The Vineyard Wildlife Festival was held at Felix Neck on Saturday, from 10 am to 2 pm. Both a celebration of the new season and an invitation to Islanders to get out and get to know the natural world around them, the event attracted upwards of 100 people, young and old, novice and experienced naturalists.
Four activities were featured, starting with a guided walk for beginning birders, led by Rob Culbert. The group followed a trail along the edge of Sengekontacket Pond, where they could spot both land and shore birds.
Norman Smith brought a barn owl, a screech owl, and a kestrel from Mass. Audubon’s Blue Hills Reservation in Milton. His presentation of these live birds of prey was a highlight of the day for many attendees.
The final two programs were examples of Felix Neck’s reliance on citizen scientists to help with research projects. Susie Bowman outlined a horseshoe crab spawning survey being conducted in Lake Tashmoo and Sengekontacket Pond, part of a Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries effort.
Cristina Pereira, Felix Neck’s education coordinator, led a search for salamanders under cover boards that are placed in strategic spots in the woods around the property. The population of salamanders is considered an indicator of the health of ecosystems. Size, type, and quantity of salamanders are recorded as part of a statewide Mass Audubon initiative.
Hot dogs and hamburgers from The FARM institute were available for those who developed an appetite during the day.