For all our winged wonders,
For the birds, the butterflies, the bees,
My friend and Cape Ann artist Mary Rhinelander created these amazingly fun posters. They are printed beautifully as well; you can’t really see from the photos how well done they are. The “Kick Ass” posters are only twenty dollars each. But the truly most generous thing on Mary’s part is that the money goes towards either the Open Door Food Pantry or the ACLU, your choice!
Pick up your #KickAss poster at Alexandra’s Bread, located at 256 Main Street in Gloucester. Purchase more than one and give to a friend!
Today, October 19th, our website will be open for ordering farm fresh produce and some sweet treats from Mayflour Confections. Orders must be in by Tuesday, October 20th @ 10 pm.
We’ll be assembling everyone’s order during the day Wednesday, then opening pick-ups on Thursday between 2 PM and 6 PM
We will be adding more produce and variety as it becomes available each week.
We are open for produce orders to be placed online and picked up curbside (Farm side). We have some wonderful items from Iron Ox Farm listed also and a wonderful sweet treat from Mayflour Confections. Check out our produce page here https://cedarrockgardens.com/fresh-produce
Please be wearing a mask when you arrive to pick up your order. Come to the farm, park in the designated parking area and walk to the big red barn to pick up your order. We will be opening our website for produce orders throughout the season and will alert you to such in these emails. We look forward to seeing you soon!
From Nat Geo –
“A moraine is material left behind by a moving glacier. This material is usually soil and rock. Just as rivers carry along all sorts of debris and silt that eventually builds up to form deltas, glaciers transport all sorts of dirt and boulders that build up to form moraines.
To get a better idea of what moraines are, picture yourself with a toy bulldozer on a lawn that has a bunch of dry leaves all over it. When you run the bulldozer through the leaves, some of them get pushed aside, some of them get pushed forward, and some of them leave interesting patterns on the grass. Now think of these patterns and piles of pushed-away leaves—moraines—stretching for kilometers on the Earth.
Moraines only show up in places that have, or used to have, glaciers. Glaciers are extremely large, moving rivers of ice. Glaciers shape the landscape in a process called glaciation. Glaciation can affect the land, rocks, and water in an area for thousands of years. That is why moraines are often very old.
Moraines are divided into four main categories: lateral moraines, medial moraines, supraglacial moraines, and terminal moraines.”
Hiking Dogtown with my family on Saturday, we headed out when it was raining. I left my good camera behind and only had the cell phone. Oh how I wished I had my Fuji with me! It was gorgeous and beautiful and because of the drought you can walk out onto the shore a little ways, too.
We were having a fantastic time until Charlotte was stung by a Yellow Jacket. Fall is Yellow Jacket season so be on the lookout if you go (they are everywhere at this time of year). Yellow Jackets can become very aggressive in autumn as their food supply dwindles and they are looking for food to feed their larvae.
A bob of five Harbor Seals has spent the past few afternoons lollying about in a socially distant fashion on the rocks at Brace Cove. I write ‘naturally’ distancing not because of coronavirus, but because they prefer some measure of personal space when hauled out. We see both Harbor Seals and Gray Seals at Brace Cove throughout the year although there seem to be fewer during the spring and summer months. I wonder if that is because they are busy breeding and raising young. With the onset of cooler weather their numbers have been increasing once again. On a bright sunny day last winter we counted twenty-nine!
Not the scrumptious chocolately kind that Hallie at Turtle Alley makes, but a wonderful turtle pig pile nonetheless.
The Eastern Painted Turtle is our most common native turtle and this beauty was found at Niles Pond, crossing the road heading towards one of several little babbling brooks that flow towards the pond. Perhaps it was planning to hibernate there as it was the last day of October.
Turtles are ectotherms, which means that their body temperature mirrors the temperature of the surrounding water. During the fall, they find a comfy spot in the mud and burrow in. The Painted Turtle’s metabolism slows dramatically and they won’t usually come up for air until spring, although even during hibernation they require some slight bit of oxygen, which they take in through their skin.
Mayor Sefatia writes –
IN PERSON EARLY VOTING will be held at City Hall, 9 Dale Avenue, during the following dates and times:
Saturday, October 17, 2020 – 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Sunday, October 18, 2020 – 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Monday, October 19, 2020 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, October 22, 2020 – 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Friday, October 23, 2020 – 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 24, 2020 – 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 25, 2020– 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Monday, October 26, 2020 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020– 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, October 29, 2020 – 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Friday, October 30, 2020 – 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Deadline for early voting in-person.
Monarchs are currently migrating, albeit in small numbers, throughout the North Shore. The butterflies arrived several days ago and because of the rainy weather, they are in a holding pattern. When the sun reappears, look for Monarchs on any still-blooming garden favorites such as zinnias, as well as wildflowers. Please send an email or comment in the comment section if you see Monarchs in your garden or while outdoors over the weekend and upcoming week. Thank you!
Many species of asters and goldenrods have finished flowering; instead the Monarchs are fortifying for the long journey by drinking nectar at Black Mustard flowers, and even Dandelions.
Black Mustard is not the easiest nor most efficient plant for Monarchs to draw nectar from. I never see the butterflies on Black Mustard unless it is very late in the migration and there are few other choices available.
The ray flowers of asters provide a convenient landing pad for butterflies. Panicle-shaped flowering plant, such as goldenrods, also provide a convenient landing pad while supplying a smorgasbord of nectar rich florets. Black Mustard provides neither. You can see in several photos in an upcoming post that the Monarchs are nectaring with their legs gripped tightly around the base of the flower.
Black Mustard is an annual plant native to Eurasia and North Africa. Cultivated widely as a condiment, medicinally, and vegetable, it came to North America via the early colonists. The plant is in bloom from May through October, or until the first hard frost, and grows well in disturbed man-made sites.
Black Mustard is a member of the Brassicaceae, also classically called the Cruciferae (Latin, meaning ‘cross-bearing’) in reference to its four ‘crossed petals’, which is commonly known as the mustard family. Black Mustard is related to cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, turnips, and watercress.
A note about the photos – for the past five years I have been photographing and filming the Cormorants massing. The photos are from 2016 – 2019, and most recently, from 2020. Some of the earliest ones were taken at Niles Beach in 2017. In 2018, my friend Nina wrote to say that the massing also takes place in her neighborhood on the Annisquam River. Several weeks ago, while hiking on the backside of Sandy Point, facing the Ipswich Yacht Club, the Cormorants were massing there, too. Please write if you have seen this spectacular event taking place in your neighborhood. Thank you so much!
Massing in great numbers as they gather at this time of year, Double Crested Cormorants, along with many species of gulls and herons, are benefitting from the tremendous numbers of minnows that are currently present all around the shores of Cape Ann.
At inlets on the Annisquam and Essex Rivers, as well as the inner Harbor and Brace Cove, you can see great gulps of Cormorants. In unison, they push the minnows to shore, where gulls and herons are hungrily waiting. The fish try to swim back out toward open water but the equally as hungry Cormorants have formed a barrier. From an onlooker’s point of view, it looks like utter mayhem with dramatic splashing, diving, and devouring. In many of the photos, you can see that the birds are indeed catching fish.
The Double-crested Cormorants are driving the feeding frenzy. I have seen this symbiotic feeding with individual pairs of DCCormorants and Snowy Egrets at our waterways during the summer, but only see this extraordinary massing of gulls, herons, and cormorants at this time of year, in late summer and early autumn.
Cormorants catch fish by diving from the surface, chasing their prey under water and seizing it with the hooked bill.
Double-crested Cormorants are ubiquitous. When compared to Great Cormorants, DCCormorants are a true North American species and breed, winter over, and migrate along the shores of Cape Ann.
After feeding, the herons often find a quiet place to preen before heading back in the late afternoon to their overnight roosting grounds.
Double-crested Cormomrant range map
Thanks to Piping Plover Ambassador Deborah Brown for sharing the following story. Way to go Maine!
For the third consecutive year, Maine saw a record number of nesting piping plovers and fledglings despite greater traffic at some beaches as people looked to get outside during the pandemic.
There were 98 nesting pairs and 199 fledglings at the 25 beaches where the birds are monitored, up from last year’s mark of 89 nesting pairs and 175 fledglings, said Laura Minich Zitske, the plover project director at Maine Audubon, which runs the program for the state. Zitske attributes the banner year to the work of hundreds of volunteers who helped educate the public – such as at Higgins Beach, where there were 40 patrolling, and in Wells, where 40 volunteers helped at three beaches.
“I do think the big year is unrelated to the pandemic. We expected to have a lot of birds back after last year’s record year,” Zitske said. “But we did have a lot of pandemic-related problems. Birds nested right next to paths when the beaches were closed. And some people struggled to follow rules. Some people left common sense behind. You definitely could see that to a degree.”
The very last thing I expected to see on this morning’s trek were Bluebirds. So many shades of blue in those beautiful wings – Egyptian Blue, Azure, Cerulean, Lapis lazuli, Coblat, Ultramarine -simply astounding! More to come when I have time to sort through photos this weekend 🙂 Eastern Bluebird Male
Dear Friends of Beauty on the Wing,
Thank you all so very much for taking the time to respond to my ‘survey’ question about how you view films. Wow, what a variety of answers. I am working on a plan for Everyone to view!
Such a disappointingly light Monarch migration through Cape Ann this autumn but the shift in wind direction at the beginning of the week produced a tiny sprinkling of butterflies. Friends along the New Jersey coast are reporting good numbers the past few days. You can see on the map from Journey North how few overnight roosts have been recorded on the East Coast. Typically the map is much more densely colored: Monarch Butterfly Overnight Roosts 2020 Hopefully the migration will strengthen in the central part of the country
Stay well and take care,
Very best wishes,
Life at the Edge of the Sea – Darners and Dragonflies on the Move
This ginormous beauty caught my attention as she was seen hovering, and then flying into the edge of a field of wildflowers and grasses. She appeared to have plucked an insect from the air. On closer inspection, she was hanging vertically from a stalk and eating a small black bug with wings. We know she is a female because she lacks the brilliant blue eyes of the male.
Darners and dragonflies are on the move and Swamp Darners are seen along the East Coast in the fall. Swamp Darners, less frequently called called Wandering Gliders (don’t you prefer this name) can grow to almost four inches in length!
For more information on migratory species of North American dragonflies check out this terrific field guide –
Charlotte helping with organizing the summer to winter wardrobe transition and very enthusiastically pretending we are having a snow day. This is how we dressed for a walk around the neighborhood on a warm Indian Summer October day.
Late yesterday afternoon Charlotte and I encountered this frisky young buck. I was curious to learn if you could tell the age of a deer by its antlers and found this growth chart on the Animal Diversity Web. Judging by the chart, he appears to be older than six months but younger than 11 months.
Nine-foot tuna at Wingaersheek Beach this morning, nine-feet minus the tail.
Life at the Edge of the Sea – Common Yellowthroat
Foraging energetically amidst the expiring sunflower stalks and then darting to the thicketed woodland edge, a mixed flock of adult and juvenile Common Yellowthroats is finding plenty of fat bugs to eat in these early days of autumn.
Yellowthroats breed in cattail patches at our local North Shore marshes and will soon be heading south to spend the winter in the Southeastern US, Mexico, and Central America.The above male in breeding plumage was seen taking a bath in our garden several years ago.