December 2020

Vol. 48, No. 6

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for July-August

Neil Hayward


July–August 2015

A Fea’s Petrel seen on Stellwagen Bank on July 18 was the second for the state. A rare midsummer Swallow-tailed Kite lingered for three days on Nantucket at the start of July. A one-eyed Crested Caracara was photographed in the back yard of a Lancaster birder on August 5. After a hiatus of almost 20 years for the state, a Long-billed Curlew was spotted near the lighthouse on South Monomoy on July 28. Three days later, there were three! A Curlew Sandpiper was at Duxbury Beach on August 26, and a Reeve was on Plum Island on July 2. A two-legged Bridled Tern was reported from the western end of Nantucket on July 11, and then a one-legged bird was spotted by the same observer at Tuckernuck Island, less than a mile away and over a month later. Sandwich Terns were in Eastham and Chatham.

Best event: the BBC pelagic on August 22–23, which logged Black-capped Petrels on both days, triple-digit Audubon’s Shearwaters, 37 White-faced Storm-Petrels, 23 Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, one Red-billed Tropicbird, four White-tailed Tropicbirds, and a Bridled Tern.


July–August 2010

A visit to Oceanographer and Hydrographer canyons in mid-August tallied three White-faced Storm-Petrels and six Band-rumped Storm Petrels. A week later, a White-tailed Tropicbird was photographed at Welker Canyon. The only King Rail of the season came from a marsh in Wilmington. A Bar-tailed Godwit was reported from North Beach Island in Chatham on August 9 and then from nearby South Beach at the end of the month. A Red-necked Stint was at South Beach from June 27–July 4. Two different Sabine’s Gulls were reported at sea in late August, and a Gull-billed Tern was at South Beach, Chatham on August 26. Two Monk Parakeets in East Boston became three in July–albeit another adult. Each was busy working on separate entrances to the giant nest atop a utility pole at Bremen Street Park. A male Golden-winged Warbler was at Dunback Meadow on August 27.

Best sighting: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Sandy Point, Plum Island, July 22–August 21. It was seen by many birders, despite its frustratingly elusive behavior during its monthlong tenure.


July–August 2000

At least six pairs of Ospreys nested on the North Shore, “more than ever before”. A pair of Sharp-shinned Hawks nested in Essex County for the first time since 1896. An adult King Rail was found with downy young in Orleans in July. Rare shorebirds were limited to a Black-necked Stilt at South Monomoy, and an American Avocet and Ruff at Plum Island. A South Polar Skua was photographed on Stellwagen Bank on July 17. A California Gull was found at South Beach in Chatham on July 23, the second accepted record for the state. Gull-billed Terns were reported from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, and a Bridled Tern was at Muskeget Island. Breeding firsts were confirmed for Tufted Titmouse and Rose-breasted Grosbeak on Martha’s Vineyard. A rare summering Blue Grosbeak was in Southwick, June 23–July 14.

Best sighting: male Garganey, Plum Island, August 4–11. This bird, in eclipse plumage, was accepted as wild and remains the most recent record for this species in Massachusetts.


July–August 1980

Two Audubon’s Shearwaters were spotted 55 miles south of Nantucket on July 27. An adult Red-necked Stint was at Scituate (Third Cliff), July 17–22. This was the second record for the state, hot on the heels of the first, found only a month earlier at Monomoy, June 24. Two American Avocets were at Plum Island. A White-winged Dove at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, July 2–4, was the second record for the sanctuary. A Sabine’s Gull was spotted at Stellwagen Bank on August 15, and a Gull-billed Tern was on Monomoy, August 10. Also on Monomoy was a Loggerhead Shrike on August 24. A Barn Owl pair with four young was seen at Newburyport on August 12.

Best sighting: Burrowing Owl, Martha’s Vineyard, July 12–22. This was presumably the same bird that was first found in Plymouth on May 13 and then again on Monomoy. It is the second record for the state after the first in Newburyport in May 1875.

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