Author Archives: Kimsmithdesigns

About Kimsmithdesigns

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"

GARTER SNAKE EATING A BULLFROG

The American Bullfrog, both predator and prey

This month I am taking a short break from working on the Piping Plover feature documentary and am developing a film about the ecology of New England ponds. Frogs, in all their myriad incarnations, are keystone species, playing starring roles as both predator and prey.

American Bullfrogs are by far the most commonly seen. While filming and adventuring around local ponds with Charlotte we witnessed a dramatic scene where a Garter Snake snatched a Bullfrog from the road. As the snake was keeping his eyes on us, he was successfully dragging the frog into the cover of grass, simultaneously trying to devour the frog whole in one swallow. As you can see, the frog was enormous, compared to the mouth of the snake nonetheless, the snake was determined. We couldn’t continue to wait to see what took place but were convinced the snake was going to prevail and eventually swallow the frog.

Known predators of  American Bullfrogs include Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, snakes, raccoons, Belted Kingfishers, and turtles.

Little Blue Heron eating a froglet

As tadpoles, American Bullfrogs are herbivores that eat aquatic plants. As adults, ABullfrogs are carnivorous ambush predators who eat insects, birds, fish, snakes, baby turtles, bats, rodents; anything that fit into their wide mouths. They even eat each other! Bullfrogs wait patiently for prey to pass by and and then use their powerful back legs to pounce. American Bullfrogs are North America’s largest. Females are generally larger than males and can grow up to 8 inches.

 

Note the tail on the above Bullfrog froglet. Half tadpole, half frog, froglets are outgrowing their tadpole stage, but are not yet fully fledged frogs.

American Bullfrog

Green Frog 

An easy way to tell the difference between an American Bullfrog and a Green Frog is to look at the fold of skin behind the eyes. The ABfrog’s wraps around the very large eardrum (tympanic membrane). The Green Frog’s fold on either side runs along the length of the body.

ELEGANT RARITY AT PARKER RIVER – THE AMERICAN AVOCET!

Far, far outside its normal range, the elegant American Avocet has once again made Parker River National Wildlife Refuge a stop over point on its migratory route. Recent records indicate the American Avocet was photographed at Plum island in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, and now 2022. According to local photographer friends, the American Avocet has been here for over a month. When it first arrived, the Avocet still had much of its orangish neck and breast breeding plumage. Today, you can only very faintly see the orange hue in its breast feathers.

American Avocets have an usual technique for fishing. They capture aquatic invertebrates by swishing their long, up-curved bill from side to side, a signature behavior called scything. American Avocets eat a wide variety of invertebrates including midges, beetles, flies, fairy shrimp, amphipods, and small fish. They also eat the seeds from aquatic plants.

If you plan to see the Avocet, this exquisite beauty is easy to spot. Go to parking area #6, opposite Stage Island. If you don’t see a bunch of photographers to point the way, you can usually find it at the far curve, foraging at the Stage Island Pool, to the left side of the causeway to the Island.  You can’t miss its striking black and white plumage as it is foraging in a mixed bunch of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. The crowds of birders and photographers are not in the least phasing the shorebirds as there is quite a good distance from where you are permitted to observe and where the birds are feeding and resting.

American Avocet Range Map

 

Photo of American Avocet in breeding plumage by  Dan Pancamo – originally posted to Flickr as Quintana June 2nd 2010 courtesy wikicommons media

WONDERFULLY GENEROUS DONATION TO THE GOOD HARBOR BEACH PIPING PLOVERS FROM THE BROOKLINE BIRD CLUB!

The Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover Ambassadors, and the entire community of Cape Ann’s Plover friends, would like to thank the Brookline Bird Club and board member John Nelson for the kind and very generous donation to help purchase signs and badges to help protect the Piping Plovers at Cape Ann beaches. We have such an amazing group of PiPl Ambassadors and to be recognized by the BBC is truly an honor.

The Brookline Bird Club, the largest and most active bird club in Massachusetts, is pleased to donate money to support the Piping Plover Ambassadors in their volunteer efforts to protect the Piping Plovers at Good Harbor Beach, to educate the public about this wonderful and endangered shorebird, and to help many people in Gloucester and beyond to experience the delight of watching these birds and following their story as they breed and raise their young on the beach. On behalf of the birding community and plover lovers everywhere, we thank you.” The Good Harbor Beach Plover Ambassadors (missing a few) Paula, Alexa, Jennie, Jonathan, Duncan T., Susan, Lisa, Duncan H, Jill, Sharen, Barbara, Deborah 

For more information about the Brookline Bird Club, please go here.

For more information about John Nelson, author of the beautiful book Flight Calls: Massachusetts Through Birds, please go here.

PPP (POSITIVELY PRO PLOVER!) AND PIPING PLOVER HIP HOP UPDATE

Tree Swallows currently coming in waves and massing at Good Harbor Beach

Good Morning PiPl Friends!

Our little Hip Hop is still present at Good Harbor Beach. We’re hopeful that he will depart to begin his southward migration at some point soon but in the mean time, please know that he is foraging with great gusto, finding lots and lots of good food at the various habitats at GHB. In addition to his usual PiPl diet, the storm last week brought in great amounts of seaweed and that has become one of his favorite foraging locations. Piping Plovers eat a wide range of invertebrates, including insects, mini mollusks, and sea worms.

Piping Plover Hip Hop turned nine weeks old on Monday. Here he is at 60 days old.

Where do Plovers go in winter? is a question often asked of we Ambassadors. We know from banding programs at the University of Rhode Island that many Plovers from southern New England first head to the barrier beaches at Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras. Here they will stay for about 45 days, foraging and storing up their lipid reserves for the next leg of the migration. Most will then continue on to the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and remote islands in the Caribbean, where they will stay until early March.

Thank you to all in our community who have taken the time to write and to call in support of the Plovers, to our PiPl Friends and to new friends who have been prompted to write. We so very much appreciate your kind words and good wishes for the Plovers. We’d like everyone to understand how vulnerable is this tiny threatened bird however, not all people have the capacity nor vision to see the beauty and joy in conserving our wild creatures and wild spaces, for the protection of life on Earth as we know it, and for future generations to come.

We are keeping our messaging PPP – Positively Pro Plover! 

MONARCHS AND PIPING PLOVER INTERVIEW WITH HEATHER ATWOOD AND KIM SMITH AT 1623 STUDIOS!

Thank you Heather Atwood and 1623 Studios!

I so appreciate Heather taking the time to talk about Piping Plovers and Monarchs both. She asked tons of great questions and in a short period of time, we got in lots of information! Please see our interview below <3 !

For more about Hip Hop and the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers, see here –

And, please join me Thursday, August 18th, at 10am at Essex’s T.O.H.P. Burnham Library for a free  all ages (5 plus) Monarch Butterfly event, The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch. To register, GO HERE

 

Monarch Butterfly and Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias vericillata)

THE MARVELOUS MAGNIFICENT MIGRATING MONARCH AT THE ESSEX LIBRARY

Please join me Thursday, August 18th, at 10am at Essex’s T.O.H.P. Burnham Library for a free  all ages (5 plus) Monarch Butterfly event, The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch. To register, please GO HERE

I hope to see you there!

MONARCHS ON THE WING

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 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.

GREAT BLUE SKIMMER

Charlotte and I have been spending time learning about the “web of life” at some of our local ponds. Ponds are instantly gratifying in showing a child what is an ecosystem. We have seen some AMAZING scenes lately, including a small snake trying to swallow whole a very large dead bullfrog. More on that when I have a few minutes to sort through the photos.

In the meantime, here is a lovely dragonfly we are seeing at every pond we have been to visit, a perching male Great Blue Skimmer. They are  a member of the Libellula family and one of the most commonly seen. Libellula skimmers are often referred to as King Skimmers because of their large size.

THE MOVIE – THE GOOD HARBOR BEACH PIPING PLOVERS #ploverjoyed

The story of a tiny pair of birds that arrived on the shores of Cape Ann, and the remarkable community that came together to help provide safe harbor for the pair to nest and to raise their young.

Excerpt from the film’s introduction – In 2016, a young pair of Piping Plovers began nesting at Good Harbor Beach, Cape Ann’s most popular seaside destination. The first several years were difficult for the Plovers. The community was neither prepared nor knowledgeable in how to manage a pair of highly vulnerable nesting shorebirds.

There were so many dog disturbances on the beach that the Plovers were driven into the beach parking lot…

I hope you enjoy this short film! Stay for the Epilogue <3

GOOD HARBOR BEACH LOVELY SUNSET OVERLOOKING SARATOGA CREEK

Sunset last night from Good Harbor Beach

SHOUT OUT TO GLOUCESTER FISHERMEN FOOTBALL TEAM AND COACHES! #sharetheshore

One very important reason as to why we had a successful year with the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers is because of the consideration afforded to the Plovers by Coach Lattof, Coach Craig, and all the Gloucester Fishermen football team members. Early on in the the first years of the Plovers being at GHB, Coach Lattof made a point of bringing the guys over to the Plover’s restricted area and talking to them about threatened and endangered species.

We are so appreciative of the consideration given. The boys are awesome and the parents, teachers, and coaches of these great bunch of kids are doing an amazing job!

Thank you!

CECROPIA MOTH LIFE CYCLE

One year in the life story of the giant Cecropia Moth, North America’s largest moth.

The first photo shows a pair of Cecropia Moths mating in late May. They completed their life cycle the following year, in early June.

Cecropia Moth Life Cycle -1) mating, 2) eggs, 3-7) developing instars, 8) spinning cocoon, 9 and 10) cocoon, 11) newly emerged, 12 and 13 closeups, 14) male Cecropia, 15) female Cecropia

PIPING PLOVER HIP HOP AND FAMILY UPDATE

Dear PiPl Friends,

Truly a milestone for our Good Harbor Beach PiPl fledglings, today marks their seven week old birthday, or 49 days. Five chicks fledged and that in and of itself is also a milestone. Hip Hop isn’t the best of flyers as of this writing. Dad and one of the siblings are still with him, which is also remarkable. Every morning finds the three cozily snoozing within close proximity to one another, while the three super flyers are zooming around the beach.

Dad, Hip Hop, and sibling

This past week, several of we GHB PiPl Ambassadors attended the annual Northeast Coastal Waterbird Cooperators Meeting. Representatives from the Massachusetts seven coastal regions, along with coastal waterbird conservation leaders from Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York, and the Great Lakes provided data and stories from their respective shorebird conservation programs. Not only are Piping Plovers covered, but also Least Terns, Common Terns, Roseate Terns, and American Oyster Catchers.

We all should be very proud that Massachusetts is once again at the fore of Piping Plover conservation. There are about 700 breeding pairs in Massachusetts. Does that sound like a great number? Not really. There are only about 8,000 Piping Plovers worldwide. Compare that number to Snowy Owls; the population of Snowy Owls is thought to be around 28,000. There is still much work to be done in Piping Plover conservation.

Here are some local good news numbers shared at the meeting. The data was collected approximately two weeks ago. In 2022, the north of Boston region has so far fledged 135 chicks, with 54 chicks still on beaches for a possible total of 189 chicks! Five of which are from Good Harbor Beach!

I submitted a short film for the Coastal Waterbird meeting, titled The Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers, and am in the process of adding a few scenes. It should be ready to share with the community by the end of the week.

One of my favorite moments from this season, of all four siblings thermosnuggling under Dad.

GARDENING TIPS TO HELP POLLINATORS (AND YOUR GARDEN) SURVIVE THE DROUGHT PLUS HUMMINGBIRD SHORT FILM

Summer morning scene

Eyeing landscapes that are usually lushly verdant at this time of year, every where we look, wild places and yardscapes are prematurely shriveling and turning brown. This does not bode well for pollinators, especially the butterflies we look forward to seeing in August and September, including Monarchs, Painted and American Ladies, Buckeyes. and Sulphurs. These beauties depend upon wildflowers for daily sustenance and to build their lipid reserves for journeys south.

Six tips to help your garden survive the drought

1. In our garden, we prioritize what needs water most. Pollinator favorite annuals and perennials such as Zinnias, Phlox, Monarda, Joe-pye, and milkweeds provide nectar for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies that are on the wing at this time of year, and they are watered consistently.  Perennial wildflowers that Monarchs, the Vanessa butterflies, and Sulphurs rely on in late summer include asters and goldenrods and we give them plentiful water, too. Fruit trees, native flowering dogwoods and shrubs are also given plenty of attention because they take the longest to become established, give shade, and provide sustenance to myriad species of pollinators. Assess your own garden with an eye to prioritizing what you think pollinators are most reliant upon now and over the coming  two months.

Plants such as daylilies, iris, lily-of-the-valley, grass, and hosta support nothing, or very few species. They are typically well-rooted and can afford temporary neglect.

2. Water by hand, selectively (see above). Hold the hose nozzle at the base of the plant to soak the soil, not the foliage.

3. Water deeply, and therefore less frequently. Fruiting and flowering trees and shrubs especially appreciate deep watering.

4. Watering after dark saves a tremendous amount of water as a large percentage of water (anywhere from 20 to 30 percent) is lost to evaporation when watering during daylight hours. The best time of day to water is after sunset and before sunrise.

5. Do not fertilize with chemical fertilizers, which promotes an over abundance of growth, which in turn requires more water. Instead, use organic fertilizers and amendments, which will improve the soil’s ability to store and hold water. Fertilize with one of Neptune Harvest’s excellent fish fertilizers, and cover the soil beneath the plants with a two inch layer of Black Earth compost. The soil will be healthier and able to retain moisture more readily.

6. Remove weeds regularly. Weeds suck up valuable moisture. To be clear, by weeds, I don’t mean plants that are misnamed  with the suffix weed.  So many of our native wildflowers were unfortunately given names that end in weed by the early colonists. For example, Butterfly Weed (Milkweed), Ironweed (Veronia),  and Joe-pye Weed (Eupatorium), to name but a few. These native wildflowers are some of our very best plants to support native species of Lepidoptera.Canadian Tiger swallowtail drinking nectar – keeping the Zinnias well-watered to help the pollinators

 

 

 

 

SAVE THE DATE AND SELLING OUT – KIM SMITH MONARCH BUTTERFLY ALL AGES PROGRAM AT THE ESSEX BURNHAM LIBRARY

Please join me Thursday, August 18th, at 10am at Essex’s T.O.H.P. Burnham Library for an all ages (5 plus) Monarch Butterfly talk, The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch. To register, please GO HERE I hope to see you there!

Newly emerged Monarch and Asclepias tuberosa

WHY THE MONARCHS LISTING AS ENDANGERED BY THE IUCN IS A CLARION CALL

Headline after headline shouts: MONARCHS LISTED AS ENDANGERED, MONARCHS CLASSIFIED AS ENDANGERED, MONARCHS ARE NOW AN ENDANGERED SPECIES.

What most articles fail to highlight is that the species was listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Prior to the IUCN adding the Monarch to its Red List, most Americans had never even heard of the IUCN. Although the listing brings no funding to help protect the Monarchs, it can however serve as a call to action.

What is the IUCN? VISIT THE IUCN WEBSITE HERE 

In 2020, the US Fish and Wildlife Service categorized the Monarch as warranting protection under the Endangered Species Act, but failed to add it to the Endangered Species List. The stated reason was because other species had higher protection priorities. Perhaps, too, an unspoken reason is that it would be very complicated try to prevent habitat loss, and to go toe to toe with companies that manufacture herbicides (Glyphosate),*along with the corporations (Bayer) that manufacture genetically modified crops that can withstand the deadly herbicides. The Monarch’s status will again be reviewed in 2024 and many hope that the IUCN’s declaration will prompt the USFWS to add the Monarch to the federal Endangered Species List.

Climate disruption, habitat loss, and the abuse of herbicides are the greatest threats facing the migrating population of the Monarch Butterfly. Where the population was once counted in the billions only fifty years ago, the numbers have plummeted to mere millions. Although that may sound like a robust number, in actuality, a series of events such as a drought in the northern breeding grounds followed by a deep freeze in the butterfly’s wintering habitat could wipe out the eastern population by as much as 90 percent.

We can all help the Monarchs, individually, and collectively. Creating Monarch habitat is probably one of the most joyful and satisfying first steps. Not only will you be helping the Monarchs, but many other species of pollinators will benefit from planting milkweeds and plants that are rich with nectar.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to be posting pollinator stories, along with gardening advice and tips to help our gardens survive the drought.

Charlotte and newly emerged Monarch August 3, 2022

*Glyphosate, manufactured by Bayer, is an herbicide used in the weed killer Roundup. Roundup is sprayed on vast acreage of farmland in the Midwest on crops that have been genetically modified to withstand the Roundup. Tragically, when the herbicide is sprayed on farm fields, the GMO crops can withstand the deadly toxin, but the milkweeds and other wildflowers growing in and around the farm fields are decimated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CELEBRATING FIVE CHICK’S FIVE WEEK BIRTHDAY MILESTONE! #ploverjoyed

Dear PiPl Friends,

Happy five weeks old to our Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover chicks! Today marks the day that all five are now five weeks old. The four Plover chicks from area #3 turned five weeks on Monday and the singleton from the Salt Island area #1 turns five weeks today. This is a milestone for both the Plovers and for the Cape Ann community!

The two Plover families have combined forces, or I should say the chicks are a unit; Super Dad is still reminding One Dad who is boss.

Hip Hop spends much of his time alone on the beach foraging. This is nothing new; we just have to keep our eyes peeled because Dad isn’t around quite as much to voice piping commands for him to get out of the way of foot traffic.

How long will the family stay together as a little unit? I have seen at other locations where I am filming, at the most, 49 days. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if they did stay, or at least Super Dad, because it would surely give Hip Hop a better chance of surviving.

The Squadron

Every year we have high hopes to successfully fledge chicks. This is most definitely our best year ever however, next year could be a complete bust. We know some things that contributed without a doubt to this year’s happy story. A tremendously dedicated group of round-the-clock Piping Plover Ambassadors is at the top of the list. If you see one of these kind-hearted PiPl Ambassadors, please let them how much you appreciate their efforts – Susan Pollack, Paula and Alexa Niziak, Marty Coleman, Jennie Meyer, Ann Cortissoz, Mary Keys, Sharen Hansen, Deb Brown, and Sally and Jonathan Golding. We also have a group of dedicated substitutes who are always willing to step in, even on a moment’s notice – Jill Ortiz, Barbara Boudreau, Duncan Hollomon, Karen Thompson, Lisa Hahn, Sarah Carothers, and Duncan Todd.

Working with our partners and PiPl Friends has provided a safe habitat for the Plovers.  Mark Cole and the DPW’s early actions in symbolically roping off nesting areas, placing important signage, and the decision not to rake the beach certainly contributed to this year’s success. Allowing the wrack to remain creates an abundance of foraging opportunities. Thank you to the entire DPW beach crew for keeping eyes on the chicks while working on the beach and for your always friendly demeanors  and interest in the Plover’s development.

Daily diligence and ticketing on the part of Gloucester’s Animal Control Officers Jamie Eastman and Tegan Dolan helped keep dogs off the beach after the March 31st date. We also want to thank the GPD and Mayor Verga for temporarily placing the large flashing light sign at Nautilus Road to let people know to keep pets off the beach, and the fine levied if caught.

Many thanks to Dave Rimmer, Essex County Greenbelt’s Director of Land Stewardship. For the past seven years, on a volunteer basis, Dave and his assistants have installed the wire exclosures that protect the Piping Plover’s eggs from avian and mammalian predation.

We’d also like to thank Carolyn Mostello, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Coastal Waterbird Biologist, for her thoughtful actions and continued excellent advice.

We are grateful for the help and timely actions taken by City Councilors Jeff Worthley and Scott Memhard who have taken an active interest in the Plovers and also Good Harbor Beach in general, particularly in the case of the contaminated Creek and getting swimmers out of the water.

We are so appreciative of the time and care Coach Lattof and the Gloucester Fishermen football team take in their attitude toward the Plovers. It has been a great teaching moment for the kids and the Coaches have developed and fully encouraged the kids’ tremendous positive outlook toward the birds.

Hip Hop and sibling, five-weeks-old

We also want to give a shout out to the GHB volleyball players who without fail, every evening pause their games to give the chicks the space they need to migrate back to their nighttime sleeping quarters.

We are so appreciative, too, of all the help given by the Plover’s community of well wishers, the early morning walkers including Pat and Delores, John Burlingham, Jan Bell, and Betty, to name only some, and who always jump in to lend a hand when needed. Thank you also to the Good Harbor Beach residential neighbors Sue and Donna who are always on alert, watching over the Plovers and sharing their concerns from their perspective as local residents.

The new beach reservation system has helped the Plovers in an unexpected way. Good Harbor Beach does not fill up as early and as frantically as it has on hot summer days in previous years. Early morning is an essential time of day for birds. They are extra hungry after the night long fast and need lots of space to forage undisturbed.

A heartfelt acknowledgement to all our PiPl Ambassadors, partners, and friends. The “it takes a village” adage has never been more true than in the case of Piping Plovers nesting at Cape Ann’s most popular seaside destination. Thank you!

xxKim

HIP HOP CATCHING UP! #ploverjoyed

Tiny handicapped Piping Plover chick Hip Hop, although developmentally challenged in comparison to his siblings, is nonetheless steadily growing. You can compare in the photos and video footage that he looks to be at about the same stage of development as were his siblings two weeks ago. His wings muscles are gaining in strength and fluffy tail feathers are beginning to grow.

Hip Hop is also wonderfully independent and forages far and wide along the length of the beach. If you see him on the beach, please remember that Hip Hop can’t yet fly to escape danger as can his siblings. Please give him lots and lots of space and please don’t try to take a close-up photo with your cell phone. The more he is able to forage without being disturbed, the more quickly he will grow.

This morning a scofflaw dog owner brought her dog to Good Harbor Beach. Fortunately, early morning daily GHB walkers P and D caught up with her to remind her of the dog ordinance. Hip Hop was only a few feet away, hunkered down in a divot, and could have so very easily been squished by a bouncy, enthusiastic off leash dog. Thank you P and D for your help this morning <3

Hip Hop’s sibling, photo taken about two weeks ago.

Hip Hop today

HAPPY NEWS TO SHARE FOR OUR JULY 24th PIPING PLOVER UPDATE

Good Morning PiPl People!

A gloriously beautiful sunrise at Good Harbor Beach!

We have a wonderfully interesting new development to share about out GHB PiPl families. Firstly, though, everyone is asking about Hip Hop. He is doing very well, albeit growing very slowly, and is perhaps about two weeks behind developmentally. Fortunately, he has a phenomenal Super Dad, who nurtures and protects him. As long as Dad does not leave to begin migrating before Hip Hop can fly, I am hopeful he will grow well. There have been documented cases where Plovers were on northern beaches into December and January. Hopefully, Hip Hop will not be here for an extended period of time, but if he is, as a community, I think we can keep watch over him.

Hip Hop, 34 days old

The happy news is that the one remaining chick at #1 (we lost the sibling last weekend) has joined Team Plover at #3, so we have a little family of five chicks and two Dads. The Dads just barely tolerate each other, but the kids are all getting along just fine!

Fledglings 34 and 31 days oldFour fledglings in beach camo

Our Good Harbor Beach Plovers are so fortunate to have the Creek, especially when the main beach is so packed full of people. And because the Creek is badly polluted, barely anyone is traveling down there. For some reason, the PiPls can tolerate the bacteria that is so toxic to humans, and are able to forage without disturbance.

Happy Sunday, stay cool, and have a great day! xxKim

Super Dad

 

 

BEAUTY ON THE WING IS AN OFFICIAL SELECTION AT THE SAN DIEGO INTERNATIONAL KIDS FILM FESTIVAL

Terrific update to share for Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly – We have been accepted to the San Diego International Kids Film Festival. With Covid on the rise, the presenters don’t know yet if the festival will be live or virtual, but it is fun to imagine attending.

Male Monarch and Coneflower

Truly an amazing number of Monarchs have been spotted across Cape Ann, and New England, in recent weeks. Many are finding eggs and caterpillars in gardens and in meadows. My friends Lillian and Craig, Jane, and Lauren shared their recent sightings. Please write and let me know what you are seeing in your garden. Thank you! 

STARTING YOUNG – OUR LITTLE WILDLIFE ADVOCATE

So proud of Charlotte this morning! She rose early with me to catch her first ever sunrise and to watch the Plovers. Rising in a dramatic fiery red ball, the sun was all that it could be for a first-ever sunrise experience.

We found the chicks foraging along the water’s edge, while she stood back as still as a statue to give them lots of space. She kept eyes on all four and helped herd a seagull away from my canvas beach bag, but not in the direction towards the chicks. She added more seashells and discarded “sand-shapers” to her collections and was most enamored of all our early morning friends.

The four thirty-day-old chicks at area #3, plus Dad, were all present and accounted for this morning. Little Hip Hop is still undersized, but quite independent.

Hip Hop and sibling at twenty-nine-days old

So very unfortunately, we lost one of the two chicks at area #1 over the weekend. Tomorrow, the one remaining area #1 chick attains the wonderful four week old milestone. Both Moms departed over a week ago so we have five chicks plus two Dads. The five chicks occasionally all forage together, while the Dads stay ever vigilant in watching over their respective chicks (and duking it out between themselves over “foraging rights.”)

COACH LATTOF SHARES SOME GOALS FROM THE GLOUCESTER HIGH FOOTBALL BEACH CONDITIONING PRACTICE

Recently Gloucester High School Coach Lattof shared some thoughts about the GHS summer conditioning program that takes place at Good Harbor Beach, writing “We  have always tried to make our conditioning program more than just conditioning. We stress more about life lessons. Every year I ask the kids about their goals, or as we call the  “whys,” not only in their sports life, but in their personal lives. Here are a few examples that explain why these kids get up everyday and run the beach. I didn’t include their names because these responses are personal to them.”

My why for my personal life is my mother. She defines perseverance through all adversity in her life. She keeps her head down and works through it. When other people have problems even if she doesn’t know them she puts her issues aside to always help the greater good and even when she has nothing left to give she always finds a way to give something. I want to succeed in life and achieve my goals because she sacrifices so much to give me the opportunity to have goals.

In my athletic life my why is all the people who have ever doubted me. People I hate with a passion who have looked down on me as anything less then great, even some people I love who just don’t think i have what it takes to make it to where I want to go. Everyone has always seemed to think I’m just another guy on the field, another player on the lineup that is average and nothing special but I want nothing more then to prove those people wrong and show them I am someone great.

My why in my personal life is to be successful. The reason being successful drives me is because my parents came from nothing. They worked so hard to ensure me and my siblings were given the best opportunity to succeed and I feel as if I would be doing them a disservice by not being as successful as I can be. They have always pushed me to strive for excellence whether it be academically or athletically and I want to make sure that their effort and hard work doesn’t go to waste.

Athletically, my why is proving those who doubted me wrong. In school I always hear kids talking down on the football team thinking that we’re going to continue to be mediocre next season. The insults and doubts make me work harder. Another why that I have athletically is to work as hard as I can to be in the best position to help my team succeed. If I don’t work as hard as I can I’m not only letting myself down but I am hurting the team.

“Thought you would like to read what inspires these kids. This is just a small sample!”

GFAA Fitness Center Rehab in Memory of Greg Swinson

Kristin Michaels has organized a Go Fund Me fundraiser to benefit The Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association. The Association has been working since 2008 to prioritize giving the student athletics of GHS the tools they need to be competitive and excel at whatever sport/activity they chose. The budget is 120k and a generous friend of Gloucester Athletics has pledged to match the first 50k raised! YOU CAN DONATE TO THIS VERY WORTHY ENDEAVOR AND READ MORE HERE

HAPPY FOUR WEEKS OLD TO OUR GOOD HARBOR BEACH PIPING PLOVER PLUMPLINGS! #ploverjoyed

Hello Piping Plover Friends,

Today we are celebrating a milestone for our Piping Plover chicks at area #3, their four-week-old milestone. In one more week, the Plover chicks will be fully fledged. The three normally developing chicks are taking brief lift offs several feet above ground. We hope tiny Hip Hop won’t take too long to catch up to his siblings before he too is showing signs of flying.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our wonderful friends and partners who have worked with us to reach this important milestone of FOUR four-week-old chicks. Thank you Mark Cole and the Gloucester DPW beach crew, thank you to ACO officers Teagan and Jamie, thank you to City Councilors Scott Memhard and Jeff Worthley, thank you to the Gloucester football practice kids and coaches, thank you to the GHB volleyball players, and thank you to all the local residents and beachgoers who are watching out for the Plovers when they are at GHB enjoying a beach day. 

Hip Hop and sibling – you can compare in the photos how much more well-developed are the wings of Hip Hop’s siblings. Hip Hop is making great strides though and we have high hopes.

On a more difficult note, our area #1 family has become more elusive and with recent talk about eating Plovers we are concerned that we may be missing a chick after this weekend’s truly unnecessary “stirring the pot.” People don’t understand this kind of cruel talk encourages people to torment and to kill Plovers. They don’t get that this is a thing and that there is a well-documented history of grown men and women killing Plovers and destroying their nests and habitat because they were threatened by the presence of a tiny bird. Many of us hope this way of relating to wildlife died out in the previous century. I believe the great majority has evolved in how we think about protecting wild creatures, particularly in the case of safe guarding threatened, endangered, highly vulnerable and the smallest amongst us.

As has stated been countless times, the mission of the Piping Plover Ambassador program is to share the shore, to keep the beaches open for people and for shorebirds.

If you would like to be a Piping Plover Ambassador next year, please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. Our ambassadors are a wonderful group of kind hearted, funny, sweet, and dedicated people and we have become friends through our stewardship. We have tremendous support from most in the community however, a small handful have labeled us elites and silly bird watchers (not that there is anything wrong with bird watching!). Nothing could be further from the truth. We are an assemblage of hardworking professionals, artists, writers, poets, designers, to name but a few of our careers, who came together to take time out of our professional lives to care for a tiny endangered species that began calling Cape Ann home seven years ago. You don’t need prior “bird watching ” skills to join our Piping Plover Ambassador program and we would love to have you.

Four-week-old Plover plumplings

NEW SHORT VIDEO – OSPREY FISHING!

The Osprey are finding the shallow water rich with fish. The fish hawk seen here had no luck the first try. After circling around and giving a signature call, he/she quickly made a second dive and had himself an excellent catch. The large fish pulled him back down toward the water for a few moments, but then he righted himself. I thought the Osprey was heading in the opposite direction of where I was standing, but then he flew almost directly over me. It was a thrill to see an Osprey so close up with a fish in its talons . Toward the end, he looks like he is surfing with the fish.

Osprey eat almost exclusively fish, yet despite that fact, every time an Osprey flies over our local beaches, all the shorebirds run for cover.  According to Cornell, captured fish measure on average form 6 to 13 inches long and weigh one-third to two-thirds of a pound, although the largest fish caught on record was 2.5 pounds.

THANK YOU GLOUCESTER DPW BEACH CREW FOR KEEPING THE FOOTBRIDGE SAFE!

Much of the sand keeps washing away at the beach end of the footbridge. We see this happen frequently during winter and spring storms and also in the summer months during a period of unusually high tides (thank you beautiful Buck Super Moon). Wednesday’s tide carried one of the lifeguard beach chairs down the Creek and also left a drop several feet deep at the footbridge.  DPW staff Steve, Eric, and Dean have been at Good Harbor Beach early in the mornings escorting people away from the work and filling in the crater so no one falls coming off the bridge.

Thank you Gentlemen!

Eric, Steve, and Dean