2014 STATISTICAL AND YEAR END REPORT
By Robert H. Stymeist, Statistician
During 2014, the Brookline Bird Club listed 301 species of birds on 218 reported trips.. A total of 259trips were scheduled, sixteen trips were cancelled by weather and 27 trips unfortunately went unreported. In Massachusetts the Club listed a total of 290 species, the additional 11 birds seen out of state were: Ring-necked Pheasant and Bicknell’s Thrush in Vermont, Spruce Grouse, Northern Goshawk, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Atlantic Puffin, Arctic Tern and Red Crossbill from Maine and Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay and Boreal Chickadee from both Vermont and Maine. Overall 2014 was about average in terms of the number of trips scheduled and a little less in the number of birds reported. Last year the Club celebrated its 100thyear anniversary with an all-out effort for a big year, a total of 298 trips were scheduled with 19 impromptu trips added in search of rarities for a total of 317 trips, ironically the same number of species recorded in Massachusetts during 2013. In 2014 there were 45 all day, 148 morning, 15 afternoon or evening, six pelagic and four weekend trips. There were two impromptu trips organized one to Cuttyhunk Island and one overnight pelagic.
One new species, a Red-billed Tropicbird was added to the overall Brookline Bird Club list of birds, this sighting on the August Hydrographer Canyon trip was just the sixth record for Massachusetts. The Club recorded only its second Fork-tailed Flycatcher on May 14 at Mount Auburn Cemetery, the only other record was on Bill Drummond’s 1994 big May Day trip when he extended his Plum Island trip to Kittery Point Maine.
Some of the more unusual species noted in 2014 included: Ross’s Goose and Cackling Goose in Ipswich, a Tri-colored Heron, a Gull-billed Tern and a Summer Tanager all from Plum Island., and the Extreme pelagic trips added in addition to the tropicbird the only sightings of White-faced, Leach’s and Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, Audubon’s Shearwater and South Polar Skua.
The Club visited Essex County most often, with a total of 74 trips (39 to Newburyport and Plum Island area, 26 to Cape Ann as well trips to Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, three trips to Ipswich, and three to Nahant and visits to Boxford, Manchester and Topsfield). The trips in Essex County accounted for 224 species, which is 77% of all the birds reported on Club trips. Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge was second with 35 trips totaling 110 species including 24 species of warblers. There were 27 trips scheduled in the Metropolitan Boston area. Twenty-eight trips to Cape Cod and the South Shore which recorded 214 species. There were 15 trips in the Sudbury River Valley area, which includes Great Meadows NWR, Oxbow NWR, and the Assabet NWR and ten trips to areas in both central and western Massachusetts. There were seven pelagic trips scheduled for a combined total of 71 species including ten species that were not found anywhere else but on the high seas.
Missing from the Club list of routinely seen species in 2014 were: Cattle Egret, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Black Vulture, Marbled Godwit, Stilt Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, Common Nighthawk, Connecticut and Cerulean warblers, Dickcissel and Seaside Sparrow. Five other species, Ring-necked Pheasant, Northern Goshawk, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Arctic Tern and Red Crossbill were not seen on any Massachusetts trip but were noted from Vermont and Maine
Out-of-state trips included weekend trips to the Machias area and to the Rangeley Lakes region in Maine, and a weekend trip criss-crossing the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The combined total number of species on the Maine trips was 149 and included some boreal birds such as Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, and Boreal Chickadee. Ida Giriunas led her 31st annual Club trip to the Machias area which includes the famous Machias Seal Island and recorded over 2000 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. A weekend trip to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont was new this year after a hiatus of 29 years, for several years up until 1985 John Kennedy led our members to the famous Moose Bog. This year we recorded 108 species including the Clubs only Bicknell’s Thrush and Ring-necked Pheasants. The Vermont trip logged in 18 different warblers, several Yellow-bellied Flycatchers and great looks at a close Moose. There was just one trip scheduled in New Hampshire, on November 2 Steve and Jane Mirick led their annual early winter trip along the coast, though the weather was miserable they found a very late Laughing Gull among the 38 species that day.
Highlights from the 2014 Brookline Bird Club Year
Laura de la Flor and Mark Burns as always opened up the start of 2014 by leading their 18th annual New Year’s Day birding trip. Thirty-five members bundled up for a cold New Years Day of birding; after a welcoming toast of sparkling apple cider the group got down to birding and tallied a nice list of 62 species to start off the year. A Ross’s Goose that was discovered in Ipswich on Christmas Day 2013 was the Club’s first target, lucky for us the goose was not seen after the New Year. Other highlights included a Cackling Goose, a Black-headed Gull, eight Snowy Owls and an adult Red-headed Woodpecker. January 2014 was the coldest in ten years with several big snowstorms yet our Club leaders recorded 88 species by the end of the month! The annual Owl Prowl was a victim of the snow and had to be cancelled as well as four other scheduled trips.
On February 9, Glenn d’Entremont led a trip throughout the south shore starting in Scituate with snow falling; they ended up in Middleboro with a total of 77 species. Highlights included a drake Barrow’s Goldeneye, 3 Snowy and five Short-eared owls and 13 Eastern Meadowlarks. In March the Club scheduled Woodcock walks in Stoughton, Reading and in the Blue Hills as well as the annual Massachusetts Waterfowl Prowl, this year just on Cape Cod.
The 2014 Winter Meeting of the Club was on Friday February 28 at the Bedford Middle School, nearly 200 members packed the school auditorium to hear Norman Smith talk about his research on Snowy and Saw-whet Owls, preceding the meeting Shawn Carey presented his latest documentary on migrating shorebirds. After the talk Norman walked around the audience with a Snowy Owl. The Spring Meeting at the Harvard Museum of Natural History on April 11 featured our own Neil Hayward who presented a fascinating and humorous account of his “Accidental Big Year”; Neil tallied an amazing 750 year birds during 2013. The guest speaker at the fall lecture meeting at Harvard on October 24 was Andrew Vitz, the Massachusetts State Ornithologist who discussed Bird Conservation in the state focusing on Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons and Piping Plovers.
Seven pelagic trips were scheduled and recorded 71 species; the Extreme Pelagic trips are the most exciting. The July trip recorded eight Band-rumped Storm-Petrels and a small shearwater that may have been Barolo ‘s but the photos proved inconclusive. The August trip logged in 100 Audubon’s Shearwaters, the highest number for any effort in Massachusetts and the first Club record of Red-billed Tropicbird, to top it off the group enjoyed excellent looks at a Whale Shark and a Tiger Shark. The November trip to Nantucket Shoals witnessed an estimated 100, 000 Long-tailed Ducks, 60,000 Common Eider feeding in the rips off Monomoy
Summer trips are highlighted by evening trips to Plum Island searching for early migrating shorebirds and flocks of herons flying to roost. On July 14 on Plum the Club recorded the onlyAmerican Avocet and other noteworthy shorebirds included a Baird’s Sandpiper and the only Hudsonian Godwit on August 21. A Gull-billed Tern was found on Jonathan Center’s Plum Island trip on August 30. Labor Day Weekend is the traditional time for Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Long-billed Dowitcher, the Club recorded the Buffy but dipped on the dowitcher.
The fall migration starts off with a two day Cape Cod Blitz hitting the hot spots on the outer Cape from Wellfleet to Provincetown, a total of 103 species were seen including six Philadelphia Vireos, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and “thousands” of seabirds noted offshore. New this year was a Wednesday morning survey of Danehy Park in Cambridge led by Karsten Hartel and co-sponsored with the Menotomy Bird Club; they listed the only Nelson’s Sparrow of the year. October brings the sparrows and frequent visits to community gardens in Wayland and Newton as wells as Cumberland Farms and Bolton Flats
November and December finds our members visiting Cape Ann with six trips and six trips to the Plum Island Newburyport area. On November 8, Ida had a bright and beautiful November day with the first Snowy Owl of the season, also a Barred Owl and Rough-legged Hawks.
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
A total of 62 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 and Glenn d’Entremont tied for the most with 20 trips followed by Linda Ferraresso with 14 then Jonathan Center and Eddie Giles with 12, . Bill Drummond, Bob Petersen and Peter Van Demark each led 10 trips. Another 11 dedicated leaders accounted for six or more trips each.
The biggest trip list this year was Glenn d’Entremont’s South Shore Century Run trip, recording 121 species on May 10, this trip, entirely in locations in Plymouth County, recorded the Club’s only Worm-eating Warbler and Vesper Sparrows seen in Massachusetts in 2014.
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 1 Essex County 62 species Laura de la Flor, leader
February 9 Scituate-Plymouth 77 species Glenn d’Entremont, leader
March 16 Waterfowl Prowl 44 species Eddie Giles, leader
April 27 Suffolk County 76 species Bob Stymeist, leader
May 10 South Shore Century Run 121 species Glenn d’Entremont, leader
June 21 Mt Greylock area 72 species Glenn d’Entremont, leader
July 26 Plymouth Beach 49 species Glenn d’Entremont, leader
August 21 Plum Island 60 species Bill Drummond, leader
September 13 Wellfleet 87 species Bob Stymeist, leader
October 4 Outer Cape Cod 87 species Glenn d’Entremont, leader
November 5 Boston 51 species Bob Stymeist, leader
December 17 Cape Ann 40 species Neil Hayward, leader
The Club recorded nearly 79 % of all the birds that were noted during 2014-pretty impressive! A total of at least 369 species were observed and reported by birders across the state during 2014. There were no new birds added to the official state list, but some highlights included just the second record of Pacific Golden Plover, the third record of Common Ringed Plover and the fourth record of Cassin’s Kingbird.
Weather-wise 2014 was the warmest year world-wide on record, ironically of the large inhabited land areas, only the eastern half of the United States recorded below average temperatures in 2014, a mirror image of the unusual heat in the west. January and February saw record snowfall, nearly 45 inches in Boston alone. March continued with cold temperatures, in the first week of spring Cape Cod was hit with a blizzard with gusts reaching 83 mph on Nantucket, which also recorded the most March snowfall ever with 9.5 inches! April finally saw some warm temperatures and May was nearly perfect for birding- no extreme heat, good southwest winds and little rain. June was a great month for breeding birds with no cold spells and very little rain. July saw the first hurricane of the season when Arthur had winds of over 80 mph. September and October saw several powerful thunder storms including a nor’easter in late October caused a great deal of coastal damage. November brought us the first major snowstorm with some areas receiving up to 16 inches the day before Thanksgiving. December was warmer than average and most Christmas Bird Counts experienced good weather.