Here they come! The Vineyard is well known for hosting a lot of waterfowl (ducks, geese and swans) from October to April. This week three species of diving ducks finally showed up. As the category of diving ducks suggests, they dive to the bottom of ponds to get their food.

A flock of 10 diminutive buffleheads appeared in Farm Pond on Oct. 25, and were observed by both Bill Post and John Nelson. A small flock of red-breasted mergansers was observed by Matt Pelikan off Leland Beach on Oct. 22, Tony Lima spotted two at Farm Pond on Oct. 24, and Walt Looney saw two others at Little Beach on Oct. 23.

Three hooded mergansers were spotted by John Nelson at Farm Pond on Oct. 24. The next day I observed four greater scaup swimming along on Town Cove before they sprang into the air and flew right past me, maybe 100 feet away.

Greater scaup. — Lanny McDowell

Other ducks are also becoming more common. For seaducks, Becky Marvil spotted small numbers of all three species of scoters (white-winged, surf and black) as well as a few common eiders in the ocean off Aquinnah on Oct. 24. American wigeon represent the puddle ducks — the ones that stretch their necks down to the bottom while sticking their tails up into the air. This species has been seen at various locales around the shoreline of Lagoon Pond recently.

As for the geese, brant are the smaller cousins of Canada geese, and they have been seen in Ocean Park for a week or two. All of these species will become more abundant over the next month or two, making the Vineyard a winter wonderland of waterfowl.

Bird Sightings

The most interesting of all the other sightings this week is the eastern meadowlark that was spotted near the Gay Head cliffs on Oct. 24 by Allan Keith and Bob Shriber. About 40 years ago this species was still present year-round. Alas, it has declined tremendously and now is only seen during migration. They also spotted the first of the winter resident great cormorants, as well as American kestrel, blue-headed vireo, hermit thrush, pine siskins and yellow-rumped warblers. Lanny McDowell added hermit thrush, swamp sparrow, black scoter and mallard to the list. Later that day, Allan Keith visited Squibnocket and found blackpoll, Cape May and yellow-rumped warblers.

Killdeer keep it cool. — Lanny McDowell

The peak abundance of pine siskins appears to have passed. Phil Edmundson observed a flock of 18 in his yard, while Cynthia Bloomquist and Thaw Malin found a small flock of siskins at Squibnocket on Oct. 22.

Red-breasted nuthatches, however, remain fairly abundant. Sande Weinstein and Samantha Hartley saw them at their feeders on Oct. 21. The next day Cynthia Bloomquist and Thaw Malin found them at both Squibnocket and Skiffs Lane, and Bridget Dunnigan and Sea Williams found some at West Chop Woods.

On Oct. 24 Francesca Zeta found some at Airport Fitness, along with white-throated sparrows and flock of at least 60 grackles. That same day Becky Marvil found them near Edgartown Lighthouse beach near some white-throated sparrows and American pipits.

Other songbirds of note include Thaw Malin’s and Cynthia Bloomquist’s Oct. 23 Skiffs Lane sighting of a yellow-bellied sapsucker, Kathleen Kinsman’s dark-eyed junco on Oct. 20, a species that Dorie Godfrey also spotted on Oct. 24.

A good hair day for a red breasted merganser. — Lanny McDowell

Although most songbirds do not care to venture offshore, Scott Stephens had two songbirds land on his ship: a palm warbler on Oct. 2 and a pine siskin on Oct. 15.

Are ravens attracted to good music? The Flying Elbows band was playing some tunes at Pilot Hill on Oct. 24 when they spotted a raven flying by. Jared Hruby saw one near there the same day. Ben Cabot has been seeing one off and on all summer, and he heard it again the same day. Sioux Eagle saw one Oct. 24, while Jodie Swain had several fly over her head last weekend. Heather Thurber saw two hanging out at the end of Tiah’s Cove on Oct. 25. Meanwhile, their much smaller cousins, the fish crows, have shown up in numbers. I counted 30 near the hospital on Oct. 20, and there were 75 of them at Five Corners on Oct. 24.

Bobwhites appear to be trying to colonize Vineyard Haven. Patsy Donovan had four visiting her bird feeder on Oct. 25, just a few days after Nancy Weaver saw them in her yard on Oct. 22.

On the shorebird front, I had the largest flock of killdeer I have seen on the Island — 45 of them — among the corn stubble near the horse barn at Pond View Farm on Oct. 25. There were two kingfishers and two mockingbirds along nearby Town Cove. Little beach hosted two killdeer, a dunlin and three greater yellowlegs, spotted by Walt Looney on Oct. 23. Other sightings of the latter species include a flock of 17 at Prime Marine on Oct. 24 that I saw, and three at Farm Pond spotted by John Nelson at Farm Pond on Oct. 25.

Bill Post spotted a green heron and five black-crowned night-herons at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary on Oct. 20 and a lingering osprey at Little Beach on Oct. 15.

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