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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

04/03/12 - RISD Beach, Barrington, RI - 11:45-12:50pm

I was overjoyed yesterday to see, while submitting a list to eBird, that the list of likely birds in the area at this time of year now includes at least 8 warbler species, 2 vireos, 3 flycatchers, 1 swift, 1 whippoorwill  and a hummingbird along with a number of shorebirds. My brain is now filled with dreams of Swan Point and warblers. I can hardly wait for May but in the meantime I am appeased with some more early migrants.

Today we took yet another trip to RISD Beach and were delighted when the walk turned out to be even more successful then the last. Although the walk started out slowly we and it soon picked up speed after reaching the bottom of the hill. It sped up because at the bottom of the hill was the salt marsh and we, as a result of the force of gravity pushing us down the slope.

As the marsh came into view I was both taken aback and delighted to see not one, not two but four Snowy Egrets in full breeding regalia wandering about the marsh on golden shod feet. Accompanying the egret was a dirty white Mute Swan and a flock of Mallards and American Black Ducks (including one hybrid of the two species). Song Sparrows jingled merrily from all sides occasionally joined by the melodious warblings of a House Finch.

             The young Mute Swan and three of the Snowy Egrets.

Overhead the shabby black forms of Double-crested Cormorants went over in small flocks breezing northwards. Below them flitted a few newly arrived Tree Swallows many of them checking out the houses put up for them.

From the golf course, which is adjacent to the beach, came ringing forth the clear cries of Killdeer. Moving down the beach while watching gulls and Brant passing by offshore a Killdeer's call came from directly in front of me. The plover hopped out from behind a small sand dune and landed on the golf course among the littered golf balls, any one of which might actually be the egg of the Duffer Shank (reference: Another Field Guide to Little Known & Seldom Seen Birds of North America). The Killdeer continued calling even after hitting the green grass of the golf course.

Hoping to get a good photo I snuck closer and was excited to see not one but two Killdeer. The birds standing only a foot apart. They were suspicious of me and my camera and after carefully studying the wild-eyed, greasy-haired teen peering through a thin curtain of brittle Phragmites they began to wander off. They did not, however, go far and after walking a mere ten feet one of the pair plopped itself down onto the grass while the other bird moved to stand protectively over it's mate.

Presumably the sitting bird had below her a nest but I kept a respectful distance and couldn't determine the status of the nest positively.  I watched the pair for a few minutes before having to run back through the marsh to the beach to catch up to my quickly escaping family.

                        One of the Killdeer shows off its striking tail.

                      One of the Killdeer deciding if I can be classified as just smelly or smelly and dangerous.

                                                    The Killdeer on the nest.

After that the walk was pretty slow and nothing more of interest showed its beak, not even a Kentucky Fried Warbler damn it. Yeah, that was a really lame joke.

Here is a full list of all 22 bird species seen:
Brant 50
Mute Swan 1
American Black Duck 8
American Black Duck x Mallard 1
Mallard 9
Double-crested Cormorant 12
Snowy Egret 4
Killdeer 5
Herring Gull 40
Great Black-backed Gull 2
Mourning Dove 2
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 4
Tree Swallow 5
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Carolina Wren 2
American Robin 12
European Starling 8
Song Sparrow 8
Red-winged Blackbird 2
House Finch 4
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 4

Good job to anyone who ID'd the Turkey Vulture in the last quiz. Here is your next puzzle.
This photo was taken this April at Blackstone Park in Providence, RI. Good Luck.

The results for the Young Birder of the Year Contest came in on the first and I am delighted to say that I have now won a place in this contest three years in a row. I was the first place winner for the field notebook module in my age group and second place winner in the writing. Both these places I won last year too.  Last year I won first place in photography module, oh well, we can't have everything.
Check out the results for the contest here http://www.aba.org/yby/win.html.

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