Penny Uhlendorf and Scott Stephens saw a ruby-throated hummingbird visit their feeder and greedily drink nectar on November 10-11. As hummers are difficult to identify at this time of year, Lanny McDowell’s photographs confirmed that he was a young male. ruby-throated hummingbird, not a western stray.
About eight years ago, an Allen hummingbird showed up at the same feeders. He survived for about two months until a deep frost. Believe it or not, we had three hummers in January. The other two were ruby-throated.
Common Goldeneye – Lanny McDowell
Waterfowl migration is accelerating. The southern end of Tisbury Great Pond was teeming with birds on November 14, so many that it took some time to count them and look for rarities. There were 470 greater scaups, 90 white-winged scoters and 23 mute swans closer to the shore of Long Point. Fortunately, they swam leisurely rather than diving frequently, so they were pretty easy to count.
I also found three American ducks, five mallards, two black ducks, three small buffalos, three hooded mergansers, two red-necked mergansers, three sea gulls and an adult bald eagle harassed by one of the 140 herring gulls. It was a treat: we don’t see that much anymore.
Offshore there were three red-throated loons and five common loons. At the Quansoo farm, there were two chipmunks and three golden plovers mixed with 50 black-bellied plovers and six sandpipers.
While the Red Merganser, Common Goldeneye, and Little Goldeneye are increasingly common, they are still far below their winter abundance. They will arrive well in December and maybe even in January.
A new arrival for the season is a lone snow bunting that Ken Magnuson saw at the Edgartown Golf Club on November 9 and 11. He also saw a bald eagle, several tawny owls, and a blue-winged teal.
Little Penguin – Lanny McDowell
Matt Pelikan and Molly Jacobson spotted two new species for the season on November 10. They saw an American Bittern – a secret swamp dweller who is always a great find on the island – at West Basin, then two little penguins off Lobsterville Beach. Their other highlights include 20 Harlequin Ducks off the Squibnocket Beach parking lot; a late red-eyed vireo and a late black-throated green warbler and a catbird at the water pipe in Aquinnah near the tribal hatchery; and a familiar sparrow that has retreated from a thicket at Vanderhoop farm.
Another persistent songbird is a blue-headed vireo seen by Scott Stephens on November 6 at Pilot Hill. There are also two yellow-bellied woodpeckers spotted. Allan Keith and Susan Whiting spotted an evergreen yellow-billed cuckoo near the lower parking lot of the Gay Head Cliffs on November 9.
Red-shouldered Blackbirds also linger at Felix Neck and the Oak Bluffs Pumping Station. Richard Price saw a herd of five at the old site on November 13. Luanne Johnson spotted a herd of six at the latter site on November 14.
Molly Jacobson spotted an American pipit – a passing songbird – at the Gay Head Cliffs on November 10.
The Grand Knights seem to be lingering later than usual this fall. Molly Jacobson saw two at Crackatuxet Cove on November 7, and singles in Aquinnah and Felix Neck on November 10. Matt Pelikan spotted two near Bend in the Road Beach on Veteran’s Day, the same day I spotted two at Farm Pond. Patsy Donovan also spotted one that day. On November 17, Richard Price spotted two at Felix Neck, the same day I saw 17 roosting on the small island of Sengekontaket Pond near the Ocean Heights boat launch. That’s a lot of great knights for November!
Semipalmated Plover – Lanny McDowell
Two late semipalmated plovers were also spotted by Bob Shriber in Red Beach on November 12, along with the three more anticipated Black-bellied Plovers and three sanderling. And at Little Beach on November 11, Patsy Donovan reports that two American oystercatchers were still present.
Most double-crested cormorants leave for southern climates, as evidenced by the 500 that Michael Born observed as they flew west past Squibnocket on November 11. For the last decaffeine we had a small number of this species overwintering here.
Falcon sightings are not very numerous this month. Lanny McDowell saw a Cooper’s Hawk in Katama on November 5. Ron Domurat saw a barn owl along Scrubby Neck Road on November 7, but then added two more in the West Tisbury Road parking lot. Matthew Born spotted the only peregrine falcon on November 9 at Gay Head Cliffs. Mary Jane Nevin observed a fast hawk near Menemsha on November 11. Luanne Johnson observed a Northern Harrier along State Beach on November 14.
Eagles have been seen more frequently. On November 3, Lanny McDowell stopped at the Oak Bluffs Pumping Station and heard the hoarse croak of a crow. Looking up, he found the crow, then spotted a bald eagle. Tom Mayhew reports that there have been as many as three bald eagles hovering around the lagoon recently. In addition to the two eagles mentioned above, I saw an almost adult bald eagle fly over Town Cove on November 11.
Snow bunting – Lanny McDowell
Has anyone noticed that eastern bluebirds, American robins, and cedar waxwings often congregate? In the first week of November robins and cedar waxwings plundered crab apple fruit in my yard, Matthew Born saw 10 eastern bluebirds at Clay Pit Road in Aquinnah on November 13th. That same day, Richard Price saw five bluebirds and two robins at Felix Neck. The next day, Margaret Curtin and her crew spotted 16 bluebirds, a robin and 24 cedar waxwings in the state forest.
Finally, a herd of 10 black-eyed juncos visited the feeders of Thaw Malin and Cynthia Bloomquist on November 14.
More bird pictures
Robert Culbert is an ecological consultant with Nature Watch LLC living in Vineyard Haven.