By Robert H. Stymeist, Statistician


During 2003, the Brookline Bird Club listed 294 species of birds on 242 reported trips, 13 species fewer than last year. A total of 273 trips were scheduled, six trips fewer than last year

and 17 fewer than the all-time Club high of 290 during 2000. There were 71 all-day, 170 morning, 31 afternoon or evening, and just one weekend trip, compared with four weekend trips last year. Thirty-one trips were not reported, 20 of which were cancelled due to weather, leaving just 11 unreported, a big improvement over 2001 when 44 trips went unreported. In

Massachusetts the Club reported a total of 288 species, 23 fewer than last year, on 237 trips.


Three new species were added to the overall Brookline Bird Club list of birds but only one was seen in Massachusetts. A Cave Swallow, the first confirmed record for Massachusetts, was seen on a Cape Cod trip on November 15 led by Bob Stymeist. J. & P. Trimble and B. Nikula discovered the Cave Swallows. A cell phone call sent us from Bourne right down to Nauset Beach where we had excellent looks at one Cave Swallow. It ·was quite a scene on the beach with high fives and a lot of merriment. In New Hampshire, the Club recorded a Little Stint on a Newburyport extension to Rye led by Donald Wilkinson. Don’s car died on Plum Island that day, so his group decided to car pool up to Rye and was successful in adding this rare peep to the Club list. Not only was Don rewarded with the stint, AAA towed his car back to Nahant for free! On November 2, Steve Moore and Barbara Volkle extended a Newburyport trip up to Exeter, New Hampshire to record a Bell’s Vireo that had been previously found by Steve Mirick. Steve himself led 22 members on a trip along the New Hampshire coast on November 9, the day after the BBC 90th celebration. They celebrated with another look at the vireo.


In 2003, the Club scheduled six pelagic trips, up from just two last year but down from 13 in 2000. Pelagics can be unpredictable and only 49 species were tallied on the five reported trips. A scheduled trip to Cashes Ledge on September 8 was forced to go to closer Platt’s Bank because of strong northeast winds and heavy seas. The conditions improved dramatically with a wind shift in the afternoon to the west. The birds were few but a juvenile Atlantic Puffin provided outstanding views for all on board.


The year 2003 marked the 90th Anniversary of the Brookline Bird Club and we celebrated in grand style at the Peabody Marriott Hotel on Saturday, November 8th. Over 300 members

attended the gala, a wonderful night, also highlighted by a penumbra! eclipse of the full moon that lasted all evening. The evening captured images on film of our favorite birding places

and our birding friends, some from their very early days, and some from those that touched our lives before they passed on. The collection of bird photographs, some rare and unusual

birds to our familiar everyday birds, delighted us as they popped onto the two big screens. Shawneen Finnegan, the keynote speaker and world-class birder, in her talk “Confessions of a Female Birding Addict”, put us into her whirlwind life in search of birds throughout the world. The evening topped off with emcee Eddie Giles hosting “Who Wants To Be A Birder”. Regis Philbin, watch out-if the networks find Eddie – you’re through!


In our 90th year, the Club added a third indoor meeting. The first Annual Winter Meeting was held at Bedford High School on January 31, 2003. Paul Roberts gave a lively talk entitled “Birding Southeastern Texas in Winter”. The Club continued to conduct a workshop on warblers in April and a Nature Journaling trip in July focused on sharpening observation skills and practicing field sketching. The fourth annual Grand Slam Owl Prowl started at 4 a.m. on March 8. The intent of this trip is to locate, either by hearing or sight, all eight species of owls that are regularly found in Massachusetts. The severe winter had a devastating effect on the state’s Barn Owl population so the leaders opted out of a trip to Martha’s Vineyard; thus the hope was for seven owl species in 18 hours. Ironically, the group failed to find a Screech Owl, our most common owl. For the second year, there was a series of mid-week trips in search of alcids and seabirds led by Barbara Volkle on Cape Ann, and a Birds and Breakfast on Cape Cod trip in early January. New this year were a Birding Nauset Marsh by Kayak and visits to two banding stations in Brewster during the fall migration. The Club also scheduled Woodcock walks in Reading, the Blue Hills, Concord, and the Great Meadows in Lexington. The Club continued co-sponsoring the TASL (Take a Second Look) surveys of waterfowl of Boston Harbor and a Spring Hawk watch at Plum Island. 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 73 leaders who guided our members throughout the year. Several leaders deserve special mention. Steve Grinley led an amazing 38 trips, Bill Drummond led 18 trips, Ida Giriunas, the Energizer Bunny, led 18 trips, Bob Stymeist 12, and Eddie Giles and Linda Ferraresso each led 10 trips.


The Club visited Essex County most often, with a total of 128 trips: 71 to Newburyport and the Plum Island area, 24 to Cape Ann, 18 to other spots in the county, and 15 trips to the Marblehead Neck Sanctuary and areas nearby. Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge was a distant second with 39 trips. There were also 35 scheduled trips in the Metropolitan Boston area; 20 trips in the extended Sudbury River Valley, which include~ Oxbow NWR, Bolton Flats, and Devens RFTA; 25 trips to the South Shore and to areas on Cape Cod; and 14 trips to areas in Western Massachusetts. Out of state trips included a weekend trip to Rangely Lakes in Maine and four 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:


Tufted Duck                Westport                     January 12

Eared Grebe                Gloucester                  November 16

Gyrfalcon                    Boston                         January 5

Mew Gull                    Newburyport              March 9

Atlantic Puffin             at sea                          September 8

Chuck-will’s-widow     Wellfleet                     May 31

Cave Swallow              Nauset-Orleans           November 15

Blue Grosbeak             Woburn                       June 5


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                          July 26

Acadian Flycatcher                              Quabbin                                  June 21

Prothonotary Warbler                        Morris Island, Chatham          August 9

Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow           Plum Island                             October 19


The following species occur with some regularity in the state but were missed by the Club during 2003: Redhead, Least Bittern, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Sora Rail, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Connecticut Warbler.


The biggest trip list this year was Bill Drummond’s trip around Essex County, recording 123 species on May 17. In Bill’s notes he states “although the numbers look high, it was actually a poor birding day with the only real highlight being a Golden-winged Warbler, a life bird for seven on the trip”. Hardly a poor day! Bill recorded 11 species of waterfowl which included several late Buffleheads, seven species of raptors, 17 different shorebirds and 20 species of warblers. Glenn d’Entremont’s trip around Norfolk County on May 10 was the next best in terms of numbers with 107 species found. The most species for the least amount of travel was a trip totally within the town of Wellfleet that recorded a total of 89 species on September 14. In the following table, you can see which trip in each month recorded the most species; this may help in planning for a big year of birding.


Date                Location                                  #Species          Leader

Jan. 19             Barnstable-Marshfield            65                    Tom Prince

Feb. 9              Scituate-Plymouth                  66                    Glenn d’Entremont

March 26         Cape Ann                                 56                    John Nelson

April 13           Boxford-Newburyport            56                    Bill Drummond

May 17            Newburyport-Boxford            123                  Bill Drummond

June 21            Quabbin to Essex                    84                    Laura de la Flor

July 7               Plum Island                             59                    Tom Young

Aug 31             Newburyport area                  67                    Bill Drummond

Sept 14            Wellfleet                                 89                    Bob Stymeist

Oct 19             Newburyport area                  67                    Bill Drummond

Nov 15             Bourne-Orleans                      76                    Bob Stymeist

Dec 14             Newburyport-Salisbury          41                    Steve Grinley


Weather-wise, the year 2003 was cold and quite sunny with much more than normal precipitation. In the Boston area the temperature averaged 50.2 degrees, 1.4 below normal. This was 2. 7 degrees colder than 2002 and made for the coldest year since 1992. A high of 93 degrees was recorded in Boston on June 27th, July 5th and 6th, and for a four-way tie on August 22nd. The low was 0 degrees on February 14th and 16th. Monthly departures from normal ranged from a minus 5.4 in January to a plus 2.0 in August. June and July were cool, making most of the summer quite comfortable. August was on the hot side, though temperatures reached 90 or better on just six days in Boston, which is half the average. Rainfall totaled 44.4 7 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 October with 6.20 inches and the driest month was January with 1.81 inches. Days with measurable amounts were 139, 15 days over the normal number. Snowfall in Boston totaled 77.7 inches, 35.7 inches more than the past average and 53.2 inches more than 2002.The most in any 24-hour period was 27.6 inches, which came on President’s Day Weekend, February 17-18th. The year will long be remembered for this record-breaking storm, as well as another record-breaking early season snowfall of 16.9 inches on December 5-7th. The sunniest month was July ·at 60% sunshine the dreariest month was unfortunately May with only 35% sunshine.


The Club recorded nearly 82% of all the birds that were noted during 2003-pretty impressive! A total of at least 362 species, one more than last year, was observed and reported by birders across the state during 2003. Other noteworthy species seen during the year were: Greater White-fronted Goose, Barnacle Goose, Pacific Loon, Western Grebe, Yellow-nosed Albatross,

White-faced Storm-Petrel, Red-billed Tropicbird, both White and Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebird, Reddish Egret, White and White-faced Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Mississippi Kite, Swainson’s Hawk, Wilson’s Plover, American Avocet, Red-necked Stint, South Polar Skua, Sabine’s Gull, Bridled Tern, Sooty Tern, Rufous Hummingbird, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Say’s Phoebe, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Townsend’s Solitaire, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Painted Bunting, Henslow’s Sparrow and Western Meadowlark.



John Hoye, Wayland                           305

Oakes Spalding, Cambridge                304

Herman D’Entremont, Somerville      302

Audrey McCarthy, Wayland               301

Chris Floyd, Lexington                         280

Bob Stymeist, Watertown                  277

Glenn d’Entremont, Stoughton          276

Fay Vale, Wakefield                            275

Linda Ferraresso, Watertown             271

Fred Bouchard, Brookline                   252

Ida Giriunas, Reading                          238

Shane Hunt, Brookline                        229

Laura de la Flor, Salem                       228

Adams Little, Cambridge                    169

Shawn Carey, Braintree                      64*

*Species photographed in Massachusetts, and not just ID photos but “real” photos of each bird.