Buffleheads — Lanny McDowell

Brrrrrr! It has been cold this past week, with a lot of temperatures below freezing. Some of the ducks we are finding are because of the cold weather. Most notably, bufflehead are finally arriving on our ponds after several Christmas Bird Count field teams reported that they seemed scarce.

On Jan. 16 Margaret Curtin, Shea Fee, Nancy Weaver and Luanne Johnson reported finding 210 bufflehead near Sarson’s Island. They also counted 80 black ducks and 200 greater scaup. David Benvent found 270 bufflehead, 60 common goldeneye, 110 common eiders, eight horned grebe and 11 common loons along State Beach and Sengekontacket Pond on Jan. 13. These numbers are what is expected on a large coastal pond in recent winters. More of the ponds and rivers up north are finally freezing over, forcing the ducks to come further south to us. The southward migration continues even though it started in late June.

Also migrating in January are snow geese. Anne Whiting and Tara Whiting-Wells found the second largest (for the Island) flock this month, with 13 snow geese on Jan. 16 at Quenames. Allan Keith is still seeing a flock of eight at his farm. All the other sightings from this fall and winter have been of one or two individuals.

Three new species for this year were found this week. A Wilson’s snipe is never easy to find but Luanne Johnson found one near the head of Slough Cove on Jan. 16. The bufflehead foursome mentioned above also found a great blue heron, four turkey vultures, a belted kingfisher, four eastern bluebirds, 20 robins, 12 cedar waxwings and four yellow-rumped warblers at Slough Cove, and three ravens near the intersection of Monroe avenue and East Chop Drive. Shea Fee found three killdeer at Katama Farm that day, a species that has not been observed since before Thanksgiving. She also found two northern harriers and five savannah sparrows there.

American crow — Lanny McDowell

Fox sparrows continue to be present at a few feeders. Cynthia Bloomquist and Thaw Malin report one has arrived at their feeders, perhaps the same one that stayed through last winter. Matt Pelikan spotted one in his Oak Bluffs yard on Jan. 9, and Luanne Johnson had one visiting her Oak Bluffs yard all week. A tree sparrow finally showed up at Allan Keith’s feeders on Jan. 17, while white-throated sparrows and dark-eyed juncos are present at many feeders.

Hermit thrushes spend the winter in dense shrub thickets and occasionally at feeders. David Benvent spotted one along with 22 robins at the state forest on Jan. 13. Lynn Buckmaster-Irwin spotted one at her bird bath on Jan. 11.

Snowy owls are a popular find. Thaw Malin and Cynthia Bloomquist spotted one in Aquinnah on Jan. 16 and were pleased to report that the owl was only occasionally watching them as they stayed by the side of the road so as to not disturb this arctic visitor. They also spotted a northern harrier at the Aquinnah circle that day.

Eagle sightings have been scarce so far in January. Nick Bologna spotted an adult on Jan. 10 at the east side of the Allen Farm as it flew north towards Middle Road. Matt Pelikan spotted two flying over his Oak Bluffs house.

Wilson's snipe — Lanny McDowell

Some of our summer resident species are still lingering. As of Jan. 11, Lisa Maxfield’s Baltimore oriole was still visiting her Oak Bluffs yard. On Jan. 13, David Benvent spotted the great egret at Mink Meadow and a flock of seven tree swallows on State Beach. Allan Keith has been seeing single swallows almost daily at his farm.

Razorbills — the most frequently seen alcid in our waters — are scarce but can be found. David Benvent spotted one off Squibnocket Beach and three others in the ocean off the Gay Head Cliffs, as well as two gannets at each location on Jan. 14. Margaret Curtin and crew spotted 10 razorbills off East Chop on Jan. 16.

On Jan. 13, Lanny McDowell spotted snow buntings on Lobsterville Beach near the western jetty of Menemsha Harbor and a flock of purple sandpipers at Philbin Beach. The next day David Benvent found them at the same location.

Cardinals seldom get mentioned in this column because of their abundance, but they are not everywhere. Beth Biros commented that she did not have any cardinals visiting her feeder this year, which generated a lot of responses on Facebook’s Martha’s Vineyard Bird Alert. The following people have cardinals visiting their feeders: Laura LaVigne, Lisa Maxfield, Wendy Palmer, Sioux Eagle, Hatsy Potter, John Schillinger, Jo-Ann Taylor, Mary Austin, Beth Healy, El Edwards, Nancy Gardella, Mallory Calamare, Julie Meader, Allouise Morgan, Carol Goldstein, Joanne Lambert, Cg Burke, Catherine Brennan, Julia Doane, Catherine Deese, Leah Miranda, Katherine Kavanaugh, Sheryl Dagostino, Sue Shea, Chrissy Kinsman, Ellen O’Brien, Deborah Hart, Kim Araujo, Douglas Williams, Allison Schmidt, Lianna Loughman, Lindsay Allison, Marcia Streicher, Marsha Eldridge, Pat Ingalls, Sharon Simonin and me.

Northern cardinal — Lanny McDowell

Commuter crows are one of my favorite topics. On Jan. 8 I observed a flock of 15 American crows flying 100 yards above Nantucket Sound and then flying over the northern end of Crystal Lake, apparently arriving from Cape Cod. There used to be a large roost of both fish and American crows near the Farm Neck parking lot and they flew over East Chop to get there. Has that roost re-established itself after a decade’s absence? I have seen a lot of both crow species near the Oak Bluffs highway department.

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Please email your sightings to birds@mvgazette.com.

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