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fine art bird prints


I saw a Ruff once before in the US. It was really, really far away, through my scope at the John Forsythe NWR at Brigantine, NJ.   The Reeve we saw yesterday and today in Edgartown was much easier to see, although it was very foggy at Katama and it took us a while to catch on to what we had in our sights.






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Birds are cool!  Lanny

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Coming of age on the Vineyard, hawks in flight, almost

by Lanny McDowell on July 7, 2009


The young Cooper’s Hawks at the nest near Abel’s Hill in Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard are up and out and lounging in adjacent trees.  The last time I was there, on July fifth, the female allowed herself to be seen, keeping a quiet eye on things, then audibly admonishing her brood, or maybe me, from deeper back in the oak forest.  I had never seen her before.  I have never seen the male; and so I have never been aware of more than one adult.  Of course, I could be mistaken, if the two adults are close in size.

In the dappled light of the woods it is pretty hard to make out any of these raptors when they are still, especially if you don’t have advanced knowledge of where to look.  But, boy, are they nice to watch when you do find them.

I do not really expect to find them near the nest,  should I go back.  There is too much to see and do … and to eat.

1st sighting of the adult female after she cruised out of the woods:

1st sighting of the adult female after she cruised out of the woods, alsmost over my head ...

[click to continue...]

lan-020208-014c-sq-blk-cln120x1222Every once in a while I do a piece for the Vineyard Gazette, some text and a selection of photos to match.  This time the subjects are two shorebird species that nest on the  Vineyard, which many people recognize and know something about: Piping Plovers and American Oystercatchers, the wistful and the goofy.

The working title was Avian Beach Dwellers, Iconic Shorebirds Nesting on the Vineyard. Here is the text for the feature in this Friday’s Vineyard Gazette (July 3rd) interspersed with relevant bird photos.


The Secret Life of Island Shorebirds

by Lanny McDowell

The group of birds referred to as shorebirds includes a wide array of species.  There are all the sandpipers and all the plovers.  There are turnstones, godwits, curlews, avocets, woodcock and phalaropes as well.  On Martha’s Vineyard we are fortunate  to still have the right sorts of habitat to attract a few shorebird nesters.  We have Willets in the tidal marshes at a number of locations; and it is possible there are still Killdeer and Spotted  Sandpipers, although four-legged predators have made them exceptionally scarce.  The real standout shorebird nesters on the Vineyard are iconic at this point:  the Piping Plover, because it is truly endangered and represents a tug of war between recreationalists and conservationists over beach use use at a certain time of the year, and the American Oystercatcher, because, simply put, it is the most outrageous looking and acting feathered beast to be found in these parts. [click to continue...]


It has been a bonanza year for raptor nests on the Vineyard. I have been keeping an eye on a Cooper’s Hawk nest not too far from the Lagoon in Vineyard Haven and also one up in Chilmark.  There are three chicks in each of these,  growing up fast.  There are four active Cooper’s Hawk nests that I am aware of this year on Martha’s Vineyard.   Some young have already fledged and some are still mostly fuzzy white.

There may be, and probably are,  more breeding Cooper’s Hawks.  Maybe some of the Vineyard’s Breeding Bird Atlasers will get back to me on this.  One friend of mine insists there is a Sharp-shinned nest on his property, but we differ as to the raptor ID.  It almost goes without saying that Ospreys and Red-taileds abound.  Harriers are another matter.  They are here, for sure, and nesting, but it can be hard to pin down just how many nests there are.  This year at least, there is a dedicated and persistent  group of observers doing just that at locations along the South Shore of the Vineyard. [click to continue...]