Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jan 9 (Day 9) - Rhode Island, Barrow's goldeneye, and Save the Bay

Today had one goal: find the Barrow's goldeneye that has been hanging around the Henderson Bridge in Providence. I had to ride ~23 miles to reach the spot where the bird has been reported. Lots of backroads made the morning ride quite pleasant, and I rendezvoused with local birders John Everton and Jack Sullivan promptly at 10:30am. Pleasantries we exchanged, and we quickly commenced the search for the Barrow's goldeneye. This species in seen in very limited numbers from Maine to New Jersey during the winter months. It close relative, the common goldeneye, is very common (no pun intended) in this same geographic stretch. The best strategy to finding Barrow's goldeneye is to carefully search flock of common goldeneyes. True to form, as soon as we located the goldeneye flock in the limited amount of open water on the Blackstone River, the Barrow's appeared. It was a distant look; Unfortunately, I did not get any photos. I must get a proper adapter so that I can digiscope birds that are out of camera range. The other highlight from the morning was a a pair of peregrine falcons killing and eating a ring-billed gull on the icy river. I was also able to add northern flicker and American wigeon to the year's list at this stop.

In the afternoon we headed down to the Save the Bay educational and conservation center. One of the coolest aspects of my trip is learning about all the conservation efforts that are already underway across the country. As I encounter these organizations, I will highlight them in this blog with the hope of raising awareness for their specific causes. In chatting with the very friendly staff at the facility, I learned that this conservation and education group focuses on the preservation of the crown jewel of the Rhode Island coastline, Narraganset Bay. Their facility is very impressive, and they do a ton of environmental education and outreach in the communities sounding Narraganset Bay. If you ever visit Providence, I would highly suggest a visit to the facility. You'll learn a lot!

Save the Bay logo, linked here

Save the Bay also proved to be productive birding as we were from there able to scan through several hundred ducks that had congregated in an adjacent patch of open water. I was able to add canvasback, redhead, gadwall, ruddy duck, and lesser scaup to the growing list. The first two of these have become increasingly difficult to find over the past few years, so these were nice finds for the area. There were also a few bald eagles hanging out on the river ice.  Here a few stock photos of a few of these ducks.

*Click on thumbnails for full sized images*

Winter plumage ruddy duck from my stock

Gadwall from my stock

Redhead from my stock

So, that means I added 8 birds today to bring the total to 84! After my time at Save the Bay, I biked down to my endpoint in North Kingston. Total mileage for the day was 43.

Tomorrow I am going to head down to Pt. Judith to do some sea watching. I missed northern gannet and black-legged kittiwake up north, so those are the 2 main target birds for tomorrow. I wouldn't turn away a rough-legged hawk either......

If you're feeling generous, perhaps you'd like to make a donation to bird conservation here. I, and the birds, would really appreciate it!

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