NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Between 1,500 and 5,000 black ducks annually winter in ponds, salt marshes and protected coves in Rhode Island, and a couple hundred linger in the state for the summer, though only a few are believed to breed here.
MYSTIC, Conn. — The Seal Rescue Clinic at Mystic Aquarium is a modest, outdoor, fenced area where seals, sea turtles and other marine mammals rescued from nearby beaches are cared for until they are ready to be released back into the wild. And in mid-winter, it’s a busy place.
Just three North Atlantic right whales were born this winter, a precipitous decline in the species birth rate that has scientists concerned for the future of one of the rarest whales on Earth.
The official list of Rhode Island’s rare and endangered plants has been updated for the first time in a decade, and the picture is somewhat grim. A total of 81 species were added to the Rhode Island Natural Heritage Database, bringing the total to 414.
Once common and abundant across 28 states from Connecticut to South Dakota, the District of Columbia and two Canadian provinces, the rusty patched bumblebee has experienced a swift and dramatic decline since the late 1990s.
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The observation of a greylag goose in Watchemoket Cove has birdwatchers rushing to the pond adjacent to the Metacomet Country Club to try to catch a glimpse of the rare species. But it has also caused an intense debate over whether it’s a wild bird and, therefore, one that birders can add to their Rhode Island bird list.
In winter, they have become almost commonplace. Last January alone, bird watchers reported seeing bald eagles at Brickyard Pond in Barrington, Watchaug Pond in Charlestown, Tiogue Lake in Coventry, Stump Pond in Smithfield, Trustom Pond and the Great Swamp in South Kingstown and the Pawcatuck River in Westerly.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has proposed a series of changes to regulations governing the commercial harvest of horseshoe crabs in Rhode Island waters, but Save The Bay says the proposal doesn’t go far enough to protect the state’s horseshoe crab population.
KINGSTON, R.I. — So distinctly dark and quiet is an eastern hemlock forest that walking through a healthy stand has been described as finding oneself in a “cathedral-like atmosphere.” This native North American conifer is shade tolerant, and as it grows it keeps its needles on lower branches. This unique feature of hemlock trees creates a densely shaded forest floor where few other plant species can survive.
While climate change gets most of the media attention these days for the dramatic effects it is predicted to have — and, in some cases, is already having — on coastal communities, it has yet to have serious effects on eastern forests.
A new book examining the complicated issue of cats and wildlife has re-opened a difficult discussion that has long pitted animal welfare organizations against biologists, birdwatchers and the environmental community. And the position taken by the authors is doing little to make that discussion any easier.
KINGSTON, R.I. — Winter moths should be fluttering around porch lights and car headlights any day now, laying eggs that may lead to another spring of defoliated and dying trees.
BLOCK ISLAND, R.I. — During the peak of this year’s fall raptor migration season, scientists from the Biodiversity Research Institute in Maine completed a five-year effort to monitor the movement of falcons on offshore islands along the East Coast. Much of their effort was focused on Block Island, which the researchers say is among the most important stop-over sites for migrating falcons.