Date: 9/2/19 4:56 pm From: <rbowes...> Subject: [MASSBIRD] 8/31 for Duxbury Beach - possibly a first: a resting Common Nighthawk
Susan Henry, who summers on Gurnet Point (southmost part of Duxbury Beach - actually in Plymouth MA), sent me these photos taken on August 31, 2019. She came out onto her deck and the bird was "just there". It stayed all day in the hot sun and moved very little sparking concerns about its well-being including lack of water. Late afternoon her husband Ray said that he looked at it while on the deck, looked away, and when he looked back it was gone.
While Nighthawks are not rare in MA, they are very uncommon in the coastal parts of the state. Birds of Massachusetts (Veit & Petersen, 1993) says they are rare on the Cape and Islands. Ebird shows a smattering of records but none on the Duxbury Beach/Saquish peninsula prior to this sighting. (eBird Info doesn't indicate % of sightings seated vs in flight.)
Two days earlier a mixed flock of gulls (easily 100, possibly twice that) filled the sky over our yard (within 0.1 mile of the water) swarming nearly silently(!) for 5-10 minutes presumably feeding on newly hatched flying ants (similar to report on MassBird from Linda Privak of Nahant). Most were Laughing Gulls with other species represented (in total maybe 20-30%) As I saw them I reminisced about the flocks of Nighthawks feeding on insects over White River Junction, Vt. in the evening 50+ years ago when I was in college. Maybe our unusual visitor was somehow drawn to whatever the gulls were "hawking" for (perhaps flying ants?)!