Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sachuest NWR and Rhode Island Coast

I'm again way behind on my post.  The week between Christmas and New Years was pretty productive.  I was able to get out a few times with decent luck.  There had been alot of chatter about a Green tailed towhee, a western rarity, but seen on a fairly regular basis at Sachuest NWR in Middletown, Rhode Island.  I got lucky.  Several people had struck out on the morning I visited, but fortunately he popped right out for me.  He had taken up in the pine trees at a camp ground.  Silly bird, the camp ground was closed for the winter. 

Green tailed Towhee, Sachuest NWR
The Towhee was hanging out with a rather large group of sparrows.  There Song, Savannah, and American Tree. 

American Tree Sparrow

I drove up to Sachuest, but decided against walking the loop.  Likely should have because the reports later in the day was very positive.  Instead I moved over to 3rd Beach looking for the Red Polls that had been reported.  No such luck for me.  Surprisingly Red Polls would have been a lifer.  I saw them many years ago before I started keeping track or photographing so I don't count them.  Fortunately I ran into a few good birds in the dunes and on the water.  

American Pipit

Surf Scoter
For some reason, I can never get a clear quality picture of a surf scoter.  Drives me nuts. 

I drove over to Beaver Tail and I really struck out there. There were a few Harlequins and many Eider, but the rocks were snow covered and the waves were huge so I didn't attempt it.  I was meeting my sister for lunch so I moved on to Point Judith.  I had heard about a Lark Sparrow taking up residence, but I wasn't able to find the spot.  I stopped in to Galilee Harbor and found a few birds and several seals.  I'm terrible identifying gulls.  Sparrows are hard enough, but at least there is only season of immature individuals.  Seems to me that gulls have minimum three seasons of immaturity and sometime four.  Ugh!

Greater Black backed Gull

Herring Gull

My sister of the Backyard Explorer called for lunch so I drove down to meet her at Matunuck for lunch.  On my way to lunch I ran into a nice gent doing some sport falconry.  He was using a Harris Hawk.  Wow what a beautiful bird.  He was also really willing to talk to me about the species.  Apparently the Harris Hawk hunts in a pack with multiple birds tracking their prey.  His bird wasn't all that happy that day because of the wind.  Funny he said it was so smart he could drive with it sitting on its perch on the front without much problem.  However, if the owner were to leave it for any time, the bird would open the glove compartment and find the food.  Smart Bird!!!


I met my sister at a pub overlooking the ocean and they thankfully had Guinness.   What a great spot.  The back deck hung over that water and I was able to get a few good shots.  Now mind you I had a few Guinness.  :) 

Bonaparte's Gull

Red Throated Loon

After lunch I shot over to Moonstone Beach (if that sand could talk) for a walk down to the back side of Trustum Pond.  Unfortunately, the pond was frozen with the exception of a very small strip.  I didn't trek the 1/2 mile with my scope, but could clearly see about 8 species of duck, 45 Mute Swans, and several species of gulls but they were too far away.  

I moved down to the front side of Trustum Pond and did the 1 1/2 loop.  It was getting dark and temps were dropping quickly so I moved quickly.  I was hoping for some Barred Owls, but no such luck.  I saw one winter wren and a few sparrows.
White Throated Sparrow

All in all a great day.  Couldn't have asked for better birding, better company for lunch and being out for a day with nature.  Yahoo!!  I am sooooo glad to be a BIRD NERD!


Hilke Breder said...

John, I think your surfscoter is just beautiful, the colors..the eye.. I can't see why you are unhappy. The red-necked loon is wonderful too, as in fact are all the others. One problem though, when double clicking to get a larger view, the resulting photo was much too large for my laptop screen. I noticed that all your photos are 1600 pixels wide. A width of 800 pix would be better. Also, if you want to submit a photo for a critique, most forums don't accept an image this large. You might want to get Photoshop Elements - it's great program to help you adjust the size and older versions are quite reasonable on But as I said, apart from the size, your photos are superb!

Andy said...

Green tailed Towhee! I've been meaning to go there!

John (Tucker) said...

Thanks for making me aware of that issue. Everything looks peachy on my end. I have Photoshop and will evaluate the photos before posting. Thanks for your comments. I have fun taking them too.

cindyzlogic said...

Outstanding photo series, John! Congrats on the Towhee!!