Category Archives: Cape Ann Wildlife

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.)

THE GREAT EGRET’S SHOWER OF WHITE

The Great Egret’s beautiful shower of white feathers and plume hunter’s greed nearly caused this most elegant of creatures to become exterminated in North America. Because of  the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) in 1918, slowly but steadily, the Great Egret is recovering. An increasing number of pairs are breeding today in Massachusetts.

A chance encounter and a joy to observe this Great Egret, floofing, poofing, and preening after a day hunting in the marsh. 

The MBTA states that it is unlawful to kill, hunt, sell, or possess most native species of birds in the United States without a permit and it is one of our nation’s most foundational conservation laws.

Birds Protected Under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act

USFWS: Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 implements four international conservation treaties that the U.S. entered into with Canada in 1916Mexico in 1936Japan in 1972, and Russia in 1976. It is intended to ensure the sustainability of populations of all protected migratory bird species.

The law has been amended with the signing of each treaty, as well as when any of the treaties were amended, such as with Mexico in 1976 and Canada in 1995.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) prohibits the take (including killing, capturing, selling, trading, and transport) of protected migratory bird species without prior authorization by the Department of Interior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The List of Migratory Bird Species Protected by the MBTA

The list of migratory bird species protected by the law is primarily based on bird families and species included in the four international treaties. In the Code of Federal Regulations one can locate this list under Title 50 Part 10.13 (10.13 list). The 10.13 list was updated in 2020, incorporating the most current scientific information on taxonomy and natural distribution. The list is also available in a downloadable Microsoft Excel file.

A migratory bird species is included on the list if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. It occurs in the United States or U.S. territories as the result of natural biological or ecological processes and is currently, or was previously listed as, a species or part of a family protected by one of the four international treaties or their amendments.
  2. Revised taxonomy results in it being newly split from a species that was previously on the list, and the new species occurs in the United States or U.S. territories as the result of natural biological or ecological processes.
  3. New evidence exists for its natural occurrence in the United States or U.S. territories resulting from natural distributional changes and the species occurs in a protected family.

 

CEDAR ROCK GARDENS HAS FRUIT PLANTS AND NATIVE PERENNIALS!

Fruit plants are out and available for sale along with other edible Perennials!

Blueberries
Strawberries
Raspberries
Elderberries
Rhubarb
Asparagus

We also have plenty of perennials and natives that are ready to go in the ground now.

Mark your Calendars:

Warm Weather seedlings will begin to be available
May 18th!

This includes Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, basil, loads of flowers and so much more!

Cedar Rock Gardens is located in West Gloucester at 299 Concord Street.

Cedar Rock Gardens is carrying both Asclepias (milkweed) and Eupatorium (Joe-pye). Both of these wildflowers are two of the best plants for supporting native pollinators and creating a wildlife friendly garden.

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

#savesaltisland CONSERVATION MEETING POSTPONED ONCE AGAIN

Save Salt Island Friends Jayne and Andy write,

Hello protectors of Salt Island,

The agenda for the Conservation Commission meeting tonight, Wednesday April 20th, has been updated and the proponents of RDA-1703 Salt Island have requested a continuance to May 4, 2022.  The administrative record for this application has also been moved from April 20, 2022 to May 4, 2022.

Andy and I are still planning to attend to observe the vote of the request for continuation, but based on all of the past meetings, it will likely pass.  We are letting you know since your time is valuable and it would be unfortunate to have you attend unnecessarily.  Of course, if you still want to attend… GREAT!  We will continue to watch for any changes to the application between now and May 5th.

Thank you again for your patience and perseverance.

Warm regards,

Jayne and Andy

Martignetti’s plan drawing for Salt Island McMansion (Martignetti Family now called Salt Island LLC)

 

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.

HAPPY EASTER, HAPPY PASSOVER, JOYFUL SPRING!

Wishing dear friends and readers Happy Easter, Happy Passover, and a Joy-filled Spring 

Beauty everywhere you turn in these first few weeks of spring – the return of songbirds, shorebirds, and Osprey, blossoming trees, beach bunnies, and garden helpers.

Beach bunny, Piping Plovers courting, neighbor Melissa’s flowering plum tree, Charlotte, Osprey, Killdeer eggs, Piping Plover eggs, Cedar Waxwings courting, and male Eastern Bluebird wing waving

EASTER SUNRISE

Easter sunrise over Good Harbor Beach Salt Island

THANK YOU MAYOR VERGA, AC OFFICERS JAMIE AND TEAGAN, MARK COLE, JOE LUCIDO, AND THE GLOUCESTER DPW CREW!

Speaking on behalf of the Piping Plover Ambassadors, we would like to thank Mayor Verga, Mark Cole, Joe Lucido, and the Gloucester DPW Crew, and Animal Control Officers Jamie and Teagan for helping to protect our Cape Ann Plovers. We are grateful and so appreciate their very timely efforts.

The many recent actions we are grateful for –

All the roping is now in place at areas #1, #2, and #3. Hooray!! Why is this action so important? It gives the Plovers safe space to court and to nest. Plovers will rebuild their nest up to five times. If they have safe spaces from the get go, chances are they will nest earlier in the season and be on their way before the beach gets crazy busy with people enjoying the beach.

DPW Crew installing the symbolically roped off area on Wednesday, April 13th

We are grateful that Officers Teagan Dolan and Jamie Eastman are daily patrolling the beach  at varying times. For the same reason the roping needs to go up early, the earlier in the season the dogs are off the beach, the safer it is for Plovers, along with the many shorebirds stopping over at Good Harbor Beach on their annual northward migration.

We are so appreciative of the signs now in place, both the endangered species signs on the cordoned off areas and the No Dogs signs at entrances to the beach and parking lots.

If you are heading to Good Harbor Beach, you can’t help but notice the blinking sign in the road near the intersection of Beach and Nautilus Roads. The sign will greatly help the AC Officers who often hear, “I didn’t know”, or “I didn’t’ see the (large screaming yellow) sign at the footbridge. The fine is $300.00 for each dog off leash and doubled if the dog charges through the clearly marked nesting area. Why the hefty fine? Because the City will be held accountable by state and federal agencies for any threatened or endangered bird that is killed or injured at Good Harbor Beach. A fine of $25,000.00 or more could be levied against the community if a bird listed as threatened or endangered is killed by a dog, person, or stray ball.

Again, we can’t thank enough Mayor Verga, Mark Cole, Joe Lucido, Gloucester’s ACOs, and entire DPW crew for their consideration and kind help protecting the Plovers!

Piping Plover love stories update –

The very pale female that was the first to arrive only stayed for a few days. She was followed by the Three Bachelors. A Bachelorette joined the scene over the weekend and paired up with Bachelor #3.

We now have one sweet couple attentively courting and nest scraping.

We’ve temporarily lost sight of Bachelors #1 and #2 but the precocious and Interfering Sanderling is still on the scene. The situation is fluid and we expect more PiPls will be arriving in the coming days. 

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

Today’s Pea Soup Fog

Beach House construction underway – don’t you think this dried grass will add greatly to the decor honey?

 

 

 

 

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

If you no longer wish to receive Plover updates please write and let me know 🙂

OH JOYOUS SPRING!

Happy Spring dear Friends!

Please forgive me if I am slow to respond to your notes, emails, and kind comments. I am so sorry about that but am spending every spare minute on the Piping Plover film project, creating the first rough cut while converting six plus years of footage. And uncovering wonderful clips of these extraordinary creatures, some I am just seeing for the first time since shooting! Not an easy task but I am so inspired and full of joy for this project, trying not to become overwhelmed, and taking it one chunk at a time, literally “bird by bird,” as Anne Lamott would say.

From daily walks, a mini migration update –

Gadwall female

Gadwall and American Wigeon pairs abound. Both in the genus Mareca, they share similar foraging habits when here on our shores and can often be seen dabbling for sea vegetation together.  The Orange-crowned Warbler was still with us as of mid-week last, as well as the trio of American Pipits. The very first of the Great Egrets have been spotted and Killdeers are coming in strong. The first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will be here any day now; at the time of this writing they have migrated as far north as North Carolina

Have you noticed the Weeping Willows branches are turning bright yellow? In the next phase they will become chartreuse. For me it it one of the earliest, earliest indicators that trees are starting to emerge from dormancy. And our magnolia buds are beginning to swell, too. Please write with your favorite early signs of spring and I’ll make a post of them.

xxKim

Male and Female Gadwalls, American Wigeons, Black Ducks, and Buffleheads foraging for aquatic vegetation

More spring scenes

Eastern Screech Owl in camo, possibly brown morph 

Owl on the prowl

White-tailed Deer at Dusk

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler preening

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.