2013-10-03 / Nature

Beauty in Motion with Small Wonders

By Jack Kelly


Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others. Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others. The fall migration cycle reaches its peak in the next week. Dozens of songbird species pass through Aquidneck Island’s varied habitats on their travels south.

Another type of migrator offers big surprises in small packages. Butterfly enthusiasts reported the presence of 13 different butterfly species alone at Sachuest Point this past weekend and earlier this week. Brenton Point was also active with 10 species during the same time. The Monarchs will follow the coastline south, and groups of up to 500,000 butterflies have been observed passing both Sachuest Point and Brenton Point in the past few years.



The Monarch butterfly is a summer resident of southern Canada and the entire continental United States. This brightly-colored species measures 3 3/8 inches to 4 7/8 inches in size. Highly migratory, members of this breed are beginning to stage (gather for migration) in coastal habitats across Aquidneck Island for the annual fall trip south to central Mexico. From Sachuest Point to Brenton Point, Monarchs can be observed collecting nourishment from blooming goldenrods and other flowers. The Monarch butterfly is a summer resident of southern Canada and the entire continental United States. This brightly-colored species measures 3 3/8 inches to 4 7/8 inches in size. Highly migratory, members of this breed are beginning to stage (gather for migration) in coastal habitats across Aquidneck Island for the annual fall trip south to central Mexico. From Sachuest Point to Brenton Point, Monarchs can be observed collecting nourishment from blooming goldenrods and other flowers.

The Mourning Cloak, is a widespread species that occupies most of the United States and southern Canada. This beautifully colored, almost tapestry-like butterfly measures between 3.25 inches and 4 inches in size. This breed received its name because of the way its wings drape while resting or foraging, similar to a cloak. The Mourning Cloak lives for about 11 months, but some members of the species may migrate south for the winter. The Mourning Cloak, is a widespread species that occupies most of the United States and southern Canada. This beautifully colored, almost tapestry-like butterfly measures between 3.25 inches and 4 inches in size. This breed received its name because of the way its wings drape while resting or foraging, similar to a cloak. The Mourning Cloak lives for about 11 months, but some members of the species may migrate south for the winter.

The American Pipit is a unique species that nests and breeds on barren mountaintops and tundra across Alaska, northern Canada, and some mountainous regions of the western United States. It winters in the far southern United States, Mexico and Central America. It has a curious and demonstrative breeding ritual. Males perform energetic flight displays, singing while gliding down from high in the air to impress and attract females. Their song is a series of sweet, clear, ringing or tinkling phrases, repeated continuously. The average adult bird is 6.5 inches long and has a wingspan of 10.5 inches. It has non-breeding colors of dark olive above and neat, dark streaking against a white belly below. It has a white eye ring, white stripe above the eye, and white wing bars. This species forages in farm fields, shortgrass prairies, and shoreline areas, and constantly bobs and wags its tail while running along the ground. The call of this bird is a rapid “sip-sip” or “sipipi.” The American Pipit is a unique species that nests and breeds on barren mountaintops and tundra across Alaska, northern Canada, and some mountainous regions of the western United States. It winters in the far southern United States, Mexico and Central America. It has a curious and demonstrative breeding ritual. Males perform energetic flight displays, singing while gliding down from high in the air to impress and attract females. Their song is a series of sweet, clear, ringing or tinkling phrases, repeated continuously. The average adult bird is 6.5 inches long and has a wingspan of 10.5 inches. It has non-breeding colors of dark olive above and neat, dark streaking against a white belly below. It has a white eye ring, white stripe above the eye, and white wing bars. This species forages in farm fields, shortgrass prairies, and shoreline areas, and constantly bobs and wags its tail while running along the ground. The call of this bird is a rapid “sip-sip” or “sipipi.”

The diminutive White-rumped Sandpiper undertakes one of the longest migrations of any shorebird. It nests in wet tundra in the Nunavut region of the Arctic Circle and winters in Patagonia at the southern tip of South America. The average adult is 7.5 inches long with a wingspan of 17 inches. This species stands out among other small shorebirds because of its entirely white rump and its longer wings that project noticeably beyond its tail. Non-breeding adults are plain gray above and white below, with a white eye stripe. This species forages on wetlands’ mudflats, beaches, and rocky shorelines, and occasionally searches farm fields for small invertebrate prey. In its lifetime, this petite bird will complete numerous 15,000-16,000 mile round trip migration flights to continue the cycle of life for its species. The White-rumped has a short, faint call of “tseek!” The diminutive White-rumped Sandpiper undertakes one of the longest migrations of any shorebird. It nests in wet tundra in the Nunavut region of the Arctic Circle and winters in Patagonia at the southern tip of South America. The average adult is 7.5 inches long with a wingspan of 17 inches. This species stands out among other small shorebirds because of its entirely white rump and its longer wings that project noticeably beyond its tail. Non-breeding adults are plain gray above and white below, with a white eye stripe. This species forages on wetlands’ mudflats, beaches, and rocky shorelines, and occasionally searches farm fields for small invertebrate prey. In its lifetime, this petite bird will complete numerous 15,000-16,000 mile round trip migration flights to continue the cycle of life for its species. The White-rumped has a short, faint call of “tseek!”

The Black-and-white Warbler is a strikingly-colored bird that breeds in mixed forests ranging from the southern United States to the southern reaches of Canada. It winters along the Gulf Coast and into Mexico and Central America. The average adult is 5.75 inches long and has a wingspan of about 8.25 inches. The male has a rich, streaked black and white plumage, while the female’s plumage lacks much of the black streaking. The Black-and-white Warbler calls with a quick, “stit” repeated over time. Warbler species migrate together in large flocks during nighttime and put down for the day, just after dawn, to rest and forage. Depending on weather conditions and wind direction, their stay in our area may be for hours or a couple of days. 
Photos by Jack Kelly The Black-and-white Warbler is a strikingly-colored bird that breeds in mixed forests ranging from the southern United States to the southern reaches of Canada. It winters along the Gulf Coast and into Mexico and Central America. The average adult is 5.75 inches long and has a wingspan of about 8.25 inches. The male has a rich, streaked black and white plumage, while the female’s plumage lacks much of the black streaking. The Black-and-white Warbler calls with a quick, “stit” repeated over time. Warbler species migrate together in large flocks during nighttime and put down for the day, just after dawn, to rest and forage. Depending on weather conditions and wind direction, their stay in our area may be for hours or a couple of days. Photos by Jack Kelly

Return to top