2002 STATISTICAL AND YEAR END REPORT
by Robert H. Styrneist, Statistician
During 2002, the Brookline Bird Club listed 307 species of birds on 249 reported trips, five more than last year. A total of 279 trips were scheduled, 10 more than last year but 11 fewer than the all-time Club high of 290 during 2000. There were 79 all-day, 165 morning, 31 afternoon or evening, and four week-end trips. Thirty trips were not reported, 18 of which were cancelled due to weather, leaving just 12 unreported, a big improvement over last year when 44 trips went unreported. In Massachusetts, the Club reported a total of 301 species, one
more than last year, on 241 trips.
Two new species were added to the overall Brookline Bird Club list of birds. A Eurasian Kestrel in Chatham was recorded on an extension of a Stoughton trip on April 20 led by Glenn d’Entremont. Then on May 5, Dennis Peacock extended the co-sponsored South Shore Bird Club trip from Wompatuck State Park to Chatham to add this rare falcon to the day’s list. This was just the second state record of this vagrant, the only other record being that of a female collected on Nantasket Beach on September 29, 1887. The other new species was a Pacific Golden-Plover on Plum Island, just one day after the Eurasian Kestrel, on April 21. It was recorded on a scheduled trip to the island led by Steve Grinley and on an extension of an Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary trip led by Fay and Peter Vale. This was the first state record of this species and was just the third record in eastern North America.
In 2002, the Club scheduled only two pelagic trips, down from 13 in 2000. Pelagics can be unpredictable and the trip from Plymouth on July 27 was somewhat disappointing with just six Greater and two Sooty Shearwaters noted. The trip to Cashes Ledge was a wonderful success, not so much for the rarities, but for the great weather and the nearly constant supply of birds and marine mammals to look at. Among the highlights were a Cory’s Shearwater, 39 Leach’s Storm-Petrels and 315 Red Phalaropes.
The Club also conducted several workshops. Shawn Carey held a Photo and Video Workshop in February for birders considering getting into bird photography, and Eddie Giles conducted one on digital imaging for birders getting into digiscoping. Repeated were the Warbler Workshop in April and the Sparrow Workshop in October. The third annual Grand Slam Owl Prowl was held on February 23. The intent of this trip is. to locate, either by hearing or sight, all eight species of owls that are regularly found in Massachusetts. It was a success! For the first time, all owls were located, starting at 2 a.m. in Topsfield and ending 18 hours later on Martha’s Vineyard. New this year were a series of mid-week trips to Cape Ann in search of alcids and seabirds, led by Barbara Volkle, and a Birds and Breakfast trip on Cape Cod in early January. Expanding out from birds, Eddie Giles led two trips to Garden in the Woods to find birds and see wildflowers, and Dave Small conducted a Breeding Bird and Biodiversity day in the wilds of Royalston. Teaming up with Eddie Giles, Dave also led a Birds, Butterflies, and Dragonflies trip in August.
A special thank-you goes out to the 77 leaders who guided our members throughout the year. Several leaders deserve special mention. Steve Grinley led an amazing 33 trips and Bill Drummond led 22 trips. Soheil Zendeh was listed as a leader 16 times. Bob Stymeist led 14 trips, Laura de la Flor 12, and John Nave, Bob Petersen, and Eddie Giles each led 11 trips and Linda Ferraresso and Barbara Volkle each led 10 trips.
The Club visited Essex County most often, with a total of 116 trips: 74 to Newburyport and the Plum Island area, 25 to Cape Ann, and 17 to other spots in the county. Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge was second with 42 trips, while competing migration trap Marblehead Neck was visited 15 times, thanks to Karen Haley, Rob Kipp, Joe Paluzzi and others. There were also 44 scheduled trips in the Metropolitan Boston area, 23 trips to the South Shore and areas on Cape Cod, and 10 trips to areas in Western Massachusetts. Out of state trips included a weekend trip to Rangely Lakes in Maine, a week-end trip to Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison, Vermont, and six trips in New Hampshire.
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 12
Western Grebe Plum Island March 9
Greater White fronted Goose Rochester November 3
Barnacle Goose Ipswich November 9
Eurasian Kestrel Chatham April 20
Pacific Golden-Plover Plum Island April 21
Thayer’s Gull Nantucket January 19
Rufous Hummingbird Agawam September 15
Townsend’s Solitaire Essex February 9
Brewer’s Blackbird Ipswich November 9
In addition, though not in the rare or accidental category, the following species listed as rare or uncommon were seen by the Club.
Leach’s Storm-Petrel Cashes Ledge September 9
American Avocet Squantum May 11
Mew Gull Nantucket January 19
Royal Tern South Beach August 10
Red-headed Woodpecker Melrose April 30
Acadian Flycatcher Quabbin June 2
Prothonotary Warbler Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary April 21
Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow Plum Island September 21
The following species occur with some regularity in the state but were missed by the Club during 2002: Least Bittern, Cattle Egret, Redhead, Little Gull, and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (seen on Rangeley Trip in Maine, but not in Massachusetts).
The biggest trip list this year was Glenn d’Entremont’s trip around Norfolk County, recording 105 species on May 11. An American Avocet at Squantum was a surprise and 18 species of warblers including Orange-crowned were noted. The next best trip list was 94 species, recorded on the same day on a trip around Essex County. The trip began with bicycling down Plum Island. The morning started off cold and breezy but that did not hinder the trip from Lot #1 to the Hellcat parking lot. Then, the wind increased and biking and birding on the way back proved to be a challenge, so the trip continued by car around Newburyport and then on to Cape Ann. 21 species of warblers were tallied on that trip. The most species for the least amount of travel was a trip totally within the town of Wellfleet that recorded a total of 91 species on September 15.
Weather-wise, the year 2002 was very warm and quite sunny and had more than normal precipitation. In the Boston area the temperature averaged 52.9 degrees, 1.3 above normal. This was the tenth warmest year in 132 years of record. A high of 101 degrees was recorded in Boston on August 4, and the low was 12 degrees on December 9. Rainfall totaled 41.62 inches, though according to climatologist Robert Lautzenheiser, this number is probably about five inches short due to defective gauging in the official automated stations providing the data. The wettest month was December with 5.30 inches and the driest month was July with 1.42 inches. Days with measurable amounts were 131, seven days over the normal number. Snowfall in Boston totaled 24.5 inches, 18.3 inches less than the past average and 21.9 inches less than 2001. The most in any 24-hour period was 5.4 inches that fell on Christmas Day. The sunniest month was July at 71 % sunshine and the least sunny month was March with only 38%.
During 2002, birders across the state reported a total of 361 species, including seven new species to be added to the over- all state list. Six of these, Barnacle Goose, Pacific Golden- Plover, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Elegant Tern, Lazuli Bunting and Shiny Cowbird, have been officially added to the state list. The Massachusetts Avian Records Committee (MARC) has yet to discuss the Calliope Hummingbird discovered coming to a Cape Cod feeder in November.
The Club recorded nearly 83% of all the birds that were noted during 2002 – pretty impressive! In addition to the seven new species listed above, other impressive species seen during the year were: Pacific Loon, Western Grebe, White-faced Storm-Petrel, Magnificent Frigatebird, Tufted Duck, Black Vulture, Mississippi Kite, Gyrfalcon, Eurasian Kestrel, Yellow Rail, American Avocet, Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Thayer’s Gull, Bridled Tern, Rufous Hummingbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Cassin’s Kingbird, Townsend’s Solitaire, Varied Thrush, Townsend’s Warbler, Harris’ Sparrow, Brewer’s Blackbird, and Boat-tailed Grackle.