YIR 2017

January: Fairly quiet month, Brewer’s Duck at Salisbury, White-winged Doves in the Fenway, and that was about it.

February: Snowy month, a commuting milestone and the Redhead moving to the Charles plus Barrow’s Goldeneye on Deer Island

March: Smith’s Longspur was the only lifer of the year. Lots of missing Ross’s Goose, did get a Glaucous Gull as some compensation.

April: Caught up with the Eurasian Wigeon in Marlboro on the third attempt. Got my only new Great Meadows bird for the year with a turkey. A Bristol county trip built that list a bit, as did a couple trips to the airport in NH. A good bunch of early migrants ended the month plus first insects of the year.

May: Orchard Oriole was a yard bird, Prairie Warbler was a Charles bird, a bunch of Suffolk birds, Prothonotary at Fresh Pond, got to 100 in Burlington, and was honestly a fairly slow migration. Also first central MA bug trip of the year was fairly good. Ended the month with a Hooded Warbler at Hobbs Brook (plus 3 other new birds for the res).

June: Found another Prothonotary, went out to Worcester where we missed the target dragonfly but got an Olive-sided, then went to the DSA meeting which I haven’t written up yet but was fairly good. On return, got Winchester to 100, a late Black-and-white at BBN, and Norm’s Grasshopper Sparrow in the Henslow field (which I probably had and didn’t pay attention to at the end of May). Finished the month with a central MA swing and filled some holes in my county ode list.

July: Added Slender Bluet to my county ode list, a first Squantum run, the usual on the Concord butterfly count, then the NE DSA meeting, which had some nice northern stuff. Finished the month by filling some holes in my Suffolk and Norfolk lists.

August: Missed a Suffolk Sora but had a few other things, then explored Ashby, had a trickle of fall migrants, a Great Egret at BBN, and a quick trip to Plum midmonth had a Black Tern. Ended with a Ruffed Grouse in Townsend, then Caspian Tern and Wilson’s Phalarope in Squantum.

September: Started getting decent numbers of fall migrants (for a couple days at least). Lousy weather for the annual Berkshire trip but got a Cape May and a few others plus made a brief Connecticut trip that added a bunch. Also filled a bunch more Suffolk (and Norfolk) gaps. Twelve(!) Red-necked Grebes at the res on the 23rd were on of the year’s highlights.

October: Grasshopper Sparrow at Rock Meadow, a Plymouth run in poor weather, and then Brant at Farm Pond. A Worcester county run was mostly bust, but more Caspian Terns in Squantum plus a Vesper Sparrow at Great Pond. Finished the month with Winter Wren finally at the res and a late Short-billed Dowitcher and gannets in Winthrop.

November: Tried some late hawkwatching but didn’t get any of the unlikely targets. Got in on the YB Cuckoo influx with one at BBN and the  Dunlin influx (but in Worcester county). Veteran’s Day weekend was rather crazy with Tundra Swan and Hammond’s Flycatcher major highlights and then a Snow Bunting on patch. The BT Gray on Thanksgiving was a county bird. Townsend’s Solitaire and some other stuff in a Bristol county run, then owls all over the place locally before missing an Ash-throated.

December: Second Hammond’s of the year (and my 4th in MA), then a few more Suffolk birds. CBC scouting turned up a Chat and a Long-eared Owl. Chat cooperated on the count, but had to make do with a Barred instead (although up to 5 Long-ears have been seen since). Rough-legs at Dunback rounded out the year nicely.

New birds: Smith’s Longspur

New MA birds: Smith’s Longspur

New Middlesex birds: Tundra Swan, Black-throated Gray Warbler

New Waltham birds: Yellow-breasted Chat

New odes: Eastern Ringtail and Cobra Clubtail in VA, Crimson-ringed Whiteface and Ringed Emerald up north. Slender Bluet and Belted Whiteface were new for MA, those plus Amber-winged Spreadwing for Middlesex.

New butterflies: Hackberry Emperor in VA, Veined/Mustard White in NH. Nothing new for state and county.

Of the multitude of goals, most were too ambitious. Did meet Norfolk to 100 and Suffolk to 175 plus got my Middlesex total town ticks to 3500 and got Burlington, Cambridge, and Winchester to 100 and the patch list to 170. Made some progress on most month lists but most of those were ambitious. Fell just short of 300 in Middlesex, a bit short in Worcester, and didn’t travel enough for the life list or chase enough for MA, although I’m not sure I could have reached my goal of 390 even if I did more chasing. Patch year lists were a bit low mostly because I spent more time working on other projects (and there were no shorebirds for the res).

That makes goals for 2018 easy though. All the month lists and bigger lists can have the same goal. Also want to start part 2 of the Middlesex town list project (getting 100 in every town, part 1 was the 17 closest), so adding to a bunch of barely visited places will be easy.

YIR 2016

January: Good start to the year with Lesser Yellowlegs, Mountain Bluebird, and Hammond’s Flycatcher all on the 2nd. My prediction of doubling my state list at that rate didn’t quite come true though. Good numbers of ducks on the res later in the month, owls calling from the yard, and traded the Smith’s Longspur at Bear Creek for a puffin at Andrew’s to end the month.

February: Pelagic finally got me a fulmar and lots of other birds but that was about it for the month.

March: Went up to Vermont for Nymphfest, which was a good time and had Bohemians at the hotel. Western Grebe in Winthrop, then the Yellow-billed Loon and Mew Gull at Race Point.

April: First bugs of the year, but otherwise a fairly quiet month.

May: Missed White-faced Ibis again, had a good weekend in Concord, Black Vulture on Birdathon, Acadian at Assabet, and the usual migrants. Ended the month with the Prothonotary at Great Meadows.

June: Maine Snaketail was my 100th dragonfly in county plus the usual breeders and some other good bugs. Heard only Clapper Rail was a state bird to upgrade.

July: DSA meeting added a bunch of lifers in Nevada and Utah and was a great time. Might finish the report one of these days. Shorebird show at the res and Hobbs Brook began with ibis and a Little Blue.

August: Migrant warblers started arriving, plus the shorebird show at Horn Pond got really good. Laughing Gull in Everett was only my second for the county and a YT Vireo was a Beaver Brook North patch bird. Ended with month with county recordBig Bluet at the Earhart Dam

September: RN Phalarope at Millennium was better than the one at Flint’s since it was 10 feet away. Shorebird show at the res continued with a Stilt Sandpiper and some more White-rumps. Pelagic ended the month, my highlight was South Polar Skua.

October: Leach’s at Heard Pond was one of the year’s highlights (would have been the highlight had I not ignored the odd stick in the water…). Shorebird show continued, Vesper Sparrow was a patch and Waltham bird, and ended the month with successful chases for Harris’s Sparrow and Gray Kingbird. Did miss Bell’s Vireo and Yellow Rail, but Seaside Sparrow and Sedge Wren balanced that out.

November: Hammond’s Flycatcher and Western Tanager were rather nice locally.

December: Started with good warblers along the Charles before a Pink-footed Goose at the res. Then refound the goose at Nine Acre. Tanager was still at Dunback, which was a bit of a surprise. Quiet CBC, then finished with Nashville and another warbler on the Mystic and the lingering Ovenbird at Horn Pond.

Totals: 316 overall, 261 MA, 204 Middlesex, 146 Waltham, 115 BBN/Rock Meadow, 99 Charles, 121 Cambridge Res

New birds (11): Hammond’s Flycatcher (1/2, Fairhaven), Northern Fulmar (2/7, offshore), Yellow-billed Loon (3/19, Race Point), Abert’s Towhee (7/11, Clark County Wetlands), Lucy’s Warbler (7/12, Desert NWR—Corn Creek), American Dipper and California Condor (7/13, Zion NP), Franklin’s Gull and California Quail (7/16, Utah Lake), Harris’s Sparrow (10/27, Westboro WMA), Gray Kingbird (10/29, Hyannis)

Additional MA birds (12): Mountain Bluebird (1/2, Crane WMA), Hammond’s Flycatcher (1/2, Fairhaven), Atlantic Puffin (1/31, Andrew’s Point), Northern Fulmar (2/7, offshore), Western Grebe (3/12, Winthrop), Yellow-billed Loon (3/19, Race Point), Clapper Rail (6/25, Fairhaven), South Polar Skua (9/24, offshore), Harris’s Sparrow (10/27, Westboro WMA), Gray Kingbird (10/29, Hyannis), Seaside Sparrow (10/29, Fort Hill), Western Tanager (11/13, Dunback)

Additional Middlesex birds (3): Black Vulture (5/14, Carlisle), Hammond’s Flycatcher (11/11, Fells), Western Tanager (11/13, Dunback)

Additional Waltham birds (3): Semipalmated Plover (10/10, Cambridge Res), Vesper Sparrow (10/13, BBN), Pink-footed Goose (12/4, Cambridge Res)

Additional BBN/Rock Meadow birds: Yellow-throated Vireo (8/24)

Additional Charles birds: Orange-crowned Warbler (12/4)

Additional Cambridge Res birds (11): Hermit Thrush (4/10), Willow Flycatcher (5/22), Little Blue Heron and Glossy Ibis (7/20), Brown Thrasher (8/31), Stilt Sandpiper and White-rumped Sandpiper (9/7), Rusty Blackbird (10/15), Long-billed Dowitcher and Sharp-shinned Hawk (10/23), Pink-footed Goose (12/4)

Odes: 111 overall, 75 MA/Middlesex

New Odes: 23 overall, 2 MA, 4 Middlesex 

Butterflies: 50 overall, 42 MA, 41 Middlesex

New Butterflies 3 overall, 2 MA/Middlesex

Bug numbers probably pending a few photos that I haven’t checked.

Goals for next year: patch lists to 170 each, county list to 300, state list to 390, 175 new county ticks statewide, 300 new town ticks in Middlesex, life list to 600, clear out the wanted lists for odes and butterflies.

YIR 2015

Interesting year. Less time in the field, especially in winter. Ok spring and early fall and nothing for most of the fall.

January: Started with a bang with the (rejected) Prairie Falcon. That was followed with the Black-backed Woodpecker and Barn Owl and then quieted down as the snow and cold moved in.

Prairie Falcon

February: Too cold and/or snowy for most of the month but slogging around the river each weekend was good with the Rough-leg and Bohemians (plus some redpolls).



March: Quiet overall beyond the fox.


April: Started with the early Greater Yellowlegs on the 1st. An otter, Vesper Sparrow, Sora, first dragonfly, and Yellow-throated Warbler made for an ok month.

Vesper Sparrow

May: Purple Martin on the 5th, otter at the duck ponds, Arctic Skipper and dragonflies in Townsend, and picked up plus the usual migrants.

Arctic SkipperOtter

June: Early Bronze Copper and Alder Flycatchers in several locations were highlights, as was the DSA meeting.

Bronze Copper

July: Eastern Red Damsels at the Cranberry Bog were a much wanted ode, a mantispid on the door for several days, and the usual start of fall migration.

Eastern Red Damsel


August: Started with county record Variable Darner on the 1st, Snowy Egret and Purple Martins at Hobbs Brook, Zebra Clubtails in Shirley, flyover Dickcissel at Great Meadows, and the Lark Sparrow at College Pond made for a pretty good month.

Zebra Clubtail


September: The Buff-breasted over Great Meadows was the main highlight in a fairly quiet month.


October: The wheatear made for a nice start and the longspur and Long-tailed Ducks were a decent finish but there wasn’t much else.


November: MacGillivray’s and another Lark Sparrow were good early. Ground-Dove and Cave Swallows midmonth and then a nice seabird show on the Cape.

Ground-DoveCave Swallow

December: The Clay-colored and Ash-throated were the main highlights.



Totals: 245 birds (242 in MA, 205 in county), 7 (counting the Prairie Falcon) were new for the state, 3 were new for county, 4 for Waltham, 2 for the BBN/Rock Meadow patch, 6 for the Charles, and 7 for the Cambridge Res. 85 dragonflies (80 in MA, 79 in county, 3 new overall, 7 new for both MA and the county). Only 52 butterflies (48 in county, nothing elsewhere in MA) with 1 new overall and 1 for the state and county. Over 1350 local town ticks, bringing me over 2300 total.

Goals for 2016: State list to 380, county list to 300 (that’s unlikely), 1500 local town ticks and get the remaining 4 towns over 100 (and get another 4 to 150). County ode list to 100 and state butterfly list to 90.



County Glaucous






Caspian Tern 5 Horned Grebes and a Long-tailed Duck Glaucous


Black-necked Stilt Ruff Fork-tailed




Sora Rufous Hummingbird Wood Turtle Brush-tipped Golden-winged!


Whimbrel Mating Red-bellies Silver-bordered Fritillary




Leach's Storm-Petrel Long-billed White-winged Scoters


Longspur Cackling Goose

No travel, which needs to change. Only 1 lifer (Ruff), but 8 county birds (Glaucous Gull, Caspian Tern, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Rufous Hummingbird, Whimbrel, Long-billed Dowitcher, Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Lapland Longspur), and the tern and hummer were state birds as well (plus the Ruff obviously). Only 1 new bird for the Beaver Brook/Rock Meadow patch (Lesser Yellowlegs), but 7 for the Charles (Red-shouldered Hawk, Fox Sparrow, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Ovenbird, Yellow-breasted Chat, Scarlet Tanager, and Tennessee Warbler). Caspian Tern was the only Waltham addition. Five for the yard (GH Owl, YB Cuckoo, Raven, Peregrine, BG Gnatcatcher).

Insectwise, White Corporal, Golden-winged Skimmer, and Brush-tipped Emerald were new odes in the county. Bog Copper and Silver-bordered Fritillary were state and county butterflies.

As for my county tick project, I broke 100 in 16 cities and am pushing towards 3000 town ticks.

Goals for next year: county ode list to 100 (9 away), county list to 295 (4 away), life list to 600 (40+ away), catch up with a few of the overdue state birds. And get the rest of the 2-town area over 100 (Burlington and Weston easy, Winchester, Arlington, and Bedford maybe).

YIR 2013


Gull lineup

(No photos of the county Red Crossbill)



Redpoll #1


(Repeat of that, not that bird)







Common Ringed Plover





Mating Robbers



Plus the cameraless Lark Sparrow




Cackling Goose






(And Short-eared)

Bullock's Oriole



Wayland Empid

Not much travel this year.  Four lifers, all in MA. Two additional state birds. Five county birds and three for Waltham. Five new yard birds (and 82 total!). For the Beaver Brook/Rock Meadow patch, 127 total with 8 additions. For the Charles, 105 with 7 additions.

For the bugs: 5 new odes (4 for the state, 6 for the county) and 2 new butterflies (3 for the county).


YIR 2012


January Wood Thrush

Plus continuing Lark Sparrow, Cassin’s Kingbird, Barnacle Goose, etc.


Spotted Towhee



Roseate Tern

FOY for the country I think.


Swallow-tailed Kite

Phantom DarnerGreat PondhawkAntillean Saddlebags



With 4 Horned Grebes too




Great Blue




Least Tern


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck


Olive-sided Takeoff


Horned Grebe

Great Cormorant, Arlington Res

Sparrow 1

Sparrow 2


Wood Sandpiper


Blue Grosbeak

And a second Connecticut

Lapwing 1

And a bunch of New Mexico stuff.


Pine Grosbeak


For the year, 18 lifers (9 FL, 1 SC, 1 ME, 1 RI, 1 MA, 5 NM), 3 state birds, 2 county birds, 6 new for Waltham, and 4 for the yard. For the bugs, 24 new dragonflies (11 FL, 13 SC) and 1 for the state, 11 new butterflies (maybe more, still sorting through a few FL ones I think but 7 FL, 3 SC, 1 MA) and 2 for the state.

Birds of the year: Wood Sandpiper nationally, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck for MA, Least Tern locally.

Bug of the year: Phantom and Swamp Darners, Giant Swallowtail.


Overall birds: 300 even, 13 new (all in CO)

Massachusetts: 252 (5 new)

Middlesex County: 198 (2 new)

Waltham: 157 (new high, 7 new)

Yard: 57 (2 new: Common Redpoll, Wild Turkey)

Western Greenway: 114 (4 new: Rusty Blackbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Common Nighthawk, Clay-colored Sparrow)

Charles: 97 (9 new: Great Horned Owl, Greater White-fronted Goose, Rusty BlackbirdVirginia Rail, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Swamp Sparrow, Pectoral Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Common Raven)

Butterflies:  59+ several from Colorado, 47 MA, 43 Middlesex, 38 Waltham (10+ ,0, 0, 0 new respectively,)

Odes: 83, 64 MA, 58 Middlesex, 35 Waltham (15, 5, 3, 4 new)

Plus a bunch of new mammals and various other cool things.

Best bird: White-tailed Ptarmigan

Best bird in MA: Cassin’s Sparrow

Best bird in Middlesex County: Mt. Auburn Cranes

Best bird in Waltham: the second Long-tailed Duck

Best bug: Ridings’s Satyr and Rainbow Bluet

Best bug locally: Brook Snaketail


Bugs of the Year 2010

And to follow up the birds of the year, some insects.

21 new odes, only 1 in Mass.

Runners up: Pygmy and Extra-striped Snaketail, Superb Jewelwing, Umber and Stygian Shadowdragon (DSA writeup still coming)

Best: Spatterdock Darner

10 new butterflies, 1 in Mass

Runners up: Mestra, Arctic Skipper, Pipevine Swallowtail

Best: Two-spotted Skipper

Barely looked for Tiger Beetles and Asilids this year, will have to change that next year.

Bird of the Year 2010

For the 10,000 Birds Best Bird of the Year post:

With 21 life birds, 10 state birds, 5 county birds, and 6 city birds, not to mention reacquainting myself with an additional 310+ species, there’s lots to choose from.

So the runners up…

Top life birds: Pink-footed Goose, Roseate Spoonbill (photo from later), Great Skua, Northern Jacana, Upland Sandpiper

Massachusetts birds: Sage Thrasher (oops, never posted much about this one), Curlew Sandpiper

Middlesex county: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Laughing Gull

Waltham: Black and Common Tern

Reacquaintances: Long-billed Curlew, Baird’s Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit (oceanic migrants), Hooded Warbler

But the overall best bird of the year is a tie between

Crimson-collared Grosbeak

Crimson-Collared Grosbeak


White-faced #3

White-faced Storm-Petrel (all 8 (or 22!) of them)

2009 in Review

So I suppose I should do a review like everyone else.

Top 10 things in Waltham this year:

10. Prince Baskettail
Not at all unusual, but finally getting a photo of one was nice.
9. Cape May Warbler
One of the less common warblers that I missed in the spring, getting it in fall and adding it to my Waltham list was a good surprise.
8. Iceland Gull
A second sighting for me in Waltham, but much more cooperative than the previous one (and it led directly to one of the other highlights).
7. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
An overdue new bird for Waltham.
6. Red-necked Grebe
Another overdue bird and also only my second for the county.
5. Bald Eagle
Yet another overdue bird, but two of them putting on a good show would have made this list even if I had many previously.
4. Hooded Warbler
A nice spring overshoot, my first self-found one in Massachusetts.
3. White-winged Crossbill
Great birds and after chasing them around for several weeks, it was great to see them up close.

2. Lesser Black-backed Gull
A very good county rarity and one that points to the potential of the Charles.
1. Worm-eating Warbler
One of two birds that I couldn’t talk about at the time (the other is #0 on this list). I heard about one bird on territory and when I went to check it out, found a second nearby. Hopefully breeding will be confirmed next year. Given the amount of bushwhacking I did to find them, who knows how long they’ve actually been around? And how many other good birds are right under our noses?

And 10 more from elsewhere in Middlesex county:

10. Sleepy Duskywing
Probably the most common butterfly I had yet to identify before this year, I finally found a couple that felt satisfactory.
9. Summer Tanager
A bird that I’ve missed a couple times in the county. Running over to Mt. Auburn at lunch meant views were brief (especially since I was more interested in a presumed Bicknell’s Thrush nearby).
8. Harlequin Darner
Great dragonflies, even though one tried to take a bite out of my finger.
7. Lilypad Forktail
The ghost white mature females are extremely cool. After hearing about them at the DSA meeting, I was very happy to find them along the Charles. Hopefully I’ll be prepared with a camera next year.
6. River Otter
A very brief view but a great sighting in Wayland.
5. Great Meadows Shorebirds
Great Meadows had enough mudflats to bring in the shorebirds again this year and they showed up. I found 16 species including county rarities such as Baird’s, White-rumped, and Stilt Sandpipers, and American Golden- and Black-bellied Plovers. Not quite shorebirds but the bittern show was spectacular as well. Photos of some of those birds here.
4. Yellow-headed Blackbird
At one point, I had almost 20 county years birds in a row at Great Meadows (Common Nighthawk and Great Egret weren’t but they were both either coming or going so they almost count). The best was the Yellow-headed Blackbird that spent a few days right along the path, closing a big hole on my state list.
3. Lark Sparrow
After chasing and missing many over the years I finally got one in Massachusetts. Nice and cooperative (and at a spot that hosted several last year).
2. MacGillivray’s Warbler
A nice late fall rarity.
1. Tufted Duck
A nice early spring rarity. One of several excellent birds on these lists found by John Hines, I was able to get out to Water Row quickly and got good views and fair pictures (and I hear that those may be the first pictures of a Tufted Duck in Massachusetts).

And 5 from Massachusetts:

5. Comet Darner
One of the coastal plain specialties, huge and red, how can you go wrong. Highlighted a trip to Miles Standish State Forest. Unfortunately too fast to photograph, but some of the other things weren’t.
4. Black-capped Petrel
The pelagic highlight of the year. Would have been higher on the list, had the boat been steadier and I had gotten more than a couple seconds of views.
3. Ross’s Goose
One of the best days of the year started with a flock of these.

2. Short-eared Owl
And ended with these (and a Snowy).
1. Ivory Gull
I’m not convinced I wouldn’t put the adult as a top 5 bird in the world. Fortunately after just missing the Gloucester one, the Plymouth one hung around another week.

And a handful from out of state:

Vermont and northern New Hampshire
A few boreal bugs including Gray Comma, White-faced Meadowhawk, and Variable Darner along with Ruffed Grouse, Barred Owl, and a few warblers.
DSA Meeting, Southern New Hampshire
Still haven’t posted about it, but highlights included Coppery Emerald and Scarlet Bluet.
Great as a whole, but Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Chestnut Crescent, and Roseate Skimmer highlighted the trip.

Overall, 297 birds (25 lifers), 243 in state (6 new), 201 in county (9 new), and 142 in Waltham (12 new). Butterflies numbered 97 (36 new, thanks Texas), 56 in state (only 1 new), 55 in county (1 new), and 41 in Waltham (1 new). Dragonflies were 90 (16 new), 66 in state (1 new), 58 in county (2-3 new depending on how I sort out the meadowhawk mess), and 35 in Waltham (2-3 new). Also a few good tiger beetles, robber flies, moths, etc. No real complaints for the year but here’s to 2010 being better.