadowlarks" I was referring to the RI bird alert and did not mean that the reports were literally leaking on the meadowlarks which would be quite unpleasant for the poor birds.

Today being a Saturday with a blank calendar, we (thankfully) had no excuse not to go for a long car drive to some long hike. The wind today was a force to be reckoned with which ruled out beach birding leaving us with Pardon Gray Preserve and Weetamo Woods. These are two connecting wooded sanctuaries which form a large green square on any map of Tiverton, RI. We had recently visited Weetamo and been very pleased with what we had found. The woods there are a mix of Holly and hardwood which form a quite impressive forest stage for the migrants which soon will pour into this beautiful woodland.

Weetamo Woods is actually one of the most successful wooded birding Rhode Island locations drawing many a birder with exciting prospects of seeing Acadian Flycatchers in their only Rhode Island stronghold. Yet these birds where not be found here now and the meadowlarks were just too great an opportunity to pass up. I have never seen a meadowlark before. It is one of my biggest birding gripes and here was an chance to set that straight.

Fourty-five minutes after deciding to go to Pardon Gray I was watching wide eyed as a yellow bellied bird with a distinctive black necklace and light brown mottled back flew by me. Even more amazing then seeing this life bird was that it had taken less then a minute after stepping out of the car to find this bird. Ahhh sweet satisfaction, the heavy wait of having never seen an Eastern Meadowlark eased from my chest and floated away to torment some other unfortunate birder.

These meadowlarks were surprisingly easy to find though photographing them was a whole other matter. My auto focus didn't work because it decided that the grass was more worthy of it's attention then these handsome 9" birds. Failed by my auto focus I was forced to rely on the manual focus. Trying to focus on a bird flying away from you is quite impossible and my task was quite useless. I did however succeed in making the meadowlarks fly which was not part of my intention.

There were at least 15 meadowlarks in the field most feeding in small flocks of four, although at the end of our hike the meadowlarks had been joined by the previously reported mass of starlings who seemed to find the soggy field as appealing as any suet feeder.

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

The field filled with meadowlarks and starlings

One of Pardon Gray's coolest features is the old family cemetery in the middle of the field.
You can't see the gravestones in this picture for they're behind that handsome stone wall which takes up most of this picture.

Literally nothing stirred in the woods except for a few wet dogs and their walking companions and of course us. Not even the call of a chickadee came to our ears although now that I think of it I did, to my surprise, for I'm far more used to seeing them in a more open habitat, see three Northern Flickers fly up from the ground deep in the woods, their white rumps vigorously blazing their identity.

I was also surprised when I found the source of the large numbers of Herring Gulls flying over the woodlands. A dump, a dump! It wasn't shown on the trail map. I was thrilled I finally had my chance to go birding in a dump. I could see hundreds of gulls circling over those inviting piles of trash. My dreams of frolicking through the trash and gulls was not to be fulfilled and I was quickly pulled away by my impatient parents. For God's sake I didn't even see a Ring-billed Gull let alone an Iceland Gull in the time I was allowed to scan the cloud of wheeling forms before I was pulled (wailing pitifully) away!

We all were quite delighted to come across a large rock face rising above the treetops which is something which RI has a great lack of. Rock faces, that is, not treetops! From the top, from over a distant rise a lone Turkey Vulture drifted.

Good job to anyone who correctly ID'd the Black-bellied Plover in the last photo quiz.
Here is your next quiz.
This was taken on Cape Cod this February. Good Luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment