Category Archives: By-the-Sea

LATEST RARE STELLER’S SEA EAGLE UPDATE!

From Doug Hitchcox at Maine Audubon

Image wikicommons media

UPDATE – 9 Jan 2022: The Steller’s Sea-Eagle was reported again today, first seen at 7:10AM from the the Maine State Aquarium (currently closed) “heading towards Southport against the wind.” It was found again, perched on Southport Island, across from Mouse Island, at 8:50AM but was only seen for a short time before it was flushed by a passing non-birder. Last seen flying northeast, up Townsends Gut, toward Decker’s Cove, shortly after 9:00AM. There was also a report from ~9:30AM of it flying past the Southport Bridge. Despite lots of effort from birders spreading out across the region, there were no other sightings today.

UPDATE – 8 Jan 2022: First report of the Steller’s Sea-Eagle today was as it flew past the Public Boat Ramp on Landing Road (https://goo.gl/maps/Nvaab5M3CaBYcmbRA) in West Boothbay Harbor at 7:15AM. The eagle was seen flying south, and around 8:45AM it was found perched at the end of Pooler Road (https://goo.gl/maps/Ke9sv2qHaxpdta6o8). Many people were able to see it from roads to the southwest, like Pine Cliff Road, but as people approached Pooler on foot, the eagle was flushed by 9:10AM – a good reminder that people should give this bird plenty of space to avoid flushing it, which causes it to expend energy unnecessarily but also ruins the opportunity for many others trying to see the bird. The eagle settled across the harbor, here: https://goo.gl/maps/FFkWPTHJhVrR3CRS6 and was visible from the Maine State Aquarium (currently closed). By 9:40AM it moved back towards Pooler Road but was shortly after (9:58AM) reported as circling over Boothbay Harbor with ravens, where it was seen flying off towards the east. There were some other possible sightings through the morning, including a second-hand report from Barrett Park around 11:10AM, although the certainty of these, based on reports, seems less than 100%. No other confirmed sightings came in this afternoon.

Tips for Tomorrow: The lack of reports today, and them all coming from a new area, doesn’t help build a pattern that can be helpful. We’ve been suspecting it is roosting somewhere up the Sheepscot River, and the morning sighting of it flying through Townsend Gut seems to suggest that too. It is anyone’s guess, but I’d recommend starting early in an area with visibility towards Barters or MacMahon islands. Spreading out around Boothbay Harbor, or even back towards Five Islands (where it was originally found), or east towards the Damariscotta River (where it was last seen flying today) ought to increase the odds that someone finds it and can get the word out. The Maine Rare Bird Alert GroupMe is the best place for quick and timely updates. Instructions for joining that GroupMe can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/MaineRBAGroupMeRules

Side note: An immature Golden Eagle was spotted by Melissa Roach at 10:30AM, soaring south of Factory Cove in Boothbay. I’m pretty sure this is the first time three species of eagles have been seen at the same time in one place anywhere in the country! Which is pretty neat.

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UPDATE – 7 Jan 2022: The Steller’s Sea-Eagle was found again today, by John Putrino, reported via his Instagram Live stream. He found it in the same area it was seen yesterday, by Thorpe Preserve in West Boothbay Harbor. Parking looks limited and the snow is going to make that even more challenging, but it appears the best place to park is at the Public Boat Ramp on Landing Road (https://goo.gl/maps/Nvaab5M3CaBYcmbRA). Despite a few folks braving the snowy weather, no one was able to relocate the eagle after this initial sighting.

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UPDATE – 6 Jan 2022: After several days without confirmed sightings, Kaili Morgan photographed the Steller’s Sea-Eagle from private property in West Boothbay, around 4pm. The bird was reportedly “active, seen on a beach and in pine trees.” She said she watched it fly off to the northwest, in the direction of Barters Island (following the same pattern that was seen when it was viewed around Five Islands – presumably roosting somewhere up the Sheepscot River.) McKown Point Road, the road to West Boothbay Harbor, is very narrow and Kaili expressed concerned about traffic and congestion (especially because of the nearby Coast Guard Station). Do not park in areas that will block the road.

Tips for Tomorrow (1/7/22): Please beware of the Winter Weather Advisory in effect for January 7: Snow, mainly before 4pm. Patchy blowing snow after noon. High near 32. Northeast wind 10 to 15 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible. Drive safe and do not park in any area that may disrupt plow service. Below is a map Charles Duncan shared in the GroupMe showing the areas the Steller’s Sea-Eagle was seen last weekend (Five Island) compared to the sighting today. These sightings are geographically close as the eagle flies, but a challenging area to bird and access. Do not trespass!

UPDATE – 4 & 5 Jan 2022: No sightings throughout the day. Continue reading

PIPING PLOVERS SOMERSAULTING!

For the first time, as far as anyone can recollect, a pair of Piping Plovers nested at Cape Hedge Beach in Rockport during the summer of 2021. The family was not observed until after the chicks had hatched but we can make a fairly educated guess as to where the nest was hidden. I think, too, based on comparing many photos and film footage that the pair at Cape Hedge had nested originally at the Salt Island end of Good Harbor Beach. That nest of three eggs was washed away by a storm surge during the King Tide.  There was a great deal of competition for nesting territory at Good Harbor during this time period and it is logical the SI pair would have moved north one beach. I imagine that to a Plover’s way of thinking, from Cape Hedge to Good Harbor is one long continuous beach.

One of the most fascinating aspects observed about the Cape Hedge Piping Plover family was the very young chick’s ability to navigate the popples. They used the larger rocks as slides, leapt from rock to rock, occasionally got stuck and, especially when they were very teeny, did mini somersaults.

Why did the Plovers go up and down the steep bank of popples countless times a day? Better camouflage was afforded at the top of the bank while food was more plentiful in the tidal flats. Insects could be had amongst the rocks, but super nourishing mini mollusks and sea worms can only be found in the intertidal zone.

I am currently in the midst of the daunting task of organizing six years of PiPl footage and photographs, from 2016 through 2021. I’ll be posting snippets from time to time. See below for some PiPl acrobatics and a somersault in slow motion 🙂

2021 WILD CREATURES REVIEW!

Wishing you peace, love and the best of health in 2022 – Happy New Year dear Friends. I am so grateful for blog, Facebook, and Instagram friendships, new and old. Thank you for your kind comments throughout the year.

I would like to thank our wonderfully dedicated volunteer crew of Piping Plover Ambassadors, who provide round-the-day protections to one of Cape Ann’s most tender and threatened species.

I wish also to thank you for your kind support and contributions to our Monarch documentary, Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. 2021 was a fantastic year for the film, winning many awards, including honors at both environmental festivals and awards at family-oriented film festivals, We also had a very successful fundraiser that allowed us to re-edit the film, and to distribute Beauty on the Wing through American Public in order to bring to the widest television audience possible.

Please stay healthy in the coming year. Wishing all your dreams come true. To peace, love, and great health in 2022. <3

 

Cape Ann Wildlife – a year in pictures and stories

Thinking about the wonderful wildlife stories that unfolded before us this past year I believe helps provide balance to the daily drone of the terrible pandemic. 2021 has been an extraordinarily beautiful and exciting year for our local wildlife. Several are truly stand out events including the three pairs of Piping Plovers that nested on Cape Ann’s eastern edge, the most ever! The summer of  2021 also brought a tremendous up take in Monarch numbers, both breeding and migrating, and in autumn a rare wandering Wood Stork made its home on Cape Ann for nearly a month. The following are just some of the photographs, short films, and stories. Scroll through this website and you will see many more!

January 2021

A rarely seen in these parts Black-headed Gull (in winter plumage), a Horned Lark, American Pipits, Red Fox kit all grown up, and an illusive Snowy Owl living at Gloucester Harbor.

February 2021

A red and gray morph pair of Eastern Screech Owls, flocks of winter Robins, and snowshoeing and snow sledding Snow Buntings grace our shores. 

 

March 2021

Bluebirds return to declare their nesting sites, the raptors delight in songbirds’ returning, American Wigeon lovebirds, signs of spring abound, and the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers return on March 26th, right on schedule! Gratefully so, Gloucester’s DPW Joe Lucido and crew install PiPl fencing on March 29th!

April 2021

Ospreys mating, Cedar waxwing lovebirds, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds return, and the Plovers are nest scraping and courting. The early spring storms also brought a dead Minke Whale to the shores of Folly Cove. 

May 2021

The Good Harbor Beach Killdeer family hatches four chicks, beautiful new PiPl on the block, many PiPl smackdowns with three pairs vying for territory, eggs in the nest at Area #3!, warblers and whatnots migrating, Make way for Ducklings – Cape Ann Style, the Salt Island PiPls have a nest with eggs but it is washed away by the King Tide of May 29th, and Cecropia Moths mating and egg laying.

June 2021

Piping Plover ambassadors first meeting of the season, on June 9th the Boardwalk #3 PiPls hatch four chicks, one chick perishes, Super Mom has a foot injury, Horseshoe Crabs at Good Harbor Beach, Piping Plover Ambassador badges from Jonathan and Duncan, a second nest is discovered at Salt Island with a new pair of parents (the first was washed away in the storm surge during the May King Tide), and for the first time, Piping Plovers are nesting at Cape Hedge Beach.

SEE PART TWO, JULY – DECEMBER, TOMORROW!

 

PIG PILE!

Although this may look like a pig pile from shore, Harbor Seals actually like to maintain a bit of social distancing while they are lolling.

Letting the younger seal know in no uncertain terms, in the above photo, you can see an older seal fwapping the smaller seal away with his flipper (he/she was also grunting at the youngster).Harbor Seal Pig Pile

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVE, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND NEW SHORT CEDAR WAXWING FILM

Dear Friends,

Wishing you Happy Holidays, good health, peace and joy in the coming year. I am so thankful for you and grateful for your support of our Monarch documentary, Cape Ann’s Piping Plovers, and for the shared love of all our backyard and shorebird wild creatures.

I made this short film for you, mostly for the audio, but there is a funny moment when one of the Waxwings takes a large berry that is a challenge to swallow.

Several people have asked how  do I “see” so many Waxwings. Cedar Waxwings are sociable birds that tend to flock together. They make a wonderfully ascending trilling sound, which once you learn their vocalizations, you will begin to hear everywhere. When Waxwings are at eye level dining on fruits and berries, they are readily detected. Often, though, Waxwings congregate in treetops. You can hear them, but can’t see unless you look to the tippy top of trees. Learn the Cedar Waxwing’s lovely trilling sounds and look up!

In the following short, shot several weeks ago in early December, the Cedar Waxwings were intermittently feeding alongside American Robins, flitting between several crabapple trees and a large clump of native Winterberry. You can also hear the Robin’s birdsongs in the video. The Waxwings are here in our midst, as long as there are plentiful fruits. Happy finding!

Butt shot 🙂

SNOWY OWL BOY IN THE DUNES!

Laying low in the dunes, I unexpectedly came upon this beautiful Snowy Owl. He appeared to be superficially injured (see arrow in photo below).The Snowy is perhaps a male, and on the younger side. You can often tell the difference between male and female because the male has lighter barring in the wing patterning, although the darkest male can also look like a female with lighter wing barring.

Note the sharp difference in wing pattering: The Snowy Owl on the left (Cape Ann’s Hedwig) is most likely a female, while the Snowy from the dunes, on the right, is more likely than not, a male.

It”s not easy being a bright white Snowy against the golden yellow of dunes. The white wedge shapes are easily detected by all manner of harassing critters, most notably Crows and gulls. Flying overhead, too, was a territorial battle royale between a Peregrine Falcon and a Red-tailed Hawk.

In the video posted here, which is part one of a five part series from the Snowy Owl Film Project, you can see the beautiful Snowy that called Cape Ann’s back shore home for a winter is being harassed and dive-bombed by Crows, at 1:00 to 1:25.

More photos of the Snowy recently spotted in the dunes just after daybreak

SHORT FILM – WOOD STORK IN MASSACHUSETTS! AND SUPER GREAT WS UPDATE!

The footage was shot on the Annisquam River, on November 21st, at dusk. I wish it was brighter, but this is what we have to show that the stork was feeding well, flying, and pooping often (at about 3 mins), all signs he/she was in good health.

Fantastic news about the young Wood Stork, at least we have no reason to believe it is not the same WS as our Cape Ann Wood Stork. On November 29th, a juvenile WS was photographed by two observers at a marsh on Sconticut Neck, Fairhaven, which is just east of New Bedford, on Buzzards Bay. The Stork is heading in the right direction!!

Fun fact about Wood Storks – Friend and fellow lover of all creatures Jill Whitney Armstrong had a question about Wood Storks as they are born without a bird voice box, or syrinx. The only sounds the adults make are bullfrog-like croaks and snake-like hisses. I have read that Wood Stork nestlings are very noisy and that a colony sound like a bunch of braying donkeys!

For more information about the Wood Stork that came to Cape Ann see:

Wandering Wood Stork in Massachusetts (Very Rare)

Massachusetts Wandering Wood Stork Update

About six years ago, Cape Ann was graced with another great rare bird sighting, that of a White Pelican. He spent a very brief twenty minutes or so at Niles Pond, before then heading in the wrong direction, north. The White Pelican was spotted an hour later flying over Plum Island.

HOW TO WATCH BEAUTY ON THE WING THROUGH THE SWITZERLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL PORTAL

Good morning Monarch Friends!

If you would like to watch Beauty on the Wing today for free, here is the link to the Switzerland International Film Festival. Go to the festival and click the green box with “Screenings.” Today is documentary film screening day so you will be directed to a selection of docs. Beauty on the Wing is about fifteen rows down. Click on Beauty. If it doesn’t play, copy the password (monarchbutterflyfilm22) and go to the Vimeo link provided.

I think the link will only be good through 5pm EST. The festival changes genres at midnight, Swiss time.

I hope so much you enjoy if you haven’t already seen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

xoKim

BEAUTY ON THE WING INVITED TO THE SWITZERLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL!

I am delighted to write that Beauty on the Wing has been accepted to the Switzerland International Film Festival, which runs from November 22 through the 25th. The festival is entirely virtual and I believe ours is screening on the foreign films screening day, which is November 22nd. As soon as I know the exact time, I’ll add it to this post.

Thank you to everyone who has so generously contributed to Beauty on the Wing. All the laurels that you see in the poster are in large parts thanks to you!  Without your kind generosity, we would not have been able to submit to film festivals

 


With gratitude and deep appreciation to the following for their generous contributions to Beauty on the Wing during both the first fundraiser and current fundraiser –

Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Nancy Leavitt, Susan Pollack, Alice and David Gardner (Beverly), Kristina and Gene Martin, Gail and Thomas Pease (Beverly), Carol and Duncan Ballantyne (Beverly), Sharon Byrne Kashida, John Hauck Foundation, New Breeze Foundation, Jan and Bob Crandall, Nina Goodick, Sherman Morss, Jay Featherstone, Juni VanDyke, Karen Maslow, Kimberly McGovern, Megan Houser (Pride’s Crossing), Jim VanBuskirk (Pittsburgh), Donna Stroman, Joey Ciaramitaro, Robert Redis (New York), Hilda Santos (Saugus), Patricia VanDerpool, Fred Fredericks (Chelmsford), Leslie Heffron, Dave Moore (Korea), John Steiger, Pat Dalpiaz, Amy Kerr, Barbara T. (Jewett, NY), Roberta C. (NY), Marianne G. (Windham, NY), Paula Ryan O’Brien (Walton, NY), Martha Swanson, Patti Sullivan, Ronn Farren, Susan Nadworny (Merose), Diane Lindquist (Manchester), Jennifer Cullen, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan, Mary Rhinelander, Ann Cortissoz, Mark Nelson (Essex), Christine and Paul Callahan and Wasserman, Todd Pover (Springfield), Martin Del Vecchio, Ellen Higgins, Maggie Debbie, Mary John Boylan, Michelle Barton and Christopher Anderson, Lyda Kuth and Maria Letunic (Belmont), Forsythe-Fandetti Family (Cambridge)

FLIGHT OF THE SNOW BUNTINGS

Beautiful Snow Buntings have returned to our shores! You can find them in sand dunes but mostly they can be observed in areas where wildflowers and grasses meet rocky outcroppings and the varying shades of their brown, rust, ivory, and black feathers camouflages perfectly with popples, boulders, and shoreline vegetation.

 

For more Snow Buntings see “When Snow Buntings Fill the Skies” , “Beautiful Snowshoeing and Sledding Snow Bunting Snowflakes,”and “Safe Travels Little Snow Buntings.”

 

Snow Buntings finding wildflower and grass seeds caught in between stones and sand

MONARCH MIGRATION UPDATE AND WE HAVE ACHIEVED OUR FUNDRAISING GOAL!!

Dear Monarch Friends,

We have wonderful, fantastic news to share. With thanks and gratitude to all of you, we have surpassed our fundraising goal. I don’t yet have the total as we are waiting for two last minute contributions, but will let you know after they arrive. Because of your kind generosity we were able to complete Beauty on the Wing with our very professional film finisher, Eric, participate in film festivals, and now bring our documentary to public television. As mentioned in a previous email, 88.5 percent of public television stations across the US will be airing Beauty on the Wing, beginning in February of 2022. These stations also cover 23 of the top 25 markets.

My heart is full of gratitude and thanks to each and everyone for all you have contributed. I would like to give a special thanks to my friend Lauren, who has been extraordinarily generous and who loves Monarchs. Wherever she calls home, she creates beautiful, productive habitats for birds and butterflies, and also loves raising Monarchs (and Cecropia Moths!).

MONARCHS ON THE HOME FRONT

More great news to share – Six in total of the crazily late caterpillars that we had in our garden have flown the coop. Two prior to the storm and four on Halloween at mid-day. One butterfly eclosed Halloween morning but three had eclosed around the time of the storm. It was way too cold and windy for the three to fly. They stayed very quiet, barely moving for almost a week while we waited for the weather to shift again. Halloween morning, I put them out on a sunny patch of zinnias as temperatures were expected to reach the low sixties. Sure enough, around noon time they all began emerging from their deep, deep sleep, quivering and shivering to warm their flight muscles. All four (two males and two females) took off in a southwesterly direction after about fifteen minutes of wing warming.

My friend Caroline Haines shares she saw another migrating Monarch last week near GHS, Sherman Morss shares he saw several Monarchs last week on Eastern Point, as have I seen a number of Monarchs (and Sulphurs and American Ladies) at EP, mostly drinking nectar from the yellow flowers of Black Mustard.

MONARCH MIGRATION EAST OF THE ROCKIES

The first Monarchs have been sighted by our friends Ellen and Joel at their JM Butterfly B&B, which is located at Cerro Pelon, one of the most pristinely beautiful Monarch sanctuaries. The Monarchs arrived just in time for the family’s Dia de Muertos celebration! Roosts are beginning to form around the mountainside.

 

I love this graphic posted by Monarch Friends at Point Pelee, Monarch to Monarca.

MONARCH MIGRATION WEST OF THE ROCKIES

Two years ago, in 2019, 29,436 Monarch Butterflies were counted at the California overwintering sites. In 2020, only 1,899 were counted. So far this year, the unofficial counts put the population at about 14,000 at Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and as of October 29, almost 10,000 were counted at Pacific Grove. Roosts with smaller numbers have been counted at Santa Cruz, Ventura, and elsewhere, all locations at well above the 2019 and 2018 levels. These are unofficial numbers because Monarchs are still arriving!

ANTENNAE FOR MONARCH NEWS!

A group of biologists and engineers from the University of Michigan is developing a new system for determining the daily flight paths of migrating Monarchs. The group has designed a teeny solar-powered sensor equal to the weight of an uncooked flake of oatmeal. The sensor will be attached to the thorax (mid part of the Monarch’s body from where the wings extend). Wherever the butterfly is located, the sensor will record time, temperature, and light. When a sensor-bearing Monarch is in the range of a detector, the data from the Monarch’s migratory path can be downloaded and its location determined for each day. For more information, go here https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3447993.3483263.

Dia de Muertos on Plum Street

Happy Autumn Days! and for a collection of photos of songbirds feasting on autumn fruits and berries go here – A very berry good morning to you!

xoKim

With gratitude and deep appreciation to the following for their generous contributions to Beauty on the Wing during both the first fundraiser and the current fundraiser –

Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Nancy Leavitt, Susan Pollack, Alice and David Gardner (Beverly), Kristina and Gene Martin, Gail and Thomas Pease (Beverly), Carol and Duncan Ballantyne (Beverly), Sharon Byrne Kashida, John Hauck Foundation, New Breeze Foundation, Jan and Bob Crandall, Nina Goodick, Sherman Morss, Jay Featherstone, Juni VanDyke, Karen Maslow, Kimberly McGovern, Megan Houser (Pride’s Crossing), Jim VanBuskirk (Pittsburgh), Donna Stroman, Joey Ciaramitaro, Robert Redis (New York), Hilda Santos (Saugus), Patricia VanDerpool, Fred Fredericks (Chelmsford), Leslie Heffron, Dave Moore (Korea), John Steiger, Pat Dalpiaz, Amy Kerr, Barbara T. (Jewett, NY), Roberta C. (NY), Marianne G. (Windham, NY), Paula Ryan O’Brien (Walton, NY), Martha Swanson, Patti Sullivan, Ronn Farren, Susan Nadworny (Merose), Diane Lindquist (Manchester), Jennifer Cullen, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan, Mary Rhinelander, Ann Cortissoz, Mark Nelson (Essex), Christine and Paul Callahan and Wasserman, Todd Pover (Springfield), Martin Del Vecchio, Ellen Higgins, Maggie Debbie, Mary John Boylan, Michelle Barton and Christopher Anderson, Lyda Kuth and Maria Letunic (Belmont), Forsythe-Fandetti Family (Cambridge)

MAGNIFICENT 214 YEAR OLD OAK CRASHES THROUGH EAST GLOUCESTER YARD

During the night of devastation wreaked by the nor’easter of October 27th, at around 1:30am, the magnificent Northern Red Oak neighboring Mandy Davis and Geoff Deckebach’s home on East Main Street came crashing to its demise. The tree was completely uprooted and toppled by the dangerously high winds. Fortunately, not a soul was harmed, including chickens in the coop, and bees in the hive. The tree fell dead to center between the main house and the little house; truly a miracle everyone was spared.

Neighbors and family gathered to help Mandy and Geoff with some of the more dangerous and inconvenient brush and branches. It may take many months to remove the massive trunk and larger limbs.

How to gauge (approximately) the age of an oak tree from the US Forest Service.

The most prolific oaks in the northeast are Northern Red Oaks (Querus rubra). The growth factor formula is slightly different for White, Black, and Pin Oaks.

Measure the circumference of the oak’s trunk at 54 inches up from the ground. For example, the tree that fell in Mandy and Geoff’s yard is 168 inches in circumference. Divide 168 inches by pi (3.14) to obtain the diameter. 168 divided by 3.14 equals 53.5. For a Red Oak, multiply the diameter by a growth factor of 4 to obtain the approximate age. Using this formula, we can approximate the age of the tree that was uprooted at 214 years old.

For a Pin Oak, the factor is 3 and for a White Oak, multiply the diameter by a growth factor of 5.

The tree may be even older than 214 years because a tree growing in a dense neighborhood or urban environment does not grow as fast as a tree in the forest.  It’s fascinating to think that the tree was here when much of East Gloucester was pastureland and to imagine all the changes the magnificent old beauty had born witness to. Mandy shares that Geoff will be cutting through the trunk to count the rings, so it will be interesting to see how close the US Forest Service formula for aging an oak tree measures up to the actual rings counted.

Hole left from the massive rootball, filled with water.

Tree Growth Factor Chart

 

MONARCH MIGRATION UPDATE AND LAST WEEK OF FUNDRAISING!

Good Morning Monarch Friends!

Thank you to all who have contributed so generously to Beauty on the Wing. We are in the final week of fundraising. I want to thank everyone who has given so generously, not only to this fundraiser to bring our documentary to American Public Television, but also to the first fundraiser we had back in 2018, which was for post-production. Although I did everything on the film up to post, including screenplay, editing, and camera work, the cost for rerecording the narration, sound mix, and color correction was large. Because of your generosity for the first fundraiser we were able to finish the documentary and just as importantly, to showcase at film festivals. In this second fundraiser, your donations are contributing to creating a new edit for public television, marketing and distribution fees, the cost of insurance, and more. A number of you have given to both fundraisers, and I am so very grateful for that. The list that you see at the bottom of the page includes everyone, from both fundraisers.

I wanted to share with you the stunning map that we have been able to license from Paul Mirocha, which will be added to the new edit. Paul designed an original map for Monarch Watch, which he later adapted for the USFWS. He has created a new map for Beauty on the Wing with further adaptations, along with the most up to date information on the Monarch’s migratory routes.

MONARCH MIGRATION UPDATE!

We on Cape Ann have been enjoying a beautiful mini wave of Monarchs over the past week. The butterflies are fortifying for the long southward journey, mostly drinking nectar from wild Black Mustard, the few remaining asters, and other wildflowers and garden blooms they can locate. Thank you to Caroline Haines and Ellen Higgins for sharing your Monarch sightings from Washington Street and from Gloucester High School!

As of yesterday morning, Monarchs at Cape May were waiting for the right winds to cross the Delaware Bay but I think the latest news is that they have begun to cross and have mostly departed.

The first wave of Monarchs are passing through Texas in high numbers and have been arriving to northern Mexico in splendid swirls overhead and overnight roosts.

The truly exciting news in the world of Monarchs is that the Pacific Coast western population has seen an uptick in Monarchs, from last year’s record breaking low numbers, to several thousand at both Pismo Beach and Pacific Grove Monarch sanctuaries.  Insect populations fluctuate wildly from year to year however, the numbers were so low last year, their extirpation from California has been predicted.

From the Western Monarch Count, “On October 16th, 2021, over 1,300 monarchs were counted at the Pacific Grove overwintering site; this site did not have a single monarch butterfly during last year’s count. Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and an adjacent site tallied roughly 8,000 Monarchs on October 20th, 2021; last year, these sites hosted less than 300 butterflies.” Although these numbers are heartening, for perspective, see the graph below to show how dire the situation is.

Western Monarchs at Eucalyptus grove, Goleta, Santa Barbara, 2015

Fundraising Update

We are in the final week of fundraising to bring Beauty on the Wing to American Public Television. If you have thought about giving a contribution and have not yet done so, please consider making a tax deductible donation or becoming an underwriter to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to public television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go hereThank you!

An added note – for any person or organization contributing over $1,000.00, your name will be at the beginning and end credits each and every time the documentary airs nationwide! For contributions of $5,000.00 or more, your organization’s logo will be featured in the credits. For more information, please feel free to contact me.

With gratitude and deep appreciation to the following for their generous contributions to Beauty on the Wing during both the first fundraiser and the current fundraiser –

Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), John Hauck Foundation, New Breeze Foundation, Jan and Bob Crandall, Nina Goodick, Sherman Morss, Jay Featherstone, Juni VanDyke, Karen Maslow, Kimberly McGovern, Megan Houser (Pride’s Crossing), Jim VanBuskirk (Pittsburgh), Donna Stroman, Joey Ciaramitaro, Robert Redis (New York), Hilda Santos (Saugus), Patricia VanDerpool, Fred Fredericks (Chelmsford), Leslie Heffron, Dave Moore (Korea), John Steiger, Pat Dalpiaz, Amy Kerr, Barbara T. (Jewett, NY), Roberta C. (NY), Marianne G. (Windham, NY), Paula Ryan O’Brien (Walton, NY), Martha Swanson, Patti Sullivan, Ronn Farren, Susan Nadworny (Merose), Diane Lindquist (Manchester), Jennifer Cullen, Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Nancy Leavitt, Susan Pollack, Alice and David Gardner (Beverly), Kristina and Gene Martin, Gail and Thomas Pease (Beverly), Carol and Duncan Ballantyne (Beverly), Sharon Byrne Kashida, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan, Mary Rhinelander, Ann Cortissoz, Mark Nelson (Essex), Christine and Paul Callahan and Wassetman, Todd Pover, Martin Del Vecchio, Ellen Higgins

COLLECTING MILKWEED SEEDS AND WHY HELLO LATE, LATE LITTLE CATERPILLAR!

Ripe vessels of beauty promised –  for both the flowers, and pollinators attracted

Beginning in September and through the month of October is the best time of year to collect Common Milkweed seed pods. The packets are usually ripe, or near fully ripened, and many have already begun to split open.

An easy way to separate the floss from the seeds is gently pop open the pod and grab the tip of the floss at the tip of the pod. Hold the pod over a bowl and slide your fingers over the seeds. The seeds will fall away and you are left holding the floss. The floss stays relatively intact and is easier to discard, rather than floating everywhere, including your nose 🙂 To prevent skin irritation, always wash your hands after handling milkweed.

Either scatter your seeds now, or store in a paper, not plastic, bag. If you decide to plant now, choose a location that gets at least a half day of sun. Lightly scratch the surface where you intend to plant, sprinkle the seeds over the cultivated area, and cover with a 1/4 inch layer of soil.

If planning to plant in the spring, the seeds must experience a period of cold for at least six weeks. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator six to eight weeks prior to planting. This is called “cold stratification.”

Saturday I spent the afternoon looking for seeds for a special friend of a special milkweed I’d come across several years earlier. It blooms in a royal rich purplish magenta and is a mecca for many species of butterflies and bees. The mystery milkweed grows in a field where the farmer usually mows  before the milkweed has gone to seed. Not this year and I was able to collect a bunch!

Much to my surprise and delight, I found more than seeds! From across this grand meadow, I spied a solitary caterpillar. How extraordinary that he/she has been able to survive living in the wild this late into October and is only due to the wonderful late season warmth we have been experiencing. With temperatures expected to drop down in the 40s later this week, I gently carried the caterpillar back to my car and brought him home. He never stopped eating while transporting and he is continuing to chow down nearly nonstop. Perhaps he knows he is in a race against time.

Mid-October Monarch Sightings!

Monarch friend Alessandra shares her Monarch sighting from north Providence, Rhode Island.

And her friend Casey shares a photo from Woonsocket, RI. Many thanks to Alessandra and Casey for sending photos!

There were two at the EP lighthouse on Saturday and one in my garden on Sunday. My friend Lillian shares from her garden in the the Niles Beach area that she had 3 – 5 Monarchs last Monday and Tuesday, 1 – 3 Monarchs on Wednesday and Thursday. Hers, as was mine, as well as our RI friends, were all drinking nectar from Butterfly Bushes.

Monarch Friends at Point Pelee are still reporting hundreds migrating through, which portends a possible late wave along the Atlantic Coast as well.

Fundraising Update – We are in the final two weeks of fundraising to bring Beauty on the Wing to American Public Television. If you have thought about giving a contribution and have not yet done so, please consider making a tax deductible donation or becoming an underwriter to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to PBS. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go hereThank you!

An added note – for any person or organization contributing over $1,000.00, your name will be at the beginning and end credits each and every time the documentary airs nationwide! For contributions of $5,000.00 or more, your organization’s logo will be featured in the credits. For more information, please feel free to contact me.

With gratitude and deep appreciation to the following for their generous contributions to Beauty on the Wing –

Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Nancy Leavitt, Susan Pollack, Alice and David Gardner (Beverly), Kristina and Gene Martin, Gail and Thomas Pease (Beverly), Carol and Duncan Ballantyne (Beverly), Sharon Byrne Kashida, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan, Mary Rhinelander

MORE SUPER EXCITING MONARCH UPDATES!

Good Morning Friends!

More fantastic migration news to share – a massive wave of butterflies is traveling through the Texas Hill Country. Although experts predicted a late migration, butterfly observers on the LLano River, at a location about two and half hours west of Austin, witnessed thousands arriving in an early wave. The Monarchs appeared stalled in the face of winds out of the south, roosting overnight in Pecan trees.

It’s entirely possible that the early wave of Monarchs that we saw migrating through Cape Ann this season are part of the early wave currently traveling through Texas!

Monarch good news update at home – the eighteen late coming caterpillars have all pupated and are now beautiful green chrysalides. The warmer temperatures we are experiencing has surely helped these cats pupate more quickly than expected and I am relieved there will be nectar plants still blooming to help get them started on their southward migration. This is a good reminder as to why we need not clean up our gardens in autumn. Late blooming flowers provide nectar, dried flower stalks create winter homes for bees, and leaf litter offers shelter from the cold for overwintering caterpillars and other insects.

Twins – these two October chrysalides pupated within moments of one another!

Wonderful news from film festivals – Beauty on the Wing has been accepted to the New Haven International Film Festival!! We have also been notified that we are an award winner at the Boston Independent Film Awards (they haven’t yet let us know what award). It’s because of generous contributions from friends such as yourself that we were able to apply to and to bring Beauty to film festivals. Thank you once again!

There were several Monarchs on Eastern Point this past weekend and in our garden. If you see a Monarch in your garden at this late date, please write and let me know, and please feel free to send a photo; we would love to post.

Warmest wishes,
xxKim

Fundraising Update – We are in the final phase of fundraising to bring Beauty on the Wing to American Public Television. If you have thought about giving a contribution and have not yet done so, please consider making a tax deductible donation or becoming an underwriter to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to PBS. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go hereThank you!

An added note – for any person or organization contributing over $1,000.00, your name will be at the beginning and end credits each and every time the documentary airs nationwide! For contributions of $5,000.00 or more, your organization’s logo will also be included in the credits. For more information, please feel free to contact me.

With gratitude and deep appreciation to the following for their generous contributions to Beauty on the Wing –

Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Nancy Leavitt, Susan Pollack, Alice and David Gardner (Beverly), Kristina and Gene Martin, Gail and Thomas Pease (Beverly), Carol and Duncan Ballantyne (Beverly), Sharon Byrne Kashida, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan, Mary Rhinelander

QUOTIDIAN SPLENDOR

Bluet damselflies, I have read, are considered quite common. With that eye-catching shade of azure blue, I just don’t see it that way. 🙂

Bluet narrow-winged damselfly Niles Pond

BEAUTIFUL MONARCHS MIGRATING!

There is wonderfully exciting news to share about this year’s Monarch migration. My friend and super Piping Plover champion, Todd Pover, who is also the Senior Wildlife Biologist at the stellar conservation organization Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, shares that there have been thousands of Monarchs migrating along the Jersey coastline. Cape May, which is the southernmost point of New Jersey, is the launching place for Monarchs before crossing the Delaware Bay. Cape May is the narrowest point (approximately 13 miles) where they can cross from the Jersey coast to the shores of Delaware, making for safer travels. After traveling along the New England and mid-Atlantic shorelines, the Atlantic Coast Monarchs wait for favorable winds before continuing their journey over the Bay. In some years, there are thousands roosting overnight in the trees at Cape May Point.

In 2017, after receiving numerous reports from friends and from our daughter Liv of sightings of large numbers of Monarchs migrating along the coast of Long Island and NYC, I made a whirlwind trip to Cape May and Stone Harbor Point to catch the Monarch migration –  See Chasing Monarchs Part One and Chasing Monarchs Part Two – and it was spectacular. The trees in the photos, the Japanese Black Pines, although not native, are a favorite Monarch roosting tree.

Will the fantastic numbers we have seen at locations such as Cape Ann, Point Pelee, and Cape May translate to great numbers at the Monarch’s wintering home? Perhaps yes, if there are nectar plants that will provide sustenance along the way on their journey southward. Only time will tell.

More fun Monarch updates, a local one – I wrote briefly in September about the unusual, but not unheard of behavior, of Monarchs mating during the fall migration. Several days after filming a pair mating at Eastern Point, we had a female in our garden depositing eggs. After she departed, I brought indoors what I could find. Twenty eggs in total. I didn’t want to share too much about the eggs because it gets very dicey towards the end of the season and the survival rate often isn’t great. Of the twenty eggs, eighteen are doing beautifully! We have eight chrysalides, two J-shapes, and eight caterpillars getting ready to turn into a Js (pupate). If this mild weather continues, I have high hopes they will at least make it as far as Florida.

Patch of Common Milkweed Rockport field October 9, 2019

Thank you to all my Rockport and Gloucester friends who have allowed me to raid their gardens of milkweed this past week. One of the biggest hurdles to rearing Monarchs at this late date is finding milkweed that isn’t an orange mushy mess from aphids or has foliage that has yellowed and dried out. But between friends and local dunes and meadows we had enough to cover the appetites of 18 very hungry caterpillars!

October Monarch caterpillars

We are in the final phase of fundraising to bring our Monarch documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. If you have thought about giving a contribution and have not yet done so, please consider making a tax deductible donation or becoming an underwriter to bring Beauty on the Wing to PBS. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go hereThank you!

An added note – for any person or organization contributing over $1,000.00, your name will be at the beginning and end credits each and every time the documentary airs nationwide! For contributions of $5,000.00 or more, your organization’s logo will also be included in the credits. For more information, please feel free to contact me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com.

Happy Columbus Day Weekend!

xxKim

Black Skimmers also waiting for favorable winds to cross the Delaware Bay at Cape May

With gratitude and deep appreciation to the following for their generous contributions to Beauty on the Wing –

Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Nancy Leavitt, Susan Pollack, Alice and David Gardner (Beverly), Kristina and Gene Martin, Gail and Thomas Pease (Beverly), Carol and Duncan Ballantyne (Beverly), Sharon Byrne Kashida, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan

 

THE BEE-SIZE BUTTERFLY

The most diminutive butterfly to visit our garden during late summer and early autumn is the American Copper. With its pale gray outer wings showing when in flight, it looks more like a tiny nondescript moth fluttering by. When the winged beauty lands and opens its brilliant coppery-orange hued forewings that’s when you’ll take notice. If you look closely at the open lower wings, you can see the brilliant flakes of iridescent copper for which the species is named.