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Matt Pelikan

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Wild Side: Stranded leatherback

On Wednesday, Oct. 30, word of a dead leatherback turtle beached on Cape Poge turned up on social media. I was one of several...

Wild Side: Blue jays

When it comes to migration, the blue jay, among our most familiar and recognizable birds, plays by its own rules. By and large, the...

Wild Side: American copper

As the days shorten and the butterfly season begins to wind down, the Vineyard appears to be enjoying an unusually good late-season showing by...

Wild Side: On the hunt

Where have you been all these years, Encoptolophus? That’s what I want to know.Clouded grasshopper (Encoptolophus sordidus), a boldly marked, grayish insect, turned up...

Wild Side: Counting katydids

When it comes to what’s happening in the natural world, you don’t know what you’re missing.No, really: If you know you’re missing something, you...

Wild Side: Meadow katydids

When the average person thinks of katydids, which isn’t very often, they likely have in mind the true katydid, Pterophylla camellifolia. A species that...

Wild Side: Wiley robber flies

Everyone knows that evolution can take one basic design for a plant or animal and diversify it into scores, or even hundreds, of specialized...

Wild Side: Paper wasps

My gardening pride and joy is a patch of ‘Jersey Supreme’ asparagus I laboriously planted back in 2009. When two species of asparagus beetles...

Wild Side: Northern broken-dash

The northern broken-dash is a tiny brownish butterfly, not much over a half-inch long. Its peculiar, hyphenated name comes from the stigma on male...

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...