By Robert H. Stymeist, Statistician

During 2010, the Brookline Bird Club listed 298 species of birds on 181 reported trips, seven less than last year. A total of 222trips were scheduled, 11trips less than last year and 68 trips less than the all time high number of 290 in 2000. There were 50 all day, 143 mornings, 23 afternoons or evening, 4 pelagic and three weekend trips. There was one impromptu trip that was highly successful; on November 26 Bill Drummond organized a “wild goose chase”. The Sudbury River Valley was one very hot birding location with birders from across the country flocking to our state in search of both Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese.  Bill led 13 members and found the Club’s first Barnacle Goose and the first Pink-footed Goose for the Club in Massachusetts (Bill led an impromptu trip to Newport Rhode Island for the Pink-footed Goose in 2007). That same trip recorded the only Snow Goose seen on Club trips in 2010. Forty-one trips were not reported, 17 were cancelled by weather and 24 went unreported. In Massachusetts the Club listed a total of 288 species, five less than last year on 175 reported trips. To put this in perspective, birders throughout the state recorded a total of 367 species during the year, thus the BBC total of 288 is 78% of all the species seen in 2010!

One new species was added to the overall Brookline Bird Club list of birds, a BLACK RAIL that was discovered on May 31and was heard at the North Pool until at least June 21and was added to the BBC Club list on Laura de la Flor’s Summer Solstice Saunter June 19. The Pink-footed Goose and Barnacle Goose mentioned above were the first reported on a BBC Massachusetts list.

Missing from the Club list in 2010 was: Northern Bobwhite, Tricolored Heron, Common Moorhen, Upland Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Cerulean Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush and Connecticut Warbler. Two other species, Ruffed Grouse and Vesper Sparrow were not seen on any Massachusetts trip but were recorded in Maine. The Golden-winged Warbler again was missed despite a detour to Nahant on Bill Drummond’s big May Day trip. The trip to Nahant took over an hour to get there in traffic and the group waited for nearly four hours but missed it- now that’s dedication!

The Club visited Essex County most often, with a total of 76 trips (34 to Newburyport and Plum Island area, 27 to Cape Ann as well as five trips to Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, three trips each to Ipswich and Nahant and visits to Boxford, Manchester and Salem). The trips in Essex County accounted for 219 species which is 76% of all the birds reported on Club trips. Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge was second with 31 trips, 3 more than last year. There were also scheduled 24 trips in the Metropolitan Boston area, 14 trips each on Cape Cod and the South Shore and Sudbury River Valley areas, which included Great Meadows NWR, Oxbow NWR, the Assabet NWR and just three trips to areas in western Massachusetts, six less than last year. There were four pelagic trips scheduled

Out-of-state trips included a weekend trip to the Machias area and to the Highland Plantation and Rangeley Lakes region in Maine, as well as a Summer Solstice Saunter to Maine’s southern coast. The combined total number of species on the Maine trips was 152 and included some boreal birds such as Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay and Boreal Chickadee. Ida Giriunas led her 29thannual Club trip to the Machias area which includes the famous Machias Seal Island and recorded over 4000 Atlantic Puffins!  Ida and Eddie Giles have been leading these great trips for many years affording Club members the opportunity to see some northern forest and ocean birds that don’t nest in Massachusetts. There were two trips scheduled in New Hampshire; on June 12 Chris Ciccone led 6 members in search of Bicknell’s Thrush which was successful with four individuals seen and on November 7 Steve and Jane Mirick led their annual early winter trip along the coast, 22 members not only shared Steve’s favorite birding spots in New Hampshire but really enjoyed the last stop in Salisbury Massachusetts where a Northern Saw-whet Owl was found.

The Massachusetts Audubon Society (MAS) Checklist (07/2010) now includes most of 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 as review species that the records committee is especially interested in as well as some species that are seen less than annual in occurrence.

Pink-footed Goose                          Sudbury               November 26

Barnacle Goose                               Acton                   November 26

White-faced Storm-Petrel            Hydrographer          August 28

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel         Hydrographer          August 28

BLACK RAIL                                   Plum Island              June 19

Great Skua                                       Nantucket Shoals    August 28

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher              Plum Island             August 8

SAGE THRASHER                        Salisbury                 January 16


Highlights from the 2010 Brookline Bird Club Year

The Spring Meeting at the Harvard Museum of Natural History on April 16 featured Josh Rose, who worked at the World Birding Center at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Texas and who shared with us photos of birds like Green Jays and why this area of Texas is one of the top birding destinations in the country. The fall lecture meeting at Harvard featured our own member, Shawn Carey who presented a grim first-hand account with images and video of the

Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Shawn was joined by Drew Wheelan who works with the American Birding Association and was their representative in helping with the clean-up.

Laura de la Flor and Mark Burns opened up the start of 2010 by leading their 15th annual New Year’s Day birding trip.

Thirty members enjoyed a perfect New Years Day of birding; the temperature reached a balmy 55 by afternoon. After a welcoming toast of sparkling apple cider the group got down to birding and tallied a nice list of 51 species to start off the year.

Eddie Giles and Mark Burns led the 11thAnnual Owl Prowl on January 9. The trip is an attempt to find by sight or sound all eight species of owls wintering in the state.  The group found nine individual owls of five species .Ten members joined Jonathan Center on January 16 in Salisbury that found only the SECOND Sage Thrasher on a Club trip.

Eddie teamed up with Mary Kelleher on March 13 to lead the Club’s third Waterfowl Prowl. Like the owl prowl, the intent is to locate as many of the 30 species of ducks in one day on Massachusetts ponds .The leaders tallied 20 species of ducks including Eurasian Wigeon, Redhead and King Eider. On March 20 Laura and Mark led members on a Vernal Equinox trip from upper Cape Cod to Cumberland Farms, the temperature reached a very mild 72 degrees and the day ended with the courtship flight of the woodcock. On May 1 eight club members birded by bicycle up and down Plum Island, the temperature was ideal with abundant sunshine and no wind, the group tallied 77 species including 12 warbler species.

The Club scheduled Woodcock walks in Stoughton, Reading, and the Blue Hills. The Club continued co-sponsoring the TASL (Take a Second Look) surveys of the waterfowl of Boston Harbor and a Dawn Heron Census at Belle Isle Marsh in East Boston. Ongoing was a series of mid-week trips on Cape Ann in search for alcids led by Barbara Volkle Breeding Bird Surveys were conducted in Woburn, and in Moose Brook Valley, Hardwick. A weekend Campout at Wompatuck State Park had to be cancelled because of heavy rain, but three other trips there in the spring added some nice birds: American Bittern, Little Blue Heron, (both big surprises for the area) Yellow-throated Vireo and Worm-eating warblers. Glenn d’Entremont led the weekend jaunt out in the Berkshires birding Mount Greylock, where the Club recorded its only Black Vulture in Massachusetts for the year on Saturday and October Mountain on Sunday.

Of the four pelagic trips scheduled only one was cancelled because of weather and high seas. The first trip on June 26 was another great success more so with the mammals than the birds. Two very rare Blue Whales, three Sperm Whales over 450 Short-beaked Common Dolphin and a very rare Green Sea Turtle were among the spectacular marine mammals. Four species of shearwater and 137 Leach’s Storm-Petrels gave great looks as they fed on the chum that was thrown to them. The August pelagic was nothing short of phenomenal, 22 White-faced Storm-Petrels was a record for the western Atlantic, as many as ten Band-rumped Storm-Petrels were recorded, a Great Skua gave great views on Nantucket shoals, while another skua eluded identification. Land birds included a Baird’s Sandpiper, 48 Hudsonian Godwits and a Red-headed Woodpecker, the only one seen on a 2010 BBC trip! On November 13 the final extreme pelagic saw amazing concentrations of birds 350,000 Common Eider, 16,750 White-winged Scoter, 2,800 Great Shearwaters, 45 Northern Fulmars and a Great Skua

Summer trips are highlighted by evening trips to Plum Island searching for early migrating shorebirds and flocks of herons flying to roost. On August 8 the Club added Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and on August 18 and adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron was found on the refuge. Twelve members joined Laura and Mark on the annual Hawaiian Shirt Shorebird Safari to South beach, highlights were 16 shorebirds species including the only Marbled Godwits seen in 2010. The fall migration starts off with a three day Cape Cod Blitz hitting the hot spots on the outer Cape from Chatham to Provincetown, a total of 108 species were seen including 8 Yellow-crowned Night Herons, a Baird’s Sandpiper, four Philadelphia Vireos and the only Hooded Warbler of the year. October brings the sparrows and frequent visits to community gardens in Wayland, Newton and Bolton Flats.

November finds our members visiting Cape Ann with six trips, a trip to Quabbin on November 20th was a great success for the leader and just one participant, and they got to see a record number of 19 Tundra Swans and 36 Wild Turkeys. Finally on November 26 Bill Drummond led an impromptu trip in search of some rare geese that were in the Sudbury River Valley. Thirteen members met Bill at the Riverside T station and were successfully in finding both the Pink-footed and Barnacle Goose, both new Massachusetts birds for the BBC overall list.

At the end of the year the Club suspends scheduled trips so that our members can participate in the Christmas Bird Counts (CBC)., there are 34 count circles in Massachusetts  and  again this year like 2009 stormy weather forced some counts to reschedule.

A total of 57 leaders guided our members around the state throughout the year. All of our dedicated leaders deserve a special thank-you including several leaders that deserve recognition for not only many years of leading but the number of trips each year they lead, Ida Giriunas, led the most with 16 trips followed by Jonathan Center with 13 then Bill Drummond, Glenn d’Entremont and Sylvia Martin with12 trips, Laura de la Flor, Linda Ferraresso and Bob Stymeist each led 10. Another 12 dedicated leaders accounted for five or more trips each

The biggest trip list this year was Glenn d’Entremont’s South Shore Century Run trip, recording 114 species on May 8, surpassing  the usual late May trip on Plum Island  and vicinity led by Bill Drummond who has  in the past always topped the list.


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.

January 9                      Westport                                58 species          Bob Stymeist, leader

February 11                   Scituate-Plymouth               72 species          Glenn d’Entremont, leader

March 20                       Outer Cape Cod                   59 species           Laura de la Flor, leader

April 25                          Boston                                    73 species          Bob Stymeist, leader

May 8                             South Shore Century Run 114 species         Glenn d’Entremont, leader

June 20                          October Mountain              73 species           Glenn d’Entremont, leader

July 19                            Plum Island                         68 species          Tom Young, leader

August 28                      Marshfield-Middleboro     72 species          Glenn d’Entremont, leader

September 11                Wellfleet                                83 species          Bob Stymeist, leader

October 16                     Newburyport-PI                  69 species          Tom Young, leader

November 6                  Outer Cape Cod                   86 species          Laura de la Flor, leader

December 17                 Cape Ann                               36 species          Barbara Volkle, leader


The Club recorded nearly 81% of all the birds that were noted during 2010-pretty impressive! A total of at least 367 species were observed and reported by birders across the state during 2010. There were no new birds added to the official state list. Impressive species seen during the year not recorded on BBC trip lists were: Ross’ Goose, Eared Grebe, White-faced Ibis, Swallow-tailed and Mississippi kites, Purple Gallinule, Wilson’s Plover, Common Ringed Plover,  Black-necked Stilt, Bar-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Stint, Ivory Gull, Slaty-backed Gull White-winged Dove, Rufous  and Allen’s Hummingbird, Tropical Kingbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Townsend’s Solitaire, Spotted Towhee LeConte’s Sparrow, Western Tanager, Painted Bunting and Common Chaffinch.

Weather wise 2010 was 2.2 degrees warmer than normal with above average temperatures being recorded in all of the first ten months, in 2009 only four months recorded above normal readings. In November and December the average was just below the norm, the biggest weather event occurred just after Christmas when a blizzard left 18.2 inches of snow in Boston and caused severe damage along the coast with Scituate bearing the brunt of the northeast gales. The summer was a sizzler, a total of 25 days had temperatures of 90 degrees or higher with 100 noted in Boston on July 6, in 2009 there were just 9 days that reached the 90 degree mark.


2010 Annual lists

Without a doubt the best bird of the year is one that nobody saw- the Black Rail, it received the most votes not only because of its rareness but because of the experience of just being in its presence. Doug Chickering wrote “I don’t think I have ever seen so many birders so delighted NOT seeing a bird-that great phantom of birding-the Black Rail. I still get a quiet pleasure when I recall that ki-ki-krrr drifting over to us in the gathering darkness from the North Pool on Plum Island”

Another described the Black Rail as a big adventure “Waiting along the road on the Parker River refuge for the Black Rail to call, the  mosquitoes were vicious, comradely was a treat, and just as the ‘federale’ were chasing us out, the bird called!”

The great assembly of geese in the Concord area was among the top favorites.  A Pink-footed Goose, only the third state record as well as a very rare Barnacle Goose played hide and seek moving from one field to the next frustrating birders who made numerous trips to find them. One observer commented on one occasion when birders were attempting to see the Pink-footed Goose in a far rear field by climbing trees and building make-shift elevated platforms and then only managing to see just the head and maybe the upper body. Another observer was pleased to see ALL eight species of geese that have ever been seen in the state during the year.

“The Purple Gallinule in Rockport on BIRDATHON day was a real treat.  We got to see it before the crowds started aggravating the neighbors.”

“My life looks at a Long-tailed Jaeger while on an Aquarium Whale Watch. It flew directly overhead and was no more than 100 feet away!”

Ida’s Extreme Pelagic trips to offshore waters provided great opportunities to see some of the rarer seabirds “Being on board to see an amazing 22 White-faced Storm Petrels, several Band-rumped Storm-Petrels and a Great Skua to boot”

“My favorite was the BBC boat trip to Nantucket Shoals, over 300,000 Common Eiders- that was a really amazing sight to see all those birds out there.” “Best birding experience: easily the November BBC pelagic and the thrilling experience of watching clouds of hundreds of thousands of eiders and scoters in Narragansett Sound. The great skua on the trip was anti-climatic.”

Weather related events made for some observers memorable moments “May 1 was the day to be out birding and Plum Island was the place to be- 98 species, 14 species of warblers most notably the Northern Waterthrushes singing loudly and seemingly everywhere on the island”

“The August storm that produced a fallout of Common and Black terns on inland lakes”

Personal moments such as a close encounter with a male Northern Goshawk, “as I walked down a trail I was warned I was getting too close to the nest with a couple of close fly-over’s forcing me to duck. Needless to say, it worked”.

“After years of missing Ruffed Grouse, a brief but very satisfying sight at Assabet NWR.”

“Focusing on a flying Northern Hawk Owl heading right toward me and feeling his wings as he passes right over my head.”

“Seeing over a thousand Broad-winged Hawks passing over Mt. Watatic in one day.”

“Watching a female Cerulean Warbler feeding three fledglings in a nest.”

“Having a Common Chaffinch in my yard every day for two and a half months.”

For one birder working on the breeding bird atlas really has taken away from chasing birds, but I have to admit that’s it’s really been fun to work on that project and I’ll really miss working on it when it’s over.

Other “best” birds included: Tundra Swan, Ivory Gull of Race Point, Gull-billed Tern, Thick-billed Murre,Long-eared Owl, the Red-headed Woodpecker in Dracut, Cave Swallow, Western Kingbird, Sedge Wren, Townsend’s Solitaire, Sage Thrasher, Blue Grosbeak, White-winged Crossbill, and Lincoln’s Sparrow, who for one observer was only his second in his home town in 25 years.

For the most part there was little to be disappointed in the birding year 2010, though there are those moments that can be quite frustrating especially when one puts an effort to see a reported bird. “The Greater White-fronted Goose eluded me after repeated trips to areas where it had been found even though I kept seeing the rarer Barnacle Goose four times and the Pink-footed Goose three times.”

“Missing the Tufted Duck in Waltham in an area that I bird almost every day except the one day it was found”

“Not seeing a Golden-winged Warbler for the fifth straight year”

“My most disappointing miss was a Dovekie that I never saw the on the boat trip and they were right there in front of me.”

“Missing a Pomarine Jaeger which is surprising considering I got TWO species of skua from land!”

“My biggest miss was Cape May Warbler, not sure when the last time I missed this considering the amount of time I spend in the field in the spring.”

Again some of the regular occurring birds were missed by the top listers: Ring-necked Pheasant, Northern Bobwhite, American Bittern, Tricolored Heron, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Broad-winged Hawk, Semipalmated and Pectoral sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitcher, Yellow-throated Vireo and the following warblers: Orange-crowned, Connecticut, Louisiana Waterthrush , Yellow-breasted Chat and Fox Sparrow.