Bird Observer: The Birding Journal for New England

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

December 2017

Vol. 45, No. 6

Birding Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester, Massachusetts

Nate Marchessault

North of Allens Pond, south of Myles Standish State Forest, and east of the Assawompset Pond Complex lies an area in southeastern Massachusetts that is not often birded. Locals call it the Tri-Town area, and it comprises Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester. These towns were all part of Rochester until 1852 when Marion became a separate town. Five years later, Mattapoisett separated as well. Marion was once home to many wealthy sea captains, Mattapoisett became known as a town of shipbuilders, and Rochester a town of farmers and loggers. Marion and Mattapoisett lie along the coast of Buzzards Bay, with Marion north of Mattapoisett. Rochester is a landlocked town west of Marion and Mattapoisett.

Due to this area’s proximity to the ocean and its many peninsulas—or necks—that jut out into Buzzards Bay, the Tri-Town area generally experiences cooler temperatures than surrounding areas in summer, and warmer temperatures in winter. The sheltered nature of Buzzards Bay affords moderate protection from storms coming in from the ocean, and the seas are typically less rough than the nearby areas outside the bay. When birding early in the morning in this area, it is not unusual to be greeted by a sunrise over an ocean of glass.

This article is a year-round guide to the area, although it is worth noting that some overarching themes apply to the entire region in terms of seasonality. This area truly shines in the winter. With generally mild winters, the Tri-Town area is attractive to many semi-hardy thicket birds and other winter lingerers. Fall can also be productive, with reasonably good duck, goose, and sparrow diversity. In summer, the area hosts rare breeders such as Saltmarsh Sparrows, a fairly numerous population of American Oystercatchers, and two major Common and Roseate tern colonies.

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