A note to those kindly querying into my health, sanity, etc. having not seen postings for quite awhile: Thank you! I assure you my health is fine (though sanity is always in question). For the last few months, various factors have limited my time available for birding,and as a result, beyond getting into the field, I've not been able to keep up with either eBird or MassBird. Things appear to be improving timewise, and so I hope to (a) keep current going forward and (b) do catchup posting over the next few weeks. I'm once again doing the ISS (International Shorebird Survey) counts this year. The next census is planned for Thursday 8/24; when I post that report, I will provide links to all of those done to date including the Spring. I regret the hiatus and truly appreciate, and am motivated by, the kind words.
Ssince eBird now accepts (and displays) photos with the report (provides shareable documentation and makes reports more meaningful for readers). My photo links form now on will be to the eBird images (Macauley Library); I'lI only use PBase for multiple photos of a single subject or shots that may be of interest just to fans of Duxbury Beach.
When doing the ISS I must cover the 3.7 miles of beach (both ocean and bay sides) from Blakeman's to the west end of the Boathole (arbitrarily signified by a set of posts with a string of colorful buoys) in a finite amount of time. Covering all the areas when birds are abundant forces a tradeoff between counting/estimating all the birds and poring over individual birds to tease out the unusual. On non-ISS days, like Sunday, I can triage the flocks looking for the unusual; no counting necessary!
Currently Duxbury Beach is swarming with transient shorebirds. Nestled in the rocks, they escape notice when resting from their nighttime travels or from feeding furiously on the flats when the tide is out. I asked one curious passerby, to look at the bayside shoreline and tell me how many birds she saw. None, she said. She then looked through my scope at 300+ Semipalmated Sandpipers and Semi Plovers compacted in a very small space, and was, to use her word, "flabbergasted!". The same is true on the ocean side when beachwalkers never see the dozens and dozens of birds in the roped off areas not more than 50 feet from their parked cars.
So now, (finally?) Sunday's report.
Sun 8/20/17 12:40-4:05pm HiTide 10:42am (10.6') Low 4:54pm; Clear; 78F; Wind WSW 5mph; bay water quiet, ocean also..
Birding on outgoing tide with flats emerging as time progressed. Oceanside was covered with people and vehicles well beyond 3rd xover except in roped off areas that, while distant scoping did reveal birds, were not accessible enough given available time. Objective: sift through large numbers of transient shorebirds for the unusual & look for photo ops. Focused my time on (a) bayside shoreline since rocky loafing areas hosted surprisingly large groups and birds are close by, (b) Boathole, (c) east end of Crescent/Saquish beach, (d) walked High Pines peninsula, and (e) scoped ocean beach from snow fence just before entering Plum Hills to triage large flock of BB Plovers et al between 3xover and Plum Hills.
Summary: 14 species of Shorebirds (could be 15 pending confirmation of possible Western Sandpiper).
Of note is that all the many breeding Willets and their young as well as most Piping Plovers are already gone. Also largely gone from the Beach are the Grackles and Red-wings that were everywhere through July.
Semipalmated Plover numbers jumped in the last couple of days as the first flocks of juveniles have been dropping in.
Black-bellied Plover - At least 300.
Semipalmated Plover - Everywhere at least 1000 present overall. First juveniles (est 5%)
Piping Plover 2 1 at Crescent, 1 near 2nd xover
Killdeer 2 Boathole
Ruddy Turnstone X many intermingled with all flocks.. possibly 150 overall