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Rhode Island Blitz

Rhode Island

January 27, 2018

Seth Kellogg

The Rhode Island trip had 5 cars and ten people, leaving Ludlow at 6:30, arriving at Watchemocket Cove at 8:30 a.m.  The wind was strong and cold most of day, but the sky was clear.  The cove itself was mostly iced over, except at the far inlet, but the bigger arm on south side was covered with large flocks of Ring-billed Gulls, Geese, and 150 Brant.  There was a mixed flock of 20 Lesser and 30 Greater Scaup, and a flock of 60 Wigeon.  Scattered around and mixed in were 12 Red-breasted, 12 Hooded Mergansers, 20 Gadwall, 25 Mute Swan, and a few Blacks and Mallards.  There was a single Coot and one Horned Grebe.  A Kingfisher perched on a stick at the back edge of the smaller cove and a Peregrine flew in and spooked resting gulls, stopping to perch for a while on a stick in middle of ice.

We drove the long way to Tiverton.  Just before turning off Rte. 77 we spotted a Black Vulture soaring with 2 Turkey Vultures.  Chris spotted a Cooper’s Hawk on way.  We arrived at Ruecker Sanctuary at 10:00 and noted a large flock 75-100 of Horned Larks whirling and then feeding on the plowed field across the street. Walking through brush and woods, we had Yellowrump, Robins, Catbird, Gc Kinglet, and 3 Titmice, then we stopped at the house for more feeder birds. The fields before the marsh had 2 hunting Harriers, and the coves around the bridge held Oldsquaw, Common Loon, 60 Brant and gulls.  We went further south this time to Sakonett Point, but parking was difficult both there and at Round Pond, which did have some open water with 2 pairs of Redheads, 12 Gadwall, 6 Red-breasted and 6 Hooded Mergansers, 20 Bufflehead, a Coot, 2 Wigeon, 2 Goldeneye, 3 Great Cormorant and 8 Mute Swans, but no Tundra Swan.   Stopped briefly at Pardon Gray on the way back, but only 2 Black Vultures were there.  Coastal Roasters was very crowded, though still needed for a bathroom stop.

Nearing Sachuest, we had a Coyote, and near the very crowded parking lot were some deer.  We began the walk to lookouts at 2:00 pm finding two huge flocks of 600 Black and Surf Scoters mixed and 350 Greater Scaup and 50 Lesser Scaup together.  Eider flocks were smaller and scattered.  Other species were widely scattered, 6 Harlequins, 20 Bufflehead, 12 Goldeneye, 20 Red-breasted Mergansers, and a Horned Grebe.  Shorebirds were on one of the big rock islands, but took off and split up, returning occasionally in smaller numbers.  Peak counts were 35 Purple Sandpipers, 80 Sanderlings, and 4 Ruddy Turnstones.  Checked in to Howard Johnson Motel at 5-5:30, bird log was at 6 pm, and dinner was at Rheas just south on Rte. 138.  It was casual and not crowded.  Food was very good, but they were out of most seafood.  

We ate a good breakfast at 6:00 am in the motel and we left at 7:00, stopping for gas at Shell on rotary.  We crossed the bridge and then went south to Beavertail.  Chris got another Cooper’s Hawk.  We attempted to do Beavertail in light rain 7:45-9:00 am.  We were able to study a smaller flock of scoters just off point, 200 Black with 20 White-winged and 50 Surf.  Scattered were 30 Harlequin Ducks, 100 Eiders, 25 Oldsquaw, 10 Horned Grebe, 6 Common and one Red-throated Loon, 5 Bufflehead and a Guillemot flyby from Chris.  We studied a Merlin that flew in and perched on pole behind main building.

On the way north we counted 50 Brant. The marsh at Zeek’s Creek had a close Red-necked Grebe we all studied plus Red-breasted Merganser and Kingfisher.  There were plenty of blacks and Mallards plus huge flock of 500 geese landing in the close cove with a loud chorus of honking.  One car left us here.  Rain persisted as we crossed second bridge and took Rte. 1 south to Rte. 108 through Narragansett, arriving at Point Judith where another large mixed Scoter flock of 500 awaited.  Two hundred Eider and 6 Goldeneye were nearby.  Two more cars left us after a rest stop at Dunkin, but we continued to Trustom as the rain slowed and the fog increased.  It was just too much, so at noon we headed west on Rte. 1 to Rte. 95, then Rte. 85, then the deserted Rte. 11 and Rte. 2 to Hartford.  We got to Springfield at 12:15 pm.  We ended with 65 species on the list, including 39 waterbirds and raptors.