Thanks to Dick Jennings and his crew the results are in for the Vineyard’s ospreys. The 2014 inventory that Dick and others put together found there were 119 active osprey nests on the Island. Of those 119, 19 failed. Twelve were housekeepers, which are not considered active. The housekeepers don’t count in the success rate as they produce no eggs or young. There were 120 young ospreys fledged from those nests. Wow, that means there could be 263 ospreys flying around the Vineyard now. Most of the females have left, but not all, and I am not sure of the housekeepers movements, but still we should have close to 200 ospreys in the vicinity.

What a difference from last year when we had only 72 breeding pairs, 24 nest failures and only 88 ospreys fledged. This is the best year we have ever had for osprey production! Thanks Dick and friends for keeping us abreast of the osprey numbers.

In the meantime, Rob Bierregaard updated the information on the adults that are fitted with satellite transmitters. In his own words: ”In the Cape Cod/Martha’s Vineyard area, Belle (2010 fledgling) is now 4 years old but still doesn’t have a soul — I mean nest — mate. Just as she did last year, she spent the early part of the summer commuting between the Falmouth area (western Cape Cod) and the Vineyard. Now she’s crossing Buzzards Bay, moving back and forth between Falmouth and Marion.”

“Snowy (tagged in 2011 as a fledgling on the Vineyard), spent the spring and early summer commuting between Long Pond in Falmouth and the Katama Bay area, where he was born. In early July he took a spin up towards Boston, returned to the Cape and then headed west to southwestern Connecticut, just like he did last year. This year he made a quick trip back to the Cape/Vineyard and then returned to Connecticut, where he was fishing the Stamford Reservoir. He’s now down in western Long Island.”

“DJ, an adult male tagged last year, is turning out to be a deadbeat dad. He and his mate have one young in the nest, but it is emaciated and probably will not survive. This is the first year this young pair has had a young this old. When we tried to catch DJ, he was away from the nest for almost seven hours and the female was doing all the hunting for the family. Maybe they’ll sort it out next year.” For further information check Rob’s website:

Juvenile least sandpiper strolls the beach. — Lanny McDowell

Bird Sightings:

The eagle escapade started on August 13 with an email from Katrina Nevin and then a phone call between Bruce Nevin and Gus Ben David. Katrina’s email included a photo of a bird which included the information that the bird had just snacked on one of the Nevins’ domestic ducks. The photo was of a juvenile bald eagle. The phone call was late in the evening on the August 13. Gus advised the Nevins to call him in the morning if the eagle was still in their yard. The morning of August 14 Noah Galley called Gus Ben David to say he had a bald eagle in his yard, which coincidently was near the Nevins’ yard. Gus grabbed his falconry gear and drove to the Galley home. As Gus approached the Galley home, the bird flew off and went over to the Nevins’ yard where it tried to land on a tree limb, lost its hold and turned upside down. The exhausted eagle was then readily caught in Gus Ben David’s net.

Gus Ben David determined that the eagle was a newly fledged bald eagle which was emaciated. He could not tell where the eagle was born, but figures it was from north of here. Gus has the proper permits and advised the Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Department that he was going to keep the bird in captivity and “feed it up” until it is back to normal weight and then release it back into the wild. The Fish and Wildlife folks are sending down a bird band the right size which Gus will place on the eagle before it is released. Gus noted that the eagle was wolfing down rabbits and has already gained weight.

Gus Ben David recently visited Town Cove on Tisbury Great Pond and on August 17 he counted six great egrets, a great blue heron and two green herons all feeding in the shallows.

Rob and Paula Evans sent me an iPhone photo of a hawk that was perched on the edge of their blueberry exclosure on Old Farm Road in Chilmark on August 16. The photos were good enough so the identification was possible: a Cooper’s hawk. To the Evans concern, the hawk kept trying to fly onto the ground only to be stymied by the wire. The Cooper’s hawk finally quit and went his way. Then the Evans saw the reason for the hawk’s persistence. A hen-like bird was feeding amongst the blueberries. The ID of the hen-like bird was possible with the iPhone photos: a bobwhite.

Flip Harrington, Bob Shriber and Penny Holzman were fishing off Squibnocket on August 17 and spotted three Cory’s shearwaters. I hear tell that Penny caught the most fish, you go girl!

Liz Baldwin from Biodiversity Works finally got a good count of the black skimmers at Little Beach on August 17. She found that three pair of black skimmers fledged eight chicks. Then surprisingly, she found one more pair with three new chicks probably around a week old. So in Liz’s own words “we might have fledged 11 skimmer chicks from Little Beach, which would be awesome!” Liz added that there also were some migrant skimmers on Little Beach as she counted a total of 14 adults on the August 17. Common terns have about 24 chicks, all close to fledging.

Tom Rivers called to say when he opened the shade of his bedroom window on August 18 he was greeted by an olive-sided kingbird. Not a common bird on-Island, but possible during migration.

Warren and his brother Walt and wife Karen Woessner spotted and Warren photographed a marbled godwit on Norton Point on August 18. One of the shots of the godwit showed a willet and it was very gray and I figured it was a western willet. The Woessners counted five species of terns: black, Forster’s, common, roseate, and least and three white-rumped sandpipers as highlights.

Laurie Reese emailed that she had a warbler caught in her blueberry netting on August 18. She was able to free it, and we decided that it was a female Wilson’s warbler. The same day Flip Harrington and I were visiting our next door neighbors on Tisbury Great Pond and sitting on their deck when a Cooper’s hawk flew so close to the four of us we could feel the breeze. Hot on the hawk’s tail was an aggravated barn swallow. Phoebe and Sam also mentioned they had seen an immature black-crowned night heron while kayaking in Town Cove.

Bob Shriber was watching birds on the shores of Katama Bay from Bluefish Point on August 19. He counted seven black terns. He noted that there were some rough-winged in with the tree and barn swallows flying overhead, plus an amazing number of eastern kingbirds.

Rob Culbert was birding at the head of the Lagoon on August 16 and found rough-winged swallows, great blue heron, great egret, green heron, osprey, red-tailed hawk, yellow warbler and two belted kingfishers. The same day Ken Magnuson, Lanny McDowell, Flip Harrington and I birded Quansoo. Nothing new and exciting, but great views of white-rumped and least sandpipers, black terns and only two least terns in with the flock of over 100 common terns.

August 14 Sarah Mayhew photographed a spotted sandpiper in a tree in Chilmark. On the other end of the island Ken Magnuson photographed a solitary sandpiper at the Edgartown Golf Club.

August 12 there was a migratory movement, because on August 13 Sarah Mayhew had an ovenbird in her West Tisbury yard, a first! Ken Magnuson had a northern waterthrush at his feeding station at the Edgartown Golf Club and mentioned that the American redstarts were still there as well. Rob Culbert had an eastern wood pewee in his Tisbury yard and Jeff Bernier had a spotted sandpiper, three least sandpipers and a green heron at Eel Pond.

Please report your bird sightings to
Susan B. Whiting is the co-author of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her website is