North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO2 2016

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

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Page 38 of 139

V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R 2 213 New England Dec, then over adjacent Barrington, Bristol, RI 20 Dec, and last at Westport, Fairfield, CT 21 Dec (TG, A. Hand), thus covering almost 200 km in short order. Nantucket got a good start to its 2015 list when a Brown Pelican flew by off the s. shore 1 Jan (VL). The only heron of note was a Cattle Egret on Block Is - land that continued from fall through at least 1 Jan. Black Vultures are commonplace in the sw. portion of the Region, but a count of 31 at a roost in Westport, Bristol, MA is unusually high for a site that far east. One was also well to the n. over Falmouth, Cumberland, ME 18 Dec (D. Hitchcox). A well-described Osprey near Thomaston, Litchfield, CT 28 Jan (TG) was in the same area as a previous wintering attempt. Equally unseasonable for the Nutmeg State was an ad. Broad-winged Hawk over Middleton, Middlesex 27 Feb (M. Szantyr). Unusual rails in Massachusetts included a Yellow Rail on Nan - tucket 28 Dec (T. Johansson) and an injured imm. Purple Gallinule at Weston, Middlesex 19 Jan that was found dead the next day (M. Grzenda). The only Sandhill Crane was at Ston - ington, CT during late Jan. SHOREBIRDS THROUGH ALCIDS Lingering shorebirds were scarce given the season's weather. Unusually far n. was a Spot - ted Sandpiper on the Peaks Island C.B.C., Cumberland, ME 14 Dec (D. Nickerson). This bird was trumped by another C.B.C. find even farther north: a Stilt Sandpiper at Penobscot, Hancock 14-19 Dec (Z. Holderby, C. Moseley et al.), a first winter record for New England. Two Marbled Godwits were at Orleans, Barnstable, MA 16-17 Jan (B. Lagasse, m.ob.). Two Wilson's Snipe were in Vermont: one at Rutland 27 Dec, the other at Windsor 15-20 Feb (P. Madden, m.ob.). A Mew Gull of the nominate subspecies was at Southbury, Fairfield, CT 3-8 Jan (N. Bonomo et al.), possibly the same individual that present during the previous winter. Another nominate Mew Gull was on Nantucket 28 Dec (JT). Thay - er's Gulls were in Rhode Island offshore waters 20 Dec (C. Pedros) and off Gloucester 27 Dec. A Forster's Tern at Orleans, Barnstable, MA 3 Jan (BN) was on the late side, but a Royal Tern on Nantucket 16 Jan (G. Andrews) represents a first winter record for the Region. After strong northerly winds, 137 Pomarine Jaegers were counted from two sites at the se. edge of Cape Cod Bay 7 Dec (BN). Good numbers of alcids moved southward into s. New England waters over the winter. Observers on fishing boats out of Rhode Is - land reported multiple Dovekies, double-digit Razorbills, and both species of murres (Thick- billed is uncommon s. of Cape Cod). Nor'easter conditions in Feb caused significant wrecks of Warbler persisting in good numbers and/or at unexpected locations. Winter finches staged a moderate incursion that was primarily limited to northern areas. Among the notable rarities of the season were first Regional winter records of Stilt Sandpiper and Royal Tern, a potential first Smith's Longspur for New Hampshire, and the usual collection of warblers and sparrows from the western portion of the continent. Abbreviations/locations: M.V. (Martha's Vineyard, MA), P.I. (Plum Island, Essex, MA), P'town (Provincetown, Barnstable, MA), Rock - port (Essex, MA). WATERFOWL THROUGH CRANES With many areas of freshwater frozen by mid- winter, waterfowl diversity was somewhat lower than the norm. There was the usual col - lection of Greater White-fronted and Cackling Geese, as well as the now-expected Northern Shovelers. Rare geese included a Pink-footed Goose in Lincoln, ME 24-28 Dec (m.ob.), which was rediscovered after a long absence 19 Jan. The season's only Ross's Goose was at Turner's Falls, Franklin, MA 20-26 Dec. Two Barnacle Geese were just s. of there at Northhampton, Hampshire 2-11 Jan, and it seems likely that these same birds joined Canada Geese in En - field, Hartford, CT at the end of the month (fide GH). Two Tundra Swans lingered into early Jan at a traditional site in Coventry, Kent, RI. The only Eurasian Teal was at Seaconk, Bristol, MA 23 Jan (J. Sweeny), but Tufted Ducks staged a mini-invasion. Males spent much of the season at Falmouth, Barnstable, MA and on Nantuck - et, with the former photographed in the same frame as an Egyptian Goose! In late Feb, females were at Bridgeport, Fairfield, CT (TG) and at Providence (S. Talbot). A Northern Common Eider (subspecies borealis) was unusually far s. at Beavertail Point, Newport, RI 15-17 Jan (S. Mitra, K. Mueller, ph.). Inland, an imm. male Harlequin Duck on Lake Champlain started in Grand Isle 18 Dec–25 Jan, moving to Charlotte, Addison 6-7 Feb as ice increased. As usual, a few Pacific Loons were reported, with documented individuals at Rye, Rocking - ham, NH, Rockport, and P'town. An Eared Grebe originally found at Mashpee, Barnstable, MA in Nov was relocated 20-23 Jan, while an - other was at Stonington, New London, CT 29 Dev (F. Mantlik, TG). Great Shearwaters in the Gulf of Maine included 4 off New Hampshire 4 Dec (E. Masterson) and a high count of 62 over Stellwagen Bank 16 Dec (m.ob.). Single-digit tallies were recorded from Cape Cod through 23 Dec, and most unseasonable was one off Nantucket 24 Jan (VL). A conspicuous American White Pelican was detected first at Swansea, Bristol, MA 19 Pamela Hunt –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– T he winter of 2014-2015 really began in late November, when a nor'easter dumped upwards of 50 cm of heavy wet snow across much of the Region and resulted in over 300,000 homes without power. The De - cember that followed was relatively warm and wet, although cold temperatures in November had already resulted in early freezing of many inland water bodies. January was cool and dry, but at the end of the month, another significant nor'easter ushered in the pattern that would remain through all of February. This storm, which packed hurricane-force winds in some coastal locations, deposited another 70-90 cm of snow on the same areas hit in November, and the entire island of Nantucket lost power 29 January. From then on through February, there was a snowstorm of some sort every 3-4 days. Many of these storms produced a foot or more of snow, particularly in coastal areas, where municipalities quickly ran out of places to put the stuff. By the time the month was over, Boston broke its record for overall Feb - ruary snowfall with 164.6 cm, which is more than it usually gets in an entire season. Boston also set a new record for overall winter snowfall (November through March) of 675.8 cm, and many other locations were at or near record status. In addition, February was bitterly cold (second coldest ever in all six states), and often windy, which in combination with all the snow made winter birding difficult in much of New England. The cold and snow seems to have had mixed effects on the Region's winter avifauna. Inland water birds were somewhat scarce as a result of early ice-up, and the heavy snow again resulted in increases in owl sightings in February. But several species of half-hardies seemed to weath - er the weather just fine, with species as diverse as Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sap - sucker, Hermit Thrush, and Orange-crowned

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