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Angel Bird

by Lanny McDowell on September 4, 2010


Thousands, higher numbers than I comprehend, of tree swallows were staging today near Crackatuxet Cove, an area at the southeast corner of Edgartown Great Pond accessible from the “right fork” at Katama.   A bunch of the Vineyard’s regular birders tried Aquinnah and Red Beach looking for storm birds this morning.  Two Black Terns and two Spotted Sandpipers are the only finds worth mentioning.  We then traversed the Island to the Farm Institute, which was way less than spectacular.  Disappointed, some of us drove the Atlantic leg of the Katama triangle and saw, far off, a swarm of swallows.  [click to continue...]

Buffed for the Season

by Lanny McDowell on August 29, 2010


Scanning the plowed fields at the Farm Institute in Katama has been de rigeur for the past couple of weeks, anyway, for the regulars, and also for the more sought-after Upland Sandpiper and Buff-breasteds.  Neither of each until yesterday, when Rob Culbert, pro ecologist and local birding guide, emailed some of the local birders that on his Saturday morning field trip rounds he had espied up to five buffies bobbing and poking their way around the field. [click to continue...]

Out for a Lark at Eel Pond

by Lanny McDowell on August 27, 2010


I am hoping that the quizzical look on this bird’s face will be reflected in yours.  No, not my face;  the face of the bird in the first photo.  It was looking, it turns out, at a swarm of DC cormorants, about twenty strong, gliding around on set wings, pretty much in unison, at considerable altitude.  The wings were outstretched straight enough to bring anhingas to mind.  Anyway, I had the luxury of seeing the pictured bird fly before I got the binocs on it, so I already had an ID before I looked more closely.  It would have been harder if I had only seen it on the ground or, especially, out of habitat context.  The bird and I and Stella were enjoying the post nor’easter brilliance of Eel Pond in Edgartown yesterday.

This is not a bird I have seen on the Vineyard.  Maybe others are more familiar with it.  The species, yes, but the plumage, no.  I do know it’s kind of tacky to not include the ident, but this time that’s how it is.  Let’s see what people come up with; and I hope there is some head scratching and page flipping going on. [click to continue...]

Skimmers, then more skimmers.

by Lanny McDowell on August 8, 2010

DSCN6341The TTOR shorebird techs had been waiting to see what would hatch from under the Black Skimmer pair out at Norton Point at Katama Bay inside the southeast corner of Martha’s Vineyard.  The birds had laid one egg, annexed two Least Tern eggs into their nest and laid a second of their own.  According to observers, one or two of the tern eggs hatched but did not make it for long.  One of the skimmer eggs hatched into a healthy chick, which we saw today.  We were told a second pair had arrived and laid eggs – it turned out to be three of them.  Four of us, including Martin, the Swedish Phd candidate taking a three week intensive on molecular biology over in Woods Hole at the Marine Biology Lab, then discovered a third pair of skimmers in residence.   All very exciting.  The skimmers are incredible on the wing!

The beginning:


Three adults are a little tight, but not so bad:




The casual ease of flight:



Albatross wannabe:



This is for the guys who went out with me today:


Best shot – a trio of grace on the wing:


Birds are cool!  Lanny

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