Best of Essex Awards – Essex County Greenbelt Association | Land Conservation
The Essex County Greenbelt Association has been selected as the Winner for the 2021 Best of Essex Awards in the category of Non-Profit Organization. Notice to other winners in Essex is happening over the next few weeks. The entire list of winners will be posted after all recipients have been contacted.
Consistently when out in fields, I see Bluebird pairs that appear strongly committed to each other. I wondered, do Bluebirds mate forever? In our region, we see Eastern Bluebirds. Ornithologists found from a long term study of Western Bluebirds that the great majority stay together for life. No such studies exist for Eastern Bluebirds however, field observations suggest that about 95 percent mate for life when both are still alive.
Eastern Bluebird female, left, male, right
Interestingly though, mating for life does not exclude extra pair copulations. Genetic studies of broods show that about twenty percent of nestlings are sired by more than one male.
Pairs softly warble to each other early in the morning, the male brings nesting material to a chosen site, and once she has entered his nesting cavity, she will begin to bring nesting material and he will bring food to her to “seal the deal.” In our north of Boston region, you can see the courtship behavior beginning as early as February and March.
Eastern Bluebirds re-mate with another partner if one dies.
In the photos below, it’s very easy to see the difference between a male and female Bluebird. The female’s blue is a more subdued grayish hue while the male’s blue feathers are brilliantly hued.
Lovely update from the Gloucester Daily Times Gail McCarthy for Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. So many thanks to the Times for their continued support for BotWing. I am so grateful and appreciative!
AROUND CAPE ANN: Local artists earn accolades
Around Cape Ann Gail McCarthy January 14, 2020
Gloucester’s Kim Smith, who boasts a love of nature, photography and all things art, has found growing recognition for her film “Beauty on the Wing,” about the life of the monarch butterfly and its intercontinental migration from Canada to Mexico.
Smith spent more than eight years researching and documenting the natural phenomenon, whose more than 3,000 miles includes Cape Ann.
This fall, her documentary was accepted into the Boston International Kids Film Festival, where it earned an award for best documentary.
More recently, “Beauty on the Wing” received an Award of Excellence from the Nature Without Borders International Film Festival and was accepted as an official selection to the Providence Children’s Film Festival, which takes place in February.
“I am overjoyed that ‘Beauty on the Wing’ is finding acceptance at both children’s and conservation festivals; that jurors see it as it was meant to be, a conservation film for people of all ages,” Smith said.
Rockport artist Susan Lynn won the grand prize at the EnPleinAirTEXAS competition with her painting titled “Peace on the River.”
“It was overwhelming to get the grand prize because there is a stellar group of painters in that competition every year,” she said. “It was humbling, and I was very honored to be recognized in that group.”
With thanks to David Brooks, Shawn Henry, Three Lanterns, Traci Thayne Corbett, Cape Ann Art Haven, Jason Burroughs, Gregg Cademartori, David DeAngelis, Andrew Nicastro, Josh Oliver, George Schlichte, Gloucester Fire Department, Mayor Sefatia Romeo-Theken, Ken Riehl, Jill Cahill, and the Buoy Painters.
Music by Telamor – “Christmas Party,” permission granted by the artist
We in Essex County are so incredibly blessed to have Greenbelt working so hard to conserve beautiful green space throughout the region. Check out this super video to get an overview of just some of the good work that has taken place this past year.
From Greenbelt, “Join Greenbelt President, Kate Bowditch, as she reviews Greenbelt’s challenges and accomplishments this past year. Thank you for your continued support of our organization!”
If you’d like to make a donation in support of Greenbelt, please visit ecga.org/annualfundBluebird nesting box Greenbelt Ipswich
Piping Plover Dad and Marshmallow Good Harbor Beach
My daughter Liv and I had wonderful day off day trip. We left before sunrise this morning and mostly took the scenic way up to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine. Wonderfully delicious to-go breakfast bennies were had at St. Joe’s Coffee Shop in York and divine (classic) lobster rolls at Barnacle Billy’s, Perkins Cove in Ogunquit (also to-go),. Everywhere we stopped along the way, most people were wearing masks and being Covid-safe. Feeling blessed to have my daughter home <3
Trails and Sails offers many self-guided tours and virtual events. The event runs from September 18th through September 27th. Visit their website here for a calendar of events
What is Trails & Sails?
Entering into its 19th year, Trails & Sails is an event series that brings awareness and appreciation for heritage resources around the county. Historically, Trails & Sails has focused on outdoor activities such as guided hikes and excursions on the water but over the years the event series has grown to include tours of historic houses, lectures on Essex County history, and demonstrations for cultural activities.
Located in our East Gloucester neighborhood is a rare bit of New England coastal habitat called a Relic Sandplain Grassland or Open Heathland (see below to read more about Sandplain Grasslands). I love walking there in the early morning when the light is especially beautiful. The native flora attracts a wide array of wildlife, including favorite songbirds, skippers, butterflies, hawks, and Eastern Coyotes.
Eastern Coyote (Canis latrans) Seine Field
Earlier in the summer on an evocatively lit semi-foggy morning I went to photograph. The sun was pouring long shooting rays through the atmosphere and it was stunning to see.
Several weeks later I went again on a foggy morning and was delighted to find the field shrouded in seine nets. Called Seine Field because during the 19th and 20th centuries, fisherman laid out their seine nets across the expansive field to dry and to repair.
Seine nets were used by Gloucester’s seiner boat fishermen, the same type of boats we see during Fiesta: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. The field is still used by local fishermen and it was totally random and by chance when I was there while in use.
Gloucester Seine Boats
In 2018, Essex Greenbelt applied for, and received, a Community Preservation Act grant to improve the quarter mile trail. The wide, newly graded walkway provides accessibility for most and I especially love it because ever since I had complications from a tick bite, I don’t feel much like traipsing through grass and dense vegetation, particularly during the summer months, and especially when with Charlotte (she loves Seine Field, too!). The trail is fantastic for adults and young children alike.
Seine Field is managed by Essex County Greenbelt Association and is located on Farrington Avenue in Gloucester. For more information about ECGA and to learn how you can be come involved follow this link: Essex County Greenbelt Association
Sandplain Grasslands are open, essentially treeless, grass dominated communities that generally occur on sand or other dry, poor soils; Occurrences are maintained by fire, salt spray, and, now, mowing.
Differentiating from Related Communities: Sandplain Grasslands are part of a structural and successional continuum with other coastal communities. When communities are not distinct the best fit should be named. Sandplain Heathlands and Sandplain Grasslands share ~70% of their dominant species: the proportions of the species and the community structure separate the types. Sandplain Heathlands look shrubbier with a taller shrub layer comprised of scrub oak, black huckleberry, and/or lowbush blueberry, and overall have fewer plant species. Both Sandplain Grasslands and Maritime Dune Communities have grasses, forbs, and low shrubs, with patches of bare soil. Dune communities are often dominated by beach grass and beach heather that occur less abundantly in grasslands, where if they occur they are with other plants. Sandplain Grasslands – Inland Variant are located inland away from maritime influences and fewer coastal species including sandplain flax, golden heather, and sandplain blue-eyed grass.
Tune into Greenbelt’s live Osprey cam to see a pair (possibly a third) chick being fed right now by the adults Annie and Squam. One parent (Squam I think) flew in with a fresh caught fish and Annie is tearing it into bits and feeding each gaping wide little mouth. Squam is perched at the edge of the nest, looking so proud!
Greenbelt’s OspreyCam is located in Gloucester, MA on Greenbelt salt marsh near LobstaLand Restaurant.
History: In 2017 a pair of young Osprey took up residence on the LobstaLand platform in July/August and made a small nest. In 2018 they returned in April, stayed until August and built a large nest but never laid eggs. We call this a “house-keeping pair”- almost always a young pair learning the ropes.
In 2019, the pair returned in April to the nest and produced a clutch of 3 eggs, all under the watchful eye of the newly installed webcam. The adults were named Annie and Squam. They hatched one egg, and eventually fledged one chick – named River. River was banded before he fledged. He left the nest for good in late summer.
2020 – Annie and Squam returned to the nest in mid-April, and since then they have been tending to the nest, preparing to produce a clutch of eggs. They have been very patient as we have been back and forth to the nest site many times getting the new webcam set up.
Update April 29, 2020 – The webcam is now live. We’re awaiting what this season will bring! We hope you enjoy it with us.
Update May 11, 2020 – All good news. Annie has laid 3 eggs, completing her clutch yesterday. So that would suggest the first egg might hatch around June 15. Squam has been busily catching mostly river herring these days, feeding himself and Annie a steady diet of fresh fish.
Update May 28, 2020 – Not much new to report. The incubation phase for Annie and Squam continues. Squam is still bringing in numerous fresh fish daily, mostly river herring but the occassional small striped bass as well. Once we roll into June the count down is on for hatching.
Update May 11, 2020 – All good news. Annie has laid 3 eggs, completing her clutch yesterday. So that would suggesting the first egg might hatch around June 15. Squam has been busily catching mostly river herring these days, feeding himself and Annie a steady diet of fresh fish.
So very sorry to read this and hoping so much to see Howie rebuild
ESSEX (CBS) – A fire that tore through a popular seafood restaurant in Essex, just hours after a busy day of takeout orders, was caused by a gas heater left running overnight, investigators said.
Flames broke out in the kitchen at Essex Seafood on Eastern Avenue around 11 p.m. Sunday. No one was hurt, but it took firefighters about an hour to get the fire under control.
“The fire originated over the counter area where there was a 15-20 year old ceiling mounted gas heater. The heater had been left running overnight after the restaurant closed,” the State Fire Marshal’s Office said in a statement Monday.
Damaged is estimated at $250,000. The building inspector said it is “probably a total loss.”
Essex Seafood the morning after a devastating fire there, May 11, 2020. (Photo credit: Anna Meiler – WBZ-TV)
Each year customers ask nursery growers for plants earlier and earlier in the season. Yes, purchase if you are worried about stock, but do not plant outdoors until after May 31st. Keep in a protected location and gradually acclimate to outdoor temps (hardening off*). In the old days, after Memorial Day was the standard rule of thumb for New Englanders. We’ve gotten away from that. It’s risky business to plant your annual flowers, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs such as basil oregano outdoors too early, especially this year when we may have a snowfall this coming Mother’s Day weekend.
The following is a handy chart specifically for Cape Ann from the Farmer’s Almanac, although I would modify, ignore the frost date, and plant my warm weather seedlings closer to the June1st – June 5th Moon dates. The first date in each box is based on frost dates, the second line is based on Moon dates. Follow the Moon dates, especially this year when we are having an unusually cool spring.
*What does hardening off your seedlings mean? Think of it this way – seedlings are weaklings. They have delicate slender stalks that are easily blown over and their tiny tender leaves will freeze in a heart beat or shrivel in the penetrating sun of May. Seedlings need time to toughen up before planting out in the garden.
Hardening off is the practice of gradually exposing the seedlings to outdoor conditions. Place plants in a protected area for a few hours a day, out of the way of wind and direct sun. On cold nights bring indoors to a garage, shed, or back inside. Gradually increase the plant’s time spent outdoors. Keep moist and don’t let the soil dry out. In a week or so you will see the stalk and leaves have visibly thickened. House plants and herbs that have been grown indoors all winter (essentially babied) will also benefit from hardening off if you are planning to move outdoors.
Schooner Roseway hauled out at the Marine Railways – a Gloucester favorite (after our own Schooner fleet, of course).
To learn more about the Essex built Schooner Roseway, visit her website here: Schooner Roseway
Roseway, 137′ in sparred length, was designed as a fishing yacht by John James and built in 1925 in his family’s shipyard in Essex, Massachusetts. Father and son worked side by side on Roseway, carrying on a long New England history of wooden shipbuilding. She was commissioned by Harold Hathaway of Taunton, Massachusetts, and was named after an acquaintance of Hathaway’s “who always got her way.” Despite her limited fishing history, Roseway set a record of 74 swordfish caught in one day in 1934. Read more here.
One of the most haunting images is dog poop in plastic, found haphazardly discarded in every corner of the City, but nowhere more prominently than at our beaches.
What are we leaving for our children to uncover in fifty years?
These photos were taken on the weekend of March 28th, 2020. For two and a half days, the pile grew larger and larger, greeting everyone as they came on and off the beach. The pile was removed by the DPW on Monday morning.
The opening clip is a beautiful scene overlooking Good Harbor Beach. The sun was beginning to appear through a snow squall – April snow squalls bring May flowers.
Good Harbor Beach was jam packed with surfers this morning and Brant Geese were bobbing around at Brace Cove.
Quick glimpse of pretty mystery bird? Palm Warbler?
Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester fresh fish curbside pickup. Each week they have gotten better and better. It was dream of ease and coronavirus protocols. Tuesday through Saturday and here is the number to call 978-281-7707
Brother’s Brew, Seaview Farm, Breakwater Roasters, Sandy Bay Soaps, and many more.
What are some of the favorite dishes you are cooking during Coronavirus?
Tragedies can bring out the best in people, but also the very worst. Cruel people only become crueler and more mean spirited, posting mean thoughtless pranks that they think elevate themselves. I wish this wasn’t happening in our own lives and on social media. We all need to support each other.
Wonderful hopeful news for our Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers. The City has created a safe zone in the spot where they are attempting to nest. Thank you Mayor Sefatia and Gloucester’s DPW for installing the symbolic roping. We need signs and hopefully they will be along very soon.
If you’ve recently driven by Lobstaland you may have noticed a white head perched above the large stick nest, which is situated atop the manmade Osprey platform. Just as they have done the past three years, Annie and Squam have returned to their Lobstaland salt marsh nesting site.
Last year the young pair had their first successful breeding season and fledged one chick, appropriately named River (best names for Ospreys ever!)
Dave Rimmer, Greenbelt’s Director of Stewardship, shares that the webcams will be going in shortly, most likely next week 🙂
The nest is a little too far off for my camera’s range to take some beautiful photos nonetheless, it is joy to watch the pair foraging, flying, and nesting in the marsh.
For more information about Greenbelt’s Osprey Program, contact Dave Rimmer, Greenbelt Director of Stewardship at email@example.com or 978-768-7241 X14. Or visit http://www.ecga.org and click on the Osprey Program page.
Together with the Essex National Heritage’s 20th anniversary celebration, 131 Trailblazing organizations where honored at last night’s grand gala, held at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. Over 300 Essex Heritage supporters were in attendance.
Very special guest Secretary John Kerry, who helped craft the legislation in 1996 that designated the area (and worked with Senator Kennedy over many years to secure funding), gave an inspiring speech highlighting the fact that the past twenty years of this unique public-private partnership has created the tremendous success that is the Essex National Heritage area.
Congratulations to Essex National Heritage and all the Trailblazers!
The best fun seeing these four at the gala!! Captain Stefan Edick of the Schooner Adventure, Captain Tom Ellis of the Schooner Lannon, Mayor Sefatia, and Tom Balf, Director of Maritime Gloucester.
A special toast was given to the following Trailblazers:
Preserving this Special Region: Essex County Greenbelt Association; Connecting People to Place: The Trustees of Reservations; Building & Growing Our Future: Peabody Essex Museum; Advancing Our Educational Mission (tied for first place): Lowell’s Boat Shop and The House of Seven Gables. Of special note to Cape Ann residents, Maritime Gloucester came in second place and Essex Shipbuilding Museum came in third place in the category Advancing Our Educational Mission.