Eastern Massachusetts Bird Sightings — Friday, April 16, 2021

April 16, 2021

Unequivocally the most exciting bird sighting this week was a European Golden-Plover first discovered on Duxbury Beach on April 4th. By the time its positive identity was unraveled early during the week of April 12th, a number of birders quickly began to converge on the beach by mid-week to hopefully see the rare visitor.

With only about five previous records for the United States, not including a couple in Alaska, this represents a most unusual occurrence. Despite the fact that varying numbers occur with some regularity in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, it’s appearance in the United States is most notable. A common breeder in Iceland (and locally in eastern Greenland) across Northern Europe to the tundra areas of central Russia. The species winters from Western Europe south to Northern Africa and east to Southwest Asia.

It's appearances in Atlantic Canada typically occur from mid-April to mid-May following strong northeasterly winds that occasionally deflect migrants bound for Iceland to the remote shores of eastern Newfoundland. It is likely that conditions similar to these accounted for the presence of this most unusual visitor on our shores. The plover was still present on Duxbury Beach as recently as Thursday, April 15.

Islands & Cape Cod: Miscellaneous reports included a Dovekie at Cuttyhunk Island, 6 Northern Shovelers, an Upland Sandpiper, and a late Snow Bunting at Nantucket, and a continuing Eared Grebe at Marblehead. On Cape Cod there was a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, a Short-eared Owl at Sandy Neck, a Northern Shrike at the Crane Wildlife Area in Falmouth, and a Louisiana Waterthrush at Santuit Pond in Mashpee.
Reports from the South Shore included an Eared Grebe and a King Eider at Hull, and 4 Sandhill Cranes at Burrage Pond in Hanson.

South of Boston: Hardly to be outdone by the European Golden-Plover, a Great-tailed Grackle (another first state record) was discovered at Nelson's Field in Plymouth on April 10th. Resembling a Common Grackle on steroids, this 18-inch grackle is common from central California east to southwestern Louisiana, and north to the Middle Plains states, but it increasingly seems to wander north of it range in the Southwest. This is one of very few eastern U.S. occurrences however.

Greater Boston: There were 4 Least Terns sighted in Winthrop, the first report of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in Medway, Yellow Warblers at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge and the Stony Brook Reservation in West Roxbury, where there was also a Louisiana Waterthrush, a Chimney Swift, and a Gray Catbird in Belmont, and an Orchard Oriole in Needham.

North Shore: Essex County highlights included an Eared Grebe at Marblehead, a Golden Eagle at Crane Pond Wildlife Management Area in Groveland, a Lesser Yellowlegs at Rough Meadows in Topsfield, 25 American Pipits in Newburyport, and 15 Red Crossbills at Crane’s Beach in Ipswich.

Central MA: Highlights in Worcester County featured a Red-headed Woodpecker at Sibley Farm in Spencer, 4 Sandhill Cranes and a Green Heron at the Bolton Flats, and a number of Evening Grosbeak reports from Royalston, High Ridge Wildlife Management Area in Westminster, and Cass Meadow Wildlife Management Area in Athol.

Western MA: There continue to be many Red Crossbills frequenting the Montague Plains Wildlife Area in Monague, a Solitary Sandpiper in Hadley, and a Sandhill Crane in Worthington.

And while you’re birding, don’t fail to listen to the trilled calls of Common Toads and the snoring calls of Pickerel Frogs, and be sure to notice blooming Coltsfoot along gravely roadsides and the delicate blossoms of Hepatica on dry wooded slopes before they go by.

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