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Rhode Island Blitz

Rhode Island

January 28, 2017

Tom Swochak

Ten eager birders reached Watchemocket Cove shortly after 8 in the morning, where a few immediately spotted the usual Black-headed Gull in brief flight.  We enjoyed watching the American Wigeons, Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers, a single Common Loon and a Kingfisher.  A briefer stop at Turner Reservoir gave us looks at four Gadwall, along with as well as many Hooded and Common Mergansers.  In Tiverton we walked through the Ruecker Sanctuary and had some good landbirds.  In the open fields, the strong northwest wind made birds hard to find, but Seapowet Beach had 20 Brant. The stop at Pardon Gray gave us a hunting Harrier and four beautiful Meadowlarks.  We crossed the bridge and drove south to St. Mary’s Pond, which was loaded with Hooded and Common Mergansers, but little else.  A Bald Eagle flew in, but the only other water birds were three Great Cormorants, two Lesser Scaup, and a single Ruddy Duck.  Green End Pond added 30 Greater Scaup and another Bald Eagle.

Things got better when we arrived in the Sachuest area at Gardiners Pond, where we panned for 80 Greater Scaup, ten Ruddy Duck, plus four Pintail, a Ring-necked Duck, three American Coot, some Great Cormorants, and a very close Red-throated Loon.  Nearby, Third Beach offered 30 Surf Scoters, some Bufflehead, Common Goldeneyes, and Common Loons.  Also there were shorebirds: 40 Sanderlings, four Ruddy Turnstones, and a Dunlin.  A walk at low tide along the trail above the cliffs of Sachuest gave us 15 Brant, 20 Greater Scaup, good counts of all three scoters, a dozen Common Goldeneyes, some Harlequin Ducks, a cruising Gannet or two, and 15 Purple Sandpipers.

The next morning we drove east to Beavertail State Park, which was windy and cold, but had four Razorbills, Black Guillemot, 15 Red-throated and 20 Common Loons, as well as large flocks of Common Eiders.  Also there were 35 Black Scoters, numerous Harlequin Ducks, some Horned Grebes and a Red-necked Grebe.  Smaller seabird numbers were found at Point Judith while Scarborough Beach had Great Cormorants, a few Black Scoters, and 20 Sanderlings, plus a calling Fish Crow.        

Trustom Pond was a fitting highlight and ending for the trip, with three large, active rafts of feeding water birds at the end of a long walk.  In them we estimated at least six rare Redheads, a hard to spot Eurasian Wigeon, several Gadwall, 50 American Wigeon, and many Greater and Lesser Scaup.  At the Moonstone end of the pond we finished with a gorgeous and unique Eurasian Green-winged Teal in the company of three American Green-winged Teal.