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MONARCHS ON THE WING

Kim Smith is an award winning documentary filmmaker, environmental conservationist, photojournalist, author, illustrator, and an award winning landscape designer. For over twenty years, she has taught people how to turn their backyards and public spaces into pollinator habitat gardens, utilizing primarily North American native wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and vines. Kim’s programs and events are developed from her documentary nature films and landscape design work.

Her most recent feature length documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,  currently airing on PBS, has won numerous awards and recognition, including Best Documentary at the Boston International Kids Festival, Best Documentary at the San Diego International Kid’s Film Festival, Best Feature Film at the Providence Children’s Film Festival, the environmental award at the Toronto International Women Film Festival, and Gold at the Spotlight Documentary Awards. One of the greatest hopes for the film is that it would be inspirational and educational to both adults and young people and we are overjoyed Beauty on the Wing is finding its audience.

NEW SHORT FILM – SNOW BUNTINGS IN THE SNOW!

A captivating flock of Snow Buntings foraging at the Eastern Point salt marsh, set to Debussy’s beautiful flute prelude. LOVE Snow Buntings and their mesmerizing flight pattern! Watch how beautifully they have evolved in their ability to find food in the snowy landscape.

See also a Horned Meadow Lark- I often see the larks foraging along with the Snow Buntings and there was one with the flock.

Royalty and copyright free music from the Internet Archives: Claude Debussy “Prélude À L’apres-midi D’un Faune.”

SNOW BUNTINGS – A VERY UNEXPECTED BEAUTY TREAT!

After Monday night’s unexpected snowstorm, I stopped by the Lighthouse the following morning and was delighted to find a large flock of gorgeous Snow Buntings foraging in the marsh. There are tons of wildflowers at Eastern Point, both native and nonnative species, and the Snow Buntings were feasting on the seeds. Snow Buntings are wonderfully fun to watch as they dive into the snow mounds, hop across the snow with snowshoe-like feet, take flight in unison, and get into tussles over plants particularly rife with seed heads.

I spent most of the time filming the snow birds but here is one photo. It’s the first and only time I have ever seen Snow Buntings at the Lighthouse. I stopped by this morning several times, but no sign of the little beauties, and most of the snow had already melted. Yesterday was a very fortunate few moments!

BARRED OWL IN THE SNOWY NIGHTFALL

Sleepy Barred Owl in the snow as night was falling. Jean-Pierre Rampal “Syrinx”

COYOTE MATING SEASON!

Are you seeing more Coyotes (Canis latrans) lately? The reason may be because Coyotes are breeding. Mating season peaks in mid-February and at this time of year we often observe pairs. If you are seeing Coyotes in your neighborhood, please write. Thank you!

Coyote on the Prowl – The beautiful robust Coyote seen in the above clips was successful hunting an Eastern Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus). After capturing and then, I think, double checking that it was fully incapacitated, he gleefully rolled around on the Meadow Vole many times over before resuming eating. Royalty free music by Antonio Vivaldi ” L’inv erno, Concerto No.4 In Fa Minore.”

I haven’t seen our neighborhood Coyotes recently, perhaps because several unfortunately had what appeared to be very advanced stages of mange.

Eastern Coyote pup image courtesy Wiki Commons media

The average gestation period for Coyotes Is about 63 days, which means the pups are usually born from mid-March to mid-May. The litter may be anywhere from four to seven pups. Coyotes usually sleep above ground. The only time they use a den is during pup season. A den my be a rocky outcrop, hollowed out tree stump, or an existing burrow made by a Racoon, Red Fox, or other mid-sized burrowing mammal. Sometimes the female digs a den from scratch.

The Eastern Coyote is a colossally successful species. The map below illustrates how dramatically the Eastern Coyote’s range has expanded in less than 120 years.

Baking – Swedish Style!

Vinterfint – Adorable apron with matching chef’s hat from Ikea – on sale in store for $2.00

HANK HERON CATCHES A WHOPPER!

For many months, we lovers-of-Niles Pond have been treated to the presence of a regularly appearing Great Blue Heron. Great Blue Herons are nothing new to Niles Pond, it’s just that this one could be seen daily at one corner of the Pond. The elegant heron was assigned the nickname Hank by my friend Pat Morss. Hank hunted, preened, and rested for hours on end in this one particular spot. Occasionally we would see two Herons, Hank in his location, and the others around the perimeter of the Pond.

The fish in the film clip is the largest i have seen Hank catch. I think it’s a Common Yellow Perch, but if my fishermen friends know differently, please write.

Hank didn’t mind when the Pond briefly froze over as he was still able to find food. He departed after the ice skaters arrived. Of course the Pond is for all to enjoy, I just don’t think Hank felt comfortable sharing. Lately, a solitary GBH that looks alike like Hank has been foraging at the salt marsh at Good Harbor Beach. Hopefully, if it is Hank, he will get the 411 to head south 🙂

It’s not unusual for GBHerons to winter over on Cape Ann however, most do not. Hank will have an easier time of it if he does migrate. The purple shaded areas of the map denote the Great Blue Heron’s year round range.

 

World’s Best Dad!

Playing dolls with your daughter after a super long day at work takes a lot of love. Son Alex (and husband Tom, too) both get my votes for World’s Best Dads <3

 

WINTER ROBINS IN THE HOOD AND BEST PHOTOBOMB!

The “winter” Robins are all about, some in flocks of only Robins; other flocks comprised of Starlings and Cedar Waxwings. Here in Essex County the flocks are traveling from neighborhood to neighborhood, devouring fruits and berries of the winterberry bushes, holly, crabapple, and cedar trees, before moving onto the next smorgasbord.

American Robins and Winterberry

Read more here – Robins in Winter

 

FAR FLUNG NORTHERN LAPWING IN OUR MIDST – AND A PIPING PLOVER RELATION!

This beautiful Northern Lapwing has been residing in Ipswich; it is thought at least since the violent storm of December 22nd.

The Lapwing was so interesting to watch as it foraged in the pasture using the same foot tamping technique that we see Piping Plovers exhibit when hunting for mini mollusks and sea worms at the beach. The Lapwing was using its feet to instead stir up worms in the muddy field.

Also called the Green Plover, the Lapwing is very elegant looking, with glossy green plumage (when caught in the right light), and a fine crest accented with long wispy feathers.  It’s quite a bit larger than the Piping Plover, several inches larger than even a Killdeer.

The adorable chicks look like a cross between Killdeer, PiPl, and Semi-palmated Plover chicks! Chick images courtesy Wiki Commons media

Typically, the wind in the North Atlantic flows in a positive phase from west to east. We occasionally see Lapwing vagrants when the wind in the North Atlantic changes its pattern to a negative east to west flow.

To better understand why New England, Newfoundland, and Labrador are occasionally “invaded” by Northern Lapwings, read this easy to comprehend article by author Amy Davis here:

Lapwing distribution: yellow breeding range; purple wintering range; green year-long resident.

Lapwing distribution: yellow breeding range; purple wintering range; green year-long resident.

The map below shows where Northern Lapwings have been observed in the US and Canada.

Lapwings are sensitive to climate change, which is thought to explain a northward expansion of its range.

December 22nd storm damage to the berm that separates freshwater Niles Pond from the Atlantic Ocean.

GOODBYE 2022, HELLO 2023 BLUEBIRD OF HAPPINESS!

Closing out 2022 taking snapshots at the Magnolia Pier with my daughter Liv, and finding Eastern Bluebirds on the first photo foray of 2023. Happy New Year Friends!

Male Eastern Bluebird

LAST SUNRISE OF 2022 WAS MAGNIFICENT!

Driving home from Logan this morning I was blessed to see this beautiful vivd ruby and intense blue-gray sky story beginning to unfold. I was so hoping to get to the backshore before all the color had evaporated. Shots from Atlantic Road and Brace Cove.

CRESCENT MOON RISING THROUGH THE LOBSTER TRAP TREE’S STAR TOPPER

Several nights ago I popped by Gloucester’s magnificent Lobster Trap Tree. Not only were a dozen or so people there taking snapshots and family photos, but the crescent Moon was rising through the tree’s star topper! The Moon and star combination only lasted a few brief moments as a haze began to form around the Moon.

HAPPIEST OF DAYS


Thank you to my darling daughter Liv for capturing ‘that feeling when you like your Mimi’s tiramisu.’ 
Turn on the sound 🙂

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE AND A JOYOUS NEW YEAR!

Dear Friends,

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with good health, captivating wild creatures, peace, love, and happiness. I am thankful for our shared love of wildlife great and small, but most especially for your love of  Monarchs, Piping Plovers, and beautiful wild life habitats.

xoKim

Hip Hop (left) and sibling, tucked under Dad’s warming wings

 

HAPPY SOLSTICE AND FIRST DAY OF WINTER!

JOYFUL WINTER SOLSTICE! Tonight, Wednesday December 21st, marks the longest night of the year. From here on in, for the next six months, the days will grow longer and longer.

GLOUCESTER’S LOBSTER TRAP TREE – A UNIQUELY BEAUTIFUL SETTING FOR YOUR HOLIDAY PHOTOS!

Most of us that reside on Cape Ann know of Gloucester’s Lobster Trap Tree, but just in case not, this original-to-Gloucester tree makes a splendid setting for holiday snapshots. The tree is constructed of donated lobster traps and what makes ours especially, especially beautiful is that the buoys adorning the tree are all hand painted by kids at Art Haven.

Charlotte finding the buoy she painted  – Liv photo

Another wonderfully unique feature of the tree is that you can walk through and take photos from the inside looking up. Local resident Shawn Henry designed and installed the lights so that the arrangement is equally as beautiful from the outside as it is from the inside.

Next time you are thinking about holiday photos, think Gloucester’s Lobster Trap Tree. Every time while visiting the tree we meet people from all around the north shore region who are either there purposefully or just happened upon the tree.  There is always much ooouuuing and aawwwing to be heard; people just love our tree. Not only for family snapshots, one time while I was there taking photos, a wedding party stopped by! Gloucester’ Lobster trap Tree is located at the plaza next to the Gloucester police station at 197 Main Street.Photos at the Lobster Trap Tree is a family tradition – Charlotte at one and a half <3

SUPER FRESH AND DELICIOUS CEDAR ROCK GARDENS VEGGIES AT THE HOLIDAY MARKET AT IRON OX FARM SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17th

Elise from Cedar Rock writes,

Hello,

Wishing you all a good holiday season! I know it can get busy and overwhelming this time of year; don’t forget to take a breath and remember, we are all only human. The best thing, in my opinion, is to simply give each other your presence and, if possible, a smile.

We will be at Iron Ox Farm this Saturday the 17th from 10am to 1pm selling some beautiful greenhouse produce at their holiday Market. We will not be doing online orders for produce at Cedar Rock again until late January.

Iron Ox Farm
656 Asbury Street
Hamilton, MA 01982

We will be bringing
Carrots, beets, kale, scallions, head lettuce, parsley, cilantro, and lots of mixed greens!

Hope to see you there, we have a wonderful line up of other farms, makers and food at the market so feel free to just come say hello and catch up!

All the best,

Elise, Tucker and Fae

 

HOLIDAY HYGGE TO BE HAD AT MAIN STREET ART AND ANTIQUES!

Late Friday afternoon I dashed into Main Street Art and Antiques to look for teeny tiny treasures to fill Charlotte’s Advent calendar’s teeny tiny boxes with. While there, a lovely red, green, and cream antique applique quilt caught my eye. The red tulips with green stems, leaves, and flower pots is similar to quilts from the 1930s I think. The stitching is exquisite and there were no tears or holes as far as I could see. Unfortunately, the whole quilt was very badly yellowed. After talking to proprietor Kimberly Cox (David Cox’s daughter), who offered the quilt for a very fair and reasonable price, I decided to take a chance and see if the yellowing and stains could be removed.

It had been a while since I had purchased vintage textiles. On my way home I stopped at Stop and Shop and was in luck with a small box of Oxiclean. The directions are vague but after reading a bunch online and taking advice from the lovely sales girl at Main Street Art and Antiques, I first wet tested a corner of the quilt to make sure the red wasn’t going to bleed everywhere. After half an hour, all clear, with no bleeding! Then filled a large plastic tub with icy cold water and two scoops of Oxiclean. For the next several hours, I stirred the quilt very gently every twenty minutes or so. After three hours, the tub was filled with a deep orangey yellowish water. Drained all, rinsed repeatedly, refilled the tub with cold water and one more scoop of Oxiclean. The water stayed fairly clear and the quilt was beginning to look amazing. I drained the tub again, and being very careful not to let the weight of the quilt pull on its self, to avoid damaging the fabric, I put the quilt in the washing machine. The settings were on delicate cycle, extra rinse, and cold water but with no additional soap added.

The quilt washed and dried beautifully. The applique and quilt stitches are phenomenally tiny. I am so glad I took a chance with this exquisite quilt from Main Street Art and Antiques!

Thank you to my darling daughter Liv who took the snapshots and video with her new iPhone14 camera. See more from Liv on Instagram here.

This is our first Christmas with a white cotton duck slipcover and I am having so much fun changing it up for different seasonal looks. Our former sofa upholstery I absolutely loved but was 20 plus years old and somewhat limiting in choice of coordinating fabrics. The quilt goes beautifully with the red, green, and cream Colefax and Fowler block print fabrics that I made new pillows from (thank you Zimmans!) and our new winter red and white striped cotton rug from Annie Selke. The rug is wonderfully textured and cozy on the feet! Last night I made some new Christmas stockings to hang around the house with remnants from the pillows. A sort of French-Indian-American blend of fabrics and I think our little music/living room is feeling very hygge 🙂

Main Street Art and Antiques is located at 124 Main Street, Gloucester.

Hours:

Friday 11am – 5:00pm

Saturday 9am – 5pm

Sunday 11am – 4pm

Kimberly Cox shares that her Dad, David, is often in the shop on Wednesdays if you want to pop in and say hello <3

There are holiday and home treasures to be had at all our local Cape Ann shops. I’ve only touched on a very few here and with Christmas just around the corner and our daughter home from LA, I don’t think I’ll have time to write more. Enjoy the lights, the coziness, the friendly proprietors and staff and have fun shopping local!

SHOPPING FOR TREASURES AND TREATS AT WONDERFUL ALEXANDRA’S BREAD – AND DON’T FORGET TO PLACE YOUR CHRISTMAS BREAD ORDERS!

Wonderfully eclectic and whimsical holiday treasures and treats are found at Alexandra’s Bread. You’ll find an assortment of hostess gifts including tea towels, aprons (with matching potholders), and tea cozies. There is beautiful fair trade holiday decor, along with lovely and unique handmade Christmas ornaments (see the Loons from Nova Scotia in the photo gallery).

Adding to the wonderfully whimsical atmosphere, Alexandra curates the bakery with a fun collection of vintage ceramics, textiles, local mementoes, curios, and glassware.I love shopping at Alexandra’s Bread, for the the fun cheeriness of the bakery, but mostly to say hello to Alexandra, Jon, and oftentimes their son Henry is there helping, too. We always have great conversation and I invariably leave thinking how fortunate we are to have a shop like Alexandra’s in our community. By-the-way, Henry is a GHS alumni and a recent graduate of Bates College, with a degree in conservation biology.

In addition to their exquisite French bread, cobbles, and olive bread, our family LOVES Alexandra’s cranberry scones and CHOCOLATE biscotti! While shopping be sure to get your bread and baked good’s orders in for the holidays ahead of time. The bakery will be open through Christmas Eve.

Alexandra’s is located at 265 Main Street, Gloucester.

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 8:30am til 2pm

Phone: 978-283-3064

DON’T YOU JUST ADORE TURTLE ALLEY CHOCOLATES?!

The most perfect and delicious turtles on planet Earth, sublime truffles, cherries dipped in Grand Marnier infused chocolate, and the sweetest owner Hallie and staff are just some of the reasons to love Christmas shopping at Turtle Alley. Turtle Alley is in non-stop holiday production mode, creating beautiful chocolate confections for gift giving and entertaining . You’ll find lots of fun stocking stuffers and penny candy for the little ones, too.

Watch in the video how each individual candy is meticulously positioned on the conveyor belt.

Turtles in the making

Needhams – Mounds for grownups

 

DECEMBER FULL COLD MOONRISE BETWEEN TWIN LIGHTHOUSES

Love also the Native American name Long Night’s Moon for December’s Full Moon as it is so near the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, which this year is December 21st.   Here are some additional interesting names for December’s Moon:

Abenaki – Winter Maker

Algonquin – Much White Frost on Grass

Anishnaabe – Small Spirits

Cherokee – Snow Moon

Cheyenne – When Wolves Run Together

Cree – Young Fellow Spreads the Brush

Haida – Ripe Berries

Hopi – Moon of Respect

Lakota and Sioux – When Deer Shed Their Antlers

Passamaquoddy – Frost Fish Moon

Tlingit – Unborn Seals are Getting Hair

Winnebago – Big Bear’s Moon

Zuni – Sun Has Traveled Home to Rest

From the Farmer’s Almanac – “The term Long Night’s Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.”

3 – 2 -1 GLOUCESTER’S LOBSTER TRAP TREE!

3 -2 – 1 GLOUCESTER’S LOBSTER TRAP TREE!

WOW! WAY TO GO ROCKPORT!!!

TRIPLE WOW, actually! Hats off to the Rockport Department of Public Works and all who are involved with installing and decorating the spectacular tree in the center of town. I don’t recall ever seeing so many lights on the tree and it seems extra especially wondrous this year. 

Looking for her favorite ball on the tree, the red one with the “bumps,” has become a tradition for Charlotte and I. Happy girl finding it <3

Tonight is a perfect night to go and see the tree as it is Rockport’s Holiday Shopping Night. Lots of gift prizes and an after party at Fleur Cuisine. For more details visit Christmas in Rockport here.