Monday, January 18, 2021
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Matt Pelikan

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Wild Side: Insect IDs

Twenty years ago, it would have been nearly impossible for an amateur naturalist like me to study insects with any success. A few groups,...

Wild Side: Cooper’s hawks

Cooper’s hawks are good-sized birds, distinctly smaller than a red-tailed hawk but about the size of a crow. Compared to either of those familiar...

Wild Side: The great fly hunt

“Think like your prey,” say the hunters and fisherpeople. It’s good advice for naturalists, too. I can’t say it has helped me with fishing. The...

Wild Side: Fungus gnats

Nearly everybody has at least a vague notion of what a fly is. To a biologist, “fly” means a member of the insect order...

Wild Side: Lapland longspur

On Sunday, Nov. 8, I took advantage of ridiculously fine weather for a quick birding and bugging trip to Katama. In addition to the...

Wild Side: Listen for chirping

As we move into November, there is almost always a dramatic shift in the weather on the Vineyard, and with that, a shift in...

Wild Side: Pine siskins coming to feed

One of the more exciting types of avian events is a finch irruption — a large-scale movement of one or more finch species south...

Wild Side: Changing seasons

As autumn progresses and the natural world begins shutting down for winter, I like to play a game of “the last X of 2020.”...

Wild Side: Predatory beetles

While I have my favorite places to look for insects, I’m always alert for habitats that look like they might hold something interesting. This...

Wild Side: Long-winged katydids

The straight-lanced meadow katydid, Conocephalus strictus, is a very common insect on Martha’s Vineyard, inhabiting dry habitats with a mix of grasses, other herbaceous...

Wild Side: Katydids

A green insect with very long antennae and long hind legs gets posted on social media with a request for identification. “Katydid” is inevitably...

Bee happy, they’re flower lovers

The wasp genus Philanthus is blessed with an appealing name: it means “flower lover” and refers to the fondness members of the genus have...

Wild Side: Counting butterflies

Perhaps the type of wildlife inquiry I receive most often is about abundance: “Butterflies (or birds, or dragonflies) seem especially scarce (or especially common)...

Wild Side: Metamorphosis

Most everyone knows the basics of insect metamorphosis: It’s the way a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. We don’t often think, though, of how...

Wild Side: Robber flies

Among my favorite groups of insects are the robber flies, the predatory members of the family Asilidae. Ranging in length from a half-inch or...

Wild Side: Fledgling season

However screwed up the world may be, certain things keep chugging reliably onward. Pandemic? Protests? Birds don’t care. Their focus is elsewhere, and their...

Wild Side: Oystercatchers

American oystercatchers have an interesting history on the East Coast. Originally, they probably occurred across much of the region, from the Gulf of Mexico...

Wild Side: Summer tanagers

Spring migration is a hit-or-miss proposition for a Vineyard birder. It never brings the sheer volume of birds that fall migration brings, and to...

Wild Side: Bee happy

As the weather starts to warm in April, one of the first and most obvious groups of insects to become active are the bees....

Wild Side: Hawks and doves

As usual for this time of year, the production of more mourning doves is in full swing in our small Oak Bluffs yard. But...
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