Bristol County, and the adjacent corner of Plymouth County, was the waterfowl capital of Massachusetts this winter. It started with a Pink-footed Goose found at Somerset Reservoir in early December by Matthew Eckerson. The bird remained there through the first few days of January. More than a month later, it or another of its species appeared roughly 20 miles to the east in Rochester, where it was still being seen just before press time. Carol Molander took the photo above.
In a classic example of the “Patagonia Picnic Table Effect,”just a day after the Pink-footed Goose appeared, Alan Trautmann discovered a Tundra Swan at the same reservoir. It remained in the area for at least three months. Neil Dowling took the photo above.
On January 15, Neil Dowling was chasing reports of Snow and Greater White-fronted geese in cornfields near Rochester, and though he missed those, he came across two Barnacle geese instead! The pair spent the next two months wandering between those fields and Acushnet, where they were spotted feeding on a golf course and resting on the river and a lake upstream. Several birders later saw the Snow, Pink-footed, and Barnacle geese all in the same flock. At least one drake Eurasian Wigeon, originally spotted in mid-October in Somerset, also made the rounds through late February in the same locations as the Tundra Swan and various rare geese. Neil took the photo above.
Massachusetts harbored at least four Mew Gulls this winter. A banded bird of the European subspecies and an unbanded one of the Asian subspecies showed up at their usual winter haunts in southeastern Essex County. Jan Smith and Lynn Ferraresso spotted the first one January 18 at Lynn Beach, and Andy Sanford noticed both of them together January 31 at King’s Beach. One or the other continued through February 23, including one appearance out in Nahant. In the meantime, Joel and Matthew Eckerson found another European “Common” Gull on January 20 at Gooseberry Neck, and Matthew Sweet picked up a Mew of uncertain subspecies at Lake Massapoag on February 3. Neil Dowling took the photo of the Common Gull above.