New England: Fall 2022

Fall 2022: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Greg Hanisek

Recommended citation:

Hanisek, G. 2022. Fall 2022: New England. <> North American Birds.

New England’s fall 2022 highlight reel features a second North American record (Cape Verde Shearwater), the United States’ first documented Eurasian Marsh Harrier, and an overnight pelagic trip with an unprecedented—and prodigious—number of tubenoses.

Sub-regional Compilers
L. Bevier (Maine), S. Williams (Massachusetts), S. Mirick (New Hampshire), R. Farrell (Rhode Island), K. MacFarland (Vermont).

Abbreviations L. Champlain (Vermont side of L. Champlain); Hammonasset (Hammonassett Beach SP, Madison, New Haven Co, CT); Manomet (Manomet Center for Conservation Studies, Plymouth, Plymouth Co, MA.); Monhegan (Monhegan Island., Lincoln Co, ME); Nantucket (Nantucket Island., MA); Plum I. (Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley, Ipswich, including Parker River NWR, Essex Co, MA).

Geese through Shorebirds

There were two Ross’s Geese in VT and one each in ME and NH. A Greater White-fronted Goose on 30 Sep in Ipswich, Essex Co was a record early date for Massachusetts. The only Barnacle Goose was in the Winthrop area, Suffolk Co, MA, on 25–28 Nov (Bob Stymiest et al., ph.). A Eurasian x American Wigeon hybrid was in Seekonk, Bristol Co, MA through much of November (C. Floyd et al.). The only Tufted Duck was on Nantucket on 17 Oct (Sky Cardell, ph.). Nantucket had 23 Redheads on 30 Nov, a state high count for the month in this century.

The only report of an Eared Grebe was 30 Nov at Quonochontaug Beach, Washington Co, RI (Bill Thompson et al., ph.). Rufous Hummingbirds were reported from all states but Vermont: four were in CT, three were in MA and one each in RI, NH and ME. Dates ranged from mid Aug to late Nov, with most of them long stayers. As expected, most were visiting feeders, but one was easily found for two consecutive days, 28–29 Aug, in natural habitat at Pistol Creek Park, Middletown, Middlesex Co, CT (Jannie Shapiro et al.). An Allen’s Hummingbird at a feeder in Beverly, Essex Co, MA, from 19 Oct was banded on 19 Nov (Anthony Hill et al., ph.). New England’s first Broad-tailed Hummingbird, a hatch year male banded and measured, was present at a feeder in Freeport, Cumberland Co, ME, from 5 Nov to 28 Nov (fide Derek Lovitch, Scott Weidensaul, m.ob., ph.).

King Rail remains a hard bird to find. This season produced just two records, a vocal individual 13 Aug at Sperry Pond in Middlebury, New Haven Co, CT (Greg Hanisek), and the other on 2–3 Sep at Stony Brook Conservation Area in Brewster, Barnstable Co, MA (Robert Thoren, Max Chalfin-Jacobs, ph.). A juvenile Purple Gallinule was in Longmeadow, Hampden Co, MA, from 21–28 Oct (Jean Langevin, Mark Kula, m.ob., ph.). Three Ruffs for the season were at Arnold Mills Reservoir, Providence Co, RI, on 7–9 Aug (Alan Kneidel et al., ph.); Quonochontaug Breachway, Washington Co, RI on 13–14 Sep (Barbara Seith, Maria Bloom et al., ph.); and Hammonasset on 14–16 Sep (Karen Gallo,. m.ob., ph.).

Gulls through Boobies

Three Franklin’s Gulls were seen this season at Monomoy NWR, Barnstable Co, MA from 19–30 Sep (Chris Floyd et al., ph.); at Quoboag Pond, Worcester Co, MA on 7 Nov (David Lusignan ph.); and at Southport Beach, Fairfield Co, CT, on 13 Nov (Tina Green, Joseph Pescatore ph.). Solitary Pacific Loons ranged from 19 Oct to the end of the period with at least two in ME and MA and one in RI. The Brookline Bird Club’s August overnight pelagics have become a reliable way to for adding White-faced Storm-Petrel to North American lists, but nothing that has happened in recent years hinted towards the events that unfolded during the 27–28 Aug trip in waters off Nantucket. On 27 Aug, 589 were counted—which includes 425 along a nine-mile stretch between 4 and 5 p.m. Nothing like this had ever been recorded in U.S. waters (Tom Johnson, Doug Gochfeld, Nick Bonomo et al., ph.). On 28 Aug, the second day of Brookline Bird Club’s pelagic, birders found a single Black-capped Petrel (Nick Bonomo, Doug Gochfeld et al., ph). Though there were several contenders for bird of the season, the title likely goes to the Cape Verde Shearwater found on 12 Aug off Chatham, Barnstable Co, MA, by five birders in a private boat (Jeremiah Trimble et al. ph.). It was a first for Massachusetts and North America’s second record.

Brown Booby, once extremely rare, is now rare but regular. This season, the species was recorded from four locations: in and near Galilee, Washington Co, RI on 12–22 Aug (Tim Metcalf, Sue Palmer, m.ob., ph.); at Stellwagen Bank, Barnstable Co, MA on 31 Aug (Liam Waters ph.); at Andrews Point, Rockport, Essex Co, MA on 24 Oct (Rick Heil); and at First Encounter Beach, Eastham, Barnstable Co, MA from 16 Nov–1 Dec  (Tim Spahr et al., ph.). Massachusetts’ first Red-footed Booby was a stunning find on 4 Oct at Halibut Point State Park, Essex Co (Suzanne Sullivan, Meghan Sullivan ph.).

Pelicans through Woodpeckers

Solitary Brown Pelicans were reported along the coast from southwestern Connecticut to Cape Cod. The first sighting was on 5 Aug at Race Point, Provincetown, Barnstable Co, MA (Joel and Leah Hintz et al., ph.); the last was on 30 Nov at Shippan Point in Stamford, Fairfield Co, CT (Patrick Dugan). There were numerous sightings between those dates, with many in October; sightings came from the central Connecticut coast, around Napatree Point, Washington Co, RI (Bill Thompson et al., ph.); in Plymouth Co, MA (Lisa Schibley et al., ph.); and on outer Cape Cod (m.ob., ph.). It is uncertain how many individuals were involved. A major flight of White Ibis produced sightings—usually of single birds—at a remarkable 16 locations on the coast from Connecticut north to Maine, with most records occurring in August and September. A few remained until November in Fairfield Co, CT, and one lingered there through the end of the period and into December (m.ob.). A White Ibis far inland at Eph Pond in Williamstown, Berkshire Co, MA from 1–6 Sep was also noteworthy (Chuck Johnson et al., ph.); a count of 30 on 21 Aug at Wells, York Co, ME  was extraordinary (David Nelson et al., ph.).

A Eurasian Marsh Harrier was in North Haven, Knox Co, ME, from 25–27 Aug (Byron Swift, m.ob., ph.). There is only one previous record—a sight record only—for the US (fide Louis Bevier). A Swainson’s Hawk was at Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven, CT, on 27 Oct (Paul Roberts, Sol Satin et al., ph.). An American Three-toed Woodpecker was an exceptional find on 10 Nov at Silvio O. Conte NWR, Essex Co, VT (John D. Erickson, David Erickson, ph.).

Flycatchers through Solitaire

A Western Wood-Pewee was banded on 7 Sep at River Point Conservation Area, Falmouth, Cumberland Co, ME, (Doug Hitchcox, Edward Jenkins, Kevin Regan, ph.). A Hammond’s Flycatcher was a major attraction from 5–27 Nov in Falmouth, Barnstable Co, MA (Greg Hirth, m.ob., ph.). A Vermilion Flycatcher, a fourth record for Massachusetts, was at Paine’s Creek Beach, Barnstable Co on 21–26 Oct (Mark Faherty, m.ob., ph.). A lone report of Ash-throated Flycatcher came from South Kingstown, Washington Co, RI on 29 Oct (P. Carl, ph.).  A Tropical Kingbird drew crowds to Greenland, Rockingham Co, NH from 13–27 Nov (Steve and Jane Mirick et al., ph.). A Cassin’s Kingbird was found on Tuckernuck Island, Nantucket, on 7 Oct by two veteran observers (Richard Veit, Simon Perkins ph.). Western Kingbird reports consisted of two each in CT, RI and MA, encompassing dates from 23 Sep to 29 Oct. Connecticut’s third Gray Kingbird was present for just one day, 12 Oct, at Bauer Farm, Madison, New Haven Co (Chuck Imbergamo, Anthony Woodall et al., ph.). A one-day, one-observer Fork-tailed Flycatcher was at Machias, Washington Co, ME on 28 Sep (Margaret Pinsky ph.).

An Eastern Bell’s Vireo was at Ocean View Farm Reserve, Bristol Co, MA, on 13–27 Nov (Dan Burton et al., ph.). Scattered Cave Swallows, mostly individual birds, were reported from all the region’s coastal counties from 7–17 Nov.  The only report of a Mountain Bluebird was on 4 Nov near Squam Lake, Carroll Co, NH (Ken Klapper, ph.). Perhaps the most-watched bird of the season was the Townsend’s Solitaire found on 21 Nov at Hammonasset and seen almost daily through the end of the year (Scott Roxbrough, m.ob., ph.). Three other solitaires were found in the region this fall: at Mount Cardigan in Orange, Grafton Co, NH on 2 Nov (Kyle Jones ph.); at Laudholm Farm, York Co, ME on 18–27 Nov (Simon Priestnall m.ob., ph.); and in Boston on 28–30 Oct (Sebastian Jones et al., ph.).

Wheatear through Buntings

Just one Northern Wheatear—a species once regular in the region during mid-September—was found this season. It was seen within the typical window, 11–12 Sep, at Parson’s Beach, York Co, ME (Ken Janes, Magill Weber, et al., ph.). A Smith’s Longspur, Connecticut’s third, was seen on 18 Oct at Sandy Point in West Haven, New Haven Co (Bill Rankin et al., ph.). Both Clay-colored and Lark sparrows have become too numerous in fall to merit special mention. Four LeConte’s Sparrows, as stealthy as usual, were found this season, being seen from 14–31 Oct at Wachusett Reservoir, Worcester Co, MA (Robo Bette, Edward Kittredge et al., ph.); on 20 Oct in Southbury, New Haven Co, CT (Jeff Campbell ph.); on 23 Oct in Woodbridge, New Haven Co, CT (Chris Loscalzo, Marianne Vahey et al., ph.); and from 31 Oct–2 Nov at Goss Farm, Rye, Rockingham Co, NH (Jim Nealon et al., ph.). Henslow’s Sparrow once bred in this region; now, however, it is a significant rarity. Just one record came from this season, from 1–2 Aug in Brunswick, Cumberland Co, ME, where two were present in July (Gordon Smith et al.). Single Yellow-headed Blackbirds were reported from ME, MA, RI, and CT. There were three reports of Bullock’s Orioles, all from MA.

There were four fall reports of Prothonotary Warbler, which is more often found in spring. The individual circling and calling at 2:30 a.m. on 28 Aug during the aforementioned BBC pelagic trip in Nantucket waters was particularly remarkable (Tom Johnson, Doug Gochfeld et al., ph.). A more conventional record came from Belmont, Middlesex Co, MA on 24–25 Sep (Jason Barcus et al., ph.). A Swainson’s Warbler on 7 Sep in Medford, Middlesex Co, MA, was found in the same location where one was seen in May (J. Layman). The warbler of the season, though, was the MacGillivray’s Warbler seen by many on 7 Nov at Blackstone Park in Providence, RI (Dan Finizia et al. ph.). An “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warbler was at Long Beach, Stratford, New Haven Co, CT, on 23 Oct (John Oshlick, ph.). Solitary Yellow-throated Warblers turned up at two MA sites while ME, NH, and VT each had a single record this season. Massachusetts had two Black-throated Gray Warblers in Barnstable Co, on 25 Sep at Sandy Neck (Peter Crosson, ph.) and on 9–13 Oct at Pochet Island (Joey Negreann et al., ph.). There were two Townsend’s Warblers in MA during November that were seen by many.

There were two Summer Tanagers in MA and one in CT.  Maine had three Western Tanagers, ranging in date from 28 Sep to 28 Nov, and MA had two, both in October. Fall Blue Grosbeaks are now too numerous to warrant mention here. A female-type Painted Bunting was found on 24 Nov at Silver Sands State Park in Milford, New Haven Co, CT (Julian Hough et al.). An adult male Painted Bunting turned up in Orleans, Barnstable Co, MA during early November for the third straight year (Cape Cod Rarities, ph.), and another adult male visited a feeder in Freeport, Cumberland Co, ME from 5–6 Nov (Lisa Ruccolo ph.).

Report processed by Alison Világ, 12 Jul 2023.

Photos–New England: Fall 2022

This Cape Verde Shearwater was a first for Massachusetts and only the second record for North America. It was seen from a private boat on 12 Aug 2022 off Chatham, Barnstable Co. Photo © Nick Bonomo.

New England’s first Broad-tailed Hummingbird, shown here on 21 Nov 2022 in Freeport, Cumberland Co, ME, was observed from 5–28 Nov. Photo © Doug Hitchcox.

This Eurasian Marsh Harrier, shown here on 27 Aug, was present from 25–27 Aug in North Haven, Knox, Co, ME. The one previous U.S. sighting was only a sight record. Photo © Gary Jarvis.

These two White-faced Storm-Petrels represent a tiny fraction of the nearly 600 seen on a Brookline Bird Club overnight pelagic on 27 Aug 2022 off Nantucket, MA. Photo © Nick Bonomo.

This Prothonotary Warbler—totally unexpected on an overnight pelagic—woke the photographer with its flight calls on 28 Aug 2022 during the infamous Brookline Bird Club trip off Nantucket, MA. Photo © Tom Johnson.

Connecticut’s third Gray Kingbird was in Madison, New Haven Co, for a one-day stay on 12 Oct 2022. Photo © Chuck Imbergamo.

Connecticut’s third Smith’s Longspur was seen and photographed on 18 Oct 2022 at Sandy Point, West Haven, New Haven Co. Photo © Julian Hough.