It's a New Day

February 2020

Vol. 48, No. 1

Birding Plymouth Beach (1985)

Duncan S. Evered

Although Plymouth Beach does not enjoy a reputation as a "hotspot" for rare birds, increased coverage by field observers in recent years has produced an impressive list of rarities at all seasons. Plymouth Beach may well be the sleeper of the Massachusetts coast.

Bruce Sorrie wrote the above in summary to an article that appeared twelve years ago in Bird Observer, volume 1, May-June 1973. Evidently, for many Massachusetts birders the location of Plymouth Beach (between the Cape and Plum Island, but not close enough to either) and the logistics of getting out there and back (walk six miles or use an off-road vehicle) still prove too much of an effort. Consequently, Plymouth Beach still does not enjoy the recognition it surely deserves. The purpose of this article is to show that Plymouth Beach "sleeps" no more: since Bruce's prophecy, over fifty additional species have been documented. First, as a testimony to this area's pedigree, I present a fully researched list of the 243 species reliably recorded from 1945 to 1984 in the area defined in the accompanying figure. A detailed annotation then follows, offering any birder who wishes to discover Plymouth Beach the advantage of better knowing where and when to look. In a broader ecological perspective, leaving rarities like Burrowing Owl and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper aside, Plymouth Beach is of major importance to literally tens of thousands of wintering waterfowl and migratory shorebirds, over a thousand nesting terns, and a valuable few struggling pairs of Piping Plover. How long Plymouth Beach will maintain such an impressive concentration and diversity of avian forms will depend on the amount of future interest taken in this exciting place.

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