October 2019

Vol. 47, No. 5

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for May-June

Neil Hayward


May–June 2014

A Eurasian Collared-Dove was found on Nantucket during the Mass Audubon Bird-a-thon, May 16-17, and a White-winged Dove was on Crane Beach, Ipswich on June 27. A Yellow-nosed Albatross was spotted by the naturalist aboard the Seven Seas whalewatch boat, just seven miles off Gloucester. At the end of June a pelagic trip to Hydrographer Canyon reported eight Audubon's Shearwaters, two White-faced Storm-Petrels, and a South Polar Skua. Rare shorebirds included Wilson's Plover, which was recorded in three locations in May, a Black-necked Stilt at Plum Island and in the Rowley area between May 28–June 4, an American Avocet at Plum Island and Ipswich for most of June, and a Ruff at Plum Island, May 20–22. A Franklin's Gull was photographed at Plymouth Beach on June 10, and a Little Egret was on Nantucket on May 17 and nearby Tuckernuck Island on May 19. A Swainson's Hawk was photographed migrating north over Plum Island on May 3. The following day a Swallow-tailed Kite was seen flying over Cohasset. The best of the passerine rarities was a Fork-tailed Flycatcher at Mount Auburn Cemetery, May 13–14.

Best sighting: Fea's Petrel, Stellwagen Bank, June 25. This bird, photographed on a whalewatch cruise, was a first record for Massachusetts.


May–June 2009

A Purple Gallinule was photographed on Nantucket in June. Shorebird highlights included Black-necked Stilts at three locations, an American Avocet at Rowley on May 20, and a Curlew Sandpiper at Duxbury Beach on May 24. A weather system in mid-June brought rare pelagic species within sight of land-based birders; South Polar Skuas were recorded from Rockport and Tuckernuck Island, a Black-capped Petrel was seen off Race Point in Provincetown on June 23, and an Audubon's Shearwater was seen the same day off Nantucket. Nantucket also hosted an unlikely Black-backed Woodpecker between May 8–17. Three Swallow-tailed Kites in Brewster on May 10 represented the first time multiple individuals of this species had been seen together in the state. An adult Fork-tailed Flycatcher was a one-day wonder on Nantucket, May 7.

Best sighting: a singing male Henslow's Sparrow, Montague, June 27. This was the first potential breeder since a pair successfully bred in Lincoln in 1994.


May–June 1999

Single Ruffs were one-day wonders in Newburyport and East Boston in May. Mississippi and Swallow-tailed Kites passed over the Truro hawkwatch on June 5 and 6, respectively. Two Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were found on May 31, on Nantucket and at Turners Falls Airport. A Philadelphia Vireo at Oxbow NWR in Harvard was singing on territory throughout June, and a Fish Crow at Oak Bluffs may have been a first record for Martha's Vineyard. A Townsend's Warbler was found in Provincetown on May 10.

Best sighting: a breeding-plumage Red-necked Stint at Plum Island, June 26–29. This was the fourth record for the state after the first in 1980.


May–June 1979

Highlights on Monomoy included three Gull-billed Terns on May 28, a Sabine's Gull on June 1 and a state high count of over 800 "portlandica" (immature) Arctic Terns. A White Ibis was found at Plum Island on June 29. A Mississippi Kite was in Chatham on June 1, and a well-watched subadult Golden Eagle was present in the Wellfleet area between June 14–21. Red-headed Woodpeckers nested in Lynn Woods and two Black-backed Woodpeckers were found on the same day–May 8–in Gloucester and South Easton. A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was photographed at Fort Hill, Eastham on June 17 and an Audubon's Warbler was reported from Mount Auburn Cemetery on May 17.

Best date: May 31 when a Long-billed Curlew was found on Monomoy and a Magnificent Frigatebird was discovered at Penikese Island.

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