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Friday, August 18, 2017
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Matt Pelikan

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Wild Side: Amorous crickets sing across the Island

Across the years that I’ve been studying the Vineyard’s Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids), the first of August has emerged as special date. Invariably,...

Wild Side: Mothing

When I began to watch birds as a kid of 7 or 8, birdwatching was something of a fringe activity, and its practitioners were...

Wild Side: Long-legged flies

The long-legged flies, family Dolichopodidae, may rank as the most conspicuous group of insects you’ve never noticed. They’re diverse, active, often colorful, widely distributed,...

Wild Side: Stopped in my tracks

After a quarter-century or so of steadily growing interest in insects, I’m not easily impressed. Big bugs, tiny bugs, colorful bugs, bugs with insanely...

Wild Side: Our Breeding Bird Survey

Starting in the year 2000, one of my mornings every June has been devoted to helping a massive “citizen science” project called the Breeding...

Wild Side: The frosted elfin

Handily the high point of my year so far was getting good — well, decent — photos of a butterfly I’ve been unable to...

Scarlet tanagers

For many of our songbirds, striking plumage coloration in a male may attract an interested female. But it’s a liability the rest of the...

Native bees

Pollinators, we all know by now, are both important and in trouble. Many populations within this broad guild of insects are shrinking, precipitously in...

Early migration

Migration always interests birders, increasing diversity and numbers, and greatly increasing the odds of something unusual turning up. While fall probably brings the best...

Praying mantises

Spring is famously elusive here on the Vineyard, but it finally gets here, and as you set about the yard and garden cleanup that...

Blowflies

If you’ve ever found a large, bristly, blueish-black fly banging against a windowpane in late autumn or early spring, chances are you were looking...

Tiger beetles

Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday the 25th, will stick in my memory for a good long time. My fairly accurate pocket thermometer recorded 69°...

The yellow-breasted chat

The warbler family, a large one, is a favorite among birders. And even if you aren’t a birder, you may well have a sense...

Great horned owls

After 20 years of active birding on the Vineyard, I’ve encountered pretty much all of our regularly occurring bird species, most of our “rare...

Wild Side: Cynipid wasps

In the roughly quarter-century I’ve been seriously studying insects, I’ve grown used to oddness among our six-legged neighbors: bizarre body structures, peculiar life histories,...

Seaweed flies

The Christmas bird count (see bit.ly/mvbirdcount) held on Dec. 28 was a snoozer for me: Low numbers, no good birds, many expected species missed....

Winter hummingbirds

Martha’s Vineyard is famous among birders, with a well-earned reputation for both a skillful birding community and a tendency to attract rare birds. While...

Snow buntings

Some winters back, I was out birding Lobsterville with the late Vern Laux and a couple of beginning birders. When we found a flock...

Spring peepers

Late November may be a strange time of year to write about an animal with “spring” in its name, but among the absolute truths...

Ravens

While the peak of fall migration, long since past, offers the most active birding of the Vineyard year, many of the more unusual avian...