What’s been seen: Shorebirds have started their southward migration from the Arctic Circle and are already passing through Hull. Least sandpipers and semipalmated sandpipers have been tracked in July at both Nantasket Beach and on the edges of Straits Pond. Semipalmated plovers have also been seen on the beach, and a short-billed dowitcher has been viewed on the pond. Greater yellowlegs have stopped to feed on the edges of the Weir River. In an oddity of bird migration, the last migrants headed north are the first to head south.
Out on the beaches, too, it’s been easy to pick out five species of gulls: great black-backed, herring, ring-billed, laughing, and Bonapartes. Well, the latter was seen off Point Allerton, where one eagle-eyed observer also picked up some “pelagic” species that generally spend their time far from shore, in this case northern gannets, sooty shearwaters, and a Wilson’s Storm-petrel. It’s been a busy month around the old peninsula.
What to expect this month: If you’ve had a Baltimore oriole around your house, prepare to say goodbye to it for the winter. Around the 10th of August they silently slide southward, having given up on singing for a month or so as they focused on feeding their young (and therefore always have their bills full of goodies to bring back to the nest).
Around the 15th of August, it’s also time to wave good-bye to the mother ospreys, which will typically head north before turning south for their winter sojourns. The flock of 50 or so European starlings seen on Nantasket Beach mid-month will become more of the norm as we head into the fall, as many species apparently believe in the mantra “if one finds food, they all find food.” Keep your eyes on the beach and mud spots, though, for those shorebirds to stop for fuel for their long flights south. Ducks, songbirds, and birds of prey will follow in September and October.