Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Massachusetts Avian Records Committee report #16 review

Sooty Tern, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Aug 28, 2011

Sooty Tern, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Aug 28, 2011

Sooty Tern, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Aug 28, 2011

Sooty Tern, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Aug 28, 2011
Although the weather has been murky, cloudy, humid and at times quite rainy I did finally catch up with a Semipalmated Plover (species #207 for Hampshire county this year) this morning in the East Meadows).  Besides that highlight I have not been out much the last couple days.  This gives me an opportunity to get around to a post about the latest report from the Massachusetts Avian records Committee.

The Massachusetts Avian Records Committee annual report was recently published and I will review several of the records that pertain to western Massachusetts including several reports that I submitted.  I submitted a total of five reports this season including a Red Phalarope, Sooty Tern, Parasitic Jaeger, White-tailed Tropicbird and a large swift species.  The Sooty Tern and White-tailed tropicbird were both reviewed and accepted.  The other submissions have not yet been reviewed.

The Red Phalarope was submitted as it is an unusual bird inland.  The bird was originally discovered in the morning while I was at the boat cove near the spillway at Quabbin Park and I noticed a bird flying toward me.  I got the scope on the bird and watched it circle around the small cove and then fly out to the east over the trees.  I thought the bird had left the area heading back toward the ocean.  Phalarope close to shore at the administration building at Quabbin Park.  I immediately headed over and had the bird very close to shore and was able to obtain several photos.  The bird was in the same plumage seen earlier but I cannot say for certain it was the same bird.  There may have indeed been two individuals of this species at Quabbin that day.

The next three reports I submitted all came from a vigil at Winsor Dam during Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene covered in an earlier post here:
I, along with Marshall Iliff, Scott Surner and eventually several others, spent several hours here successfully waiting for storm blown birds to show up.  A great overview of the days sightings can be found in Marshall eBird list:

The birds I submitted for that day included a Parasitic Jaeger (there may have been two), a Sooty Tern (photographed) and a White-tailed Tropicbird that I spotted as it dropped into the reservoir over the hills of Quabbin Park.  Any one of these birds would have been spectacular in their own right but taken together (along with several other great birds) led to one of my best and most memorable days of birding I have ever had.  The Sooty Tern was one of only a handful of records for the county and the White tailed Tropicbird was a first county record and the only accepted record of a live bird inland in New England (there was a report that was not submitted on another tropicbird in Pittsfield on the same day).

A well put together overview of all the birds associated with Irene can be found at the following link:

My final submission was of a large swift species I saw at Covey WMA on September 1, 2011 in the days following the passage of Irene.  I’m not sure when this report will be reviewed but it will be interesting to see what conclusions the committee comes to on this sighting.
I have written about this sighting in detail on previous occasions, links below:


Beyond the reports I submitted the following six records from western Massachusetts were accepted by MARC in the latest report.
1. A Pink footed Goose (Turner's Falls, from October 26-28, 2011).  This bird was the 4th state record and the first for western Massachusetts.  I tried to catch up with this bird but it had left by the time I made the trip up there.

2 and 3. A couple of Cackling Geese were accepted during this report.  While this species was taken off the review list in 2011, records before that date are still reviewed.  Both individuals were found at Turners Falls.  James P. Smith found and photographed different singles there November 5, 2010 and November 19-24, 2010.

4.  A Slaty-backed Gull found in Turner’s Falls between February 20-27, 2009 was reviewed in this report.  A second-cycle bird was found by James Smith and seen by many, including myself, over its week long stay.
5. An old report of a Boreal Owl (from 1903) was reviewed and accepted.  One was collected by P. Marshall at New Salem, Franklin, January 1, 1903.

6.  A Black-headed Grosbeak at a feeder in Easthampton between November 17-December 3, 2010 was also accepted.  This bird was originally found by Nancy Steeper and reported to eBird.  As most records of Black-headed Grosbeaks in Massachusetts and the east have appeared at feeders in winter it pays to check your feeders often.

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