Wednesday, April 14, 2021
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Garden Notes: Ideas for spring

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Woodpecker, mourning dove, and pinkletinks dominate the early morning stillness. Then the ‘thrumm’ of internal combustion engines and truck tires begins to compete, and the day begins. Island spring, despite being almost nonexistent by mainland...

Wild Side: Pygmy grasshoppers

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The most favorite of my many favorite insects is surely the crested pygmy grasshopper, Nomotettix cristatus. It’s probably the smallest Orthoptera occurring on Martha’s Vineyard, with adults ranging between a quarter and three-eighths of...

Garden Notes: Getting ready

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Grass, buds, twigs: everything with chlorophyll in it is becoming greener. The Passover full moon and gale last weekend were March’s grande finale. April showers will be welcome; three-plus inches March rainfall was okay,...

Wild Side: Killdeer plovers

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Three species of so-called “banded plovers” occur regularly on Martha’s Vineyard. Of these, the piping plover, an intensively managed species that nests in modest numbers on our beaches, gets all the press. And the...

Garden Notes: Think long-term

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Spring, beginning officially with the Vernal Equinox, March 20, is when outdoor activities resume. With that very much in mind, what better time to focus concern on our surroundings? Growing awareness  Growers and gardeners tend to...

Wild Side: Winter ants

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In a recent column about feeding wild birds (bit.ly/30c79CX,) I pointed out that food you put out for birds often ends up feeding other types of wildlife. At the time, I was thinking mainly...

Garden Notes: Getting our gardens ready

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Under February’s Snow Moon, our cold soil underlain with clay seems to be the last on the Island to lose its snow cover. However, even here, snowdrops are advancing, and the hellebores are covered...

Wild Side: Harlequin ducks

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Waterfowl — and about 40 species of ducks, geese, and swans have been recorded on Martha’s Vineyard — may seem to be a boring group. Some species are abundant, at least seasonally, to the...

Garden Notes: Winter Wonderland

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This is February: month of snowstorms, clearing blue skies, and bright sunshine! Deep and pristine, shadowed in exquisite blue, this snowfall was a pillowy duvet, a winter-wonderland all too scarce in recent times. The picturesque...

Wild Side: Start small

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It’s the time of year when I receive many inquiries about feeding wild birds: Is it ecologically helpful or harmful? Should I feed birds, or not? In classic “Wild Side” fashion, I always respond...

Garden Notes: I (Heart) Martha’s Vineyard

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Already, Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. Subject matter of garden columns is usually plants and flowers, especially around Valentine’s Day; but today’s is a more dyspeptic one, where I point to a different...

Wild Side: American kestrel

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While snowy owls and a remarkable invasion of finch species have dominated the attention of birders over the past few months, an attractive and interesting bird has quietly set up shop in Edgartown, amid...

Garden Notes: Light-driven

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Each day now we receive about one minute more daytime at sunset. Sunrise is about to start earlier too. According to the adage, “as the days lengthen, the cold strengthens” — we are still...

Wild Side: Insect IDs

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Twenty years ago, it would have been nearly impossible for an amateur naturalist like me to study insects with any success. A few groups, to be sure — butterflies and dragonflies, for example —...

Garden Notes: Fresh start

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A lot has happened that we did not imagine at this time one year ago. Stating the obvious, the year 2020 has been a procession brimful with unusual experiences and painful adaptations, one after...

Wild Side: Cooper’s hawks

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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 species, though, a Cooper’s hawk creates a distinctly different impression...

Garden Notes: Conjunctions, fruit trees, and summer

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Why do you suppose there is so much trash appearing recently along Island roadsides? Just asking. Respect our Island home! A taste of winter provided by the large storm system overflying the region on Thursday...

Wild Side: The great fly hunt

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“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 average striped bass, I’ve reluctantly concluded, is smarter than I...

Garden Notes: Biding time

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November 2020 was a tumultuous month, and another November windstorm blew it right out the door on the 30th. Yet another blustery front came through last weekend; brief power disruptions accompanied it, as well...

Wild Side: Fungus gnats

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Nearly everybody has at least a vague notion of what a fly is. To a biologist, “fly” means a member of the insect order Diptera, unique among insects in possessing only one pair of...
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