On Oct. 31, the seabirds showed up. Bob Shriber estimated that he saw 1,500 gannets flying past the cliffs that day. He visited at just the right time as the quintet of Susan Whiting, Lanny McDowell, Luanne Johnson, Margaret Curtin and Shea Fee saw only eight gannets. On Oct. 26, Bob Shriber saw six gannets there and Sharon Pearson also saw some. Also on Oct. 26, Shea Fee observed 100 gannets flying past Wasque. Otherwise, gannets have been rather scarce this fall.

Bob Shriber spotted the first black-legged kittiwake of the season at Dogfish Bar on Oct. 31. These gulls tend to be further offshore and fly in a distinctive undulating pattern. He also provided the first report of larger flocks of scoters, with 1,250 black, 285 white-winged and 155 surf scoters at Squibnocket on Oct. 30.

Red-breasted mergansers — Lanny McDowell

Small numbers of red-breasted mergansers are starting to arrive. Shea Fee spotted eight at Wasque on Oct. 26. Susan Whiting, Helen and Chris King, Allan Keith and Bob Shriber saw three on Oct. 30 at the Gay Head Cliffs, in addition to 22 harlequin ducks. At Quansoo Beach on Oct. 31, Susan Whiting, Lanny McDowell, Luanne Johnson, Margaret Curtin and Shea Fee spotted red-breasted mergansers in addition to the first long-tailed duck and common loon of the season. They also spotted a lingering oystercatcher and a lesser black-backed gull. On Oct. 24, Lanny McDowell spotted his first harlequin ducks of the season offshore from the Squibnocket parking lot.

In other waterfowl news, Jeff Bernier spotted two wood ducks and a green-winged teal at Sweetened Water Preserve on Oct. 24. The Eurasian wigeon is still hanging out at Crackatuxet Pond. Bob Shriber spotted it on Oct. 26, along with six gadwall and 35 American wigeon. On Oct. 31, I found two male Eurasian wigeon alongside only three American wigeon.

Bufflehead are nowhere near their winter abundance but are starting to appear. On Oct. 26, I spotted three at Farm Pond and on Oct. 31, there were three at the Oak Bluffs Pumping Station. Stephanie Mashek saw the Farm Pond buffleheads on Oct. 31.

The next month or two is the season for western songbirds that have strayed eastward. Matt Pelikan reports seeing the first western kingbird of the season as it perched on a wire along Katama Road near the Field Club on Oct. 24.

On Oct. 26, Bob Shriber spotted a flock of American pipits in a meadow near the intersection of Katama and Herring Creek Roads. Andrew Woodruff twice saw a yellow-billed cuckoo at Thimble Farm.

Western kingbird — Lanny McDowell

Also that day, a Baltimore oriole showed up in Matt Pelikan’s yard: it was stocking up on juniper berries before the storm hit. It was seen again on Oct. 28, along with robins, a blue jay and house finches. Leila McCarter saw another oriole in Chilmark about a week ago. Shea Fee found a brown creeper in the woods at Wasque on Oct. 28. Matt Pelikan saw a golden-crowned kinglet and a blackpoll warbler in his yard on Oct. 29.

On the evening of Nov. 1, Abigail Stanwood asked, “What is that swarm of birds?” Father David Stanwood looked over the Hoft Farm fields and saw their first large flock of crows of the season, heading toward their winter roost near James Pond. Our winter commuter crows, which spend their days on the mainland, have returned!

Maggie Bresnahan, Lisa Maxfield and Katherine Oscar have seen dark-eyed juncos recently. Sioux Eagle hosted a tree full of at least 20 cedar waxwings on Oct. 26, and Wendy Culbert and I have about 10 robins and a few cedar waxwings eating the crabapples in our yard.

At Blackwater Preserve, Wendy Culbert and I found four species of woodpeckers on Oct. 31: downy, hairy, red-bellied and flicker, as well as Carolina wren, catbirds, robins and a towhee. Karen Swift-Shannon, Lindsay Allison and Tom Hodgson have also seen catbirds recently.

Cedar waxwing — Lanny McDowell

Robins, a phoebe and a blackpoll warbler visited Susan Whiting’s Chilmark home on Oct. 29. At Squibnocket, the quintet of Susan Whiting, Helen and Chris King, Allan Keith and Bob Shriber found bobwhites, blue-headed vireo, ruby-crowned kinglet, catbird, hermit thrush, eastern bluebird, robin, marsh wren, purple finch, field sparrow and white-throated sparrow on Oct. 30. At Quenames, they found eight eastern meadowlarks.

Bob Shriber found common raven, robins, cedar waxwings, purple finch and eastern towhee in Aquinnah on Oct. 31. Hisao Yatsuhashi spotted two lingering tree swallows at Moshup Beach on Oct. 25.

Common loon — Lanny McDowell

Shorebirds are still around, although they are mostly our winter resident species: black bellied plovers, sanderlings and dunlin. Lingering species include a flock of 19 killdeer observed by John Nelson at Katama Farm on Oct. 25; a golden plover seen at Katama Farm by both Bob Shriber on Oct. 26 and Lanny McDowell on Oct. 27; four red knots at Quansoo spotted by Susan Whiting and others; and three greater yellowlegs spotted by Hisao Yatsuhashi along the northern shoreline of Tisbury Great Pond on Oct. 29. Multiple individuals report oystercatchers at Little Beach, Sarson’s Island and Quansoo. Who knows how long these lingerers will hang around?

Recent hawk sightings include a kestrel near the Squibnocket parking lot on Oct. 24, seen by Lanny McDowell; a male northern harrier at Quansoo seen by Susan Whiting, Helen and Chris King, Allan Keith and Bob Shriber; and the two harriers that I saw on Oct. 31 at the Katama Airpark.

More bird photos 

Please email your bird sightings to birds@mvgazette.com

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