Dedicated and perhaps obsessive birders live for this. We, and I include myself in this group, get a thrill when we spot a bird that is not “supposed” to be here. Western strays are birds that generally live west of the Mississippi River or even along the Pacific Coast. The season to find these western birds begins now.

One example of a western stray is the Say’s phoebe spotted at the Gay Head cliffs. Five unsuspecting but ever hopeful birders descended on Aquinnah on the morning of Oct. 3 and there it was, perched in the open on the benches and boulders inside the circle. It was spotted by Bob Shriber Lanny McDowell, Allan Keith, Morgan Muir and Pete Gilmore.

Bob Shriber and Pete Gilmore spotted it again the next day. This is maybe the seventh time this species has been seen on the Vineyard.

Says phoebe. — Lanny McDowell

Another western stray was also observed by Pete Gilmore and Bob Shriber, but a flicker chased it away before they could conclusively identify it to species. This bird was bright yellow underneath with gray wings and back but views of the tail were obscured by the dense vegetation. It might have been the fairly regularly seen western kingbird, but other less common species share these field marks.

And there was more of interest there. On Oct. 3 the same people saw a red-headed woodpecker, which is different from our common red-bellied woodpecker. The former species has an entirely red head and a large white patch on its wings and tail. Their other highlights included six species of warblers (yellowthroat, parula, blackpoll, western palm, yellow-rumped, black-throated green); three species of vireos (blue-headed, Philadelphia, and red-eyed); three species of sparrows (clay-colored, white-throated, and Lincoln’s,); as well as house wren, bobolink, golden-crowned kinglet, brown thrasher, and purple finch.

On Oct. 2 Pete Gilmore and Lanny McDowell found a remarkable seven dickcissels and two dark-eyed juncos.

Luanne Johnson also visited the Gay Head cliffs on Oct. 4, and her highlights included red-eyed vireo, chipping sparrow, blackpoll warbler and yellow-rumped warbler. Off North Road she spotted red-eyed vireo, catbird, bluebird, robin, cedar waxwing, swamp sparrow, blackpoll, black-throated blue warbler, pine warbler and a scarlet tanager.

Palm warbler. — Lanny McDowell

An indication of the abundance of red-breasted nuthatches is that they were seen at all the locations mentioned above. These diminutive nuthatches have been reported elsewhere ­— Susan

Whiting in her yard on Oct. 2 along with a blackpoll; Cynthia Bloomquist on Skiffs Lane in West Tisbury on Oct. 3; Doug Rich at the Oak Bluffs pumping station on Oct. 4; and I saw them in Edgartown along Fuller street and at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary on Oct. 4.

Other highlights were 35 black-capped chickadee (they were everywhere and two of them were singing), house wren, black-and white warbler, common yellowthroat, yellow-rumped warbler and both the western and eastern forms of palm warblers.

Katherine Oscar spotted a black-throated blue warbler at Blackwater Pond Preserve, a blue-headed vireo at Cedar Tree Neck on Oct. 3, and three killdeer at Lucy Vincent on Oct. 2.

Black throated green warbler. — Lanny McDowell

Two species are the most notable waterbirds this week. A somewhat late osprey was seen at Squibnocket by Katherine Oscar on Oct. 3, while Sharon Simonin saw two immature osprey at the Tisbury Water Works property at the southern end of Tashmoo on Oct. 4. The second notable species was the Forster’s tern spotted by Walt Looney at Little Beach on Sept. 27, while Francesca Zeta spotted five of the terns on Norton Point on Sept. 29, along with a black tern, a whimbrel, 50 semipalmated plovers, two dunlin, both a least and pectoral sandpiper, and a merlin and a peregrine falcon. A third falcon species, a kestrel, was spotted in Aquinnah by Sean Carrol on Sept. 27. Jeff Bernier spotted two peregrines on Little Beach on Sept. 30, and on Oct. 3 Hans Goeckel spotted a peregrine and a snowy egret on Cape Pogue.

Solitary Sandpipers are still hanging around. Walt Looney spotted one at the pond near the state forest headquarters on Sept. 27 and one was still there when Jeff Bernier visited on Oct. 3. Jeff Peters visited Pilot Hill Farm on Sept. 30 and spotted a solitary sandpiper and some wood ducks. Jeff Bernier reports that there were “lots of wood ducks” at Cranberry Acres on Oct. 3.

Will Harcourt-Smith spotted two immature yellow-crowned night-herons at Felix Neck on Sept. 27, and Katherine Oscar spotted one at Lake Tashmoo Sept 30 and another at Squibnocket Oct. 3. I spotted one at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary on Oct. 4.

Bob Shriber spotted an immature black skimmer at Menemsha Pond on Oct. 3 along with a greater yellowlegs.

The sandhill crane is still hanging around. Katherine Oscar saw it on Sept. 30, Margarita Kelly was excited to finally see it on Oct. 3, the same day it was spotted by Jerry Twomey and Anne Speakman.

The abundance of ruby-throated hummingbirds is greatly reduced this week. Last week 51 observers spotted them, but this week has only nine sightings: JJ Gonson, Daisy Kimberly, Nate Durawa, Doyle Bunch, Lindsay Allison, Laura Hilliard, Patsy Donovan, Tom Hodgson and Sande Weinstein.

Luanne Johnson spotted a woodcock as it crossed a trail near the Chappy Community Center on Sept. 28. I spotted nine fish crows in Vineyard haven Outer Harbor on Oct. 3, and the next day they were at the Steamship Authority dock. Also in town, I spotted three ravens as they flew over the Park & Ride lot.

And as a sign of things to come, from Lobsterville on Sept. 27 I spotted a flock of fourteen white-winged scoters flying west down the middle of Vineyard Sound. By their flight behavior — they were not near land and they continued flying westward until they disappeared from sight — I believe they were the first migrant scoters of the fall season rather than our few summer resident individuals.

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More bird pictures.

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