Can you believe it is already May? Last month flew by, what with all the bird sightings, and the peak migration is yet to come. Get out your ears and binoculars. You will need them.

The most unexpected bird this week is a purple gallinule, which Silas Beers spotted and photographed at Dogfish Bar on April 30 and Lucy Cox saw and photographed at the same location on May 4. This species lives in wetlands along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Lanny McDowell and Joe Jims spotted one in, of all places, the Methodist Campgrounds from June 4 to 7, 2008. The Island’s 12 sightings led Susan Whiting to conclude it is “most likely to be recorded after southerly storms in the spring.”

The second unexpected species is a worm-eating warbler found by Allan Keith on May 5 at the Menemsha Hills Reservation. It is a spring overshoot, brought here by southern winds. All our sightings are in the month of May, and the previous sighting was by Bob Shriber at the Oak Bluffs pumping station on May 27, 2020.

Laughing gull. — Lanny McDowell

May is the month most vireos appear. Two vireo species have arrived. Nancy Nordin has the only yellow-throated vireo so far, as she spotted one at her West Tisbury home on May 1. Blue-headed vireos are more common: on May 1 Bruce Polikoff watched one at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary and Bob Shriber found two in Aquinnah and on May 2 Bob found four more in Aquinnah. Matt Born saw four at Clay Pit Road in Aquinnah on May 2, Sarah Mayhew observed one in West Tisbury on May 4, the same day that Sky Kardell located one at Cape Pogue.

Warbler migration also peaks in May. This week’s finds include eight species: ovenbird, northern parula, and yellow, palm, pine, black-and-white, blue-winged and yellow-rumped warblers. Skip MacElhannon found a black-and-white warbler at Great Rock Bight on April 30. On May 1 Margaret Curtin spotted two ovenbirds, one parula, one pine and two yellow-rumped warblers at the northern end of Meeting House Road in Chilmark.

May 2 was a busy day. Bob Shriber located one ovenbird and one yellow warbler near Dogfish Bar, Thaw Malin and Cynthia Bloomquist saw one palm warbler at Skiff avenue in West Tisbury, and Matt Born found six black-and-white and 12 yellow-rumped warblers at Clay Pit Road in Aquinnah.

Bridget Dunnigan and Sea Williams observed five pine and one prairie warbler at the eastern end of the State Forest on May 3, the same day that Nancy Weaver located two ovenbirds and two

Ovenbird. — Lanny McDowell

northern parulas at Waskosim’s Rock Reservation. May 4 was another busy day. Luanne Johnson watched two pine warblers near the youth hostel, Nancy Nordin saw two ovenbird, three black-and-white, two yellow and one yellow-rumped warbler at Great Rock Bight, Sky Kardell observed a yellow warbler at Cove Meadow, Luanne Johnson tallied four yellow and two yellow-rumped warblers at the Oak Bluffs pumping station, Lisa Maxfield and Nancy Weaver observed one ovenbird, two black-and-white and one yellow warbler along Lighthouse Road, Margaret Curtin and Luanne Johnson counted an amazing eight ovenbirds and one pine warbler at the State Forest, and Nancy Nordin recorded one ovenbird, two black-and-white, one blue-winged, and two yellow-rumped warblers along Moshup Trail. Finally, Tom Momeyer spotted one yellow warbler on Chickawaukee Street in Oak Bluffs on May 5.

On May 2 chimney swifts were seen by Margaret Curtin in downtown Edgartown — so did Roger Cook. Charles Morano located one at the Oak Bluffs pumping station. Nancy Nordin saw one at her West Tisbury home and Sky Kardell found three in downtown Vineyard Haven, both on May 4.

Nancy Nordin found one white-crowned sparrow at her West Tisbury home May 1 and again on May 4. That same day she saw a wood thrush, a red-breasted nuthatch and a brown creeper at her home. Stephanie Mashek located a laughing gull flying over Farm Pond on May 4. Male rose-breasted grosbeaks have been around for a while, but there have been no reports of females until now: Cynthia Bloomquist and Thaw Malin found a female at home on May 5, the same day that Allan Keith had a female at his feeders. Swamp sparrows have been seen for a couple of weeks, from the Oak Bluffs pumping station to Wasque. This week Luanne Johnson found one at the pumping station and Sky Kardell found one across the road from the Chappaquiddick Community Center, both on May 4.

More great crested flycatchers are arriving. they have been seen by Holly Mercier, Les Cutler, Jeff Bernier, Greg Pattison (nest building in a screech owl box), Thaw Malin, Cynthia Bloomquist, Nancy Nordin, Sky Kardell, Margaret Curtin, Shea Fee and Rich Couse.

Swam sparrow. — Lanny McDowell

Bank swallows have returned. Sky Kardell located one on April 28 and two on April 29, both on Cape Pogue. Cynthia Bloomquist and Thaw Malin counted 13 as they were building their nests into the coastal banks at Menemsha Hills on May 1 and on May 4 the MV Bird Club spotted one in Aquinnah. The bird club also found nine harlequin ducks, 14 purple sandpipers, 12 sanderling, five gannets, two ruby-crowned kinglets, two chipping sparrows and one white-throated sparrow.

Carolina wrens are widespread but other wrens are not. Sky Kardell saw one marsh wren singing on April 20 and April 27 at Cove Meadow and Francesca Zeta heard a marsh wren singing at Long Point on May 5. Sky Kardell saw two house wrens at Wasque on April 27, Bob Shriber observed one in Aquinnah on May 1, Lisa Maxfield spotted one at Brush Pond on May 3 and Nancy Nordin spotted one at her house on May 4.

Sky Kardell saw an eastern kingbird on Cape Pogue on April 29 and two at Cove Meadow on May 4, Richard Price found one at Felix Neck on April 28, Isabella Colucci located one at the Hoft Farm on April 29, Rob Bierregaard found one at the end of Blue Barque Road in Chilmark on April 29, Ken Magnuson spotted one at the Edgartown Golf Club on May 1, Rich Couse found one on John Hoft Road on May 2 and Sky Kardell observed two at Cove Meadow on May 4. Nancy Nordin spotted 18 black skimmers in their Little Beach nesting colony on April 29 and Nancy Weaver counted 10 there the next day. Fred Khedouri found two cedar waxwings at the Gay Head Cliffs on May 3. Tim Rush observed a brown thrasher at Coffin’’s Field on May 5.

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More pictures. 

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