Saturday, May 14 dawned a little differently. It was the morning of Felix Neck’s Birdathon and there was not a strong wind roaring out of the northeast. The woodlands were pretty quiet as the day started out overcast, but the sun shone through about 9 a.m. and seemingly brought the woodlands to life. The complete list of birds observed on that Saturday appears at the end of this column; here are a few highlights.
Suzan Bellincampi reports that a total of 134 species was observed that day, surpassing the previous record of 132 species, set last year. The inclusion of 19 species of warblers and four species of vireos highlights that migrating birds were found that do not nest on the Vineyard. This only happens when we do not have strong northeasterly winds that blow migrants inland and away from the coast.
Lanny McDowell was out and photographed the hooded warbler at Waskosim’s Rock and found a scarlet tanager. He reports that his best bird may well have been the blue grosbeak at his feeder – it is still there, too! Allan Keith reports slim pickings, but he did find a harlequin duck and a razorbill at Squibnocket, as well as seven great egrets on Chappaquiddick. Luanne Johnson and Liz Baldwin found the whippoorwill and an American woodcock at the Frisbee golf field in the State Forest. And Penny Uhlendorf and Scott Stephens found the red-headed woodpecker and the great horned owls – two adults and two chicks all lined up on a branch — at the Phillips Preserve.
I observed four species of vireos, which is probably a first for me on the Vineyard. A blue-headed vireo was in my yard (it was there on Friday and Sunday as well). The warbling vireo and white-eyed vireo were both at Fulling Mill Brook, singing loudly no more than 20 feet away. Only the red-eyed vireo was secretive as it remained high in the trees and did not sing much. As I was driving away from the property a black-throated blue warbler landed on the road immediately in front of me; how it avoided becoming a roadkill is a mystery to me.
Please remember that the birdathon is an important fundraiser to support the numerous educational programs at Felix Neck. It is not too late to make a pledge by calling Felix Neck at 508-627-4850, or to go online to firstgiving.com/fundraiser/suzan-bellincampi.
Allan Keith reports three other species that were not observed on the birdathon. Two were lingering winter residents, harlequin duck and razorbill, and the third was a migrating shorebird, an American golden plover. The latter is much more common in the fall.
Terry Appenzellar reports a Bonaparte’s gull that showed up at Crystal Lake on Sunday, May 15. It was still present as of May 17.
Jeff Verner e-mailed to report a number of firsts for his yard: a brown thrasher visited and was observed as it turned over earth in woodland, an orchard oriole was hanging around the crabapple for a few days, and a probable female summer tanager visited his feeder.
Spring migration is now at its peak, so please report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard bird hotline at 508-645-2913 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
List of species observed on Felix Neck’s Birdathon:
American black duck
Great blue heron
Great black-backed gull
Eastern screech owl
Great horned owl
Great crested flycatcher
Northern rough-winged swallow
Cape May warbler
Black-throated blue warbler
Black-throated green warbler
Black and white warbler
Please report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard Bird Hotline at 508-645-2913 or e-mail to email@example.com.
Robert Culbert leads guided birding tours and is an ecological consultant living in Vineyard Haven.