Category Archives: Cape Ann

THREE EGGS!

Three eggs in the Good Harbor Beach PiPl nest this morning -hoping for a fourth tomorrow!

THANK YOU GENEROUS COMMUNITY! FIRST WEEK OF FUNDRAISING AND WE HAVE RAISED $12,000.00!

$12,000.00 raised the first week! I am so humbled by everyone’s kind generosity THANK YOU, THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ARE DONATING TO OUR ONLINE FUNDRAISER FOR BEAUTY ON THE WING: LIFE STORY OF THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY!

We currently have one underwriter (with thanks and gratitude for her extraordinarily generous gift) and a number of wonderfully generous contributors. We are more than one fifth of the way to meeting our goal of $51,000.00!!!

Thank you with all my heart to the following donors who have contributed so generously to this second phase of fundraising and are helping to bring Beauty on the Wing to a national television audience.

Lauren Mercadante, James Masciarelli, Sally Jackson, Marion Frost, Karrie Klaus, Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley, Jane Paznik-Bondarin, Paul Vassallo, Stella Martin, Liv Hauck, Julia Williams Robinson, Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, Heidi Shiver, John Ronan, Karen Maslow

Please consider making a tax deductible contribution to funding distribution for Beauty on the Wing. We need underwriters and donors for the next phase, to distribute Beauty to a national public television audience. All contributions, large and small, will be listed on the film’s website and on American Public Television’s website. For more information, please go here:

SUPER, SUPER, SUPER EXCITING NEWS FOR BEAUTY ON THE WING -COMING TO YOUR LIVING ROOM! AND PLEASE CONSIDER A TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION

DONATE HERE

BEAUTY ON THE WING WINS ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD

Underwriters, those donating substantial sums, will be featured at the beginning and end of the film. For more information about underwriting, please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com

Thursday I am super excited to be presenting Beauty on the Wing to the Spanish students at O’Maley Innovation Middle School. This program was organized by Heidi Wakeman. I plan to do more of these screenings and QandAs with young people and will let you know how it goes!

 

 

HAPPY NEWS TO SHARE -TWO PIPING PLOVER EGGS AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH AND THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN DAVE RIMMER AND GREENBELT FOR YOUR KIND ASSISTANCE!

Oh Happy Day! Our amazing Mom and Dad Plover have done it once again. Despite raging wave and wind storms that brought super high tides all the way to the base of the dunes, along with cold wet weather, we have a nest with two beautiful eggs!!!

The pair nesting at area #3 are our original Mom and Dad; the two have nested in nearly exactly the same spot for six years. They are super experienced parents and because it is not too late in the season and if all goes well, the chicks will be approximately 2 to 3 weeks old by July 4th, which will increase their odds of surviving exponentially.

Over the course of the next several days, we hope the pair will lay two more eggs. They will continue to mate during the egg laying period. Please do not hover by the edges of the roped off area; this only serves to disrupt the Plovers reproductive behavior and attracts gulls and crows. Thank you!This morning Dave Rimmer, Essex County Greenbelt’s director of land stewardship, along with his assistant Adam Phippen, placed the wire exclosure around the nest. Encircling the nest with an exclosure is a simple, yet extremely effective way to help protect eggs from predators, including gulls, crows, and small mammals such as skunks and foxes. The spacing between the wires of the exclosure is just large enough for PiPl parents to run in and out, but too small for most other creatures.

Papa feigning a broken wig

I was so proud of our Papa Plover during the installation. After six years of nesting at GHB, he’s familiar with the routine, but installing the exclosure is still a dramatic event for a Plover parent. Papa piped vigorously and valiantly did his broken wing display, trying  with all his tiny self to distract. At one point he fearlessly stood right next to Dave!

Within less than sixty seconds of Dave and Adam walking away from the completed installation, Papa was back on the nest!

We owe tremendous thanks to Dave and to Greenbelt. This is the sixth year in a row he and his Greenbelt crew have installed the exclosures and provided expert advice and assistance to the City of Gloucester and Piping Plover Ambassadors. Greenbelt gives this assistance absolutely free of charge!

Would you like to volunteer to be a Piping Plover Ambassador? The shifts are one hour long, seven days a week, for approximately five weeks, from the day the chicks hatch til they fledge completely. We have a great team of Ambassadors and would love to have you join. Please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com if you would like to volunteer. We are looking for people to commit to cover the 1 to 2pm, 2 to 3pm, and 3 to 4pm shifts. Thank you 🙂

Papa Plover back on the nest in record time!

 

BEAUTY ON THE WING WINS ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD!

We are overjoyed to share Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly wins an environmental award at the Toronto International Women Film Festival!

Last week we were accepted to the Montreal Independent Film Festival. It’s very meaningful to me that audiences in Toronto and Montreal are finding Beauty relevant as southeastern Canada is an important breeding area for the Monarchs.

I hope so much you will consider making a tax-deductible donation. We are seeking $51,000.00 to cover the cost of distribution and only have a few short months to raise the funds. We are looking for underwriters and donors for the next phase, to distribute Beauty to a national public television audience. All contributions, large and small, will be listed on the film’s website and on American Public Television’s website. For more information, please go here:

SUPER, SUPER, SUPER EXCITING NEWS FOR BEAUTY ON THE WING -COMING TO YOUR LIVING ROOM! AND PLEASE CONSIDER A TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION

DONATE HERE

Underwriters, those donating substantial sums, will be featured at the beginning and end of the film. For more information about underwriting, please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com

Thursday I am super excited to be presenting Beauty on the Wing to the Spanish students at O’Maley Innovation Middle School. This program was organized by Heidi Wakeman. I plan to do more of these screenings and QandAs with young people and will let you know how it goes!

PLOVER BABIES IN THE WEEDS

All four Killdeer Plover chicks that hatched a little over a week ago are all doing remarkably well! They are zooming around the outskirts of Good Harbor Beach and managing to stay out of the way of people and automobiles.

Notice the newborn hatchling’s tiny white dot on the end of its bill. That is the egg tooth it used to pip its way out of the shell. The egg tooth falls off after the first day or so.

I wonder sometimes why Killdeers are so successfully able to reproduce while their smaller cousins struggle so. I think being that much bigger helps a great deal. Killdeer chicks don’t appear to need to thermo snuggle (thermoregulate) nearly as often as do Piping Plover chicks, even on the coldest mornings. And, too, Killdeers are the least beach dwelling Plovers of all and have adapted to nesting in a diverse range of habitats including fields, rooftops, parking lots, gravel pits, and grassy lawns.

My what big feet you have little chick!

The Killdeer Plover family is finding lots to eat amongst the dandelions and weeds at Good Harbor Beach.

 

PIPING PLOVER CHRONICLES CONTINUE – My what a week it’s been at Good Harbor Beach!

Love is in the air! 

First things first though; the Good Harbor Beach Killdeer Plover family that nests every year in nearly an identical spot to the year before, hatched four perfectly healthy and vigorous chicks! Today marks their eight day old birthday and they are all four doing exceptionally well. More about this bundle of adorableness in an upcoming post.

Killdeer Plover Chicks  in dune camo

Mid-week we had a rough morning, with four dogs from the same family. The dogs not only ran through the symbolically roped off area as Mom and Dad were just about to mate, the larger of the four chased Dad. The ACO and DPW have been made aware and they are thankfully managing the situation.

We hear so much gibberish nonsense from scofflaw dog owners. This week, for example, “I thought the date was Memorial Day,” or the sign says “dogs are permitted,” or “dogs are allowed after 5pm,” and my personal favorite, “my dog is special.”

   *     *     *

Much of the week was cold and windy but on several mornings, including a slightly warmer today (Sunday), there were EIGHT Plovers! Three females and five males. We are not too concerned about all eight nesting at GHB. This influx seems to happen every year during May, which is peek migration month in Massachusetts. Many species of shorebirds arrive at GHB during May, stopping to rest and refuel before journeying further north. There were also half a dozen Black-bellied Plovers at GHB this past week and I was reminded of the May we had three Wilson’s Plovers show up one foggy morning.

The two new females that have joined the scene are easy to spot, with binoculars or a long lens. Please, please, do not stand at the edge of the roped off area with your cell phone, trying to take cell phone movies of courting and mating behavior. Hovering for long periods is incredibly disruptive to courtship behavior. Trust me, I have seen this disruption during courtship countless times and it only  serves to dramatically slow, or inhibit all together, the nesting season.

Meet our newest female – isn’t she beautiful!

Back to the new girls; they both have very faint headband and collar band markings, one is the palest I have ever seen a PiPl. I am already in love with her, she is feisty and ready for action, no fickle behavior on her part!

The three pairs, plus two odd boys out, are vying for territory. This morning there was a wildly intense smackdown between three of the boys. Repitiously charging, wing flourishing, then retreating, and as usual, no clear victor.

Piping Plover Smackdown. More smackdown photos to follow, when I have a few spare moments to look over the photos.

Dads are nest scraping along the length of the beach; note their little legs going a mile a minute.

Dear Friends, please consider making a tax deductible donation to launching my Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly for distribution to national television. For more information, go here.

To contribute, please go here.

 

 

 

 

HAPPY MOM’S DAY!

Think Pink!

Sharing this beautiful arrangement sent to us by our daughter Liv. The bouquet looks exquisite no matter which way you turn the vase, and is becoming more beautiful with each passing day. The fabulous combination of scents – of roses, peonies, and Oriental lilies – are wafting through our home.  Created by Audrey’s Flower Shop.

 

 

New Book Launch Twin Lights Tonic-Cape Ann’s Timeless Soda Pop – Limited Quantities Remain Order Today

Limited Collectors Edition

TWIN LIGHTS TONIC
Cape Ann’s Timeless Soda Pop

Dive into history of one of the most popular soft drinks around the Cape Ann area Twin Lights Tonic. This carefully researched story of one of the last family bottlers still in operation. Paul St.Germain and Devlin Sherlock bring you through the history and development of carbonated soft drinks as they trace the narrative of the 115-year-old Twin Lights Bottling Company (originally Thomas Wilson Bottling Company). Woven throughout is the story of one Rockport, MA family of Portuguese immigrants who began producing the tonic in the back of a small town grocer store in 1907.
With over 70 photographs included, this lovingly assembled book is sure to delight.
For a limited time, you will also receive a commemorative postcard and magnet with your purchase!

Click here to order !
Proceeds of sale go to Thacher Island Association
Limited Supply Remains, Order Today!!

COWBIRD THWARTED!

House Finch female and male

What’s going on in this little nest with eggs from two different species of birds?  House Finches love to nest in the eaves of our front porch and every year we host a brood, or two. This year, the pair abandoned their first nest of five eggs and moved to eaves on the other side of the porch. When we checked again on the nest before taking it down, three of the House Finch eggs were missing and in their place, a Brown-headed Cowbird had laid one of its own. I guess Mama Cowbird didn’t get the 411 that no one was home to raise her baby.

Avian brood parasitism, or laying of one’s eggs in the nest of another individual, is a reproductive strategy when parasitic birds, such as the Brown-headed Cowbird, foist the cost of rearing their offspring onto another bird.

Female Brown-headed Cowbird

From wiki –

Brood parasites are organisms that rely on others to raise their young. The strategy appears among birds, insects and fish. The brood parasite manipulates a host, either of the same or of another species, to raise its young as if it were its own, using brood mimicry, for example by having eggs that resemble the host’s (egg mimicry).

Brood parasitism relieves the parasitic parents from the investment of rearing young or building nests for the young, enabling them to spend more time on other activities such as foraging and producing further offspring. Bird parasite species mitigate the risk of egg loss by distributing eggs amongst a number of different hosts.[1] As this behaviour damages the host, it often results in an evolutionary arms race between parasite and host as the pair of species coevolve.[2][3]

The strength of defenses and counter-adaptation rely on the host/parasitic species’ ability to evolve; some host species have very strong rejection defenses resulting in the parasitic species evolving to have very close mimicry. In other species, hosts do not show rejection defenses and as a result, the parasitic species will show no evolved trait (example: egg mimicry).

Male Brown-headed Cowbirds

 

 

SUPER, SUPER, SUPER EXCITING NEWS FOR BEAUTY ON THE WING -COMING TO YOUR LIVING ROOM! AND PLEASE CONSIDER A TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION

Dear Monarch Friends!

I have the most wonderful, exciting news to share. Our documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly has been accepted for distribution by the American Public Television Exchange market, which means that within the year, you will be watching Beauty from your living room, on your local public television station!

American Public Television Exchange is the largest source of free programming to US public television stations, covering virtually every market in the country (nearly 350 stations). APT writes that they expect the documentary “to engage and delight public television viewers of all ages who are interested in nature, conservation, and our planet’s amazing ecosystems.”

What happens next? Beauty on the Wing needs underwriters and donors! The total distribution cost to bring the documentary to public television is just over $51,000.00. We only have several months to raise the funds. Please consider donating to the distribution of Beauty through my tax deductible online fundraiser at Network for Good. The link is here.

If you have donated previously to the fundraiser for the post-productions costs, I am so grateful for your generosity. Because of your kind contribution, Beauty on the Wing is doing exceptionally well at film festivals and has received a number of awards. If the distribution phase of the project is of interest, please consider a second donation.

Film screenings and awards to date include:

Winner Best Documentary  Boston International Kid’s Film Festival

Winner Best Feature Film Providence International Children’s Film Festival

Environment Award Toronto International Women Film Festival

Outstanding Excellence Nature Without Borders Documentary Film Festival

Outstanding Excellence Women’s International Film Festival

New Haven Documentary Film Festival

Montreal Independent Film Festival

Flicker’s Rhode Island International Film Festival

Docs Without Borders International Film Festival

The names of supporters contributing $10,000.00 and over will be promoted in the film’s underwriting credit pod. What does it mean to be an underwriter? As an example, when you watch a show on public television and the announcer says, “This show was brought to you by Katherine and Charles Cassidy, by The Fairweather Foundation, by Lillian B. Anderson, and by The Arnhold Family, in Memory of Clarisse Arnhold,” that’s where your name, or the name of your foundation, will appear. APT allows for up to 30 seconds per film and your name or promo will appear at both the beginning and at the end of the film.

Please write and let me know if you would like more information about underwriting, including a complete budget, along with APT’s underwriting guidelines. Email at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com.

All donors, no matter how large or small the donation, will be listed on the film’s website and on APT’s website. Any amount contributed is tremendously appreciated!

Thank you for being part of launching Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly onto the national television stage!

With gratitude,

Kim

A brief overview of the film – Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly is a 56-minute narrated documentary film that takes place along the shores of Cape Ann and in the heart of Mexico’s forested volcanic mountains. Filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts and the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserves at Estado de México and Michoacán, the film illuminates how two regions, separated by thousands of miles, are ecologically interconnected. See more at monarchbutterflyfilm.com

PIPING PLOVER UPDATE FROM GLORIOUS GOOD HARBOR BEACH – AND ADDRESSING SENIOR SKIP DAY

There appear to be two pairs of Piping Plovers at Good Harbor however, after another week of super highs tides, powerful winds and heavy rain, our Piping Plover nest scrapes have all but disappeared. Saturday afternoon all four were foraging in the outgoing tide. Two are our original pair, a third is a bossy territorial male, and the fourth wasn’t on the scene long enough to tell. Late Sunday afternoon found all four huddled together behind mini hummocks and divots escaping the whipping wind.

The highest tide of the spring (on the night of April 16), the one that brought in the heap of ghost fishing gear to GHB and a dead Minke Whale to Folly Cove, went straight away up to the base of the dune.  That tide washed away all active nest scrapes.

Storm tide night of April 16th brought ghost gear to GHB and a Minke Whale to Folly Cove

The high tide on the night of April 29th , although not quite as high as the tide two weeks earlier in April, again washed away all active nest scrapes. Hopefully, the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers will catch some better weather in May!

Note- the above update was written Sunday evening. On this mild Monday morning, I found Mama and Papa back to courting and nest scraping! 

At several of the other beaches that I am filming at, the nests and scrapes have not been disturbed by the tides. Here you can see this beautiful nest with three eggs as it was thankfully spared.

Senior Skip Days This past week there was reportedly a tremendous gathering of kids on Good Harbor Beach, for senior skip day. Thursday morning I was on the beach when about twenty or so arrived. We had several friendly conversations. They are good kids and were there simply to enjoy a fun day with their friends, something that we did not see much of last year because of the pandemic.

I was not in the least concerned for the safety of the Plovers. Because of the super high tides and as of this writing, there are currently no nests scrapes, no nests, and no chicks on the beach. Adult Plovers fly away if a person gets too close.

Later that afternoon, after reading the reports of hundreds of kids trashing the beach I stopped by again at GHB. There were again only about twenty kids. It had become so unpleasantly windy I didn’t stay long and can’t imagine the kids stayed much later. The following morning after another high tide there was only a smattering of cans and bottles half buried in the sand. I have to say, we see much, much worse harmful plastic pollution and garbage left behind on the beach by adults and families, especially after sporting events and parties, and of course, there is the ever present dog poop in plastic.

Party remnants after kid’s senior skip day – not great but we’ve all seen much, much worse…

such as the adult’s dog poop mess left at Wingaersheek Beach, May 1, 2021 

Our community has done a fantastic job in restricting pets from GHB, beginning April 1st, which makes the beach safer and cleaner for all. Joe Lucido and the Gloucester DPW are amazing in installing the symbolic roping to coincide with the Plovers arrival. These actions are the two most essential in helping Piping Plovers get off to a good start.

We are still in the midst of a global pandemic. So many of us have been isolated from our friends and family for many, many months. There will be tens of thousands of visitors to our shores this summer enjoying summer fun. People flock to Good Harbor Beach because they recognize it is a very special place. From daybreak til day’s end, everything about Good Harbor Beach is magnificent! The way the tides and wind change the landscape daily, the most glorious sunrises and rosy pink sunsets, views of the Twin Lighthouses, families strolling, sunbathing, surfing, kite flying, picnicking, volleyball playing, hikes to Salt Island, swimming (especially kids in the tidal creek!), dunes teaming with life, and the wild creatures attracted.

Once the chicks hatch, Plover Ambassadors will be on the beach throughout the day offering insights about the Plovers. I know we can all be tolerant and respectful towards each other and the wild creatures that find safe harbor at Good Harbor. I think it’s going to be a fantastic summer!

Piping Plover Ambassadors 2020

HUMMINGBIRDS HAVE ARRIVED IN MASSACHUSETTS!

On the afternoon of 25th, we had just refilled our newest hummingbird feeder when while cooking dinner a little whirr appeared at the window. He made several trips around the garden, alternately sipping sweetened sugar water at the feeders and nectar from the Japanese flowering quince ‘Toyo-nishiki.’  Like clockwork, for the past several years the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have arrived to our garden in April, while the quince is in bloom.

Hummingbird feeder recipe: To one cup warm water add 1/4 cup pure cane sugar (4 parts to1 part). Dissolve thoroughly. Please don’t put up feeders if you don’t have the time to change the water frequently, and even more frequently in warmer weather.

Over the past few days there has been a burst of Hummingbird sightings coming from around the state. Hang your feeders if you haven’t already done so and remember to change the sugar water often, every few days. Hummingbird feeders are a terrible idea if you are not willing to provide fresh water frequently. Hummingbirds get a fatal fungal infection on their tongue, called hummers candidiasis when folks don’t change the water, or when honey, or any sweetener other than pure white cane sugar is used. And never add red food coloring. The bird’s tongue becomes terribly swollen, they can’t retract it, and without medical attention will starve to death.

Japanese flowering quince ‘Toyo-nishiki.’

I love this newest feeder and purchased it with Charlotte in mind. It’s positioned at her eye level and suction cupped to the window she likes to stand at to look into the garden. The small feeder was modestly priced and bought at Smiths Hardware in Rockport.

Hummingbird feeders serve the purpose of providing sustenance especially during the time of year when there is a lull in blooms however, the very best gift you can give hummers is to provide their favorite plants, and there are many, including trees, shrubs, vines, perennials and annuals.

HOW TO ATTRACT HUMMINGBIRDS (AND KEEP THEM COMING) TO YOUR GARDEN

https://vimeo.com/281869646

CEDAR WAXWING LOVEBIRDS

Here my love, have a yummy bug for breakfast – (notice the bug poised on the tip of the Waxwing’s bill).

Within a recent flock of visiting Cedar Waxwings one pair was courting. Touching bill to bill and animatedly sharing insects and torn off bits of budding trees, we observed the same behavior last spring. It’s very sweet to see. I wish it hadn’t been so hazy but still lovely.

Here is this spring’s pair of lovebirds –

 

Cedar Waxwings are frugivores (fruit-eaters) and they subsist mainly on fruit, although they eat plenty of insects, too. Reportedly, they are becoming increasingly more prevalent in backyards because people are planting more ornamental flowering and fruiting trees.

A courting pair in 2020 –

A beautiful thing to see – Cedar Waxwing male and female pair courting. They were feeding each other, hopping through the branches and passing insects and fruits back and forth.

If you would like to attract Cedar Waxwings  to your garden below is a handy list that I compiled of some of their most favorite fruits and berries –

What to plant to attract Cedar Waxwings to your landscape

Dogwood (Cornus florida, C. alternifolia)
Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontals)
Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)
Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
Holy (Ilex opaca)
Crabapple (Malus sp.)
Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.)
Tall Shadblow (Amelanchier arborea)
Smooth Shadbush (Amelanchier laevis)
Canadian Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
Mulberry (Morus rubra)
Winterberry (Ilex verticilata)
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Raspberry
Blackberry
Wild Grape
Strawberry

HAPPY EARTH DAY AND WHY I JUST DONATED TO GREENBELT!

Happy Earth Day dear friends!

I hope you are doing well on this blustery morning, with temperatures hovering around 32 degrees and wind chill at 19. I imagined these temperatures were behind us and am worried about that one little PiPl egg. Will it be viable after this cold snap??

This morning in my inbox there was yet another awesome email from Greenbelt, this time featuring Greenbelt’s commitment to conserving farmland, with a short video of the Grant Family Farm at Brown Spring.

Chris Grant was able to purchase the farm at Brown Springs because of Greenbelt’s Land Trust program and great use of West Newbury’s Community Preservation Act funds (CPA). The land can never be developed and will stay a working farm forever through Chris and Greenbelt’s diligent work to put it under an Agricultural Preservation Restriction.

I am so looking forward to visiting the farm stand when open in June! For the latest updates from the Grant Family Farm, visit their Facebook page here and website here.

I can’t mention Greenbelt without giving thanks to Gloucester’s Piping Plover advisor-in-chief Dave Rimmer, director of land stewardship at Greenbelt.  Greenbelt does not, nor has ever, requested a fee from the City for their Piping Plover assistance. As you may recall, Dave is also Greenbelt’s Osprey program director – so there you have it, a multitude of reasons for supporting Greenbelt!!

EBSCO and the Law Office of Donald M. Greenough have generously offered to match, dollar for dollar, the first $5,000 raised in celebration of Earth Day.

To learn more about ECGA’s Earth Day fundraising go here. 

To become a member of ECGA go here.

 

BEAUTIFUL BOY OSPREY IN THE MARSH

Dad Osprey taking a break from nesting duties

WHY DO THESE CEDAR WAXWINGS LOOK SO HAPPY?

A flock of what has to be one of North America’s most enchanting birds, the Cedar Waxwing, has magically, albeit temporarily, taken residence in our garden and neighbor’s gardens. Their lovely chattering arrival has become an annual event my family looks forward to, especially Charlotte and me.

What have they found to eat that makes them so delighted? Primarily, tiny black insects living on the twigs, stems, and buds of our neighbor’s maple trees. I believe they are Black Bean Aphids, or some type of scale. If you look closely at the photos, in some you can see the bugs. The Waxwings hang every which way pecking and plucking at the insects and have a technique, too, of rubbing their beaks sideways across the bark, which usually results in a tremendous mouthful.

I am overjoyed that our neighbors do not spray their trees with pesticides. By not killing insect pests, a natural balance is restored to the garden. Your gardening pest is a songbird’s dietary mainstay!

About fifteen years ago, the keeper of the historic Gardens at Versailles, Alain Baraton, was beyond dismayed that few if any birds resided in the garden. He ditched pesticides and began promoting native plants. Now nicely plump bugs infest nearly all of the trees, and the songbird’s have returned! Additionally, “Baraton also changed the practice of planting row after row of the same tree. Now Versailles varies the trees — beech, hawthorn, poplar, chestnut — to minimize losses from disease. This is important when your garden has 200,000 trees.”

If the gardener-in-chief of the world’s grandest garden does not use pesticides, I think we need never either.

Trees at Versailles, image courtesy Google image search

 

 

CHECK OUT THIS NEW BOOK FROM AUTHOR PAUL ST. GERMAIN -Twin Lights Tonic: Cape Ann’s Timeless Soda Pop LIMITED COLLECTOR’S EDITION

Twin Lights Tonic: Cape Ann’s Timeless Soda Pop – Limited Edition Collector’s Edition $24.99

Available by pre-order!  Orders will ship in early May.

ORDER HERE

  • Paperback edition of Twin Lights Tonic: Cape Ann’s Timeless Soda Pop
  • Limited edition Twin Lights Beverages magnet
  • Limited edition Twin Lights Sparkling Water postcard

Dive into history with this carefully researched story of one of the last family bottlers still in operation. Paul St. Germain and Devlin Sherlock bring you through the history and development of carbonated soft drinks as they trace the narrative of 115-year-old Twin Lights Bottling Company (originally Thomas Wilson Bottling Company). Woven throughout is the narrative of one Rockport, MA family of Portuguese immigrants who began producing the tonic in the back of a small-town grocery store in 1907.

With over 70 photographs included, this lovingly assembled book is sure to delight. For a limited time, you will also receive a commemorative postcard and magnet with your purchase!

Proceeds will benefit the Thacher Island Association for their restoration and maintenance efforts of the island.

GREENBELT’S LIVE OPSREY CAM IS UP AND RUNNING!

Dave Rimmer, Osprey Program Director writes the following-

2021 Nesting Season Updates

Please send any questions to dwr@ecga.org)

Update Early April 2021 – Annie and Squam (at least we thought at first it was him) returned to the nest earlier this year – probably around April 5-7. The webcam went live on April 13 and new nesting materials had been brought to the nest. However, we have observed a banded Opsrey at the nest on April 13 and 14, which would not be Annie or Squam. So we will have to watch and wait to see what unfolds here.

Update April 15, 2021 – Watching the Osprey pair on the webcam now for the past few days, we have noticed that the male Osprey has a US Fish and Wildlife Service aluminum band on his right leg. I have banded over 200 Osprey chicks in the past 5-6 years and all on the right leg. Squam was not banded and it is highly unlikely he would have been banded during migration. Plus, this banded male is a large Osprey who appears almost equal in size to the female, who looks very much like and we believe is Annie. Squam was noticably smaller than Annie. About noontime today, the banded male attempted to copulate with Annie. Since then there has been a third Osprey around the nest and much commotion, including a lot of chasing and calling.

It will take more time to determine what is going on here. Are two males competing to be Annie’s mate. Did something happen to Squam or did this larger male just outcompete him? These are all possible scenarios that will unfold in the coming days. Stay tuned!

Don’t miss this TWIST OF EVENTS – READ THE MOST RECENT UPDATES HERE

SUPPORT THE OSPREY PROGRAM HERE

Greenbelt’s OspreyCam is located in Gloucester on Greenbelt salt marsh near LobstaLand Restaurant.

2020 OSPREY PRGRAM YEAR IN REVIEW

PIPING PLOVER STORMY WEATHER WEEKLY UPDATE

Dear Friends of Cape Ann’s Plovers,

Again this past week, our dynamic duo has been busily bonding, nest scraping, and mating up and down the full length of the beach. However, the extremely high tide that rose to the base of the dunes washed out the pair’s nest scrapes and temporarily put the kibosh on all things romantic. The two disappeared for a full day after the storm departed, with no spottings anywhere, not even tell tale PiPl tracks.

Super high tide through the spray zone

My heart always skips a beat after a day or two of no “eyes on the PiPls,” but I am happy to report Mom and Dad are back to the business of beginning a new family, seemingly unfazed. The storm and super high tide left in its wake lots of great bits of dried seaweed and sea grass which will in turn attract tons of insects, one of the PiPls dietary mainstays. There is a silver lining to every storm cloud 🙂

Just a friendly reminder if you would please, if you see the PiPls at the edge of the symbolic rope line or foraging in the tide pools, please do not hover. Hovering will distract the Plovers and delay courtship. And hovering attracts gulls and crows to the scene. Step back at least 50 to 60 feet and give them some space. Bring binoculars or a strong lens if you would like to observe the PiPls from a comfortable distance, comfortable to them that is. Thank you much!

Take care and Happy Spring!

xxKim

Mom’s also dig out the nest scrapes

High stepping Dad, courting Mom

Nest scrape

Dad taking a moment to preen after courting

 

TIP TOP TULIPS PICK YOUR OWN CUTTING GARDEN OPENS TODAY!

Tip Top Tulips cutting field opens today! SEE MORE HERE

MAGICAL TIP TOP TULIPS NEW FARM FUN – COME ON DOWN AND PICK YOUR OWN!

You may recall that I have written a number of times about my friend Paul Wegzyn and his stunning and enchanting School Street Sunflowers. Paul has created another magically enchanted flower experience for the community! This past autumn, Paul, and his Dad Paul, planted several hundred thousand tulips at two different fields.

Early red tulips in bloom today!

The smaller field at 22 School Street, Ipswich, is opening on Sunday, April 18th. This field is planted for pick-your-own tulips. Charming wicker baskets are provided and the cost is $1.00 per stem.

The second field, named Tip Top Tulips (located at 71 Town Farm  Road, Ipswich ), is going to be the show stopper. Rows and rows of beautiful multi-colored tulips, from early flowering varieties  to late flowering cultivars will be blooming over the next two months. Tip Top Tulips is scheduled to tentatively open the following week, approximately April 24th, depending on the weather.

The theme this first year for Tip Top Tulips is Love, in honor of Paul’s Mom, and as with School Street Sunflowers, there will be beautiful photo vignettes positioned around the field.

 

Deanna Gallagher will have her adorable and friendly Shetland Sheep and cows at Tip Top field, providing even more fun and wonderful photo moments for the family. Charlotte had the best time with Deanna and her goats at School Street Sunflowers last summer and I cannot wait to take her to Tip Top Tulips this spring!

 

Fo more information, visit Tip Top Tulips website here and follow on Instagram here.

POOP IN PLASTIC ON THE BEACH

And then there was this at the end of the footbridge. So-called “biodegradable”poop bags that are not labeled compostable, are essentially a rip off and just as bad for marine life as are non-degradable poop bags. Is Gloucester’s DPW expected to swoop in and play the role of the enchanted imaginary magical poop fairy?

Who does this?

 

BANDED PIPING PLOVERS FROM THE CANADIAN MARITIMES, BY WAY OF ABACO BAHAMAS, NORTH CAROLINA, AND MASSACHUSETTS!

On Friday I spotted two banded Piping Plovers and wrote the following day to Dr. Cheri Gratto-Trevor, who is a research specialist with the Canadian government and also the point person for reporting sightings of banded Piping Plovers from Canada. Plovers with white or black bands, and metal bands on the opposite tibia, are from Eastern Canada. Many thanks to Cheri for responding so quickly with with some fascinating information!

Cheri writes, “White 6U is band 2651-85405, banded as an adult male on 30 May 2018 at Big Merigomish Island in N Nova Scotia.  He nested in that general area (James Beach) in 2019 and 2020.  His black flag was faded so replaced with white flag 6U in the summer of 2020 (see, it was worth the effort in a pandemic, Julie!).  He winters in the Bahamas (Man of War Cay, Abaco).  The only other time he was reported from migration was fall 2018 in NC (South Point Ocracoke).

Black flag UU (terrific to get such a good photo of the faded code – you’ll have to go after her this summer, Julie) is band 2231-06500, banded as a chick on 19 July 2018 at Pomquet Beach, also N NS.  She nested at East Beach, PEI in 2019, but then returned to nest at Pomquet Beach NS in 2020.  She has never previously been reported from the non-breeding season, so we don’t know where she winters.

It will be interesting to see if they mate together in N NS this summer!  (Normally pairs just meet up on the breeding grounds, so it’s probably unlikely).

Very much appreciated!!  (and no, we don’t name our birds).

Cheri

Now we can add Massachusetts to their migration route!

On April 16th in 2019, a banded Piping Plover from Cumberland Island Georgia was spotted at Good Harbor Beach. We learned that only five days prior to arriving at GHB, he had been seen at Cumberland Island, approximately 1,140 miles away. If any of our readers are so fortunate as to spy a banded Plover, here is the link with color coded guidelines: Great Lakes Piping Plover Color Band Information. And link to the GHB-Cumberland Island PiPl:

FUN 411 UPDATE ON ETM, THE CUMBERLAND ISLAND BANDED PLOVER

The black banded Plover was very tricky to photograph because the white painted letters had worn away. I tried my best to take a photo with the band in full light, not shaded, so we could see the engraved code.
I wish there was a more comprehensive map that clearly labels Canadian, American, and Bahamian PiPl locations and am thinking about making one.

WHY DO BIRDS LAY BLUE EGGS?

Did you ever wonder why some birds, such as Bluebirds and Robins, lay blue or bluish green eggs? And just as interesting why, in some cases, Bluebirds which generally lay blue eggs, a nest may comprise eggs that are almost white?

The earliest avian eggshells probably lacked color, or pigmentation. Over time, most likely to protect the eggs from predators, birds evolved a diverse range of colored shell markings from mottled brown, gray and beige to rainbow hues from pure white to pale pink, lavender, yellow, aqua, orange, blue, born and even black.

The molecules that cause pigmentation in bird eggs are biliverdin (the blue-green shades) and protoporphyrin (red and brown colors and speckles) but we can talk about blue eggs without getting too technical.

Basically, blue and blue-green strikes a balance between white and very dark colored eggs. Darker eggs are predicted in moderate light to shield the embryo from intense light, including harmful UV radiation. If when eggs are in an exposed nest and the shells are too dark, it can cause the interior to heat up, similar to a “dark car effect.” Simply stated, blue eggs regulate the effects of sunlight on the developing chick (embryo).

This doesn’t explain entirely why Eastern Bluebird eggs range from white to blue green. Many cavity nester’s eggs are white because the adults need to see the eggs in the dark. Wood Ducks are an example of cavity nesters with white eggs. American Robins generally nest in trees or a semi-exposed site and their eggs are blue, affording both protection from dangerous UV light and low risk from heating up. Eastern Bluebirds are cavity nesters but only about 4 to 5 percent of their eggs are white. Oftentimes when learning about a topic, myriad more questions come to mind!

White Eastern Bluebird Eggs

To read more –

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/298798982_Shedding_Light_on_Bird_Egg_Color_Pigment_as_Parasol_and_the_Dark_Car_Effect

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3184/175815511X13207833399666

In reading about blue eggs I thought readers would enjoy seeing the amazing speckled and pear-shaped brilliant blue egg of the Common Murre, from USFWS

Some birds with blue eggs that nest locally include Red-winged Blackbird, Gray Catbird, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, House Finch, Bluejay, Goldfinch, European Starling, Eastern Bluebird, and American Robin.

American Robin nest at a friend’s home

Both Bluebird nest egg photos courtesy Google image search

 

JOYOUS PIPING PLOVER WEEKEND UPDATE!

Hello PiPl Friends,

Just a brief note to let you know the first nest scrape of the season was spotted in Area #3 (Creekside) and even though the following two days were stormy and windy, the pair scraped in the exact location three days later. They are settling in and it is happy news!

Many have written and phoned about the dogs still on the beach. Please, if you are on the beach, and you see a dog, whether on leash, off leash, large, medium sized, or the tiniest most cutest dog you have ever seen, please call the AC officer. The number is 978-281-9746. If we don’t continue to call, there will be no record of the extent of the disturbances. We are very aware of the problem and trying to solve. Thank you. 🙂

On another note, the Massachusett Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) installed symbolic roping at the same time as did Gloucester. We are right on par with other north shore communities in providing Piping Plover protections! Again, many thanks to Joe Lucido and Gloucester’s awesome DPW crew!

I hope everyone had a joyful Easter. Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Happy Everything <3

Warmest wishes,

Kim