Our annual trash pickup in Blackstone Park was a water-themed success. A little rain fell, in keeping with our Earth Day tradition, but our spirits were sunny as twenty or so volunteers picked up litter from the riverside and pond’s edge. Some volunteers even went out in a boat to better access tricky parts of the shore. We were entertained by teams of rowers racing in the Seekonk River – and helped by some of their fans and other members of the Narragansett Boat Club.
The Conservancy couldn’t do its job without volunteers to do the heavy lifting – whether it’s first-timers who lift heavy tires out of the muck, or dedicated long-term volunteer staffers who plan and run these events. Many thanks to all who were involved!.
Cloudless skies provided the backdrop for the Blackstone Parks Conservancy’s (BPC) first winter duck walk on a spring-like Sunday late in February that almost compensated for the disappointment of having lost out to river ice last year. Fifty-seven people of all ages turned out to watch birds and learn about them from Dan Berard, a skilled birding and natural history tour guide from Millbury, Massachusetts.
Two uncommon birds, the Barrow’s Goldeneye and the Black Vulture, especially delighted knowledgeable birders among the group. And a Belted Kingfisher in York Pond was “pretty cool” in Berard’s eyes. There were many others. Everyone thrilled to the sight of a pair of Bald Eagles perched on a pole across the river.
Berard, who often visits Providence, says that Blackstone Park offers a lot of good green space that draws birds. The oaks attract many squirrels, which provide a food source for raptors. One can see nests of Eastern Screech Owls and Red-Tailed Hawks, among others, near the Seekonk River.
Berard thinks climate change has had an enormous impact on the numbers and species of birds appearing and disappearing in the Park in the last couple of decades, but it is difficult to be specific about what factor caused which movement. For instance, he says more vultures are showing up in some places because of more cars on highways producing more roadkill. Also, some may come here to replace lost habitat, while others—the Carolina Wren, for example—may be expanding their range.
Parents who brought children to the tour to see winter ducks were pleased by the patient attention given to their children. And at the end of the hour-and-a-half walk north along the river—-it went slowly, says Berard, because there was so much good discussion– many returned to the Narragansett Boat House to drink coffee and cocoa on the upper deck. Some adults took advantage of Berard’s telescope, while a number of children sprawled on the deck with coloring books provided by the Conservancy’s Education Committee, which organized the walk.
The outing’s success inspires the Conservancy to organize more bird walks. Individual birders frequently visit the Blackstone Park Conservation District, but there is no readily available information about avian visitors in the Park. To meet this need, the BPC is beginning to plan how to muster resources pertaining to birds that anyone can readily see.
If you are interested in a possible indoor talk on birds, or in learning more about the walk or the Ocean State Bird Club, or in reviewing a list of the ducks and other birds seen on the duck walk, please check our easier blogpost.