Great blue heron: the name says it all. — Lanny McDowell

An adult little blue heron was spotted on July 19 by Dahlia Rudavsky and Bob Jampol, as they were kayaking around the southern end of Sengekontacket Pond.

This species breeds in small numbers in coastal Massachusetts — not on the Vineyard that we know of — primarily in colonies of other wading birds. Otherwise the closest they breed is New Jersey, so the birds we see at this time of the year are examples of post-breeding dispersal.

This heron was observed again on July 22. In addition to the heron, they also report greater yellowlegs, great egret, willet, and American oystercatchers.

Bird Sightings

On a guided birding tour on July 23, we observed a lot double-crested cormorants perched on the rocks off the Gay Head Cliffs on July 23. I noticed that one cormorant had two bold white patches on its thighs – making it a great cormorant still in its breeding plumage. These slightly larger cormorants breed on islands in the North Atlantic and St. Lawrence Seaway, and usually are winter residents that show up in October or November. Why is this species here now?

Sanderlings. — Lanny McDowell

My July 22 guided birding tour visited the Head of the Lagoon and had good views of five belted kingfishers as they perched, preened and rested on low dead snags hanging over the water. In the birding world it is unusual for the females to be more colorful than the males; one of the kingfishers was a female with a brown band across her chest that males lack.

Sarah Mayhew got excellent views of a male prairie warbler and its fledgling as they both hopped around on the ground near her at the cliffs at Lambert’s Cove Beach on July 23. She also reports that she has been watching four juvenile Baltimore orioles at her feeder.

Jeff Bernier, Lanny McDowell and Ken Magnuson were kayaking to Norton Point Beach on July 23. Highlights of their trip included three black terns as well as common, roseate and least terns and greater yellowlegs.

Killdeer are regularly observed at this time of the year in grazed pastures and other agricultural fields. But John Telanian has been watching one as it perches on the high vantage point of the ridgeline of his barn.

Greater yellowlegs. — Lanny McDowell

On July 21, Lanny McDowell and Pete Gilmore visited Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary and found great blue heron, least sandpiper, great egret, roseate tern, and a family of mallard ducklings. Warren Woessner visited there the same day and found the adult yellow-crowned night-heron that has been there since I first observed it on July 18.

Everett Vineyard found a covey of quail at the Chappaquiddick Point parking lot on July 20. This is yet another new site for this species as it seems to be making a comeback on the Vineyard.

Susan Whiting’s Chilmark Community Center bird walk visited a foggy Chilmark Pond on July 18. Though visibility was not good, they found young least terns, common terns, and piping plovers, four species of gulls: herring, great black-backed, ring-billed and laughing, three species of swallows: barn, tree, and rough-winged, green heron, short-billed dowitchers and a northern harrier.

This is the season for fledgling birds, post-breeding dispersal, and south-bound migrants. Please keep us up-to-date by reporting your sightings to

Robert Culbert leads Saturday morning Guided Birding Tours and is an ecological consultant living in Vineyard Haven.

Photos of recent bird sightings on Martha's Vineyard.