October 2018

Vol. 46, No. 5

Bird Sightings: May–June 2018

Neil Hayward and Robert H. Stymeist

The strong southwest winds at the end of April continued into the first week of May. On May 3 the temperature in Boston reached 90 degrees, the highest reading for the month. A cold front on the night of May 11 brought a high of only 53 degrees the following day. Another burst of warm air with southerly winds occurred from May 20 through May 26. The month averaged 62 degrees, four degrees above normal. Total precipitation for the month was 1.9 inches, 1.59 inches below the average for Boston; the most on any one day was one inch on May 15. Severe thunderstorms coupled with heavy rain and gusts of up to 80 mph moved into western and central Massachusetts on May 15 prompting a tornado watch.

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WATERFOWL THROUGH IBISES

June snow in Massachusetts? Living in New England requires an alternating mindset—complaining about how bitterly cold it is one month, and then how blisteringly hot it is the next. In the dog days of summer many of us are already looking forward to the snow that we so recently reviled. The closest we came to snow this period was of the goose variety; a Snow Goose lingering at Hyannis is the first June record since 2009. Brant are usually gone by Memorial Day, although a few stragglers typically hang on to figure out what the Cape Cod traffic fuss is all about. A flock of 15 Brant at Provincetown, though, is highly unusual, and is the latest double-digit count this century since an astounding inland sighting of 150 birds on June 7, 2001.

VULTURES THROUGH FINCHES

Black Vulture sightings continued to increase throughout the state including reports of up to two individuals foraging for food on the streets of downtown Lowell! Over 60 Ospreys were counted in Westport in early May, an area that has historically had the highest nesting success in the state. There were two reports of Mississippi Kites during the period. This species has been a regular spring migrant in the Truro-Provincetown area for several years with most records occurring from late May into early June. Hawk watchers at Plum Island on May 2 tallied impressive counts of 119 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 190 American Kestrels. Snowy Owls are unusual in June, and this year reports included singles at: Point of Pines, Revere, on June 1–2; Edgartown on June 11; and Great Point, Nantucket, through June 27. The latest historical record for the state is Logan Airport on July 7, 1990.