Town Column : Edgartown
Ospreys returning from South America are a symbol of spring's arrival on Martha's Vineyard. But that was not always so; in 1969 there were only two pairs of ospreys nesting on Martha's Vineyard. Thanks to Gus Ben David's work to help erect nest poles around Martha's Vineyard, between 60 and 70 pairs of birds are expected to nest on the Vineyard this year. I caught up with Gus last Saturday just before he was on his way out to put up his 124th pole; this latest one is being built on private land in Slough Cove, near Edgartown Great Pond. Gus will put up the 16-foot pole by hand; the larger ones are erected with the help of his "partners" at NSTAR electric, using line trucks.
Gus said that the first ospreys of the season were spotted on March 13. Remarkably, the males tend to arrive a week or two before the females to claim their old nest sites. He recently spotted a nest on the top of a large light on the playing field at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. Martha's Vineyard has the second largest number of nest sites in New England (after Westport). Gus explained that raising the osprey population to such impressive numbers would not have been possible without the cooperation of landowners and the power company throughout the years. The former executive director at Felix Neck, Gus now runs the World of Reptiles and Birds Park; it is currently open weekends from 10 am to 3 pm.
Felix Neck is holding its annual Osprey Festival on Saturday; the day's activities will include up-close encounters with live birds, music, food, and crafts for the kids. For those seniors that can't make it on Saturday, Naturalist Susie Bowman will lead a Senior Stroll starting at 10:30 am on April 7; hot beverages will be served afterwards in the newly refurbished discovery room.
Some U.S. economic indicators are showing signs of improvement, providing at least a glimmer of hope for local businesses. Steve Myrick reported last week in The Martha's Vineyard Times that while building permits for single family homes in Edgartown were down by two-thirds in 2008 over 2007, some contractors and building merchants on Martha's Vineyard have seen business improve in recent weeks. Ann Floyd, Chappy resident and owner of Sandcastle Reality, said that rental bookings recovered remarkably well in March, after being down by one-third in the first two months of the year. Ann says she is quite confident that 2009 will be a good rental season, and hopes for a positive impact on retail and restaurant business in town.
"Weathering the Storm on Martha's Vineyard," an evening of fine dining and fascinating conversation with Mark Alan Lovewell, will take place tonight at 6 pm at the Mansion House to benefit the Martha's Vineyard Museum. Many of you know Mark as a journalist and photographer with the Vineyard Gazette, and as a musician, but he is also a cooperative observer for the National Weather Service. He will share his knowledge of Island weather in three 20-minute talks during the evening.
Habitat for Humanity will present keys to a new homeowner at a dedication ceremony at 1 pm on Friday at 21 Eleventh Street in Edgartown. The Town of Edgartown donated the land with funds made available through the Community Preservation Act; many other donors and volunteers were also instrumental in getting the house built.