Monday, August 11, 2014

Westport and Acoaxet, Sunday August 10th

Yesterday we decided to get an early start and head to the coast.  It was a perfect beach day so we did have some reservations, but figured if we got to Gooseberry Neck before 7am it would probably be okay...and it was.  The first thing we noticed was that there were swallows moving...a sure sign that fall migration is just around the corner.

We hiked out to the end of the neck and found that shorebirds were starting to build up.  The lighting wasn't the best but we had a Black-bellied Plover, Sanderling and Ruddy Turnstone all on the same rock.
We also had our first Semipalmated Plovers of the season....
...and some adult Least Sandpipers starting to move through.
 Some of the Rudy Turnstones were really sharp-looking in the early morning light.
And we started to see groups of Sanderlings all the way out at the end of the neck.  Seems like it was just a few short months since we had them heading north to breed...
 ..and here they are again on their return trip.
Some of the birds still had a bit of their breeding plumage left, although many were starting to molt into their winter plumage
Our major reason for walking out to the point was to get a better look at a rock off the end of Gooseberry Neck that had a number of cormorants on it.  Mark had picked out what he thought was a juvenile Great Cormorant and wanted to get a closer look.  I managed to get a couple of photos but they were quite a ways out and I could only enlarge them so far without totally losing clarity.  You can see how much larger the third bird from the left is compared to the Double-crested Cormorants.  In fact at one point we were wondering if we were looking at an immature Booby!
Both on the way out and on the way back I found two Primrose Moths sleeping in patches of Evening Primrose.  I can't believe I never saw them before this year....clearly I wasn't looking for them!  Now that I know this is their behavior, I check every patch of Evening Primrose I come across.
There was a woman hiking out behind us with a camera and I waited for her just so that I could show her the moth.  Clearly, she wasn't as excited as I was, but I did notice her checking other Evening Primrose blooms after I pointed the moth out to her.
 Back at the parking lot it was getting filled up with both fishermen and beach goers, so we decided to head off to Allen's Neck before that got crazy too.  But not before I took a photo of the Chickory.  I know it's just a weed to most folks, but I so love their blue color.
Full disclosure here.....the next couple of photos were not from yesterday's trip, but were from a trip we made to this area back on July 20th.  Since I never did a blog for that trip I thought I would include a couple of the photos here....like this Common Eider with ducklings.  There were actually 7 ducklings (3 are hiding on the back side of the rock) when we got to Gooseberry Neck on that trip.
And while we still had Black Scoters hanging around off the causeway near the big rock, there were so many bicyclists, pedestrians and cars, that I couldn't stop for a photo.
So I'm including these shots from the July trip as well.
Our walk out at Allen's Neck was a good one.  The tides were very high, so we didn't get good looks at any shorebirds, but we did have big numbers of both Snowy and Great Egrets sitting up in trees at the far side of the pond.  We also came across this pair of mating Blue Crabs right at the tidal inlet under the road.  We had hoped to find Seaside Dragonlets (a coastal specialty) but didn't see any.  We did, however, have a few Wandering Gliders working the fields of the sanctuary....unfortunately no photos were gotten.
We drove back up Rt. 88 to check the big marshes before heading off to Acoaxet.  The traffic was totally non-stop heading south to Horseneck Beach so we didn't really pull off at either the marsh nor the boat launch just south of the bridge.  We cut up Drift Road and headed through some back roads to Acoaxet.

Now for those of you who've read my blog, you know I'm totally fascinated by the big fork in the road just after you enter Acoaxet.  And I've posted pictures of the metal fork next to the road sign at least twice before (despite Mark's protests.)  Well when we were down here on our last trip (July 20th) there was obviously an event happening nearby and somebody had added a meatball with spaghetti to the fork!  I can only assume this was done with the artist's permission, since clearly the meatball was made of a suitable material to adorn the fork.  Alas, when we passed the fork yesterday, there was no food of any kind.  
We made our usual stop to check on the status of Zabulon's Skipper and sure enough we found one butterfly moving around in the exact same bushes where we've found him every year for the last six years.
Usually we see this guy in August and early September, but we also had one flying in June this year.
We made followed our usual route down Brayton Point Road and found that the huge old redone house that we both would love to own is for sale.  How exciting.....I wonder if we could afford it...hahahaha! Unfortunately the asking price is just over $2.8 MILLION.....which is just a wee bit outside of our budget.  Oh well maybe in my next life.

After checking for butterflies and odenates in the fields (had a Black Saddlebag and Common Green Darner (no photos), we did a quick check of Richmond Pond but didn't see any shorebirds.  We then decided it was time to start thinking about heading home since there were people everywhere.  When we made our last stop at the herring run in Acoaxet, I took this distant photo of the crowds on Horseneck Beach.  There's no way I want to be in their traffic at the end of a beautiful summer Sunday at the beach.
We did have a pair of Green Herons flying back and forth along the inlet and over to Cockeast Pond.  Since there were lots of fish running, they couldn't resist the area, even with all the boaters and Mark & I standing there with our scope.
This Great Egret was wary of us, but she never flew off and we got quite close poking around in the marsh grass looking for odenates.
We had a number of Big Bluets again...we first had them back in July when we were here.
And we finally found a female Seaside Dragonlet!  These guys are relatively small for a dragonfly and the male is pretty dark.  But the female is brightly patterned and reminds us of the coloration on a tiger with all that orange and black.  Just stunning!
Since it was almost noon we decided we really did need to leave so that we could beat the traffic, so we cut over through RI (getting an in-depth look at south New Bedford along the way) and we missed all the heavy traffic and were back in Worcester before 2 having had a great day birding in a beautiful area.

Enjoy....Sheila

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