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fine art prints

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...]

Avian Art Goes Swan

by Lanny McDowell on July 2, 2009


It’s not very hard to obtain decent bird photos of duck, goose and swan families this time of year.  Whatever attitude you may hold about introduced species and the roles they play, Mute Swans are easy on the eyes, truly avian art in the most basic sense.

You know I have a schtick about getting close to my avian art subjects, so here is another set:





There is nothing wrong with this little guy’s leg.  It’s just one of their postures, young and adult alike.  They often seem to be doing exactly the same behavior or pose at the same time:










These images and Avian Art fine art prints are available for purchase. Contact me or View my gallery.

Birds are cool!  Lanny

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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...]

Martha’s Vineyard, morning birding at Katama

by Lanny McDowell on June 20, 2009


The beach drive out to Norton Point on the Vineyard’s south shore is only open for a portion of its length.  The rest is closed because Oystercatchers, Piping Plovers and Least Terns have young to feed.  And the beach should be closed.  One of the Trustees of Reservations‘ “shorebird technicians” was headed out to make her protective rounds and told me there are something like 681 Least Tern pairs in the colony near the tidal cut into Katama Bay.  That is a really nice big number of Least Terns, maybe a quarter of the state’s nesting pairs, according to the tech.  We wish them all the luck they will need to fledge some youngsters.  The odds are stacked against, but we can hope.  We can resist recreational vehicles on the beach at the wrong time of the year.  We can support the effort.  [click to continue...]