Saturday, January 22, 2022
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Garden Notes: January blooms

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Ah, January! “As days lengthen, the cold strengthens.” Find ways to celebrate winter. On a flawless, frigid day, we took a postponed New Year’s Day beach walk with friends, congregants in the church of winter....

Wild Side: Making a strong showing

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The 62nd annual Martha’s Vineyard Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was held amid drizzle, fog, and an incredibly high tide on Sunday, Jan. 2. My own effort, counting birds from West Chop to Vineyard Haven...

Garden Notes: Sticking with the locals

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Many are looking forward enthusiastically to the discoveries in 2022 that the Mars rovers may make. Perseverance, the most recently landed Mars rover, has found matter containing organic traces on Mars’ rocky surface. Supposing...

Wild Side: House finches

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Perhaps the strongest trend evident this fall among the birds frequenting my yard in Oak Bluffs has been a resurgence in the number of house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus). House finches in our immediate neighborhood...

Garden Notes: Season for renewal

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The Christmas wishes and New Year hopes remind us that intending to do good and be better is possible for all of us. The darkest time of year has actually passed. Winter solstice, Dec. 21,...

Wild Side: White-throated sparrows

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An endless source of mirth among birders is the way common names for birds often ignore obvious traits and focus instead on obscure markings. The eponymous tinted tummy on a red-bellied woodpecker, for example,...

Garden Notes: Island grown

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“Winter does not come until the swamps are full.” This adage is still borne out on the Vineyard, despite climate disruptions. Winter moth males are in flight, looking for mates; caught in headlights at...

Wild Side: Wolf spiders

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“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” urges the poet Dylan Thomas. The target of his petulance, I expect, was mortality. But as a bug enthusiast, I feel the same way about winter....

Garden Notes: Life depends on plants (and animals)

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The woods are beginning to look bare now. At nighttime, the moon shines through the cathedral of trees in a wintry way. Is this a mast year? Acorns are numerous and cause for caution on...

Garden Notes: Native grasses

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Seasonal changes are taking place, including killing frost and the time — clocks set back one hour to Eastern Standard Time. Swamp maples and sumac are ruddy in the landscape, and native grasses, especially...

Garden Notes: Fall colors

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Fall colors are slowly emerging from summer’s greenery. The many ripening berries, deepening oxblood-to-burgundy beetlebung trees, and festoons of gypsy scarlet Virginia creeper do point the way to elusive winter. True to late 20th...

Wild Side: Farms as habitat

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In addition to pecking out Wild Side columns for the MV Times, my working life includes roles with BiodiversityWorks and the Betsy and Jesse Fink Family Foundation. Both entities share my interest in sustainability...

Garden Notes: Fall gardens

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A week ago an impressive dragonfly flight was swarming soundlessly over a wide, sunny up-Island lawn that would mostly qualify as a “Vineyard Lawn.” “Vineyard Lawn” is the education program of Vineyard Conservation Society...

Wild Side: The buzz on bumble bees

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Everybody knows what bumble bees are: big, hairy, black-and-yellow insects flitting from flower to flower. At least eight species occur on the Vineyard, with two others known from historical records and a couple others...

Garden Notes: Protecting the environment

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Last Monday’s spectacular harvest moon and the autumnal equinox have ushered in a new season to garden in. Photons diminish daily, nighttime temperatures drop, heavy dew falls most mornings, while daytimes can be surprisingly...

Wild Side: Fuzzy fly mystery

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A typical field season generates more questions than answers for me, producing a lamentable sense of backward progress: As the years go by, questions accumulate, and I feel like I know steadily less about...

September song, or silence?

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Late summer meadowsong, September’s insect chorus, is swelling. Its leitmotif surrounds us, day and night. Remove your earbuds and listen for it. Uncountable crickets and katydids whirr and chirp their way toward summer’s end. The...

Wild Side: Island bees

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Everybody has received the basic message about native bees: they are ecologically vital, and populations of at least some species have declined markedly, often without an obvious explanation. These are good reasons for learning...

Garden Notes: North and south

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Weather-titillation buildup? As I write, it looks as though New Orleans is headed for another fearful, Force 4 bashing. Simultaneous with this column’s appearance, H. Ida or its remnants may be tracking nearby us. Going...

Wild Side: Non-native earthworms

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A down-Island gardener just brought me a surprise: a pail of compost containing worms the gardener had correctly identified as Asian jumping worms, one of several species in the genus Amynthas that have become...