Early on a brisk Saturday morning Billy McGovern led a small group of students through the winding trails of Salter Grove. Their mission was to identify and describe the major parts of a plant.
During their walk Billy would stop periodically to play “Simon Says” with the students, challenging them to touch a specific part of a nearby plant. By the end, the students were able to identify many parts of the plant and describe their role in the plant’s life.
An American White Pelican was sighted in the vicinity of Rock Island and Passeonkquis Cove on September 25, 2022 and remained through September 29, 2022.
According to available records for Rhode Island, there have been eighteen sightings of this large waterbird since 1946, including one for Warwick in 1996.
With a wingspan up to ten feet and a maximum body weight of 30 pounds—16 being average—this pelican normally breeds in large colonies on lakes in the interior of southern Canada and the northern plains of the western United States. It migrates in large gregarious flocks to winter along the Gulf of Mexico and in Florida.
So how and why did a solitary pelican that’s usually west of the Mississippi stray so far to the northeast? It could have been confused by the intense smoke from forest fires as it left the breeding grounds and was separated from its traveling companions as it flew to the wintering grounds.
Previously, Bald Eagles seen at Salter Grove have been rare and solitary. It was therefore a great surprise to see five of them around North Cove the morning of December 15, 2021.
During 90 minutes of observations from the causeway the eagles were mostly at rest, enjoying the sunshine on the large rocks and breakwater near Marsh Island, or roosting in two very tall tree crowns above houses on the western shore. They must have dined well recently because none of the eagles bothered to steal fish from gulls busily feeding nearby. Despite their majestic bearing, Bald Eagles are well-known kleptoparasites!
There has been a number of surprising sightings at Salter Grove this summer!
Immature Bald Eagles have been sighted now and then during the winter months over the park. However, in early August, a few visitors got to see a mature adult perched in the black oak southeast of the entrance to the causeway. It was photographed as it flew off by Ian Ohara, a graduate student in the Environmental Studies Department of the University of Rhode Island.
Friends of Salter Grove member Jason Major was on scene as well and captured cell phone video of the eagle perched in a tree just east of the causeway path entrance:
Many of the plants at Salter Grove are wildflowers from other continents! Here, however, they are usually considered weeds because they readily colonize waste areas and lawns. Rarely are they given a second look before they are pulled up or mown down. Some of these are quite interesting and have been showcased east of the parking lot.
We learned about Matthew “Twig” Largess and Nathan Cornell in the Warwick Beacon where they were featured as seekers of old-growth forests. The woodland at Salter Grove is relatively young, but there are some unexpectedly large trees in the park so we invited this arboreal dynamic duo to assess them on Saturday, March 27.
They were joined by FoSG coordinator Peter Becker and nature trail volunteers, Carolyn Hardie, Nick Pasterino, Billy McGovern, Nancy Sumrall, and Marina Wong. Twig and Nathan examined and measure the suspected old-growth trees and provided a great deal of information in two short hours.
We may have a champion black oak north of the parking lot. Our visitors were quite impressed by the very large black gums surrounded by numerous smaller individuals along the pond trail.