Eurasian widgeon — Lanny McDowell

Finding a species such as a gray kingbird is something that makes bird watching interesting. Mary Jo Foti found the bird on Nov. 3 at the Gay Head Cliffs and says, “I tried to see a few birds that were skulking in the nearby brush but they mostly stayed low, so it was even more surprising when a gray kingbird teed up on a nearby snag to the left of the lighthouse.”

There are two previous records of sightings. One was from Sept. 9, 1988 at Squibnocket, observed by Whit Manter, Vern Laux and others. Another record is from Sept. 7 and Sept. 8, 2006, first reported by Pete Gilmore and later spotted by Lanny McDowell and others.

Other new species for the season are waterfowl. While at the Gay Head Cliffs on Nov. 3, Mary Jo Foti scanned the ocean and saw eight harlequin ducks; the first sighting of the season. Tracy Winn spotted four harlequin ducks off the Gay Head Cliffs on Nov. 3; Thaw Malin and Cynthia Bloomquist spotted two harlequins at Squibnocket on Nov. 5; and Bob Shriber found five on Nov. 6 in the ocean as he was birding in Aquinnah. This species is found in small numbers near rocky shorelines throughout the winter.

Drake red-breasted merganser — Lanny McDowell

Red-breasted mergansers — common around the Island through the winter — also showed up. On Nov. 2, Jim Suozzo spotted one on Stonewall Pond. Tracy Winn found two in the ocean off the Gay Head Cliffs and on Nov. 7 Martha Moore spotted seven on Middle Point Cove.

A third species new for the season is the Eurasian wigeon. I saw a male in flock of 14 American wigeon in Crackatuxet Cove on Nov. 6.

The fourth seasonal waterfowl arrival this week is a long-tailed duck, observed by Margaret Curtin off Aquinnah on Nov. 6.

Luanne Johnson added one American coot to this list of seasonal arrivals when she spotted one on Nov. 6 at Crystal Lake. While there, she also saw 18 hooded mergansers and six Bonaparte’s gulls. Bob Shriber spotted our first red-throated loon of the season in Aquinnah. On Nov. 2, Lanny McDowell spotted some Bonaparte’s gulls foraging in Vineyard Haven’s outer harbor within a flock of laughing gulls and ring-billed gulls.

Dark-eyed junco — Lanny McDowell

This column reported the arrival of northern shovelers in last week’s column. This week we report that there are three on Crystal Lake, seen by Lisa Maxfield on Nov. 5. That same day, Sharon Simonin saw a pair of them, also on Crystal Lake. We have to remember that birds move around – they have wings and they use them – and they can also easily hide in the vegetation along the shoreline.

Seaduck abundances are slowly increasing. Off Aquinnah, Tracy Winn counted 34 common eiders, 21 surf scoters, 167 white-winged scoters and 45 black scoters on Nov. 3. Matt Pelikan observed 26 common eiders, 10 harlequin ducks, 29 surf scoters, 18 white-winged scoters and 180 black scoters at Lobsterville on Nov. 5. In Aquinnah on Nov. 6, Bob Shriber saw seven common eiders, 55 surf scoters, 36 white-winged scoters, 28 black scoters and 12 ruddy ducks. Margaret Curtin saw a flock of 221 surf scoters off the Gay Head Cliffs on Nov. 6.

A lingering solitary sandpiper was observed by David Stanwood on Nov. 4 at Seth’s Pond. According to Susan Whiting and Barbara Pesch’s book Vineyard Birds II, the latest date for spotting this species was Oct. 28, seen in 2005 by Sally Anderson.

Greater yellowlegs are also lingering. Richard Price found one at Felix Neck on Nov. 2 and Shea Fee spotted a flock of 14 on the west arm of Lagoon Pond on Nov. 5. The same day, Richard Couse found a greater yellowlegs along the shores of Eel Pond. The next day I spotted eight of them on Ferry Boat Island in Lagoon Pond.

Baltimore oriole — Lanny McDowell

A lingering Baltimore oriole was spotted on the Martha’s Vineyard Bird Club’s Nov. 5 trip to Eel Pond and Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary. Cynthia Bloomquist, Thaw Malin, Nancy Nordin and Richard Couse each reported it but it’s likely that more people saw it as there were 24 birders on that trip.

For some reason we do not find too many marsh wrens on the Island. Several were seen earlier in the fall and Bob Shriber spotted one along Basset Road Place on Nov. 3.

Now let’s look at the sparrows. Swamp sparrows were reported on Nov. 5 by Jon Skinner at Chilmark Pond, Luanne Johnson at Slough Cove and Shea Fee at Cove Meadow Preserve. Two field sparrows were seen by Bob Shriber at Chilmark Pond on Nov. 3 and by Charles Morano at the Gay Head Cliffs on Nov. 4. Matt Pelikan found a Savannah sparrow at Lobsterville on Nov. 5. White-throated sparrows are more common than any of these species; Bob Shriber saw two near Chilmark Pond on Nov. 3 and another two in Aquinnah on Nov. 5. That same day Cynthia Bloomquist found one at the Gay Head Lighthouse and Jon Skinner found one at the Herring Creek in Aquinnah. On Nov. 4, Richard Price spotted one at Felix Neck. On Nov. 6, Nancy Nordin found one at the Oak Bluffs pumping station and another at Crystal Lake. I had two visit my feeder that day.

Marsh wren — Lanny McDowell

The only widespread warbler this week is the yellow-rumped warbler. On Nov. 2, Richard Price spotted one at Felix Neck. On Nov. 5. Matt Pelikan spotted three at Long Point and six at Lobsterville. Also that day Jon Skinner saw one at Chilmark Pond and a flock of 32 at the Gay Head Cliffs, while Shea Fee spotted two at Cove Meadow. On Nov. 6, Nancy Nordin spotted one at Crystal Lake and I spotted three near the right fork parking lot at South Beach.

The only other warblers were seen by Bob Shriber on Nov. 3 — both a Nashville warbler and an orange-crowned warbler at Bassett Place Road, and another orange-crowned further west along Chilmark Pond.

Finally the predators. On Nov. 3, Rick Karney watched a bald eagle fly past Makonikey. And on Nov. 6, David and Eleanor Stanwood were surprised to see the young osprey still hanging out at the head of Lake Tashmoo.

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