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#ABArare – Gray-tailed Tattler – Massachusetts

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Making a strong case for the most impressive record of a most impressive fall was the discovery by ace rarity-finder Jeremiah Trimble late October 18 of an ABA Code 3 Gray-tailed Tattler on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts.  The relatively low rarity code belies the significance of the record.  Not only would this be a first state record, pending acceptance, for Massachusetts, but a first record for the eastern half of the continent and only the third outside of Alaska.

GTTA - MA
photo by Peter Trimble

Nantucket Island lies 35 miles off the coast of Cape Cod.  Access to the island is primarily by ferry, either a 2 hour plus ride on a car ferry, or a high speed passenger-only ferry that cuts the time in half.  More information on boat options is available on the Nantucket Island Visitors' Guide

The bird was seen in the vicinity of Nantucket Harbor. 

Coincidentally. this weekend Nantucket Island is hosting the Nantucket Birding Festival (.pdf), so several birders will be on the island, undoubtedly looking for this bird in addition to the regular festival activities.  Look for updates on the MassBird listserv

Gray-tailed Tattler is a regular spring and fall migrant on the outer Aleutian
Islands, Pribilofs, and St. Lawrence Island, and casually on the Alaska
coast, north to Point Barrow.  There are two accepted records from the Lower 48, one from Washington (1975) and one from California (1981), along with 5 additional unaccepted records for the latter state. 

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
Nate Swick

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  • Great find. Let’s hope it is relocated and stays a while. Much as I’d like to take a trip out to the furthest Aleutians, I’d sure like to head out to the island to have a look.

    This is another example of one of the shortcomings of the ABA rarity codes. Perhaps we can come up with a coding system that reflects the true rarity of sightings like this.

  • Bill Tice

    There is also a non accepted record for Oregon (which was reported by one of the top birders in the state)

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