Local Bat Study May Lend Insight to Regional Crisis

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.

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.

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!

Tracks, Glassy Slides, and Scat, Elusive Otters Leave Their Marks

This is what 118 people saw on Sunday afternoon’s otter walk sponsored by the Vineyard Conservation Society: three ducks, five dogs on leashes, a rusted tractor wheel, and four folding chairs with broken seats.

This is what they did not see: otters. But they saw plenty of evidence that otters are alive and well on the Island.