Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Birding

Every two weeks a guy named Jay leads a bird walk from the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown, RI. We don't just concentrate our attention on the sanctuary, but travel to different prime birding places in the area. This week we went down to Third Beach (most of which now belongs to the bird sanctuary) then over to the parking lot at Sachuest Beach because someone had seen a flock of Snow Buntings there, and then over to the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. It was a dark, overcast morning, and I was having lighting issues (like a dummy I didn't bring my tripod!), but I did manage to get two keepers.

This White-winged Scoter was sitting in a puddle in an auxilliary parking lot across Third Beach Rd. from the actual Beach. A little later we saw more Scoters - usually birds you find in large rafts a quarter mile or so offshore - in more inland waters. We speculated that the storm that blew through Friday night and yesterday (the remains of Tropical Storm Ida) forced some of the offshore birds inland for shelter. We think this one may have been injured; it never moved the whole time we were there snapping away, and it was sitting in, not floating on, that water.

We spotted this Dunlin, a member of the Sandpiper family, feeding on Third Beach. He was quite a busy little guy!

We also saw the Snow Buntings in the Sachuest Beach parking lot, as well as both Common and Red-throated Loons in Winter plumage, Harlequin and Common Eider ducks, and a Northern Gannet in (or over, in the case of the Gannet) the waters off Sachuest Point. All of those were outside camera range for me, but from a birding standpoint it was a very successful morning!

Afterward, after coming back to town (Newport), I headed straight for my usual Sunday stomping grounds - Ballard Park and Gooseneck Cove. I didn't get anything usable in the park, but I did manage to get two good shots on Gooseneck Cove.

There was a small flock of Hooded Mergansers on the east end of the Cove, but they quickly moved out of camera range. These little ducks are very people-shy. Luckily, I managed to get a decent shot of this male fleeing my presence.

This Lesser Yellowlegs, another member of the Sandpiper family, was hanging out in the salt marsh in the main section of Gooseneck Cove. He was hard to get a shot of because he kept bobbing his head; I'd get a great shot of the rest of the bird but the head would be blurred. I finally managed to get a shot between bobs, as it were.

And that's my Sunday bird walk. I hope you enjoyed it.

© 2009 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. Wonderful pictures. The markings on the beak of the Scoter are wonderful and the legs on that yellowleg look as they were stuck on by mistake.

  2. ...the White-winged Scoter is a gorgeous bird. I hope he was just tired and not injured. You had a stellar day with lots of interesting birds!

  3. Lovely indeed. Do you use a massive zoom or just sit patiently to receive their confidence. I've been trying to photograph two magpies and their chic, in my back yard. The baby was literally in my laundry on Sunday, grabbed the 50mm and then the bloody dog chased them all off! I saw pigeons sitting in puddles today it was so hot! Of course, I did not have my camera with me. *twit that I am*

  4. That first photo is just stunning, Roy.

  5. Thanks everybody!

    Baino - The Scoter was close enough not to have to use my telephoto; it was just sitting in that puddle, and we were in the car not 10 feet away, so that was an easy shot. On the others, and the other telephoto shots I've posted here in the past, persistence and patience are what make the shot. Patience in that you sit or stand very still to wait for a critter to come closer, and persistence for the ones that never sit still. This is why I love digital photography - we aren't limited by how many frames are on the roll of film. With frisky little birds like Chickadees and Woodpeckers and such, I just switch on the continuous shooting mode and aim in the general direction. Somewhere in the string of shots I get is the one that got the little bugger just right!

  6. I did enjoy the walk through. I love how the feathers are blowing up into the (original) spikey hairdo on the Merganser. Looks like my hair...

    And that first fellow - what amazing beak structure and coloration... fascinating stuff, beautifully photographed.