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December 2018

Vol. 46, No. 6

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for July-August

Neil Hayward

5 YEARS AGO

July–August 2013

A Curlew Sandpiper was at Plum Island on August 11. A Brown Booby was spotted on Stellwagen Bank on July 7. It then hitched a ride to Boston Harbor, where it spent the night. A rare August Swallow-tailed Kite was photographed at Chappaquiddick on August 21. It was a good summer for Sabine's Gulls with one at Eastham on August 14 and three at Stellwagen Bank on August 26. At Chatham a banded Sandwich Tern was photographed on July 31. Passerine highlights included: a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Edgartown on July 8; a Sedge Wren singing through most of August in Hardwick; and a Yellow-headed Blackbird in Sandwich on July 28.

Best sighting: a Pacific Golden Plover photographed at Plymouth Beach on July 20 was the third record for the state.

10 YEARS AGO

July–August 2008

The Brookline Bird Club pelagic in July attracted a very confiding Bridled Tern. Two Ruffs were at Plum Island in July. On August 22, South Beach, Chatham scored a very rare Greenland Dunlin, Calidris alpina arctica, which normally winters in the Old World, as well as a White-rumped Sandpiper x Dunlin hybrid. August 29 brought separate Sabine's Gulls to Plum Island and Provincetown. A Calliope Hummingbird–the fourth record for the state–was at a feeder in Deerfield at the start of August. Windsor hosted a Sedge Wren and a Lincoln's Sparrow on July 4.

Best sighting: an adult male Broad-billed Hummingbird was at a feeder in Dennis on August 23. It disappeared for a few days after being banded but returned and stayed until almost the end of the year (December 13).

20 YEARS AGO

July–August 1998

On August 2 a juvenile Black Vulture fledged from the Blue Hills in Milton. This represented the first confirmed breeding record anywhere in New England. A Purple Gallinule was on Nantucket from July 12–August 7. Chatham hosted a pair of American Avocets, as well as the Bar-tailed Godwit that had previously overwintered in Plymouth. Flycatchers stole the passerine show with a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on Martha's Vineyard and a juvenile Fork-tailed Flycatcher at Plum Island which stayed for over a month. A Northern Wheatear was found on Nantucket on August 30.

Best sighting: a Red-necked Stint in breeding plumage was at the end of Duxbury Beach, August 21–September 7. Shuttle buses to the site allowed many birders to enjoy this third record for the state.

40 YEARS AGO

July–August 1978

Monomoy hosted up to 150 Hudsonian Godwits during August, while 2,500 Red Knots were counted at Scituate on August 3. A Sandwich Tern was found at Tuckernuck Island on August 21. The peak of the Common Nighthawk flight was 1,180 birds over Wellesley on August 30. A Loggerhead Shrike was at Plum Island on August 19.

Best sighting: a Lewis's Woodpecker photographed in Lunenburg on May 26 represented the third record for the state.


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