Author Archives: Kim Smith

About Kim Smith

Documentary filmmaker, photographer, landscape designer, author, and illustrator. Currently creating films about the Monarch Butterfly, Gloucester's Feast of St. Joseph, Saint Peter's Fiesta, and Piping Plovers. Visit my websites for more information about film and design projects at kimsmithdesigns.com and monarchbutterflyfilm.com. Author/illustrator "Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden"

STELLAR LUMINOSITY

Luminous
1. emitting or reflecting glowing or suffused light. Also, clear, enlightening.

Spring Ephemeral garden at the Mary Prentiss Inn, Cambridge

One of the ‘blue’ lilacs, both heavenly and heavily scented

My all time favorite narcissus, mostly for its fabulous fragrance, but also because it is super long blooming.

MISSING: ONE BEAUTIFUL BLUE-EYED MR. SWAN

Friends, If you have seen a solitary swan in your neighborhood, please write and let us know in either the comments or at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. We haven’t seen him in his usual places since Easter. He sometimes takes off for an extended rendezvous, but this one seems unusually long.

If close enough, you can see that Mr. Swan has very distinct blue eyes. Most of the Mute Swans in our region have black eyes.

Flower Moon Over Eastern Point

Saturday night’s Full Flower Moon was beautiful, glowing pink as it was rising through a soft haze of clouds before gradually turning gold, and then white, as it rose higher in the sky.

PIPING PLOVER WEEKLY UPDATE -SIX PLOVERS AND THREE WILLETS! Plus Semi-palmated Plovers, Yellow Legs, a Least Sandpiper, and More Black-bellied Plovers

Six Piping Plovers (Saturday morning 5/18/19)

Five Semi-palmated Plovers (Monday morning 5/20/19)

Four Piping Plovers (Sunday night, Monday morning 5/19/19)

Three Willets (Saturday morning 5/18/19)

Two Black-bellied Plovers (Monday morning 5/20/19)

Two Yellow Legs (Tuesday morning 5/13/19)

One Least Sandpiper (Monday morning 5/20/19)

Sometime during Friday night, three additional Piping Plovers and three Willets arrived to Good Harbor Beach.

The three new PiPls made for a total of six spotted at sunrise on Saturday morning–our mated pair, the Bachelor, two new boys and a new girl. While Mama was on the nest, five foraged at the tidal flats. There were several territorial skirmishes before two flew off. I wasn’t able to wait to see if they returned.

Winsome Willets

Saturday morning also found three Willets foraging at the tidal flats. Although I didn’t see them later in the day, I did hear their wonderfully distinct calls. I wonder if they will stay. Willets breed in our area and I am fairly certain there was a nesting pair at the Good Harbor Beach salt marsh last summer, the first time I have ever seen Willets regularly there.

New girl on the scene

New boy

Sunday late afternoon/early evening four PiPls were at Good Harbor Beach. One on the nest, and three were foraging at the flats. More smackdowns between the boys and I didn’t see the pretty female.

Papa Plover defending his nesting territory

Early Monday, and the four PiPls are still here, plus five Semi-palmated Plovers, one Least Sandpiper, and two Black-bellied Plovers. The two Black-bellied Plovers were not the same as the three we saw last week. They  were frightened off by a flock of seagulls in flight and didn’t stay long. The Least Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover, and Semi-palmated Plover breed in the tundra across extreme northern North America. Yellow Legs breed in the boreal forests, wetlands, and meadows of the far north. All four species are finding lots to eat at their Good Harbor Beach stopover.

Yellow Legs

Black-bellied Plovers

Least Sandpiper

Semi-palmated Plover

Good eating at Good Harbor

May’s Full Flower Moon brought several very high tides, but our PiPl nest is tucked up safely near the dune edge. In the photo you can see how close the seaweed came to the nest.

High tides and beautiful sunrise Saturday morning

APPLE BLOSSOM SUNRISE

The view out our bedroom window at sunrise this morning, before all was overtaken by (more) rain clouds.

BTW, the RTHummingbirds and Orioles are loving the nectar from our crabapple and flowering fruit tree blossoms 🙂

MAY IS THE MAGICAL MONTH FOR MIGRATION THROUGH MASSACHUSETTS – Featuring Laughing Gulls at Good Harbor Beach

Over the past several weeks we have been graced with a bevy of beauties arriving on our shores, some here to stay to nest for the summer, and for some, we are a stopover to their breeding grounds further north, a place to rest and refuel.

Last night a pair of Laughing Gulls was spotted foraging at the shoreline at Good Harbor Beach, earlier in the week a pair of Yellow Legs was at GHB in the early morning, and last week, a flock of Brant Geese, a trio of Black-bellied Plovers, and a Willet were observed. Our gardens, woodlands, meadows, and dunes have come alive with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Yellow Warblers, Eastern Phoebes, American Robins, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Towhees, Bobolinks, Carolina Wrens, Brown Thrashers, Eastern Bluebirds, and dozens more species of songbirds.

The striking black-hooded Laughing Gull breeds in Massachusetts, but was nearly extirpated because of the plume and egg hunters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They began to make a comeback, only to be devastated again by larger gulls expanding their southward range. Laughing Gulls are adaptable and today their numbers are increasing.

I’ve seen single Laughing Gulls at Good Harbor, but this is the first pair. Perhaps they are breeding at Salt Island or Thacher Island. Wouldn’t that be wonderful 🙂

Laughing Gull breeding and wintering range

Beautiful few moments when the sun was trying to break through the bank of clouds.

Super high tides at Good Harbor Beach this week; notice how close to the dune’s edge is the line of seaweed left by the last tide.

Mama on the nest

THREE HUMMINGBIRDS IN OUR GARDEN TODAY

Shortly before it began raining this afternoon, my husband called to me to the garden to have a look see. Three male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were zinging about, drinking nectar from the flowers and fearlessly whizzing by each other in territorial displays. The tiny boys were mostly interested in our beautiful old Japanese flowering quince ‘Toyo-nishiki’  (Chaenomoles speciosa).  They were also investigating the flowering pear tree and almost-ready to bloom crabapples, but not nearly as much so as the quince.

I hope to see them again on a brighter day, the male’s beautiful red gorget (throat patch) flashes much more brilliantly in the sunshine.

Providing a continuously blooming array of nectar rich flowers, from spring through late summer, will encourage RTHummingbirds to nest nearby and you may even see the fledglings later in the season. You will probably never see the nest as it is only as big as one half a walnut shell, and the eggs only pearl-sized 🙂