Our adventures in Botswana will have to wait for next week as the birds take precedence.
We appear to have a new early record for the sighting of an osprey over the Island. Will and Sue Geresy of Chappaquiddick spotted a very high flying osprey over Poucha Pond on Chappaquiddick on March 1. The bird was heading north and the Geresys heard the bird call once as it flew by.
On the subject of osprey, Rob Bierregaard wrote to say that we had lost another osprey. Meadow, the bird that started migrating north instead of south, was found shot on a farm in the Dominican Republic. A favorite bird of those of us that watch the movements of the ospreys who bear transmitters on Rob’s Web site, bioweb.uncc.edu/bierregaard, it was very distressing to realize that Meadow was the fourth osprey to be shot in the Dominican Republic! Too bad we can’t train the osprey to bypass the DR or educate the people there to quit shooting osprey.
Como, who is the osprey that was fitted with a transmitter in 2007 in Lobsterville, is the only Vineyard osprey that will be back on the Vineyard this summer. Penelope, another Vineyard osprey, will spend her first summer down south. She is presently in French Guiana.
We thought spring was just around the corner, but good ole March came in like a lion. Many people had birds arrive at their feeders that they had not seen much the rest of the winter.
Katharine Colon watched a yellow-rumped warbler feeding on her suet on March 2 and had more downy woodpeckers than normal.
Tim and Sheila Baird had their first red-breasted nuthatch show up at their Edgartown feeder on Feb. 24. The next day the Bairds’ suet attracted quite a crew, including a yellow-rumped warbler and two northern flickers balancing precariously on not only the suet feeder but the grain feeder as well. Amazing what woodpeckers and flickers can do with their tail for balance. The Bairds had a brown thrasher appear in their yard on Feb. 25 and again on March 2 and 3. Other feathered friends that came to the Baird feeders after the storm included two fox sparrows, one pine siskin, and a chipping sparrow.
Gus Ben David at the World of Reptiles and Birds has had about a dozen eastern bluebirds feeding on his suet all winter, and as of March 3 he still had three pine siskins in with his flock of American goldfinch at his thistle seed feeders.
Dick Jennings found a barn owl that had been killed by another bird of prey on the Cape Pogue elbow on Feb. 28. The kill was probably by a peregrine falcon. On a nicer note, Dick mentioned that he had never seen so many yellow-rumped warblers as he did that same day. They were ravaging the berries on the cedars (junipers). Dick also watched a flock of snow buntings feeding on the tops of the grasses on the dunes at Cape Pogue.
Melissa Manter of West Tisbury had a first at her feeder, a common redpoll on Feb. 25.
Bert Fischer was pleased to watch a rough-legged hawk hunting the dunes in Aquinnah on March 3. He has had a Cooper’s hawk in the neighborhood all winter. This hunting machine on wings was so hungry one day it took one of Bert’s bantam hens! Bert has been worried about the number of robins that are around in this cold weather and he was right, as he found one that had starved at the house next door. However hard the winter is, things are changing. Bert is hearing the Canada geese gabbling and is watching them begin to pair off. The eastern bluebirds that have been around Bert’s place all winter are beginning to stake out their nesting boxes and the red-winged blackbirds are screaming their heads off defending their territories.
At the other end of the Island in Oak Bluffs, Matt Pelikan listened to a common grackle singing his heart out. Obviously the winter storm hasn’t deterred the grackle from trying to find a mate!
Allan Keith reports that the nor’easter brought in a collection of birds looking for food and water including two eastern towhees and tree sparrow. He also had many more dark-eyed juncos and white-throated sparrows. On the farm pond at Turtle Brook Farm there have been two female and one male pintail.
Allan Keith watched a white-winged crossbill taking water and grit from Frank Fenner’s field in Chilmark on March 2. Allan added that the green-winged teal still can be found on occasion in the Mill Pond in West Tisbury, but that many of the other ducks seem to be spreading out to find territories and mates.
Skip Mayhew spotted a barn owl at the Katama Airfield the week of Feb. 23. He and Tom Lubin spotted a flock of longspurs or buntings at the Farm Institute on March 2. Tom thought they were longspurs but that would be quite unusual. Hopefully a birder with a camera can get a photo so we can determine the identity of this flock.
Please report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard Bird Hotline at 508-627-4922 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan B. Whiting is the co-author of Vineyard Birds and newly published Vineyard Birds II and led bird tours for Osprey Tours to Central and South America for 30 years.