April 2021

Vol. 49, No. 2

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for November-December

Neil Hayward


November–December 2015

November–December 2015
Rare geese included a Ross’s Goose on Plum Island on November 13, a Pink-footed Goose at Turners Falls on November 25, and three Barnacle Geese at Agawam on December 26. A Pacific Loon at Quabbin Reservoir on November 11 was the first inland record of the species for the state. A Swainson’s Hawk was photographed at Bear Creek in Saugus on December 20, the date of the Greater Boston Christmas Bird Count (CBC). A Purple Gallinule was photographed at the Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Hanson on November 8. A major fallout of Franklin’s Gulls occurred on the East Coast on November 13, a result of storms across the upper Midwest. At least 22 were seen in Massachusetts. Single Black-chinned Hummingbirds were reported from Harwich and Dorchester. There were two Ash-throated Flycatchers in Rockport and nine individual Western Kingbirds. The Bell’s Vireo continued at Fort Hill, Eastham, through December 12. Townsend’s Solitaires were reported from Hanson, North Truro, and Rockport. A Mountain Bluebird was found at Crane WMA in Falmouth, and a cooperative MacGillivray’s Warbler was in Lexington.

Best sighting: Common Ground Dove in Lexington, November 13. This was only the second state record after one was found on Monomoy Island on October 7, 1973.


November–December 2010

November–December 2010
A Pink-footed Goose, only the third for the state, spent over a month in Sudbury, while a Ross’s Goose spent the end of December on Nantucket. November 20 was a memorable date, producing two flocks of Tundra Swans—29 in Brimfield and 19 at Quabbin Reservoir—and a Gyrfalcon at Plum Island. An adult Purple Gallinule in distress was rescued from Hull on December 27. Nantucket set a new record for Lesser Black-backed Gulls with 327 on November 26. A White-winged Dove appeared at a Watertown feeder on December 4 and remained for the Greater Boston CBC. A Rufous Hummingbird was banded in Worcester and a Black-chinned Hummingbird visited a feeder on Nantucket. An adult Fork-tailed Flycatcher appeared on Nantucket on the last day of November. A Boreal Chickadee chose Squantum Point Park in Quincy for a six-day visit in early November. The many visiting birders also found a LeConte’s Sparrow and a Yellow-breasted Chat. Other passerine highlights included Sedge Wrens from Weymouth and Nantucket, a Townsend’s Solitaire in Gardner, a Yellow-throated Warbler in Chatham, three reports of Harris’s Sparrow, and a Black-headed Grosbeak photographed in Easthampton.

Best sighting: Northern Lapwing, Plum Island, December 2. The shorebird was observed flying in from the east, whereupon it briefly harassed a Rough-legged Hawk and then continued on its way headed south.


November–December 2000

November–December 2000
An adult Black Brant, Branta bernicla nigricans, was found at Plymouth on November 4. There were fewer than 10 records of this subspecies in the state. An immature Gyrfalcon spent almost three weeks at the Plum Island salt marshes, proving surprisingly reliable for the many birders who chased it. A Yellow Rail was flushed from a Nantucket marsh on November 28. A Barn Owl was found in the dunes along South Beach in Chatham in November. The Mountain Bluebird, the fifth for the state, remained at the Concord sewer beds until November 2. Other rare passerines included Western Tanagers in Gloucester and East Falmouth, a Henslow’s Sparrow in Dorchester, and a Sedge Wren on Nantucket.

Best sighting: Tropical Kingbird at World’s End in Hingham, November 8–30. This represents the first state report of this species.


November–December 1980

November–December 1980
Four Tundra Swans (then known as Whistling Swans) were observed flying between Ipswich and Plum Island in December, and another was seen in Nantucket on the CBC. An impressive 18 Northern Goshawks were reported, including three on the Newburyport CBC and four on the Concord CBC. The Newburyport CBC also turned up a Barn Owl on December 27. Nine Boreal Chickadees were scattered around the state, including three in Salisbury, and two in Wellesley. A Sedge Wren (then known as Short-billed Marsh Wren) was banded in Nantucket in November and lingered long enough to make the CBC. The Loggerhead Shrike that appeared in Salisbury on September 13 stayed until November 25. Marlboro hosted a Varied Thrush on December 21–22. Three Brewer’s Blackbirds were found in Marshfield on November 9–12. A male Black-headed Grosbeak was reported from a feeder in Walpole, December 2–27. The Concord CBC, held on December 28, recorded 915 Evening Grosbeaks, 33 Pine Grosbeaks, 123 Purple Finches, 95 Common Redpolls, and 74 Pine Siskins.

Best sighting: Ash-throated Flycatcher, Wellesley, November 11–12. This was the third record for 1980, before which there had been only three records for the state.

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