Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Natural Beauty of Newport, Rhode Island

Even on a cloudy day the Rhode Island coastline offers great views and plenty of birds to see. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2012.

Although this week and past weekend have been somewhat rainy in southern New England I've still managed to get outside a little between the showers. In fact, this past weekend I found myself at a wedding in Newport, Rhode Island, at a hotel right beside the water. On the drive down I kept scanning the skies and coastline for gulls and other sea birds. I managed to spot quite a few Great Black-backed Gulls along the way, and when the rain let up in the afternoon I took a walk behind the hotel with my camera to see what kind of bird or plant life might be around.

I spent about half an hour exploring a large lawn bordered by a thick line of shrubs and other vegetation, behind which the land dropped off steeply to the shoreline below. In addition to gulls I also saw a Northern Mockingbird, several energetic Barn Swallows who were completely undeterred by the gray skies and a few Double-crested Cormorants, one of which was fishing in the surf below. European Starlings (which have been declining world-wide, I believe), American Robin and American Crow were also seen. In the distance I could see waves breaking on the rocky shore as occasional sailboats and tankers passed by. I have to admit that most of my outdoor exploration in New England has been in Massachusetts and Vermont, but looking out at the water below and the birds in the sky I began to feel a certain sense of curiosity about the ecology of the Ocean state, so I decided to go online and see what natural history resources I might be able to find.

The first site which came up was that of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. This site has some great information about the network of wildlife refuges, totaling some 9,500 acres, which the group maintains, as well as information about their efforts to help preserve and protect the natural environment in Rhode Island.

Another website which offers some interesting information about Rhode Island nature is a site run by Save The Bay, an organization focused on  protecting marine resources in the state by drawing attention to potential environmental threats to Narraganset Bay through media outreach, education and public awareness campaigns.The site also offers educational resources for teachers as well as  information about volunteer opportunities and seal cruises in the bay.

Undoubtedly there are other great resources out there about Rhode Island nature - if you have suggestions or ideas please feel free to email me directly at

Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2012.

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