We have just returned from Chile, Argentina and Easter Island just in time for a blizzard. Oh, goodie! A greeting of red-winged blackbirds and American goldfinches that are a darker shade of yellow was a treat at our feeder prior to the storm. There are many bird sightings from one end of the Island to another, so a trip report will have to wait. Flip Harrington and I were saddened to hear of Louie Larsen’s death. Flip fished with Captain Louie and we enjoyed our games with Louie in Menemsha and Florida. We will miss him, as will the Island
Gus Ben David reported that on his way to the memorial potluck at the Chilmark Community Center for Louis Larsen on March 22 he was distracted by a flock of American crows mobbing a bird by the West Tisbury fire department. Gus craned his neck and spotted the object of the crow’s fury, an immature bald eagle. Later the same day Pat Hughes joined me and Flip at the edge of Tisbury Great Pond. Pat noticed a long-tailed duck flying down the pond from Town Cove toward the ocean. We counted four turkey vultures, a red-tailed hawk, a female hooded merganser and a single black duck.
Chris Murphy counted 120 bluebills (scaup species) off West Chop on March 25, an odd place for these ducks, so my guess is that they are migrating north and just settled offshore for a bit.
Nat Woodruff counted three snowy owls at State Beach on March 24. Happy Spongberg spotted an American oystercatcher on the Oak Bluffs side of the Lagoon, and Paul Magid counted a dozen buffleheads at Deep Bottom Cove on Tisbury Great Pond.
Rob Culbert and Ken Ivory on March 23 spotted a glaucous gull at Maciel Marine at the head of the Lagoon in Tisbury. Rob found a great horned owl perched on a fence being harassed by American crows at the state forest. At Sengekontacket Pond Cristina Pereira spotted an American oystercatcher on the pond’s shoreline and Suzan Bellincampi added that there are oystercatchers on both Big and Little Gravel, which are islands in Sengekontacket Pond. Jeff Bernier counted five great blue herons at Crackatuxet Cove. John Nelson counted five snowy owls on the same day, three at North Neck on Chappaquiddick and two at Norton Point. John also spotted an American oystercatcher at the Cape Pogue gut, six horned larks at Shear Pen Pond on Chappaquiddick and good numbers of black-bellied plovers and dunlin on the Katama flats. Abigail Hammarlund spotted an osprey with a fish over Duarte Pond the same day.
March 22 was a popular day for birding! Ian Davies and Jeff Offermann of Manomet birded around the Vineyard for two days. On that day they spotted 77 species, the highlights of which included a barn owl at Felix Neck, a short-eared owl at Katama (which they also spotted on March 21), a gray catbird and two fox sparrows (also seen on March 21), two snowy owls on South Beach near Edgartown Great Pond, nine common mergansers, a merlin and Iceland gull, and another snowy owl at Long Point in West Tisbury, a Barrow’s goldeneye in Menemsha Pond (also seen on March 21) a male wood duck at Duarte Pond, a yellow-bellied sapsucker near Lake Tashmoo and razorbills flying off West Chop.
Lanny McDowell photographed common mergansers along the South Shore. Ken Magnuson photographed a fox sparrow at Slough Cove, Katama. Nancy Weaver and Margaret Curtin spotted their first ospreys of the spring, two of them at the head of the Lagoon in Tisbury. Bonnie and Don Foley, along with Tom Norton and Gail Damell, found a snowy owl in the dunes at the edge of the Cape Pogue gut. Bill and Sue Glazier spotted a snowy owl at Long Point as did Ali Mead, probably the same bird that Ian and Jeff found. Caitlin Borch spotted a pair of banded American oystercatchers at Norton Point and hopes someone with a scope could find the pair again and read the band numbers. Stephanie Mashek spotted two American oystercatchers at the edge of Vineyard Haven harbor and Jeff Bernier counted four wood ducks at Cranberry Acres in Lambert’s Cove.
Ian Davies added fish crows on March 21, which he spotted at the Tisbury Market Place to his list for the weekend. Michael Ditchfield tallied three ospreys over Duarte Pond.
Mike Dolby saw an osprey by Caleb’s Pond on Chappaquiddick on March 20, and Suzan Bellincampi reports the arrival of piping plover, not sure where, but . . .
Tara Whiting heard American woodcock penting in the state forest around 7:30 p.m. on March 19. She had an unidentified owl fly overhead as well. Maybe the great-horned that Rob Culbert found later in the week. Karin Stanley watched an osprey fishing successfully on Duarte Pond off Lambert’s Cove Road. Kim Leonardo watched an osprey flying over the Mill Pond in West Tisbury. Ned Casey sent a photo of a brown creeper.
Bob Ganz called on March 18 to announce that the osprey has returned to its nest on the North Shore near the Ripley Shack. Susan Straight added that the ospreys have returned to their Quitsa pole. This pair fledged four young last year; hopefully they will be equally as productive this summer! Roger Cook spotted an osprey at Squibnocket as did David Damroth and Barbara Lee the same day. At Red Beach at Lobsterville, John Nelson spotted a piping plover and further along the beach toward Picnic Point, John found a second piping plover. Down-Island John spotted a peregrine falcon by the Big Bridge at State Beach. Randy Rynd mentioned that her flock of red-winged blackbirds has been joined by common grackles and European starlings, a common occurrence for all of us this time of year. Randy also was pleased to see a barn owl in the area as both she and her neighbor have owl nesting boxes. Terry Appenzellar reports that John Caldwell photographed the leucistic song sparrow that they spotted on March 18 and have seen in the same area of Crystal Lake at Oak Bluffs since 2014.
Ken Magnuson photographed a peregrine falcon at Katama that he and Lanny McDowell spotted on March 17.
Earlier this month Julia Humphrey had a woodpecker full house. On one day she spotted red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers, a northern flicker, and a yellow-bellied sapsucker at her home off Old County Road in West Tisbury.
Please report your bird sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan B. Whiting is co-author of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her website is vineyardbirds2.com.