Providence trip report: 4

Wednesday was pretty much a washout for birding. We did take a quick walk at the education center of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island in between rain showers. (I also visited a Massachusetts Audubon sanctuary on Friday–these independent Audubons in New England have some very impressive facilities.)

Finally, Thursday brought clearing weather and a field trip to Block Island, the intended centerpiece of the conference. The original plan was that we would divide into two groups and bird the island on successive days, without an end-of-day deadline since we had no scheduled dinners Monday through Wednesday. Birding as one large group on Thursday, with a closing dinner scheduled at the end of the day, had conference organizers scrambling. It worked out fairly well, although at times there was a lot of milling about, waiting for a van, and wondering where the trip leaders had gone off to.

it's clearing, reallySeas were still running about 4-6 feet (my guess) on the morning crossing. Those of us on the top deck were appraised of this fact when we were nailed by a big wave breaking over the starboard bow just as the ferry reached the Point Judith breakwater.

on pointWe started near the northern tip of the island, just in sight of the lighthouse. The scrubby woods in this area turned up a few warblers. I saw a yellow-black-and-white Dendroica warbler that otherwise must remain a mystery.

in fruitIn the afternoon we moved on to Nathan Mott Park, also known as “the enchanted forest.” Birding there was fairly slow, the trail was an out-and-back, and our van was waiting for us at 2:15, so we did not linger. Instead, I looked at this nice Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) in fruit.

from the ferryThe departure and return were sunny and smooth. Most everyone got good looks at Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) (including side-by-side comparisons to L. marinus) on the beach near the ferry landing. The shearwaters did not make an appearance.

My species count for the Rhode Island part of this trip comes in at about 70. I believe the combined group checklists came in somewhere in the 130’s.

This trip reminded me how much I enjoy birding and just generally hanging out oceanside. I still love the mountains, but the sea pulls me, too. Susan and I visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina in 1993, and that trip got me hooked on birding for good–and hooked on getting whipped by the wind on a rocky beach, scanning the horizon for gannets.