David Vanderhoop spotted a brown pelican in West Basin, Aquinnah on Nov. 1. He or she was hanging out with double-crested cormorants on a float in West Basin and flying around Red Beach in Lobsterville.
Brown pelicans have only been seen five other times on the Vineyard and always in the fall. However, as Matt Pelikan pointed out, with climate changes there have been sightings of brown pelicans in New England almost annually. Historically, the first Massachusetts record of brown pelican was one shot in 1867 on Nantucket.
A quick note: the Vineyard’s Christmas bird count will be held on Dec. 29 this year. More details will be given in December columns.
On Oct. 31, the first buffleheads arrived on-Island. Vasha Brunelle counted 70 in the Lagoon in Tisbury. Over at the Sylvia State Beach in Oak Bluffs, Richard Price counted four horned grebes. At Uncle Seth’s Pond on Lambert’s Cove Road, Bob Woodruff counted 40 ring-necked ducks and two buffleheads.
On Nov. 1 Gus Ben David received a call from Goodale’s Construction to alert him that a northern gannet was stranded in their pit. Gus rescued the bird and took it to Vineyard Sound where he released it. Northern gannets, like dovekies, cannot take off from land. They have to be on the water. Gus said the gannet took off shortly after contact with water.
David Stanwood spotted an American bittern lurking in the reeds at the Tisbury Water Works on Nov. 1. Happy Spongberg counted 20 brant at Ocean Park, and an American oystercatcher along the beach at the Ink Well. On the same day Vasha Brunelle found an American oystercatcher on the shores of the Lagoon in Tisbury. Over in Edgartown on the Sheriff’s Meadow Pond, Michael Ditchfield photographed American coots. Zack Magid photographed a greater yellowlegs on the pond at Lucy Vincent Beach while inspecting the damage done by Sandy with his father, Paul.
On Nov. 2 Tom Rivers counted two male harlequin ducks off Squibnocket Beach. Flip Harrington spotted an American kestrel at Quansoo and a female red-winged blackbird at Quenames on the same day.
Lanny McDowell and Pete Gilmore went to Chappaquiddick on Nov. 2 and off Wasque counted close to 5,000 scoters feeding on mollusks. They were mostly surf and white-winged scoters with a few black scoters as well. Both adult and immature northern gannets were feeding offshore as well. They spotted a jaeger species harassing a gull and figured it was probably a pomarine, but were not positive. Two merlins were flying around the meadows at Wasque and there were six American oystercatchers at Norton Point. At Chilmark Pond the two birders found five buffleheads, red-breasted mergansers, four American oystercatchers and a hermit thrush. At West Basin they counted three great egrets while spying the brown pelican.
On Nov. 3 Brian Cassie visited the Island and found a selection of good birds: a western kingbird, tree swallow and Lincoln’s sparrow at the Gay Head Cliffs, a royal tern at Sarson’s Island, and white-winged crossbills on Chappaquiddick. Bob Shriber, Pete Gilmore, Lanny McDowell and I birded Black Point on the same day. Our best bird was a totally exhausted yellow-billed cuckoo. Other birds of interest were an indigo bunting, green-winged teal, northern harrier, eight sharp-shinned hawks and two Cooper’s hawks, a greater yellowlegs, eastern wood pewee, eastern bluebirds, palm warbler and eastern meadowlarks.
Tim Spahr spotted a Tennessee warbler and an indigo bunting at Sheriff’s Meadow in Edgartown on Nov. 3. At the Gay Head Cliffs he spotted a clay-colored sparrow and counted 15 harlequin ducks at Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark. At his home at Turtle Brook Farm in Chilmark, Allan Keith had two indigo buntings at his feeder as well as chipping sparrows.
Tara Whiting was running at the State Forest on the evening of Nov. 4 and had three barn owls fly over her head multiple times. Tara also mentioned that she saw an American woodcock and a Cooper’s hawk at her father’s tree farm in West Tisbury.
Ken Magnuson counted five buffleheads on Sengekontacket Pond on Nov. 4. David and Sashia Vanderhoop reported both sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks at Aquinnah on Nov. 4. Irene Tewksbury had eastern bluebirds in her West Tisbury yard the same day. Flip Harrington and I went to Squibnocket and Aquinnah on Nov. 4. Our best birds were gadwalls, an American wigeon, lesser scaup and American coot in the Pond and offshore we counted 12 harlequin ducks. We found both a merlin and a peregrine falcon and huge numbers of dark-eyed juncos at Squibnocket, along the road to Aquinnah and at the Gay Head Cliffs. Rob Culbert spotted wood ducks at Long Point in West Tisbury on Nov. 4.
Deb Carter reported her regular feeder visitors but added red-breasted nuthatches and pine siskins to the list on Nov. 5.
Daniel Waters took an elegant photo of a Tennessee warbler in Christiantown on Nov. 5. William Waterway, Rob Culbert and Lanny McDowell spotted hermit thrushes on the same day. Rob also spotted a wood thrush and green-winged teal at Seven Gates and a pied-billed grebe at Felix Neck.
Alan Wilson sent me photos of an evening grosbeak that visited his Chappaquiddick feeder on Nov. 5.
On Nov. 6 Saskia and David Vanderhoop saw a Tennessee warbler at the Gay Head Cliffs and later spotted two in their Aquinnah yard. Ken Magnuson sent great photos of hooded mergansers from Felix Neck and also said he spotted a pied-billed grebe at the Neck as well.
Lanny McDowell counted eight white-winged crossbills in his Tashmoo yard on Nov. 6. Libby and David Fielder of West Tisbury reported a yellow-bellied sapsucker and eastern bluebirds in their yard on the same day. Flip Harrington and I still had pine siskins at our Quenames feeder on Nov. 6 and also a male purple finch.