The weather was pretty bleak the first week of May. It was chilly, with a fair amount of rain, and there were northerly and northeasterly winds for most of the week. Not particularly good weather for migration, as birds tend to not fly into a headwind. Despite the weather, there were some migrants to report.

White-eyed vireo. — Lanny McDowell

The best birds of the week are the two glossy ibis spotted on May 2 by Buddy Vanderhoop at Lobsterville Beach. Lanny McDowell and Ken Magnuson were also able to see these rather odd-looking shorebirds with their long down-curved bill. While there, they also found an immature little blue heron. This latter species is not easy to identify. Despite their name, they are all white until they gain their adult plumage. Their two-tone bill is diagnostic.

Hatsy Potter reports that the chuck-will’s-widow is back. She heard one calling from the woods near her house on May 2. Has anyone yet heard their more common relative, the whip-poor-will?

Bill Post reports that there were a few willets at the western end of Mattakesset Bay on May 3. And Tim Johnson found one at Sengekontacket Pond. As this species breeds in those areas, these most likely are our resident birds returning from their winter vacation. Mr. Post also found a flock of seven buffleheads in Mattakesset Bay. It is getting late for them, although some always linger into May, as these have. He also had some lingering white-throated sparrows at his feeder.

Happy and Steve Spongberg report that they spotted an ovenbird and a black-and-white warbler near the Turtle Pond in Chilmark on May 6. That day, Samantha Hartley saw the first catbirds of the spring. While we have a few catbirds that spend the winter here, the ones we see in May are more likely to be spring migrants.

Yem Ily Saber spotted a ruddy turnstone on State Beach near the Big Bridge on May 6. It was foraging with a flock of sanderlings.

White-crowned sparrows, often confused with white-throated sparrows. — Lanny McDowell

On May 7, the weather was still less than favorable. However, Mr. McDowell and Mr. Magnuson found two white-eyed vireos moving through the underbrush near one of the parking lots at Great Rock Bight. We need to keep an eye on these birds and see if they stick around, as I do not know of any Island breeding records for this species. Earlier in the day, when they were with Allan Keith, they found a first year male orchard oriole near Squibnocket Pond.

Ned Casey reports the first least terns of the year on May 7 at Sengekontacket Pond. Luanne Johnson also reports that these small terns also arrived at Lake Tashmoo that day.

The unfavorable weather finally changed for the better on Mother’s Day, May 8. And with the improved weather comes quite a few more sightings. Two different feeders hosted a male white-crowned sparrow. Daphne DeVries spotted one at her Oak Bluffs feeder and Nancy-Alyce Abbott had one at her Lambert’s Cove Road feeder. These are good sightings as this species is easily confused with the much more common white-throated sparrows. The males of both species have black and white striped crowns. The white-crowneds are one of our larger sparrows. Also on Mother’s Day, Sharon Simonin spotted a greater yellowlegs and a brood of goslings.

Mr. Magnuson spotted the first great-crested flycatcher of the year at Waskosim’s Rock Reservation on May 8. And later that afternoon, Wendy Culbert heard one singing — if you can call that strident note singing — in the woods near our house.

Other migrants observed by Mr. Magnuson that day include American redstarts, black-throated green warbler, house wren and blue-gray gnatcatcher at Waskosim’s Rock. He also added the first black skimmer of the year at Little Beach, while Sharon Elizabeth found one on Norton Point. It will be interesting to see where these elegant and ever-popular large terns nest this year.

On May 9, more good birds were discovered. Luanne Johnson observed an adult great egret and an immature little blue heron. That day, Maria McFarland reports a rose-breasted grosbeak in her yard. And several birders — Matt Pelikan, Nelson Smith and Luanne Johnson — each reported yellow warblers, and Mr. Pelikan also observed his first catbirds of the year.

Ovenbird. — Lanny McDowell

The arrival of Baltimore orioles is old news now, although many observers are reporting their arrivals. But six at one time is unusual. Vineyard Gardens must be a great place for these orioles, as Catherine Deese reports seeing six of them there. Everyone who likes orange needs to see this species.

We should have a good flock of birds to report next week, as the weather is supposed to be good for a few days, featuring southwest winds that are likely to bring an influx of migrants. Also there will be quite a few birders out on May 13-14, as those are the dates for Felix Neck’s annual bird-a-thon (it is not too late to make a pledge to support their educational programs).

Peak migration is coming soon, so please get out looking for birds, and be sure to report your sightings to

Robert Culbert leads guided birding tours and is an ecological consultant living in Vineyard Haven.

Photos of recent bird sightings on Martha's Vineyard.