Category Archives: Essex County

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

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

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

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

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

Wandering Wood Stork in Massachusetts (Very Rare)

Massachusetts Wandering Wood Stork Update

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

MASSACHUSETTS WANDERING WOOD STORK UPDATE

The beautiful young Wood Stork appears to have departed the shores of Cape Ann. As far as I am aware, no further sightings have been reported. A week ago, Tuesday the 23rd of November, the weather turned much cooler with early morning temps dipping in the low thirties. I observed the young WS foraging and swooping across the marsh at daybreak before heading to work. At the end of Tuesday, I didn’t see him, nor the following morning when temps were in the low twenties. Daily checks in all his hotspots have resulted in no sightings. Possibly the cold weather prompted a movement southward. Many of the Great Blue Herons that were also feeding in the marsh have also moved on. Perhaps most have gotten the message that it’s time to get out of here!

The Wood Stork has been on Cape Ann for over a month. I first caught site of him swooping over the marsh and into a tall deciduous tree along Route 128. The site of the WS in flight took my breath away. Several times I circled around trying to catch a second glimpse, but did not see. Over the course of the next month, many sightings were reported and by the mid-November, the WS had settled into the marsh near the railroad tracks.

Fortunately, I did manage to capture some footage of the Wood Stork foraging at dusk and am working on a short video. Most of its time spent feeding on Cape Ann, the WS was crouched down low with only torso visible. I really lucked out because the Wood Stork flew to an opening in a marsh tidal pool where I could see his legs and feet in action. This great gawky bird does an elegant dance shaking its feet in the mud to stir up edible creatures. At one point that you can clearly see in the footage, he does a delightful backward turn whilst foraging.

Elegant dance of the Wood Stork

In reading abut Wood Stork sightings in Massachusetts (see story here, of an elusive juvenile Wood Stork on Cape Cod in 2019),  I learned the Wood Stork is rather tolerant of people, which would explain why Cape Ann’s Wood Stork appeared relatively unfazed by the large crowds he attracted:

Mike Faherty, NPR, “I connect with Wood Storks, and not just because we are both bald. They remind me of my younger days doing bird research in the Everglades, where the Wood Stork is one of those birds that, although federally Endangered, could be seen in roadside ditches next to strip malls. Such is birding in South Florida, where the birds are tame and abundant even in the unlikeliest of places. Wood Stork populations crashed from 15,000 pairs to 500 pairs when the Everglades were ditched and drained in the early 20th century, but populations have stabilized enough recently to upgrade them from Endangered to Threatened.

Read More Here: WANDERING WOOD STORK IN MASSACHUSETTS (VERY RARE)

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

Good morning Monarch Friends!

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

xoKim

WANDERING WOOD STORK IN MASSACHUSETTS (VERY RARE)

A tender young Wood Stork has been calling our local mashes home for the past several weeks. Along with a second Wood Stork that was rescued from Horn Pond in Woburn, perhaps the two came in with the storm that tore through in October. Unlike the Woburn Wood Stork, Cape Ann’s Wood Stork has been observed feeding beautifully, flying magnificently, and pooping regularly!

The juvenile Wood Stork is far outside’s its normal range. From a population of tens of thousands, there remain only about 10,000 in the US due to habitat loss, most notably in the Florida Everglades. Juveniles disperse northward after breeding and the birds are increasingly nesting farther north. Northwards as far as North and South Carolina, that is, not  Massachusetts!

The Stork’s striking black tipped wings are so immense they make a wonderfully audible swish when the bird takes flight. Our Wood Stork is really very young; he still has a fluffy crown of fledgling feathers circling its face. When mature, the Wood Stork’s head is completely bald. With his large expressive brown eyes, I think we are seeing a Wood Stork at the age of its max cuteness.

Wood Storks have a fascinating method of feeding. They hold their bodies in a horizontal fashion while stirring up mud with their feet in the flats at low tide. They open wide impressively lengthy bills and anything that wriggles in is swallowed, including small fish (what we have been observing), crustaceans, snakes, eels, small rodents, and in their native range, even small alligators.

There are many herons and egrets still feeding in the marshes and I am reminded of the juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron that several years ago spent the entire winter here. As long as he/she is finding plenty to eat, we can hope eventually it will take off for parts warmer.

The Wood Stork was behaving provocatively toward the Great BlueHeron, which is slightly larger. Whenever he got a little too close for comfort, the GHB would give warning with a grand flourishing of wings.

 

Although the GHB looks bigger, reportedly it is not.

Blurry photo, but here you can see a minnow in its mouth

Wood Stork breeding range map from Cornell

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

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

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

 


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

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

#lunareclipse BEAVER FROST NOVEMBER FULL MOON

The rain put the kibosh on viewing the full lunar eclipse, but happily the skies cleared fairly quickly to catch what I think is the tail end. You can see in the photo below that the Earth is casting a reddish shadow on the lower right side of the moon. The Moon had a lovely overall golden rusty-reddish hue as it was descending over the Harbor and behind Our Lady of Good Voyage.

I took a bunch of photos of the beautiful Beaver Moon over the past few days, the skies have been so cooperative!, and will try to find the time to post this weekend.

WHY DO SO FEW MONARCH EGGS SURVIVE IN THE WILD?

A female Monarch deposits 300 to 500 eggs during her lifetime. We knew the rate of survival for Monarch eggs in nature was low, as low as 10 percent, but recently I learned it is actually closer to 5 percent.

Why is the rate of survival so low? Mostly, because a tiny egg or tiny caterpillar is a food for an insect. But I have always been curious as to what insects exactly?

Female Monarch curling her abdomen to deposit an egg.

Michigan State University phd entomology student Andrew Myers was determined to find out. He noticed much of the predation happened after nightfall. He camped out for three nights monitoring milkweed plants to discover who exactly were the culprits. The night time predators were earwigs, harvestmen, ants, tree crickets, and spiders. The daytime munchers included stinkbugs, plant bugs, mites, jumping spiders, and milkweed bugs.

Tip for raising Monarchs – When you see a female ovipositing eggs in the garden, wait until she has completely finished depositing her clutch and then head out immediately and snip the leaves and stems with the eggs.  If you wait even an hour, many will have already been eaten.

We had a terrible problem with earwigs this summer. They ate every one of our Cecropia Moth eggs and newly emerged caterpillars, despite the fact that the tops of the glass terrariums are covered with several layers of cheesecloth and a fine mesh screen. The pesky creatures can slither into anywhere! Next year, all eggs and newborns are living in the house until they become too big to be an earwig or stinkbug meal!

Note the two eggs above – pinhead-sized eggs are a yummy meal for hungry insects

Stinkbug

Earwig

Earwig and Stinkbug bug photos courtesy wikicommons media

 

FLIGHT OF THE SNOW BUNTINGS

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

 

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

 

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

VENUS AND THE WAXING CRESCENT MOON

Beautiful sky, Moon, and Venus Sunday night.

BUOY PAINTING FOR THE LOBSTER TRAP TREE BEGINS THIS COMING SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 13TH!!

Cape Ann Art Haven is accepting reservations for buoy painting for the 2021 Lobster Trap Tree!
This will occur on 4 Saturdays: November 13, 20, 27 and December 4 from 10:00.m. to 3:00 p.m at Art Haven. It is open to all children and adults. Please register for all that want to paint a buoy. The paint we use is permanent so please wear appropriate clothing.

FOR A CALENDAR OF BUOY PAINTING DATES AND TO REGISTER GO HERE

HARBOR SEAL PUP SURVIVES STRANDING!

Monday, Charlotte and I came across a baby Harbor Seal hauled out in the seaweed at Eastern Point. I was distracted photographing a large Gray Seal that was swimming along the shoreline when Charlotte chortled, look at the baby seal, look at the baby seal! I said honey, that’s not a baby, it’s an adult. She kept talking about a baby, even after the adult had submerged. After what have must seemed like forever to Charlotte, I saw the pup, too, half buried in the seaweed. My little eagle-eyed companion!

Gray Seal

The seaweed is piled high and seems unusually extra thick. Walking on it feels as though you are stepping on puffy clouds. The poor pup looked exhausted and perhaps the drying seaweed provided a comfortable place to gain its bearings.

We waited a bit to try to ascertain whether the seal was injured. The pup didn’t appear to be so we decided to not call the marine stranding hotline and check back in the afternoon. I returned several hours later at 1:20, a few minutes before the super high tide, and was fortunate to see the pup looking much perkier, and shortly thereafter, heading back to sea!

One thought that occurred is that Gray Seals prey on seal pups. Perhaps the Harbor Seal had hauled out to escape the Gray Seal.

Also spotted was a grand adult Bald Eagle soaring overhead and an American Painted Lady Butterfly basking in the sun.

American Painted Lady, November 8, 2021

What to do if you come across a beached, or hauled out, Harbor Seal

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

Dear Monarch Friends,

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

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

MONARCHS ON THE HOME FRONT

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

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

MONARCH MIGRATION EAST OF THE ROCKIES

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

 

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

MONARCH MIGRATION WEST OF THE ROCKIES

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

ANTENNAE FOR MONARCH NEWS!

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

Dia de Muertos on Plum Street

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

xoKim

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

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

AUTUMN HARVEST – SONGBIRDS FEASTING ON FRUITS, BERRIES, AND SEEDS

A very berry morning to you!

During early morning walks it has been a joy to observe the many beautiful songbirds breakfasting  on the array of autumn foods readily available, truly a smorgasbord of seeds, berries, and fruits.

My wild creature habitat radar has been especially drawn to a wonderful spot, so nicknamed ‘Four Berries Corners.’ Always alive at this time of year with chattering songbirds, there is a lovely crabapple tree, bittersweet, a small tree with black berries, privet I think, and two scraggly, but highly productive, Eastern Red Cedar trees.

In thinking about the about the most successful habitats for songbirds, a combination of seed-producing wildflowers, grasses, and garden flowers are planted along with primarily native flowering and fruiting trees and shrubs. The shrubs and trees also play the important role of providing nesting habitat and protective cover. The photo collection is a small sampling, and meant for design inspiration.

Native Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and Male House Finches

A male and female House Finch feeding each other in the Crabapples!

 

Grass seeds, much beloved by many including Song Sparrows, Bobolinks, and even Snow Buntings

Poison Ivy berries – by no means am I suggesting to plant, just mentioning that over 60 species of birds have been documented eating Poison Ivy drupes.

Cattail seed heads for male Red-winged Blackbirds

 

Sunflower Seeds fo all!

Along with songbirds, come their predators. Look for Merlins, Red-tailed and Cooper’s Hawks

Blue Jay preening after a morning of berry eating

The berries of Spindle Tree are the most beautiful part of the tree, but the tree is not recommended as it reseeds freely and is notorious for pushing out species of native trees and shrubs.

Seed heads make great perches for dragonflies and damselflies

Coyotes getting in on the action– much of their scat at this time of year has plainly visible partially digested fruits and berries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAGNIFICENT 214 YEAR OLD OAK CRASHES THROUGH EAST GLOUCESTER YARD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hole left from the massive rootball, filled with water.

Tree Growth Factor Chart

 

BRIDGES BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH – CELEBRATING DIA DE MUERTOS NOVEMBER 2, 2021

I think perhaps because we are enjoying more freedom than we have had over the past year and a half, coupled with delightfully balmy weather, this year’s All Hallows Eve was especially magical and festive. I love how our East Gloucester neighbors celebrate the evening. The surrounding streets become a spread-out block party of sorts, with families and friends traveling in large groups, kids running rambunctiously about, sometimes with the adults, sometimes not, lots of laughter, catching up, treats, and funny tricks. And it seemed as though everyone stepped up their decorations, too.

We love making our ofrenda, not only as a tribute to loved ones that have passed, but I think of our offering as a way to express love for the beautiful creatures in our lives.

Celebrating Dia de Muertos brings back cherished memories of my sweet brother, who died way too young. Our beloved and generous grandmother, Mimi, was an artist who provided tremendous inspiration to me during her long, full, life well-lived. I think too of my husband’s best friend and song writing partner, Brian, who also died needlessly and way too young.

Joyful thoughts turn to the carved wooden creatures representative of a Piping Plover, Snowy Owl, and our crazy, fun, affectionate cat Cosmos, who passed away at 27 years old. This year we added a  wonderfully thoughtful  gift from my friend Mary Weissblum, a very realistic hand painted Monarch.

To add to the magic, the three Monarchs that eclosed during the wildly windy nor’easter, along with a fourth that emerged early Halloween morning, were released. Mid-day on the 31st, the four began shivering and quivering, as if waking from a deep sleep. When muscles were sufficiently warmed, they all took flight in a southwesterly direction.

Safe travels Monarca!

“Piping Plover”

“Snowy Owl”

Cosmos

Beautiful Monarch from Mary

Bridges Between Life and Death ~  Celebrating Halloween – Dia de Muertos – All Souls Day – All Saints Day  ~ October 31st  through November 2nd

#NOREASTER EASTERN POINT LIGHTHOUSE AND MOTHER ANN

Beautiful sunset back lighting the thundering waves at the Lighthouse tonight –

MONARCH MIGRATION UPDATE AND LAST WEEK OF FUNDRAISING!

Good Morning Monarch Friends!

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

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

MONARCH MIGRATION UPDATE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fundraising Update

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

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

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

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

TWILIGHT FROM EASTERN POINT AND THEY ARE BACK!

Harbor Seals

Recent twilight scenes from Eastern Point. And the Harbor Seals have returned! In actuality, they are here all year round. We just see many more of them in the fall through spring.

Niles Beach Panorama

HUNTERS MOON FROM THE BACKSHORE

October’s full Hunter Moon

SPLENDID COOPER’S HAWK – A CONSERVATION SUCCESS STORY GIVES HOPE

Cooper’s Hawk at Twilight

A crow-sized bird, we often see Cooper’s Hawks at the edge of woodlands where mature trees grow. They have a blue-gray back and rusty orange streaking on white breast, similar to Sharp-shinned Hawks. The easiest way  to differentiate the two species is by their head shape and size. Sharp-shinned Hawks have smaller, rounder heads, while the Cooper’s head is larger and flatter on top.

The explosion of Cooper’s Hawks in Massachusetts is a result of several factors. Partly because fewer dairy farms has led to plant succession and maturing forests. Cooper’s nest toward the top of tall trees.

As with so many species of birds, the banning of DDT has also played a role in the bird’s resurgence.

Cooper’s Hawks prey on chickens. They were at one time considered a pest and hunted mercilessly. Because of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to hunt and kill birds of prey, and punishable by a fine of up to 15,000.00 and six months in jail.

Cooper’s Hawks also prey on squirrels, pigeons, starlings, and sparrows, all of which are abundant in suburban and urban environments. With their ability to adapt to human behaviors and habitats, Cooper’s Hawks, Barred Owls, and Red-tailed Hawks are rapidly expanding their breeding range in Massachusetts. In thinking about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and in banning dangerous chemicals that harm wildlife, it gives hope to think about how changes in our laws and behavior have had a profoundly positive impact on these three beautiful species.

Most Cooper’s Hawks migrate south for the winter but increasingly more and more are choosing to overwinter in Massachusetts.

Cooper’s Hawk range map

THE DIFFERENTIAL GRASSHOPPER

I am not entirely certain, but I think the species name of this grasshopper is the Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis). Whatever the species, he’s pretty charming, and so well-camouflaged!!

 

While poking around looking for information about grasshoppers, I came across this fascinating article about how a chemical in the grasshopper’s brain changes the creature from harmless to a swarming locust : https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/a-brain-chemical-changes-locusts-from-harmless-grasshoppers-to-swarming-pests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mid-October Monarch Sightings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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