Dick Jennings and Antone Lima found a juvenile glossy ibis in one of the salt pannes of a salt marsh on Cape Pogue on August 11. This dark species — glossy with the right lighting — stands about two feet tall and has a long down-curved bill. It is mostly a southern species that is not common on the Vineyard. My records show that the only other sighting this year was by Richard Price, who saw one at Felix Neck over the weekend of May 12 to 14. They used to be more common. Back in the 1980s a few pairs nested in a large colony of black-crowned night-herons and snowy egrets in the pitch pines in the Cape Pogue Lighthouse area.

Glossy ibis on the prowl. — Lanny McDowell

Susan Whiting and Warren Woessner birded Katama on August 9. The best bird of their morning was a bobolink at the Farm Institute. This is the first of the fall invasion of bobolinks. There will be many more sightings of this species this fall. They will hang out in grasslands and cornfields. Their distinctive “pink” call may be your first indication that they are around.

Dahlia and Bob Rudavsky spotted a western willet in the marshes of Sengekontacket Pond on August 9. This is a subspecies of our willet that many think should be a separate species, as they are noticeably bigger and paler than our breeding willets. Like many other western-breeding shorebirds, they tend to migrate southward along the Atlantic Coast, and can be identified with careful observations.

Bird Sightings

Eastern willet, western willet. — Lanny McDowell

Great crested flycatchers are still around, although they are harder to find as they are mostly silent now-a-days. Jacqueline Beauvais Cromwell had a family of them visit her yard on August 14. She reports that the juvie is getting close to making the adult call. Doreen McCabe observed one early in the rainy morning outside her house on August 12. And my Saturday morning guided bird tour lucked into one that flew past the car and then perched on a fencepost in the rain near Mink Meadows.

Lanny McDowell also did some wet weather birding at Katama on August 13. He found some rather ratty-looking young brown-headed cowbirds, chipping sparrows, and saltmarsh sparrows.

Kathleen Kinsman spotted a swarm of swallows hawking insects on the wing at Nat’s Farm on August 13. Just imagine how many insects they are eating as they dip and dart through the air. Pete Gilmore once again heard a black-billed cuckoo calling through the mists of early morning August 13. He has heard them several times this summer, all near the northwest corner of the State Forest.

Juvenile brown-headed cowbird braves the rain. — Lanny McDowell

Sheriff’s Meadow Pond is still hosting an adult and juvenile yellow-crowned night-heron, as well as black-crowned night-herons, a great egret and a green heron. Lanny McDowell is the latest to see these species there, on August 11.

Doreen McCabe also spotted an eastern kingbird near Crystal Lake on the evening of August 10.

Susan Whiting and Warren Woessner visited Norton Point on August 9. The shorebirds mentioned these past few weeks were all there, but most notable were two absent species: least tern and piping plover. Both are early migrants so they may have left the Island already. Amazingly for August, these are the only mentions of Norton Point in this column. Jeff Bernier spotted a black skimmer there on August 8 and a northern harrier on August 7.

Eastern kingbird. — Lanny McDowell

The highlights of Susan Whiting’s Chilmark Community Center bird walk to Great Rock Bight on August 8 were two common eiders, an eastern wood-pewee, two blue-winged warblers, two American redstarts, two yellow warblers and one Baltimore Oriole.

Eastern bluebirds have not been reported for a while. Sarah Mayhew observed four of them along Panhandle Road on August 8. Where have they been?

Snowy egrets seem to be more abundant this year than they have been in quite a while. Into the mid 1980s, the snowies were more common than great egrets. Now the reverse is true. But there were four sightings this week. Pete Gilmore found one at James Pond on August 13, Dahlia and Bob Rudavsky observed one at the Tuthill preserve fronting on Sengekontacket Pond on August 6. Dick Jennings with Antone Lima spotted a snowy alongside the above mentioned glossy ibis on August 11. And that same day, Steve Allen and Matt Augusto spotted an immature snowy at Felix Neck.

Western willet with sanderling and short-billed dowitcher. — Lanny McDowell

The peak migration of chimney swifts is in mid-August. Over August 12 to 13 I have seen them in downtown Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. Pete Gilmore observed two of them at Sheriff’s Meadow Pond in Edgartown on August 11. This species has been in these locations all summer.

This is the season for southbound migrants; please keep us up-to-date by reporting your sightings to birds@mvgazette.com.

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.