The Vineyard Gazette – Martha’s Vineyard News
The morning of September 11 was ideal for finding migrating songbirds. The night before was pleasant and the winds were blowing from the northwest, so nocturnal migrating songbirds had favorable tailwinds as they came from their nesting places as far as Alaska or the boreal forests of northern Canada .
To avoid flying over the Atlantic Ocean, the migrants turned west towards Aquinnah but. once there they discover more ocean, so they can wait there a day or two or three until the weather (wind) conditions are more favorable. Aquinnah, and the Gay Head Cliffs area in particular, is therefore a great place to find these migrants. In the early hours of the morning, they can be seen foraging in the shrubs and trees in this area, refueling after a nighttime migration of up to 300 miles.
Bird watchers flock there too! On September 11, Susan Whiting and Bob Shriber were there and they found a Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, 30 Cedar Waxwings, five Goglus, three warblers, a Cape warbler and northern parula.
Immature male American Redstart – Lanny mcdowell
At a different time that morning, Andrew and Merrill Eppedio added the Northern Harrier, Swivel, Peregrine Falcon, Eastern Woodpecker, Blue-headed Vireo, Blue-Gray Midge, Sturnelle meadows, indigo bunting, dickcissel, 674 cedar waxwings and 217 goblins. The last two species were counted as they flew west over our heads!
Aquinnah can also be good in less favorable wind conditions. Pete Gilmore, Susan Whiting and Bob Shriber were there on September 10 and their highlights were the gray blue gnat, kestrel, swivel, house wren, redstart, prairie warbler, house sparrow and a Peregrine falcon strafing an immature black-backed gull.
Baby bird – Lanny McDowell
At Gay Head Moraine on September 8, Lanny McDowell’s highlight was an oven bird. This property is a good place to search for birds as it includes mature woodlands which are prime habitats for many of our forest birds.
Of course, migratory birds can appear anywhere on the island. At the Edgartown Golf Club on September 11, Ken Magnuson spotted a Northern Warbler and had two Nighthawks flying overhead last week. Spotted a Nightjar flying over Kanomika Neck over Edgartown Great Pond on the evening of September 11th. Dave Oster spotted a redstart at Felix Neck on September 11.
The next day, Phil Edmundson found Eastern Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Philadelphia Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, House Sparrow, Masked Warbler, and Yellow-breasted Warbler in the woods. near Watcha Pond. Also on September 12, John Nelson was sitting on his deck and spotted a dewormer warbler. These last two species are only seen occasionally.
The hummingbirds are still hanging out. This week’s sightings come from John Nelson, Heather Rynd, Wayne Smith, Betty Burton, Warren Morse, Mary Beth Baptiste, Kathy Landers, Sheilah Hughes, Lucy Sheldon, Tom Hodgson, Les Cutlers, Bob Shriber, Penny Uhlendorf and Robin Bray.
Blue-gray gnatcatcher – Lanny McDowell
Felix Neck has been a hot spot for wading birds this fall. There have been yellow-crowned night herons and little blue herons in addition to the more anticipated great blue heron, green heron, great egret and snow egret. There have been four little bruises and up to three yellow-crowned night herons reported recently by Jeff Bernier, Amy Morganthau, Dan Cabot, Steve Allen, Shea Fee and Brayden, Andrew and Merrill Eppedio.
An immature yellow-crowned night heron stood in the parking lot at Squibnocket Beach, seen by Lanny McDowell and Pete Gilmore. One was at Norton Point, spotted by Shea Fee on September 10. Lisa Maxfield reported two yellow-crowned night herons at Brush Pond. That’s a lot of night herons for the island! And she reports that there were 10 of the much more common black-crowned night herons perched in the trees at Brush Pond on September 6.
An osprey hangs out at Felix Neck, seen on September 10 by Steve Allen and the birding group he leads, and I spotted it on September 13. They are rare because most of the more than 100 breeding pairs have already left for their wintering grounds.
Yellow breasted cat – Lanny McDowell
A few curlews linger at Norton Point Beach. Lisa Maxfield, Shea Fee, Susan Whiting, Warren Woessner, and Bob Shriber have all seen one or two recently. On September 12, these last three ornithologists also spotted the American oystercatcher, 105 black-bellied plovers, 26 semipalmated plovers, three red knot, 145 sanderling, 1 minor sandpiper, 8 half-sandpiper, five short-billed sandpipers, 1 small knight, 105 laughing gulls, 55 ring-billed gulls, a small immature black-backed gull, a barn swallow and two salt marsh sparrows.
Perhaps the most unusual bird this week is the American Bittern spotted by Shea Fee in the salt marsh at the western end of Norton Point on September 10.
American Bittern – Lanny mcdowell
Phil Edmundson spotted a flock of seven small black-backed gulls along the south shore of West Tisbury.
A smaller number of our more common shorebirds were seen at Little Beach last week by Bob Shriber, Warren Woessner, Pete Gilmore, Susan Whiting, Lanny McDowell, Dave Oster and Merril and Andrew Eppedio. and 150 common terns.
My 9/11 bird tour with the Edgartown Public Library spotted a feeding frenzy of 35 laughing gulls, 15 herring gulls, 2 ring-billed gulls, a great black-backed gull, a great egret and two soaring, diving double-crested cormorants. and dive to feast on the school of small fish.
Common Nighthawk – Lanny McDowell
Lanny McDowell and Jeff Peters both spotted a large peregrine falcon near the Steamship Authority wharf in Vineyard Haven on September 1. Randy Rynd has heard and seen Eastern Woodpeckers near Thimble Farm in recent weeks. On September 5, Pete Gilmore spotted a familiar leucistic sparrow at the West Tisbury Public Safety Building. And on September 11, Dave Oster spotted a crow along Great Plains Road and Mary Beth Naron saw a Bobwhite quail near Lagoon Pond.
Please email your observations to email@example.com.
More bird pictures
Robert Culbert is an ecological consultant with Nature Watch LLC living in Vineyard Haven.