Menemsha fisherman Walter Dixon had a surprise shipmate join his fishing trip on Monday afternoon. A brown booby, a seabird more commonly seen in the Caribbean, landed on Captain Dixon’s dragger Peddler late in the day approximately five miles southwest of Gay Head.

“He came crashing right on board,” Captain Dixon said from his boat in Menemsha Tuesday afternoon. “He hopped right onto one of the coolers and was never afraid of me.”

A sighting of a brown Booby never mind a whole afternoon spent with the bird is a rare event on the Vineyard.

Gazette bird columnist Rob Culbert, who reports on the sighting in his column this week, said there have only been seven previously recorded brown booby sightings in Massachusetts since 2005.

“They typically prefer a warmer climate,” Mr. Culbert said. “You see them a lot south of Key West. That’s where they breed.”

Captain Dixon said his new feathered friend remained onboard for the duration of the trip back to Menemsha. It wasn’t until the boat was approaching the harbor that the bird took flight.

“He took off and flew around the boat five or six times before landing again on the bow,” Captain Dixon said. “He was just zooming around the boat and I thought that was wicked neat.”

Captain Dixon said the bird then perched on the bow of the Peddler, appearing to pose as passersby took photos.

Later in the day Earl Olson photographed the bird at another Menemsha locale.

“I went over to the jetty to go flyfishing and the bird was just there,” said Mr. Olson who came to the Vineyard from Vermont to vacation with friends. “He looked kind of comical all alone waiting for something to eat, so I took a bunch of nice photos.”

Mr. Olson echoed Captain Dixon’s observation that the bird was unfazed by his presence and the impromptu photo shoot. Hoping to see the bird again, he returned around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and found the booby in the exact same spot on the jetty.

He remarked on the bird’s intelligence, watching the fishermen cast their lines into the water.

“He seemed to know that was the spot where he would be getting a snack,” Mr. Olsen said.

He said some fishermen tossed residual bait to the bird on the rocks, while others slung squid or fish into the water, prompting the booby to dive in for its next meal.

Mr. Culbert said it is hard to say why or how the booby wound up on the Vineyard.

“When there’s a straggler way out of their range they could have been carried up here by the winds,” Mr. Culbert. “But I can’t really tell.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Olson marvelled at his photo shoot of the rare visitor. “I got about 18 or so photos today,” he said. “It was special.”

Home page photo by Lanny McDowell.