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HOW YOU CAN HELP THE PIPING PLOVERS

TIPS FOR OBSERVING AND HELPING PIPING PLOVERS

Thank you to all the friends of our Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers, to dog owners who are staying away from Good Harbor Beach, and to all who are advocating for the PiPl.

Early this morning I found both Mama and Papa feeding in the intertidal zone, along with the “Bachelor.” The second pair has not been seen since they were chased off the beach last weekend. There seemed to be fewer dogs on the beach this morning and I am so grateful to the dog owners who are helping to watch over the Plovers.

Yesterday was a much needed quiet day for the Plovers; it was cold and rainy, and an on-leash day. There were folks with dogs off-leash, though they weren’t near the PiPl. But there were fresh tracks running through the nesting area.

Here is why, at this very critical time during Piping Plover breeding, it is imperative to keep dogs and people out of the nesting area. The Plovers are actively courting. What does that mean exactly? 

  • The Plovers first stake out a territory. For the third year in a row, they have chosen the area around the big rock, by boardwalk #3.
  • Both male and female vigorously defend the territory from other Piping Plovers, as well as other species of large and small birds.
  • Throughout an average quiet day, the male PiPl builds many “nest” scrapes for the female to inspect. If the female is interested, the male displays an involved courtship dance. If she continues to be interested, he will mate with her by jumping on her back where they join together cloaca to cloaca, but for only mere seconds. During that time the male fertilizes the female’s egg.
  • Piping Plover courtship requires a tremendous amount of energy, and each courtship episode takes about twenty minutes, from nest scrapings to mating. If the birds are constantly interrupted by dogs tearing through, and people walking through, the nesting area, courtship and mating are delayed, over and over again.
  • If the Piping Plovers are allowed to mate early in the season, the chicks will be born that much earlier. The earlier the chicks hatch the greater their chance of survival, especially in the case of Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester’s most beloved and heavily trafficked beach.
  • In addition to repeated courtship interruptions, we are having an unseasonably cold April. The Piping Plovers are spending a great deal of energy just trying to keep warm. This is evidenced by how often they stand on one leg to thermoregulate.

Papa Plover defending all things Mama Plover.

Papa Plover energetically building shallow teacup-sized nest scrapes.

Papa Plover inviting Mama Plover to inspect.

Male Plover cloaca. All birds have a cloaca, the V-shaped vent from where sperm, eggs, and pooh are emitted. During courtship, the male’s cloaca swells considerably.

Meet “the Bachelor,” the bird bane of Papa’s existence.

How You Can Help the Piping Plovers

1) Under no circumstances is it acceptable to enter the Piping Plover nesting area.

2) Keep ALL dogs far away from the nesting areas. A Piping Plover’s brain does not differentiate between a dog on- leash versus a dog off-leash. When a dog, off-leash or on-leash, comes within twenty feet of a PiPl, they immediately stop what they are doing, whether foraging, courting, mating, or resting.

3) During courtship, the Piping Plovers tolerate one or two quiet persons, from a distance, but crowds of three or more put them in panic mode.

4) Help spread the word about the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers.

5) Sign up to be a Piping Plover volunteer ambassador by emailing Ken Whittaker at kwhittaker@gloucester-ma.gov

Thank you, but most importantly, the Piping Plovers will thank you too when chicks hatch and chicks fledge!

The good news is that I found one pair, and they are definitely a couple, in the #3 nesting area. The bad news is that while down to #1 nesting area to look for the other PiPl, dogs and their owner were in the #3. I ran down the beach to find a man scooping up his dog’s poop in the nesting area. The tracks show they were inches from where the Papa PiPl had built a nest scrape. And No Sign of the PiPl. So grateful for the dog owners that are keeping their dogs away from the nesting sites, but it is not a few dog owners ignoring the law, it is every day, off and on all day long – dogs off-leash on on-leash days, dogs in the dunes, and dogs in the nesting sites. #pipingplover #gloucesterma #shorebirds #endangeredspecies #barrierbeach

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Salem State University Keynote Speaker Kim Smith Spotlights Plight of the Monarch Butterflies

Salem State keynote spotlights beauty, plight of monarch butterflies

 

Smith, who spoke on campus Thursday, April 12, makes nature films and contributes to the daily blog Good Morning Gloucester. She also helps communities and individuals build gardens specifically aimed at attracting butterflies, bees and beneficial bugs.

On behalf of the Earth Days Planning Committee, Carol Zoppel, a campus librarian and co-chair of Earth Days Week, presented Smith with the Friend of the Earth Award.

“Salem State University’s Earth Days committee would like to recognize Kim Smith for her artistic and advocacy work on behalf of wildlife through her films, photo, gardens, and writings,” said Zoppel. Smith received her award and a framed poster of her program.

READ COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

…Smith also reflected on our involvement with these creatures.

“I think compassion for all living creatures is really important,” said Smith. “Right here in our own backyards and beaches we have small winged creatures like Monarchs and Piping Plovers that are struggling to survive.”

She added, “Our actions and how we chose to live our lives has tremendous impact.”

Spectacular Twin Lights Thacher Island Waves

The photos were taken after the storm on Tuesday morning, at dead low tide, standing almost to Salt Island and looking toward Thacher Island. I don’t recall ever seeing such enormous waves at low tide and will stay tuned in the future. Look for the surfer’s head in the waves 🙂

CEDAR ROCK GARDENS OPENS TODAY!

You never know what beautiful pollinator you will encounter while shopping at Cedar Rock Gardens! Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Sunflower, Cedar Rock Gardens

For more information visit Cedar Rock Gardens website here and see post from earlier this week.

BRIAR BARN INN PREVIEW – LUXURIOUS NEW COUNTRY INN ESTATE COMING TO THE ESSEX COASTAL SCENIC BYWAY (AND WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESS, TOO!)

My friend Briar Fandetti Forsythe is building a luxurious country inn estate in Rowley, on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. The grand opening for Briar Barn Inn is scheduled for November. Last week I toured the Inn with Briar, while it is still under construction.

Set against a bucolic background, everything about Briar Barn Inn embodies relaxation, luxury, and comfort, from the full service restaurant to the art gallery, spa, and swimming pool. Designed by architect Gerald Fandetti, with interiors by artist Charlotte Forsythe, stunning and elegant architectural details abound.

Each wing of the Inn has a unique theme, and design to suit the theme–an elegant silo turned library for example–and each wing has a common area with gorgeous soaring vaulted ceilings. The guest rooms surround an inner courtyard; every guest room is actually a suite, with beautiful arching entryways leading from bedroom to living area, and every room has its own fireplace!  

Stay tuned- more updates on the Inn’s progress to come!

Construction photos of the Inn ~

The restaurant at the Inn is a beautifully designed post and beam barn, and will not only be open year round, but the rustically elegant decor also makes the perfect setting for weddings and special events. Ben Lightbody, Willowdale Estate’s renowned executive chef, partners with local farms, including Cedar Rock Gardens and Aprilla Farm, to offer the freshest seasonal produce and seafood. The full service restaurant will be open to hotel guests and the community, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week, the year round.

Briar Barn Inn is located in Rowley on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway at 101 Main Street (Route 1). For more information about the Inn visit the Briar Barn Inn website here. To book your stay call 978-653-5323.

Artists renderings of Briar Barn Inn ~ 

GOOD HARBOR BEACH SLAMMED WITH STORM DAMAGE – CAN THE PIPING PLOVERS SURVIVE OFF-LEASH DOGS AND HISTORIC HIGH TIDES?

Good Harbor Beach was slammed hard again by yesterday’s April storm. The high tide was hitting the edge of the dune, with more water surging through the openings in the dunes, dumping sand several feet deep ten feet down the boardwalks.

Half the newly installed Piping Plover signs were were buried in the sand, as well as the ropes.

The DPW was on the scene digging out the snack bar boardwalk, beach entrance #2.

Fresh dog and owner tracks on the dune side of the fence. Why?? Our beaches are in trouble folks. Please keep off the dunes.

With so many dogs and people trampling the Piping Plovers nesting area over the weekend, followed by the fierce storm and historic high tides, I wonder if the PiPl will even return to the nesting areas. A total of five had been here since April 3rd (what appear to be two nesting pairs and one bachelor) but I could only find one lone male this morning.

CEDAR ROCK GARDENS OPENING FOR THE SEASON THIS COMING THURSDAY!!!

This beautiful lady in the pick-your-own peony patch.

Cedar Rock Gardens, the fabulous organic and homegrown nursery owned by Elise Jilson and Tucker Smith, is opening on Thursday April 19th. They will be open everyday. See below for hours of operation and the complete selection of flower, vegetable, and herb seedlings that will be available to purchase this spring. Cedar Rock Gardens is located at 290 Concord Street in West Gloucester, just minutes off of Route 133.

A small sampling of just some of the flowers and veggies you will find at Cedar Rock Gardens, and a reminder that spring truly will be here soon.

For more information, check out Cedar Rock Garden website here.

COMPLETE LIST OF PLANTS AND GARDEN RELATED PRODUCTS CEDAR ROCK GARDEN SPRING 2018

READ MORE HERE

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