[CT Birds] Winter Coastal Birding Field Trip to the Rhode Island Coast Keith Mueller

kmueller at ntplx.net kmueller at ntplx.net
Tue Jan 17 09:08:18 EST 2012

Hi Everyone,

Jen and I are leading a very informal birding field trip to Rhode  
Island in February. The details of this day are listed below. This  
will be a full day coastal birding trip focusing on interesting  
species, beautiful locations and scenery, and hopefully good photo  
opportunities for photographers. If anyone would like to join us for  
this day, we would be happy to have you come along. This will be a  
smaller group, and we have a few openings left. However, anyone who  
would like to come along is most welcomed. We don't have a formal  
schedule planned, we bird our favorite spots as conditions and the  
birds dictate. Because sea birding will be our primary focus, I pay  
close attention to the wind and weather conditions to hopefully give  
you the best birding experience.

Possibilities may include: Dawn at Beavertail Point watching the  
morning flights of sea ducks and sea birds including Harlequin Ducks,  
Brant and possibly Gannets, Razorbills, White-winged Gulls, other  
alcids including Black Guillemot, Dovekie, Red-necked Grebes and many  
Loons possibly a Pacific Loon. Jen spotted a very late Greater  
Shearwater last winter off the Point. Birds of Prey such as Peregrine  
Falcons, Rough-legged Hawk, Bald Eagle and even a Snowy Owl can  
surprise you here (as the one did in December). THis is one of the  
only areas I know that large flocks of Purple Sandpipers are quite  
common (two years ago, I saw a partially leucistic Purple Sandpiper in  
a flock-low tide is best for Purple Sandpipers.THis is a good location  
for photographers with many close views possible. (I will teach you my  
dive, creep and hide method of getting closer)! :^) I also will have  
my portable photographers blind with me if anyone would like to use it.

Fort Wetherill area for seafowl and alcids. I photographed a Black  
Guillemot here last winter at very close range. I also recorded two  
Black Guillemot here in Fort Cove as well as many Razorbills and  
Harlequin Ducks on the same day. Maybe a short walk to the point at  
West Cove to scan the outer rocky islets and around the outer point  
and bluffs of the Fort scanning for sea fowl. This spectacular  
shoreline is only visible from this spot and the view is breathtaking  
(even though this trail is short, it is moderatly challenging). I have  
seen Black Guillemots, Razorbills Harlequin Ducks and many other sea  
fowl species from here). A short walk up to the top platform of the  
old Fort is a must- the view is stunning offering a great view over  
the east passage and Castle Hill. Great scoping location!

Newport area/ Fort Adams searching through the large Canada Geese  
flocks for rare Geese such as Snow, Blue, White-fronted, Barnacle and  
Pink-footed all of which have been recorded here. Brenton Point and  
Ocean Blvd. for sea ducks and seafowl, possible King Eiders which I  
have seen here every winter. Also the possibility of large rafts of  
staging sea ducks that also are common here in the winter. A Pacific  
Loon and a Western Grebe were seen here last winter. We will scan the  
Seal haul out on the outer ledges of Brenton Ledge for seals and sea  
ducks and sea birds.

A quick run through Fort Adams for waterfowl. This small harbor holds  
small numbers of resting waterfowl including Eiders, Mergansers,  
Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Black Ducks, Mallards, Geese, Brant and Scaup.  
I photographed a Mallard/Pintail hybrid drake last year here.

Easton/First Beach-scan the large rafts of Common Eiders for a King  
Eider or two, and search through the gulls for a Black-headed, Iceland  
or Glaucous Gull.

Maybe head over to the Sachuest Point NWR area depending on current  
reports. A Snowy Owl has been reported here for a few weeks. Last  
winter a brilliant afternoon show featuring Short-eared and Barn Owls  
and Rough-legged Hawk and Harriers kept many entertained.

Galilee Harbor for Gulling! This is one of the best areas in Southern  
New England for Gulling. Because of the commercial fishing industry  
this Harbor is a pefect location for walking on the dock area looking  
for rare winter Gulls including Iceland and Glaucous. If you time it  
right with incoming fishing vessels, gulls will swarm around the  
harbor offering quick id skills. This year I watched two BLack-headed  
Gulls here. If it is a post-winter storm day with days of heavy ocean  
born winds, this harbor has sheltered many alcids including a Dovekie  
swimming around the docks.

If the weather permits and everyone is interested and agrees, a  
possible ferry ride to Block Island can be arranged. We would take the  
Ferry over, bird Old Harbor for rare Gulls in the Gull roost, and then  
take the ferry back to Galilee. THis is a great trip over and  
wonderful for Alcids, sea ducks, Gannets and Loons. There are several  
Pacific Loons that winter off BLock Island each year. Jen and I saw  
one this past spring on the return trip just outside Old Harbor.

Point Judith/Camp Cronin- a wonderful location to sea watch for the  
large numbers of sea ducks and sea birds that winter here from off the  
point by the Lighthouse to the outer sea walls. Alcids are always a  
good possibility here.

Scarborough Beach area- another good Gulling spot. I recently  
photographed three Black-headed Gulls together here in one morning.  
There is a low tide Gull roost that holds many Gulls. We will scan the  
roost looking for rare species.

Other possible locations include the Narragansett Town Pier, Newton  
Rock and Bass Rocks.

The South County Beaches from Matunuck to Weekapaug Point. The South  
County Shoreline Beahes hold endless numbers of all winter seafowl.  
Scanning these areas will reveal huge numbers of sea ducks and sea  
fowl, any species is a possibility. Possible stops include Moonstone  
Beach, Trustom Pond, Card's Pond for waterfowl (if ice-free), East and  
West Beaches in Charlestown including the Charletown Breachway. The  
breachway is a must stop location and one of my favorite spots in R I.  
The possibilities are endless. Scan the offshore flocks of Loons,  
Eiders, Scoters and Grebes for rarities including Pacific Loon,  
White-winged Gulls, Alcids, Red-necked Grebes, Gannets. The Canal  
offers close views of swimming Eiders and Common Loons at a reasonibly  
close distance. Short-eared Owls are common here in winter, and a  
Snowy Owl is always a possibility.

We will also stop at Quonochontaug Breachway, for photographers and  
everyone who enjoys Loons, this stop is a must. The Canal is busy with  
feeding Common Eiders and Common Loons and is the best place that I  
know to experience and photograph feeding Common Loons; many at only a  
few feet in front of you!

Here are a few of the details, we are looking forward to have you join us!

If you are interested in spending a great day birding along the  
beautiful Rhode Island coast) Jen and I are leading a day long birding  
experience to the coast of Rhode Island on Saturday, February 11. We  
will be going to all of our favorite spots in Jamestown, Newport,  
Narragansett and along the South County Shore, depending where the  
best birding will be found.

      Being in the heart of winter, this day will be planned with the  
weather in mind; windy days are ideal, but stormy conditions will  
postpone the day (unless the conditions allow). Any coastal species  
will be possible. The most common species being: Common Eiders,  
Scoters, Harlequin Ducks, Oldsquaw, Red-brested Mergansers, Common  
Goldeneyes, Gannets, Great Cormorants, Horned Grebes, Common and  
Red-throated Loons, Brant, Purple Sandpipers and many other species  
possible. Here are a few of the other birds that we have seen in last  
years winter birding trips: Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Black  
Guillemot, Razorbill, Common Murre, Red-necked Grebe, King Eider,  
Mallard/Pintail hybrid, Pacific Loon, Barn Owl, Short-eared Owl, and  
Rough-legged Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Ipswich Savannah Sparrow,  
Green-tailed Towhee to name just a few.

      We are only taking a small group and we have a few spaces open.  
Carpooling is suggested, and you can either bring your own lunches, or  
we can stop for coffee and sandwiches/hot chowda'. If you are  
interested and care to join us, please send me an email  
(kmueller at ntplx.net) (use Rhode Island birding as a topic) and I will  
let everyone know the details as they come together. I like to start  
early so plan on starting at dawn (which is the best time for  
seabirding). I have been seabirding in Rhode Island for many years,  
and it has never disappointed! You never know what we will find!

Keith and Jen Mueller
Killingworth, CT

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