Many have written looking for a PiPl update and I just want to assure everyone that the PiPls have so far managed to survive the high tides and very unseasonably cold temperatures. The tides are predicted to be very high this week so we’ll just keep our hopes up we won’t have a wash out.
A first ever for me this morning; I checked on the Plovers wearing a wooly winter weight sweater, heavy coat, and thick socks. The temperature was 45 degrees on the beach!
Super Mom foot pattering
Super Mom is doing especially beautifully. Plovers do a sort of “foot pattering” when foraging. The behavior is also called “foot-trembling” or “foot-tapping.” They shake their foot in the sand, then cock their heads as though listening. The vibrations caused by the foot pattering helps to bring worms and mollusks closer to the surface. The prey is usually a few inches away from where they are pattering, but sometimes as much as a foot away, nonetheless, the PiPl runs to the potential prey, plunges their beak into the sand, and almost always surfaces with some kind of invertebrate.
This seems like such an important behavior for the Plovers to enable them to successfully forage. I wondered if Mom would still shake her leg with her missing foot. Last week I observed Mom foot pattering! She doesn’t alternate feet, as is typical, but uses only her footless right leg to patter and stir up the sand. Her ability to adapt her behaviors to survive her handicap is extraordinary!
Super Dad napping (on a warmer day this past week)
If you have ever imagined the perfect fried clam boat, it would look and taste (and cost) exactly as the clam boat at The Lobster. Their seafood batter is delicious and crisps up beautifully (and stays crispy until the last bite), the clams are sweet and plump and cooked a delicate golden brown, and their tarter sauce is not that sappy sweet stuff, but has a yummy hint of fresh dill.My husband Tom had the haddock boat (he Loved his) and because the prices are so extraordinarily reasonable, we also shared a scallop boat. We are crazy about Cape Ann Lobstermen’s (The Lobster’s sister business) fresh off the boat scallops and have been cooking them all spring. The Lobster’s fried scallops did not disappoint and are also divine, sweet, fat juicy things.
I am so looking forward to trying out The Lobster’s clam chowder, lobster roll (their fresh lobsters are fantabulous, supplied by Cape Ann Lobstermen!) and all the good things coming soon (steamers, I hope). Can you, imagine this summer, dining at The Lobster, with their exquisitely fresh off the boat perfectly cooked seafood while sitting on their beautiful deck overlooking the harbor? We can’t wait!!!!
An added note, we love how The Lobster is using primarily paper for take out, super great for the environment.
Alex at the take-out counter- super friendly service, with a smile. Thank you!
The Lobster is located at 115 East Main Street, Gloucester, and is currently open from 11:30 to 6:30 on Saturdays and Sundays. The hours and menu will be expanding as they roll out the business.
Our neighborhood in East Gloucester is where it’s happening for take out. Between Duckworth’s and the new The Lobster, come on down!
East Gloucester and Veteran’s kindergarten classes were treated to a fabulous excursion aboard the Hurricane II, Cape Ann Whale Watch’s premiere whale watching boat. The kids had a blast and were fantastically well behaved. Miss Daly, Charlotte’s kindergarten teacher, mentioned that this was the Gloucester kindergartener’s first ever whale watch adventure. The trip was so successful they hope to make it a tradition. Many, many thanks to Cape Ann Whale Watch for the special rate for kindergarteners and their families!
The first sighting of the morning was a Basking Shark, which delighted everyone, including the crew, as Basking Sharks had not been seen for several years. Our naturalist, Tina McMahon, is wonderfully knowledgeable as well as passionate about marine life and she shared so much information, I hope I am reporting accurately. According to Tina, Basking Sharks are filter feeders and harmless.
We motored on until reaching Stellwagen Bank, where, to the utter delight of everyone on board, a female Humpback, named Dross, and her approximately two-to three-month old baby were spotted. Tina reported that this is the fourth calf of Dross’s that the Cape Ann Whale Watch team has seen over the years.
Reading more about baby Humpbacks, they are approximately 1 to 1.5 tons at birth. For the first six months, they only drink mother’s milk; a super concentrated formula high in nutrients and fat. On a diet of about 100 gallons of mother’s milk each day, they grow an inch a day and gain about 100 pounds per day! Doing the math, baby Humpbacks add on an additional ton about every 20 days!
Needing to keep Baby Dross well fed, Mom dove deeply and frequently to feed, leaving her calf at the surface. The baby was very curious and came within inches of the boat. When calves are in the area, the Captain turns off the motor to keep the calf safe and to allow the young whale to check out the boat to satisfy its curiosity.
Humpback Whale flukes help naturalists and scientist identify individual whales. The markings on the under side, revealed when the whale dives, as well as the pattern of the serrated edge of the fluke all provide information in identifying the Humpback. Baby whales are not named until they are a bit older and their flukes take on a distinctive pattern.
Compare Mama Dross’s fluke to baby Humpback fluke. The serrated edges of Mama’s fluke are jagged (first photo) whereas the calf’s are smoother (next photo).
In the footage, first you see Dross deep diving for food, with her fluke thrust upward. In the next clip, she has resurfaced alongside her calf and deeply exhales (blows). In the third clip, Mom and calf are swimming side-by-side and the baby does a mini blow. He then dives, but without the upward thrust of the fluke, which is a learned behavior. In the last clip, Mom does another deep dive and her calf dives, too.
The music is the from the album Songs of the Humpback Whale, produced by Roger Payne in 1970. The track is ” Distant Whale.” Reportedly, only the males sing however, I thought the ethereal vocalizing was beautiful when combined with the footage.
More about Head Naturalist Tina McMahon: “Please join me aboard the Hurricane II. I have been fascinated with whales and marine environment since my first whale watch in the early 90’s. I love to share my passion for the natural world and have passengers experience the awe of mother nature. My goal is to inspire others, to instill a curiosity and promote stewardship for the planet.”
Biography and Experience: An Adirondack native, Tina relocated to Gloucester in the early 90’s and taught science for 32 years. During her summer months, she was a naturalist for Cape Ann Whale Watch. Tina recently retired from teaching and is the educational coordinator and senior naturalist for the company. In addition, she was a PolarTREC teacher on a research expedition to Greenland, a member of the Stellwagen Bank Advisory Council and continues to look for experiences that she can bring back to the passengers aboard the Hurricane II.
Mom’s chunkier dorsal fin and the young whale’s smaller dorsal fin (foreground)
We returned last night from Ohio where we were celebrating Memorial Day and my father-in-law, Cornelius Hauck’s, 98th birthday. He is the most charming and kindest person; funny, witty, wry, full of wonderful stories, brilliant, and generous are just a few of the adjectives that describe him. I am writing this to you because he shared several secrets to his longevity. Stay active mentally and physically (PT every morning and walking every day) and a cold shower every morning! That last part was news to all of us 🙂 He didn’t mention this, but I am adding that he only retired when he was about 85 years old! He also eats well-balanced meals and has a bourbon (or two) everyday. We all just wish he didn’t live so far from Gloucester.
Grandpa shared a story about his service in WWII. When he first enlisted, he was rejected because he is well over six feet tall, but only weighed 140 pounds. As the War progressed and the Army needed more troops, they allowed him to serve but not in the usual capacity. He has had a lifelong interest in trains and because he was familiar with all the train lines running across the country, he was put in charge of scheduling soldiers traveling on leave.
My father-in-laws’ interest in trains only grew over the years and in his spare time, he went on to write and publish many photographs, books, and articles about trains, and to co-found the Colorado Railroad Museum, located in Golden, Colorado.
PiPl update –
This morning found Mom peacefully guarding her eggs on the nest and Dad foraging along the water’s edge. I was there early and the DPW hadn’t yet been to clean up the beach. We are so grateful to the DPW for the job that they do, but the crew would not have to be stuck with so much litter/trash/garbage if we enforced our litter laws. Also, dismayed to see remnants of several bonfires. I didn’t make it all the way down the beach; it’s lovely out now but this morning was very windy.
Check out the excellent commentary featured in the Gloucester Daily Times on Wednesday –
Commentary: Creating Commons
“If this land be not rich, then is the whole world poor.”
So wrote Thomas Morton upon his arrival on Cape Ann in 1624. In a treatise published in London, Morton described the coast he encountered as a “New English Canaan,” a promised land filled with flora and fauna the likes of which Europeans had not yet known. Morton’s description of the area’s bounty was not singular. For example, John Smith’s report back to the imperial center preceded Morton’s and John Josselyn’s was published shortly after Morton’s. Such 17th-century writings inspired the English occupation of what would become the New England colonies and the accompanying genocide of the Native populations that had been here for centuries before the first European set foot on Cape Ann.
We begin with a return to this early settler history not to celebrate the violence and destruction it inspired, but to recall how awestruck Europeans were by the abundant natural beauty of the place that we call our home. Cape Ann was beautiful then, and it is beautiful now. This hardly needs saying. Artists have captured its twilight, poets have described its “granite teeth,” and mystics have meditated on its shores. But even as the land has been celebrated over the centuries, it too has been exploited. This story is not unique to Cape Ann, of course; it is the American story of land. On this island, the merchants of the 18th century were replaced by industrialists who then gave way to the 20th century’s financiers, all of them extracting, privatizing, and profiting from Cape Ann’s abundant timber and granite. With the dawning of beach tourism in the mid-19th century, the extensive coastline with its generous beaches led to further cordoning off and construction.
Now, in the 21st century, as we stare down the barrel of climate collapse, we must consider how, over four centuries of European occupation, we have grown so estranged from the land, so out of step with its natural rhythms and cycles. We are invited, in the spirit of the Potawatomi environmental biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer and others who advocate for new paradigms of land stewardship, to consider how we might live in relationships of reciprocity with the place we inhabit and with its many abundances. We seek, to borrow a phrase from the novelist Catherine Bush, “not control, but the agency to engage in acts of repair.”
This is the common cause that unites our collective of artists, avant gardeners, arborists, historians, and thinkers. We are all longtime residents of Cape Ann, and we share an endless fascination — even infatuation — with its local flora. READ MORE HERE
Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) currently blooming at Millbrook Meadow, Rockport
We are looking for a volunteer to take notes during the meeting. Please let us know if you can do that!
1. Decision making process. We will discuss and vote on the decision making process that can include:
CTC DECISION-MAKING PROCESS….thank you to Courtney Hayes for this outline!
OC proposes and researches key decisions – loops in relevant sub-committee members.
OC and sub-committee members conduct additional research: interview vendors, experts, and impacted stakeholders to map out pros and cons of decisions.
Conduct full member meeting discussion: committee members present in-depth pros and cons of the decision. All attending members then discuss and debate.
Vote: after a thorough review (outlined above), conduct a vote by show of hands.
2. Committee and organizing structure (continuing the decision making process). Describe committees (organizing committee and testing committee etc). See who will volunteer to be the liaison for the committee (take charge of emails for the committee, organizing, and reporting back to the CTC group at large).
3. Discuss mission statement.
4. Discuss next steps based on the results of Part 1 of the agenda….including interpretation of the mayor’s meeting.
6.Discuss potential fiscal sponsorships.
Moving forward, if anyone believes they have gotten sick from swimming in/near the creek please reach out to your doctor instead of posting on social media. That was one thing highly emphasized last night and we want to respect that and follow the city’s lead.
We need to create a structured and organized group and hope to do that through committees, voting, and the policies put in place and/or discussed to potentially put in place this evening.
We also want to emphasize our goal to work with and support the city because we are all stewards of the beach!
As always, this is a community effort and we want to hear from you and have you get involved and take on leadership positions! Your voice matters and it is important to have as many people involved with the “nuts and bolts” as possible.
Recently I had a mesmerizing encounter with a Fisher Cat. While walking down a wooded lane we came eye to eye. He was about six feet up in a maple tree. Never having seen one in person, but having heard many negative tales about their viciousness, I was a little taken aback, but only at first. We stood and watched each other for a few moments. He scampered down the tree, ran along the wood’s floor but rather than disappearing, he zoomed up the next maple tree. He did this several times more, deftly scampering up and down the trees, then crossed the road and systematically went up and down the stand of maple trees on the opposite side of the road. In each tree, he poked his nose into nearly every hole and crevice.
This elusive and completely misunderstood creature was fascinating to observe. (I think) his face is wonderfully expressive and rather cute, sort of like a teddy bear face. What do you think? If we were watching a nature film set in an exotic location we would probably think he was extra adorable. He had a a fat bloated tick in his ear and I was wishing I could help get it out. The most amazing thing was watching him climb up and down the trees with great dexterity, agilely leaping from limb to limb. Their paws and claws are huge, again, almost bear-like. Reportedly, they can rotate their hind feet almost 180 degrees, which allows them to scamper down the tree head first, one of few large mammals that have this ability.
As soon as I returned home I looked at the footage and read as much info as I could find. Firstly, they are neither a species of cat, nor do they eat fish. The name Fisher most likely comes from European settlers likening the animal to the European polecat called a ‘fitche.’ I love the Cree name Otchock and think we should make a concerted effort to rename the Fisher. The Algonquin name, the ‘Pekan,’ is better suited as well.
Fisher Cats are members of the weasel family (Mustelid). In winter they have rich, chocolatey brown fur that is, unfortunately, prized by hunters. The female’s fur is finer and the most desirable of all. The male’s fur may have a more grizzled appearance. The male is also larger, varying from three feet to four feet long. The female is generally just shy of three feet long. Based on the fur color and size of this Fisher, I originally believed it to be a male however, at about 1 minute 39 seconds in, I think you can see a nipple.
Two popularly held misconceptions about the Fisher Cat are that they eat cats, and that they make a shrill, shrieking screech. Based on post mortem examinations, there is no evidence that Fishers eat cats. There is however, a great deal of evidence that Coyotes prey upon house pets. And that unearthly scream we sometimes hear at night, that is a Red Fox. Unlike foxes, Fisher cats are not vocal creatures and are only capable of making occasional chuckles and hisses.
Fisher Cats were once extirpated from Massachusetts, largely because of the felling of forests and because of unregulated hunting. Beginning in the late 1800s and into the 1900s, human population trends shifted. Farms were abandoned and much of the former farm land has reverted back to forested land, the Fisher’s habitat. Today, trapping is limited and carefully monitored.
Another reason Fishers have rebounded is thanks to the logging industry , which has reintroduced Fishers at a number of forest locations. Fishers are one of the very few predators that prey upon Porcupines. The issue with Porcupines is that they are voracious eaters of tree saplings.
The Fisher cat is primarily a carnivore. Their diet mostly consists of small mammals including rabbits and squirrels, and also birds. They also eat berries, mushrooms, fruits, and other plants.
I am not suggesting anyone approach a Fisher Cat, nor any wild mammal, for that matter. Rabies is always a consideration. Seeing a Red Fox, which are largely nocturnal, acting strangely during the day would be cause for concern but Fisher Cats are active during both the day and evening.
My ‘lightning in a bottle’ filming moments with a Fisher Cat has shown that they are beautiful stealthy predators, well worth dispelling fallacies and learning more about!
IT’S THAT TIME:
Warm Weather Seedlings!
Starting May 17th, our warm weather seedlings will be available to come shop at the nursery.
Hello and happy May!
We have fully stocked the nursery area with 40 varieties of tomatoes, a handful of cucumbers, squash, 33 varieties of sweet and hot peppers, eggplants, zinnias, basil, rosemary and much more. We are very excited for another summer growing season and are excited to play in the dirt under the warm sun. We have added some new varieties this year so take some time and ask any questions you may have on new items and staff favorites.
We will have sunflowers, and melons coming out of the greenhouse along with some more varieties of zinnias over the next couple of weeks.
If we do get any nights that go under 40 degrees F we recommend that you cover basil, cucumbers and squash with row cover, they do not like to be cold.
A little PSA – the bridge going over Walker Creek that takes you from Harlow Street in Essex onto Concord Street is out for the summer so please re route to using the Sumner Street turn off 133 or the other end of Concord Street.
Also, our internet has been a little slow lately which means running credit cards and apple pay has been a little slow – we can definitely still take all forms of payment but cash or check will make the line move faster.
Looking forward to seeing all the familiar faces and talking warm weather plants!
We have a great selection of hanging baskets and annual and perennial herbs and flowers. Our native perennials selection is stocked up and attracting all the pollinators you can imagine. I saw my first hummingbird today flitting over the Cuphea Vermillionair – bring them home to your gardens!
Hope you are having a wonderful spring!
We have posted all the Flower, Herb and Vegetable varieties we are growing this year on our website for you to check out and get excited for!
Fittingly for Mother’s Day, this morning I watched two Super Mom’s defending their progeny. We’re familiar with the GHB Piping Plover Super Mom who, despite her handicap, defends her nest and chicks with the same do-or-die energy as does Dad. She did just that this morning, keeping the scruffy bachelor from getting to close to her nest.
Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover Super Mom
Later in the morning I unexpectedly ran into one of my best friends Claudia (and a Super Mom herself!) who was out on a walk. We were admiring the ducklings and the beautiful Mama duck when we noticed a male behaving in a mildly aggressive manner. Mama duck put herself between the male and her ducklings.
I said bye to my friend and began to head home when suddenly the male attacked the Mom, separating her from the ducklings. She fought like crazy to get back to her family but he kept attacking , flying her around in circles and down the beach. The attacks lasted about half an hour; all the while the ducklings were sadly adrift and very confused. A second male joined in the attack. I don’t know how she made It back because they were out of sight for a good amount of time, flying in and out of the dunes, but return she did. Mom gave a series of loud quacks and the ducklings quickly scooted to her side.
Soon after a male showed up and it must have been her mate because he planted himself between the family and the two aggressors. The attacking Mallards lost interest and drifted away. It was scary for a bit and I was imagining a call to Cape Ann’s Wildlife rescuers Jodi and Erin, wondering if they take in ducklings.
Note in the last clip when Mom gives one of the ducklings a gentle nudge on the head and then another of the ducklings stretches his budding winglets; they are so tiny!
Observing mini wildlife dramas, especially the fierce behavior of these valiant, yet highly vulnerable, Mom creatures is a reminder of all the women in our lives who are fierce protectors of their loved ones, and who have inspired us to reach for the stars. Rock On Super Moms!
Joyful update to share – Super Dad and Handicapped Mom have done it again!! We have a nest! Our Super Couple has been nesting at GHB since 2016, making this their 8th nest in 8 years. We are so blessed to have this valiant, beautiful little pair of PiPls that call GHB their home <3
Nesting is going more slowly at other areas of the beach. We are consistently seeing 3 males duking it out, from one end of the beach to the opposite end. The females that have stopped at GHB have not stayed long. I think we should keep a strong eye out at Cape Hedge because it is only one beach further north and because one of the females that was briefly at GHB had very pale markings, similar to the female that nested at Cape Hedge.
Based on our Super Couple’s past nesting history, I think we should begin monitoring the Plovers full time on Friday, June 2nd. Please send your preferred times and we’ll make up a schedule. I haven’t heard back yet from Mass Audubon about their schedule but during the meeting, we mentioned to Lyra that we would prefer mornings, afternoons, and early evenings, not mid-day, which seems as though it will work perfectly with the times Mass Audubon field agents are on the beach. I look forward to hearing from you regarding scheduling.
I am very behind in updates and apologize for that! My butterfly and native plants ABC garden for the elementary kids at Phillips Academy campus in Andover needed much attention after a period of neglect due to Covid. This past week, we had a team of FORTY EIGHT volunteers from Liberty Mutual come and help clean up the campus and dig new beds. They were beyond unbelievable. This is a program offered by Liberty Mutual to help nonprofits. Even the CEO was there pitching in, working just as hard as everyone else, digging and carting away wheelbarrows of soil. It was a whirlwind cleanup, amazing, and I am still reeling from the amount of work they accomplished.
This fantastic illustration was shared by our dedicated and long-time PiPl Ambassador Jill Ortiz.
Plastics and the Plight of the Piping Plover
“This submission is a photograph of a poster sized piece of artwork created by students from Hanscom Primary School on Hanscom Air Force Base.
Students learned about the piping plover and the impact of plastics on shore and marine life. Students drew the bird, nest and eggs. They used plastics that were to be trashed and repurposed them to create this collage. Every student then made a shell to add to the creation.”
Happy Mother’s Day to all our PiPl Friends that are Moms! xoxo Kim
P.S. Did you know that we have Water Snakes at nearly every body of water on Cape Ann and throughout Massachusetts? I did not, but became interested in learning more after seeing several while working on my pond film. May is an amazing time of year for wildlife in New England! Scroll through to see just some of the wildlife happenings taking place right here in our midst – – https://kimsmithdesigns.com/
More love in the air- Observations suggest that pairs mate between 88 and 338 times before laying eggs. I believe it after spending some time filming Osprey pairs over the past month, setting up house at locations all around Massachusetts. I don’t think they are always making a “connection,” and perhaps it’s equally as much a bonding behavior.
I love watching Ospreys in flight; to my way of thinking, one of the most graceful flight patterns of all the raptors we see in New England. They have a beautiful way of floating/hovering mid-air over their nests.
Are Ospreys a member of the eagle family or a member of the hawk family? They are neither. Up until fairly recently, they were classified with hawks, but now they are in a category all their own.
Greenbelt’s Osprey cam is up, with residents Annie and Squam and their clutch of 3 eggs. You can find the link, and also read periodic updates provided by Dave Rimmer, HERE
Over the past several weeks, MM and his partner, the young sub-adult, have been seen mating at least five times, as observed by myself and neighbors. One neighbor commented, “they must be newlyweds.” In all matings observed, MM has assumed the dominant position so we think he must be the male. We hope the love birds are making lots of baby eaglets although, its not entirely clear whether or not a sub-adult is mature enough to produce eggs.
In thinking about tiny Piping Plovers and majestic Bald Eagles, it’s inspiring to know that conservation success measures, such as those taken to bring the Bald Eagle back from near extinction, are tremendously meaningful and impactful.
The below graph of Bald Eagle breeding pairs speaks a thousand words –
For days we have been listening to the wonderfully lively and loud courtship chortling of a male Red-bellied Woodpecker as he perches outside a choice nesting cavity. He calls and calls endlessly in hopes of attracting a female.
At long last a pretty female arrived on the scene (at about 48 seconds). You can tell she is a female because instead of bright red feathers running from the top of the head down the nape, as does the males, she has a gray patch on the top of her head and only her nape is red.
She has shown her worth, participating in excavating around and above the nesting cavity. Towards the end of the clips, the male is peeking out of the cavity as the debris from her labors falls around him. Last I checked, it was pretty quiet at the nesting tree and I’m happy to report, the female popped her head out of the nest (1 minute, 10 seconds).
Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat nuts, seed, berries, and insects. Their name is derived from the very faint patch of red on the lower belly, not often visible. You can see the male’s red belly in the clip when he is hopping backward down the tree.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are common in the southeastern US however, their range is expanding northward and they are now seen (rarely) as far north as eastern southern Canada.
FIVE PiPls are currently on the scene! The additional two appeared Wednesday morning, as shared by ACOfficers Teagan and Jamie. I located all five yesterday afternoon. It was cold and very windy and all (except our freewheeling scruffy male), were huddled behind clumps of seaweed, on the opposite side of the incoming wind. The two newest arrivals are definitely one male, but I couldn’t tell conclusively if the other was a very light male or a dark female. (I hope so much he/she is a female!).Super Mom flanked by Super Dad (left) and newly arrived PiPl, either female or male?
At first I only spotted four but then I heard a sharp peep. I thought that’s weird, the four are quietly resting, and it sounded like the peep was from behind. Where did it come from? Must be the wind playing tricks with my hearing. A few minutes later I got up to leave, and the fifth one was resting in the sand about four feet away!
We’re heading into peak spring migration so stay tuned!
Male arrived overnight
I have been chatting with the Mass Audubon field agents in the morning and am just so inspired by these young earnest biologists, so eager to help and make an impactful difference. They are much like the field agents that I meet at DCR beaches, really kind people. I am looking forward to our Ambassadors and beachgoers meeting the Mass Audubon group!
Recently I attended a virtual meeting for the NYCity volunteer Plover ambassadors. It’s fascinating to learn how other urban beaches manage their PiPl populations, both the positive and the negative aspects. They encounter nearly the exact same responses and issues as do we. Ninety percent of their encounters are positive and people love the birds. They have the same negatives as well – namely dogs and people running through the nesting areas and dunes.
We had a wonderful turnout for the GHB Earth Day clean-up event. With thanks and gratitude to Reverend Sue from the Annisquam Village Church and Rory McCarthy from Clean the Creek for organizing the event. Thank you so very much to everyone who lent a hand!!
Enjoy the sun while it’s shining!
Our perpetually scruffy-looking, as of yet, unattached, male
Female of male? Leaning toward female as Super Dad allowed her to rest quietly in close proximity to Super Mom, without chasing her/him away
While the scallop boats are still here delivering fresh plump scallops daily to Gloucester, we are making the most of the fabulous quality and terrific prices. At Cape Ann Lobstermen, a two pound tub is only $32.00!!
Several weeks ago I mentioned a scallop and spring risotto yummy dinner that was a big hit with the Family. Friends have asked for the recipe but I don’t usually use a recipe when making risotto. Last night I tried to think about amounts.
I love making risotto and find it utterly relaxing to just stand at the stove and stir, as long as you have all the ingredients chopped, grated, and lined-up ready to go. I am writing this hurriedly so if anything is left out or you have a question, please write and let me know, happy to answer <3
Do this first – For the vegetable stock, cover with about 8 cups of water – 1 onion quartered, I carrot cut in half, several stalks of celery. Do not add salt. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, and allow to gently simmer while cooking the risotto
1/4 lb. chopped pancetta or bacon
I medium onion loosely chopped
About 1 3/4 Cup Arborio rice
Veggies – whatever you like. Last night’s dinner we had fresh fiddleheads from the garden!, also 1/2 zucchini chopped, handful of snowpeas, 2 ears of fresh corn (kernels removed from the cob), and about six stalks of asparagus chopped in 1 inch pieces.
Butter to taste – 2 TBs or more
Romano or parmesan to taste (about 1/2 to 3/4 C.), grated
Render the fat from the pancetta. Remove pancetta from pan and set aside. Leave the fat in the pan.
Add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Sautee onions until translucent.
Add arborio rice. Turn heat down. Toast rice for a minute or two with the onions, until you hear a crackly sound. Cover rice with Prosecco.
Stir continually throughout. Allow rice to absorb most of the Prosecco. Add about two ladle-fulls of the simmering stock. Allow rice to absorb the stock before adding more.
Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is almost done, still a tiny bit al dente. Add the veggies and more stock if needed. Add back the pancetta. Cook for a few more minutes until veggies are done, bright green but cooked through.
Take off the heat. Add butter and cheese to taste. While the risotto is resting, pan sear the scallops. Our whiz in the kitchen Alex cooks the scallops 🙂
Serve with extra cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
A joy, and surprise, to see MM swooping across the marsh, although he wasn’t too happy. A murder of Crows and one Osprey were hot on his trail. MM landed for a brief second, only about twenty feet from where I was standing. I had just arrived and struggled to get may camera out quickly, but did catch the tail end of the action. How beautiful to see his majestic wingspan. You can see his leg bands in the last few frames.
Perhaps MM simply did not want to be annoyed and that is why he flew off. Bald Eagles are very powerful and it was just last spring that either MM, or his mate, drowned a nesting Osprey.
from Avian Report – Female bald eagles have longer wingspans than males
In most birds, males are larger than females, but in most birds of prey is the opposite. The female bald eagle is larger and has a longer wingspan than the male.
Ornithologists suggest that such differences in size and wingspan allow male and female eagles to hunt prey of different sizes and avoid competition over prey of the same size.
Another line of thought suggests that females are larger to protect their eggs and chicks from larger predators and aggressive bald eagle males that may attack their chicks and female eagles.
The literature indicates that the bald eagle’s wingspan ranges between 5.11” feet and 7.7” feet. The lower end indicates the smallest males, while the upper end refers to the largest females in the range. However, most males have a wingspan of 6.4” while most females have a wingspan of 7.2” feet.
There are over 600,000 bridges in America. They continue to do their job over the years, and many have intriguing stories.
America’s oldest seaport, Gloucester, Massachusetts, has sixteen bridges but only three of them have a significant impact on the history, culture, and social wellbeing of the residents. Their unique function is to provide access off and on the island for thousands of people a day. This is a history of their reason for being, construction, maintenance, failures, and successes over the years since the Blynman Drawbridge and Canal were built in 1643 to the Gloucester Railroad Drawbridge in 1911 and the giant 800-foot steel arch span A. Piatt Andrew Bridge built in 1950 as part of the completion of Route 128.
As Gloucester celebrates its quadricentennial in 2023 this book will be part of the 400 years of unique memories that only these three bridges can provide.
For my pond ecology documentary I have been filming Red-winged Blackbirds at ponds and marshes all around Cape Ann. Only about 15 seconds of footage is needed, but when I began, it was mid-February and their songs filling the marsh was a welcome reminder that spring was on its way.
When the blackbirds first arrived, there was snow on the ground and chunks of ice on the cattails. It was so cold you could see their breath. The choristers perch from every outpost, from the tallest tree to the slenderest of reeds, singing their hearts out, calling to the females. Red-winged Blackbirds are especially fond of perching on cattails; they construct their nests with cattail fluff (along with other bits of vegetation).
In all that time, two months roughly, I never saw a single female once. Mid- April and at long last the elusive females are beginning to arrive. Rather a Plain-Jane compared to the male’s dashing velvety black with brilliant red shoulder epaulettes, underlined in a slash of yellow, nonetheless, she is the object of desire of the chortling males.
Red-winged Blackbird’s nests are well camouflaged in the reeds, and so is she! Look for the females at the very end of short film, the last two clips. Happy Spring, Happy Earth Day!
Please join us tomorrow, Saturday, at 9am at Good Harbor Beach <3
Reflections on Earth Day from Town Green founder Dick Prouty
When we started TownGreen in 2015, the level of understanding of the threat of climate change was not widespread. Yes, TownGreen had some good Sustainability Fairs with large attendance, and we had a nice solarize campaign in 2017-2018 with well over 100 roof installations at discounted prices. But was there a general awareness that our very existence on the coast was threatened by sea level rise, extreme heat, and more severe climate threats? Not really.
Now, eight short years later, the tide of public opinion is quickly changing. I am heartened by the rapid growth of support for climate action. TownGreen’s community education programs, informed by the valuable research from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, brings climate change home to our local neighborhoods and beloved icons of Cape Ann, such as Good Harbor Beach. Our programs are resulting in a heightened community awareness of climate impacts and increasing threats to our region. The challenge now is to identify and implement mitigation and adaptation strategies as best we can.
I am thankful for the large numbers of people who have made a difference by supporting TownGreen. There are literally hundreds of you who have contributed to our annual fund, who regularly attend TownGreen webinars and in-person events, and lend your hearts and minds to concrete climate action. Thank you. There is no greater mission than being in this climate fight to save our Cape Ann community for future generations. We are grateful to be working alongside such a wonderful group of friends.
All the best on Earth Day 2023!
Dick Prouty, Chair, TownGreen Board of Directors
The Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation welcomes Heather Atwood on Sunday, April 23 at 3:30 pm in the historic 1806 Meetinghouse, corner of Middle and Church Streets, as she presents the stories of Cape Ann artists and their contribution to the vibrant artistic tradition of the region in a series of narrated videos. In collaboration with Cape Ann Cinema, Atwood’s videos will be projected upon a large screen inside the darkened Meetinghouse.
Artists have been coming to Cape Ann for more than 200 years inspired by its alchemical mix of rock, sea, and air. Of the hundreds of eminent painters, sculptors, and printmakers who have visited Cape Ann, moved here, or even grew up here, only a few are well known and most have received little recognition for their artistic contribution. Heather Atwood is changing that dynamic in a series of video presentations titled, The Color of Light. In these videos, Atwood tells the stories of some of Cape Ann’s most talented artists, some whose influence has been felt at the national level, but about whom little is known. By sharing these stories, Atwood seeks to demonstrate how rich and significant the Cape Ann artistic tradition has been, and continues today.
Heather Atwood is a producer for 1623 Studios, Cape Ann’s local access television station, where she is co-host for “Cape Ann Today.” She is well known for her exploration of Cape Ann’s local food traditions. For nearly ten years she profiled local growers, fishers, bakers, chefs, and homecooks through her “Food for Thought” column in the Gloucester Daily Times. Her cookbook, In Cod We Trust, celebrating the cuisine of coastal Massachusetts, was published by Globe Pequot Press in 2015. Her stories have appeared in Edible Boston, North Shore Magazine, and South Shore Magazine. In 2017, Atwood traveled the country combining politics and food in a podcast titled The Midterms Election Podcast.
As the cat is out of the bag, so to speak (the Eagle’s location is being shared widely on social media platforms), the following is some information that may minimize further confusion and help folks better understand what is happening with the adult eagle and sub-adult eagle living in our midst.
The sub-adult appears to be about 3.5 to 4 years old and is un-banded. The adult (with the pure white head) was thought to have been banded at a north of Boston town (in 2015 or 2016) and is referred to as MM. Eagles get their “names” from the first two letters of the leg bands they received just before they fledged their nests.
The pair have been constructing a nest together. Is it unusual for an adult and sub-adult to bond and nest? Prior to live nest cams, ideas about Bald Eagle nesting and mating behaviors were more rigid. But much, much more is known now and it’s wonderfully captivating!
MM was perched when the sub-adult flew in. MM gave several loud croaky gull-like greetings. He/she assumed the dominant position and copulation took all of ten seconds (which is typical for birds!) MM dismounted and the pair stayed side-by-side together for sometime afterward.
Although MM took the dominant position, that does not mean he/she is a male. Female Bald Eagles also approach. Both male and females initiate bonding and both may assume a dominant position when bonding.
It’s also difficult to tell by observing. Eagles are sexually dimorphic, meaning the females are bigger than the males. To compare MM and his friend side by side, MM looks to be a bit smaller however, juveniles also appear a little bigger than adults due to longer feathers that help them fly more easily.
Bald Eagle MM and subadult, possibly 3.5 to 4 years of age
Every year, billions of birds migrate north in the spring and south in the fall, the majority of them flying at night, navigating with the night sky. However, as they pass over big cities on their way, they can become disoriented by bright artificial lights and skyglow, often causing them to collide with buildings or windows.
Contribute to Lights Out
Turn off exterior decorative lighting
Extinguish pot and flood-lights
Substitute strobe lighting wherever possible
Reduce atrium lighting wherever possible
Turn off interior lighting especially on higher stories
Substitute task and area lighting for workers staying late or pull window coverings
Down-shield exterior lighting to eliminate horizontal glare and all light directed upward
Install automatic motion sensors and controls wherever possible
When converting to new lighting assess quality and quantity of light needed, avoiding over-lighting with newer, brighter technology
We’ve had several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds passing through our garden and one male is checking in regularly. There isn’t much yet available in the way of nectar plants blooming, either in fields or gardens. If you place your feeders out at this time year, you may encourage a female to nest in your garden. Every year we see (mostly) females, and by summer’s end, two juveniles appear at the feeders. I wish I could see their nest but it is so small, merely the size of a walnut!
Don’t you love this poster for Lights Out for Birds!
A noisy choir of male Spring Peepers calling to the females. Don’t you think it fabulous how a tiny frog about the length of a paperclip can make such a symphony! The Peeper that peeps the loudest, and the fastest, gets the girl!
Lots of folks are asking, “how does Piping Plover Super Mom manage with her missing foot?” She has adapted beautifully however, you can see from these short clips, that it takes much more effort to get around.
If you see Plovers on the beach know that one may be Super Mom. Plovers need minimal disruption as they are becoming established at their nesting sites and Super Mom even more so.
Thank you for giving the Plovers all the space that they need!
In the summer of 2021, one of the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover’s foot became entangled in dried seaweed and monofilament. Over the winter she lost all the toes on her right foot. She returned to GHB in 2022. Piping Plover Super Mom has adapted in how she walks, runs, forages, preens, and even in how she mates. Over the summer of 2022 she and her long time partner, Super Dad, successfully raised four chicks to fledge. She has again returned to her nesting site in the spring of 2023. She is healthy, foraging well, and nest scraping with her mate!