Cormorant Killings Near the Herring Run Create Stir Up-Island
Mark Alan Lovewell
A flap has arisen in Aquinnah over the illegal shooting of a large number of cormorants earlier this month on tribal land. The killings took place near the historic herring run, the oldest operating herring run on the Island. The incident raised questions about how laws are enforced by the tribe.
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New Research: Island's Extinct Heath Hen Was a Unique Bird
Tom Dunlop
Now a genetic study of the skins of scores of heath hens, all of them from the Vineyard, shows that the Island bird, although it looked and behaved much like its supposed parent species in the Midwest, was a wholly distinctive creature. Genetically it was more different from the greater western prairie chicken - that supposed parent species - than the Midwestern bird is from any other family member in its genus, which includes the lesser prairie chicken, the endangered Attwater's prairie chicken of eastern Texas, and even the sharp-tailed grouse. It is possible that instead of being a subspecies of the prairie chicken - which scientists have considered it to be since it was first typed in the last years of the nineteenth century - the heath hen might have been a species unto itself.
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Raptors Seek Their Prey in Vineyard Skies
Lanny Mcdowell

Raptor. The name carries a lot of weight. So much velocity and ferocity are associated with it. In the bird world, the title refers to owls, hawks and eagles, vultures and the osprey.

The Vineyard has three owl species in summer and three or four more in winter. Three hawk species can survive here year-round. Almost any hawk species found in eastern North America might find its way here.

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Plovers Abound, Stripers Are In: Katama Breach Boosts Ecology
Mike Seccombe

The forces which punched a hole in Norton Point and opened Edgartown harbor to the Atlantic Ocean might present a headache for town officials, but from an ecological viewpoint, they have all the benefits of a big natural spring cleaning.

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Vineyard Canada Geese
Susan B. Whiting

Tisbury Great Pond looked like a Japanese painting, flat calm with a fine mist hanging just over the surface. It was so quiet it was eerie. The silence was broken by the honking of a flock of Canada Geese. The birds rose up in a V-formation through the fog and headed directly towards my kitchen window, creating quite a din for such an early hour. At what seemed the last second, the flock sailed over the roof and headed towards Black Point Pond.

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This Journey to Save the World Begins With a Dwindling Flock of Red Knots
Lanny Mcdowell

W e had committed to spending the last week of May along the New Jersey side of Delaware Bay, on the beaches that stretch north from Cape May. One of my two partners in this project, Porter Turnbull, had set up our first meeting at a service stop far down the Garden State Parkway. Our discussion was with a longtime fisherman who has been an advocate for commercial horseshoe crab harvesters. The meeting outlined the complexities of balancing the interests of crab fishermen, shorebird researchers and the wildlife that served both.

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Sightings While Sailing
Susan B. Whiting

The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), inland waterway, or the Ditch, as it is also known, is an incredible piece of water. It offers the boater, whether by sail, paddle, oars or motor, a fascinating peek into the history and natural history of the Eastern Seaboard. The ICW doesn’t officially start (mile marker number one) until Norfolk, Va., and ends in Key West, Fla. (mile marker 1241). However, many seamen believe it starts at Cape Ann and goes to Brownsville, Tex.

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Merlins, Falcon and Bald Eagle
Susan B. Whiting

I may have to change the name of this column to the raptor report. Great excitement on Chappaquiddick, first the Fowle family observed four merlins on August 14. Two were immature merlins. How did they know they were immature? One merlin was being fed by the adult female and the other was begging food and fluttering its wings. So the Chappaquiddick merlins fledged at least two birds!

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Norton Point Shorebirds
Susan B. Whiting

Bird watching or birding, you may call it what you wish, is great hobby, occupation, form of relaxation, and more than anything else is an ongoing education. The learning experience involved in birding is one that has kept me hooked on watching, reading about, talking to others about, and surfing the net for information about birds for lo these many years.

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Katama Snowy Owl
Susan B. Whiting

The internet is a great boon to birders. We can share our sightings daily, or if you are really intent, hourly. The net is also a way to keep birders honest.

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