Bob Shriber found the best new birds of the season and this week. On August 23 Bob checked out Tea Lane and found two northern water thrushes and a scarlet tanager (not new, but nice). Then on August 25, Bob was birding around the Homestead (the Gay Head Museum) and heard and saw two bobolinks, a flock of common grackles, a Baltimore oriole, a willow flycatcher and a prairie warbler. Bob’s yard in Aquinnah was the hot spot on August 26 as he spotted a yellow-billed cuckoo, which has been very rare on the Vineyard this summer.
Dick Jennings found the first merlin of the fall at Cape Pogue on August 23. It was harassing the tree swallows, which Dick noticed are gathering in a large flock anticipating a move south.
Lanny McDowell, Pete Gilmore, Bob Shriber, Warren Woessner and I birded Norton Point on August 22. On the flats just at the Katama end of Herring Creek we flushed four marbled godwits that Lanny was able to photograph as they flew off. It was a discouraging morning, as not only were we unable to find the godwits again, but there were very few shorebirds or terns on the beach. We discovered the reason, there was a peregrine falcon canvassing the area looking for a meal. We did count two least and four roseate terns, but no black or Foster’s terns. We found two salt marsh sparrows. On our way off the beach we ran into a father-and-son birding team who let us know that they had seen not one, but two, peregrine falcons hunting the area. Fred and Winnie Spar, who were also on the beach that morning, returned in the afternoon and found birds we had not seen in the morning which included a lone black skimmer, four short-billed dowitcher, 12 greater yellowlegs and a northern harrier.
Rob Culbert found the peregrine falcon at Norton Point again on August 24, but only found one marbled godwit and one salt marsh sparrow. Rob counted 300 common terns and one Foster’s.
Another good sighting this week was of two little blue herons; first seen by Steve Allen and Suzan Bellincampi on August 20 at Felix Neck and then seen by 14 participants on the Felix Neck bird walk on August 21. The walkers also spotted great blue heron and green herons, great egrets and a large number of eastern kingbirds, but the most fun was watching a young and foolish osprey chasing a great blue heron around the salt marsh.
Arlene Oley, a birder from Princeton, N.J., is here visiting Susan McCoy Miles and staying at Makonikey. On the evening of August 23 while sipping their cocktails, they watched a single common nighthawk migrating down along the north shore headed for the Elizabeth Islands. On August 20 at the Gay Head Moraine, Arlene and Susan found an eastern wood pewee, a black and white warbler and a downy woodpecker. Arlene and Susan joined Warren Woessner and I on August 25 and counted 600 common terns loafing on Norton Point. Among this crowd of terns we found four black, one roseate and one Foster’s tern.
Sarah Mayhew had a large flock of common grackles in her West Tisbury yard on August 22.
Luanne Johnson and Liz Baldwin of Biodiversity Works have started the International Shorebird Survey again. On August 20 I joined them and we surveyed both Little Beach and Lobsterville. There were very few shorebirds at Lobsterville, but a good number still at Little Beach, including 27 greater yellowlegs and 30 semipalmated and three piping plovers and seven American oystercatchers. Lobsterville had three spotted sandpipers while Little Beach had none. Warren Woessner visited Little Beach on August 24 and counted 12 adult and four immature black skimmers, two Foster’s, six least and two roseate terns.
Ken Magnuson counted four snowy egrets in the marsh along the shore of Sengekontacket Pond. Dick Jennings photographed two young lesser yellowlegs in crisp plumage at Cape Pogue on August 24.
Lindsay and Blake Allison emailed to say that during the week of August 18 they spotted two whimbrels by the cedars on the way to Cape Pogue. They also reported that Snowy, the osprey from Chappaquiddick, has left and was last seen on Chesapeake Bay.
Matt Pelikan had a Cooper’s hawk check out his yard for possible food items on August 24. Pete Gilmore and I went to Gay Head the morning of August 26 and spotted a big female Cooper’s hawk, four common yellowthroats, a prairie warbler, a Baltimore oriole and two ruby-throated hummingbirds. At the Gay Head Moraine we added four more Baltimore orioles, a red-eyed vireo, and two eastern wood pewees. Pete and I met Sue McCoy Miles and Arlene Oley as we left the Moraine and they had just spotted an ovenbird on the way into parking lot.
Bill Lee has been here for the month of August. He does an annual walk along Menemsha Pond from West Basin to Red Beach and this year he made the trek on Sunday, August 17. In his own words: "Nothing exciting to report, but there was a good mix of shorebirds — three greater yellowlegs, four American oystercatchers, 28 black-bellied plovers, approximately 90 semipalmated plovers, four least and three semipalmated sandpipers and four sanderlings." Bill also spotted four ospreys and four or more turkey vultures. On August 22, Bill reported seeing 12 shearwaters from the beach between Stonewall Pond and Squibnocket Point. He wasn’t 100 per cent sure, but thought they might be greater. My guess would be Cory’s, but we will never know.
Laurie Reese continues to see good warblers on Abel’s Hill in her yard. She spotted two prairie warblers, a yellow warbler and two ovenbirds on August 22.
Frank Brunelle spotted a green heron along the Vineyard Haven harbor on August 24.