Good Morning! Brought to You by the Sensational Mr. Swan

mute-swan-mr-swan-niles-pond-gloucester-ma-copyright-kim-smithGlorious swan’s wings! In these photos you can see Mr. Swan’s magnificent new set of feathers.

Mr. Swan has resumed his habit of traveling from body of water to body of water within his territory. Why does he not travel during the summer months, primarily dwelling at Niles Pond? Swans molt each summer and during the molting period, they cannot fly.

Mute Swans molt when their cygnets cannot fly. The female (pen) begins to molt almost immediately after the young hatch. The male, or cob, waits until the female’s flight feathers have grown back completely. The reason for this staggered molting period is because swans use their wings in battle and to defend their young. The swan family will never be left defenseless with at least one of the pair’s set of wings fully functional. The molting period lasts anywhere from four to seven weeks.

mute-swan-stretching-wings-niles-pond-gloucester-ma-copyright-kim-smithGood morning! Mr. Swan’s big morning stretch before he sets off to patrol his territory

Brace Cove Daybreak

Contrast in blue – photo one was taken Saturday morning, the second photo on Sunday morning.daybreak-brace-cove-gloucester-sunrise-november-5-2016-copyright-kim-smith

daybreak-brace-cove-gloucester-sunrise-november-6-2016-copyright-kim-smithBrace Cove Gloucester

Gloucester’s Inner Harbor at Daybreak

sunrise-gloucester-city-skyline-copyright-kim-smithThe light oftentimes glows warm golden pink over the Harbor late in the day, at sunset. On my way to photograph Niles Pond Saturday morning, it was surprisingly beautiful to see overhanging the Harbor wispy vertical pink clouds.

I love the time change with the sun rising an hour earlier because I can get out and film before the work day begins. Lately we have been treated to extra amazingly gorgeous and sumptuous sunrises and sunsets!

sunrise-gloucester-harbor-november-5-2016-2-copyrightt-kim-smith
Same morning, the view looking towards Smith’s Cove

Harbor Seals Warming in the Morning Sun

Basking Harbor Seals dotting the rocks all around Brace Cove during sunrises this past week. The funny thing is watching them battle for top dog spot. When standing on the Niles Pond/Brace Cove causeway you are close enough to hear their quite audible grunting and snorting. Click photos to enlarge to get a closer look. harbor-seals-brace-cove-gloucester-ma-copyright-kim-smithharbor-seals-brace-cove-twin-lights-copyright-kim-smithharbor-seals-brace-cove-gloucester-ma-2-copyright-kim-smithharbor-seals-brace-cove-gloucester-ma-4-copyright-kim-smith

 

harbor-seals-brace-cove-gloucester-ma-1-copyright-kim-smith

Update from Beaver Pond: A Wonderful World of Woodpeckers!

hairy-woodpecker-cape-ann-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithHairy Woodpecker

Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat resonating through the tree tops. The little wild wood encircling Beaver Pond was alive with a veritable rhythm band. I must have arrived on the ideal day, for there were seemingly dozens of woodpecker excavations taking place. Not one, not two, but three different species of woodpeckers were drumming the forest canopy!

It is no mystery as to why the pond shore is a sanctuary for woodpeckers, surrounded as it is with trees in a wonder of varying stages of decay. Woodpeckers excavate dead and dying trees and limbs not only to create nest cavities and to forage for insect prey, but to also enlarge cavities used for winter shelter. During the fall, a woodpecker will spend about a week excavating winter roosting holes.

red-bellied-woodpecker-cape-ann-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithRed-bellied Woodpecker

Woodpeckers mostly eat insects, in all stages, from egg to larvae to pupae to adult. During the winter their diet is comprised of seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries. The woodpecker’s tongue is quite extraordinary, being long and extendable, and also coated with bristly hairs. Woodpeckers use their tongues to spear and extract wood-boring insects, as a sticky trap for catching ants, and as a brush for licking up sap.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers look similar. Hairy Woodpeckers are about the size of an American Robin. Downies are smaller and their bills are more delicate in appearance. The outer edge of their tail feathers are white, barred with black, lending a spotted appearance. The outer edge of the tail feathers of Hairy Woodpeckers is pure white (see top photo above to compare).

Winter roosts created by woodpeckers may later provide shelter or nest sites for many other species of animals including owls, flying squirrels, bluebirds, nuthatches, and chickadees.

beaver-pond-gloucester-copyright-kim-smithI’ve returned to Beaver Pond several time since the day the bonanza of woodpeckers was photographed but haven’t been treated to the rhythm band since. A few woodpeckers have been sighted, their calls noted, and only an occasional distant drumming heard. Perhaps they are tending other tasks in preparation of winter, collecting and caching food in their newly excavated holes.

There are a few moments after sunset when the light is still bright enough to photograph and to film. The Beaver Family makes their appearance just about then but none have ventured to the side of the pond where I am stationed since that one evening when a solitary beaver swam within arm’s reach. But I am patient.

Beaver Central!

pond-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithLast winter Liv and Matt showed me a place on the outskirts of Dogtown where they go rock climbing. I filed it away under places to visit during warmer weather. With all things Piping Plovers and filming shorebirds I didn’t have a chance to revisit until this fall. The pond is somewhat difficult to explore, with no trails, lots of viney runners to trip you up, rocky uneven surfaces for falling flat on your face, and loaded with ticks but nonetheless, is exquisitely beautiful. Until its name is learned and for the time being, I’m calling it Beaver Pond because so far, I’ve counted FIVE beavers there! beaver-lodge-2-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith

beaver-lodge-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithThe beavers appear to have one large lodge with multiple mini-dens strategically built around the perimeter of the pond.

log-chewed-by-beaver-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithEvidence of an active beaver pond with gnawed log

The Beaver Family is nocturnal and conducting most of its business on the far side of the pond. I have only been able to shoot a photo outside my camera’s range of quality photo.

beaver-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithThere’s the beaver, on the far side of the pond, blending with the lily pads and fallen leaves

I did manage to take some fun footage, which I will be hopefully uploading in the next few days. One early evening, I sat as still as a stone, for at least half an hour, when one swam nearly right up to my feet!! I am usually filming and photographing simultaneously, but was afraid to make a move to switch to my still camera for fear that the slightest bit of motion would send the creature diving. Also on the furthest side of the pond were a family of the unbelievably beautiful Wood Ducks. That photo is also too far outside my camera’s quality photo range, but at least you can get an idea of their striking feather patterning. More information from Beaver Central to come!

wood-duck-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithMale and female Wood Ducks – notice the female’s large white eye patch and the way she blends perfectly with her surroundings.