Fifty years ago, we saw large flocks of great blue herons, 25 to 50 at a time. I remember the spectacle of seeing Felix Neck’s marshes filled with these large herons. It’s a sight that I have not seen in a long time and do not remember other more recent reports of such large flocks.

So, Julien Amsellem’s report of 28 of them roosting along the Chappaquiddick shoreline of Edgartown harbor on August 13 is much appreciated. Great blue herons are one of the relatively few species whose population appears to be stable over the past 50 years. He also saw nine great egrets, chimney swift, white-rumped sandpiper and killdeer.

Speaking of large numbers, Dahlia Rudavsky and Bob Jampol report 22 lesser yellowlegs in the marshes by the Ocean Heights boat ramp. Such numbers are more likely for the greater yellowlegs, but there was one greater yellowlegs for comparison.

Elsewhere in the Sengekontacket Pond marshes, they spotted four great egrets, three oystercatchers, ruddy turnstone, green heron and three ospreys, one with a large fish in its talons.

Northern parula warbler. — Lanny McDowell

Julien Amsellem has been a busy birder this week. In addition to the sightings mentioned above, a carefully observed adult male northern parula fed a begging juvenile on August 11 at Lambert’s Cove Beach, one of the few times we have been able to confirm that this warbler breeds here.

Julien observed ravens twice this week. On August 13, one was spotted near the Lambert’s Cove Inn, and on August 10 there were three ravens near the Vineyard Haven Harbor. Also on the corvid front, Brandon Prim spotted nine fish crows foraging in Ocean Park on August 9, and I saw the same flock as it flew over nearby Union Chapel on August 15. The other two corvids — blue jay and American crow — are rarely mentioned here because they are just about everywhere.

Other highlights include chimney swift, eastern wood pewee, great crested flycatcher, eastern kingbird and red-eyed vireo. Two other species were confirmed as breeding here when Holly Mercier watched a song sparrow feeding a fledgling brown-headed cowbird on August 12.

On August 9, Anne Whiting and Susan Whiting were watching an oriole feeder at Quansoo when an adult female orchard oriole showed up. A new species for the yard list! The next day, Walter Ricciardi spotted a goldfinch picking sunflower seeds out of their source at the center of the yellow flowers.

Barn owl — Lanny McDowell

Another unusual occurrence was the screech owl heard by Thomas Hodgson near Music street in broad daylight on August 13. Shea Fee watched a barn owl hunting near Dyke Bridge on August 14. The next day, Sharon Simonin found cedar waxwings at the Oak Bluffs Pumping Station and Rebecca Brown spotted a peregrine falcon harassing a northern harrier at South Beach.

Saltmarsh sparrows are still around. Jeff Bernier watched one at Eel Pond on August 10, and on August 14 I saw three of them scurrying around on the ground in a narrow zone between the marsh and tidal flats of at the western end of Mattakessett Bay. One of them was quite buffy on its undersides, likely a juvenile. A closely related and very similar species, the Nelson’s sparrow, breeds in northern New England and Atlantic Canada and must migrate past our shores, so how come we only have four sightings in the past 30 years?

On to the shorebirds. On August 15, Lanny McDowell noticed both worn adult and fresh juvenile plumaged short-billed dowitchers flocked together on Norton Point. Members of the flock all have the same shape and feeding behavior, but because of the different color patterns it is easy but incorrect to conclude that several species are present.

Fish crow — Lanny McDowell

The beauty of birding on the tidal flats is that, almost all the time, multiple species are feeding or resting next to each other. The species mix can change by the minute as flocks or single birds arrive and depart. On August 9, Phillip Edmundson spotted sanderling, white-rumped sandpiper, spotted sandpiper, laughing gull, and a least tern along West Tisbury’s south shore. The last species is rapidly departing our shores as they migrate southward. Thomas Kenefick spotted ruddy turnstones, sanderling, semipalmated sandpiper, short-billed dowitcher, spotted sandpiper, laughing gull, ring-billed gull, common tern and two Forster’s terns at Norton Point Beach on August 12. Julien Amsellem also spottted the Forster’s terns at Norton Point on August 16.

Jeff Peters visited Quansoo on August 14, where he spotted a whimbrel –- a large shorebird with a long down-curved bill -– as well as black-bellied and semipalmated plovers, sanderling, least sandpiper, semipalmated sandpiper, short-billed dowitcher, spotted sandpiper, greater and lesser yellowlegs, a turkey vulture and three species of swallows: tree, bank and barn.

Saltmarsh sparrow — Lanny McDowell

That same day, I visited Norton Point Beach and spotted a whimbrel, 25 semipalmated plovers, four piping plovers, 35 sanderling, least sandpipers, semipalmated sandpipers, short-billed dowitcher, both yellowlegs, two least terns, and a lone roseate tern in a flock of 51 common terns.

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