We were packing to leave for a trip to Maine on Sept. 14 to visit old Vineyard friends and attend a wedding. Our backpacks were on the kitchen table and I had just filled the hummingbird feeder. One of the juvenile ruby-throated hummingbirds flew up to the kitchen window, hovered for a few seconds and then flew off. That was the last time we saw our hummingbirds. Do you suppose hummingbirds have the same sense that dogs and cats do when you are getting ready to leave?
I was sent an email last January when the Uhlendorf/Stephens Allen’s hummingbird disappeared after hanging in until mid January. The author of the email suggested that it might not be a good idea to keep hummingbird feeders up into the late fall as it might tempt hummingbirds to stay beyond their normal departure date. This is a difficult issue. I would say it is up to each person to do what they wish but I tend to take my feeder down if I have not seen a hummingbird at our feeder for a week. I still have salvia and fuchsia plants in bloom, so if a migrant hummingbird of any species arrives from points north, west or south, there is something for them to fuel up on so they can make it to their next stop. As I recall, Penny and Scott’s yard had Pineapple Sage still blooming when the Allen’s hummingbird arrived. My feeder is on the shelf for the winter but my flowers are still available for migrant hummingbirds as are many other Vineyard birders’ posies.
An interesting report from Rob Bierregaard and the osprey crew all started in early September when Dick Jennings heard there was an osprey with a transmitter seen on-Island. Rob checked and there was no data being transmitted from the area where the osprey was hanging out. Which osprey could it be was the question? There are two possibilities, one Jaws and the other Conomo, both of which were banded and fitted with transmitters on the Vineyard in the past. Jaws would be nine years old if this mystery bird is indeed he. Rob and Dick are going to stake out the nest closest to where this mystery bird was seen next summer and hopefully recapture the bird to remove the transmitter and identify the bird. I am sure we will hear the results next spring.
There are still two juvenile ospreys that are wearing transmitters on the Island, Caleb and Captain Liz. Paula McFarland spotted one of them on Sept. 16 on Chappaquiddick. The older generation Vineyard ospreys, Belle and Snowy, are south; Snowy in Cuba and Belle in Virginia. Icarus and DJ, two Vineyard youngsters, left the Vineyard on Sept. 17 and went over water to Virginia. This is not a route that had been used before by young or mature ospreys. DJ then continued on to Florida and covered 1,000 miles in 27.5 hours. Rob figured he was flapping along at 37 mph!
The best bird of the week was a marbled godwit first seen by Allan Keith at Norton Point on Sept. 20. It was later seen by Pete Gilmore and photographed by Lanny McDowell. Jeff Bernier spotted the bird later in the day and Lanny and Allan found the godwit was still at Norton Point on Sept. 24 in the company of black-bellied plovers.
Another sighting of note was a short-eared owl spotted by Bob (Wax) Iwaskiewicz on the evening of Sept. 15 as it flew parallel to his vehicle as he left West Basin and headed along Lobsterville Road. Wax also commented that there were several great egrets in the marsh.
Screech owls are in the news. Brigette Cornand photographed a red or rufous morph Eastern screech owl that had perched on her bird feeder around 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 13. Paula McFarland heard an eastern screech owl calling every other night while she was birding on Chappaquiddick from Sept. 10 to 19. Highlights of Paula’s birding week included the first dark-eyed junco of the season seen on Sept. 19, a Baltimore oriole on Sept. 17, a merlin on Sept. 18, and two black-crowned night herons on Sept. 17.
Allan Keith found the first of the fall yellow-bellied flycatchers in his Turtle Brook Farm yard on Sept. 18. At Gay Head with Pete Gilmore and Lanny McDowell, the threesome had a good warbler morning including yellow, prairie, Magnolia blackpoll, American redstart and common yellowthroat. They also counted three merlins and two kestrels. Back at his house Allan spotted two blue-winged teal in his farm pond and at the Parsonage Pond there was a solitary sandpiper feeding. On Sept. 22 Allan found a pied-billed grebe at Squibnocket as well as a whimbrel and a yellow warbler.
Jeff Bernier took a photo of a fall plumage Cape May warbler near Crackatuxet Cove on Sept. 16. On the 20th Jeff counted 60-plus black-bellied plovers and 14 American oystercatchers next to the marbled godwit on Norton Point.
At the other end of the Island Sarah Mayhew counted 18 great egrets, three great blue herons, two green herons and a belted kingfisher at Lobsterville.
In the middle of the Island also on the 20th, Rob Culbert counted six red-breasted nuthatches at Waterview Farm. This is the first sighting of this species this fall.
Kaky Powell and Laurie Miller had a Cooper’s hawk hit their Quanoo home on Sept. 21. Unfortunately the bird did not survive.
Lanny McDowell photographed a snowy egret at Sengekontacket Pond on Sept. 23. Allan Keith and Lanny returned to Norton Point on Sept. 24 and noted that the number of shorebirds had decreased and there was a peregrine falcon hanging around. I think if I were a shorebird and there was a peregrine nearby, I would leave. Lanny McDowell continued on to the Farm Institute where he spotted one adult merlin and one kestrel plus one American golden plover in the plowed field with two killdeer.
Please report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard Bird Hotline at 508-645-2913 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Susan B. Whiting is the co-author of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her website is vineyardbirds2.com.