Tropical storm Elsa blew by on July 9-10, with little in the way of unusual bird life to show for it. Sarah Kosa is fairly certain that a brown pelican flew over her Lighthouse Road house on the stormy evening of July 9. This species is known for being carried northward by tropical storms, but there were a number of sightings of this species on Long Island in the first week of July, before the storm. Jean Lane reports that a pelican flew by the Gay Head Light on July 11. So far, there have been no other pelican sightings.

Perhaps the most interesting sighting of the week is also from Sarah Kosa, who spotted and photographed a male evening grosbeak at her feeders on July 9. This species is a northern species that is not supposed to be here in the summer; it may be the first July record for the Island. According to the website, there have been a few other June and July records of this species in Connecticut and coastal New York; did they stay here after coming south last winter?

Little blue heron immature — Lanny McDowell

A surprising find for Luanne Johnson was an immature little blue heron on July 8, in a Cape Poge Bay salt marsh. The immatures are white and it stood next to a snowy egret, so the greenish legs and bi-colored bill were easily noticed. Great blue herons are appearing more frequently now. Steve Allen saw one at Felix Neck on July 6 and Thaw Malin and Cynthia Bloomquist had one visit a pond in their yard on Skiffs Lane on July 8.

Laughing gulls have also made multiple appearances this week. Shea Fee saw one on July 4 at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary; Lucy Goeke had one near the Chappy Ferry on July 5 and one on July 7 at nearby Lighthouse Beach; Seth Buddy spotted one on the beach between West Chop and Mink Meadows on July 6; Chase McCabe found one on Norton Point on July 10; while Walt Looney found one at Eel Pond that same day. I found one at Ocean Park on the morning of July 11. Were these sightings of one or two birds that traveled around a bit? We will never know. The first Forster’s tern of the year was spotted by Seth Buddy near West Chop on July 6.

Semi-palmated sandpiper — Lanny McDowell

More shorebirds have arrived on their southbound migration. On July 6, Andrew Jankowich visited the Tuthill Preserve and saw killdeer, nine short-billed dowitchers and two lesser yellowlegs. On July 8, Walt Looney visited the salt marshes along State Beach and spotted a least sandpiper, eight semipalmated sandpipers and six short-billed dowitchers. Two days later, Walt was at Eel Pond and spotted a black-bellied plover, two semipalmated plovers, a ruddy turnstone and 10 least sandpipers.

Warren Woessner found eight least sandpipers and two greater yellowlegs in the right fork parking lot on July 10. That same day, Chase McCabe spotted eight black-belled plovers, six least sandpipers, 14 short-billed dowitchers and three greater yellowlegs at Norton Point. Shea Fee had two least sandpipers and an amazing flock of 22 killdeer at Quansoo Farm on July 11, the same day I spotted the first sanderling of the season at Little Beach.

Eastern wood peewee — Lanny McDowell

Tim Rush spotted a brown thrasher in Coffin’s Field on July 6. Other songbirds of interest are eastern kingbird and eastern wood-pewee. Kingbirds have been seen by Shea Fee at Wasque on July 7, Seth Buddy and Steve Allen at Felix Neck on July 8, Phil Edmundson along the West Tisbury south shore on July 10 and Mickey Karpa at Quansoo Beach on July 11. Wood-pewees – very similar to phoebes – were observed by Kiera Scott on July 7 at Great Rock Bight, Seth Buddy and Steve Allen on July 8 at Felix Neck, that same day by Seth Buddy at Lambert’s Cove Cemetery and by Bridget Dunnigan and Sea Williams on July 11 in the State Forest.

Tree swallows gather in large flocks as they slowly make their way southward in August and September. It is thrilling to be under such an active flock of insect eaters. Allan Keith spotted an early flock of tree swallows, along with a few bank swallows, at Katama Farm on July 12.

Northern bobwhites are reported much less frequently this year than in the previous two years. Shea Fee had a bobwhite visiting her Wasque yard on July 5.

Semi-palmated plover — Lanny McDowell

Warblers are harder to detect now that their breeding season is winding down and they do not sing as frequently. Yellow warblers and common yellowthroats have been spotted by Phil Edmundson near Watcha Pond on July 10 and Shea Fee at Quansoo Farm on July 11. The latter observer also spotted prairie warbler at Quansoo Farm, while Kiera Scott found them and American redstarts at Great Rock Bight on July 7 and in Menemsha the next day. And pine warblers were seen by Bridget Dunnigan and Sea Williams in the State Forest on July 11.

Last but not least, Kiera Scott observed a fledgling downy woodpecker at Great Rock Bight on July 7. We know they are present all across the Island, but confirming their nesting by observing fledglings is notable.

More bird pictures.

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