February 2020

Vol. 48, No. 1

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for September-October

Neil Hayward


September–October 2014

The Brookline Bird Club's "Extreme Pelagic" trip (September 27–28) delivered a record-high 189 Audubon's Shearwaters, as well as one White-faced Storm-Petrel and two Band-rumped Storm-Petrels. A Leach's Storm-Petrel was found at Mystic Lakes in Medford on October 25. American White Pelicans were reported from Eastham on October 25 and Plum Island the following day. An immature Ruff lingered at Bear Creek Sanctuary in Saugus from October 26–29. LeConte's Sparrows were reported from Nahant and Danehy Park, Cambridge. A Rufous Hummingbird visited a feeder in Brewster for most of October. Sedge Wrens were in found at Plum Island and Lexington. A Black-throated Gray Warbler was photographed in Westport on September 23 and a Painted Bunting turned up in Brighton at the end of October.

Best sighting: White-tailed Tropicbird photographed at Hydrographer Canyon on September 4.


September–October 2009

The BBC pelagic (September 3–4) set new highs with 28 Audubon's Shearwaters and six White-faced Storm-Petrels. Also seen were eight Band-rumped Storm-Petrels and five Bridled Terns. The shorebird highlight was an American Avocet on October 11 at Plum Island. A female Allen's Hummingbird visiting a feeder in Scituate was the third record for the state. Vagrant flycatchers included a Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Wellfleet September 29–October 5, a Say's Phoebe at Chilmark in mid-September, and a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at the Orange Airport for two days in October. A juvenile LeConte's Sparrow was seen by a large number of muddy birders at the Cumberland Farm fields in Halifax between October 20–29. Other good passerine rarities included an adult Summer Tanager at a feeder in North Falmouth, a Yellow-headed Blackbird on Nantucket, and a Sedge Wren at Bolton Flats.

Best sighting: Brown-chested Martin at the Cumberland Farm Fields in Middleboro, October 12–14, representing the second record for the state. The first record in Massachusetts—a bird on Monomoy Island on June 12, 1983—was also the first record for the United States and Canada.


September–October 1999

Returning rarities included the Niles Beach Eared Grebe and the Sterling Tufted Duck both back for their fifth consecutive year. Rare October geese included a Greater White-fronted Goose at Plum Island and West Newbury and three Cackling Geese (at the time considered a subspecies of Canada Goose) at Great Meadows NWR. An adult Red-necked Stint at South Beach, Chatham, September 5–13, was the third record for the year while an immature Ruff was at Fort Hill, Eastham on September 12. Eleven Black-legged Kittiwakes were at Arlington Reservoir on October 30 following a night of heavy fog. Passerine rarities included a Boreal Chickadee banded at Manomet, a Henslow's Sparrow in Newbury, a Brewer's Blackbird in Orange, three different LeConte's Sparrows, and a cooperative Lark Bunting in North Weymouth.

Best event: Tropical Storm Floyd, September 17–18, brought at least ten Sandwich Terns to Edgartown, three Bridled Terns to Edgartown and Eastham, and six Sooty Terns to Cape Cod.


September–October 1979

A Yellow Rail was flushed at Sandy Neck, Barnstable, in mid-September. Ten skuas, including one identified as South Polar Skua, were spotted between September 12–16 in the Cultivator Shoals–West Georges Bank area on Manomet Bird Observatory cruises. Cattle Egrets reached a high of 25 in Ipswich on September 1. An immature Swainson's Hawk was the highlight of a hawkwatch in Framingham on September 15. Vagrant flycatchers included an excellent 20 Western Kingbirds throughout the state and a Say's Phoebe at Plum Island on September 8. Many long-time birders will remember visiting Herman Weissberg's yard between October 18–24 to see his adult Summer Tanager. Nantucket was the place to be for sparrows and buntings: Black-headed Grosbeak on October 27, Henslow's Sparrow on October 11, and Chestnut-collared Longspur, October 25–27. Elsewhere in the state there were three different Lark Buntings.

Best event: Hurricane David, September 6–9, the fallout of which produced more than 85 Sooty Terns scattered around Cape Ann, Cape Cod and the Islands, with three inland reports including an adult being pursued by a Pomarine Jaeger at Lake Quabog, East Brookfield.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Bird Observer logo

Our mission: to support and promote the observation, understanding, and conservation of the wild birds of New England.

Bird Observer supports the right of all people to enjoy birding and nature in a safe and welcoming environment free from discrimination and harassment, be it sexual, racial, or barriers for people with disabilities.
© Copyright 2024 by Bird Observer, Inc.