The Martha’s Vineyard Bird Club is a new group for people interested in birds. It was created under the auspices if BiodiversityWorks, and its mission is to “promote bird watching, education about birds and the ecosystems they inhabit, and to build community among and between birders.”

For starters, they are planning to have a birding excursion every other Saturday, and their events are listed at:

Clay-colored sparrow — Lanny McDowell

Their first program was on Oct. 9 at the Gay Head cliffs (a birding spot frequently mentioned in this column) and was led by Pete Gilmore and Lanny McDowell. About 10 people attended and the highlights were northern gannet, peregrine falcon, Cooper’s hawk, great cormorant, common eider, and black scoter. Songbirds were incredibly scarce, perhaps because the wind was blowing out of the east at 15 mile per hour. Only two warblers were observed: palm warbler and yellow-rumped warbler.

The next program will be at Long Point on Saturday Oct. 23, and will be led by Shea Fee.

Bird Sightings

Seldom are there two different species of godwits on the Island. They are large, long-legged, and thin-necked shorebirds with a long bi-colored upturned bill. Ted Gilliland spotted a marbled godwit on Oct. 8 on Norton Point, while Susan Whiting and Bob Shriber found an Hudsonian godwit at Hancock Beach on Oct. 10. Ted Gilliland spotted the Hudsoniam godwit again on Oct.12 — this time at Tisbury Great Pond. The undersides of the former are washed with cinnamon, while the latter are a subtle gray/brown at this time of the year with a white rump.

American widgeon — Lanny McDowell

Bob Shriber and Susan Whiting found a number of warblers at Quenames and Aquinnah on Oct. 6-7, including Connecticut, blackpoll, palm, pine, yellow-rumped and black-throated green warblers, as well as brown thrasher, swamp sparrow, and both white-throated and white-crowned sparrows. At Quenames they added common yellowthroat, American redstart, red-breasted nuthatch, chipping sparrow and dark-eyed junco.

Shea Fee and Luanne Johnson went birding on Oct. 9 and their highlights were a white-eyed vireo at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary, a white-crowned sparrow at Slough Cove, two bobolinks at Katama Farm and two blackpoll warblers at Wascosim’s Rock. At Cedar Tree Neck on Oct. 10, I found both blackpoll and yellow-rumped warblers.

At the Gay Head cliffs on Oct. 8, Allan Keith and Bob Shriber found a Nashville warbler and a clay-colored sparrow. Allan Keith later added to his list a Lincoln’s sparrow and a Wilson’s warbler. On Oct. 11, he saw a blackpoll warbler and both red-eyed and blue-headed vireos at the Gay Head morraine.

Hudsonian godwit — Lanny McDowell

Sparrows are continuing to arrive. Noted above are two sightings of white-crowned sparrows. Alex Burdo, Liam Waters and Paul Cosgrove found a third white-crowned at Quenames on Oct. 7. I went to Lobsterville on Oct. 9 and was impressed by seven egrets in the unusually high tide flooding the marsh, when three sparrows flew past and landed in sparse beachgrass near the road. They were vesper sparrows, a rare but regular find.

Other songbirds seen this week include a re-sighting of the Lapland longspur reported last week at Long Point. Tom Chase and Tom Maloney found it again on Oct. 6. The next day, Matt Pelikan found a blue-headed vireo along Atlantic Drive at Katama, a Wilson’s snipe and a brown thrasher at the parking area at the end of the Right Fork, and three American pipits at Long Point. Allan Keith found 12 American pipits at Norton’s Field on Oct. 11.

Hawks are on the move. Lingering ospreys were found by Shea Fee on Oct. 9 at Katama Farm, and I saw one fly over the Menemsha Channel that same day. And then a northern harrier flew overhead. Peregrine falcons were observed by Matt Pelikan on Oct. 7 at Long Point and by Lanny McDowell on Oct.8 at East Beach.

Waterfowl are also arriving. On Oct. 5 Bob Shriber spotted northern pintail, American wigeon and gadwall at Crackatuxet Cove. Those sightings attracted other birders. Matt Pelikan found one male Eurasian wigeon alongside 40 American wigeon on Crackatuxet Cove on Oct. 7. On Oct. 9 Luanne Johnson and Shea Fee saw both species of wigeon and some green-winged teal, and Allan Keith spotted both species of wigeon on Oct. 11. Allan Keith spotted the first migrant immature snow goose at his Chilmark farm on Oct. 10, and the next day at the other end of the Island Lanny McDowell and I saw another immature snow goose (maybe the same one?) at Ocean Park.

White-eyed vireo — Lanny McDowell

At Norton Point on Oct. 8, Ted Gililand found oystercatchers, black-bellied plover, golden plover, red knot, sanderling, dunlin, short-billed dowitcher, greater yellowlegs, laughing gull, ring-billed gull and double-crested cormorant. At Hancock Beach on Oct. 10, Susan Whiting and Bob Shriber found dunlin, least sandpiper, and a remarkable 27 lesser black-backed gulls. Allan Keith also saw a lesser black-backed gull on Norton Point, as well as a golden plover and a Bonaparte’s gull. He also added 10 killdeer at Norton’s Field and his first of the season flock of migrating red-winged blackbirds in Katama Farm’s patch of tall sunflowers.

A familiar sound has returned to the Vineyard Haven harbor waterfront. Walt Looney found four fish crows in town on Oct. 8, and Chris Rimmer observed a flock of 70 American crows and 10 fish crows there on Oct. 9, the same day I heard and saw about 10 fish crows. The next day I spotted at least 25 of them from the Steamship Authority to Tisbury Marketplace. Also on the corvid front, a raven visited Shea Fee at Wasque on Oct. 6.

And last but not least, Walt Looney reports a leucistic downy woodpecker at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary on Oct. 6, a bird which Jody Angevin has seen regularly for a few years.

More bird pictures.

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