2007 Year Summary

2007 Year Summary


RIARC Number Vote (Accepted-Not Accepted-Natural Status Uncertain): # of birds reported; location; date(s); reporters (I = initial observer, R = report submitted, P = photograph submitted).


PINK-FOOTED GOOSE (Anser brachyrhynchus)

2007-21 (6-0-1): Two; Newport; 6 Jan 2007 through 19 Feb 2007; Robert Weaver (I,R,P), Marshall Iliff (R,P), Richard Johnson, (P).

Robert Weaver went to Fort Adams to look for two Greater White-fronted Geese that he had seen the day before. While scanning through a group of Canada Geese off of the beach, he observed two Pink-footed Geese. Robert was able to take a photograph of those birds, which provided documentation of this first state record. These two birds stayed in the Newport area for over a month, and birders from throughout the country came to view these birds.

CACKLING GOOSE (Branta hutchinsii)

2007-24-A,B (7-0): Six; Newport/Middletown; 7-23 Jan 2007; Shaibal Mitra (R,P), Marshall Iliff (R,P), James Smith (R,P).


During this winter of rare geese in the Newport/Middletown area there were many sightings of Cackling Geese mixed in with the large goose flocks. Several observers submitted reports and photographs, but the maximum reported at any one time was six reported by James Smith at the Newport Country Club on 23-Jan.

BARNACLE GOOSE (Branta leucopsis)

2007-23 (7-0): One; Middletown; 13-28 Jan 2007; Dan Finizia (I) & Sue Talbot (I, P), Shaibal Mitra (R,P), Marshall Iliff (P).



YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

2007-17 (7-0): One; West Warwick; 18 Mar 2007; Robert Touhill (I,R,P).

This Yellow-headed Blackbird appeared for one day at a feeder in West Warwick. Robert Touhill photographed the bird in the snow at the feeders.


SOOTY TERN (Onychoprion fuscatus)

2007-10 (7-0): One; Quicksand Pond Beach, Little Compton; 17 Apr 2007; Geoff Dennis (I,R,P), Chris Raithel (P).


Dan Finizia and Sue Talbot picked this Barnacle Goose out of a flock of approximately 1500 Canada Geese on Sandy Point Road in Portsmouth. Also present were two Cackling Geese, one Snow Goose and 1 Greater White-fronted Goose. The bird was in the area for a couple of weeks, being reported from St. Mary’s Pond and along nearby Wapping Lane.


On April 16th, there was a strong southeasterly storm that lashed the southern coast of Rhode Island. The next day Geoff Dennis went out to survey the damage on the beach and to check for storm-driven vagrants. In the dunes well above the normal high tide line near the breach to Quicksand Pond Geoff found this dead Sooty Tern. He sent the bird to Chris Raithel, who sent it in to the American Museum of Natural History. It is interesting to note that there was a report of fly-by Sooty Terns from Point Judith on the 16th during the storm.


NOT: ACCEPTED: YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

2007-12 (4-3): One; North Kingstown; 14 May 2007.

This report was of a bird seen in the evening for only a few seconds as it flew overhead in the direction that blackbirds normally travel towards their roost. Although this identification was likely correct, due to the short duration of the sighting, the limited angle of the view, and the evening lighting conditions, this observation did not contain confirming details.

SOUTH POLAR SKUA (Stercorarius maccormicki)

2007-3 (7-0): Two; Pelagic, Mud Hole; 24 May 2007; Scott Tsagarakis (R), Carlos Pedro (P), Paul L’Etoile (P).


On a pelagic trip at Mud Hole the boat had been stopped and chumming for about half an hour. There was a good number of gulls, storm-petrels, and a few shearwaters around the boat at approximately noon when two heavy-bodied gull-sized birds approached the boat. These two South Polar Skuas circled the boat at very close range for about ten minutes allowing for relatively close-up photos by Paul L’Etoile and Carlos Pedro.

RUFF (Philomachus pugnax)

2007-28 (7-0): One; Napatree Point, Westerly; 31 May 2007, Chris Raithel (I,R), Richard Ferren (I)

Chris Raithel and Dick Ferren were doing their Colonial Seabird Survey when they arrived by boat at the end of Napatree Point around noon. They immediately noticed a large flying shorebird with a distincive white rump. The bird landed between them fairly close and both Chris and Dick were able to view details of size, shape, and plumage.

NORTHERN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe oenanthe)

2007-11 (7-0): One; Easton’s Pond, Newport; 31 May 2007; Charles Avenengo (I,R), Robert Weaver (R,P).





SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus platensis)

2007-4 (7-0): One; Durfee Hill Management Area, Glocester; 18-21 Aug 2007; Charles Brown (I), Chris Raithel (R).

This bird was found in a wet meadow in Glocester. It sang repeatedly from the top of a grass stem, then would fly a short way and drop down into the thick grass. Eventually, it reappeared on the top of a stem again and would continue singing. This behavior might have been consistent with breeding behavior, but on return visits to the site the bird was not relocated.


WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

2007-2 (7-0): One; Arnold’s Mills Reservoir, Cumberland; 2-8 Sep 2007; Mark Lynch (I,R), Sheila Carroll (I).

Mark Lynch and Sheila Carroll initially found this juvenile White Ibis on Arnold’s Mills Reservoir while they were observing from the causeway. Over the next few days the bird was found at different locations on the reservoir, and also on a nearby mudflat on a small side reservoir. Although seen by several birders during the time period, there were no photos of the bird available.

LITTLE GULL (Hydrocoloeus minutus)

2007-5 (7-0): One; Sachuest Marsh, Middletown; 9-16 Sep 2007; Rey Larsen (I,R,P), Paul L’Etoile (P).


At around 3:00 PM Charles Avenengo and his son went to Easton’s Pond and found a breeding plumaged Northern Wheatear in the vicinity of the Newport Waterworks area at the corner of Bliss Mine and Ellery Roads. Charles quickly got the word out, and Robert Weaver arrived a short time later. Robert was able to get photographs as he walked along the dike to Easton’s Pond. The bird was not found the next day, either because it was not there, or because the water department closed off any access to the dike, stating that it was not safe.

Rey Larsen arrived at the Sachuest Saltmarsh early in the morning and he immediately spotted this immature Little Gull. The bird stood out by its bold plumage, and also by direct comparisons to nearby Bonaparte’s Gulls. The bird remained in the area for a week, and was seen by several birders.



2007-7 (1-6): One; Andy’s Way, Block Island; 22 Sep 2007.

Distinguishing between Golden-Plovers is extremely difficult. In the absence of photographs or a detailed critical analysis of plumage and structure there was not enough evidence in this report to confirm this as a first state record.


PACIFIC LOON (Gavia pacifica)2007-18 (6-1): One; near Old Harbor, Block Island; 2-6 Oct 2007; Hugh Willoughby (R), Sue Talbot (P), Dan Finizia (P).

This Pacific Loon was first spotted from the deck of the Surf Hotel. It was spotted just outside (east) of the main jetty at the entrance to Old Harbor. It remained in the area for five days, allowing opportunities for many birders to observe it.



WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis)

2007-20 (6-1): One; Camp Cronin, Narragansett; 9 Oct 2007; Phil Budlong (R), Linda Gardrel (R), Mary Jo Murray (R).

A group of birders on a morning birding trip spotted this bird in a shrub at the northwest corner of Camp Cronin. The bird was flycatching, then returning to its perch on the same shrub. Members of the group observed the bird with both binoculars and scopes for about ten minutes before the bird flew east towards the Point Judith Lighthouse.

YELLOW RAIL (Coturnicops noveboracensis)

2007-13 (7-0): One; Succotash Marsh, Narragansett; 19 Oct 2007; Zack Sevarino (I), Rebecca Raymond (R), Christian Nunes (R). Kate Sayles (P).

A class of URI botany students was walking around Succotash Marsh when Zach Severino spotted a bird in the grass and picked it up. Several of the students had taken an ornithology course, and they recognized the bird as a rail. While they were holding the bird Rebecca Raymond called Christian Nunes and described it. Christian concluded that they most likely had a Yellow Rail and he suggested that they take photos. After taking the photos, the students released the bird back into the marsh.


CAVE SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fulva)

2007-25 (7-0): Ten, Westerly, South Kingstown; 8 Nov 2007; Pete Capobianco (R), Paul L’Etoile (P).

Pete Capobianco observed three Cave Swallows at Napatree, five at the end of Atlantic Avenue, and two at Moonstone Beach near Trustom Pond. All were moving fairly quickly towards the southwest. On the same day Paul L’Etoile photographed one Cave Swallow at Mud Pond in South Kingstown.


CAVE SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fulva)

2007-26 (7-0): Four; Westerly/Charlestown; 10 Nov 2007; Marshall Iliff (I,R,P).

On a November day with north-westerly winds, Marshall Iliff and others were checking out locations around southwest Rhode Island looking for Cave Swallows. They found two at Maschaug Pond, and two at Quonochontaug.


YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

2007-8 (7-0): One; Avondale Preserve, Westerly; 21 Nov 2007; Phil Rusch (R).

Early in the morning at Avondale Farm Preserve Phil Rusch was observing flocks of robins and blackbirds migrating west towards Connecticut. At about 7:20 AM Phil observed a group of approximately 300 blackbirds approaching from the east. As he scanned through them he identified this adult male Yellow-headed Blackbird as the flock continued overhead towards Connecticut.

BELL’S VIREO (Vireo bellii)

2007-22 (7-0): One; Sachuest Point NWR, Middletown; 24 Nov 2007 thru 1 Dec 2007; Patty O’Neill (I,R), Shaibal Mitra (R), Paul L’Etoile (P), Carlos Pedro (P).


On the Saturday after Thanksgiving Patty O’Neill was on a walk at Sachuest Point. As she was leaving she noticed this kinglet-like bird foraging on the ground in the sun at the side of the path. When she looked closer she noted that it had a vireo bill, and she identified it as a Bell’s Vireo. Patty immediately got the word out, and other birders were able to observe this first state record over the course of the next couple of weeks.


CAVE SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fulva)

2007-9 (7-0): Three; Watch Hill Light, Westerly; 24 Nov 2007; Glenn Williams (I,R), Beth Williams (I).

Glenn Williams, Beth Williams, and Phil Rusch drove down towards the Watch Hill Lighthouse to look for migrating swallows. It was mid-afternoon when they arrived, and they soon observed a small group of swallows including ten Tree Swallows and three Petrochelidon swallows. A short time later another Petrochelidon swallow flew by and circled a few times over the lighthouse lawn. Fortunately, some of the Petrochelidon swallows banked and turned showing both the pale rump and the pale throat confirming Cave Swallow.


PINE GROSBEAK (Pinicola enucleator)

2007-19 (6-1): One; Diamond Hill Reservoir, Cumberland; 2 Dec 2007; Mark Lynch & Sheila Carroll (I,R).

Sheila Carroll and Mark Lynch were standing out on the causeway road of Diamond Hill Reservoir when they began to hear the very distinctive three-note dry whistle call note of a Pine Grosbeak. The bird passed right overhead and continued to head directly south. Although the bird was backlit, they described it as a chunky, stubby-billed finch with a long tail.

Sheila and Mark were very familiar with Pine Grosbeak because “That winter saw an influx of this species in Worcester County, including Worcester proper with a number of records in South County, some right on the border with Rhode Island.”

At around 10:00 AM Bob Emerson was scouting Briggs Marsh for the upcoming Newport/Westport Christmas Bird Count. He first spotted this gull from about a half mile away. Fortunately, it moved to a much closer distance where details of the bird could be observed. The area around Briggs Marsh is almost exclusively private property, but Bob was able to lead a group of birders to see the bird the next day. A return visit on the 9th with a different group of birders failed to find the bird.

NOT ACCEPTED: CAVE SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fulva)

2007-27 (4-3): One; Briggs Marsh, Little Compton; 8 Dec 2007.

This report was of a fly-over bird that presented the observer with a limited view as it flew by overhead. Although this identification was likely correct, additional confirming details were not observed due to the limited view, thus the report was not accepted.

NOT ACCEPTED: BREWER’S BLACKBIRD (Euphagus cyanocephalus)

2007-14 (3-4): One; Seapowet, Tiverton; 18 Dec 2007.

This bird was seen briefly but well by two observers, and was described as an adult female Brewer’s Blackbird. Although the details reported support the identification as Brewers Blackbird, there was not enough evidence available to confirm the identification of this extremely rare bird in Rhode Island.

BOHEMIAN WAXWING (Bombycilla garrulus)

2007-1 (7-0): One; West Kingston; 22 Dec 2007; Shaibal Mitra (I,R).

At about 10:00 AM while participating in the South Kingstown Christmas Bird Count, Shai Mitra was looking over the Horned Larks and blackbirds at the Cottrell Farm in West Kingston. He observed this Bohemian Waxwing fly overhead and land in a nearby Sycamore tree. Shai was able to get good views of the bird, and reported those observations in detail.

SANDHILL CRANE (Grus Canadensis)2007-15 (7-0): One; Mud Pond, Trustom Pond NWR, South Kingstown; 6 Dec 2007 to 29 Feb 2008, Dot & Bruce Kindseth (I,R), Andrew Boyce (R), Paul L’Etoile (P).Dot and Bruce Kindseth found this bird resting and occasionally feeding on the far side of Mud Pond. The bird was reported from Trustom Pond in February, and stayed in the area for more than a month.

IVORY GULL (Pagophila eburnean)

2007-6 (7-0): One; Briggs Marsh, Little Compton; 7-8 Dec 2007; Robert Emerson (I,R), Shaibal Mitra (R,P), Geoff Dennis (P), Paul L’Etoile (P).


“EURASIAN” GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Anas crecca crecca)

2007-16 (7-0): One; Mud Pond, South Kingstown; 26 Dec 2007; Bill Heck (I), Hank Golet (P).

Hank Golet photographed this “Eurasian” Green-winged Teal at Mud Pond in South Kingstown.