It is a treat to find young people who are interested in what is happening in the natural world, not the virtual computer world. A couple of days ago I called John Nelson, the science teacher at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, and he answered the phone so that his students could communicate with me. The class, thanks to Mr. Nelson, has access to a spotting scope which is permanently focused on an osprey nest which is located on the floodlights of the regional’s football field. I spoke with three of John’s students. John Cooperrider let me know that the regional’s pair of osprey arrived in early April and that he and the rest of the class have been watching their activities ever since. Tom McHugh noted that the male was much smaller than the female, yet he was bringing fresh herring to his mate several times a day. Tracy Bowker added that she also noted the size difference and also that before the female laid her eggs, both osprey added twigs to the existing nest as well as a plastic six pack holder. The class still doesn’t know how many eggs the female osprey is sitting on but maybe after Dick Jennings and Rob Bierregaard finish their survey of the Vineyard osprey nests this week they may find out.
And speaking of young naturalists, Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary is having a fund raising birding bonanza this weekend. It starts at 6 p.m. today, Friday May 15, and runs until 6 p.m. tomorrow. You can give a lump sum via the Internet through firstgiving.com/suzanbellincampi or if you wish to do a per bird donation you can do so through the Mass Audubon Web site, or e-mail me (email@example.com) and I will send a form to you. We usually spot over 100 species. The form for the per bird donation can be found at massaudubon.org/birdathon. Once you are there hit the donate button and then hit the online pledge form near the bottom of the page (it is underlined). Make sure that you select Felix Neck as the sanctuary you are pledging for! If you see a bird that you feel is rare for this Island at this time of year, please call Felix Neck and tell them the time and place you saw it. Try to take a photo of the unusual feathered friend.
Dick Jennings did a preliminary count of the osprey nests on the Vineyard. He was not encouraged as he has only found 64 active nests versus the 70 nests that were active in 2008. Looks like the economy has hit the osprey pole rentals as well! Also more on the osprey front, Conomo the Vineyard osprey that should be here by now, seems to have gone walkabout. He made it through Cuba and then instead of heading north and east he split and went across the Gulf of Mexico headed for Mississippi. The rents might be cheaper, but the summer heat could be oppressive.
Patrick Best and mother, Margaret Curtin checked out the Oak Bluffs Pumping Station on May 2. They spotted a lesser yellowlegs, rough-winged swallows, three black-crowned night herons, two belted kingfishers, both Baltimore and orchard orioles, a northern parula and tons of yellow-rumped warblers.
May 3 Scott Stephens and Penny Uhlendorf spotted an ovenbird at Christiantown in West Tisbury and a blue-winged warbler at Old Farm Road in Chilmark. The next day they heard and saw a prairie warbler at Ripley Field. On May 9 Scott Stephens watched a parasitic jaeger harassing terns off Oak Bluffs in Nantucket Sound. The neatest news is that Scott saw great horned owlets in the nest with their parents in Northern Pines on May 10. Katharine Tweed had three indigo buntings at her Tisbury home.
John Nelson counted 26 common terns on one of the Sengekontacket islands on May 7 and noted that there were still six brant by the Sea View in Oak Bluffs. It is discouraging to all of us to see over 300 double-crested cormorants on Sarson’s Island. Ann and Bob Dietrich watched and photographed a summer tanager devouring their suet on May 6.
Allan Keith spotted the first green heron of the season in Menemsha on May 8. Great crested flycatchers continue to arrive. Sarah Mayhew had one in her West Tisbury yard on May 8 and they arrived at Quenames the same day.
Flip Harrington and I had a white-crowned sparrow at the Quenames feeder in Chilmark on May 8. We also spotted an eastern kingbird at Quansoo on that day.
Sally Anderson, Lanny McDowell and Pete Gilmore had a Tennessee warbler singing away at the Oak Bluffs Pumping Station on May 8. They also had the white-eyed vireo which Lanny adds was still there on May 10. Lanny and Pete continue on to Sarson’s Island where they spotted common terns. Sally went to East Chop and saw American redstart, and an orchard oriole at Vineyard Haven. Sally had a brown thrasher as her West Tisbury house on May 10 and at Waskosim’s on May 11 a scarlet tanager, all the local breeding warblers. May 12 a warbling vireo was singing at the Oak Bluffs Pumping Station and at Sepiessa common yellowthroats, great-crested flycatchers and ovenbirds were quite a chorus according to Sally. The same day Lanny McDowell had a Nashville warbler at the Oak Bluffs Pumping Station.
Lanny McDowell spotted a dowitchers species at Eel Pond on May 10 as well as three pairs of oystercatchers, and two least terns. In his West Tisbury yard, Lanny had a red-eyed vireo.
Squibnocket still has harlequin ducks and purple sandpipers. Laurie Walker, Katharine Colon and Allan Keith spotted them on May 11.
Luanne Johnson saw three eastern kingbirds at Nat’s Field in West Tisbury on May 9 and Allan Keith’s eastern kingbird arrived at Turtle Brook Farm on May 10 and Tom and Peter Engley spotted an eastern kingbird at the Farm Neck golf course on May 10. Laurie Walker and Katharine Colon had an eastern kingbird at Squibnocket on May 11.
Fran and Bob Clay had an elegant bobolink in breeding plumage arrive in their Chappaquiddick yard on May 9. They also have had a rose-breasted grosbeak since May 4 and their indigo bunting returned after a brief vacation. The same day Claudia Rogers spotted a greater yellowlegs at the Edgartown Lighthouse and a couple of common loons in the harbor.
Laurie Walker had her first rose-breasted grosbeak on May 8. Then there was an explosion of grosbeaks. Ozzie Fischer has had several in his Beetlebung Corner yard and Maggie Siebert has had two pair in her Vineyard Haven yard. It seems Mother’s Day was the peak. Sue Silva had a female at her West Tisbury feeder, Anne Burt a male in her Music street yard and Catherine Deese had one in her Chilmark yard all the same day. Not to be outdone by his aunt, David Amaral had a pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks in his County Road yard in Oak Bluffs on May 11.
Finally, I think that Happy Spongberg and I are sharing a very clever Baltimore oriole. He has taken the yellow center out of our hummingbird feeders and is sucking down the sugar water at a rate considerably faster than the petite ruby-throated hummingbirds. Sneaky!
Please report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard Bird Hotline at 508-627-4922 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.