Piping Plovers Have Returned to Cape Ann Beaches!

Male Piping Plover

The sweetest and tiniest of shorebirds has been spotted at several of our local beaches, including Wingaersheek and Good Harbor Beach. They have also been seen at Plum Island, as well as other Massachusetts barrier beaches, for several weeks. The Plovers have traveled many thousands of miles to reach our shores and are both weary from traveling and eager to establish nesting sites.

What can you do to help the Piping Plovers? Here are four simple things we can all do to protect the Plovers.

  1. Don’t leave behind or bury trash or food on the beach. All garbage attracts predators such as crows, seagulls, foxes, and coyotes, and all four of these creatures EAT plover eggs and chicks.
  2. Do not linger near the Piping Plovers or their nests. Activity around the Plovers also attracts gulls and crows.
  3. Respect the fenced off areas that are created to protect the Plovers.
  4. If pets are permitted, keep dogs leashed.

The last is the most difficult for folks to understand. Dogs threaten Piping Plovers in many ways and at every stage of their life cycle during breeding season, even the most adorable and well-behaved of pooches.

Dogs love to chase Piping Plovers (and other shorebirds) at the water’s edge. After traveling all those thousand of miles, the birds need sustenance. They are at the shoreline to feed to regain their strength.

Dogs love to chase piping Plovers at the wrack line. Here the birds are establishing where to nest. Plovers are skittish at this stage of breeding and will depart the area when disturbed.

Dogs love to chase Piping Plover chicks, which not only terrifies the adult Plovers and distracts them from minding the babies, but the chicks are easily squished by a dog on the run.

Please keep dogs leashed when at the beach. Thank you!

Female Piping Plover

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Dave Rimmer, Greenbelt’s director of land stewardship, is giving a lecture about the Piping Plovers at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday, April 27th, from 2:00 to 4pm. Preregister by email at: Andrew@ecga.org.

SAVE THE DATE FOR MY UPCOMING PROGRAM “BEAUTY ON THE WING: LIFE STORY OF THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY”

On Thursday, May 4th at 7pm, I am giving my lecture with photos, “Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,” along with several short film screenings, for the Salem Garden Club. For more information, see the events page of my website. I hope to see you there!

Newly Emerged Monarch Butterfly and Sunflower, Gloucester

Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch’s life story is one of nature’s most incredible examples of adaptation and survival. But the Monarch migration is in great peril. Learn how you can help. Through photographs and discussion, Beauty on the Wing tells the life story of the Monarch Butterfly, the state of the butterflies migration and why they are in sharp decline, and the positive steps we can take as individuals and collectively to help the Monarchs recover from the devastating effects of habitat loss and climate change.  (1-1.5 hours).

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis and Marsh Milkweed

Monarchs Awakening

An Imaginative Child Lives Here

Don’t you love a scene that tells a story? I imagine a whimsical spirit lives here, with rocks arranged in the tree’s craggy branches and the swing hung in such a creative fashion.Seaside Swing

Pearly Pink Mourning Dove Egg

Working today from my home office and I was so delighted to hear the Mourning Doves cooing. There has been a great deal of dove activity on our porch lately, and a bunch of half-built nests. One sat on our mail table for the longest time this morning. Look what my husband discovered in our mail basket. I hope the pair of Mourning Doves returns to incubate the egg. Time to make a temporary mail bin 🙂

Cape Ann Winged Creature Update

Featuring: Brant Geese, Black-capped Chickadees, Black-crowned Night Heron, Blue Jays, Cardinals, American Robins, Mockingbirds, Savannah Sparrows, House Finches, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Common Grackle.  

Beautiful iridescent feathers of the Common Grackle.

Spring is a fantastic time of year in Massachusetts to see wildlife, whether that be whale or winged creature. Marine species are migrating to the abundant feeding grounds of the North Atlantic as avian species are traveling along the Atlantic Flyway to summer breeding regions in the boreal forests and Arctic tundra. And, too, the bare limbs of tree branches and naked shrubs make for easy viewing of species that breed and nest in our region. Verdant foliage that will soon spring open, although much longed for, also obscures nesting activity. Get out today and you’ll be richly rewarded by what you see along shoreline and pond bank.

Male Red-winged Blackbird singing to his lady love

Once the trees leaf, we’ll still hear the songsters but see them less.

Nests will be hidden from view.

Five migrating Brant Geese were foraging on seaweed at Loblolly Cove this morning.

Red-breasted Merganser Bath Time

Right Whales Happening Right Here and Right Now!

Right Whales and Laughing Gulls

Go see the Right Whales! Hundreds are currently off the coast of Provincetown and you can easily view them from the beaches. I had an idea of where best to see the Right Whales after reading several bulletins and articles but very fortunately, we ran into Schooner Adventure Captain Stefan Edick on Provincetown’s main Commercial Street. He had seen them earlier that morning and suggested exactly where to go. After having a quick bite at a favorite lunch spot, Spiritus, we followed Stefan’s advice and headed straight to Herring Cove. There they were, feeding about 1500 feet or so from shore, dozens and dozens. We stayed for awhile and then checked out Race Point Beach. Here they were even a bit nearer the shore, by the Old Harbor Life Saving Station. Perhaps we saw Hundreds, and it was a beautiful sight!! Right Whales feed along the surface of the water, spout lots of snot, and tip their tails when diving. The whales were too far off shore for my camera’s range to get any spectacular shots but it was super fun nonetheless. Also feeding with the whales were Northern Gannets, Laughing Gulls, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Herring Gulls.

These two were swimming together for about half an hour; perhaps they are a mother and calf.

Five at once!

If home this week for school vacation, a day trip to Provincetown to see the Right Whales would make for a wonderful adventure. I don’t think the Center for Coastal Studies is open to visitors at this time of year, but many of the shops are open (including the always interesting Shell Shop). We had dinner at the bar at a very favorite restaurant, Fanizza’s, with lovely views of the beach (there isn’t a bad view from any seat at Fanizza’s). Our fresh seafood dinners were fabulous. Tom had the cod, I had whole belly clams, and they were the perfect end to a perfect day.

A pair of seals swam very close to the beach; they appeared puzzled by so many folks watching the whales and at that, seemed to decide not to come ashore.

Right Whales could still be seen after sundown.

Rare White Whale Calf Found Dead


North Atlantic Right Whale Migratory Route

ONE GREAT BIG PUSH TODAY TO HELP BACKYARD GROWERS WIN $$35K GRANT – PLEASE VOTE IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY, THANK YOU!!!

Lara Lepionka, Backyard Growers executive, director writes,

Thank you everyone for all your support this week! We’re doing a final push on this last day of voting for Backyard Growers to win $35K. Voting closes at 11:59 tonight! Please share this opportunity with your networks—so appreciated! Vote here: http://www.bgoodfamilyfoundation.com/35k-grant-vote/

Many thanks,

Lara