2015-07-30 / Nature

Sachuest Summer Happenings

By Jack Kelly

A pectoral sandpiper A pectoral sandpiper Three family-friendly wolf-related programs will be offered at the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, Aug. 4, beginning at 10:30 a.m. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Volunteer Alyssa Grayson will lead the day’s free events, and take participants to the world of "all things wolf."

The first program, "Wondrous Wolves," will be presented at 10:30 a.m. According to Grayson, “We will investigate and discover the facts about wolves, discussing their life cycles and ecological importance. Wolves are one of the most misunderstood animals in the United States and we will dispel the myths of the animals, and address the similarities between wolves and our own household pets.” Wolf-related items will be on display and visitors are invited to explore and touch them.

The second program, "Reading and Nature: What If There Were No More Wolves?” will be offered at 11:30 a.m. This is a story time for youth, exploring nature through literature. After the reading session, Grayson will introduce activities including finger plays, arts and crafts, movement, and more.

"Double Creature Feature Movie Time," will be offered at 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. “In the Valley of the Wolves,” is a wildlife documentary which follows the Druid Pack in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley. The second feature, “Hoodwinked,” is an animated spin on the classic fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood.

The refuge is offering a free "Seine and Discover" program on Thursday, Aug. 6, from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The program will be conducted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff and volunteers. According to Sarah Griffith, volunteer coordinator for the R.I. National Wildlife Refuge Complex, “Bring out the family for a morning of discovery! We will meet at the Sachuest Point NWR Visitors’ Center and travel to Third Beach, where we will use seine nets to filter out shallow water marine life. We will identify the plants and animals captured in the nets before releasing them back to the ocean. Common sightings include grass shrimp, pipefish, green crabs, banded killifish, sea lettuce and so much more. Sometimes we are surprised by a tropical species that has made its way to our beach.”

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. Griffith also advised, “Don’t forget your bathing suits, because you will get wet!” This program is dependent on the beach being open.

For more information, program questions, or cancellations, contact Griffith at sarah_ griffith@fws. gov. or 401-847-5511 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. daily.

Nesting Notes:

The common tern chicks, which hatched several weeks ago on the rookery rock at Gooseneck Cove, have reached fledgling stage and are in the process of learning to fly and capture small fish in nearby waters. The adults are preparing their young for migration to South America, which will begin in approximately 2-3 weeks. The young birds will then be considered subadults and many will spend at least the next year in South America while they mature. Most Common Terns reach full adulthood and begin breeding at about two years of age. It is believed that these fledglings, now training for the biggest adventure of their short lives, will return to the point of their origin to nest and breed in the future.

The three Osprey chicks in the nest at Toppa Field/Freebody Park have all made their maiden flights in the past several days and are hard at work strengthening their wings while flying with their parents around the confines of the park. Still dependent on the adults for food, the young raptors will soon learn how to fish from the local ponds and wetlands. Migration for this species usually begins in mid-September, and the fledgling birds must be ready for their long flights. Osprey juveniles will spend the next three winters in South America maturing, and will then return to their area of origin to seek a mate.

Shorebird migration is gaining intensity as more species rest and forage across the area. The Brenton Point State Park rocky beaches and shorelines have witnessed larger numbers of birds and species in recent days. A pectoral sandpiper has been observed feeding with scores of other shorebirds along the water's edge. This species nests high in the Arctic tundra and muskeg on Nunavut, and migrates to South American wintering grounds, covering thousands of miles during its travels.

"Take Me Fishing Day," an annual event sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges of Rhode Island, and Quonnie Bait and Tackle of Charlestown, will be held on Saturday, Aug. 8, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at the refuge. This free event is conducted yearly to introduce youth and adults to the art and joy of saltwater fishing along Aquidneck Island’s scenic coast.

Participants will have the use of free loaner poles, lures, and bait. The first 112 children that sign up with a family member or guardian will receive a free mini-tackle box in commemoration of the 112th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The refuge system was brought into being by an Executive Order of then-President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.

RIDEM personnel will conduct a number of surf casting and baiting clinics for novices, as well as for those who wish to brush up on their techniques. Children’s activities include a “cool casting” game, the Japanese art of fish painting, a children’s activities table, and many more opportunities to learn about marine life.

The event will be held rain or shine, and past participants will relate how sometimes stormy weather brings the “big ones” into shore. Some of the largest fish caught in past years were hooked on rainy days. As one young angler commented during inclement weather two years ago, “The fish are already wet. They don’t seem to mind the rain.”

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