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June 4, 2010

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EIGHT-A VINEYARD GAZETI'E, MARTHA'S VINEYARD, MASS. FRIDAY, JUNE 4, 2010 All Outdoors Humpback Requiem By SUZAN BELLINCAMPI Last week, for a change, Sunday was hump day. Though it wasn't the middle of the week, it was definitely hump day for the whale watchers who were called to a secluded south shore beach. The hump in question belonged to a humpback whale that had washed ashore.This creature was long dead, and members and Volunteers of the New England Aquarium, WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmo- spheric Administration) were called in to perform a necropsy. Though involved in this examination of a deceased humpback, I prefer to imagine a time when this giant roamed the seas. The scientific name of the humpback whale is Megaptera novaeangleae, which translates to huge-winged New Eng- lander, describing one of its native re- gions and one if its signature features. Humpbacks are known for their long pectoral fins, and they boast the longest fins of any whale. Their fins are so large, in fact, that it is no wonder that other creatures have made their home on them. Three types of barnacles and a species of whale lice happily reside on their spacious surface. These large fins are attached to a large whale. The humpback can reach lengths of up to 60 feet, the length of a full-sized school bus, with the bigger ones generally being female. Weighing up to 50 tons, it is not surprising that two excavators were needed on Sunday to move the whale out of the surf line and onto the beach. Humpback whales belong to the subor- der Mysticeti, which comes from a Latin root word meaning "mustached." Their mustache is not one to be shaved, but to be admired: the term refers (with ancient imprecision) to the whale's baleen, which is between their lips, not above them. Instead of teeth, these whales have plates with coarse bristles, called baleen, that They are voracious eaters, and have been known to consume up to 9,000 pounds of food per day in their two major meals. Catching all of that food is easy for the humpback whale, as it has developed a unique way of fishing. Humpbacks are the only whales to have developed this special fishing method called "bubble net feeding." In bubble net feeding, one or more humpbacks encircle their prey and blow bubbles that surround and corral their victims. Humpbacks are also know for their distinctive breaching behavior. Throw- ing their bodies above the water and landing with a mighty splash could certainly be used to stun fish or other prey; but it may also be a form of com- munication, a means of wiping parasites off the skin, or a show of just plain exuberance. Feeding only occurs in the winter for these whales. They dine in the north, often up around the pole, before begin- ning their migration south to breed and will live off of their fat reserves over the summer season. Humpbacks have been known to travel great distances to reach their calving grounds. In one study, humpbacks roamed over 5,000 miles, traveling the furthest of all of their migrating mammal brethren. Once they arrive in their tropical or subtropical destination, they are ready to breed. Humpbacks birth one calf every~ew years. Gestation is around 11 months and the young will nurse (re- member they are mammals). A hump- back mother's milk is pink and can be up to 60 per cent fat. One calf can drink 100 pounds of milk per day, and will be weaned within one year. Humpback whales are protected un- der both the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Marine Mammal Pro- tection Act. Though their population is stable at about 35,000 animals world- wide, this is about 40 per cent down from their pre-whaling era numbers. Both male and female humpback whales make sounds, although only the male is known to sing. Since they lack vocal cords, all the sounds produced result from pushing air through their nasal cavities. The meaning of their songs remains a mystery to us, but I don't think it's too much to imagine that it has something to do with the joy of being one of the world's largest mammals, yet still be able to fly on mag- nificent large wings over the mountains and canyons of the world's oceans. Suzan Bellincampi is director of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgar- town. D.A.W. Daniel Waters' latest collection, Life Lesson, has just been released. filter food. Smallfish, krill, copepods,and Volume three of The Verses of other plankton constitute the majority of D.A.W. can be ordered online from a humpback's diet. "s Jr ,."V~* It , Dr: v N ',. I1Ul[KHCKS i LIGHTHOUSE BOX [ ] $26.95 il I ~"-"~ i 5SlicesrFudge iI eJl ,as 95 ............. i Combo Brittle & Fudg SAVE TIME...ORDER ONLINE! | 888-55-FUDGE I ~EDGARTOWN "OAK BLUFFS "VINEYARD HAVEN ] Us~t lngredients since 1887 AND RELIABLE Bird News By SUSAN B. WHITING The breeding season makes birds do things they wouldn't normally do. I have had a zillion people ask me why birds keep striking their windows or rearview mirrors over and over. Birds are very territorial and if they see their reflection in the window or mirror it is, in their eyes, a rival. The interloper must be chased away! Thus the strik- ing of reflections until either the car is moved or streamers or the like are put in windows to break up the reflection. A baby bird has fallen out of its nest. What should I do? Contrary to old tales that if you touch a young bird the parents will not return, you can return the bird to the nest. The youngster has a better chance of surviving if it is in the nest than on the ground where cats and other predators can reach it. If I quit feeding birds now will the parents have enough food to feed their young? Yes of course. Birds can feed themselves ,readily in the wild particu- larly in the spring when insects abound. Most bird species switch from seed to insects in the spring to provide their offspring additional protein. Providing water year round is important. Why are my cardinals and blue jays bald? Are they sick? No, they are not sick, they are molting. Twice a year birds molt their feathers, usually one or two at a time. If they lost all their feathers at once they could not fly or keep warm. It is the birds that have crests that seem to lose all their head feathers at once after breeding. In some cases what we are seeing is young birds losing their juvenile plumage to grow their first winter feathers. Bird Sightings Allan Keith unfortunately does not bird for Felix Neck during the Birda- thon as he made a commitment to an off-Island group several years ago. He would have added several species to our list had he been able. On May 15 Allan heard one call of a Chuck-will's- widow at Wintucket Cove at 9 p.m. Other good birds seen the same day included a willow flycatcher,Tennessee and Nashville and bay-breasted war- blers, and a lesser scaup, all at Squib- nocket. Allan also spotted a long-tailed duck at Norton Point, a bobwhite in the Menemsha Hills and an American pipit and tricolored heron on Chap- paquiddick. The state forest produced a red-breasted nuthatch for Allan, and Aquinnah netted him an orchard ori- ole.A saltmarsh sparrow was found by Allan at Katama. The one interesting sighting was of a Bicknell's thrush at Cape Pogue -- it would have been nice if Allan had taken a photo! Rob Culbert has been leading his Lanny McDowell STUNNED GOLDFINCH RECUPERATES AFTER WINDOW STRIKE. Saturday morning bird walks from the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School starting at 9 a.m. The last week in May he concentrated on warblers, and on May 23 he spotted Ameri- can redstart, northern parula, yellow and pine warblers and common yel- lowthroat around the pumping station. On May 24, Rob and crew spotted a yellow-billed cuckoo. On May 29, Rob's group spotted a black skimmer on Sar- son's Island and on May 30 watched indigo buntings at Gay Head Moraine as well as ovenbirds and common yel- lowthroats. Rob heard house wrens and prairie warblers at the Martha's Vine- yard Airport during last week also. Pete Gilmore heard a yellow- throated vireo singing at Lanny Mc- Dowell's house in West Tisbury on May 28. He also spotted black skimmers -- two -- at Sarson's Island on May 28 as well as 15 ruddy turnstones and three very rufous sanderlings sporting breed- ing plumage. On May 30, Pete Gilmore was joined by Pete Lenkoski for a trip to Wintucket Cove area -- near Cavanough Way -- to try to find the Chuck-will's-widow.They played a tape of the Chuck's call and unfortunately only heard and saw whippoorwills. I joined Pete on May 30; at Great Rock Bight the best bird seen was a blue- winged warbler, while at Lucy Vincent's Beach the bank swallows and black scoters caught our eyes. Luanne Johnson heard a house wren on Chappaquiddick on May 21 and spotted a semipalmated plover and spotted sandpiper on the shore. She saws bank swallows on Moshup's Trail in Aquinnah the same day. Young killdeer are emerging from all sides of Tisbury Great Pond. Mari- lyn Hollinshead has a pair around her house near Pear Tree Cove, I have three youngsters running around the house near Big Sandy, and Ginny Jones reports young around Deep Bottom Cove. Young Everett Jones (seven years old) reported two pairs of Ameri- can oystercatchers at the entrance of Tississa Cove around May 10. Tun and Sheila Baird were pleased to see a female bobwhite in their yard the mornings of both June 1 and 2. The bad news, as Sheila noted, is that she is not on her nest raising a brood! The Bairds also watched cedar waxwings with nest- ing material in the Edgartown yard. Matt Pelikan seems to have two (not a pair) orchard orioles serenading him at his Oak Bluffs home daily. Matt, along with Joe Bower and friends, heard a northern parula on Edgartown Great Pond on May 31. Matt also noted that an indigo bunting is singing and prob- ably nesting near the Tashmoo overlook in Tisbury. Matt also verified that field sparrows and a hermit thrush have been singing in the state forest.A black-billed cuckoo paid a visit to his Oak Bluffs yard over Memorial Day weekend. John Liller also reported cedar wax- wings with nesting material at the other end of Edgartown at Sheriff's Meadow. He also spotted a pair of mallards with four young, two piping plovers on Little Beach, chimney swifts, eastern king- birds and a pair of Baltimore orioles to name a few of the long list he sent. John Banks sent an e-mail with his sightings, which included a yellow- billed cuckoo, two eastern kingbirds and a ruby-throated hummingbird at Waterview Farm in Oak Bluffs all on May 30. Please report your bird sightings to the Martha's Vineyard Bird Hotline at 508-627-4922 or e-mail to birds@mvga- zette, com. Susan B. Whiting is the coauthor of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her Web site is It takes a big paper to cover the Vineyard-we stay ahead of the times every week in the Gazette and online at li :~iiii/iii/-~ I I Drivewa7 Installation & Grading Excavation Utilit Trenching I I Demolition, Septic Systems and Site Work (508) 560-5514 or (508) 627-8367 I I www.AtlantlcCont Produce is BACK Cut Flowers are in One Stop Shopping for gifts, gourmet 7 growing things Mon-Sat 8-5:30, Sun 9-5 Upper State Road,Tisbury 508-693-5202 Call today ~or details: 508-693-0196 "Do you know who is driving 99 you and your fanuly? Background Checks On All Drivers ESCORT " Fully Licensed COACH Livery License Plates On Vehicles @ Random Drug/Alcohol Test Airport Licensed from little acorns VEGETABLE HERB STARTERS Middletown bus a large selection of trees, sbrubs, annuals, perennials, vegetables and berbs to choose from. Hanging baskets, planted containers and pottery. Our garden center is stocked with the best tools and materials for your borne and garden. We'II belp get you growing! Open seven days a week. 508-696-7600, 680 State Rd., West Tisbury HEY GOOD LOOKIN'I YOU'RE HUNGRY AND WE'RE COOKIN'! Qulche Chicken Pot Pie Shepherds Pie o Citrus Ouinoa Salad Asparagus Mushroom Salad Sweet Potato salad * Chowder Curried Chicken Salad * Gazpacho Lasagna Peanut Butter Pie ~ a N | nn m n m n m m n u n m I i | | I | N IN I m~ I !, I 1 '! 11 PATRICK AHEARN, AIA ARCHITECT []~ I Specializing in Historically Motivated Architecture and Interior Design AHEARN SCHOPFER & ASSOCIATES Boston 617.266.1710 Edgartown By LYNNE IRONS Taking the bad with the good is the nature of life. I was enjoying my morning tea in the garden while watch- ing robins. Suddenly I realized they were unearthing my newly planted and mulched cucumbers in their search for worms. Every one had to be replanted. Why can't they eat the Colorado potato beetles that have already begun their assault on my eggplants? I have been eating a couple of hand- fuls of strawberries every day. Because I haven't been watering them this spring as much as I would like, they are smaller than expected. This fact has made them incredibly sweet. I know that commercial growers will beef them up with lots of water toward the end so they will weigh more for marketing. Hence, a store- bought strawberry rarely tastes the same. I remember picking wild strawberries with my grandma Kate. They were tiny -- not much bigger than peas, but I still remember the sweetness. My friend Sharlee men- tioned that she has already frozen a gallon of strawber- rieg She had put a number of last season's runners into her unheated hoop house last fall. She planted them directly into the ground. They froze in there last win- ter, as could be expected. Then, this spring, the layer of plastic pushed them a flail month ahead. I remember her saying they were blooming when my outdoor ones were barely greening up. We talked about placing some pots or flats of good soil on the edge of the strawberry bed to capture the runners on their way out. That way they would plant themselves and could be moved into the greenhouse in mid-October. Marie and I planted an untold num- ber of winter squash seedlings last Sat- urday. We hauled dirt around and have them thankfully mulched with hay. We worked like dogs (Is that true? My dog sleeps and eats. He can't be bothered to get up when strangers come over. He barks from bed).where was I? Oh yes, we worked all day on Saturday. Sunday morning I literally had to roll out of bed. It took some time to see if any of my body parts could move. There is a wonderful rose climbing the porch of the house at the bottom of the Edgartown Road. It is in full and glori- ous bloom. The remarkable thing is that it is positioned behind a large evergreen. It can't get more than five or six hours of sun, but seems to thrive. Good to know. Perhaps full sun is overrated. I know I like shade as much as possible. I ate my first peas this week. I don't ever remember eating them over the Memorial Day weekend. It is usually well into June. I actually have no com- ment about it, but am simply stating a noticeable fact! Everybody has been busy beautify- ing their places of business. Both Alison Shaw and Dragonfly galleries have done a nice job considering they are working with parking lots and gravel. I must be tired and/or overworked, because I am feeling a tad critical. Rhododendrons are my least favorite shrub. There is a hot pink color of which I am not fond. They seem to be the ones that grow as big as a house. I like the small pale pink ones planted by Almeida Reid at the beginning of Northern Pines Road. She started them from seed in the 1960s. My other pet peeve is unloved planters I actually have to resist the temptation to jump out of the truck in traffic and place a shim under one. Maybe I have an overdeveloped sense of balance. I have avoided mentioning the hor- rific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, in part because I have yet to admit the mag- nitude. Last Monday's hazy weather brought it home. The "fog" was smoke blow- ing in from a wildfire in Quebec. We are truly one big world. I could wax po- litical about the hypocrisy of the Bobby Jindals; these are the people who push states' fights, laissez-faire federal government, drill baby drill, less taxation etc. Then every time a disaster strikes their neck of the woods, they want federal aid. Oops! I wasn't going to do that. We are all at fault for the spill it's the story of our never-ending greed. I came across a quote from the much- ridiculed Jimmy Carter: "I'm asking you, for your good and for your nation's security, to take no unnecessary trips, to use car pools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel. Every act of energy conservation like this is more than common sense. I tell you, it is an act of patriotism the solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of spirit in our country. It can rekindle our sense of unity give our nation and all of us, individually, a new sense of purpose. MORNING GLORY FARM OUR NEW FARM STAND IS OPEN Now selling our own Asparagus, Rhubarb, Lettuce, Radishes, Spinach, Herbs Eggs TENDER, SWEET, STRAWBERRIES RIPENING THIS WEEK GREENHOUSES NOW OPEN Vegetable & Herb Plants ',' :' i i,: li ::,i'l;1 ::I " Illal lllllill lllllll llll,lllll/l ' " , ,