Home Authors Posts by Matt Pelikan

Matt Pelikan

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Wild Side: Bug hunting

On a recent canoe outing up into channels in a salt marsh adjacent to Sengekontacket Pond, I was delighted to find a batch of...

Wild Side: Hoverflies

Despite the rainy weather that has afflicted us, our Oak Bluffs yard is bursting with flowers: catmint, clover, oxeye daisy, hawkweed, and coreopsis fill...

Wild Side: Counting birds

While I enjoy birding under any circumstances, I’m especially fond of “citizen science” birding: participating in projects or events that use amateur observers to...

Wild Side: Home invasion

Last Saturday, May 25, I paid a visit to a colony of mining bees I’ve been keeping an eye on. The site isn’t much...

Wild Side: ‘Overshoot’ events

Autumn is typically the peak season for Vineyard birding, as migrants stream south along the coast, taking advantage of ocean-moderated temperatures and resource-rich coastal...

Wild Side: The gray hairstreak butterfly

All butterflies are beautiful. But in my view, one particular group, the hairstreaks, are the prettiest of the bunch. Small (about the size of...

Wild Side: Cabbage whites

“Wild Side,” it has to be admitted, has a fascination with the obscure: Many of my subjects are small, rare, or hidden species that...

Wild Side: Wolf spiders

Among the most plentiful arthropods in very early spring are, perhaps surprisingly, spiders. Finding them takes some astuteness — most spiders active in early...

Wild Side: Pygmy grasshoppers

One of the stranger insects I’ve encountered on the Vineyard is Nomotettix cristatus, sometimes called the crested pygmy grasshopper. Pygmy grasshoppers in general compose...

Wild Side: Spring brings the red-winged blackbird.

The approach of spring is signaled by a host of changes: longer days, stronger sun, the onset of bird song, plants breaking dormancy. But...

Wild Side: Birding misidentifications

Birders really want to get it right: Correct identification is the central challenge of birding, and especially with less common birds, reports shape our...

Wild Side: Begin with the ring-billed gull

Casual observers often lump all gulls together as “sea gulls,” which infuriates birders, who view gulls as one of the most interesting groups of...

Wild Side: The flies of winter

Insects, of course, are primarily warm-weather friends. And with flies in particular — the order Diptera — summer is rife with familiar examples. Mosquitoes...

Wild Side: Christmas Bird Count

Last Saturday, Jan. 5, I participated in the annual Vineyard Christmas Bird Count, part of a vast national survey coordinated by National Audubon. Dozens...

Where is Martha heading?

If your mind dwells much as mine does on the natural world, it’s easy to give in to despair. Every day brings new insults:...

Wild Side: The red-bellied woodpecker

Things are always changing in the world of wildlife. Sometimes the process is slow and subtle; in other cases, though, things happen more quickly...

Wild Side: The common merganser

Work, medical woes, and off-Island travel have curtailed my birding in recent months, making most of my enjoyment of birds vicarious. I was happy,...

Wild Side: Finches, both true and otherwise

Winter has hit us suddenly and hard this year, with a series of coastal storms and an early onset of cold weather. One could...

Wild Side: Cowpen daisy

When I arrived on the Vineyard in 1997, moving into a relatively new house with conventional landscaping in Oak Bluffs, I knew very little...

Wild Side: The brant are back

Surprises are all fine and well. But one of the most satisfying things about observing nature is the predictable recurrence of events. The planet...