Category Archives: Gloucester

NOT ONE, NOT TWO, BUT THREE PIPING PLOVERS TODAY AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH!

Throughout the day, a threesome has been actively feeding, battling for territory, and two of the three, displaying courtship behavior.

Often times I have read that Piping Plovers in Massachusetts do not begin to actively court until mid-April. That simply has not been the case with our Good Harbor Beach pair. As soon as they arrive to their northern breeding grounds, they don’t waste any time and get right down to the business of reproducing! Last year, the PiPls were courting within a week of arriving, and this year, on the first day.

I only had brief periods of time to visit the beach this morning, but within that window, FOUR separate times the male built a little scrape, called Mama over to come investigate, while adding bits of dried seaweed and sticks, and fanning his tail feathers.

Papa scraping a nest in the sand.

Fanning his tail and inviting Mama to come inspect the nest scrape.

Tossing sticks and beach debris into the scrape.

Papa high-stepping for Mama.

It was VERY cold and windy both times I stopped by GHB and the PiPls were equally as interested in snuggling down behind a clump of dried beach grass as they were in courting.

Mama and Papa finding shelter from the cold and wind in the wrack line.

Good Harbor Beach was blessedly quiet all day. Our awesome dog officer Teagan Dolan was at the beach bright and early and there wasn’t a single dog in sight, I think greatly due to his vigilance and presence educating beach goers this past week.

Heather Hall, Katharine Parsons, Alicia Pensarosa, Laurie Sawin

Saturday we had the pleasure of meeting Katharine Parsons, Director of the Mass Audubon Coastal Waterbird Program. She gave an outstanding program to a crowd of Piping Plover advocates and interested parties, which was held at the Sawyer Free Library. Katharine covered everything from life cycle, management strategies and tools, habitat conservation, and the fantastic role Massachusetts is playing in the recovery of Piping Plovers, Least Terns, Roseate Terns, and Oystercatchers. We are so appreciative of Alicia Pensarosa and Gloucester’s Animal Advisory Committee for sponsoring Katharine!

Ward One City Councilor Scott Memhard and Katharine

City Council President Paul Lundberg, Katharine, and Alicia

Fun Fact we learned from Katharine’s presentation–a Piping Plover chick weighs six grams at birth. In comparison, and after consulting Google, a US nickel weighs a close 5.5 grams.

HAPPY NEWS TO SHARE ABOUT OUR #GLOUCESTERMA PIPING PLOVERS! AND HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MALE AND FEMALE PIPING PLOVER

We have a definite female joining our male! On Monday when I first spotted a pair of PiPls on the beach, I think I mistook them for a male and female because one was doing a kind of torpedo-like run, and the other was following behind. This behavior is often followed by nest scraping. I think what we actually saw was one male establishing his territory over the other male. Since Monday (Tuesday through Thursday), only one singular male has been seen foraging at Good Harbor Beach.

This morning my daughter Liv and I went to check on the little male and a beach goer gave us a heads up that she had seen two. Liv spotted the pair in the tide flats and they were most clearly a male and a female. The two were at any one time only several feet apart, foraging in the tidal zone and preening on the shore, primarily in front of the nesting No. 3 area. There were a bunch of dogs off leash, despite it being an on leash day, and there were several dogs on leash, too.

Will these two that are currently at Good Harbor Beach stay and mate and nest? Will we have more Piping Plover pairs join the scene (as did last year)? Will we have troubles with a “Bachleor” again? It’s still so early in the season and I sure am excited to see what lies ahead!

The following photos, of the pair currently at Good Harbor, were taken this morning in the rain, and despite the dreary light, clearly show the difference between male and female Piping Plovers. I am eventually going to redo this post with photos from a sunny day because it will be even easier to tell the difference.

Female Piping Plover, left, male Piping Plover, right

During the courting and nesting season, the female’s crescent-shaped head band is paler in color than the male’s jet black head band. The male’s collar band is usually darker and larger, too, often completely circling the neck. Typically, the male’s bill is a brighter, deeper colo orange at the base than the female’s.

Female Piping PLover, left, male Piping Plover, right.

It’s very easy to tell the difference during courtship and mating because of behaviors exhibited and I’ll post more about that in the coming months.

There are exceptions to this general rule of thumb–sometimes a female will have darker shading and sometimes the male will be paler.

By the end of the summer, the coloring of both male and female becomes paler and it is much more challenging to see the difference between the two.

Good Harbor Beach on a sunny day earlier this week.

$150,00 RAISED, 5500 MILES, AND 210 MARATHONS RUN! – A HEARTFELT CONGRATULATIONS FROM THE PEOPLE OF #GLOUCESTERMA TO #GLOUCESTER ENGLAND’S ADVENTUREMAN!

All these fine folks came out to cheer on and welcome Jamie!

Fantastic-in-every-way turnout for Jamie McDonald! Thanks to Sherree Zizak for the fabulous welcoming reception at Beauport, to Mayor Sefatia, Joey, and Pat for getting the word out, for hosts and hostesses, Kerry from the Cape Ann Chamber, and to all who gave Jamie, his family, and friends a Gloucester Welcome.

If you would like to donate to Jamie’s Superhero Fund to help sick kids go HERE.

OUR PIPING PLOVERS HAVE ARRIVED AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH!

Our beautiful Piping Plovers have returned! Monday afternoon we observed them foraging at the shoreline, then chased up to the wrack line by a bounding off-leash dog. After the dog departed the area, the two PiPls dozed off in the drifts of sand and dry beach grass.

The pair look plump and vigorous, not nearly as weary looking as the PiPls that arrived last year on April 3rd, after the four March nor’easters.

Unbelievably, the male is already displaying courtship behavior! And even more amazingly so, he was doing it within mere feet of where they have nested for the past three years.

I know I sound like a broken record, but today was an on-leash day. There were at least a half a dozen dogs off-leash in the forty-five minutes Charlotte, Tom, and I were there. I purposefully bring Charlotte to the beach on on-leash days because of the out of control dogs. A forty to fifty pound off-leash Golden Retriever puppy came bounding up to Charlotte, while its owner stood back shouting he’ll slobber all over her. I was more concerned with the oversized pup knocking her over and used considerable force to hold the puppy back, while Tom scooped up Charlotte. Everyone I spoke with was not aware of the dog laws, old laws and the new laws, and the new 300.00 fines. All the ordinances on the books are not going to do a thing, unless they are enforced.

#supermoon MARCH SUPER FULL WORM MOON DESCENDING WITH GLOUCESTER CITY HALL

The full Worm Moon descending aligned with City Hall this morning.

On my way to give a Monarch talk in Boston this morning I caught the full Worm Moon setting. It was gorgeous and the air was perfectly still, which would have been ideal for filming. I was trying to take some footage, but my tripod wasn’t cooperating. This was the last super moon of 2019 and is extra special because today’s full super moon also coincides with the vernal equinox (also my son’s birthday!). The last time this happened was in 1905, over one hundred years ago. The next time a super moon will be seen with the spring equinox is in the year 2044.

March’s full moon has many names including Crow Moon, Eagle Moon, Sugar Moon, Sap Moon, Crust Moon, and Lenten Moon. Don’t you prefer any of these other names over Worm Moon; I especially love Eagle Moon and Sugar Moon.

FREE! BIG TINY ART-MAKING WORKSHOPS AND CALL FOR BIG TINY ART TO BENEFIT THE ROCKY NECK CULTURAL CENTER!

ST. JOSEPH PASTA MAKING WITH THE GROPPO FAMILY AND FRIENDS!

If you weren’t able to make pasta Tuesday morning at Nina and Frank Groppos, a second special St. Joseph pasta-making day is taking place this Saturday at 10:00am. This additional day is especially for kids and everyone is invited to join the fun!

Charlotte was so super shy at first, but Kathy Pratl took her under her wing and showed her how. As soon as she understood everyone was making her favorite, noo-noos, Charlotte joined right in. Thank you Nina, Franco, Kathy, Roseanne and Friends for a great morning! ❤