Category Archives: Cape Ann

PLEASE VOTE FOR ME FOR ESSEX TRAILBLAZER AWARD!

Essex National Heritage is celebrating their 20th anniversary. To mark this special occasion, Essex Heritage is recognizing organizations and people that make the Essex National Heritage Area (Essex County) so exceptional and I have been nominated!

Kim Smith Designs is nominated as an Essex Heritage Trailblazer in the second category, Connecting People to Place. The 130 nominees are all stellar and most are businesses and very large organizations, for example, the Peabody Essex Museum, Mass Audubon (statewide), and Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, so it is really quite an honor to be nominated.

The voting process is very simple, you don’t have to provide your email address or any other personal information. Please vote for me, in the center column, halfway down in the second category, Connecting People to Place. Here is the link to vote: surveymonkey.com/r/TrailblazersVote. Voting ends soon, on March 14th, so please vote today. And please share with your friends.

THANK YOU!

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AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “RACHEL CARSON” PREMIERES TONIGHT ON PBS (AND DEBORAH CRAMER IS IN IT!)

I’ve been very much looking forward to the debut of Rachel Carson and posted it on facebook yesterday as it is premiering tonight. Cape Ann environmental author Deborah Cramer then shared that she is in the documentary!!!

From an American Experience, “Rachel Carson is an intimate portrait of the woman whose groundbreaking books revolutionized our relationship to the natural world. When Silent Springwas published in September 1962 it became an instant bestseller and would go on to spark dramatic changes in the way the government regulated pesticides.

Rachel Carson premieres January 24 at 8/7c on PBS.”

Visit Deborah’s website for more about her beautiful book The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, An Ancient Crab, and An Epic Journey, which was named Best Book by the National Academy of Sciences, and is the winner of both the Rachel Carson Book Award and the Reed Award in Environmental Writing.

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Cape Ann Wildlife: A Year in Pictures

snowy-owl-gloucester-massachusetts-c2a9kim-smith-2015My husband Tom suggested that I write a year-end post about the wildlife that I had photographed around Cape Ann. Super idea I thought, that will be fun and easy. Not realizing how daunting and many hours later, the following is a collection of some favorite images from this past year, beginning with the male Snowy Owl photographed at Captain Joe’s dock last winter, to December’s Red-tailed Hawk huntress.
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Living along the great Atlantic Flyway, we have been graced with a bevy of birds. Perhaps the most exciting arrival of all occurred when early summer brought several pairs of nesting Piping Plovers to Gloucester’s most beloved (and most highly trafficked) of beaches, Good Harbor Beach. Their story is being documented on film.

piping-plovers-chicks-nestlings-babies-kim-smithWork on Mr. Swan’s film will also resume this January—the winters are simply not long enough for all I have planned!swan-outstretched-wings-niles-pond-coyright-kim-smith

While photographing and filming Red-winged Blackbirds this past spring, there was a face-to-face encounter with a hungry coyote, as well as several River Otter sightings.

female-red-winged-blackbird-copyright-kim-smitrhFemale Red-winged Blackbirdeastern-coyote-massachusetts-kim-smith

The summer’s drought brought Muskrats out from the reeds and into full view at a very dry Henry’s Pond, and a short film about a North American Beaver encounter at Langsford Pond. Numerous stories were heard from folks who have lived on Cape Ann far longer than I about the extraordinary number of egrets, both Snowy and Great, dwelling on our shores.
three-muskrat-family-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithThree Muskrateers
female-monarch-depositing-eggs-1-copyright-kim-smithnewly-emerged-monarch-butterfly-copyright-kim-smith-jpgThere were few Monarch sightings, but the ones seen thankfully deposited eggs in our garden. Thank you to my new friend Christine who shared her Cecropia Silkmoth eggs with me and thank you to the countless readers who have extended an invitation to come by and photograph an exciting creature in their yard.

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Pristine beaches, bodies of fresh water, and great swathes of protected marsh and woodland make for ideal wildlife habitat, and Cape Ann has it all. With global climate change pushing species further away from the Equator, I imagine we’ll be seeing even more creatures along our shores. Butterfly and bee populations are overall in decline, not only because of climate change and the use of pesticides, but also because of loss of habitat. As Massachusetts has become less agrarian and more greatly forested, fields of wildflowers are becoming increasingly rare. And too fields often make the best house lots. Farmers and property owners developing an awareness of the insects’ life cycle and planting and maintaining fields and gardens accordingly will truly help the butterflies and bees.
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Thank you to all our readers for your kind comments of appreciation throughout the year for the beautiful wild creatures with which we share this gorgeous peninsula called Cape Ann.

The images are not arranged in any particular order. If you’d like to read more about a particular animal, type the name of the animal in the search box and the original post should come up.

I wonder what 2017 will bring?

nine-piping-plovers-napping-gloucester-copyright-kim-smith

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Hello Little Christmas Snow Bunting

snow-bunting-cape-ann-massachusetts-7-copyright-kim-smithThis sweet sparrow-sized bird caught my attention as it was feeding alongside a more subdued-hued Song Sparrow, both smack dab in the middle of the road. How could it not, with its strikingly patterned tail feathers, brilliant white underparts, and unusual hopping-walking-running habit.snow-bunting-cape-ann-massachusetts-4-copyright-kim-smith

Aptly named Snow Bunting, and colloquially called  “Snowflake”, worldwide this little songbird travels furtherest north of any member of the passerine, breeding in the high Arctic tundra.

In Massachusetts, Snow Buntings are seen during the winter along the coastline and in small flocks, foraging on seeds and tiny crustaceans.

I hope more Snow Buntings join the lone Snowflake spotted on Eastern Point. If you see a Snow Bunting, please write and let us know. Thank you!snow_bunting_map_bigsneeuwgorsm

snbu_ad_gth1Snow Bunting in Arctic summer breeding plumage, photo courtesy BirdNote

BEAUTIFUL WINTER’S DAY IN OUR GLOUCESTER NEIGHBORHOOD

gloucester-city-skyline-winter-copyright-kim-smithFrom an early morning stop at the bottom of my hill, with a view towards the Harbor and City Hall (as well as a feisty Common Loon), to the creatures abounding along the shore, it was a gorgeous winter morning, and all set against a widely striped and deeply-hued winter sky backdrop.

common-loon-copyright-kim-smithCommon Loon at the pier, swimming very close to where I was standing and seemingly equally as curious about me as I was about it. 

connemara-bay-fishing-boat-gloucester-our-lady-of-good-voyage-church-copyright-kim-smithGloucester FV Connemara Bay

male-female-red-breasted-mergansers-copyright-kim-smithMale (left) and Female Red-breasted Mergansers foraging at the Harbor

brace-cove-seals-copyright-kim-smithThe Lollygaggers

american-black-ducks-copyright-kim-smithFlock of American Black Ducks

female-mallard-duck-copyright-kim-smithOrchestra of earth tones for a well-camouflaged female Mallard Duck

Sky over Niles Pond this morning #gloucesterma #scenesofnewengland

A post shared by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Warning: Graphic Images Red-tailed Hawk Devouring Great Cormorant Close Up

ALERT: Please skip this article if you are feeling the least bit squeamish.

Click on the Read More tab below the text to see all the photos.

red-tailed-hawk-eating-prey-gloucester-massachusetts-21-copyright-kim-smithLooking for Snow Buntings while walking alongside Niles Pond, I came around a bend in the road and noticed from a distance the head of a large bird pecking at something on the embankment. Hmmm, a hawk, that’s why there weren’t any birds to be found. Hawks swooping their territory overhead quickly clears the woods and puts the kibosh on photographing songbirds.

Inching forward, baby step by baby step, the hawk was broad and large, and with its beautiful rust-red tail feathers, I thought it was most likely a female Red-tailed Hawk. The females are 25 to 30 percent bigger than the males, and because this bird was definitely on the larger size, for the sake of our story, we’ll refer to the hawk as a female.

She was intently devouring a freshly killed bird and if she had not been very hungry, I doubt she would have allowed me to move in so close. At one point, after having nearly eviscerated the entire bird, she tried to lift and carry away the carcass with her claw-shaped talons (one of the last photos in the batch). She did not succeed and finding more body parts, continued to eat.

red-tailed-hawk-eating-prey-gloucester-massachusetts-23-copyright-kim-smithAfter a bit, some boisterous folks came up from behind, startling both the hawk and myself, and off she flew to the far side of the pond. I found a stick and turned the dead carcass over onto its back. The head was missing, but by looking at the black webbed feet as well as the chest and belly feathers, it quickly became apparent that the victim was a Great Cormorant. I am sad to say that I think it was the very same juvenile Great Cormorant that had been living at Niles Pond for the past month as I have not seen another since.

Red-tailed hawks are extraordinarily adept hunters and highly variable in their diet. Eighty percent of the Hawk’s prey is comprised of mammals. For example, mice, voles, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, and rabbits. Records indicate that they also eat songbirds, pigeons, shorebirds, and unbelievably so, female Wild Turkeys and pheasants. Now we can add Great Cormorant to the list. Red-tailed Hawks weigh approximately between 1.5 pounds to 3.2 pounds, female Wild Turkeys average 9 to 10 pounds, and Great Cormorants weigh 5 to 8 pounds.

There were birders in the neighborhood earlier that morning, the morning of the winter solstice, December 21st. I wonder if they saw the Hawk kill the Cormorant, or if the Hawk came upon the freshly killed bird and it had been taken down by another predator. If you were one of the birders watching the Hawk out on Eastern Point near Niles Pond, on December 21st, please write. Thank you so much!

MORE PHOTOS HERE Continue reading

Beaver Central!

pond-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithLast winter Liv and Matt showed me a place on the outskirts of Dogtown where they go rock climbing. I filed it away under places to visit during warmer weather. With all things Piping Plovers and filming shorebirds I didn’t have a chance to revisit until this fall. The pond is somewhat difficult to explore, with no trails, lots of viney runners to trip you up, rocky uneven surfaces for falling flat on your face, and loaded with ticks but nonetheless, is exquisitely beautiful. Until its name is learned and for the time being, I’m calling it Beaver Pond because so far, I’ve counted FIVE beavers there! beaver-lodge-2-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith

beaver-lodge-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithThe beavers appear to have one large lodge with multiple mini-dens strategically built around the perimeter of the pond.

log-chewed-by-beaver-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithEvidence of an active beaver pond with gnawed log

The Beaver Family is nocturnal and conducting most of its business on the far side of the pond. I have only been able to shoot a photo outside my camera’s range of quality photo.

beaver-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithThere’s the beaver, on the far side of the pond, blending with the lily pads and fallen leaves

I did manage to take some fun footage, which I will be hopefully uploading in the next few days. One early evening, I sat as still as a stone, for at least half an hour, when one swam nearly right up to my feet!! I am usually filming and photographing simultaneously, but was afraid to make a move to switch to my still camera for fear that the slightest bit of motion would send the creature diving. Also on the furthest side of the pond were a family of the unbelievably beautiful Wood Ducks. That photo is also too far outside my camera’s quality photo range, but at least you can get an idea of their striking feather patterning. More information from Beaver Central to come!

wood-duck-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithMale and female Wood Ducks – notice the female’s large white eye patch and the way she blends perfectly with her surroundings.