Martha’s Vineyard, morning birding at Katama

by Lanny McDowell on June 20, 2009


The beach drive out to Norton Point on the Vineyard’s south shore is only open for a portion of its length.  The rest is closed because Oystercatchers, Piping Plovers and Least Terns have young to feed.  And the beach should be closed.  One of the Trustees of Reservations‘ “shorebird technicians” was headed out to make her protective rounds and told me there are something like 681 Least Tern pairs in the colony near the tidal cut into Katama Bay.  That is a really nice big number of Least Terns, maybe a quarter of the state’s nesting pairs, according to the tech.  We wish them all the luck they will need to fledge some youngsters.  The odds are stacked against, but we can hope.  We can resist recreational vehicles on the beach at the wrong time of the year.  We can support the effort. 

I did not walk out to the tern colony.  I opted instead to look for Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows in the tide-flooded grasses not far from the outlet of Herring Creek.  These neat sparrows are annually quite loyal to this location.  I did not hear any singing.  These sparrows can look very ratty when they are wet and they can act very ratty when they are scurrying along the grassy edge of the mudflats.  The tide was high.  I took my time and soon found at least a couple of these salt marsh specialists; and, luckily, they seemed to have an equal interest in me, which makes taking their picture much more viable.  I know real birders do not wear white (I was), but I think it is about how and where you move.

The flora:


The neighbors:


The sparrows:








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Birds are cool!  Lanny

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Soo 06.20.09 at 12:00 pm

Lan, great collection of photos. By the by, Ken Kauffman disputes the real birders don’t wear white. A rough quote is that if you are birding the beaches white is okay.
We are headed for St. Augustine-Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egrets and Little Blue Herons that are blue and white are our birds of the day.


Lanny McDowell 06.20.09 at 1:38 pm

Blue & white Little Blues are nifty. Thanks for checking in ( Soo and her husband are in the process of bringing their twin hull boat back to the Vineyard from Florida). Who’s to diss Ken Kaufman?


Tom pirro 06.24.09 at 3:24 pm

As always a unique series of sharp photos, a nice perspective.


Lanny McDowell 06.24.09 at 5:12 pm

Thanks, Tom. I lucked out stalking the beach here on the Vineyard today. Many, many shots of a bold and tiny baby Piping Plover, plus an Oystercatcher w/ 2 young and at least one egg unhatched, all grist for the photo mill. I will probably send some out before long to my email list*. You should be on that list. Just say the word.

Geez, you are not even in my address book, just in a Comments to blog folder. That I will remedy now. Actually, while I am at it, I added you to the Avian Friends list*. Sometimes I do not bother to publish a post and simply send out bird photos. You can unsubscribe anytime, for any reason.

Best, Lanny

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