Tracking and Tagging the Elusive Willet

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.

On the Hunt for Elusive Island Otters

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.

Wilsons plover

Plover Odd Couple

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!