In March 83 species were reported in this column, and in the first quarter of the year 121 species were reported. A review of this species list and other species reported on ebird adds 18 species to the list, for a total of 139 species.

Fifteen of those species tend to be fairly common, including hooded merganser, wild turkey, black-crowned night-heron, herring gull, rock pigeon (all down-island), belted kingfisher, ring-billed gull, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, blue jay, fish crow (in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown), tufted titmouse, savannah sparrow (in Edgartown and Aquinnah), snow bunting (Edgartown’s South Beach and one sighting in Menemsha), and house sparrow.

A ring-necked pheasant was reported twice: Ann Noyes in Menemsha on Feb. 17 and Nancy Weaver at South Beach State Park on Feb. 22.

Indigo bunting. — Lanny McDowell

A single sharp-shinned hawk was spotted six times: Lisa Maxfield at Brush Pond on Jan. 19; Chris Scott at Morning Glory Farm and Nancy Nordin at Chilmark Pond’s Thumb Cove both on Feb. 9; Shea Fee at Wasque on March 4; by the trio of Diane Amirault, Laura Markley and Kari Sasportas on March 23; and Cynthia Bloomquist at her West Tisbury home on April 6.

Shea Fee spotted four chipping sparrows at Green Pastures Road on Chappaquiddick on Jan. 6, Nancy Nordin found one at her West Tisbury yard on Jan. 8, Cynthai Bloomquist found two at her home on Feb. 22, Nancy Weaver and Bob Shriber observed one in Aquinnah on April 4, and Nancy Nordin one at Katama farm April 6.

Bird Sightings

It is April and you never know what will show up. Spring overshoots are species that are here way early and were probably brought here by strong southerly winds.

Bonapartes gull. — Lanny McDowell

Most unexpected overshoots are two early insect-eaters, both seen and photographed by Lanny McDowell. He spotted a white-eyed vireo near the west side of Lake Tashmoo on April 4, a species whose previous early arrival date was an April 8, 2005 sighting by Scott Stephens in Vineyard Haven. Lanny also saw a northern waterthrush on the Vineyard Haven side of the Head of the Lagoon on April 6. The previous early date for this species was April 20, 1980, seen by the late Vern Laux. Both species are “supposed” to still be in Central America or on islands in the Gulf of Mexico.

Another spring overshoot, one that occurs in most springs, is the indigo bunting. There are 10 records for this species in March and April, the earliest was when J. Bayley found one in Edgartown on March 20, 1996. There probably will be more buntings coming our way, and they may stick around to nest.

The remaining migrants that arrived this week (there are 10 (wow!) of them) are more or less on schedule rather than overshoots.

There are two reports of snowy egrets. Lisa Maxfield and Nancy Weaver saw one at Brush Pond on April 4, along with one much larger great egret, and Isabella Colucci spotted two snowies in the salt marshes at the southern end of Sengekontacket Pond on April 6.

Northern waterthrush. — Lanny McDowell

Bonaparte’s gulls have also returned. Nancy Weaver and Bob Shriber found one at Quansoo and possibly another (the same one?) at Town Cove on April 2, Matt Born observed 12 of them at West Basin Road on April 4, Bob Shriber and Nancy Weaver located a flock of 36 in Aquinnah, while Nancy Nordin watched two of them at Eel Pond on April 6.

Five other species of waterbirds arrived this week. Nancy Weaver and Bob Shriber both saw a white phase snow goose at Town Cove on April 2. Also present were three blue-winged teal and six gadwall.

Town Cove is a great place to look for ducks, especially when the pond is low. Katama Farm is also a pretty good place to find birds, and Chris Scott found a dozen laughing gulls there on April 1.

The MV Bird Club found a flock of eight common mergansers at Long Point on April 6. While we saw this species in March, we did not see eight of them in one flock, so they are migrants. On another note, the MV Bird Club’s furthest from home award goes to Fleur Ng’weno from Nairobi, Kenya, who was visiting Monica Brady-Myerov. Their favorite birds from Long Point on April 6 were 40 yellow-rumped warblers, red-winged blackbirds, and double-crested cormorants.

Gadwall. — Lanny McDowell

Four species of songbirds arrived this week. Chris Scott observed two red-breasted nuthatches at Felix Neck on April 2, Nancy Weaver spotted one marsh wren at Quansoo on April 2, Chris Scott spotted a single field sparrow at the Gay Head Cliffs on April 5, Nancy Nordin found one at Katama Farm on April 6, and Nancy Nordin watched eight red crossbills at Thumb Cove of Chilmark Pond on April 6.

The purple finch reported last week continues to be present at Thaw Malin’s and Cynthia Bloomquist’s feeders as of April 7.

Strickland Wheelock brought a group of birders from Massachusetts Audubon Society over the weekend of March 22 to 25. Even though the rainy and windy weather was less than cooperative for birding, they managed to find 80 species. Their highlights included long-tailed ducks, ring-necked duck, hooded merganser, horned grebe, American oystercatcher, greater yellowlegs, killdeer. northern harrier, eastern bluebird, great cormorant, purple sandpiper, northern gannet. screech owl (landed only yards away), American woodcock, fish crow, flocks of hundreds of razorbills, black-legged kittiwake, common raven, yellow-rumped warbler, brant, wood duck, green-winged teal, brown creeper, golden-crowned kinglet, dark-eyed junco, and Lapland longspur (a life bird for all the participants).

Please email your sightings to

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