The fall migration of hawks through our region starts in earnest during this period. Hoping to witness a big flight, hawkwatchers congregate on favorite sites, notably Mount Tom in Holyoke, Mount Watatic in Ashburnham, and Wachusett Mountain in Princeton. The majority of migrant hawks in the fall (nearly 85 percent) are Broad-winged Hawks. This year Wachusett and Watatic tallied 15,201 Broad-wings, 5,226 more than in 2016. Other noteworthy reports from Wachusett included 110 Bald Eagles, 132 American Kestrels, and 38 Peregrines. Golden Eagles were noted from two locations, the same as last year during the same period. Saw-whet Owl populations are highly cyclical and are often based on the small rodent populations to our north; only five Saw-whets were reported this fall. Last year, Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln alone banded 332 during the same period.
Passerine migration is well underway during this period, and birders were out in force. Many considered this one of the best fall migrations. Rarities this year included an Ash-throated Flycatcher that spent at least six days in Middletown, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in North Truro, LeConte's Sparrows at Bolton Flats and Falmouth, a Harris's Sparrow in Scituate, Summer Tanagers in Rockport and Orleans, and a male Painted Bunting in Barnstable. There were 33 different warbler species noted during the period, which included two Black-throated Grays, two MacGillivray's and two Yellow-throated. Other exceptional reports were three Golden-winged, over 20 Orange-crowned, and over 40 Connecticut Warblers. Clay-colored Sparrows were noted in 35 locations, up from only 14 localities during the same period last year. Other sparrow highlights included eight different Lark Sparrows and several reports of Nelson's Sparrows, including one from Sheffield in western Massachusetts.