Every birder has a nemesis bird, a bird so frustrating you might consider tearing your hair out. Allan Keith’s nemesis bird on Martha’s Vineyard was a yellow-headed blackbird. Allan can now relax; he saw the yellow-headed blackbird at the Maxner home on Oct. 20 thanks to Joyce Thigpen, Matt Pelikan and yours truly.
Joyce called Matt and then she called me. Flip and I were on I-95 headed for Woods Hole. Matt and I both I suggested Joyce call Allan immediately and alert him. I gave her Allan’s number. Joyce contacted Allan; Allan saw the bird and all’s well that ends well.
The yellow-headed blackbird spotted and photographed by Joyce Thigpen was the biggest news of the week.
Janet Norton called to inform me that a female pintail duck had arrived in her Edgartown farm pond. She also noted that a great blue heron had been fishing in the same pond on and off all summer and was still there as of Oct. 25. Then Janet told me a great story. It seems that a couple of herring gulls figured out that Janet was offering free lunches. They came around for the morning and afternoon feedings. One herring gull in particular was always around; she named it Herman herring gull. Janet decided enough was enough and felt that one feeding a day was sufficient. So she quit the afternoon meals. Well, Herman didn’t cotton to that one bit. He walked up onto the porch and pecked at the door. I was laughing so much I forgot to ask if after many days of door knocking Janet broke down and provided the afternoon snack to the gulls!
Jeff Bernier spotted an early pied-billed grebe on Crackatuxet Cove on Oct. 10. He spotted another or perhaps the same pied-billed grebe at Katama on Oct. 21 along with a Wilson’s snipe, one male and one immature harrier, and yellow-rumped warblers. Jeff sent me some fine photos of greater yellowlegs with a note, “Never use old waders while birding in deep marshes.”
Allan Keith has been a busy birder. On Oct. 10 at Morning Glory Farm Pond he spotted three blue-winged and three green-winged teal plus a solitary sandpiper. At Squibnocket on Oct. 12 he found two American widgeon and two gadwalls.
Lanny McDowell joined Allan Keith on Oct. 18 at Aquinnah. They found a blue-headed vireo, a brown creeper, three brown thrashers, three palm warblers and two blackpoll warblers, a clay-colored sparrow, a blue grosbeak, two Baltimore orioles and a bobolink. At Squibnocket, Allan added a yellow-bellied sapsucker and two more Baltimore orioles.
Allan saw a yellow-headed blackbird on Oct. 20, as mentioned above. On Oct. 21 Lanny joined Allan for a trip to Cape Pogue. Their best bird was an immature little blue heron which was flying in from offshore. They also spotted a juvenile red-throated loon, 15 great egrets, an eastern meadowlark, five sharp-shinned hawks, a red-tailed hawk, a Cooper’s hawk, four northern harriers, two merlins and a peregrine falcon. Lanny photographed a northern parula and a blackpoll warbler. Allan continued on to Norton’s Point where he found an Ipswich sparrow, two white-rumped sandpipers and an American kestrel. On Oct. 22, Allan Keith was the only birder at Aquinnah and had several hawk species, a red-breasted nuthatch, three house wrens, two palm warblers, two common yellowthroats, four swamp sparrows, three indigo buntings, and a bobolink. Allan noted that the flock of bluejays had depleted in size to about half of what it was in September and early October. At Squibnocket Allan found a pied-billed grebe, five black-crowned night herons, three blue-winged teal, five American coots, one drake harlequin duck and two yellow-bellied sapsuckers and two blackpoll warblers. Offshore he counted 800 surf scoters, 200 black scoters and 100 white-winged scoters. The next day Allan returned to Aquinnah and added 20 yellow-rumped (myrtle) warblers, an American redstart, a white-throated sparrow, three indigo buntings, two Baltimore orioles and the best bird, a lark sparrow.
Lanny McDowell was also at Aquinnah on Oct. 23 and found a blue grosbeak, a great cormorant, several surf scoters and a dickcissel was heard.
Flip Harrington and I spotted a brown creeper and several myrtle warblers in the Quenames woods on Oct. 21. On the next day, we had an immature white-crowned sparrow and Carolina wren in the Quenames yard. In the woods we found eight blackpoll warblers, four hermit thrushes, a blue-headed vireo, and a yellow-billed cuckoo. We spotted another yellow-billed cuckoo while eating lunch at the Plane View Restaurant at the airport. On Oct. 23 a hairy woodpecker, chipping sparrow and a golden-crowned kinglet arrived in the Quenames yard. A greater yellowlegs was fishing on Big Sandy in Tisbury Great Pond on Oct. 25.
Bert Fischer spotted five ruddy ducks and five buffleheads at Squibnocket on Oct. 20. On Oct. 25 Bert spotted 300 bluebills (scaup) on Squibnocket Pond.
Ed Seibert called on Oct. 23 to say that they have had a female rose-breasted grosbeak at their Vineyard Haven feeder for the last several days.
Please report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard Bird Hotline at 508-645-2913 or e-mail to email@example.com. Susan B. Whiting is the coauthor of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her Web site is vineyardbirds2.com.