Common and roseate terns. — Lanny McDowell

Norton Point Beach was really impressive this week, especially near the breach at the eastern end of the beach. The terns there are simply amazing: thousands of them are swirling through the air while others sit quietly roosting on the beach. The activity is so great that it is virtually impossible to get an accurate count of the birds.

I counted 500 least terns, 400 roseate terns, 1,000 common terns and a vast flock of common and roseate terns swirling around the easternmost end of the beach on Aug. 1. Counting all the terns was not possible without disturbing them as I was walking from the west and dunes concealed the lower portions of the flock. Nearby were two black terns, two Forster’s terns, seven black skimmers and two sooty shearwaters.

Highlights from the rest of Norton Point included 11 American oystercatchers, 15 black-bellied plovers, three piping plovers, 12 semipalmated plovers, 14 ruddy turnstones, 250 sanderlings, three least sandpipers, two semipalmated sandpipers, five short-billed dowitchers, two spotted sandpipers, seven greater yellowlegs, one western willet, 11 eastern willets, two lesser yellowlegs, one green heron, one northern harrier, five barn swallows, seven saltmarsh sparrows and two savannah sparrows.

Terns with black skimmers. — Lanny McDowell

Others visiting Norton Point found more. Al Sgroi, Scott Dresser and Valerie Burdette visited on August 2 and added chimney swift, two tree swallows, seven barn swallows and three common yellowthroats. On August 3 Sam Scarfone added two red knots, four laughing gulls, 1,200 roseate terns, eastern kingbird, horned lark, tree swallow and six barn swallows.

On Aug. 4 David Benvent added one common eider, 120 semipalmated plovers, one killdeer, 20 short-billed dowitchers, 10 laughing gulls, 1300 roseate terns, one Cory’s shearwater, one great blue heron, four great egret and four green herons. That same day Bridget Dunnigan and Sea Williams counted 900 least terns, 700 roseate terns, 1,000 common terns, and one black-crowned night-heron.

Of course these species also visit other beaches. Susan Whiting, Bob Shriber and Allan Keith birded Tisbury Great Pond on July 31 and reported 15 black-belllied plovers, 300 semipalmated plovers, two ruddy turnstones, four red knots, three sanderlings, four least sandpipers, 275 semipalmated sandpipers, 15 short-billed dowitchers and one spotted sandpiper. On August 2 David Benvent and Merrill and Andrew Eppedio found three common eider, one least sandpiper, eight laughing gulls, 15 roseate terns, 150 common terns, another 3,000 terns they could not iden tify to species, five Cory’s shearwaters, three great shearwaters and 20 other unidentified shearwaters in Aquinnah. On Aug. 4 Allan Burrage watched a whimbrel on Sarson’s Island.

Ovenbird. — Lanny McDowell

At Eel Pond on August 5, Walt Looney spotted nine black-bellied plovers, 18 semipalmated plovers, seven piping plovers, three killdeer, 25 ruddy turnstones, five sanderling, one least, 18 semipalmated and three spotted sandpipers, three short-billed dowitchers, 53 greater yellowlegs, one eastern kingbird and three saltmarsh sparrows.

Also on August 5 but at Tisbury Great Pond, Bob Shriber and Susan Whiting observed two black ducks, 18 black-bellied plovers, 75 semipalmated plovers, two killdeer, four ruddy tuurnstones, two red knots, 201 sanderlings, 12 least sandpipers, 50 semipalmated sandpipers, 22 short-billed dowitchers, two spotted sandpipers, five greater yellowlegs, two lesser yellowlegs and 1,100 common terns.

On Sarson’s Island that same day Charles Morano watched three black-bellied plovers, two semipalmated plovers, three ruddy turnstones, two least sandpipers, six semipalmated sandpipers, three greater yellowlegs and one Forster’s tern.

Forster's tern. — Lanny McDowell

Peter Enrich observed the first two northern gannets of the season on August 1, offshore of Lucy Vincent Beach. And Bob Shriber spotted a northern waterthrush on August 2 in Aquinnah, likely the first report of the year.

The swallow migration is increasing. Barn swallows are the most abundant, with an amazing flock of 160 seen by Al Sgroi, Scott Dresser and Valerie Burdette at Katama Farm on Aug. 2. Eighteen were seen on Aug. 2 by David Benvent and Merrill and Andrew Eppedio in Aquinnah; three were recorded on August 3 by the Felix Neck Early Birders; nine were observed on August 5 by Sarah Quadt and Sam Denenberg at Ice House Pond; two barn swallows were seen in Menemsha n August 5 by Merrill and Andrew Eppedio; and three were seen at Long Point on August 5 by Christian Cooper and Luanne Johnson.

Richard Couse observed a tree swallow at Tashmoo Waterworks on August 2 and another was seen by Merrill and Andrew Eppedio on August 4 at State Beach. Clifton Stone spotted a rough-winged swallow on August 1 at Lucy Vincent Beach and David Benvent and Merrill and Andrew Eppedio found 12 bank swallows in Aquinnah on August 2.

Female orchard oriole. — Lanny McDowell

There were six sightings of eastern wood-pewees in the first week of August. Sam Denenberg heard one at Tisbury Meadow on August 7. Carine Mitchell found one near Red Beach on August 7. Merrill and Andrew Eppedio recorded one in the state forest on August 6 and another at Scotchman’s Lane on Aug. 5. The troika of Shea Fee, Christian Cooper and Luanne Johnson noted two at Long Point on August 5 and Chris Scott heard one in the state forest on August 3.

Female and immature orchard and Baltimore orioles can be difficult to distinguish at this time of the year. On August 6 Chris Scott found a Baltimore oriole at Felix Neck, while the Martha’s Vineyard Bird Club’s trip to Waskosim’s Rock hit the jackpot with four Baltimore orioles and two orchard orioles. Other field trip highlights included an ovenbird and a scarlet tanager.

Merrill and Andrew Eppedio visited the disc golf course in the state forest on August 1 and found one whip-poor-will, one woodcock, one screech owl and an ovenbird.

Northern harrier. — Lanny McDowell

On August 2 the troika of David Benvent and Merrill and Andrew Eppedio found a merlin and a northern harrier in Aquinnah. That same day Bob Shriber found a harrier and a merlin, as well as a yellowthroat, two yellow warblers and a prairie warbler in Aquinnah.

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