December 2019

Vol. 47, No. 6

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for July-August

Neil Hayward


July-August 2014

The BBC August pelagic trip produced an eye-popping bounty: three Black-capped Petrels, one hundred Audubon's Shearwaters (a new high for the state), a White-faced Storm-Petrel, eight Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, a Red-billed Tropicbird, a South Polar Skua, and two Long-tailed Jaegers. A Curlew Sandpiper was a one-day wonder at Nahant on August 21. A Sabine's Gull was at Race Point on August 24. Five or six Gull-billed Terns were reported through the period. White-winged Doves were noted from three locations. A breeding plumaged male Rufous Hummingbird was present at a feeder in Townsend for five days at the end of July. An adult Red-headed Woodpecker was discovered at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord.

Best sighting: a Zone-tailed Hawk was photographed at the Cumberland Farm fields on July 8. This is the second record for the state, after the first was photographed at Chappaquiddick Island on April 25 of the same year.


July-August 2009

The July BBC pelagic trip scored 19 Audubon's Shearwaters, a new high count for the state. A White-faced Storm-Petrel was photographed from a fishing vessel 15 miles off Nantucket on August 28. A White-tailed Tropicbird, found in Carlisle on August 23, was a victim of Hurricane Bill. The same day a Gull-billed Tern was seen flying past First Encounter Beach, Eastham. On August 29 the next hurricane, Danny, brought all-time high counts of Cory's, Sooty, and Manx shearwaters past Andrew's Point and a Sabine's Gull to First Encounter Beach. A Great White Heron was present in Fairhaven from July 9–August 26. A White-winged Dove visited a feeder in Manomet in August. Continuing passerine rarities included the Henslow's Sparrow in Montague, which stayed through July 8. A Northern Wheatear was found at Crane Beach, Ipswich, on August 26. A young male Yellow-headed Blackbird was present at Great Meadows, August 9–14.

Best sighting: a Black-capped Petrel, 77 miles south of Martha's Vineyard, July 18. This was the third record for the state, the first photographed and the first seen on a BBC pelagic.


July-August 1999

An Audubon's Shearwater was found dead at Muskeget Island on July 5. Plum Island hosted an American Avocet and a male Ruff between August 9–11. The Red-necked Stint found there on June 26 continued to July 2. A Sabine's Gull was sitting on South Beach, Chatham, on August 26. A White-winged Dove visited a feeder in Marshfield in July. For the third year a Philadelphia Vireo returned to the Oxbow NWR in Harvard. This bird was recorded singing Warbling and Philadelphia vireo songs.

Best nesters: A family of Pied-billed Grebes at Nantucket constituted the first confirmed nesting record for the species on the island, while American Coots nested for the second time on the island.


July-August 1979

A Red-necked Grebe found dead at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary was the first August record for the species in the state. A White Ibis continued into July in the Newburyport area. Two Bar-tailed Godwits were present this period: one on Monomoy in July and August and one at Plum Island on August 7–10. A breeding plumage Curlew Sandpiper was on Nantucket, August 4–5. Monomoy boasted a record 360+ Whimbrels on August 1, and 86 Stilt Sandpipers on August 8. Upwards of 60 Western Sandpipers were in Nauset Bay at the end of August. A Bridled Tern was seen flying past Sandy Neck during a nor'easter on August 12.

Best sighting: a dead Least Sandpiper chick found at Monomoy on July 12. This is the first breeding record in the Lower 48—at least 500 miles from their closest breeding site in Sable Island, Nova Scotia.

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