Juvenile little blue heron. — Lanny McDowell

This week produced three new species for the year, all water birds. A little blue heron has been seen twice recently; on July 21 Sam Scarfone spotted one at Mink Meadows Pond and on July 24 Seth Buddy observed a white juvenile along the beach between Mink Meadows and West Chop.

Two solitary sandpipers – yes, most of the time they are by themselves – were also reported this week. On July 28 Angelo Valle saw one at Trapp’s Pond and Caroline Heald found one at Chappaquonsett. The third new species for the year is a pectoral sandpiper, which Bob Shriber spotted at Black Point Pond on July 29.

These next species have not been seen recently. Peregrine falcons are a more frequent winter resident but have also been seen in recent summers. On July 27 I had a peregrine blast past me above John Butler’s Mudhole; it is an exhilarating feeling to see a bird flying that quickly. Keep an eye on the Old Whaling Church clock tower to see if it shows up there, where one has perched in recent years.

Wood duck. — Lanny McDowell

Many consider wood ducks to be the prettiest duck. They nest in small numbers on various freshwater ponds around the Island. I do not recall any recent reports but on July 24 Richard Goldenberg found a male on a freshwater pond near Major’s Cove.

Black ducks also breed in small numbers around the Island and there have been two recent reports. Steve Allen saw one at Felix Neck on July 20 and Bob Shriber found two on Black Point Pond on July 30. Be aware that at this time of year a male mallard in its eclipse plumage is similar to a black duck.

Fish crows seem to be expanding their range on the Island. The only place where they have been confirmed to breed in past years is in downtown Oak Bluffs but in July there have been multiple sightings from around the Island.

Paul Messing reports one on Bayview avenue in Oak Bluffs on July 6; Alex Lin-Moore found two near the up-Island end of Lambert’s Cove Road on July 7; Lucy Langenberg and Pedro Castro spotted four of them at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary on July 4; and Geoff Hill reports a single individual there on July 14. Caroline Heald saw one at Chappaquonsett on July 18 and Clifton Stone observed one near Stonewall Pond on July 26. There are multiple July sightings from State Beach of up to five individuals by David Benvent, Charles Morano, Noah Henkenius, Sam Scarfone, Claire Schlaikjer and Miles Guggenheim.

Eastern screech owls seem to call more frequently in the summer, and are widespread across the Island. Seth Buddy has heard up to three of them calling from near Mink Meadows all month. Alex Lin-Moore heard two calling from near the western end of Lambert’s Cove Road on July 7. Matt Born heard one calling from Clay Pit Road in Aquinnah on July 19. Maxine Angeley heard one calling along Abel’s Neck Road in Chilmark.

Fledgling screech owl. — Lanny McDowell

Also in Chilmark, Tim Moriarty heard one calling along Hawk Valley Road on July 1 and Mickey Karpa heard one calling along Quansoo Road on July 20. In West Tisbury, David Benvent heard one along Pond Road on July 24 and there are two reports from the state forest in Edgartown by Richard Couse on July 21 and by Matt Pelikan on July 22.

Barn owls are also widespread across the Island but they have only been reported from Felix Neck by Ingrid Messbauer on July 11, Dan Goldfield on July 13, David Benvent on July 20 and 21, by Al Sgroi and the Felix Neck early birders on July 27 and by Seth Buddy on July 30. Steve Allen has made multiple reports throughout the month. They nest in an apartment upstairs in the visitor center — there is a webcam so we can all watch their activity — and are often seen in the nest box near the parking lot.

In other nocturnal news, the whip-poor-wills and Chuck-will’s widow are still calling from Mytoi around dusk, as reported by Lindsay Allison on July 27. Hatsy Potter has been hearing both calling around 8:30 p.m. How much longer will they continue to call?

Susan Whiting and Bob Shriber had a “lesser” day on July 30 at Big Sandy on Tisbury Great Pond: they spotted a lesser black-backed gull and two lesser yellowlegs. On July 25 Susan watched two belligerent great black-backed gulls chasing an adult bald eagle off Big Sandy. On July 27 she spotted sandpipers — her first of the season — there.

From opposite ends of the Island, we have reports of bobwhites. On July 25 Jessica Shafer spotted one along East Pasture Lane in Aquinnah. Hatsy Potter hears them first thing in the morning and she recently saw four young ones crossing her driveway on Chappaquiddick.  

Pectoral sandpiper. — Lanny McDowell

Oops. In a recent column I summarized the abundance of nesting sparrows and reported that grasshopper sparrows had not been reported this year. Not true. Lanny McDowell, Nancy Nordin, Lisa Maxfield and Jeff Bernier found two of them along a Katama Farm fence row on May 28.

Finally, American goldfinches are common across the Island and their “potato-chip” flight call is frequently heard. Interestingly, they are late nesters, likely peaking now when their preferred thistles are blooming. But a July 27 Walter Ricciardi photograph proves that they also visit blooming sunflowers.

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Please email your sightings to birds@vineyardgazette.com.

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