Brookline Bird Club

2017 Statistical and Year-End Report

By Sabrina Hepburn, Club Statistician

Beginning in 2016, the Brookline Bird Club made a significant shift in how we keep records and club trip reports. instead of mailing paper copies of field cards to trip leaders, to be completed and mailed back to the Statistician after each trip, the BBC started asking leaders to enter their checklists into eBird, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s enormous global citizen science project, and to share those checklists with the club’s account, Brookline Bird Club. This challenge has produced both some excellent benefits and some significant challenges. Positive aspects have been that eBird provides a streamlined wav to enter trips immediately, updates the club records and statistics in real time as checklists are shared, is easily downloadable to Excel, significantly reduces costs and paper use, and allows the BBC to contribute its sightings to an important database used for science and conservation research. Challenges have included needing more time to enter the multiple checklists that need to be submitted on trips visiting many locations or that have many incidental sightings along the road, training trip leaders who are not already using eBird on how to use it, and adoption of the new system by trip leaders in general (although trip leaders may still request a hardcopy checklist if they do not wish to use eBird).

In 2017, the BBC recorded a total of 275 species on 200 eBird checklists. This is the same number recorded in 2016. In Massachusetts, the club recorded 269 species on 192 checklists. This is a bit lower than the average prior to the move to eBird, mostly due to some reduction in the reporting of trips since the switch. The additional five species seen out-of-state were Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Gray Jay, Red Crossbill, and White-winged Crossbill, all in Maine. Unfortunately, due to a bad string of luck with adverse weather conditions, none of the dedicated BBC pelagic trips were able to run in 2017, which resulted in a notable lack of some of the less common pelagic species that the club usually records during the year.

The most notable species recorded on a BBC trip in 2017 was probably the continuing Little Stint on Morris Island, recorded on Glenn d’Entremont’s Cape Cod Shorebirds trip on August 19. As the next runner-up, a continuing female Rufous Hummingbird in Hingham was spotted on November 25 on Glenn’s leader’s choice trip south of Boston. Other species easily missed that made it on the club’s list this year included Eurasian Wigeon on Cape Cod on the Annual Waterfowl Prowl, Sora at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Western Sandpiper on Plymouth Beach, Long-billed Dowitcher, Nelson’s Sparrow, Connecticut Warbler, and Arctic Tern at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, White -eyed Vireo at Allen’s Pond Sanctuary, Red-headed Woodpecker at Appleton Farms, Prothonotary Warbler at Fresh Pond in Cambridge, and Summer Tanager at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Unsurprisingly, the location with the most trips was again Mount Auburn Cemetery in Watertown and Cambridge, with 44 trips. Although only 20 of these trips were reported, 104 species were recorded there this year. The next most frequently visited location was Newburyport, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Plum Island, and vicinity, with more than 30 trips.

The highest number of participants was recorded on Jason Forbes’s May 7 trip to Mount Auburn Cemetery during the height of migration, with 30 people. The next most popular trips reported were to Boston Public Garden on May 4 and the woodcock walk at Alewife Reservation in Cambridge on March 30, with 26 and 20 participants, respectively. Leaders with over 10 trips throughout the year include Dave Williams, Glenn d’Entremont, Ida Giriunas, Linda Ferraresso, and Nickilas Paulson.

The following table shows the trips reporting the most species by month:

Date Location Count Leader 1/21 /17 Cape Ann 48 species Linda Ferraresso

  • 2/25/17 Annual MASS Waterfowl Prowl 49 species Eddie Giles
  • 3/4/17 South Shore 49 species Glenn d’Entremont
  • 4/30/17 Mt. Auburn Cemetery 54 species Zack Weber
  • 5/6/17 South Shore Century Run 104 species Glenn d’Entremont
  • 6/10/17 Westborough WMA 74 species Nickilas Paulson
  • 712/17 Quabbin Reservoir 58 species Glenn d’Entremont
  • 8112/17 Plum Island 64 species Sabrina Hepburn
  • 9/10/17 Plum Island 63 species Dave Williams
  • 10/7117 Outer Cape Cod 65 species Glenn d’Entremont
  • 11/25/17 Leader’s Choice South of Boston – 54 species Glenn d’Entremont
  • 12/13/17 Plum Island 40 species Zack Weber

As usual, the BBC held three club meetings with guest speakers throughout the year. The first was the winter meeting at John Glenn Middle School in Bedford. on February 10, with invited guest speaker Steve Arena presenting “Massachusetts March Birds,” an audio-visual-rich presentation of the sights and sounds deep in Massachusetts marshes. Although the weather threatened snow, the meeting went on as scheduled. The Annual Meeting on April 28 at the Geological Lecture Hall at Harvard University Cambridge featured the contributions that individuals and small groups can have through local community birding projects, with two paired topics: “The Great Meadows Survey Team-Building a Community through Birding” presented by Will Martens and Kathy Dia, and “Birding with Ludlow: The Concord Birds Project” presented by David Swain. For the final meeting of the year, held at the Reading Public Library on the afternoon of October 21, the club invited Lee Attix with the Biodiversity Research Institute in Portland, Maine, to present “Restore the Call: A Bold Initiative to Aid Loon Recovery in Massachusetts.”