February 2021

Vol. 49, No. 1

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for September-October

Neil Hayward


September–October 2015

A Brown Booby continued off outer Cape Cod throughout the period, and an adult Brown Pelican was on Nantucket on September 2. Inland, an immature Brown Pelican was found malnourished in Southborough and was rescued on September 21. A Purple Gallinule was at the Westboro WMA on October 21–23. An American Avocet spent two days in Edgartown in mid-September. Two adult Sabine’s Gulls were reported off Provincetown on September 12. The following day, an observer on Tuckernuck Island photographed a Bridled Tern. Great Barrington hosted a Rufous Hummingbird on October 11. Western flycatchers were well represented with nine Western Kingbirds and at least two Say’s Phoebes. Single Bell’s Vireos were reported from Newbury and Eastham, and another one was banded at Manomet. A Northern Wheatear spent the first six days of October at Wachusett Reservoir. A Green-tailed Towhee was a one-day wonder at Hatfield on October 27.

Best sighting: Masked Booby, West Atlantis Canyon, 90 miles south of Nantucket, September 10. This represents the first record for Massachusetts.


September–October 2010

A Barnacle Goose was in Acton and Concord from October 20 into mid-December. An adult Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was photographed on South Beach, Chatham on October 9, a week after one was reported from nearby Minimoy Island. Prior to this, there had been only three records of this species, the last in Newburyport on October 15, 1989. A Curlew Sandpiper delighted many by spending three weeks on Plum Island in October. A Gull-billed Tern divided its time between Plum Island and Ipswich for a week in mid-September. A largely silent Tropical/Couch’s Kingbird continued in Falmouth to November 2 yet failed to be identified to species. The Plum Island Scissor-tailed Flycatcher disappeared just days short of a 3-month stay. Another was seen at Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard on October 27. A Bell’s Vireo, the fourth state record, was found in Nahant on October 17–18. Warbler highlights were two Black-throated Gray Warblers (Middlesex Fells and Martha’s Vineyard), and a Swainson’s Warbler banded in Brewster, only the fourth record for the state. Great Meadows NWR hosted three species of Ammodramus sparrows (LeConte’s, Grasshopper and Nelson’s).

Best sighting: a juvenile Common Ringed Plover, South Beach, Chatham, on September 11. This represents the second record for the state after a bird seen on September 5, 1990, on nearby North Monomoy Island.


September–October 2000

Gloucester’s Eared Grebe and Sterling’s Tufted Duck were both back for their sixth winter, while Agawam’s female Rufous Hummingbird was back at the same feeder for her fourth year in a row. A Greater White-fronted Goose was at Great Meadows NWR in Concord on October 10. A Purple Gallinule was found dead in Westboro in late October. A Boreal Owl was discovered in Boston’s Back Bay on the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Gloucester Street, just across the road from where one had spent the winter of 1996–1997. Gay Head hosted a Townsend’s Warbler on September 28 and a Brewer’s Blackbird on October 22. A male Mountain Bluebird was in Concord at the end of October. A Northern Wheatear was on the Longmeadow sandbar in the Connecticut River on September 20–21. At least one LeConte’s Sparrow was present in Northampton in October.

Best sighting: a male Black-throated Gray Warbler, Mount Auburn Cemetery, September 27–October 2. Despite foraging over a wide area, the bird was seen by many birders.


September–October 1980

An out-of-place immature Northern Gannet was observed in Concord and Lincoln on October l6. A Golden Eagle was a surprise at Great Meadows on October 30. Two Yellow Rails were found on Cape Cod: one roadkill at Provincetown and another spotted during high tide at Fort Hill, Eastham. On Nantucket, a Mew Gull of the American race, brachyrhynchus, was found on October 10. The continuing Burrowing Owl on Martha’s Vineyard flew into a picture window and was taken to Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary where it was treated and released. Manomet banded its first Red-bellied Woodpecker on October 17. A Black-backed Woodpecker was seen for two days in a Needham yard. A Say’s Phoebe was on Nantucket, September 24. Loggerhead Shrikes were found on Monomoy, Essex and Salisbury, the latter appearing on September 13 and staying for over two months. Brewer’s Blackbirds were found in South Peabody and Truro. A Lark Bunting was in Newburyport on September 20, single LeConte’s Sparrows were on Nantucket and Monomoy, and a Henslow’s Sparrow was found in Truro, mid-October.

Best sightings: the appearance of two Fork-tailed Flycatchers, at Chatham from September 22–October 4, and at Orleans from September 27–October 7 drew birders from across the continent.

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