Spring migration is definitely picking up and it is hard to decide what the “bird of the week” is. Will it be the blazing blue indigo bunting first seen in Edgartown on April 17 by Ken Magnuson and by Matt Pelikan on April 20 on Franklin street in Oak Bluffs? Or perhaps the choice will be the ascending songster, the prairie warbler heard and seen by Nancy Weaver at the head of the Lagoon in Oak Bluffs on April 21? Oh, how about the first ruby-throated hummingbird seen on April 22 at one of three of the hummingbird bird feeders that Les and Terry Cutler put out at their West Tisbury home on April 20? Maybe the first snowy egret seen by David and Libby Fielder on April 22 at Tiah’s Cove on Tisbury Great Pond will be the winner. How about a worm-eating warbler seen by Ken Magnuson on April 19 at Waskosim’s Rock? Being very prejudiced I would have to choose a brown thrasher seen by Flip Harrington and me at our Chilmark home on April 22 or by Patsy and Steve Donovan who watched a brown thrasher flinging leaves in their Vineyard Haven yard the same day. Although the whimbrel that Liz Baldwin spotted near Caleb’s Pond on Chappaquiddick on April 22 should be in the running, as should the Virginia rail that Anne Carmichael Lemenager heard at Farm Pond marsh on April 20. Then again perhaps the best bird of the week should go to the male Eastern towhee see by Jennie Greene at her Quansoo home on April 16, and then heard by me the next day near our Quansoo garden. A male Eastern towhee arrived at our Quenames yard on April 19 to be joined by a female towhee on April 21. Rob Culbert had an increase in the number of Eastern towhees in the State Forest on April 20, so the old “national bird of Martha’s Vineyard” is back.
A bird that cannot be counted in this competition is a ringed teal which visited the Norton’s duck pond near Sweetend Water Farm. This South American teal is not a migrant but an escapee from the former World of Reptiles and Birds run by Gus Ben David. Gus said the teal escaped close to seven years ago. Bird Sightings: Rob Bierregaard announced on his website ospreytrax.com that the osprey migration he has been monitoring with his satellite transmitters and GPSs is complete. All the birds are back, either in or near the territories where they were born. Belle and Snowy are moving between the Vineyard and Cape Cod, and DJ, who was the last osprey to return to the Vineyard, is hanging around Chappaquiddick. At one point Belle was checking out the osprey pole in Gus Ben David’s yard. We all hope she finds a mate and settles in there. Several people have asked the question — will there be a conflict between ospreys and snowy owls if the owls are still in the ospreys’ territories? Brad Winn, a former Felix Neck graduate who is now with the Manomet Center for Conservation in Manomet, sent Rob a photo of an osprey dive bombing a snowy owl on the Cape. The owl finally left, according to Brad. Rob Bierregaard figures most of the snowy owls will have left for the arctic and those that are still around and in osprey territories will leave when harassed by the fish hawks.
Dick Jennings had a good laugh on April 18. He had just started the nest survey and found one pair of osprey who had decided to either change their fish eating diet or supplement it with the addition of butterflies! Dick sent me a photo of the nest in question. A butterfly net had been incorporated into the structure of their nest!
At least one and maybe two snowy owls remain on Island as of April 21. Nelson Smith spotted a snowy owl on the Oak Bluffs side of the Big Bridge at State Beach on April 21. This sighting was thanks to Jim and Ann from Albany, N.Y. They spotted it first and alerted Nelson. The day before, Warren Woessner and Lanny McDowell spotted, and Lanny photographed, a snowy owl at Norton Point in Edgartown. Warren added that he spotted a northern gannet off Norton Point. On April 17 Warren reported two greater shearwaters from the deck of the ferry in Vineyard Sound.
Rob Culbert had a snowy owl on Norton Point on April 19 along with piping plover, greater yellowlegs, dunlin, black-bellied plover, 300 sanderlings and American oystercatchers. Rob had horned larks displaying on State Beach and fish crows hanging around the Tisbury Market Place the same day. At the state forest he heard both pine warblers and chipping sparrows — a nice way to compare similar songs.
Gus Ben David had chipping sparrows show up at his feeder in Oak Bluffs on April 16, and both yellow-rumped and pine warblers feasting on his suet cake on April 22. Up-Island, Happy Spongberg watched pine warblers on her suet off Tea Lane in Chilmark. Gus Ben David announced that he has two pair of breeding barn owls on his property and that the female of one of those pairs has laid 11 eggs! That, as Gus mentioned, is about the largest clutch he knows of. Gus added that there has been a huge increase in mice, voles and shrews on Island this last year, and as a result there is plenty of food. The owls have obviously monitored this and find they can feed a large family therefore the large clutch.
I found that tree swallows arrived over the Mill Pond on April 16, at Quansoo on April 19 and showed up at the Edgartown Golf Club on April 21 according to Ken Magnuson. David and Libby Fielder spotted tree swallows on New Lane on April 22. I spotted our first barn swallow checking out the tool shed at Quansoo on April 19.
Nelson smith spotted a greater yellowlegs at Trapp’s Pond on April 20 and an American oystercatcher at Sengekontacket. Vasha Brunelle sent a photo of a great egret she took behind Granite Electric in Tisbury on April 21.
Matt Pelikan found two pair of wood ducks and pine and yellow-rumped warblers singing at Cranberry Acres on April 21. The wood ducks and warblers were seen in the same area the next day by Patsy and Steve Donavan.
Andy Schroeder and David Holahan, with the help of a spotting scope, watched northern gannets, common eiders and black scoters off the Gay Head Cliffs overlook on April 22.
Lanny McDowell and Warren Woessner found a killdeer nesting in a raised flower bed at Herring Creek Farm and three greater and one lesser yellowlegs at Slough Cove as well as a lone lesser scaup at Crackatuxet Cove.
Anne Carmichael spotted a belted kingfisher at Farm Pond on April 22.
Please report your bird sightings to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan B. Whiting is the coauthor of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her website is vineyardbirds2.com.