Tracking the Elusive Black Racer Snake
Alex Elvin
Black racer snakes (Coluber constrictor) have been documented on the Vineyard as far back as the early 1800s, but little is known about the Island population. That could soon change.
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Tracking Down Elusive Black Racer Snakes
Alex Elvin
As the Island prepared for Tropical Storm Hermine on Sunday, a black racer snake named Miss Audrey was seeking shelter of her own.
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Painted Turtles Get Their Moment in the Spotlight
Louisa McCullough
Oscar Thompson has spent the summer chasing turtles for his senior thesis at college. Not known for their speed, painted turtles can still be elusive in their natural habitat deep within the Vineyard's ponds.
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Volunteers Needed for Vineyard Bat Survey

Northern long-eared bats need help. If you see bats on the Vineyard, you are invited to complete a BiodiversityWorks survey about Island bats.

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In Search of Black Racers, Slithering Along With Island Snakes
Alex Elvin

Carefully lifting up a panel of plywood near Oyster Pond in Edgartown on Monday, Liz Baldwin uncovered a rare sight: a black racer, the Island’s largest and least common snake species. It was her first encounter with the species, which has been in decline here since the 1970s.

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Local Bat Study May Lend Insight to Regional Crisis
Ivy Ashe

The bat detector sputtered and crackled from its post along Middle Cove Loop at Long Point Wildlife Refuge. It hadn’t yet made the telltale repeating noises that occur when an echolocating bat flies by, but by the time wildlife monitor Luke Elder returned to collect the device in the morning, numerous sonar squeaks had been recorded.

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Tracking and Tagging the Elusive Willet
Katie Ruppel
At 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning near the Poucha Pond salt marsh at Chappaquiddick, a few fishermen lined the shores and a handful of binocular-bearing biologists and birders walked through the dunes. Otherwise, the land was bare of human activity.

But in the sky a bird with deep black and bright white striped wings swooped nearby. The binoculars went up.

“That’s a willet,” said Luanne Johnson, director of the nonprofit BiodiversityWorks dedicated to wildlife research, monitoring and mentoring.

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On the Hunt for Elusive Island Otters
Katie Ruppel

During winter, when there is significant snowfall, wildlife biologist Luanne Johnson begins the hunt for otter trails.

Only in the snow can she easily track the round-toed trails at Sepiessa Point Reservation or the smooth belly slides along the hills of Cranberry Acres. Otherwise, the elusive otter remains mostly a mystery. This winter has been a good one for observations.

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Plover Odd Couple
Susan B. Whiting
A rare Wilson’s plover arrived on-Island May 18. It was discovered by Liz Baldwin and Luanne Johnson, the team from Biodiversity Works that is monitoring piping plovers and American oystercatchers on many of the Island beaches. They spotted the Wilson’s plover at Squibnocket and found it was keeping the company of a piping plover. Turns out the Wilson’s plover is a female and the piping plover a male; ah the odd couple!
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