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February 2019

Vol. 47, No. 1

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for September-October

Neil Hayward

5 YEARS AGO

September–October 2013

An immature Brown Booby was spotted in Provincetown in September and then again a month later. Three American White Pelicans were seen flying over Dedham on October 28. A Swainson's Hawk was banded at the Carver landfill, the first record for six years. A Purple Gallinule was present in Peabody from September 16–22. The Cape and Islands hosted a Sabine's Gull in Chatham, September 14–18, a Rufous Hummingbird in Brewster, October 30, and a Black-throated Gray Warbler on Nantucket, October 14. Other songbird highlights included a Sedge Wren in Northampton on September 26 and a Western Tanager in Chatham on October 9.

Best sighting: a Calliope Hummingbird was discovered during the Nantucket Birding Festival on October 19. It stayed four days and represented the fifth record for the state.

10 YEARS AGO

September–October 2008

An American White Pelican was photographed at Swansea on September 19. Tropical Storm Hanna delivered a few rarities on September 7: two South Polar Skuas passed Andrew's Point in Rockport; First Encounter Beach, Eastham, logged a Long-tailed Jaeger and two Sabine's Gulls. An adult male Rufous Hummingbird visited a feeder in South Yarmouth, and a White-winged Dove was found on Nantucket. Single Say's Phoebes were reported from Provincetown and Plum Island. A Varied Thrush in Gloucester on October 26 was the earliest record for this species in the state. Dunback Meadows, Lexington, is famous for hosting the first MacGillivray's Warbler for the state back in November 1977. Twenty-one years later, another was found only a few yards away from the where the first had been seen. Other passerine rarities included a Western Tanager in Eastham, a Sedge Wren on Nantucket, and Yellow-throated Warblers at Marblehead Neck and Plum Island.

Best sighting: the first state Broad-billed Hummingbird, found in West Dennis on August 23, continued through the period.

20 YEARS AGO

September–October 1998

A breeding plumage Pacific Loon flew past Andrew's Point in Rockport on October 9. "The" Eared Grebe returned to East Gloucester in October for its fifth winter, and the Tufted Duck returned for its fifth winter in Worcester County. A Swainson's Hawk was spotted at Provincetown on October 3, and a "Richardson's" Merlin—a western prairie subspecies rarely encountered on the East Coast—was at Tuckernuck for two days. A Yellow Rail was found in the Neponset Marshes in Dorchester on September 26. Shorebird highlights included American Avocets in Quincy and Chatham. A Gull-billed Tern spent a week in Chatham during September, and a Sandwich Tern was a one-day wonder on the Lynn/Nahant town line on October 19. A Black-backed Woodpecker was found in Groton in late October.

Best sighting: The Red-necked Stint, first found in August, continued to delight birders at Duxbury Beach for the first week of September.

40 YEARS AGO

September–October 1978

An American White Pelican was rescued from a fishing line in Truro on October 31 and reported later that day from Chatham. There were two records of Bar-tailed Godwit: at Plum Island, from September 4–7 and on Nantucket, September 23–October 21. A Sandwich Tern was recorded at Monomoy on September 9. Northern Wheatears were reported from Quabbin Reservoir in September, and from Salisbury over a month later. Salisbury also hosted a Lark Bunting for all of October. Four Yellow-headed Blackbirds were on the Cape in September and October, and a Brewer's Blackbird was present for a week on Nantucket. An adult male Western Tanager was a one-day wonder in Truro on September 17, and a Henslow's Sparrow was in the beach grass at Plum Island on September 14.

Best sighting: The Mount Wachusett hawk watch scored 10,086 Broad-winged Hawks passing over on September 13. This was the highest count for the state at the time. (The new record was set on the exact same day and location five years later, in 1983, with 19,912 Broad-wings.)


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