December 2021

Vol. 49, No. 6

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for July-August

Neil Hayward


July–August 2016

A flock of 11 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks was photographed in Sandwich on July 12. The Brookline Bird Club’s pelagic trip on August 20–21 produced a Black-capped Petrel, five Audubon’s Shearwaters, six White-faced Storm-Petrels, six Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, and six Long-tailed Jaegers. A day before the pelagic, a Red-billed Tropicbird was photographed south of Nantucket Island. An American Avocet spent nearly three weeks at Plum Island between July and August and a Franklin’s Gull was observed there on July 8. A Bridled Tern was photographed flying past Race Point on July 9.

Best nesting: the first breeding record of Merlin for Worcester County was confirmed in Barre. Blue Grosbeaks attempted to nest at Cumberland Farms.


July–August 2011

Tropical Storm Irene battered the state on August 28 and blew in a good number of rarities including single White-tailed Tropicbirds at Lake Onota in Pittsfield and Quabbin Reservoir, Sooty Terns in six coastal locations as well as inland at Onota and Quabbin, Band-rumped Storm-Petrels and Bridled Terns at three locations on the southern coast, and a Gull-billed Tern at Westport. A Brown Booby–the fifth for the state–spent a week at Corporation Beach in Dennis in mid-August. A Little Egret was photographed on Plum Island on July 10 and again on August 6. A Sedge Wren was found in Tyringham in July and August.

Best sighting: an Elegant Tern on Plum Island on July 23 was the second record for the state.


July–August 2001

Highlights of the Brookline Bird Club pelagic trip on August 27 were three Audubon’s Shearwaters and two White-faced Storm-Petrels. A Sandhill Crane appeared at Great Meadows NWR on August 18 and stayed for the rest of the month. A Curlew Sandpiper was seen sporadically at South Beach on August 5–26. Early fall flycatchers included a Western Kingbird on Plum Island on August 29 and an Ash-throated Flycatcher at Rock Meadow, Belmont the following day. A Sedge Wren was at the Daniel Webster Sanctuary in Marshfield in August.

Best sighting: the summer of the storm-petrel. From July, Wilson’s Storm-Petrels were seen in unprecedented numbers in coastal waters and very close to shore along much of the state’s coastline. A circuit of Cape Ann on August 5 tallied 830 birds, while Stellwagen Bank claimed the high count of 9,500 on July 9. An unexplained food source may have enticed the birds inshore.


July–August 1981

The high count for Red Knots this year was 2,800 in Scituate on August 3. An adult Gull-billed Tern was seen at Plum Island on July 14, and an adult Sabine’s Gull was reported from Stellwagen Bank on August 30. A singing male Northern Cardinal on July 6 was Jim Berry’s first record for Crane’s Beach.

Best sighting: a Spotted Redshank was photographed at the salt pans on Plum Island on July 28. It was found by two birders from New Jersey and seen by no one else. It was the first record for Massachusetts. Since then, there has only been one other record: South Wellfleet, July 31–August 19, 1990.

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