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Matt Pelikan

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Gull watching

In general, February is the nadir of the year for a Vineyard birder, with numbers and diversity at their lowest. Mortality and migration have...

Fish bodies on the Lagoon, as far as the eye could see

“Fish bodies on the Lagoon” is the sort of email subject line that gets my attention. This particular email, sent on the evening of...

Reflections from a naturalist

I’ve written about natural history for the MVTimes for about 15 years now: from 1999 through 2004 in a column called “Field Notes,” and...

Something to crow about

You’d think the colonization of the Vineyard by a large, noisy bird species would be an obvious process. But the gradual establishment of a...

The ups and downsides of climate change

With temperatures up into the upper 50s yet again as I sit down to write this, my topic can only be the oddly pleasant...

The ebb and flow of Martha’s Vineyard bug life

As you’d expect with cold-blooded creatures, insect numbers and diversity follow a distinct annual arc, building to a summertime peak from a winter nadir....

A dam removed, the Tiasquam begins to heal

Autumn meadowhawks — mid-size, red-bodied dragonflies — patrolled over sedges and grass on a recent mild autumn day, at noon at a freshwater wetland...

Answers from the Wild Side

The great outdoors can produce baffling mysteries. MVTimes Wild Side columnist Matt Pelikan tries his best to solve them. Got a question for the...

The dark side of fall

“If you like fall,” one of my insect-enthusiast friends recently griped, “you’re basically saying that you like watching insects die slowly.” It’s true. There are...

Fish out of (tropical) waters

On a brilliant, sunny day in early October, my work took me and two Nature Conservancy colleagues out onto the Tisbury Great Pond. Isaiah...

Will the real katydid please stand up?

In much of the eastern United States, the name “katydid” refers most often to the true katydid, Pterophylla camellifolia. A bulky, leaf-like insect, this...

Flies — a flying public relations disaster

Flies — I mean all of them, the whole insect order Diptera — have a public relations problem. A few bad actors taint the...

What do bugs think?

If you were an insect, you wouldn’t think about much at all. But to the extent that you did think, how to avoid being...

The salt marsh project

Naturalists can’t be sissies — even when it involves stinkiness, decay, and greenhead flies. Of all the habitats found on the Vineyard, the one I...

Lazy bugs of August

Insect life often takes a siesta on the Vineyard in early August. In the hot, dry weather, plants stop growing, so there is little...

Shooting bugs

Photography in general, and the study of insects in particular, has been revolutionized by digital cameras. Examination of a specimen — usually a dead...

Hair today, gone tomorrow

July is hairstreak month on the Vineyard. Now, that’s a remark that needs some explaining, partly because many people have no idea what a...

Unloveable critters

From ticks to tapeworms, parasites lead the list of reviled animals. And the insect world takes parasitism to particularly repellent extremes: The young of...

Elegy for a black oak

We are sorry to report the passing of Quercus velutina, a.k.a. Black Oak, sometime during the winter of 2014–15 at the approximate age of...

The mysterious missing brown recluse spider

I love a good natural history question to ponder! And the brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa, furnishes a fine one. Academic spider researchers consider...