October 2018

Vol. 46, No. 5

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for May-June

Neil Hayward


May–June 2013

Plum Island hosted two exceptional shorebirds: a Common Ringed Plover, May 20–23, that was the third record for the state, and a Red-necked Stint a month later from June 27–28. A Franklin's Gull at Bolton Flats on May 29 was the first for five years, and one of only two inland records in the previous 20 years. A Chuck-will's-widow returned for the third year in a row to Pochet Island in Orleans. It would be the last record there until this spring, 2018. A Townsend's Warbler on Nantucket on May 5 was only the fourth spring record for the state.

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


May–June 2008

A Greater White-fronted Goose that lingered on Nantucket until the end of June was the first summer record for this species. Two male Ruffs in Rowley, May 3–8, attracted a lot of attention. Plum Island scored a Franklin's Gull on June 5, and a pair of displaying Gull-billed Terns in the first three weeks of June. A White-winged Dove was found at Tuckernuck Island on June 2, where a pair of Short-eared Owls raised four young. A Western Tanager in Amherst on May 18 was only the third for western Massachusetts. A Loggerhead Shrike was singing and nest building at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, but failed to attract a mate. The last time this species bred in the state was 1971. A Prothonotary Warbler in Middlesex Fells was also observed nest building.

Best sighting: A flock of nine Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in Ipswich on June 6 was the first accepted record for the state. This sighting came just two days after the same flock was seen in Nova Scotia.


May–June 1998

Two (!) Little Egrets were discovered on May 16: at Nantucket and 25 miles away at North Monomoy. A Bar-tailed Godwit, presumably the same bird that overwintered in the Plymouth area, was found at North Monomoy. A female Ruff was present at West Bridgewater from May 10–13. Arctic Terns (four or five pairs) were discovered nesting at a new site: Penikese Island in the Elizabeth Islands. A Western Kingbird in East Boston on June 28 was only the third spring record, and a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher spent five days at the Daniel Webster Sanctuary at the end of June. A Loggerhead Shrike spent almost a week in Newburyport from May 16–21.For nearly two weeks, a Yellow-headed Blackbird was a daily visitor to the feeders at Wellfleet Bay Audubon Sanctuary.

Best sighting: Black Vulture (!) The first breeding record for New England was documented in the Blue Hills in Milton.


May–June 1978

A breeding-plumaged Curlew Sandpiper was at Newburyport Harbor from May 18–20. Two reports of Wilson's Plover, both on June 3, came from Nauset and Plymouth. Five to six South Polar Skuas were present throughout June on George's Bank. The largest colony of Arctic Terns, at Nomans Land, an island off the southwest tip of Martha's Vineyard, numbered 30 pairs. An immature Sandwich Tern was on Monomoy on June 11. May 3 delivered a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher to Rochester and a Loggerhead Shrike to Wellfleet.

Best sighting: a male Townsend's Warbler at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, May 4. This was the first documented record for the state of this western warbler.

William E. Davis

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