Bird Observer: The Birding Journal for New England

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

February 2017

Vol. 45, No. 1

Bird Sightings: September-October 2016

Seth Kellogg, Marjorie W. Rines, and Robert H. Stymeist

The continuing drought was the major weather highlight. Rainfall has been below normal since January and many communities have established mandatory water restrictions. Hurricane Hermine arrived in Massachusetts on Labor Day with heavy winds and strong seas. Sustained winds reached 39 mph on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket and gusted to 59 mph at Gay Head. The storm was about 120 miles south of Nantucket and brought heavy rain on Cape Cod, but little away from the coast. The high temperature in September was 93˚ in Boston on September 9; the low was 48˚ on September 26. Precipitation in Boston was 1.38 inches, 2.06 inches below normal.


Barnacle Goose, Concord, by Richard Johnson

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WATERFOWL THROUGH ALCIDS

Greater White-fronted Goose and Cackling Goose are now regular if uncommon, although the latter is by far more regularly seen in the western part of the state. Given its similarity to Canada Goose, it is possible that western Massachusetts birders are just more attuned to this tricky species. A Tufted Duck was discovered in Groveland on October 23; it is most likely the same individual that has wandered around Essex County ponds over the past two years. Sea ducks were well reported from western Massachusetts ponds, but oddly not from the eastern part of the state.

CUCKOOS THROUGH FINCHES

This period features the peak movement of Northern Saw-whet Owls. The best conditions for observing this are during a dark night with cold temperatures and a light north wind. Halloween night was such a night. While trick-or-treaters were roaming neighborhoods, so were the owls; a total of 74 Saw-whets were caught and banded between sites in Lincoln and Northbridge. The Drumlin Farm site had a record season with a total of 371 Saw-whets, 300 of which were banded during October. The previous high was 296 in 2010 and 2012. There was a good flight of Common Nighthawks in early September, especially in Northampton with counts of 368 on September 1 and 269 on September 8; late reports included October reports from Wayland and Princeton. The last Whip-poor-will heard on Plum Island was on September 12, the same date as in 2015.