Category Archives: Beauty by the Sea

OUR BEAUTIFUL MOM HAS LOST HER FOOT

A story of patience, fidelity, resilience, and hope 

You may recall that last year our Piping Plover Mom’s foot became entangled in what appeared to be both dried seaweed and monofilament. Mom visibly struggled with her foot entanglement. Although initially she could still thermoregulate the chicks and stayed nearby, we began to see less and less of her. Much of the parenting of chicks was left to Dad as she was infrequently seen lying low in the tall beach grass. We wondered if she even made it through the summer.

Mom’s very painful looking injury caused her to behave as though she was trying to adapt to the awkwardness of carrying a ball and chain. Sometimes the chicks would get caught in the seaweed and monofilament entanglement and she was continuously pulling at it, trying to remove.

Fast forward to April of this year. For a month we have had a new pair of Plovers attempting to nest, first at area #3, the original pair of Plover’s original nesting site (beginning in 2016), and then I believe shifting further north up the beach, toward Salt Island. I checked on that pair on Wednesday morning, the fifth, just before leaving for Ohio and despite the unseasonably cool temperatures and rough winds, everything was as it should be in Ploverville.

Upon our return Monday morning all had turned upside down in the world of Plover nesting. It took me a day to understand what had taken place.  Miraculously, our original Mom and Dad have returned to #3. We are overjoyed to see them both, Mom especially, but the bittersweet of it is that she has lost her foot.

Dad is clearly eager to mate but, for lack of a better word, is being extraordinarily patient with Mom. She spent the first few days after arriving quietly lying in the grass, so much so we were becoming concerned. But Mom has rallied and is showing interest in Dad and his nest scrapes. He is very attentive, staying nearby and defending her against real and imagined intruders. We all got a laugh when Assistant Library Director Beth Pocock’s commented, “Not very Darwinian of him.”

Dad in one of his nest scrapes

The pair are approximately five weeks later in arriving than the past several years.  It’s not entirely unexpected that Mom’s foot has been amputated by the monofilament and seaweed wrapped so tightly that it was cutting off her circulation. Plovers historically have survived with one foot/leg. One of the most common reasons for loss of foot or leg is when debris becomes caught in a leg band on Plovers that have been banded. The thing is, it is taking double the amount of effort for Mom to do things that Plovers ordinarily do daily. Her gait step is twice as many steps as compared to Dad’s. She is spending a good amount of time lying down, rather than standing.

Piping Plovers show tremendous fidelity to each other and to their nesting site. Our Good Harbor Beach Original Plovers are fantastically resilient — recalling just one of their many trials and adventures — the year they nested in the parking lot, driven to this measure by the plethora of dogs allowed off leash by their owners; dogs running and  prancing through the  Plover’s roped off area disrupting their nesting.

Will Mom be able to breed and take care of chicks this summer? Only time will tell. But because  she is now “handicapped,” it’s imperative that we eliminate all disturbances.

Mom is able to use her peg leg to scratch an itch

On Saturday, we had a serious problem with several very large groups of teens drinking, creating a mountain of trash, playing in the nesting area, and running through the area to use the dunes as their bathroom. Their complete disregard of the clearly marked off area destroyed the Plover’s nest scrapes, which are the potential possible sites for eggs. The police were called. The officers were very patient with the teens. One girl in particular was extremely rude to the officers, barely coherent and nearly falling down drunk.  It took more patience than you can possibly imagine for the officers to de-escalate as they did.  It wasn’t until the police appeared that the teens began attempting to clean up their trash, which without the officer’s insistence that they clean up, surely would have resulted in the more than one huge trash bag that I filled this morning.

These were not local kids but we have to do better than this as a community. There must be a way to have some authority figure patrol the beach on warm spring and summer afternoons. These teens were completely smashed and the amount of trash from alcoholic beverages was astounding. As soon as the officers appeared on the beach, the teens began to clean up their behavior, language, and garbage. But I don’t believe it should have gotten to this point.

We’ll keep an eye on the weather and we Ambassadors will mobilize on the next warm beach day but frankly, we have very little authority. None of us feel safe approaching a group of 30 or 40 unruly and intoxicated (and foul mouthed as was the case Saturday) teens. Truly, the ideal solution is to assign an officer or ranger to patrol the beach on warm afternoons and evenings.

If anyone sees people rough housing in, playing in, or repeatedly entering the roped off areas, please call the police and explain what you are seeing. If a nest with eggs or an adult or a chick is harmed in any way or killed by this kind of behavior, that is considered a “take” by both state and federal regulations. The City and the individuals responsible are liable for thousands of dollars in fines and potential closure of Good Harbor Beach. Our mission is to keep our beautiful GHB open for everyone and to keep our Plovers safe.From Saturday – how people treat our beautiful beach – trash on the beach brings crows and gulls, which eat Plover eggs and chicks

 

THANK YOU SAWYER FREE LIBRARY AND GUESTS! AND COINCIDENTALLY, TODAY IS WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY!

Thank you to Jennifer Santomauro, Beth Pocock, and Linda Bossleman at the Sawyer Free Library and to everyone who came to the Piping Plover program this afternoon. Despite the gorgeous weather and protest marches nationwide, we had a wonderful group of interested attendees. It’s the first in-person presentation I’ve given in several years and I just want to thank everyone so much for coming.

World Migratory Bird Day is held annually on the second Saturday of May (May 14th in 2022).This year’s WMBD focuses on the impact of light pollution on migratory birds.

“Most birds migrate at night. They have been doing this for eons, as a night sky typically means calmer air space and fewer predators. Nocturnally migrating birds include ducks and geese, plovers and sandpipers, and songbirds of all kinds. These birds may travel thousands of miles between their breeding and non-breeding grounds.

However, the night sky is under threat. Artificial light is increasing globally by at least two percent a year, presenting a problem for birds. Light pollution from homes, businesses, and other infrastructure attracts and disorients migrating birds, making them more likely to land in dangerous areas where they are more vulnerable to collisions and predation. Artificial light also impacts birds in the breeding and winter seasons, disrupting feeding and other vital behaviors.

In 2022, the impact of light pollution is the focus of World Migratory Bird Day, an annual global campaign that celebrates the migration of birds across countries and continents. Throughout the year we will spread the message to “dim the lights for birds at night” and highlight the steps that individuals, communities, and governments can take to reduce the impact of light pollution on our shared birds.”

One of the featured species in WMBD 2022 is the Baltimore Oriole (as seen in the above illustration)!

 

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)

Length: 8.3” (21.1cm)

Wingspan: 11.5” (29.2cm)

Weight: 1.2oz (34g)

You may find this colorful member of the blackbird family in open woodlands, parks, or even your backyard. It eats a lot of insects, especially caterpillars, as well as fruit and nectar. Baltimore Orioles and many other songbirds need dark skies to safely migrate—you can help by reducing the amount of light outside your home at night.

Conservation Status: Low Concern

WHAT IS WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY?

In 1993, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center created International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD). This educational campaign focused on the Western Hemisphere celebrated its 25th year in 2018. Since 2007, IMBD has been coordinated by Environment for the Americas (EFTA), a non-profit organization that strives to connect people to bird conservation.

In 2018, EFTA joined the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) to create a single, global bird conservation education campaign, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD). Continuing our tradition with IMBD, WMBD celebrates and brings attention to one of the most important and spectacular events in the Americas – bird migration.

This new alliance furthers migratory bird conservation around the globe by creating a worldwide campaign organized around the planet’s major migratory bird corridors, the African-Eurasian flyway, the East Asian-Australasian flyway, and the Americas flyway. By promoting the same event name, annual conservation theme, and messaging, we combine our voices into a global chorus to boost the urgent need for migratory bird conservation.

EFTA will continue to focus its efforts on the flyways in the Americas to highlight the need to conserve migratory birds and protect their habitats, and will continue to coordinate events, programs, and activities in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean at protected areas, refuges, parks, museums, schools, zoos, and more. As many as 700 events and programs are hosted annually to introduce the public to migratory birds and ways to conserve them.

READ MORE HERE

BEAUTIFUL ORIOLE ALERT- BOTH ORCHARD AND BALTIMORE ORIOLES!!

Time to put out orange slices (and hummingbird feeders, if you haven’t already done so.) Orioles are nectar feeders and follow the blooming times of fruit trees on their northward migration along the East Coast. My friend Sally Jackson spotted a Baltimore Oriole at her hummingbird feeder several days ago, and they are delighting in our pear tree blossoms and orange halves we have placed in the garden.

Baltimore Oriole male

Recently while recording audio in a field, I was delightfully surprised by an Orchard Oriole, a species new to my eyes. Orchard Orioles are slightly smaller than Baltimore Orioles and their plumage is more rusty red rather than vivid orange. Nonetheless, they sing a characteristically beautiful bird song and it was a joy to hear the chorister from across the meadow.

Orchard Oriole male

You can see from the photos that orioles have evolved with long pointed bills, ideal for extracting nectar from fruit blossoms. Their toes, too, are especially well adapted to forging for tree fruits and nectar as they are long and flexible, allowing the birds to dangle every which way while clinging to the branches.

Ancient Crabapple tree, where the Orchard Oriole was spotted

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Please join me at the Sawyer Free Library on Saturday, May 14th, at 2pm for a FREE in-person all ages presentation about the life story of the Piping Plover –

Why Give a Peep for Plovers?

The Piping Plover is one of only a handful of birds that nests on North Atlantic beaches. By learning about this tiny but most resilient of shorebirds, we gain a deeper understanding on how best to protect Piping Plovers and our shared coastal habitat.

Told through the lens of Kim Smith’s photo journal work, the Piping Plover’s life story is presented from migration to nesting to fledging. We’ll also cover the current status of the bird’s population, learn about where Piping Plovers spend the winter, and how communities and conservation organizations can work together to help Piping Plovers flourish for generations to come.

If you are new to or have ever considered joining our Piping Plover Ambassador group, this presentation is a great way to become introduced to Piping Plovers. Please come and learn more about these most lovable and charismatic shorebirds.

We hope to see you there!

PIPING PLOVER UPDATE AND PLEASE JOIN ME SATURDAY FOR A FREE IN-PERSON PIPL PRESENTATION

Good afternoon PiPl Friends!

We returned Monday from a trip to visit my husband’s dear family in Ohio. If you can imagine, we were celebrating my father-in-law’s 97th birthday!! He is simply amazing and boasts his doctor told him he has the legs of a 70 year-old! We also squeezed in a trip to the butterfly exhibit at the Krohn Conservatory, the Cincinnati Zoo, and visited the old homestead located at the Hauck Botanical Gardens. And had the BEST BBQ at Eli’s Riverside. The Hauck Botanical Gardens, set in downtown Cincinnati, is a relatively small public park created decades ago by my father-in-law’s father (husband’s grandfather) and is richly planted with a collection of rare and North American native trees. Photos coming in a future post 🙂

A week away from Cape Ann’s Plovers and much has been taking place. The GHB PiPls are getting off to a slow start nesting this year and three solid days of fierce wind from the northeast is not helping matters. Yesterday morning there was a great deal of flying and piping at each other, but the funny thing was, they would take periodic breaks from skirmishing and huddle close to each other to get out of the wind.

The Cape Hedge Plover pair are settling in and I will have more on the CHB family towards the end of the week. The photo of the CHB Dad was taken Tuesday. He spent the better part of the time Charlotte and I were there trying to distract dogs that were running off leash.

Please join me Saturday at the Sawyer Free for a presentation about the Plovers (see below). Please feel free to wear a mask and please practice social distancing. Covid cases are on the rise in Gloucester (and everywhere) and I think I will be wearing a mask when not speaking.

I hope to see you there.
Warmest wishes,
Kim

Please join me at the Sawyer Free Library on Saturday, May 14th, at 2pm for a FREE in-person all ages presentation about the life story of the Piping Plover –

Why Give a Peep for Plovers?

The Piping Plover is one of only a handful of birds that nests on North Atlantic beaches. By learning about this tiny but most resilient of shorebirds, we gain a deeper understanding on how best to protect Piping Plovers and our shared coastal habitat.

Told through the lens of Kim Smith’s photo journal work, the Piping Plover’s life story is presented from migration to nesting to fledging. We’ll also cover the current status of the bird’s population, learn about where Piping Plovers spend the winter, and how communities and conservation organizations can work together to help Piping Plovers flourish for generations to come.

If you are new to or have ever considered joining our Piping Plover Ambassador group, this presentation is a great way to become introduced to Piping Plovers. Please come and learn more about these most lovable and charismatic shorebirds.

We hope to see you there!

BLUEBIRD LOOK SEE

Dad Bluebird peering out to make sure the coast is clear.

NEW VIDEO – MUSIC OF THE MARSH – RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD

One of the earliest (and most eagerly anticipated) signs of spring in the Northeast is the arrival of the Red-winged Blackbird. The males begin their displays weeks before the females arrive. Their preferred breeding habitat is wetlands, of which Cape Ann and Massachusetts has no shortage.

The females are interested in what the male sounds like and look likes. The male’s brilliant red epaulettes and raucous calls are meant to both attract females and and defend against competitors. The species is polygynous: a male successfully defending a good territory may mate with up to fifteen females in a season. Red-winged Blackbirds usually nest in loose colonies and females often mate with males other than the territory holder. Clutches of unknown paternity are not uncommon.

Males defend against intruders of all sizes — not only competing males, but also Great Blue Herons, raptors, Crows, and reportedly, even people wandering too close to their nests.

Male giving chase this past weekend to an American Kestrel

Male (above) and female Red-winged Blackbird. Red-wings are sexually dimorphic, meaning males and females have very different appearances.

Red-winged Blackbirds are omnivorous, feeding primarily on seeds and grain including grasses, rice, corn, and sunflowers; a wide variety of insects and spiders, especially during the breeding season; and also small berries such as blackberries.

The Red-winged Blackbird is the United States’ and Canada’s most widely distributed blackbird. Nonetheless these wide spread wanderers are concern for conservationists.  Red-winged Blackbirds and other blackbirds are frequently targeted at their roosts in agricultural areas, where the birds may cause crop damage. (The Bobolink is persecuted on its South American wintering grounds for similar reasons.)Decades long control measures such as trapping, poisoning, and shooting, along with climate change and habitat loss, have resulted in a substantial decline in Red-winged Blackbird populations. Also under attack are important conservation laws such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA.)

WHY GIVE A PEEP FOR PLOVERS? SAVE THE DATE – PIPING PLOVER PRESENTATION AT THE SAWYER FREE LIBRARY!

Please join me at the Sawyer Free Library on Saturday, May 14th, at 2pm for a FREE in-person all ages presentation about the life story of the Piping Plover –

Why Give a Peep for Plovers?

The Piping Plover is one of only a handful of birds that nests on North Atlantic beaches. By learning about this tiny but most resilient of shorebirds, we gain a deeper understanding on how best to protect Piping Plovers and our shared coastal habitat.

Told through the lens of Kim Smith’s photo journal work, the Piping Plover’s life story is presented from migration to nesting to fledging. We’ll also cover the current status of the bird’s population, learn about where Piping Plovers spend the winter, and how communities and conservation organizations can work together to help Piping Plovers flourish for generations to come.

If you are new to or have ever considered joining our Piping Plover Ambassador group, this presentation is a great way to become introduced to Piping Plovers. Please come and learn more about these most lovable and charismatic shorebirds.

We hope to see you there!

GOOD HARBOR BEACH PIPING PLOVER UPDATE

Our GHB Mom and Dad have, for the most part, been lying low during this recent cold snap. However, given the warming temps over the past few days, the pair has resumed courting. And our pair at Cape Hedge continues to spotted regularly. More PiPls will likely be arriving soon. I am so looking forward to the magical month of May in Massachusetts for the magnificent peak migration that takes place all along our shores.

Courtship has resumed!

Willets at Good Harbor Beach

Our beloved Good Harbor Beach is yet another reason to protect shorebirds. Where ever conservation measures have been put in place to help shorebirds, these same actions have had a profoundly positive impact on helping to protect coastlines.

 

IN LOVE WITH THE AMERICAN KESTREL!

Love at first sight! Isn’t the wing patterning of this Mourning Dove-sized falcon exquisite? Don’t let the small stature of America’s littlest falcon fool; the American Kestrel is also one of the most fiercest of hunters.

Now is a great time of year to see pairs before trees leaf out and as they are setting up house. You can find American Kestrels in farm fields, meadows, grasslands, parks, and even cities. Their diet consists largely of insects, small rodents, bats, and small songbirds. I have read they will go after a Northern Flicker but recently I watched a Northern Flicker chase away a Kestrel, as well as a Red-winged Blackbird give chase.

Male (left) and female Kestrels

Red-winged Blackbird chasing American Kestrel

American Kestrel range map

MAGICAL RAINBOW MOMENT OVER THE GOOD HARBOR BEACH MARSH THIS MORNING #vistahotel #oldnugentfarm

Lovely surprise at Plover Patrol this morning!

MAGNIFICENT MAGNOLIAS!

When Saucer Magnolias are in full bloom —This pair on Eastern Point has to be one of Cape Ann’s prettiest!

The Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) was first created in 1820 by French amateur plantsman Étienne Soulange-Bodin,  a retired officer in Napoleon’s army. He crossed Magnolia denudata with M. liliiflora.

I wish I knew more about the history of this grand old home and if the trees were planted when the house was first built. If anyone knows more about, please write. Thank you 🙂

 

 

 

HAPPY EARTH DAY ON THIS MOST BEAUTIFUL OF EARTH DAYS!!

“There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.” –Rachel Carson

Dear Friends,

It’s glorious outdoors today and I hope you have a chance to get outside.  See below for photos from my morning Earth Day walk, although I can’t bear to sit at my computer all day when it’s so gorgeous out and will head back out this afternoon to see what we see.

For Earth Day this past week I gave several screenings of Beauty on the Wing (thank you once again most generous community for all your help funding BotWing!) along with presenting “The Hummingbird Habitat Garden” to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. For over twenty years I have been giving programs on how to create pollinator habitats. People are hungry for real information on how to connect to wildlife and wild habitats and each year the interest grows and grows. It’s truly a joy to witness!

Last night it was especially rewarding to bring Beauty on the Wing to Connecticut’s Sherman Conservation Commission attendees. We had a lively Q and A following the screening with many thoughtful questions and comments. My gratitude and thanks to Michelle MacKinnon for creating the event. She saw the film on PBS and wanted to bring it to her conservation organization. Please let me know if you are interested in hosting a Beauty on the Wing screening

Monarchs are on the move! The leading edge in the central part of the country is at 39 degrees latitude in Illinois and Kansas: the leading edge along the Atlantic Coast is also at 39 degrees latitude; Monarchs have been spotted in both Maryland and New Jersey. Cape Ann is located at 43 degrees — it won’t be long!

Monarchs are heading north! Female Monarch depositing egg on Common Milkweed

Hummingbirds have been seen in Mashpee this past week (41 degrees latitude). Don’t forget to  put out your hummingbird feeders. Dust them off and give a good cleaning with vinegar and water. Fill with sugar water and clean regularly once installed. The sugar water recipe is one part sugar to four parts water; never replace the sugar with honey, and never use red food coloring.

Happy Glorious Earth Day!

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Super surprised to see this mystery duck asleep on a rock. I was so curious and kept hoping he would wake up so as to identify. He at last lifted his head for all of ten seconds and then promptly tucked back in and went back to sleep. I’ve only ever seen Surf Scoters bobbing around far off shore in the distance. Skunk bird- what a cutie!

American Kestrel, male, too far away to get a good photo but a joy to see!

Beautiful, beautiful Great Egret preening its luxurious spray of feathers. An egret’s spray of feathers is also referred to as aigrette.

No Earth Day post would be complete without our dear PiPls – Mom and Dad foraging at the wrack line this am, finding lots of insects for breakfast.

A seal’s life

 

PRETTY SILVERY WAVES AND PIPING PLOVER AFTER STORM UPDATE

The howling winds of the April 18th overnight storm brought super high tides, downed trees, downed power lines and poles. We lost one of our beautiful ‘Dragon Lady’ hollies, one of a pair planted when we first moved to our home, and a tree that gave the birds many tree-fruits over the years.

The wind also carried in a somewhat befuddled Great Egret, clinging to a shrub and still trying to gain his bearings when photographed at mid-day.

Super high tide to the base of the dunes

Mom and Dad foraging in the intertidal zone

Mom

Dad

The highest tide during the storm went up and a bit past the base of the dunes. Our nesting pair of Plovers appeared relatively unfazed and, despite the continued high winds at day’s end, were busy courting and foraging at the newly washed over beach scape.

Churned-up

PLEASE JOIN ME AT THE MASSACHUSETTS HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY FOR “THE HUMMINGBIRD GARDEN!”

HELLO FRIENDS!

Please join me Wednesday evening, April 20th, at 6:30pm for “The Hummingbird Garden” virtual lecture and slideshow. We’ll talk about how to create a beautiful hummingbird habitat and how to be good stewards of the tender tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Massachusetts smallest breeding bird. We’ll also touch on hummingbirds found in other parts of North America.

I have a full schedule of lectures and program this upcoming week for Earth Day week (Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd). On Tuesday I will be screening Beauty on the Wing in Quebec and screening again later in the week in Connecticut (all virtual presentations!). The public is invited to the Mass Hort presentation, but I am not sure about the screenings. Please email at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com if you would like to attend and I will find out more.

EASTER SUNRISE

Easter sunrise over Good Harbor Beach Salt Island

THE AMAZING SNOWY OWL SEABROOK, FULLY RECOVERED FROM DEATH’S DOOR!

Friday evening I had the joy of attending “The Story of Seabrook the Snowy Owl” held at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests Education Center at Creek Farm in Portsmouth. The event was cohosted by Jane Kelly, On the Wing wildlife rehabilitator, and photographer Johnathan Herrick. Johnathan presented a slideshow of beautiful images of Seabrook. He has been chronicling the Snowy’s adventures since first arriving in December. Topics covered at the meeting also included rodenticide poisoning, how to ethically view Snowy Owls when they are on our shores, and Floki, On the Wing’s resident owl ambassador.

 

 

Johnathan and son Maverick

You may recall from several previous posts that Johnathan rescued Seabrook as he lay slowly dying on the beach, unable to fly. Seabrook had consumed a rat or mouse that was dying from rat poison (the horrible black boxes filled with rodenticide that some folks are unfortunately so fond of using). He was suffering from secondary rat poison and hemorrhaging massively. When Johnathan arrived, Seabrook was trapped between a seawall and the incoming tide and was on his way to being washed out to sea.

Seabrook was so far gone when he was rescued, no one, including Jane and her staff, thought he would survive. After a six-week stint at On the Wing raptor rehab center, Seabrook made a full recovery. A wonderful release event attended by several hundred onlookers and fans was held in March. Seabrook flew magnificently over the crowd, toward the tree line, and then to the shore.

On my way to and from the program, I drove along the scenic route to New Hampshire, not expecting to see Seabrook, but there he was, spending the afternoon sleeping peacefully in the sun before heading out to hunt.

Seabrook is basically a very chill bird however, that doesn’t mean we should get close when photographing or observing. Please stay at a minimum of two hundred feet, please don’t try to get close with cell phone cameras, and folks with super zoom telephoto lens, have no reason to come close. When people bring their lawn chairs and park themselves all day next to a Snowy it is so stressful to the bird and totally uncool.

Some tips for Snowy watching:

Stand at a minimum of 200 feet away.

Stay low and hide behind a shrub or tree, if possible.

Move slowly, and if with a friend or a group, speak softly.

Don’t park yourself for hours near a Snowy. Take a few photos and please MOVE ON.

 *      *      *

Jane brought along On the Wing’s ambassador Snowy Owl , Floki. Born in captivity, Floki’s behavior is nothing like a wild Snowy Owl nonetheless, it was wonderfully interesting to learn more about Snowies in general and about the captive owl and his quirky personality.

On the Wing is a citizen funded operation that saves over 400 raptors per year.

Donations can be submitted via:
Venmo @OnTheWingNH

Snail mail:
On The Wing
47 Prescott Rd.
Epping, NH 03042 .
Thank you!

To learn how you can help owls, eagles, and other raptors from succumbing to rodenticide poisoning, follow this link:  PROTECT MASS. BIRDS OF PREY -Decrease Rat Poison

 

On my way to Portsmouth, I stopped at HamptonBeach to check on the Plovers there. It was great to see that New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has cordoned off the Plover breeding habitat and has posted a number of signs.

Surfs up at Hampton Beach!

CALLING ALL BACHELORETTES!

Good afternoon PiPl Friends,

Currently we have three male Piping Plovers positioned for action at Good Harbor Beach at respective territories. The bachelors are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the bachelorettes, marking their turf with nest scraping and the calls for which Piping Plovers are so well known, all accomplished with chests a-puff.

 Meet the three candidates-Bachelor #1  

Bachelor #2  

Bachelor #3

#1 chasing #2 off his turf

The head count can change on a dime overnight. Let’s hope the ladies will soon be arriving.

If you would like to be a Piping Plover Ambassador, please contact me by either leaving a comment or emailing at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com.

Exciting news, we have three new wonderful recruits! We’ll have an informational meeting later this spring, once we have an actively nesting pair. I am so looking forward to working with you all, both our super experienced and dedicated volunteers, along with our new members!

Jennie and Deb, I received your requests to continue in your last year’s time slots and we will also work on getting more coverage at peak times.

xxKim

WONDERFUL PIPING PLOVER NEWS!

Good Morning PiPl Friends,

Happy news to share – the first of our little friends arrived overnight Friday. We found him/her feeding with great gusto at the intertidal zone Saturday morning. After foraging she moved to the roped off area at #3 to find shelter from the wind. Not sure yet if it is a male or female and we’ll know once courtship starts, but I am leaning towards female.

And, a reader shared that she saw several PiPls Sunday!

Finding mini mollusks in the intertidal zone

Please, If you see Plovers, stay a good distance away and give them some space as they are very worn out from their journeys (from where I wish we knew.)

We are looking for volunteer Plover Ambassadors. The volunteer season begins when the Plovers chicks are close to hatching, which is not for approximately another two months. We are a wonderfully dedicated group and if you are interested in joining, please leave a comment in the comment section or email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy Spring!

xxKim

Windy, windy morning

GOOD MORNING! AND A HUGE SHOUT OUT TO MARK COLE, JOE LUCIDO, AND THE GLOUCESTER DPW CREW!

Good Morning Friends of Cape Ann’s PiPls!

I hope so much everyone is doing well. Another crazy winter for us all with Corona fortunately waning but then the terrible war in Ukraine began. We are so very blessed here on Cape Ann and I am grateful to you all and your outstanding teamwork in helping to protect one of our most vulnerable of creatures. The Plovers bring us joy (and frustration, too), but mostly joy and I am looking forward to working with you all again. I’d love to get an idea of what you are thinking regarding whether or not you want to keep your time slot, etc. but it’s a little early in the season so we can put that off a bit.

I did want to share that we had a great PiPl meeting with the City on Tuesday. Mark Cole, who is an assistant director at the DPW, is our new liaison with the City. We met with Mark, Joe Lucido, AC Officer Jamie Eastman, GPD Officer Quinn, Mike Hale, and Adrienne Lennon. Mark and Joe are already doing an outstanding job. The Piping Plover symbolic fencing was installed on Tuesday, the first time this has ever happened before the Plovers arrived.  It’s perfect, too, just the right distance from the dunes to help the Plovers get established. Our deepest thanks and appreciation to Mark and Joe!

My husband Tom and I have been checking daily for the Plovers. There has been one unconfirmed sighting but I doubt it was a PiPl or if it was, not one of ours because once they are here, as we all know, they make their presence known. A number of Plovers have arrived at beaches south of us, so we can surely expect to see ours any day now.

Freshly arrived male and female Piping Plovers with eyes shut tightly against the March wind, Boston

If I am slow to respond to emails, I am so sorry and please forgive. I am in the midst of sorting through, converting, and building the rough cut for my next film project. Huge chunks of time are needed to tell the story of the Plovers in the true and beautiful light that I imagine. Aside from taking care of Charlotte and my family, I am in hermit mode. Usually I’ll respond within a day, but if not, please feel free to email again, no problem. Once we get on the other side of this rough, rough cut (another week or two), I’ll be much more available. Thank you for your understanding <3

Happy Spring!

xxKim

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RESCUED SNOWY OWL FLIGHT FOR FREEDOM

On the Wing wildlife rehabilitator Jane Kelly and USFWS biologist Bri Benvenuti set the Snowy Owl affectionately nicknamed “Seabrook” off on his flight for freedom.

On February 3rd, Seabrook was discovered by a woman at Seabrook Beach. He was suffering terribly from secondary rat poison (rodenticide) and other related conditions. She contacted On the Wing, a New Hampshire based wildlife rehabilitation center that focuses primarily on saving raptors. Jonathan Herrick, friend of On the Wing, volunteered to bring Seabrook to OtW headquarters.

Seabrook is a fighter and for the past six weeks, this magnificent male Snowy has been steadily recovering. Initially, Jane and staff administered round the clock doses of vitamin K and subcutaneous fluids to help stop the bleeding from the anticoagulant agent in the rodenticide, which were then followed by antibiotics and other meds to treat his injuries. Many owls, and other raptors that prey upon small mammals, are not as fortunate as Seabrook. Serious illness, and death, resulting from secondary rat poison is a deadly and ever increasing problem.

When Seabrook was first admitted, he was covered in lice as he was too weak to even groom his feathers.

Image courtesy On the Wing
Receiving no government financial aid, On the Wing is a citizen funded operation that saves over 400 raptors per year. If you are able, monetary donations can be submitted via:
Venmo @OnTheWingNH
Snail mail:
On The Wing
47 Prescott Rd.
Epping, NH 03042 .
Thank you!
Hundreds of Snowy Owl fans attended the release
When an owl, hawk, falcon, or eagle eats prey that has been poisoned by rodenticide, the rat poison also gets into the system of the raptor. A recent study by Tufts University reveals that 88 percent of raptors have varying degrees of rat poison.

EGADS, GADWALL LOVEBIRDS!

The male and female pair of dabbling Gadwalls pictured here have been enjoying the aquatic vegetation, salt water invertebrates, and relative quietude of Cape Ann’s cove beaches. They’ll soon be heading north and west to breed.

Gadwalls are “seasonally monogamous,” and almost always pair up during the fall migration. Seasonally monogamous– a new term to my ears–and one I find rather funny.

Black butt feathers

With understated, yet beautifully intricate feather patterning, look for the males black rear end feathers.

Exquisite feather pattern

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER IN THE SNOW!

One of the earliest warblers to migrate in spring, I don’t recall seeing a Yellow-rumped Warbler this early in the season. This little fellow was finding insects, seeds, and berries in the snow covered scrub line along the shore.

Yellow-rumped warblers have a highly varied diet, which allows them to winter further north than any other warbler, including as far north as Nova Scotia. Their diet consists of every imaginable insect, along with seeds, fruits, and berries including bayberry, myrtle, juniper,  poison ivy, Virginia creeper, dogwood, grapes, poison ivy, grass and goldenrod seeds.

Until 1973, Yellow-rumped Warblers were listed as two different species, the western Audubon’s Warbler and the eastern Myrtle Warbler. Both names are much lovelier than the undignified ‘yellow-rumped,’  don’t you think? More research and DNA studies has revealed they are two distinct species. Let’s hope the names Audubon’s and Myrtle will be reinstated 🙂

Perhaps this young warbler has been here all winter. Please write and let me know fellow bird lovers, are you too seeing Yellow-rumped Warblers?

 

PEEP IN A CLAMSHELL

Is a Sanderling a sandpiper? The short answer is yes.

Sanderlings are a species in the genus Calidris, which also includes locally seen Semipalmated Sandpipers and Least Sandpipers. All three are called sandpipers, with the sweet nickname “peeps.”Pretty Sanderling in a clamshell

FINDING HOPE

As Putin’s war rages and the Russian’s crimes against humanity continue to hold the Ukrainian people hostage, we look for hope everywhere and anywhere. Especially when taking care of a child, an ill family member, or an elderly person we have to keep our spirits up, for the sake of our loved ones at the very least.

Hope is nations coming together and helping nations and individuals helping individuals, in the form of the hand extended to two million (and counting) refugees given by European neighboring countries, to the crushing economic sanctions imposed, to supplies arriving to the Ukraine from NATO countries and from around the globe, along with everyone in the world (aside from Putin and his allies at home and abroad), trying their damndest to prevent World War Three.We’re finding hope, too, in the signs of spring and new life beginning.

Four year old Charlotte coming in breathless with delight at the crocus and daffodil shoots emerging in the garden. And one of the most welcome sounds of spring is the beautiful chorus of courtship love songs of Passerines. There is renewed energy with the neighborhood songbirds; their appetites have increased markedly and nest building has commenced.

Eastern Bluebird male, Black-capped Chickadee, and American Robin eating the last of the Sumac fruits.

Monarch Butterflies are departing Mexico in a great swirling exodus while our winter resident birds are shoring up for their mass migration northward. Some have already left our coastline and waterways. There have been no sightings of the Snow Buntings for a week and fewer Buffleheads appear to be about. Soon, most of the Snowies will have departed. Local owls and eagles are laying eggs, while many travelers have yet to arrive.

Snow Buntings on the wing

Grand flocks of Brant Geese are massing. A long distant migrant, they’ve earned the nickname ‘Little Sea Goose’ for their habit of wintering over in saltwater bays, marshes, and sounds.

Killdeer nestlings

Killdeers have arrived and are sorting out their territories and, If you can imagine, Piping Plovers will be returning in just a few short weeks. To follow are members of the Ardeidae Family – Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Black and Yellow Crowned Herons, and Little Blue and Green Herons.

Piping Plover nest with two eggs

Mother River Otter and kits

We’ll soon see Muskrats, River Otters, and Beavers skirting around thawing ponds and baby Red Fox kits will in no time at all be peaking from dens.

Red Fox Kits

Red-winged Blackbirds have been here for several weeks. The male’s courtship call is welcome music of the marsh. He poses a striking silhouette chortling from the tips of Cattails, dressed in jet plumage with red shoulder epaulettes underlined in yellow. A female has yet to be spotted in her plain jane nesting camouflage of brown and tan.

Despite the horrors unfolding before our very eyes there is much to look forward to in the arrival of spring. We can’t as individuals end the war but we can take heart in a thousand acts of kindness and find joy in the unfolding beauty that surrounds, of new life in spring.

Pussy Willows (Salix discolor)

BEAUTY ON THE WING AIRING ACROSS THE NATION!

Super great news update from my friend and American Public Television Vice President Judy. She shares that since our documentary premiered a month ago, Beauty on the Wing has been broadcast 276 times, reaching 48.95 percent of the UStv households. She thinks we will have even greater activity in April because of programming centered around Earth Day! We have received emails and messages from viewers around the country, many inspired to create a Monarch habitat.

With thanks and gratitude to our many generous contributors, without whose help this film would not have been possible.

To the lovely woman in Idaho whose name I think is Shelly – if you are reading this – I accidentally deleted your note but would be happy to advise you on how to establish a Monarch habitat at your field. Please feel free to email so we can connect. Thank you!

RED-TAILED HAWK SETTING OUT FOR THE HUNT

Nearly every afternoon late in the day, we see this beautiful young Red-tailed Hawk hovering to hunt prey, seemingly effortlessly suspended in mid-air and barely moving a muscle.