It was a beautiful morning to look for birds at the McIntosh Wildlife Refuge in Bristol, RI. Unfortunately the 45ºF temperature seemed to have scared away most of the people for my walk. Hopefully this doesn't spell bad news for my continued walks, as it will most likely only get colder. However, I had a nice stroll with my one regular participant. Sparrows were particularly abundant in the meadow, as I had hoped, and there were more later by myself along the Jacobs Point trail. I finally found myself a Lincoln's Sparrow which have been avoiding me this fall. Song Sparrows were everywhere, along with many Swamp Sparrows, a few White-throated, one Chipping, and one Saltmarsh. Yellow-rumped Warblers were plentiful, feeding on berries and giving their diagnostic "chek" calls. A Nashville Warbler showed itself briefly next to an area of pokeberry and grapes. Many Gray Catbirds, American Robins, Northern Flickers, and Mourning Doves gorged themselves on berries at the bottom of the meadow. A Northern Harrier graced us with a brief view from the marsh boardwalk. Both a Cooper's Hawk and a Sharp-shinned Hawk were seen separately soaring over the saltmarsh. Two Red-tailed Hawks were over the meadow, one getting mobbed by a gang of American Crows and the other stooping for prey. Two Eastern Phoebes hunted, one in the meadow and one along the Jacobs Point trail. Palm Warblers are still present along the Jacobs Point trail with two of the usual fall "Western" subspecies and one "Yellow". A quirk of migration routes means we get 95% "Yellow" birds in the spring and 95% "Western" in the fall. Palm Warblers are overall brownish in the fall with "Yellow" Palm Warblers having yellow in the face and breast while yellow in the "Western" is restricted to the undertail coverts.


Song Sparrows (melospiza melodia) - McIntosh Wildlife Refuge, Bristol, Rhode Island | October



My first visit to Quicksand Pond was anything but a disappointment. Separated from the ocean by an area of dunes and marsh the pond is an attractant to all sorts of shorebirds. Mudflats draw sandpipers and plovers and of course the falcons that hunt them. With a little bit of wading, the area where the birds were feeding and roosting was easily accessible.  One of the first birds we saw was a Peregrine Falcon. It came out of nowhere and immediately began lazily chasing shorebirds. Everything took to the air. A flock of 6 Blue-winged Teal flew past and were later joined by 3 more as they foraged. The falcon quickly gave up and alighted on a fallen branch in the mud. He sat there for so long that Black-bellied Plovers began to forage just five feet from him. He clearly knew food when he saw it, and looked to be perfecting his death stare but never made a physical move. He must have already eaten.


Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)


On the mudflat were groups of Black-bellied Plovers and Dunlin with Semipalmated Plovers and Semipalmated Sandpipers mixed in. A few Least Sandpipers, a few Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser Yellowlegs and a dowitcher filled out the shorebirds. Gulls roosted in a large area of very shallow water. Herring, Ring-billed, Laughing and Great Black-backed were all numerous. I tried and failed to pick out a Lesser Black-backed. Among the roosting gulls was a Marbled Godwit, casually feeding between the birds. A group of seven of Forster's Terns also roosted with the gulls and occasionally went on short foraging forays over the pond. The water around these birds was so shallow it was easy to walk around them and take pictures.


Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri)


Avian Obsession © 2020 Evan Lipton

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