1999 STATISTICAL AND YEAR END REPORT
by Robert H. Stymeist, Statistician
During 1999, the Brookline Bird Club listed 301 species of birds on 241 reported trips. A total of 271 trips were scheduled, 69 all-day, 169 morning, 29 afternoon or evening, and four weekend trips. Thirty trips were not reported. In Massachusetts the Club reported a total of 295 species on 231 trips.
There were eight trips to New Hampshire, highlights included two Bicknell’s Thrush, which 20 members were able to watch through a scope on Mt Washington and they also were treated with tremendous looks at a male Black-backed Woodpecker at Fabyans.and two Yellow-bellied Flycatchers a bird that was missed in Massachusetts. A trip to Pawtuckaway State Park yielded nesting Cerulean Warblers and Acadian Flycatchers. Ida Giriunas on her annual trip to Machias Seal Island and surroundings led 17 members through many different habitats and recorded 120 species including 4000 Arctic Terns, 700 Razorbills, 3000 Atlantic Puffins, two Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, two Boreal Chickadees and two Nelson’s Sharp tailed Sparrows. Eddie Giles organized the popular Rangely Lakes Trip in July with another great year. The Club recorded 110 species, the highlights included two Black-backed and a single Three-toed Woodpecker, six Olive-sided and two Yellow-bellied flycatchers, six Boreal Chickadees, a Philadelphia Vireo, and a Northern Saw-whet Owl, a bird not seen by the Club in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Audubon Society (MAS) Checklist (11/98) now includes all the species that have been identified in the state as determined by the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee (MARC). The Club recorded the following species that are listed on the new list as very rare or as accidental species
Eared Grebe Gloucester January 3
Greater White-fronted Goose Newbury October23
MacGillivray’s Warbler Boston Nov 28
Missing from the Club list in 1999 were: Leach’s Storm Petrel, Least Bittern, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Common Moorhen, Royal Tern, Arctic Tern (in Mass.), Barn Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, (in Mass.) Yellow-bellied Flycatcher(in Mass.) Western Kingbird, Sedge Wren, Loggerhead Shrike, Golden-winged Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Seaside Sparrow, Pine and Evening grosbeaks.
The Club visited Essex County most often, with a total of 118 trips (66 to Newburyport and Plum Island area, 25 to Cape Ann and 27 other spots in the County). Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge was second with 36 trips. Other trips were led in over 25 different locations, including 9 pelagic although only 6 were reported.
A special thank-you to the seventy-five leaders who guided our members throughout the year. Several leaders deserve special mention. Steve Grinley led an impressive 30 trips, Bill Drummond led 20. Jim Barton led 13, John Nove led 13, Bob Petersen and Bob Stymeist each led 11 trips, and Linda Ferraresso and Soheil Zendeh each led 10 trips.
The biggest trip list was as always Bill Drummond’s spring trip on May 15 with 124 species. Twenty-three members shared a nice assortment of birds such as American Bittern, a Ruffed Grouse, a woodcock, two hummingbirds, 22 different species of warblers and two Orchard Orioles. The next best trip list was a distant 89 species recorded from just the town of Wellfleet on September 11.led by Bob Stymeist
The Club recorded nearly 84% of all the birds that were noted during 1999-pretty impressive! A total of at least 360 species were observed and reported by birders across the state during 1999, eight species less than in 1998. The Pink-footed Goose discovered in January on a golf course in Dennis was a first state report (as opposed to a record, pending the decision of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee MARC). Another species, a Crested Caracara was found for the first time in the state in the Cumberland Farm fields The bird brought a lot of excitement during the winter doldrums, however due to the sedentary nature of the species, the MARC did not accept this record
Weather wise 1999 was a very warm year with near normal precipitation and lots of sunshine. In Boston the temperature averaged 52.8, 1.5 above normal ranking it as the tenth warmest in 129 years. In Boston the high was 98 on July 15 and July 17, with many communities inland and in western Massachusetts topping the 100-degree mark. The low was 2 on January 2. Rainfall totaled 37.90 inches, 3.61 inches less than average for Boston. The wettest month was September with 9.86 inches and the driest was June, which was just a trace. Snowfall in Boston was a meager 34.9 inches, 7.4 inches under the average. No hurricanes although Floyd on September 17 managed to send a few storm-driven birds to the coast
January began with the perennial Eared Grebe in East Gloucester and the Tufted Duck at the Wachusett Reservoir, a Pacific Loon was found off Race Point in Provincetown, the aforementioned Pink-footed Goose and two reports of Greater White-fronted Geese, one in Hadley and the other a holdover from December in Arlington. Other waterfowl specialties included good numbers of Eurasian Wigeon, several King Eiders, rafts of Harlequin Ducks off Cape Ann and Barrow’s Goldeneyes from many locations Among the raptors 34 Bald Eagles were tallied at Quabbin and another 13 were counted along the Connecticut River during the annual census. The Logan Airport Gyrfalcon was found on New Years Day. Gull watchers scrutinized the flocks and found two different Thayer’s Gulls, the Mew Gull in Winthrop and South Boston and a California Gull was reported in Easton. A Great Skua was identified off Cape Ann in late February The third state record of Ancient Murrelet was found off Andrew’s Point in Rockport. A late flurry of alcids was noticed off Cape Ann with several Dovekies and above average numbers of murres, Razorbills and Atlantic Puffins sighted. Only a single Snowy Owl was reported, the lowest number in at least 25 years; the owl show at Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield was fantastic. In the passerine department a Bewick’s Wren was studied but the observers were unable to see the tail pattern, which is its most distinctive field mark. Good feeder birds included four Western Tanagers, three Bullock’s Orioles and a Yellow-headed Blackbird.
Migration time-the hawks were flying with record numbers of American Kestrels over Plum Island. In May two Swallow-tailed and two Mississippi kiteswere reported. Three Ruffs were noted during the migration and unusual in spring were reports of American Golden Plover and Whimbrel. The real shorebird highlight was a breeding plumaged Rufous-necked Stint found on Plum Island. The Chuck wills widow returned to the White Cedar Swamp in Wellfleet and others were heard from Nantucket and Montague! Rufie, the remarkable Rufous Hummingbird that has now spent several winters in a Northampton greenhouse was released in early May. Two Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were found-one on Nantucket and another at the Turner Falls Airport. The Philadelphia Vireo returned for the third year in a row to the same set of trees at the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. Among the warblers, a Townsend’s found at the Beech Forest in Provincetown was the showstopper. Other sought after warblers included three Orange-crowned, two Yellow-throated, two Prothonotary, and at least eight Hooded and six Kentucky. There were seven reports of Summer Tanager and three Blue Grosbeaks, and unusual in spring was a report of a Western Tanager from Truro and a Dickcissel in Belchertown.
Lots of firsts this year: from Nantucket a Pied billed Grebe was found with three young birds in July, and a Cooper’s Hawk was on a nest though no evidence of fledged young was reported. A pair of Common Ravens nesting in Ashland produced two young thus establishing the southeastern most confirmed breeding record for this species in Massachusetts. On Martha’s Vineyard a Fish Crow at Oak Bluffs was a first record for the island. Black Vultures continued to be seen regularly in Berkshire County and breeding is suspected but not confirmed. Cerulean Warblers continue to establish themselves in the state while Golden-winged Warblers become scarcer and scarcer. Among the stranger summer visitors that ended their lives getting here was an Audubon’s Shearwater picked up dead on Muskeget and an Atlantic Puffin found dead on Nantucket. A White-winged Dove visited a feeder for just one day in July in Marshfield. Whale watch boats provided an excellent opportunity to get out to Stellwagen and very good numbers of shearwaters and petrels were seen. On August 7 observers tallied 12,600 Wilson’s Storm-Petrels on a trip from Gloucester to Provincetown. At least two Sabine’s Gulls were recorded in August on Stellwagen.
For shorebirds fall starts early, flocks are on the move by mid July and great waves of these pipers can be found at South Beach and Monomoy as well as Plymouth, and Newburyport. An American Avocet was found on Plum Island and at the same time a Ruff was also present on the island. Hudsonian Godwits peaked at over 100 individuals on South Beach in early August where 3-4 Marbled were also found. The “grasspipers”, Baird’s and Buff-breasted sandpipers began arriving in late August and were joined by increasing numbers of Golden Plovers and Whimbrels. A Red-necked Stint was found on South Beach in Chatham in early September where it remained for at least nine days and another Ruff was found near Fort Hill in Eastham. The media hyped Hurricane Floyd for days but by the time it reached the northeast it was downgraded to a tropical storm but nonetheless produced several interesting birds along the coast and in some inland locations. The strongest gusts were noted in the southeast and the heaviest rain in the western sections of the state. The center of Floyd passed in the very early morning of September 17 heading northeast through central Massachusetts just west of Worcester. At First Encounter Beach in Eastham observers noted a Sabine’s Gull, a Bridled Tern, three Sooty and four Black terns as well as 10 Pomarine and six Parasitic jaegers. At Wachusett Reservoir the storm dumped a Laughing Gull and a Forster’s Tern, the Laughing Gull was a first for Worcester County. The Common Nighthawk migration gets under way in mid August with the largest flights in late August. The songbirds also start their journey in August, though most birders miss getting used to looking for them until September. On August 31, a Western Kingbird and a Yellow-headed Blackbird, both uncommon fall migrants were noted on this exceptionally early date. On September 12 tremendous fallout of birds were recorded from Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard and nearby Cuttyhunk Island, thousands of birds streamed by the cliffs. At Great Meadows in Concord was the scene of an unprecedented blowback of Chimney Swifts, with over 2000 there on September 20. Rufie, our special Rufous Hummingbird returned to its favorite feeder in Agawam for the third fall in a row. Thirty-four species of warblers were noted during the fall migration with the highlights being three Golden-winged, 19 or so Orange-crowned, two Yellow-throated, four Prothonotary, a Kentucky, a staggering 24 Connecticut and 14 chats. Among the seedeaters a Lark Sparrow in Lexington, a Lark Bunting in Weymouth, a Henslow’s Sparrow in Newbury, as many as three LeConte’s Sparrows and close to 40 Dickcissels were noted. The winter finch flight was sure promising with great numbers of Purple Finches and Pine Siskins starting in early September. There were fewer numbers of both crossbills and Evening Grosbeaks were mostly seen in western sections Common Redpolls were underway at the end of October, quite a bit ahead of schedule, and finally a Boreal Chickadee was banded at Manomet on October 29
The Eared Grebe and the Tufted Duck returned, “home” both for the fifth consecutive year. A Yellow Rail was flushed by a tractor at Daniel Webster in Marshfield, where the Long-eared Owls also returned to delight the birders once again with their dusk hunting maneuvers. An apparent Snow/Ross’s hybrid goose was present for most of November on Plum Island the bird was well documented on video and photographs but unfortunately the id was not conclusive. The first Bohemian Waxwings were noted from many localities starting in November and another Boreal Chickadee was present most of the winter at a feeder in West Newbury. Snowy Owls returned with as many as three at Logan Airport. Winter finches were in good supply with great numbers of redpolls noted statewide; at least four Hoary Redpolls were found. The weather was wonderful, and having 18 species in December is tough to beat. Some of the rarer birds included a very cooperative MacGillivray’s Warbler in the Fenway section of Boston, who was reliably seen for nearly a month and managed to get himself on the Boston CBC for a possible national high! A Northern Wheatear put in a brief appearance in Northampton, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher(almost routine) was found in Westport, and finally a Spotted Towhee, a recently split species arrived just at years end to bring the 1990’s to a close.
John Hoye, Wayland 315
Mark Lynch, Worcester 310
Audrey McCarthy, Wayland 310
Ed Crowley, Brookline 303
Bev Chaiason, Newton 302
Joe Paluzzi, Beverly 300
Chris Floyd, Lexington 298
Herman D’Entremont, Somerville 295
Linda Ferrareso,Watertown 294
Susan Hedman, Manchester 290
Glenn d’Entremont, Randolph 289
Bob Stymeist, Watertown 281
Oakes Spaulding, Cambridge 280
Ida Giriunas, Reading 270
Fred Bouchard, Brookline 269
Laura delaFlor, Salem 267
Bobette Wicks, Westwood 264
Jerry Soucy, Rockport 256
Larry Jodrey, Rockport 233
Larry O’Bryan, Arlington 225
Nancy Eaton, Enfield CT 216
Donald Wilkinson, Wakefield 214
Ad Little, Cambridge 201
Mark Lynch, Worcester 196 City of Worcester only
Bob Stymeist, Watertown 151 City of Boston only