2014-08-07 / Nature

Colorful Summer Character

By Jack Kelly


American Oystercatcher forages for mussels and crabs on coastal rocks exposed at low tide. The average adult Oystercatcher is 17.5 inches long and has a wingspan of 32 inches. (Photos by Jack Kelly) American Oystercatcher forages for mussels and crabs on coastal rocks exposed at low tide. The average adult Oystercatcher is 17.5 inches long and has a wingspan of 32 inches. (Photos by Jack Kelly) The American Oystercatcher is one of the most unique and colorful shorebirds that summers in the Newport County area. This husky specimen is known to nest locally on Rose Island, as well as other islands in Narragansett Bay. It prefers sandy beaches, barrier islands and island rocks just offshore.

There has been a surge in sightings of this species from Newport Harbor to the coastal regions of the Cliff Walk and Brenton Point State Park in recent weeks, which may indicate a growing breeding population around the bay. However, Oystercatchers will travel miles to forage, and pinpointing their nesting spots is extremely difficult.

Oystercatchers forage in intertidal areas, salt marshes, and tidal pools for oysters, clams, mussels, crabs and small fish. Coastlines provide a bountiful source of prey clinging to rocks exposed by low tides. Oystercatchers also search for worms in flooded farm fields and pastures after heavy rain.


Ruddy Turnstones with tag 1KX above and PV7 below. Ruddy Turnstones with tag 1KX above and PV7 below. This remarkable bird has a loud voice with a high, piping "queep!" and a longer "queer!," often in rapid, rolling series that can be heard across the habitats it frequents. This species winters on the southern Atlantic coast, Gulf Coast, and farther south into Mexico and Central America.

Nesting Notes:

The Common Terns nesting on the island rock in Gooseneck Cove have successfully raised and fledged nine young birds. The group will depart the cove in the next week or two and begin a long migration to coastal areas of South America.

The Ospreys nesting at Toppa Field have seen all three of their chicks fledge. The juveniles have begun the rituals of learning to fish and feed themselves. At first it appeared that there were only two chicks, but a few weeks ago a third chick was sighted testing its wings on the side of the nest. This is the second year in a row that the adult mates have had three fledglings.



The young Ospreys are entertaining their human neighbors with their antics and flights to and from their perch. The family will most likely depart in the next three to four weeks for their long migration. The young Ospreys are entertaining their human neighbors with their antics and flights to and from their perch. The family will most likely depart in the next three to four weeks for their long migration.

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.

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