May is rapidly coming to a close and with May’s disappearance the northward migration mostly ends. We will still get more migrants, especially the small and hard to identify flycatchers known collectively as Empidonax, cuckoos, and who knows what else as we move into the already-started breeding season.

For me, the most significant signal of migration’s end is the sighting of Blackpoll warblers. The troika of Susan Whiting, Bob Shriber and Geoff Muldaur spotted one in Aquinnah on May 21.

Matt Pelikan spotted a red-eyed Vireo on May 18 and says that species “always makes me feel like it’s the beginning of the end for Spring migration.” Numerous other observers from across the Island have also reported this species: Susan Whiting at the Brickyard on May 21; Benjamin Clock at Sailing Camp Park and Sam Wainwright at Blackwater Pond on May 22; and the next day it was Luanne Johnson, Margaret Curtin and Shea Fee in Aquinnah, and Phil Edmundson at Watcha Pond.

Blackpoll warbler. — Lanny McDowell

Yellow-billed cuckoo migration peaks in late May and they just arrived. Shea Fee heard one in Katama near Mattakesett Bay on May 17. On May 21, Matt Pelikan heard one calling near his Oak Bluffs home and Lanny McDowell heard a couple of them near Lambert’s Cove Road.

Mariah Ben David spotted a yellow-throated Warbler near John Hoft Road on May 19; she watched it aggressively attacking a truck’s mirror. She likely saw this bird in the same location about a month ago but not well enough to identify. Marie Meyer-Barton saw this bird again on May 20. Why is it still here when it breeds southward from southern New Jersey? Is there a nesting pair?

A blue-gray gnatcatcher was spotted at the Gay Head Moraine on May 23 by Luanne Johnson, Margaret Curtin and Shea Fee. While there, they also spotted the much more common Eastern wood-pewee. The latter species was also observed by Susan Whiting at the Brickworks and there were multiple sightings on May 23 by Luanne Johnson, Margaret Curtin and Shea Fee in Aquinnah; Phil Edmundson near Watcha Pond and Bridget Dunnigan and Sea Williams along John Hoft Road.

Other first-time warbler sightings include Ken Magnuson’s chestnut-sided warbler on May 18 at the Edgartown Golf Club on May 22, the same day that Allan Keith spotted one at Squibnocket. He also spotted a warbling vireo there that day.

Solitary sandpiper. — Lanny McDowell

Matt Pelikan heard an orchard oriole singing in his yard on May 18, the same day that there were four males at Kate Meleney’s yard and Pamela Speir observed two of them. Lanny McDowell spotted one in Aquinnah on May 21. On May 23, Shea Fee and Margaret Curtin saw one at Pilot’s Landing.

Eastern kingbirds have suddenly become more common, too. Susan Whiting found one at Tisbury Great Pond on May 21, Phil Edmondson spotted one near Watcha Pond, and Sam Wainwright found one at Blackwater Pond on May 22.

Scarlet tanagers have been seen by Margaret Curtin and Luanne Johnson on May 15 near Tea Lane, Luanne Johnson on May 19 near Red Coat Hill Road, Sam Wainwright on May 21 at Blackwater Pond, Bridget Dunnigan and Sea Williams on May 23 near John Hoft Road and by Shea Fee, Luanne Johnson and Bob Shriber on Old South Road.

Bob Shriber spotted a rose-breasted grosbeak at Beetlebung Corner on May 16 while Susan Whiting saw a male on May 17 and a female from May 21-23. Shea Fee saw one at Wasque on May 23. Geoff Muldaur joined Bob Shriber and Susan Whiting in Aquinnah where they spotted a white-eyed vireo and two Virginia rails. Phil Edmundson saw a white-crowned sparrow near Watcha Pond on May 22. Shea Fee still had at least one red crossbill at Mytoi on May 23.

There are two weird bird stories to report. On May 19 at the Edgartown Golf Course, Ken Magnuson spotted an almost all-white bird that had a dark tip on its beak, a dark tail and dark eyes. He was able to properly identify it as a catbird by its behavior and vocalizations. On May 19, Julia Austin watched an immature Cooper’s hawk make an unsuccessful attempt on a skunk! Luanne Johnson, who knows skunks quite well, has not heard of that before. The skunk got away after discharging its musky scent and the hawk perhaps learned its lesson, though it does not have a particularly acute sense of smell.

On to waterbirds! Jeff Bernier spotted a solitary sandpiper at Butler’s Mud Hole on May 19, a first for the season. Black skimmers have added Vineyard Haven Harbor to their foraging range. Mariah Ben David saw one there on May 20, Sarah Mayhew saw three on May 21 and Lisa Maxfield saw them at Eastville Point Beach on May 22.

Roseate terns have been seen as well, usually within flocks of common terns. Ten of them were seen by Jeff Bernier at Little Beach on May 20, along with hundreds of common terns that are nesting there. Susan Whiting found six roseates alongside 450 commons at Tisbury Great Pond on May 23, while Bob Shriber estimated there were 1,000 common terns off Philbin Beach on May 18.

Shea Fee spotted 11 ruddy turnstones on Norton Point on May 17 while Sam Wainwright saw a late red-breasted merganser and 22 ruddy turnstones there on May 20. One ruddy turnstone was observed by Phil Edmondson at Watcha Pond on May 23. And a least sandpiper was observed by Shea Fee at Wasque on May 21.

Seabirds have been seen well offshore, as Allison Black and Doug Gochfeld are still on a NOAA Research vessel south of Martha’s Vineyard, halfway to the continental slope. On May 18, they had two Wilson’s storm-petrels, four sooty shearwaters and four Manx shearwaters, a red-necked phalarope and a black tern.

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