Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Wild Side: Eye of the naturalist

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Sometimes described as the founder of American ornithology, Alexander Wilson (1766–1813) was a naturalist and painter of prodigious talent. The nine volumes of his magisterial “American Ornithology,” released between 1808 and 1814, portray 268...

A blooming century!

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Spring has sprung, and the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club is buzzing with activity as it gears up for the summer season. The club, with its 207 members, is honoring its centennial with various offerings...

Garden Notes: Catching up to June

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The rains, the weather, all seem to have converged to create wonderful gardens this spring. Now it is June, and the season hurtles along. Seed-started zinnias and nasturtiums are in the ground; lupines and...

Wild Side: The Discreet, Though Plentiful, Red-Eyed Vireo

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Standing on a hilltop in the woodland of the Chilmark moraine this past weekend, I experienced a single, dominant impression: Red-eyed vireo is one seriously common bird on Martha’s Vineyard. One of our later...

Garden Notes: Spring in full fragrance

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Tonight’s full moon is called the Flower Moon. Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and the hardy garden fragrance plants are at their height. Is there any other time of year so flowery and...

Wild Side: Yellow-throated warbler

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Well, he’s back again.  In one of the more bizarre episodes in the history of Martha’s Vineyard bird life, a male yellow-throated warbler is once again on territory amid the tall pitch pines of a...

Garden Notes: This spring is cool

The elegant native shadbush (amelanchier and its species) is in bloom but a short time, but is fleetingly graceful: matchless! Early morning, and the cardinal, or “redbird,” according to Margaret Renkl, hops around in...

Wild Side: Colletes, the cellophane bees

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My current favorite bee genus? Why, thank you for asking: Colletes! Colletes isn’t the most diverse bee genus, and its members are not the prettiest of bees. But this genus, which is fairly well represented...

Women who garden

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There was nothing flowery about the recent event “The Perennial Women of Island Gardening” at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. The panel discussion featured five accomplished women who have designed, dug, planted, and tended some...

Garden Notes: Forsythia is a spring tonic

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Forsythias across the Island seemed shy of blooming this year, turning out in full force a little later than usual. Their reluctance caused me to ask, only partly in mock curiosity, “What does the...

Wild Side: The inscrutable dandelion

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If there’s one point I truly insist on regarding natural history, it’s that the most common organisms and the most familiar settings can be every bit as interesting as the most exotic species and...

Garden Notes: Welcome spring

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This patch of weather has been wet and chilling, can we all agree? Nevertheless, the sun is with us for longer every day, even behind overcast. Small leaves are emerging; many kinds of plants...

Wild Side: The frustrating season

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Ah, early spring! Or, as we know it here on Martha’s Vineyard, the Season of Intense Frustration. Quite routinely in early April, mainland Massachusetts will have sunny days with temperatures in the 60s or...

Sewing new beginnings

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On a sunny day in March, the program room of the West Tisbury library was humming — with the sound of sewing machines. The idea of providing workshops to teach the basics of using...

Garden Notes: Working with the spring

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“You know spring has sprung when the herring run.”  In “Finding a Better Balance,” Part 2 of Ollie Becker and Circuit Art’s Great Ponds documentary, watch herring filmed swimming to spawn at the Aquinnah herring...

Wild Side: Insects of water and air

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a gaping void in my natural history knowledge: the biology and ecology of insects that have aquatic larval states. This is a huge group of species, functionally...

Garden Notes: ‘The Island is our garden’

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Saluting the longtime motto of the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club (est. 1926), “The Island is our garden”: Whether as a declaration or as a goal, it suits this Island we cherish. It is the Ides...

Wild Side: The osprey cometh

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It’s hard to think of a species more beloved among Vineyarders than the osprey. This long-winged, black-and-white bird was, like many other raptors, nearly exterminated in the 1950s and 1960s by indiscriminate insecticide use....

Garden Notes: Pruning and planting

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The Feb. 13 snowfall was glorious. Leap year February kicked in with its familiar self, but tardily, mid-month. And March — in like a lamb? Wintry conditions may give ticks pause, beech trees a break,...

Wild Side: Brown thrashers have become rare here

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A recent report in a Vineyard birdwatching Facebook group called to mind a species I hardly ever think of these days: the brown thrasher. It’s not that I don’t like them; indeed, thrashers rank...