Northern bobwhite is their official name, but they are often called quail. They were regular inhabitants of the Waterview Farm area into the 1980s, but as far as I know their call has not been heard there since then. Until now! On July 2, Kath MayWaite heard a bobwhite calling from nearby Pecoy Point, while Olsen and Amy Houghton heard one calling from the fourth tee at Farm Neck that day and saw him on July 9. Finally, John Banks heard a bobwhite calling from the meadows of Waterview Farm, directly between those two locations, on July 3. All observers were excited and welcomed them back to that area.

Their recovery up-Island has been aided in recent years by people who have raised and released young quail. Nature has also obliged and reports of quail are fairly routine.. Albert Fischer is the latest to report a covey of a dozen quail on a private road in Chilmark.

Bird Sightings

Northern parula warbler — Lanny McDowell

Suddenly it is the season for Baltimore oriole fledglings! I had not gotten reports of fledglings even though the nesting season started in May. This past week there were three reports. Tim Rush observed two pairs in Coffins Field with at least one fledgling at a feeder on July 5. Skip MacElhannon also reported observing some fledglings, as did I at the Oak Bluffs Pumping Station on July 7.

What bird has blue, green, white, yellow and reddish-brown in its plumage? Lanny McDowell observed a male northern parula near the North Road entrance to Waskosim’s Rock Reservation on July 7, yet noted that all these colors can be hard to see at some angles.

On July 6 Sue Pagliccia saw a tufted titmouse at her Oak Bluffs feeder. This is noteworthy as I have not seen very many of them this season. They arrived on the Island as a breeding species about 25 years ago and have since spread across the Island, but lately they have been unusually scarce at Cedar Tree Neck, at my house, and at the Oak Bluffs Pumping Station. Has anyone else noticed this?

Common loon — Lanny McDowell

Morgan Hodgson updates us on the up-Island whip-poor-wills, which he hears in Lobsterville along East Pasture Shores Road every year, including this one. Surely they are found elsewhere up-Island, but where? Soon they will become silent, making it incredibly difficult to find them.

Albert Fischer has been hearing screech owls recently, as has Susan Straight. They often seem to call more frequently in the summer, which is when young owls are heading out on their own and dispersing from their parents.

Why would there be antagonism between great crested flycatchers and song sparrows? Kath MayWaite reports a feisty great crested flycatcher was aggressively harassing a song sparrow at Pecoy Point on July 3. She also reports both yellow and pine warblers were there.

One final note about landbirds involves a Cooper’s hawk that does not know it is supposed to hunt in the woods. It hunts the fields of the Farm Institute and was observed by Lanny McDowell on July 1 and Luanne Johnson about a week before that.

Least sandpiper — Lanny McDowell

On to news of shorebirds migrating southward. The following shorebird sightings show that they can be found on any beach, and that Norton Point Beach and Little Beach are not the only places to visit looking for them.

Stu Wilson spotted a pectoral sandpiper on the West Tisbury side of the opening into Tisbury Great Pond on July 4. According to the website ebird’s database, while this species usually does not arrive until the last week of July, in some years they arrive in early July. An early failed nesting attempt is likely the reason for this early arrival.

Philip Edmundson walked from Watcha Pond to Tisbury Great Pond and saw 21 short-billed dowitchers, two lesser yellowlegs and a least sandpiper. Steve Allen reports finding a spotted sandpiper at Felix Neck on July 7, as well as a green heron and a willet. Liz Olson also spotted a spotted sandpiper at Quansoo on July 1.

On July 5, Danguole Budris spotted a great blue heron at Sepiessa Point.

Lastly, Tom Finnegan spotted a common loon as it foraged off South Beach on July 1. And on June 27 I spotted what I first thought was a rock in the water near the eastern end of Eel Pond. Once I got closer, the rock raised its head and swam away, miraculously transforming itself into a common loon in near breeding plumage.

The nesting season is in full swing and southward migrating shorebirds are starting to show up. Please report your sightings to

More photos.

Robert Culbert is an ecological consultant with Nature Watch LLC living in Vineyard Haven.