There has been so much bird activity I will write about our trip to Colombia next week!
It was great to return home and hear the normal and bizarre bird news. Dave Kolb receives the award for the coolest report of the week. He recently was Derby fishing on one of the east-facing beaches on Chappaquiddick at sunset, about 60 feet from his jeep. In his own words; ”this little bird came out of nowhere and landed on my reel just before a cast. I watched him preen him/herself there for about five minutes, he seemed content to stay. I thought, with little hope of success, that I would balance the bird there, inch myself back the 60 feet to the jeep, open the door and rummage carefully with one hand to find my camera. The little bird not only cooperated, but posed for six flash photos before flying off.”
Another interesting report from Chappaquiddick comes from Dick Jennings who, on Sept. 13, watched a common nighthawk being chased by tree swallows at Cape Pogue. Dick also commented that the same day he saw a giant leatherback turtle by the Chimneys at Cape Pogue. Dick added that Belle, the Vineyard’s osprey which is fitted with a satellite transmitter, has headed south for the winter. Belle spent the last few weeks in North Falmouth and then made her move south. Then on Sept. 25 Belle had boogied down to the Bahamas! This migration of satellite transmitter-fitted ospreys makes everyone nervous as we watch them make their way through not so friendly territory with bated breath. Hopefully she will pass over the fish farms of Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
The last report of the black skimmers of Norton Point was made by Rick, The Trustees of Reservations patrol person, on Sept. 11. They have moved south and hopefully will return to nest again!
Larry Hepler photographed a pair of purple finches at his Quansoo feeder on Sept. 17 and on Sept. 18 he photographed a winter wren on his woodpile.
Barbara Pesch reports that she has a covey of twelve bobwhites that roost in her pine trees and eat seed at her feeder on Fulling Mill Road daily. Barbara also mentioned that she has had red-breasted nuthatches visiting since August 31.
Just up the road, on Sept. 24, Andrew Fischer saw a pair of bobwhite around his Abel’s Hill home.
And speaking of red-breasted nuthatches, Tim Leland said that on Sept. 22 he was amazed at the numbers of both red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches around his Wasque Point home on Chappaquiddick. He also counted over a thousand tree swallows that rose in flock from Poucha Pond and headed south over his house.
The same day, Sept. 22, Suzie Bowman counted five to six thousand tree swallows that were lined up on the telephone wires by Nip ‘n Tuck Farm in West Tisbury. She also spotted a belted kingfisher chasing a red-tailed hawk by Seth’s Pond in West Tisbury.
Elaine Carroll called to say a male ring-necked pheasant has been visiting her feeder on West Chop Road. She also has large numbers of house sparrows and a few red-breasted nuthatches.
Allan Keith has been busy in the field recently. On Sept. 24 he noted that there was evidence of late fall migrants. At Gay Head he spotted two dickcissels, one dark-eyed junco, a swamp sparrow, two indigo buntings and a yellow-rumped warbler. He added that bobolinks are still going off the Cliffs in numbers, as well as red-breasted nuthatches. One Wilson’s warbler was also spotted by Allan near the Homestead. At Squibnocket the same day Allan spotted a parula warbler, a blue headed vireo and a Lincoln’s sparrow. Between the two areas, Gay Head and Squibnocket, Allan counted eight Blackpoll warblers. Allan headed down-Island and at Norton Point he counted 26 American oystercatchers! He also found four American pipits and the best bird was a Caspian tern. At the warbler trap at Katama, Allan found a yellow-bellied sapsucker and at the State Forest a female Cape May warbler and a white-eyed vireo. Phew, reminds me of the Labor Day bird count of old!
On Sept. 25 Allan Keith returned to Squibnocket and found a yellow-rumped warbler, two green-winged teal, an American wigeon and a black-crowned night heron. In the Menemsha hills, Allan found a ruby crowned kinglet.
Claudia Rogers counted 12 killdeer and a great blue heron by Crackatuxet Cove on Sept. 25.
Flip Harrington and I returned from a birding trip to Colombia on Monday and have not seen our ruby-throated hummingbirds. I checked with Larry Hepler down the road and he had not seen his hummingbirds for about five days. I then called Tim and Sheila Baird and they still had hummingbirds as of Sept. 25. Sheila mentioned that she feels the hummingbirds see their trumpet vine and butterfly bush and come down to feed on those and then see their feeder. I guess I have some planting to do next spring! The Bairds had two ruby-crowned kinglets and a grey catbird in their yard on Sept. 25.
Bert Fischer watched a peregrine falcon swooping over the dunes in Aquinnah on Sept. 25.
William Waterway had a sharp-shinned hawk make a kill at his Katama bird feeder on Sept. 25.
Kristen Fauteux took night photos of a screech owl that landed on the railings of her home at Cedar Tree Neck on Sept. 20.
Flip Harrington and I were welcomed home by the rattle of a belted kingfisher on Sept. 24 and on Sept. 25 we spotted two greater yellowlegs and four killdeers on Big Sandy. On Sept. 26 we watched a merlin harassing a red-tailed hawk in a pitch pine next to our Quansoo home. As I was writing this column the windows darkened and I turned to watch hundreds of common grackles and red-winged blackbirds come out of the Quansoo woods and head south.
Please report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard Bird Hotline at 508-645-2913 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Susan B. Whiting is the coauthor of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her website is vineyardbirds2.com.