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Big Maschaug Pond

Westerly, Rhode Island 02891
Maschaug Pond and Beach IBA webpage

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Big Maschaug Pond
Coordinates: 41.3184273, -71.831566
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Birding in Rhode Island

About Big Maschaug Pond
Located approximately 40 miles southwest of Providence, RI and approximately 14 miles east of New London CT, this IBA includes a barrier beach system approximately 0.5 mile long with high beach, foreshore, primary dunes and back dune zonation. The barrier beach lies oceanward of a coastal pond which contains no permanent breachway to the ocean.

The IBA is located between the Misquamicut Section of Westerly, Rhode Island to the east and the Village of Watch Hill to the west. The beach is accessed via the western Terminus of Atlantic Avenue or via a trail from the Misquamicut Country Club.

This site supports the largest number of breeding Piping Plovers in Rhode Island. An average of 40.5 young/year have been fledged from this location over the past 6 years and therefore the site is likely to be a source of birds for suitable breeding areas in nearby Connecticut, Fisher’s Island (NY), Block Island (RI), and other areas along the southern Rhode Island coast, such as Weekapaug Beach, the Ninigret Beach Management Area, and Moonstone Beach.

The barrier beach within this IBA also provides suitable nesting habitat for Least Tern (Sternula antillarum), with numbers fluctuating between 88-214 adults/year recorded over the last six years. The coastal pond provides feeding and roosting sites for long legged waders such as Great Egret (Ardea alba), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) , Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Green Heron (Butorides virescens), and Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), as well as shorebirds, gulls, terns, and waterfowl.

Horned Larks (Eremophila alpestris), Snow Buntings Plectrophenax nivalis), and Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis),including the Ipswich subspecies use the barrier beach as migratory stopover and wintering habitat. The open waters offshore of Maschaug Beach support wintering congregations of waterfowl including: scoters Melanitta spp.), Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) , Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator), Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus), Common and Red-throated Loons (Gavia immer and G. stellata), and Common Goldeneye(Bucephala clangula).

Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus)follow migratory schools of predatory fish (Striped Bass, Bluefish) along the nearshore waters during November to Early December.

This IBA lies within land owned by the Misquamicut Country Club from Ocean View Drive, oceanward to the highest high tide elevation.

This IBA is part of a private golf club. Members of the club use the area for passive recreation split roughly evenly among swimming/sunbathing, fishing, birding, and other passive recreation.
From Maschaug Pond and Beach IBA webpage