Hear ye, hear ye! Do not forget that the Vineyard’s Christmas Bird Count will take place on Monday, Jan. 2, from dawn to dusk, rain or shine. Vineyard birders will join tens of thousands of volunteers who are taking part in the oldest and largest demonstration of crowd science in the world. This count is in its 112th year so the data that has been gathered over the years has shown the world the changes in the environment and bird populations.
The Vineyard is divided into sections with a local birder as the leader in that area. These leaders are joined by volunteers from here and away to identify and count the different species seen. Other Vineyarders have feeding stations or just a feeder and will report the birds that visit their feeders on Monday to a central location. This information will be added to the field reports to give us a total of species seen on-Island the day of the Christmas Bird Count (CBC).
The data collected during the CBC is important as it is used by scientists to determine what is changing in our environment and for locals to monitor the health and changes to our bird population.
If you are watching your feeders please call the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary at 508-627-4850 between 1 and 4 p.m. One of our volunteers will be there to take your report of the bird species you have seen and how many of each. If the line is busy, select extension 108 and leave your report. Thanks so much.
Team leaders should have their final list completed and report to the Wakeman Center off Lambert’s Cove Road at 5:30 p.m. There will be soup and finger food. If possible, each team is asked to bring a munchie to add to the fare.
The Vineyard birding community sends their condolences to Matt Pelikan. Matt’s father died on Dec. 26.
Dale Carter called to report that on Dec. 20 she was pleasantly surprised to see 10 eastern bluebirds in her woodland bird bath. She noted that the bird bath also had American goldfinches and house finches so the array was quite a splash of all shades of blue, yellow and red. Dale said this was the first time she had seen bluebirds in her Chappaquiddick yard.
Warren Woessner scouted Norton Point on Dec. 21 and had the following: six black-bellied plovers, a dozen dunlins, good numbers of red-breasted mergansers, buffleheads and six greater scaup
Chris Murphy counted 16 ring-necked ducks and a pair of ruddy ducks on Uncle Seth’s Pond on Dec. 22. In one of the other Lambert’s Cove ponds he spotted six female hooded mergansers and one male, quite a harem I would say!
The same day Flip Harrington, Warren Woessner, Lanny McDowell and I checked out Quenames Cove and Black Point Pond. On Quenames Cove we counted 30 ring-necked ducks, two pied-billed grebes, 12 hooded mergansers, three black ducks and a single mallard. In the hedgerows on the Black Point Road we found 12 eastern bluebirds, a tufted titmouse, eight yellow-rumped (Myrtle) warblers and two tree sparrows. In Black Point Pond we added three more pied-billed grebes, 15 black ducks, 10 buffleheads, three male red-breasted mergansers and overhead five turkey vultures and three red-tailed hawks.
Again on Dec. 22 Rob Culbert spotted an alcid near Eastville Beach that he couldn’t identify. Rob had thought it might be a murre. Unfortunately he couldn’t get back to the bird in question. He posted the information and Warren Woessner drove over and found what he thought was the bird in question. Warren identified it as a razorbill with a slightly slimmer bill than usual.
Sarah Mayhew spotted a pair of eastern bluebirds at Featherstone in Oak Bluffs on the afternoon of Dec. 22. Around 11 p.m. that evening, Sarah heard both a barn and screech owl at her West Tisbury home.
Bert Fischer counted 23 mourning doves under his Aquinnah feeder on Dec. 23. William Waterway sent a photo of a turkey vulture that he took on Christmas Eve at Katama.
Rita Brown had a Christmas present of two red-tailed hawks in Meetinghouse Village in Edgartown.
Sad news comes from the osprey world of Rob Bierregaard. “Sorry to report that we lost another one of our birds. Buck, our most peripatetic youngster from 2009 (who covered more than 8,000 miles in the eastern U.S. looking for his natal area in South Carolina) either died or dropped his transmitter. Another total bummer, as it would have been SO interesting to see what he did on his second return to the states. He was back in his wintering area from 2009-2011 and everything seemed fine until one day his transmitter just stopped moving. Absolutely no way to know what happened, so we can just be optimists and say he dropped the transmitter. He was in a National Park so perhaps a bit less likely to be shot than in other parts of the country.”
Please report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard Bird Hotline at 508-645-2913 or e-mail email@example.com. Susan B. Whiting is coauthor of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her Web site is vineyardbirds2.com.