Category Archives: Good Harbor Beach

PIPLS IN THE GLOUCESTER TIMES – BEST YEAR EVER!

Good morning PiPl Friends!

Please check out today’s Gloucester Times for a terrific article about our GHB PiPls, written by Ethan Forman. https://www.gloucestertimes.com/news/best-year-ever-for-plovers-at-good-harbor-beach/article_cba646a6-32d4-11ed-ba55-1fc4ad06ff8b.html

Ethan, Paul Bilodeau (the Times photographer), and I met last week at GHB. PiPl Ambassador Susan was out looking for HipHop that morning, too, and she stopped by during the interview. Ethan mentioned years ago he had written articles about the Plovers on Plum Island. He asked lots of great questions about our GHB Plovers and he’s such an excellent writer, I felt very good about the interview. Carolyn Mostello, our Massachusetts state waterbird biologist, provided a very thoughtful quote for the article. I was hoping to show Ethan and Paul Hip Hop that day, but he was doing his invisible act. Everyday I am hopeful he has departed however, as of yesterday, he was still here.

Hip Hop eleven weeks old September 12

I couldn’t find Hip Hop this morning feeding with the Semipalmated Plovers and Killdeers at the Creek, or at the front of the beach. The wind was blowing in great gusts and he knows where all the best locations are to get out of the wind. Hoping for the possibility that he joined the many travelers during last night’s massive migration

Semipalms at the Creek this morning

Thank you to all our super Ambassadors. We could not have had our “Best Year Ever” without each and every one of you and your tremendous gifts of time and patience. 
Have a super day and enjoy this exquisite weather!
xxKim

‘Best year ever’ for plovers at Good Harbor Beach

Efforts to protect piping plovers nesting at the popular Good Harbor Beach this summer paid off: Between two pairs nesting, there were seven eggs. Of those, six chicks hatched, and five chicks fledged.

“It’s our best year ever,” said Kim Smith, who heads up the group Piping Plover Ambassadors at the beach.

And the success here of the piping plovers — a threatened species — this summer revolved around the storyline of two handicapped shorebirds, a mom who had lost her foot but still successfully hatched a clutch of four eggs, and her chick dubbed “Hip Hop”, who had a lame right foot and was slow to develop.

FIND THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

https://www.gloucestertimes.com/news/best-year-ever-for-plovers-at-good-harbor-beach/article_cba646a6-32d4-11ed-ba55-1fc4ad06ff8b.html

PIPING PLOVER HIP HOP UPDATE!

Dear PiPl Friends,

Happy ten-week old birthday to the irrepressible Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover Hip Hop! Monday marked Hip Hop’s 10 week, or 70 day, old birthday.

He spends his days alternating between resting well-camouflaged in depressions in the sand and robustly feeding, oftentimes off on his own, and occasionally with migrating shorebirds.

We don’t have experience with lone Plovers lingering this long into the summer. Despite his limping gait, he looks beautiful, healthy, and ready to migrate.

Massachusetts is at the fore of Piping Plover recovery. We have approximately 700 pairs nesting on Massachusetts beaches. It’s also great to hear about how well other states are doing. Maine has 140 nesting pairs and fledged a record number number of chicks, 252, to be precise (a record for Maine). Read more here, story shared by PiPl Ambassador Duncan Todd.

The water has been walk-in warm and perfect for swimming this past week. Enjoy these last days of August!

xxKim

GOOD HARBOR BEACH LOVELY SUNSET OVERLOOKING SARATOGA CREEK

Sunset last night from Good Harbor Beach

CELEBRATING FIVE CHICK’S FIVE WEEK BIRTHDAY MILESTONE! #ploverjoyed

Dear PiPl Friends,

Happy five weeks old to our Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover chicks! Today marks the day that all five are now five weeks old. The four Plover chicks from area #3 turned five weeks on Monday and the singleton from the Salt Island area #1 turns five weeks today. This is a milestone for both the Plovers and for the Cape Ann community!

The two Plover families have combined forces, or I should say the chicks are a unit; Super Dad is still reminding One Dad who is boss.

Hip Hop spends much of his time alone on the beach foraging. This is nothing new; we just have to keep our eyes peeled because Dad isn’t around quite as much to voice piping commands for him to get out of the way of foot traffic.

How long will the family stay together as a little unit? I have seen at other locations where I am filming, at the most, 49 days. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if they did stay, or at least Super Dad, because it would surely give Hip Hop a better chance of surviving.

The Squadron

Every year we have high hopes to successfully fledge chicks. This is most definitely our best year ever however, next year could be a complete bust. We know some things that contributed without a doubt to this year’s happy story. A tremendously dedicated group of round-the-clock Piping Plover Ambassadors is at the top of the list. If you see one of these kind-hearted PiPl Ambassadors, please let them how much you appreciate their efforts – Susan Pollack, Paula and Alexa Niziak, Marty Coleman, Jennie Meyer, Ann Cortissoz, Mary Keys, Sharen Hansen, Deb Brown, and Sally and Jonathan Golding. We also have a group of dedicated substitutes who are always willing to step in, even on a moment’s notice – Jill Ortiz, Barbara Boudreau, Duncan Hollomon, Karen Thompson, Lisa Hahn, Sarah Carothers, and Duncan Todd.

Working with our partners and PiPl Friends has provided a safe habitat for the Plovers.  Mark Cole and the DPW’s early actions in symbolically roping off nesting areas, placing important signage, and the decision not to rake the beach certainly contributed to this year’s success. Allowing the wrack to remain creates an abundance of foraging opportunities. Thank you to the entire DPW beach crew for keeping eyes on the chicks while working on the beach and for your always friendly demeanors  and interest in the Plover’s development.

Daily diligence and ticketing on the part of Gloucester’s Animal Control Officers Jamie Eastman and Tegan Dolan helped keep dogs off the beach after the March 31st date. We also want to thank the GPD and Mayor Verga for temporarily placing the large flashing light sign at Nautilus Road to let people know to keep pets off the beach, and the fine levied if caught.

Many thanks to Dave Rimmer, Essex County Greenbelt’s Director of Land Stewardship. For the past seven years, on a volunteer basis, Dave and his assistants have installed the wire exclosures that protect the Piping Plover’s eggs from avian and mammalian predation.

We’d also like to thank Carolyn Mostello, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Coastal Waterbird Biologist, for her thoughtful actions and continued excellent advice.

We are grateful for the help and timely actions taken by City Councilors Jeff Worthley and Scott Memhard who have taken an active interest in the Plovers and also Good Harbor Beach in general, particularly in the case of the contaminated Creek and getting swimmers out of the water.

We are so appreciative of the time and care Coach Lattof and the Gloucester Fishermen football team take in their attitude toward the Plovers. It has been a great teaching moment for the kids and the Coaches have developed and fully encouraged the kids’ tremendous positive outlook toward the birds.

Hip Hop and sibling, five-weeks-old

We also want to give a shout out to the GHB volleyball players who without fail, every evening pause their games to give the chicks the space they need to migrate back to their nighttime sleeping quarters.

We are so appreciative, too, of all the help given by the Plover’s community of well wishers, the early morning walkers including Pat and Delores, John Burlingham, Jan Bell, and Betty, to name only some, and who always jump in to lend a hand when needed. Thank you also to the Good Harbor Beach residential neighbors Sue and Donna who are always on alert, watching over the Plovers and sharing their concerns from their perspective as local residents.

The new beach reservation system has helped the Plovers in an unexpected way. Good Harbor Beach does not fill up as early and as frantically as it has on hot summer days in previous years. Early morning is an essential time of day for birds. They are extra hungry after the night long fast and need lots of space to forage undisturbed.

A heartfelt acknowledgement to all our PiPl Ambassadors, partners, and friends. The “it takes a village” adage has never been more true than in the case of Piping Plovers nesting at Cape Ann’s most popular seaside destination. Thank you!

xxKim

HIP HOP CATCHING UP! #ploverjoyed

Tiny handicapped Piping Plover chick Hip Hop, although developmentally challenged in comparison to his siblings, is nonetheless steadily growing. You can compare in the photos and video footage that he looks to be at about the same stage of development as were his siblings two weeks ago. His wings muscles are gaining in strength and fluffy tail feathers are beginning to grow.

Hip Hop is also wonderfully independent and forages far and wide along the length of the beach. If you see him on the beach, please remember that Hip Hop can’t yet fly to escape danger as can his siblings. Please give him lots and lots of space and please don’t try to take a close-up photo with your cell phone. The more he is able to forage without being disturbed, the more quickly he will grow.

This morning a scofflaw dog owner brought her dog to Good Harbor Beach. Fortunately, early morning daily GHB walkers P and D caught up with her to remind her of the dog ordinance. Hip Hop was only a few feet away, hunkered down in a divot, and could have so very easily been squished by a bouncy, enthusiastic off leash dog. Thank you P and D for your help this morning <3

Hip Hop’s sibling, photo taken about two weeks ago.

Hip Hop today

HAPPY NEWS TO SHARE FOR OUR JULY 24th PIPING PLOVER UPDATE

Good Morning PiPl People!

A gloriously beautiful sunrise at Good Harbor Beach!

We have a wonderfully interesting new development to share about out GHB PiPl families. Firstly, though, everyone is asking about Hip Hop. He is doing very well, albeit growing very slowly, and is perhaps about two weeks behind developmentally. Fortunately, he has a phenomenal Super Dad, who nurtures and protects him. As long as Dad does not leave to begin migrating before Hip Hop can fly, I am hopeful he will grow well. There have been documented cases where Plovers were on northern beaches into December and January. Hopefully, Hip Hop will not be here for an extended period of time, but if he is, as a community, I think we can keep watch over him.

Hip Hop, 34 days old

The happy news is that the one remaining chick at #1 (we lost the sibling last weekend) has joined Team Plover at #3, so we have a little family of five chicks and two Dads. The Dads just barely tolerate each other, but the kids are all getting along just fine!

Fledglings 34 and 31 days oldFour fledglings in beach camo

Our Good Harbor Beach Plovers are so fortunate to have the Creek, especially when the main beach is so packed full of people. And because the Creek is badly polluted, barely anyone is traveling down there. For some reason, the PiPls can tolerate the bacteria that is so toxic to humans, and are able to forage without disturbance.

Happy Sunday, stay cool, and have a great day! xxKim

Super Dad

 

 

COACH LATTOF SHARES SOME GOALS FROM THE GLOUCESTER HIGH FOOTBALL BEACH CONDITIONING PRACTICE

Recently Gloucester High School Coach Lattof shared some thoughts about the GHS summer conditioning program that takes place at Good Harbor Beach, writing “We  have always tried to make our conditioning program more than just conditioning. We stress more about life lessons. Every year I ask the kids about their goals, or as we call the  “whys,” not only in their sports life, but in their personal lives. Here are a few examples that explain why these kids get up everyday and run the beach. I didn’t include their names because these responses are personal to them.”

My why for my personal life is my mother. She defines perseverance through all adversity in her life. She keeps her head down and works through it. When other people have problems even if she doesn’t know them she puts her issues aside to always help the greater good and even when she has nothing left to give she always finds a way to give something. I want to succeed in life and achieve my goals because she sacrifices so much to give me the opportunity to have goals.

In my athletic life my why is all the people who have ever doubted me. People I hate with a passion who have looked down on me as anything less then great, even some people I love who just don’t think i have what it takes to make it to where I want to go. Everyone has always seemed to think I’m just another guy on the field, another player on the lineup that is average and nothing special but I want nothing more then to prove those people wrong and show them I am someone great.

My why in my personal life is to be successful. The reason being successful drives me is because my parents came from nothing. They worked so hard to ensure me and my siblings were given the best opportunity to succeed and I feel as if I would be doing them a disservice by not being as successful as I can be. They have always pushed me to strive for excellence whether it be academically or athletically and I want to make sure that their effort and hard work doesn’t go to waste.

Athletically, my why is proving those who doubted me wrong. In school I always hear kids talking down on the football team thinking that we’re going to continue to be mediocre next season. The insults and doubts make me work harder. Another why that I have athletically is to work as hard as I can to be in the best position to help my team succeed. If I don’t work as hard as I can I’m not only letting myself down but I am hurting the team.

“Thought you would like to read what inspires these kids. This is just a small sample!”

GFAA Fitness Center Rehab in Memory of Greg Swinson

Kristin Michaels has organized a Go Fund Me fundraiser to benefit The Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association. The Association has been working since 2008 to prioritize giving the student athletics of GHS the tools they need to be competitive and excel at whatever sport/activity they chose. The budget is 120k and a generous friend of Gloucester Athletics has pledged to match the first 50k raised! YOU CAN DONATE TO THIS VERY WORTHY ENDEAVOR AND READ MORE HERE

HAPPY FOUR WEEKS OLD TO OUR GOOD HARBOR BEACH PIPING PLOVER PLUMPLINGS! #ploverjoyed

Hello Piping Plover Friends,

Today we are celebrating a milestone for our Piping Plover chicks at area #3, their four-week-old milestone. In one more week, the Plover chicks will be fully fledged. The three normally developing chicks are taking brief lift offs several feet above ground. We hope tiny Hip Hop won’t take too long to catch up to his siblings before he too is showing signs of flying.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our wonderful friends and partners who have worked with us to reach this important milestone of FOUR four-week-old chicks. Thank you Mark Cole and the Gloucester DPW beach crew, thank you to ACO officers Teagan and Jamie, thank you to City Councilors Scott Memhard and Jeff Worthley, thank you to the Gloucester football practice kids and coaches, thank you to the GHB volleyball players, and thank you to all the local residents and beachgoers who are watching out for the Plovers when they are at GHB enjoying a beach day. 

Hip Hop and sibling – you can compare in the photos how much more well-developed are the wings of Hip Hop’s siblings. Hip Hop is making great strides though and we have high hopes.

On a more difficult note, our area #1 family has become more elusive and with recent talk about eating Plovers we are concerned that we may be missing a chick after this weekend’s truly unnecessary “stirring the pot.” People don’t understand this kind of cruel talk encourages people to torment and to kill Plovers. They don’t get that this is a thing and that there is a well-documented history of grown men and women killing Plovers and destroying their nests and habitat because they were threatened by the presence of a tiny bird. Many of us hope this way of relating to wildlife died out in the previous century. I believe the great majority has evolved in how we think about protecting wild creatures, particularly in the case of safe guarding threatened, endangered, highly vulnerable and the smallest amongst us.

As has stated been countless times, the mission of the Piping Plover Ambassador program is to share the shore, to keep the beaches open for people and for shorebirds.

If you would like to be a Piping Plover Ambassador next year, please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. Our ambassadors are a wonderful group of kind hearted, funny, sweet, and dedicated people and we have become friends through our stewardship. We have tremendous support from most in the community however, a small handful have labeled us elites and silly bird watchers (not that there is anything wrong with bird watching!). Nothing could be further from the truth. We are an assemblage of hardworking professionals, artists, writers, poets, designers, to name but a few of our careers, who came together to take time out of our professional lives to care for a tiny endangered species that began calling Cape Ann home seven years ago. You don’t need prior “bird watching ” skills to join our Piping Plover Ambassador program and we would love to have you.

Four-week-old Plover plumplings

THANK YOU GLOUCESTER DPW BEACH CREW FOR KEEPING THE FOOTBRIDGE SAFE!

Much of the sand keeps washing away at the beach end of the footbridge. We see this happen frequently during winter and spring storms and also in the summer months during a period of unusually high tides (thank you beautiful Buck Super Moon). Wednesday’s tide carried one of the lifeguard beach chairs down the Creek and also left a drop several feet deep at the footbridge.  DPW staff Steve, Eric, and Dean have been at Good Harbor Beach early in the mornings escorting people away from the work and filling in the crater so no one falls coming off the bridge.

Thank you Gentlemen!

Eric, Steve, and Dean

FULL BUCK MOON RISING OVER GOOD HARBOR BEACH

July’s full Buck Super Moon over Good Harbor Beach

HERRING GULL FEEDING ITS YOUNG

Have you ever seen a Herring Gull feed its young? I was experimenting with my new camera and turned it towards this adult and fledgling at the tidal flats. The fledgling was begging like crazy  and then helped pull out the mass from the adult’s throat. At first I thought they were fighting over the regurgitated food but perhaps the adult was teaching the fledgling how to break off a bit. Other nearby gulls took notice of the feeding and swooped in to grab the food. Mom gulped the mass back down her throat and quickly departed.

Unfortunately, the camera went out of focus briefly, but you get the idea. Gulls are such a menace on the beach, to both beachgoers and Plovers, but they are still beautiful creatures and it was fascinating to see how they feed their babies.

LIFE GUARD CHAIR FOUND CAUGHT UP IN THE FOOTBRIDGE ROCK PILINGS

This morning we found the lifeguard chair caught in the footbridge pilings. I imagine it is related to July’s full Buck Moon and super high tide. The Creek is still closed to swimming.

PIPING PLOVER TERRITORY DISPUTES

Good morning PiPl Friends!

Thank you Jonathan for the addition of new signs in all these prominent locations, so very much appreciated! And thank you Sally for last night’s lovely evening story, and to all our ambassadors for your thoughtful updates and wonderful information provided throughout the day.

Regarding drones, I was reminded by daily early morning beach walker John Burlingham, a former game warden, and the person who saved the day the other morning with the hostile drone family, that our own sign in the kiosk  at the entrance to the footbridge states clearly that drones are not allowed near the Plovers. It gives the distance and I will check on that tomorrow because I don’t recall precisely what it said, but if you have a problem with a drone operator, please feel free to point out the sign in the kiosk.

Regarding the PiPl smackdowns we have all been witnessing –

When Piping Plovers arrive in early spring they begin almost immediately to establish a nesting territory. The males fly overhead piping loud territorial calls and chase and/or attack intruders including songbirds, Crows, gulls, and even members of their own species. The attacks on each other are brutal and can end in injury, or even worse, death.

Typically, the battles subside for a time while the mated pairs are brooding eggs and when the chicks are very young. The exception to that is when an unattached male, or disrupter, is circulating about the beach.

Later in the season, as the chicks are gaining independence and roam more freely, the youngsters will eventually cross into “enemy territory.” The males resume fighting to both protect their chicks and their turf. We are seeing these little dramas play out at Good Harbor Beach. One reason why I think the older pair at #3, our original pair, are so successful is because Super Mom will also often join in the battle (even with her foot loss), putting herself between the attacker and her chicks, and they will both go after the intruder, whether another Plover or a seagull. In the video, you can see Mom has positioned herself on the left, while Super Dad circles the other male, biting him during the scuffles, then leaping over and then chasing him out over the water. This was yesterday’s battle and today finds all six chicks and all four adults present and accounted for, with no visible injuries.

Happy three-week-old birthday to our area #3 chicks. Truly a milestone for the chicks and for the Good Harbor Beach community of Piping Plover friends and advocates. On Thursday, the twins at Salt Island will also be three weeks old. Imagine! I am trying not to get too excited because last year a gull swooped in and flew off with a 24 day old chick. The following day, we lost a 25 day old chick for the same reason. We’ll just keep hoping and working toward fledging all these six beautiful little babies 🙂 And finally, today for the first time, I saw Hip Hop stretch his wing buds! He is still not putting much weight on his right foot. I don’t think it was a problem at birth because in looking at all the early footage, no chicks had an obvious foot deformity.

Hip Hop, 20 days old, with right foot injury

Have a super July summer day and thank you for all you are doing to help the GHB PiPls!

xxKim

THROWN UNDER THE BUS AND GET YOUR “STORIES” STRAIGHT GENTLEMEN!

In response to the “local newspaper writer’s” story, this “local blogger” just got a strong dose of  reality. Having been thrown under the bus by local politics, going forward I now understand what we are dealing with. The “local newspaper writer” did not bother to question the source of the information that I wrote regarding the kids being removed from the beach because of a noise complaint. Instead, there was just a great deal of denial and ass covering by all involved. See the highlighted section of the Mayor’s Statement on Student Athlete Good Harbor Beach Workouts below.

I am not going to stoop to their level because what really counts is the kids and the wildlife. The great news is the kids were really lifted by the outpouring of support from the community. They are back on the beach, and the ambassadors will continue to work to keep Good Harbor Beach open for all. As stated often, we Piping Plover Ambassadors are striving to protect the Plovers while working with the community to ensure the beach stays open. Thank you Everyone for your support of Gloucester High School football team practice at Good Harbor Beach and for your continued support of the Piping Plovers!

Beautiful July GHB Sunrise

Mayor’s Statement on Student Athlete Good Harbor Beach Workouts

Some questions have been raised recently regarding our student athlete workouts at Good Harbor Beach.

First, I must mention that the incredible support from the community demonstrates just how much we care about our kids and healthy lifestyles.

I want to clarify a few important facts related to these beach workouts. These workouts have been going on for 36 years. Due to Covid they did not happen the last two years.

The workouts resumed in late June near the Good Harbor Creek. A noise complaint pushed the operation further down the beach. This move resulted in a complaint that their workout was too close to the Plover area at the beach. This resulted in a return to the Creek area with a goal of reducing the noise level.

Another noise complaint in that area from one neighbor caused the Athletic Director to move the operation off of the beach.

Neither the Mayor’s office nor the Department of Public Works was involved in this decision. Further we have not prohibited the High School beach workouts to be conducted at Good Harbor Beach.

I have spoken with the coordinator of the workout and the Superintendent of Schools office and left voicemail with the Athletic Director to clarify that my office has no objection to the students returning to the beach and we actually urge the swift resumption of the beach workouts.

I commend our student athletes for their outstanding behavior.

Keep up the good work coaches and athletes.

Go Fishermen!

Greg Verga

Mayor City of Gloucester, Massachusetts

978.281.9700

SOARING BACTERIA LEVELS AT THE GOOD HARBOR BEACH CREEK = 140 TIMES THE ACCEPTABLE AMMOUNT

Please, whatever you do on your next visit to Good Harbor Beach, please do not go swimming in the Creek and please keep your kids out of the water. Even toe-dipping is not safe!

The City  of Gloucester has been working very hard everyday to find the source of the raw sewage contamination. According to Board of Health Assistant Director Rachel Belisle-Toler, the City has hired an outside engineering firm and are fairly sure the source has been identified. Before they can say for certain, a specific type of rain storm is needed to confirm. When storm drains overflow is the optimal time time to ascertain the source.

The state of Massachusetts’s absolute limit for enterococci bacteria at beaches where people swim is104 CFUs (living colony forming individual bacteria) per 100 milliliters of water. Currently the level is at 14,000 CFUs or approximately 140 times the acceptable level.

From the EPA – Enterococci are indicators of the presence of fecal material in water and, therefore, of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. These pathogens can sicken swimmers and others who use rivers and streams for recreation or eat raw shellfish or fish.

The official name for the Creek is Saratoga Creek. When my kids were little, I never took them swimming at the Creek because it never smelled right to me. As recently as three years ago, there wasn’t any odor coming from the Creek and I let Charlotte swim there. Last year and this have been a different story. The stench was so bad last Sunday, it was almost unbearable. The nose knows!

HANDICAPPED CHICK, HANDICAPPED MOM: JULY 4TH PIPING PLOVER UPDATE

One of our Good Harbor Beach chicks is not growing as well as the other five. Just like SuperMom, his right foot has sustained some type of injury. I have been keeping an eye on him the past few days and he’s definitely not eating and not growing as quickly as are his siblings at area #3. He doesn’t put any weight on the foot and often does a hop run like his Mom. He is mostly seen  straggling behind and spends more time than the others thermo-snuggling beneath the parent’s wings, especially Mom. She appears to be extra nurturing with this one and does not seem to mind providing extra snuggles. Perhaps with her injury, more snuggling gives her additional time to rest, too.

You can see in the photo he’s at least a third smaller than his sibling. Please, if you go to see the Plovers, give them lots of and lots of space to forage and to do their thing. particularly during the morning and late day when the beach isn’t crowded, it’s their time to forage and stock up for the day’s limited access to food and to water. Thank you so very much!

The chick on the left is similar in development to his two other siblings. You can see that the little handicapped chick on the right is smaller and is not putting any weight on his foot.

Happy Two-Week-Old Birthday to our GHB Area #3 Chicks

It’s been crazy busy at GHB and if all six chicks survive this most busiest of holiday weekends, it will be a miracle, and also, largely  due to our amazing team of PiPl Ambassadors who have devoted many extra hours over the four day weekend to keeping watch over the PiPls.

A SIX PIPL CHICK MORNING!

Good Morning!

All feeding with great gusto except when a hungry family of Starlings appeared on the scene. Mom and Dad both went after the three with much buzzing and brandishing of wings.

Super Mom, with only one foot, giving the Starlings the business!

We are so thankful to Councilor Jeff Worthley, Mark Cole, Coach Lafferty, and athletic director Byran Lafata for their response in moving the sports teams back to the original footbridge location, where they have been practicing for 36 years. Additionally, Coach Lafferty is having the kids run in groups of three, not thirty across, which will help give chicks the opportunity to scamper away if they get caught in the midst. This was the Coach’s idea!

Several days ago, I met the gentleman who owns the house at Cape Hedge where the Plover family had the nest. He was overjoyed to see our pLover chicks and is super bummed about the CHB family. He is dismayed that the no dogs signs still have not been posted at his end of the beach. We are going to have to provide more assistance to our Rockport friends in helping them get organized for next year.

Thank you Everyone for all your great work! Jennie, I am going to post about your Gloucester Writer’s Center event in a separate post. I am hoping to attend and looking forward to listening to your Plover poems, but if not, congratulations and best wishes for a wonderful event <3

Have a beautiful day,
xxKim

REMINDER: PIPING PLOVER INFORMATIONAL MEETING THURSDAY JUNE 16TH AT 5:45PM

Good Morning PiPl Friends,

A reminder of our Piping Plover informational meeting this Thursday the 16th, at 5:45 pm, at area #3. For new PiPl friends, park in the lot at the far end, near Boardwalk #3. Walk down the boardwalk and turn right towards the footbridge. You will see the symbolically roped off area and we will meet there. I am looking forward to seeing everyone, old and new <3

We are looking for more volunteers. If you know someone who would like to help, please feel free to bring them to the meeting and please share my email.

Mini-update on our GHB nesting pairs. Both Moms were on the nests this morning while both Dads were foraging at the tidal flats and in the wrack. Everyone looks healthy and ready for chicks! There was hardly any trash on the beach, which was wonderful to see. Thank you Gloucester’s DPW beach crew!

#3 Dad eating a Painted Lady Butterfly

#3 Mom on the nest, well-camouflaged in beach grass

There are many tracks in Area #2 and I am hoping perhaps, if Cape Hedge Mom is still alive, we will have a renest there, but there are no nest scrapes, only footprints. We’ll keep checking.

Thank you to all our PiPl friends, old and new. We’ll see you Thursday!
Warmest wishes,
xxKim

#1 Mom on the nest, next to a shoot of Sea Rocket

#1 Dad preening

IF YOU GO TO GOOD HARBOR BEACH AT SUNRISE BE SURE TO…

Take in the wonderful fragrance of the flowering Black Locust trees adjacent to the footbridge entrance. The air is redolent with the scent of orange blossoms and honey, along with the Rosa rugosa blooming nearby.

The stand at Good Harbor Beach has been increasing in size and I don’t ever recall the scent quite as potent as it is this year. You can smell the flowers halfway down Nautilus Road!

Black Locust are native to the Appalachian Mountains. The leaves are a host to over 67 species of Lepidoptera, including  Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Mourning Cloak, Red-spotted Purple, Viceroy, Giant Leopard Moth, and the Elm Sphinx Moth. A host plant is a caterpillar food plant. And they offer nectar to pollinators, including Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

THE FINAL GRAND TOTAL OF PIPING PLOVER EGGS!

Dear PiPl Friends,
Happy Memorial Day. I hope you are spending the day with family and friends <3

We have a whopping new grand total of Piping Plover eggs for Cape Ann’s eastern shore and it is an even dozen! This morning when I stopped by for PiPl check in, Salt Island Dad popped off the nest to reveal a fourth egg. All three Cape Ann PiPl families are brooding nests with four eggs in each. We are so blessed to see their beautiful life story unfold!

An added note about the nesting pair at #1, the Salt Island side of Good Harbor Beach – The pair first had a nest of three eggs up in the dune grass. We think it was predated, possibly by a seagull. There were no tracks near the nest and the only evidence found was one crushed egg.

#1 Salt Island original nest

After the first clutch of eggs disappeared, the pair immediately began setting up house away from the grass and closer to the wrack line. Piping Plovers will attempt to re-nest up to five times. The pair eventually settled on a scrape behind a mini mound of dried seaweed, albeit a more vulnerable location than the first.

Salt Island renest

As of today, the Salt Island pair have a nest of four, for a total of seven eggs laid over the past several weeks. Egg laying takes a toll on the Mom. At Good Harbor we now have handicapped Mom at #3 and over extended Mom at #1. When you see Plovers on the beach resting and foraging, please give them lots and lots of space and let them be to do their thing. Thank you!

Tired Mama at #1

Handicapped Mom at #3

GRAND TOTAL CAPE ANN PIPING PLOVER EGGS IN NEST COUNT

Good Morning PiPl Friends,

Joyful update to share from Cape Ann PiPl nest check-up this morning –

Cape Hedge

The Cape Hedge Plover parent’s are doing an excellent job guarding their clutch of four eggs, the most well-camouflaged nest in Massachusetts, as our state coastal waterbird biologist Carolyn Mostello refers to the nest. There was a Coyote scavenging around the wrack line near the nest but Mom and Dad went into full protective mode trying to distract. The “broken wing” display wasn’t too necessary though as the second the Coyote saw me, he/she hightailed into the marsh.

Area #1 Salt Island

Essex Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer installed the exclosure at #1 (Salt Island end of the beach) yesterday afternoon and there are now three eggs in the nest! The Salt Island pair are not yet brooding full time and still continuing to mate. Quite possibly, we’ll have a fourth egg at #1. This little Mama has up to this point laid a total of six eggs, three in the first nest, which we think was predated, and three currently.

Area #3 Saratoga CreeK

In saving the best for last, our amazing handicapped Mom and ever vigilant Super Dad at #3 now have FOUR eggs in the nest. Mom popped off for a brief moment and I was “ploverjoyed” to see a fourth egg. I am not sure when this last egg was laid. It’s going to be a challenge to gauge when is the hatch date but I am working on that this weekend. *Borrowing the expression #ploverjoyed from our PiPl friends at Conserve Wildlife New Jersey 🙂

GHB #3 Mom well-camouflaged on the nest this foggy, foggy morning

Cape Ann’s current grand total of eggs in nests is Eleven (with a possibility of one more).

Yesterday morning, City Councilor Jeff Worthley and I met at Good Harbor Beach. He was very interested in learning about the Plovers and their history at GHB. Jeff agreed that Martha’s idea to speak before the next City Council meeting was a good plan; the next full council meeting is June 14th. He also suggested we do a brief presentation before City Council. The presentation has to be pre-planned and approved by City council president, Valerie Gilman. I don’t know if it’s either/or, or if we would be able to do both. What are your thoughts, PiPl friends? I think also we should definitely plan a “lessons learned” meeting at the end of the season, per Jonathan’s suggestion.

The Good Harbor Beach pre-reservation parking system goes into effect today. Some of the issues will be alleviated with the DPW and parking crew present, restrooms open, and end-of-the school-year high school senior parties behind us. We will still have issues with intoxicated persons tromping through the protected nesting area, but not the sheer numbers as the past two weeks, and hopefully we will see stepped up police enforcement on the beach.

A very brief Monarch update – Monarchs are here (first sightings by friends MJ on the 21st and Patti on May 23rd!) We see them in gardens, meadows, and dunes. Many other species of butterflies, too, have been sighted, including Tiger Swallowtails, Painted Ladies, American Coppers, Common Ringlets, and Spring Azures. May 23rd is early in the season for Monarchs. About every ten years or so we have an extra wonderful year with butterflies. The last was 2012. We are due and perhaps 2022 will be one of those years 🙂

Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly has been invited to screen at the Essex National Heritage Pollinator Week Program on the evening of June 22nd. For more information go here. Also, Beauty on the Wing is an official selection at the Santa Barbara Film Awards.

If anyone stops by GHB or CHB this weekend, please let us know. I feel fairly confident that the nests at GHB are safe, ensconced in their exclosures, but we like to check regularly nonetheless.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with friends and family,
xoKim

Pair of Snow Egrets at Saratoga Creek

MOM COMING IN FOR A LANDING!

Please share your Monarch sightings. We would love to hear from you <3

This Mama Monarch photographed yesterday was zeroing in and depositing eggs on the freshly emerging shoots of Common Milkweed sprouting in the grassland meadows at Cox Reservation.

 

On May 21st the first Monarch was spotted; this is the earliest many of us have seen Monarchs in our gardens, dunes, and meadows. MJ observed one on the 21st in Lanesville, Patti in East Gloucester on the 23rd (she has tons of milkweed), Duncan spotted one at Brier Neck, they are in the dunes at Good Harbor Beach in the Common Milkweed patches, in my garden (also lots of milkweed), and have been seen at several Greenbelt sanctuaries, both Castle Neck River Reservation and Cox Reservation.

The butterflies at Cox Reservation were drinking nectar from the Red Clover

The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch –  share with kids!

 

Please join us Wednesday, June 22nd at 7pm for a free in-person screening and Q and A of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly at the Salem Visitor Center, as part of Essex National Heritage Pollinator week-long series of events.

POLLUTION, URINATION, AND THE UNDERAGE DRINKING CRISIS AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH – AN OPEN LETTER TO OUR COMMUNITY

Dear Friends,

Hopefully by writing and discussing we can come up with creative solutions to problems that have been plaguing the City for a number of years.

In 2016, myself and a group of volunteers began working toward creating a safer habitat for nesting Piping Plovers at Good Harbor Beach. As a community working together we have made great strides, including changing the ordinance to ban pets on the beach beginning April 1st, rather than May 1st. This action has proved to be not only instrumental in helping to minimize disruptions to nesting Plovers, but our dunes are improving in part because of the symbolically roped off area, which helps keep dogs out of the dunes and has allowed stabilizing vegetation to regrow. We are proud to work with, and proud of the work done by, Gloucester’s Department of Public Works in roping off nesting areas in a timely manner.

The biggest hurdle we have yet to overcome at Good Harbor Beach is adequate enforcement of people breaking the laws, whether it’s consuming vast amounts of alcohol, openly using the dunes to relieve themselves, or people running through and disrupting roped off federally protected nesting areas that are in place to protect threatened and endangered nesting birds.  Each year we watch thousands and thousands of people come to Good Harbor Beach on warm spring weekend days and holidays. Not a penny of revenue is collected. Year after year we are told that there is not enough money to support enforcement on the beach towards law-breaking teens drinking themselves to oblivion, yet year after year we see potential money collected squandered. We wonder exactly how much additional revenue it would cost for two officers to walk the beach several times a day during peak drinking hours.

Beachgoers Sunday at noon waiting in line to use the portable bathroom before the restrooms were opened.

This past weekend and last weekend there were large groups of anywhere from 50 to several hundred kids in each group of teens on the beach. Quite literally, thousands of intoxicated kids. We see how much they are drinking because only a very few pick up their trash. We pick up their piles of nips, sweet ciders, beer cans, and gallon-sized bottles of hard liquor. Watching teens from out of town drink themselves into oblivion is not entertaining. It’s frightening, imagining them driving on Rt. 128 to return home. A serious car accident occurred on Saturday afternoon with teens leaving the Good Harbor Beach parking lot, after a day of collective alcohol and marijuana consumption.

The lack of enforcement creates a chain reaction of problems. Massive alcohol consumption causes the teens to have to urinate frequently. The lines are long at the bathrooms, if they are even open. The kids invariably begin using the dunes to relieve themselves, both to urinate and to defecate.  For the past several summers the Creek has been closed to swimmers because of an unknown source of fecal contamination.

Photo courtesy of Jill Ortiz

Traditionally, the parking lot at GHB did not officially open to collect revenue until Memorial Day weekend but the year is 2022, not 1972. There is 7 percent more moisture in the air than there was only fifty years ago. Because of global climate change we are seeing an increase in warm weather days earlier in the season. When these days land on a weekend or holiday during the spring we can expect to see droves and droves of people. We absolutely love to see people enjoying Good Harbor Beach. What we find very troubling is large groups of people trashing the beach. When these warm days land when high school seniors are nearing graduation we can expect to see huge gatherings of out of town kids with zero respect for our beloved Good Harbor Beach. The missed revenue collected in April and May could most assuredly be used to pay for a special police detail or beach ranger to control the dangerous underage substance abuse taking place at Good Harbor Beach.

The mountains of trash left behind by the large groups of teens drinking openly on the beach is simply astounding. The garbage sits overnight until the DPW can get to it the following morning. But the problem is the garbage does not exactly stay stationary. The plastic is blown into the marsh, washed into the ocean, and covers our beach. Some mornings when I arrive before the DPW has been there to clean, the entire beach shimmers and sparkles, not in gold, but in plastic refuse backlit by the morning sun and left in the sand. We monitors do our fair share of beach clean up but it’s disheartening to see such huge quantities of garbage left behind by young persons. It’s all well and good to have a Carry In Carry Out policy but if no one is enforcing, then CICO isn’t really a policy but a free for all.

Most Massachusetts beaches have trash and recycling barrels. My good friend has a sister who lives on the beach in North Carolina with a CICO policy. But the difference is that once a week an officer comes to the beach and tickets litterbugs. The weekly ticketing gets everyone back on track to remember to carry out.

This past weekend of May 21st to 22nd was truly the worst we have ever seen, especially Saturday. Sunday was an improvement because the majority of beachgoers were families. However, because I decided to station all Ambassadors at #3 to protect the eggs there, we could not also monitor federally protected area #1 where we also have a pair actively creating nest scrapes. Unfortunately, without an Ambassador stationed at #1, we had groups of beachgoers actually recreating in the nesting area at #1. This is against federal and state laws and puts Good Harbor in serious jeopardy of closing down the beach. Isn’t it better to allocate some funds for a police or ranger detail as it is needed rather than risk shutting down Gloucester’s most beloved beach?

Photos courtesy of Duncan Todd of multitude of tracks in nesting areas #1 and #2, May 22, 2022

We would be very interested to learn the community’s opinion on better beach enforcement. How was it at Wingaersheek Beach this weekend? Did you have the same parking bottleneck, damaged vehicles, teen drinking, and trash issues as occurred at Good Harbor Beach? Any suggestions on how to prevent debacles as was the past weekend would be tremendously appreciated. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Kim

Good Harbor Beach May 22nd, 2022

Tracks in #3, despite three Ambassadors present, it became a game for the teens to try to get past us to use the dunes to urinate.

OUR BEAUTIFUL MOM HAS LOST HER FOOT

A story of patience, fidelity, resilience, and hope 

You may recall that last year our Piping Plover Mom’s foot became entangled in what appeared to be both dried seaweed and monofilament. Mom visibly struggled with her foot entanglement. Although initially she could still thermoregulate the chicks and stayed nearby, we began to see less and less of her. Much of the parenting of chicks was left to Dad as she was infrequently seen lying low in the tall beach grass. We wondered if she even made it through the summer.

Mom’s very painful looking injury caused her to behave as though she was trying to adapt to the awkwardness of carrying a ball and chain. Sometimes the chicks would get caught in the seaweed and monofilament entanglement and she was continuously pulling at it, trying to remove.

Fast forward to April of this year. For a month we have had a new pair of Plovers attempting to nest, first at area #3, the original pair of Plover’s original nesting site (beginning in 2016), and then I believe shifting further north up the beach, toward Salt Island. I checked on that pair on Wednesday morning, the fifth, just before leaving for Ohio and despite the unseasonably cool temperatures and rough winds, everything was as it should be in Ploverville.

Upon our return Monday morning all had turned upside down in the world of Plover nesting. It took me a day to understand what had taken place.  Miraculously, our original Mom and Dad have returned to #3. We are overjoyed to see them both, Mom especially, but the bittersweet of it is that she has lost her foot.

Dad is clearly eager to mate but, for lack of a better word, is being extraordinarily patient with Mom. She spent the first few days after arriving quietly lying in the grass, so much so we were becoming concerned. But Mom has rallied and is showing interest in Dad and his nest scrapes. He is very attentive, staying nearby and defending her against real and imagined intruders. We all got a laugh when Assistant Library Director Beth Pocock’s commented, “Not very Darwinian of him.”

Dad in one of his nest scrapes

The pair are approximately five weeks later in arriving than the past several years.  It’s not entirely unexpected that Mom’s foot has been amputated by the monofilament and seaweed wrapped so tightly that it was cutting off her circulation. Plovers historically have survived with one foot/leg. One of the most common reasons for loss of foot or leg is when debris becomes caught in a leg band on Plovers that have been banded. The thing is, it is taking double the amount of effort for Mom to do things that Plovers ordinarily do daily. Her gait step is twice as many steps as compared to Dad’s. She is spending a good amount of time lying down, rather than standing.

Piping Plovers show tremendous fidelity to each other and to their nesting site. Our Good Harbor Beach Original Plovers are fantastically resilient — recalling just one of their many trials and adventures — the year they nested in the parking lot, driven to this measure by the plethora of dogs allowed off leash by their owners; dogs running and  prancing through the  Plover’s roped off area disrupting their nesting.

Will Mom be able to breed and take care of chicks this summer? Only time will tell. But because  she is now “handicapped,” it’s imperative that we eliminate all disturbances.

Mom is able to use her peg leg to scratch an itch

On Saturday, we had a serious problem with several very large groups of teens drinking, creating a mountain of trash, playing in the nesting area, and running through the area to use the dunes as their bathroom. Their complete disregard of the clearly marked off area destroyed the Plover’s nest scrapes, which are the potential possible sites for eggs. The police were called. The officers were very patient with the teens. One girl in particular was extremely rude to the officers, barely coherent and nearly falling down drunk.  It took more patience than you can possibly imagine for the officers to de-escalate as they did.  It wasn’t until the police appeared that the teens began attempting to clean up their trash, which without the officer’s insistence that they clean up, surely would have resulted in the more than one huge trash bag that I filled this morning.

These were not local kids but we have to do better than this as a community. There must be a way to have some authority figure patrol the beach on warm spring and summer afternoons. These teens were completely smashed and the amount of trash from alcoholic beverages was astounding. As soon as the officers appeared on the beach, the teens began to clean up their behavior, language, and garbage. But I don’t believe it should have gotten to this point.

We’ll keep an eye on the weather and we Ambassadors will mobilize on the next warm beach day but frankly, we have very little authority. None of us feel safe approaching a group of 30 or 40 unruly and intoxicated (and foul mouthed as was the case Saturday) teens. Truly, the ideal solution is to assign an officer or ranger to patrol the beach on warm afternoons and evenings.

If anyone sees people rough housing in, playing in, or repeatedly entering the roped off areas, please call the police and explain what you are seeing. If a nest with eggs or an adult or a chick is harmed in any way or killed by this kind of behavior, that is considered a “take” by both state and federal regulations. The City and the individuals responsible are liable for thousands of dollars in fines and potential closure of Good Harbor Beach. Our mission is to keep our beautiful GHB open for everyone and to keep our Plovers safe.From Saturday – how people treat our beautiful beach – trash on the beach brings crows and gulls, which eat Plover eggs and chicks

 

PIPING PLOVER UPDATE AND PLEASE JOIN ME SATURDAY FOR A FREE IN-PERSON PIPL PRESENTATION

Good afternoon PiPl Friends!

We returned Monday from a trip to visit my husband’s dear family in Ohio. If you can imagine, we were celebrating my father-in-law’s 97th birthday!! He is simply amazing and boasts his doctor told him he has the legs of a 70 year-old! We also squeezed in a trip to the butterfly exhibit at the Krohn Conservatory, the Cincinnati Zoo, and visited the old homestead located at the Hauck Botanical Gardens. And had the BEST BBQ at Eli’s Riverside. The Hauck Botanical Gardens, set in downtown Cincinnati, is a relatively small public park created decades ago by my father-in-law’s father (husband’s grandfather) and is richly planted with a collection of rare and North American native trees. Photos coming in a future post 🙂

A week away from Cape Ann’s Plovers and much has been taking place. The GHB PiPls are getting off to a slow start nesting this year and three solid days of fierce wind from the northeast is not helping matters. Yesterday morning there was a great deal of flying and piping at each other, but the funny thing was, they would take periodic breaks from skirmishing and huddle close to each other to get out of the wind.

The Cape Hedge Plover pair are settling in and I will have more on the CHB family towards the end of the week. The photo of the CHB Dad was taken Tuesday. He spent the better part of the time Charlotte and I were there trying to distract dogs that were running off leash.

Please join me Saturday at the Sawyer Free for a presentation about the Plovers (see below). Please feel free to wear a mask and please practice social distancing. Covid cases are on the rise in Gloucester (and everywhere) and I think I will be wearing a mask when not speaking.

I hope to see you there.
Warmest wishes,
Kim

Please join me at the Sawyer Free Library on Saturday, May 14th, at 2pm for a FREE in-person all ages presentation about the life story of the Piping Plover –

Why Give a Peep for Plovers?

The Piping Plover is one of only a handful of birds that nests on North Atlantic beaches. By learning about this tiny but most resilient of shorebirds, we gain a deeper understanding on how best to protect Piping Plovers and our shared coastal habitat.

Told through the lens of Kim Smith’s photo journal work, the Piping Plover’s life story is presented from migration to nesting to fledging. We’ll also cover the current status of the bird’s population, learn about where Piping Plovers spend the winter, and how communities and conservation organizations can work together to help Piping Plovers flourish for generations to come.

If you are new to or have ever considered joining our Piping Plover Ambassador group, this presentation is a great way to become introduced to Piping Plovers. Please come and learn more about these most lovable and charismatic shorebirds.

We hope to see you there!