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.
After the spring population boom, Honey Bee swarms are a natural response to overcrowding in a hive. When a Honey Bee colony outgrows its hive, the bees will make a new queen. The new queen stays at the current hive, while the original queen departs to start a new hive in a new location. She takes most of the worker bees with her. The queen cannot fly very long distances. The swarm stops somewhere to rest while the scout bees go exploring for a suitable location to make their new hive. The traveling mass rests in open places such as a tree branch, picnic bench, wall, doorway, and even the ground.
You can tell a Honey Bee swarm because the bees aren’t laden with pollen. You will not see orange or yellow pollen evident on the pollen baskets on their hind legs. The bees are not aggressive as they are not protecting a brood and only sting if provoked.
What to do if you see a Honey Bee swarm?
The best thing to do is to leave the swarm alone. Within a few hours or up to a few days or so, the scout bees return and lead the swarm away to the new hive location.
The bee swarm seen here occurred at the children’s campus at Philip’s Academy, which is adjacent to the butterfly garden that I designed and take care of. There are a number of White Oaks on the campus that are a draw to myriad species of pollinators. I love how the teachers at the school used the swarm as a wonderful teaching moment. They created a list with the children’s names and took small batches of kids over to the swarm to look at and to take a guess as to how many bees were held in the swarm. None appeared frightened, and all were curious 🙂
We returned last night from Ohio where we were celebrating Memorial Day and my father-in-law, Cornelius Hauck’s, 98th birthday. He is the most charming and kindest person; funny, witty, wry, full of wonderful stories, brilliant, and generous are just a few of the adjectives that describe him. I am writing this to you because he shared several secrets to his longevity. Stay active mentally and physically (PT every morning and walking every day) and a cold shower every morning! That last part was news to all of us 🙂 He didn’t mention this, but I am adding that he only retired when he was about 85 years old! He also eats well-balanced meals and has a bourbon (or two) everyday. We all just wish he didn’t live so far from Gloucester.
Grandpa shared a story about his service in WWII. When he first enlisted, he was rejected because he is well over six feet tall, but only weighed 140 pounds. As the War progressed and the Army needed more troops, they allowed him to serve but not in the usual capacity. He has had a lifelong interest in trains and because he was familiar with all the train lines running across the country, he was put in charge of scheduling soldiers traveling on leave.
My father-in-laws’ interest in trains only grew over the years and in his spare time, he went on to write and publish many photographs, books, and articles about trains, and to co-found the Colorado Railroad Museum, located in Golden, Colorado.
PiPl update –
This morning found Mom peacefully guarding her eggs on the nest and Dad foraging along the water’s edge. I was there early and the DPW hadn’t yet been to clean up the beach. We are so grateful to the DPW for the job that they do, but the crew would not have to be stuck with so much litter/trash/garbage if we enforced our litter laws. Also, dismayed to see remnants of several bonfires. I didn’t make it all the way down the beach; it’s lovely out now but this morning was very windy.
Check out the excellent commentary featured in the Gloucester Daily Times on Wednesday –
Commentary: Creating Commons
“If this land be not rich, then is the whole world poor.”
So wrote Thomas Morton upon his arrival on Cape Ann in 1624. In a treatise published in London, Morton described the coast he encountered as a “New English Canaan,” a promised land filled with flora and fauna the likes of which Europeans had not yet known. Morton’s description of the area’s bounty was not singular. For example, John Smith’s report back to the imperial center preceded Morton’s and John Josselyn’s was published shortly after Morton’s. Such 17th-century writings inspired the English occupation of what would become the New England colonies and the accompanying genocide of the Native populations that had been here for centuries before the first European set foot on Cape Ann.
We begin with a return to this early settler history not to celebrate the violence and destruction it inspired, but to recall how awestruck Europeans were by the abundant natural beauty of the place that we call our home. Cape Ann was beautiful then, and it is beautiful now. This hardly needs saying. Artists have captured its twilight, poets have described its “granite teeth,” and mystics have meditated on its shores. But even as the land has been celebrated over the centuries, it too has been exploited. This story is not unique to Cape Ann, of course; it is the American story of land. On this island, the merchants of the 18th century were replaced by industrialists who then gave way to the 20th century’s financiers, all of them extracting, privatizing, and profiting from Cape Ann’s abundant timber and granite. With the dawning of beach tourism in the mid-19th century, the extensive coastline with its generous beaches led to further cordoning off and construction.
Now, in the 21st century, as we stare down the barrel of climate collapse, we must consider how, over four centuries of European occupation, we have grown so estranged from the land, so out of step with its natural rhythms and cycles. We are invited, in the spirit of the Potawatomi environmental biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer and others who advocate for new paradigms of land stewardship, to consider how we might live in relationships of reciprocity with the place we inhabit and with its many abundances. We seek, to borrow a phrase from the novelist Catherine Bush, “not control, but the agency to engage in acts of repair.”
This is the common cause that unites our collective of artists, avant gardeners, arborists, historians, and thinkers. We are all longtime residents of Cape Ann, and we share an endless fascination — even infatuation — with its local flora. READ MORE HERE
Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) currently blooming at Millbrook Meadow, Rockport
We are looking for a volunteer to take notes during the meeting. Please let us know if you can do that!
1. Decision making process. We will discuss and vote on the decision making process that can include:
CTC DECISION-MAKING PROCESS….thank you to Courtney Hayes for this outline!
OC proposes and researches key decisions – loops in relevant sub-committee members.
OC and sub-committee members conduct additional research: interview vendors, experts, and impacted stakeholders to map out pros and cons of decisions.
Conduct full member meeting discussion: committee members present in-depth pros and cons of the decision. All attending members then discuss and debate.
Vote: after a thorough review (outlined above), conduct a vote by show of hands.
2. Committee and organizing structure (continuing the decision making process). Describe committees (organizing committee and testing committee etc). See who will volunteer to be the liaison for the committee (take charge of emails for the committee, organizing, and reporting back to the CTC group at large).
3. Discuss mission statement.
4. Discuss next steps based on the results of Part 1 of the agenda….including interpretation of the mayor’s meeting.
6.Discuss potential fiscal sponsorships.
Moving forward, if anyone believes they have gotten sick from swimming in/near the creek please reach out to your doctor instead of posting on social media. That was one thing highly emphasized last night and we want to respect that and follow the city’s lead.
We need to create a structured and organized group and hope to do that through committees, voting, and the policies put in place and/or discussed to potentially put in place this evening.
We also want to emphasize our goal to work with and support the city because we are all stewards of the beach!
As always, this is a community effort and we want to hear from you and have you get involved and take on leadership positions! Your voice matters and it is important to have as many people involved with the “nuts and bolts” as possible.
Recently I had a mesmerizing encounter with a Fisher Cat. While walking down a wooded lane we came eye to eye. He was about six feet up in a maple tree. Never having seen one in person, but having heard many negative tales about their viciousness, I was a little taken aback, but only at first. We stood and watched each other for a few moments. He scampered down the tree, ran along the wood’s floor but rather than disappearing, he zoomed up the next maple tree. He did this several times more, deftly scampering up and down the trees, then crossed the road and systematically went up and down the stand of maple trees on the opposite side of the road. In each tree, he poked his nose into nearly every hole and crevice.
This elusive and completely misunderstood creature was fascinating to observe. (I think) his face is wonderfully expressive and rather cute, sort of like a teddy bear face. What do you think? If we were watching a nature film set in an exotic location we would probably think he was extra adorable. He had a a fat bloated tick in his ear and I was wishing I could help get it out. The most amazing thing was watching him climb up and down the trees with great dexterity, agilely leaping from limb to limb. Their paws and claws are huge, again, almost bear-like. Reportedly, they can rotate their hind feet almost 180 degrees, which allows them to scamper down the tree head first, one of few large mammals that have this ability.
As soon as I returned home I looked at the footage and read as much info as I could find. Firstly, they are neither a species of cat, nor do they eat fish. The name Fisher most likely comes from European settlers likening the animal to the European polecat called a ‘fitche.’ I love the Cree name Otchock and think we should make a concerted effort to rename the Fisher. The Algonquin name, the ‘Pekan,’ is better suited as well.
Fisher Cats are members of the weasel family (Mustelid). In winter they have rich, chocolatey brown fur that is, unfortunately, prized by hunters. The female’s fur is finer and the most desirable of all. The male’s fur may have a more grizzled appearance. The male is also larger, varying from three feet to four feet long. The female is generally just shy of three feet long. Based on the fur color and size of this Fisher, I originally believed it to be a male however, at about 1 minute 39 seconds in, I think you can see a nipple.
Two popularly held misconceptions about the Fisher Cat are that they eat cats, and that they make a shrill, shrieking screech. Based on post mortem examinations, there is no evidence that Fishers eat cats. There is however, a great deal of evidence that Coyotes prey upon house pets. And that unearthly scream we sometimes hear at night, that is a Red Fox. Unlike foxes, Fisher cats are not vocal creatures and are only capable of making occasional chuckles and hisses.
Fisher Cats were once extirpated from Massachusetts, largely because of the felling of forests and because of unregulated hunting. Beginning in the late 1800s and into the 1900s, human population trends shifted. Farms were abandoned and much of the former farm land has reverted back to forested land, the Fisher’s habitat. Today, trapping is limited and carefully monitored.
Another reason Fishers have rebounded is thanks to the logging industry , which has reintroduced Fishers at a number of forest locations. Fishers are one of the very few predators that prey upon Porcupines. The issue with Porcupines is that they are voracious eaters of tree saplings.
The Fisher cat is primarily a carnivore. Their diet mostly consists of small mammals including rabbits and squirrels, and also birds. They also eat berries, mushrooms, fruits, and other plants.
I am not suggesting anyone approach a Fisher Cat, nor any wild mammal, for that matter. Rabies is always a consideration. Seeing a Red Fox, which are largely nocturnal, acting strangely during the day would be cause for concern but Fisher Cats are active during both the day and evening.
My ‘lightning in a bottle’ filming moments with a Fisher Cat has shown that they are beautiful stealthy predators, well worth dispelling fallacies and learning more about!
Join us for a fun night of planting! We will have a mini class discussing planters and hanging basket combinations. We will talk about utilizing plants that work for you and making the most of bloom time and combination placement.
We will go over maintenance, design and try to answer any other questions you may have!
Feel free to BYOB – we will have light refreshments and snacks. You may also bring your own planter from home if you wish, we will have some pots and hanging baskets available for purchase.
The drop in style class will be held on Thursday, May 25th from 6PM to 8PM. Class attendees will get 10% off all materials purchased for planting.
Please send questions to Elise (978) 471 – 9979
Cost $15/ Class. Please sign up no later than Wednesday night.
What a joy to meet these members of Creating Commons Collective, a grassroots organization passionate about developing beautiful, native plants landscapes for our community.
The project at Blackburn traffic circle began last spring.The soli was tilled (with the help of Mass DOT) and the first batch of plants were introduced. The group is selectively adding native flowering plants with the long term goal of creating a self-sustaining, pollinator friendly, native plants meadow.
Sarah mentioned Creating Commons Collective native plants project at Burnham’s Field, which I am very eager to go check out, and Nick shared a recent article “Improvised Landscapes” that he wrote for Arnoldia, the quarterly publication of the Arnold Arboretum. It’s a great read and you can find the link to the article below.
By Nicholas Anderson April 4, 2023
OVER THE YEARS I have abandoned and inverted my horticultural training, and today, I struggle to describe what I do. When time is short, I simply say that I make meadows with native plants; sometimes I use the term “ecological maximalism.” But definitions don’t really matter when it’s late September, and I’m stopping off at a patch of dirt in Gloucester, Massachusetts, sandwiched between a new housing development and a Market Basket on the edge of a woodland remnant. Just now I don’t particularly need any new plants, as I have a dozen or so ongoing meadow projects that double as plant nurseries, but I can’t resist a salvage mission before going grocery shopping. I walk past orange-painted surveyors’ stakes through one of the spots where I scattered seeds the previous winter. Most of the seedlings have succumbed to the drought, but a few anemic partridge-pea plants (Chamaecrista fasciculata) are visible amidst the tire tracks. This space is used as a parking lot for little league games in the summer and the city deposits untold tons of salty snow here every winter. Remarkably, whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia) and sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina) insist on colonizing into the very spot that gets savaged by the plows year after year. I pull up four rhizomes of the sweet fern and grab two tiny volunteers of winged sumac (Rhus copallinum) before heading over to the other side of the lot, where frost aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum) and oldfield goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis) are in bloom amidst mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) and tendrils of asian bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). Out of the midst of these introduced species, I yank up twenty-odd plants with tender violence and put them in a wet, plastic bag.
IT’S THAT TIME:
Warm Weather Seedlings!
Starting May 17th, our warm weather seedlings will be available to come shop at the nursery.
Hello and happy May!
We have fully stocked the nursery area with 40 varieties of tomatoes, a handful of cucumbers, squash, 33 varieties of sweet and hot peppers, eggplants, zinnias, basil, rosemary and much more. We are very excited for another summer growing season and are excited to play in the dirt under the warm sun. We have added some new varieties this year so take some time and ask any questions you may have on new items and staff favorites.
We will have sunflowers, and melons coming out of the greenhouse along with some more varieties of zinnias over the next couple of weeks.
If we do get any nights that go under 40 degrees F we recommend that you cover basil, cucumbers and squash with row cover, they do not like to be cold.
A little PSA – the bridge going over Walker Creek that takes you from Harlow Street in Essex onto Concord Street is out for the summer so please re route to using the Sumner Street turn off 133 or the other end of Concord Street.
Also, our internet has been a little slow lately which means running credit cards and apple pay has been a little slow – we can definitely still take all forms of payment but cash or check will make the line move faster.
Looking forward to seeing all the familiar faces and talking warm weather plants!
We have a great selection of hanging baskets and annual and perennial herbs and flowers. Our native perennials selection is stocked up and attracting all the pollinators you can imagine. I saw my first hummingbird today flitting over the Cuphea Vermillionair – bring them home to your gardens!
Hope you are having a wonderful spring!
We have posted all the Flower, Herb and Vegetable varieties we are growing this year on our website for you to check out and get excited for!
Fittingly for Mother’s Day, this morning I watched two Super Mom’s defending their progeny. We’re familiar with the GHB Piping Plover Super Mom who, despite her handicap, defends her nest and chicks with the same do-or-die energy as does Dad. She did just that this morning, keeping the scruffy bachelor from getting to close to her nest.
Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover Super Mom
Later in the morning I unexpectedly ran into one of my best friends Claudia (and a Super Mom herself!) who was out on a walk. We were admiring the ducklings and the beautiful Mama duck when we noticed a male behaving in a mildly aggressive manner. Mama duck put herself between the male and her ducklings.
I said bye to my friend and began to head home when suddenly the male attacked the Mom, separating her from the ducklings. She fought like crazy to get back to her family but he kept attacking , flying her around in circles and down the beach. The attacks lasted about half an hour; all the while the ducklings were sadly adrift and very confused. A second male joined in the attack. I don’t know how she made It back because they were out of sight for a good amount of time, flying in and out of the dunes, but return she did. Mom gave a series of loud quacks and the ducklings quickly scooted to her side.
Soon after a male showed up and it must have been her mate because he planted himself between the family and the two aggressors. The attacking Mallards lost interest and drifted away. It was scary for a bit and I was imagining a call to Cape Ann’s Wildlife rescuers Jodi and Erin, wondering if they take in ducklings.
Note in the last clip when Mom gives one of the ducklings a gentle nudge on the head and then another of the ducklings stretches his budding winglets; they are so tiny!
Observing mini wildlife dramas, especially the fierce behavior of these valiant, yet highly vulnerable, Mom creatures is a reminder of all the women in our lives who are fierce protectors of their loved ones, and who have inspired us to reach for the stars. Rock On Super Moms!
Joyful update to share – Super Dad and Handicapped Mom have done it again!! We have a nest! Our Super Couple has been nesting at GHB since 2016, making this their 8th nest in 8 years. We are so blessed to have this valiant, beautiful little pair of PiPls that call GHB their home <3
Nesting is going more slowly at other areas of the beach. We are consistently seeing 3 males duking it out, from one end of the beach to the opposite end. The females that have stopped at GHB have not stayed long. I think we should keep a strong eye out at Cape Hedge because it is only one beach further north and because one of the females that was briefly at GHB had very pale markings, similar to the female that nested at Cape Hedge.
Based on our Super Couple’s past nesting history, I think we should begin monitoring the Plovers full time on Friday, June 2nd. Please send your preferred times and we’ll make up a schedule. I haven’t heard back yet from Mass Audubon about their schedule but during the meeting, we mentioned to Lyra that we would prefer mornings, afternoons, and early evenings, not mid-day, which seems as though it will work perfectly with the times Mass Audubon field agents are on the beach. I look forward to hearing from you regarding scheduling.
I am very behind in updates and apologize for that! My butterfly and native plants ABC garden for the elementary kids at Phillips Academy campus in Andover needed much attention after a period of neglect due to Covid. This past week, we had a team of FORTY EIGHT volunteers from Liberty Mutual come and help clean up the campus and dig new beds. They were beyond unbelievable. This is a program offered by Liberty Mutual to help nonprofits. Even the CEO was there pitching in, working just as hard as everyone else, digging and carting away wheelbarrows of soil. It was a whirlwind cleanup, amazing, and I am still reeling from the amount of work they accomplished.
This fantastic illustration was shared by our dedicated and long-time PiPl Ambassador Jill Ortiz.
Plastics and the Plight of the Piping Plover
“This submission is a photograph of a poster sized piece of artwork created by students from Hanscom Primary School on Hanscom Air Force Base.
Students learned about the piping plover and the impact of plastics on shore and marine life. Students drew the bird, nest and eggs. They used plastics that were to be trashed and repurposed them to create this collage. Every student then made a shell to add to the creation.”
Happy Mother’s Day to all our PiPl Friends that are Moms! xoxo Kim
P.S. Did you know that we have Water Snakes at nearly every body of water on Cape Ann and throughout Massachusetts? I did not, but became interested in learning more after seeing several while working on my pond film. May is an amazing time of year for wildlife in New England! Scroll through to see just some of the wildlife happenings taking place right here in our midst – – https://kimsmithdesigns.com/
While working on my pond film, I had a chance encounter with a bunch of Water Snakes that were interacting, sort of. The smaller one kept trying to engage with the medium-sized snake, but he/she would have none of it. After a time, an even larger Water Snake appeared on the scene and made his way to a sunny spot on a hummock in the pond.
I read that Northern Water Snakes are mostly solitary creatures. They are generally social only in the fall and spring.
The Northern Water Snake swallows its prey whole, feeding heavily on amphibians and fish. The above photo is of the closely related Garter Snake swallowing a Bullfrog as I was so engaged with filming the Water Snake, I neglected to take a photo.
More love in the air- Observations suggest that pairs mate between 88 and 338 times before laying eggs. I believe it after spending some time filming Osprey pairs over the past month, setting up house at locations all around Massachusetts. I don’t think they are always making a “connection,” and perhaps it’s equally as much a bonding behavior.
I love watching Ospreys in flight; to my way of thinking, one of the most graceful flight patterns of all the raptors we see in New England. They have a beautiful way of floating/hovering mid-air over their nests.
Are Ospreys a member of the eagle family or a member of the hawk family? They are neither. Up until fairly recently, they were classified with hawks, but now they are in a category all their own.
Greenbelt’s Osprey cam is up, with residents Annie and Squam and their clutch of 3 eggs. You can find the link, and also read periodic updates provided by Dave Rimmer, HERE
My husband asked Charlotte, “Did you see the Coronation on TV?” “No, Bops, what is a coronation,” she responded. He explained briefly, she went to her art table and proceeded to draw this wonderful illustration of the Coronation featuring Queen Camilla, adding many imagined details including a castle with a moat.
Usually she gifts us her drawings but this time she asked, “Would you like my drawing?” I said. “Yes of course.” She said “It’s $13.99.” I said really?? My five-year-old granddaughter said, “Mimi, I drive a hard bargain.”
Thinking of the stuffed animal she had seen at Russel Orchards earlier that afternoon that cost $13.99, which I told her “not today,” I said okay to the $13.99 illustration. After all, she had figured out a way to earn the kitten stuffie.
Simply one the most beautiful sites has to be when our native Shadblow comes into bloom. The airy white flowers light up the woodland scene and water’s edge.
Shadbow, Shadbush, Chuckleberry Tree, Serviceberry, and Juneberry are just a few of the descriptive names given the beautiful Shadblow tree.
Shadblow (Amelanchier canadenisis) is one of the first of the natives to bloom in spring, growing all along the Atlantic coastal plains. A fantastic tree for the wild garden, over 26 species of songbirds and mammals, large and small, are documented dining on the fruits of Shadblow (including bears). The small blue fruits are delicious, though rarely consumed by humans because wildlife are usually first at the table.
The foliage of Shadblow is a caterpillar food plant for the Red Admiral Butterfly. Look for her eggs on the upper surface at the tip of the leaf.
Over the past several weeks, MM and his partner, the young sub-adult, have been seen mating at least five times, as observed by myself and neighbors. One neighbor commented, “they must be newlyweds.” In all matings observed, MM has assumed the dominant position so we think he must be the male. We hope the love birds are making lots of baby eaglets although, its not entirely clear whether or not a sub-adult is mature enough to produce eggs.
In thinking about tiny Piping Plovers and majestic Bald Eagles, it’s inspiring to know that conservation success measures, such as those taken to bring the Bald Eagle back from near extinction, are tremendously meaningful and impactful.
The below graph of Bald Eagle breeding pairs speaks a thousand words –
For days we have been listening to the wonderfully lively and loud courtship chortling of a male Red-bellied Woodpecker as he perches outside a choice nesting cavity. He calls and calls endlessly in hopes of attracting a female.
At long last a pretty female arrived on the scene (at about 48 seconds). You can tell she is a female because instead of bright red feathers running from the top of the head down the nape, as does the males, she has a gray patch on the top of her head and only her nape is red.
She has shown her worth, participating in excavating around and above the nesting cavity. Towards the end of the clips, the male is peeking out of the cavity as the debris from her labors falls around him. Last I checked, it was pretty quiet at the nesting tree and I’m happy to report, the female popped her head out of the nest (1 minute, 10 seconds).
Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat nuts, seed, berries, and insects. Their name is derived from the very faint patch of red on the lower belly, not often visible. You can see the male’s red belly in the clip when he is hopping backward down the tree.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are common in the southeastern US however, their range is expanding northward and they are now seen (rarely) as far north as eastern southern Canada.
FIVE PiPls are currently on the scene! The additional two appeared Wednesday morning, as shared by ACOfficers Teagan and Jamie. I located all five yesterday afternoon. It was cold and very windy and all (except our freewheeling scruffy male), were huddled behind clumps of seaweed, on the opposite side of the incoming wind. The two newest arrivals are definitely one male, but I couldn’t tell conclusively if the other was a very light male or a dark female. (I hope so much he/she is a female!).Super Mom flanked by Super Dad (left) and newly arrived PiPl, either female or male?
At first I only spotted four but then I heard a sharp peep. I thought that’s weird, the four are quietly resting, and it sounded like the peep was from behind. Where did it come from? Must be the wind playing tricks with my hearing. A few minutes later I got up to leave, and the fifth one was resting in the sand about four feet away!
We’re heading into peak spring migration so stay tuned!
Male arrived overnight
I have been chatting with the Mass Audubon field agents in the morning and am just so inspired by these young earnest biologists, so eager to help and make an impactful difference. They are much like the field agents that I meet at DCR beaches, really kind people. I am looking forward to our Ambassadors and beachgoers meeting the Mass Audubon group!
Recently I attended a virtual meeting for the NYCity volunteer Plover ambassadors. It’s fascinating to learn how other urban beaches manage their PiPl populations, both the positive and the negative aspects. They encounter nearly the exact same responses and issues as do we. Ninety percent of their encounters are positive and people love the birds. They have the same negatives as well – namely dogs and people running through the nesting areas and dunes.
We had a wonderful turnout for the GHB Earth Day clean-up event. With thanks and gratitude to Reverend Sue from the Annisquam Village Church and Rory McCarthy from Clean the Creek for organizing the event. Thank you so very much to everyone who lent a hand!!
Enjoy the sun while it’s shining!
Our perpetually scruffy-looking, as of yet, unattached, male
Female of male? Leaning toward female as Super Dad allowed her to rest quietly in close proximity to Super Mom, without chasing her/him away
While the scallop boats are still here delivering fresh plump scallops daily to Gloucester, we are making the most of the fabulous quality and terrific prices. At Cape Ann Lobstermen, a two pound tub is only $32.00!!
Several weeks ago I mentioned a scallop and spring risotto yummy dinner that was a big hit with the Family. Friends have asked for the recipe but I don’t usually use a recipe when making risotto. Last night I tried to think about amounts.
I love making risotto and find it utterly relaxing to just stand at the stove and stir, as long as you have all the ingredients chopped, grated, and lined-up ready to go. I am writing this hurriedly so if anything is left out or you have a question, please write and let me know, happy to answer <3
Do this first – For the vegetable stock, cover with about 8 cups of water – 1 onion quartered, I carrot cut in half, several stalks of celery. Do not add salt. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, and allow to gently simmer while cooking the risotto
1/4 lb. chopped pancetta or bacon
I medium onion loosely chopped
About 1 3/4 Cup Arborio rice
Veggies – whatever you like. Last night’s dinner we had fresh fiddleheads from the garden!, also 1/2 zucchini chopped, handful of snowpeas, 2 ears of fresh corn (kernels removed from the cob), and about six stalks of asparagus chopped in 1 inch pieces.
Butter to taste – 2 TBs or more
Romano or parmesan to taste (about 1/2 to 3/4 C.), grated
Render the fat from the pancetta. Remove pancetta from pan and set aside. Leave the fat in the pan.
Add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Sautee onions until translucent.
Add arborio rice. Turn heat down. Toast rice for a minute or two with the onions, until you hear a crackly sound. Cover rice with Prosecco.
Stir continually throughout. Allow rice to absorb most of the Prosecco. Add about two ladle-fulls of the simmering stock. Allow rice to absorb the stock before adding more.
Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is almost done, still a tiny bit al dente. Add the veggies and more stock if needed. Add back the pancetta. Cook for a few more minutes until veggies are done, bright green but cooked through.
Take off the heat. Add butter and cheese to taste. While the risotto is resting, pan sear the scallops. Our whiz in the kitchen Alex cooks the scallops 🙂
Serve with extra cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
A joy, and surprise, to see MM swooping across the marsh, although he wasn’t too happy. A murder of Crows and one Osprey were hot on his trail. MM landed for a brief second, only about twenty feet from where I was standing. I had just arrived and struggled to get may camera out quickly, but did catch the tail end of the action. How beautiful to see his majestic wingspan. You can see his leg bands in the last few frames.
Perhaps MM simply did not want to be annoyed and that is why he flew off. Bald Eagles are very powerful and it was just last spring that either MM, or his mate, drowned a nesting Osprey.
from Avian Report – Female bald eagles have longer wingspans than males
In most birds, males are larger than females, but in most birds of prey is the opposite. The female bald eagle is larger and has a longer wingspan than the male.
Ornithologists suggest that such differences in size and wingspan allow male and female eagles to hunt prey of different sizes and avoid competition over prey of the same size.
Another line of thought suggests that females are larger to protect their eggs and chicks from larger predators and aggressive bald eagle males that may attack their chicks and female eagles.
The literature indicates that the bald eagle’s wingspan ranges between 5.11” feet and 7.7” feet. The lower end indicates the smallest males, while the upper end refers to the largest females in the range. However, most males have a wingspan of 6.4” while most females have a wingspan of 7.2” feet.
There are over 600,000 bridges in America. They continue to do their job over the years, and many have intriguing stories.
America’s oldest seaport, Gloucester, Massachusetts, has sixteen bridges but only three of them have a significant impact on the history, culture, and social wellbeing of the residents. Their unique function is to provide access off and on the island for thousands of people a day. This is a history of their reason for being, construction, maintenance, failures, and successes over the years since the Blynman Drawbridge and Canal were built in 1643 to the Gloucester Railroad Drawbridge in 1911 and the giant 800-foot steel arch span A. Piatt Andrew Bridge built in 1950 as part of the completion of Route 128.
As Gloucester celebrates its quadricentennial in 2023 this book will be part of the 400 years of unique memories that only these three bridges can provide.
For my pond ecology documentary I have been filming Red-winged Blackbirds at ponds and marshes all around Cape Ann. Only about 15 seconds of footage is needed, but when I began, it was mid-February and their songs filling the marsh was a welcome reminder that spring was on its way.
When the blackbirds first arrived, there was snow on the ground and chunks of ice on the cattails. It was so cold you could see their breath. The choristers perch from every outpost, from the tallest tree to the slenderest of reeds, singing their hearts out, calling to the females. Red-winged Blackbirds are especially fond of perching on cattails; they construct their nests with cattail fluff (along with other bits of vegetation).
In all that time, two months roughly, I never saw a single female once. Mid- April and at long last the elusive females are beginning to arrive. Rather a Plain-Jane compared to the male’s dashing velvety black with brilliant red shoulder epaulettes, underlined in a slash of yellow, nonetheless, she is the object of desire of the chortling males.
Red-winged Blackbird’s nests are well camouflaged in the reeds, and so is she! Look for the females at the very end of short film, the last two clips. Happy Spring, Happy Earth Day!
Despite the wind and chilly temperatures, this morning a wonderful multi-generational group of dedicated Earth-stewards met at GHB to clean the beach and to celebrate our beautiful Earth in kind thoughts and prayers. The clean-up was organized by Reverend Sue from the Annisquam Village Church and sponsored by the Cape Ann Climate Coalition Interfaith Group, Clean the Creek, The AVC Creation Care Team, and the Plover Ambassadors.
Thank you to Everyone who attended and for your deep love of Good Harbor Beach. Captioned where possible
Reverend Sue in the red coat
Rory McCarthy (left) grassroots Clean the Creek organizer
Three Generations of Sibley Earth Stewards
399 cigarette butts found in one small stretch of Nautilus Road
Please join us tomorrow, Saturday, at 9am at Good Harbor Beach <3
Reflections on Earth Day from Town Green founder Dick Prouty
When we started TownGreen in 2015, the level of understanding of the threat of climate change was not widespread. Yes, TownGreen had some good Sustainability Fairs with large attendance, and we had a nice solarize campaign in 2017-2018 with well over 100 roof installations at discounted prices. But was there a general awareness that our very existence on the coast was threatened by sea level rise, extreme heat, and more severe climate threats? Not really.
Now, eight short years later, the tide of public opinion is quickly changing. I am heartened by the rapid growth of support for climate action. TownGreen’s community education programs, informed by the valuable research from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, brings climate change home to our local neighborhoods and beloved icons of Cape Ann, such as Good Harbor Beach. Our programs are resulting in a heightened community awareness of climate impacts and increasing threats to our region. The challenge now is to identify and implement mitigation and adaptation strategies as best we can.
I am thankful for the large numbers of people who have made a difference by supporting TownGreen. There are literally hundreds of you who have contributed to our annual fund, who regularly attend TownGreen webinars and in-person events, and lend your hearts and minds to concrete climate action. Thank you. There is no greater mission than being in this climate fight to save our Cape Ann community for future generations. We are grateful to be working alongside such a wonderful group of friends.
All the best on Earth Day 2023!
Dick Prouty, Chair, TownGreen Board of Directors