This coastal ponds/barrier beach complex is located along the shore of Rhode Island Sound in southeastern Rhode Island. Biogeographically it is contiguous to similar natiural areas to the east along the western shores of lower Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts.Quicksand and Tunipers Ponds form one of the most scenic and undisturbed coastal areas in Rhode Island. They provide valuable habitat for finfish, shellfish, waterfowl, and shorebirds. Fish species include winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus), perch (Perca spp.), American eel (Anguilla rostrata), soft-shelled clam (Mya arenaria), hard-shelled clam or quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria), and American oyster (Crassostrea virginica).

Source: USFWS. 1991. Northeast Coastal Areas Study: Significant Coastal Habitats of Southern New England and Portions of Long Island, New York. Submitted To: U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations and U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations August 1991. Prepared By: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Southern New England - Long Island Sound Coastal And Estuary Office Box 307 Charlestown, Rhode Island 02813

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Ornithological Summary

The site is one of only 5 known breeding sites in RI for piping plover. It contains one of the largest population of this barrier beach nesting species in Rhode Island, and has fledged an average of 11.3 young per year over the last 6 years. Black Rail has been flushed from fields adjacent to Quicksand Pond sometime during the mid-1990s.

Barrier beach habitat is now/former/or potential suitable nesting site for additional barrier beach nesting species such as Least Tern and American Oystercatcher.

This site is included in the USFWS 1991 Northeast Coast Areas Study (NECAS) as Site No. 33.

Conservation Issues

Approximately half of the shorelines on Quicksand Pond and almost all on Tunipers Pond are undeveloped, the remainder developed as private residences. A 75 acre (30 ha) parcel known as the Truesdale Farm (which spans both ponds), may soon be on the market. Adjoining this farm to the north are two other large parcels under private ownership, the development of which could have a serious impact on the pond ecosystems.

Recreational pressures on Goosewing Beach create a threat to the nesting shorebirds. Barrier beaches and sandplain grasslands are both vulnerable to development pressures and over-use by recreational uses: off road vehicles, foot traffic, pets, and the opportunistic predators that human activity attracts. These pressures cumulatively have a significant impact to nesting rare species and their habitats. The result can be abandonment of nesting sites and degradation of suitable breeding habitats, and ultimately the abandonment of the site by the species of conservation concern. The Quicksand and Tunipers Pond/Goosewing Beach IBA is particularly vulnerable due to its multiple private ownership and heavy recreational use (USFWS - Northeast Coastal Areas Study Significant Coastal Habitats Site No. 33. Accessed Online at accessed 10/1/2008)


A majority of the IBA is open water salt pond. The land area included in the IBA is in private ownership, municipal ownership (Town of Little Compton), and three non-governmental conservation organizations including the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society of Rhode Island, and the Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust. The Nature Conservancy owns 75 acres of Goosewing Beach adjacent to Quicksand Pond in the core of the IBA. Adjacent undeveloped parcels are privately owned.


Quicksand and Tuniper Ponds, are coastal salt ponds separated from the open waters of Rhode Island Sound or Buzzards Bay by a narrow, wave-washed sand or gravel beach with a series of vegetated dunes dominated by beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata) and seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens). A breachway (inlet) opens periodically and provides some tidal flushing. The majority of the habitat is open water of the salt pond, but forested upland provides a significant portion of the total IBA as well. Although specialty habitats (e.g., coastal beach) provide smaller percentages of the IBA habitat, they are extremely important for species of conservation concern. For example, the sandy beach areas provide nesting habitat for the Piping Plover, a species of global conservation concern.

Land Use

The Town of Little Compton maintains a municipal beach area known as South Shore Beach. Some farming still occurs within and adjacent to the IBA. The majority of the land use is for conservation purposes which also support birdwatching, nature photography, and other passive recreational uses.

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