Category Archives: Good Harbor Beach

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ARE DONATING TO OUR PIPING PLOVER FILM PROJECT!

Dear PiPl Friends,

A huge shout out to our newest contributors to our Piping Plover film project fundraiser. My deepest thanks and appreciation to Alice and David Gardner (Beverly), JoeAnn Hart (Gloucester), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Joanne Hurd (Gloucester), Holly Niperus (Phoenix), Bill Girolamo (Melrose), Claudia Bermudez (Gloucester), Paula and Alexa Niziak (Rockport), Todd Pover (Springfield), Cynthia Dunn (Gloucester), Nancy Mattern (Albuquerque), Sally Jackson (Gloucester), and my sweet husband Tom 🙂 Thank you so very much for your support and for seeing the tender beauty in the life story of the Piping Plover.

Progress update – We are currently working with the stellar editing staff at Modulus Studios in Boston. Eric Masunaga and his assistant Shannon also worked on our sister film project, Beauty on the Wing. Keeping my fingers crossed and not wanting to jinx our progress, but the hope/goal is to have a cut ready to begin submitting to film festivals by the end of 2023. We have also received exceptionally helpful content advice from both Carolyn Mostello, the Massachusetts Coastal Waterbird Biologist and Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist for Conserve Wildlife New Jersey.

Thank you so very much again for your kind help.

Warmest wishes,

Kim

To contribute to The Piping Plovers of Moonlight Bay, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our online Network for Good fundraiser DONATE HERE

 

To learn more about The Piping Plovers of Moonlight Bay documentary please go here.

HipHop

PLOVER T-SHIRTS ARE SELLING OUT AT ALEXANDRA’S BREAD!

A huge shout out and many, many thanks to Jon and Alexandra for distributing our Plover tees and stickers. Yesterday I dropped off the last few from the initial order and am placing a re-order with Seaside Graphics today!

Jon shares that customers are loving the positivity of the stickers and tees. Thank you community for supporting our Cape Ann Piping Plovers <3

Tees and stickers are available for sale at our wonderful local bakery and home goods shop, Alexandra’s Bread, located at 265 Main Street in Gloucester. 

There are several ways in which readers can help support our forthcoming documentary, The Piping Plovers of Moonlight Bay. Approximately $12.00 per each T-shirt goes toward the film project, the rest goes toward making more tees.

To contribute a larger gift, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our online Network for Good fundraiser DONATE HERE

To learn more about The Piping Plovers of Moonlight Bay documentary please go here.

WORLD SHOREBIRDS DAY – A CELEBRATION OF SHOREBIRDS!

HAPPY WORLD SHOREBIRDS DAY! Today, September 6th, marks the 10th anniversary of Worlds Shorebird Day. Worlds Shorebird Day was founded to help bring awareness to the plight of  shorebirds. More than 50 percent of shorebird species around the globe are in decline. 

Our documentary, The Piping Plovers of Moonlight Bay, shines a light on the Plovers and how these remarkably valiant little birds are surviving the pressures of habitat loss, human disturbance, and a warming climate. Massachusetts is at the fore of Piping Plover recovery and we are doing much that is right however, the recovery is not going as well in other regions.

Please think about donating to our film. I think of Plovers as a gateway species, similar to Monarch butterflies. Through developing a deeper understanding of the birds, people will be inspired to do all they can to join citizens around the world in providing safe habitat for nesting and migrating shorebirds.  Our sister film, Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly is currently airing on PBS and has reached markets in 87 percent of US households, in all major cities. Wouldn’t it be wonderfully meaningful to have that kind of outreach for Plovers!

DONATE HERE https://filmmakerscollab.org/films/piping-plovers-of-moonlight-bay/

 

KNOCKOUT RAINBOW AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH!

Charlotte and I ran over to Good Harbor Beach early last evening, just after the sun showers, in hopes of catching a rainbow and we did! There was even a reflection of the rainbow in the Creek. GHB has the best rainbows <3

AUGUST PIPING PLOVER UPDATE AND HOW A CHANGING CLIMATE MAY HAVE IMPACTED CAPE ANN’S PIPLS

Dear PiPl Friends,

A brief note about film progress – Several friends have written to ask why I have not been posting as frequently as usual. For many months I have been working like crazy to get my forthcoming documentary, “The Piping Plovers of Moonlight Bay,” ready to bring to my film finishing editor, Eric. The schedule is tight, exacerbated by a complicated computer crash. We also have a houseful of family and guests, as I am sure is not atypical for the month of August  for all of us who live on beautiful Cape Ann. The great news is I have made my deadline! Eric and and I will be working on finishing the documentary in September, along with raising the funds needed to finish and to submit to film festivals.

After weeks of unseasonably cooler temps, followed by a brief heat wave, the last few weeks here on Cape Ann have been mild and wonderfully enjoyable. We who live here are so very blessed to have escaped the baking temperatures experienced worldwide.

In some ways, our Cape Ann Piping Plovers benefitted from the off-weather but several extreme storms proved lethal. Super Mom and Super Dad laid a clutch of four eggs during the cool spring. Only three eggs hatched, which is unusual for our Super pair. A brief reminder-  Super Mom and Super Dad are called as such as they are the breeding pair that first began nesting at Good Harbor Beach in 2016. Through pet disturbances, parking lot nests, bonfires, fireworks, 200 plus underage drinking parties, and physical disability, along with crows and gulls hungrily drawn to the garbage strewn beach, despite all that, they have managed to successfully breed at Good Harbor Beach for the past eight years. Super Mom and Dad are also the parents of HipHop, our handicapped fledgling from last summer.

Although the rain and colder than normal temperatures delayed nesting, when the weather is rotten, the beach is empty, which leaves nesting birds largely undisturbed. Shorebird monitors everywhere love to see foggy, rainy days as the birds get a break from the crowds. Paula, one of our stellar Ambassadors reminds us “rainy weather if for the birds,” and that is literally true, in a positive way 🙂

We inexplicably lost one of Super Mom and Dad’s chicks when it was about ten days old. The two remaining chicks, who soon gained the nicknames the Chubettes, grew fat and strong on a diet rich in sea life protein found in the tidal flats at GHB. We said farewell to the pair when they were approximately seven weeks old and had become ace flyers, zooming high and all around the beach.

Our second pair of Plovers did not fare as well. Two of the chicks hatched during a violent storm and the family did not survive.

Our third nesting pair, Mini Mom and Scruffy Dad, are a first time breeding pair at Good Harbor Beach.  Mini Mom has very distinct feather patterning and I believe this was her third year attempting to nest at GHB.   Late in the season, they laid a clutch of four eggs and all four hatched and were thriving. That terrible storm of several weeks ago, the one that raged all night and where lightening struck GHB several times, was devastating for the little family. It’s not unusual to lose one chick in a violent storm but to lose two chicks overnight was tough for us all. The good news though is that the remaining two offspring of Mini Mom and Scruffy Dad are the fattest little things you have ever seen and, at the time when this is published, may already have departed Good Harbor Beach for their wintering grounds.

This was the first year we Cape Ann PiPl Ambassadors have worked with Mass Audubon and Devon Harrington, the City’s assistant conservation agent. I simply cannot say enough good things about Devon and the fabulous Mass Audubon team. Headed by Lyra Brennan, Director of Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program, and Malarie (a Gloucester native), along with her fellow field agents Sydney (also from Gloucester), Kirsten, and Beth; the GHB Plovers had the best coverage ever! It was fantastic to have so many eyes on the PiPls throughout the day and communication between Mass Audubon and the Ambassadors was superb. Lyra and Devon had given an outstanding presentation on Mass Audubon protocols early in the spring and it set the tone for the summer. We are looking forward to working with Devon, Lyra, Malarie, Sydney, Kirsten, and the entire Mass Audubon team again next year!

Tiny PiPL chick learning to forage

Our dunes have not looked this healthy in many decades, due to an added benefit from roping off the low lying areas at the base of the dunes for Piping Plovers. Because the base of the dunes are being protected from foot traffic, for the most part, we no longer have receding bluffs with a sharply exposed face. The dunes are becoming gently sloped and covered with beach grass, Sea Rocket, Seaside Goldenrod, and Common Milkweed, all filling in and holding the sand in place.

Dave Rimmer, Essex County Greenbelt’s Director of Land Stewardship, shares that over at Coffins Beach in West Gloucester, he and his team have been managing a wonderfully active summer.The final count is not yet in, but it appears as though eight chicks will have fledged from Coffins. This may well bring the total of chicks from Gloucester beaches to a whopping one dozen!!

New face on the block – a migrating  young Plover stopping at Good Harbor Beach for fortification.

A huge shout out to Gloucester’s DPW. The GHB parking lot has been maintained beautifully this summer. The DPW is super on top of removing the giant mound of trash that is found at the footbridge nearly every morning and also emptying the barrels that are often overflowing after a busy beach day.

Gloucester’s DPW crew also installed the handicapped ramp at Boardwalk #2, making it much easier for wheelchairs and wagons to access the beach. Within hours of installing, the blue ramp was in much use!

An hour after install

Wing stretches

 

OUR CAPE ANN PIPING PLOVER STICKERS ARE IN AT ALEXANDRA’S BREAD! #ploverjoyed

Our long wished-for Cape Ann Piping Plover Project stickers/decals are now available to purchase at Alexandra’s Bread. They are beautiful, so sweet, and I think you will love them!

The stickers are the highest quality vinyl, very durable, and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. The cost is $5.00 per sticker. Alexandra’s Bread is located at 265 Main Street, Gloucester.

Local designer Beth Swan, who also created the Gloucester 400th commemorative medal, designed the logo. She is wonderfully talented and extremely generous and we are so appreciative of her gorgeous, thoughtful, and super fun logo. Tee shirts, with Beth’s logo, are in the pipeline and we will be featuring the tees in the coming weeks.

Last, but not least, thank you to Will and Samantha at Seaside Graphics for the beautiful printing job!
Piping Plover Besties

Beth Swan’s stunning Gloucester 400 commemorative medal

 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL THE SUPER DADS!

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL THE WONDERFUL SUPER DAD’S, both human and avian!

My husband Tom is the best Dad you could ever imagine. From Tom, I inherited the best father-in-law, his Dad. My heart is filled with much joy when I see my son Alex with his daughter and know he has inherited their same thoughtful and kind, gentle loving nature. I don’t want to go on about this because I realize not everyone is so blessed and that there are many absentee fathers out there, mine included. Enjoy all the Dads in your life and know you are so very blessed if you are fortunate to know a good one.

The first photo is of a Piping Plover Dad thermosnuggling his three chicks and was taken recently at a beach on the south shore. I think the chicks are about three weeks old in the photo and it reminded me of our Good Harbor Super Dad. We call him Super Dad for a variety of reasons, but one of the most poignant is how he stayed with the handicapped chick for a month beyond the date when HipHop’s siblings had already learned to fly. It took Hip Hop twice as long to manage sustained flight but Super Dad was with him every step of the way. I think this is very unusual in the animal kingdom and is counter intuitive to the survival of the adult.

The second photo is of another species of shorebird that breeds along the New England coast, the Least Tern. Least Tern Dads share equally in brooding eggs.

Unlike Piping Plover chicks, which are precocial birds and can feed themselves within hours after hatching, Least Terns are semi-precocial and need to be fed by the adults. Least Tern Dads share equally in feeding the chicks.

OUR FIRST FULL WEEK WORKING WITH AUDUBON- JUNE 11th PLOVER LOVER WEEKEND UPDATE

Dear PiPl Friends,

As many of our PiPl followers are aware, this year the City of Gloucester hired Mass Audubon to help manage Cape Ann’s Plover population. We’ve had our first full week of collaborating with Mass Audubon and I have to say it just could not be better for all involved, but most importantly, for the Piping Plovers! The Mass Audubon staff is tremendously professional, kind, friendly, dedicated to wildlife conservation, and very personable. Lyra, who heads the coastal waterbird program for Mass Audubon, and Devon, Gloucester’s assistant conservation agent both have a great deal of experience managing Piping Plovers and are quick to respond to questions and challenges as they arise.

A few changes have been made to the beach. The roped off Plover areas to protect the Plovers has increased, however, there is still loads of space for beachgoers. An added bonus to creating safe spaces for Plovers is that over time, we have seen how the established protected areas for the Plovers has vastly improved the overall health of the beach. Why is that? Because when people and pets aren’t recreating up against the dunes, new vegetation is allowed to take hold including native American Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata), American Sea-rocket (Cakile edentula), Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Beach Pea (Lathyrus japonicus) and Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens). Protecting the dunes is one of the best coastal strategies for combating a warming climate. It’s truly a beautiful thing to see how much healthier are our dunes!

Another change that has taken place are the guidelines in how close we should stand when observing the Plovers. One of the most important ways to help the Plovers is to give them lots and lots of space. If we hover/stand/place camera gear for long periods of time pointing to the Plovers, wildlife biologists working with Mass Audubon have documented that this activity attracts Crows and Gulls! You may ask, “why is that a bad thing?” Crows voraciously eat Plover eggs and hungry seagulls eat Plovers at all stages of development, including eggs, hatchlings, and even 3 week old chicks.

The best way for we beachgoers to help the Plovers is to watch from a distance and not hover near the birds. With a half-way decent lens and a camera sensor with a good crop factor we can get beautiful shots from a safe distance. The City, Mass Audubon, and we Ambassadors are all asking this of the community and we are deeply appreciative of your help.

Piping Plover smackdown – The video is of our handicapped Super Mom. Her disability does not impede her determination nor ability in defending her territory. She is perhaps Good Harbor Beach’s most fierce Plover, despite her missing foot.

Piping Plovers ferociously defend their nesting territory from intruders of every shape and size; puffing up their feathers to appear larger, chasing, and even biting the offender. Here she is in early spring defending her little slice of Good Harbor Beach from Scruffy Boy’s shenanigans!

 

 

 

CELEBRATING EARTH DAY FROM GOOD HARBOR BEACH!

Despite the wind and chilly temperatures, this morning a wonderful multi-generational group of dedicated Earth-stewards met at GHB to clean the beach and to celebrate our beautiful Earth in kind thoughts and prayers. The clean-up was organized by Reverend Sue from the Annisquam Village Church and sponsored by the Cape Ann Climate Coalition Interfaith Group, Clean the Creek, The AVC Creation Care Team, and the Plover Ambassadors.

Thank you to Everyone who attended and for your deep love of Good Harbor Beach. Captioned where possible

Reverend Sue in the red coat

Rory McCarthy (left) grassroots Clean the Creek organizer

Three Generations of Sibley Earth Stewards

399 cigarette butts found in one small stretch of Nautilus Road

Good Harbor Beach Earth Stewards

CELEBRATING EARTH DAY!

Please join us tomorrow, Saturday, at 9am at Good Harbor Beach <3

 

Reflections on Earth Day from Town Green founder Dick Prouty

Dear Friends,

When we started TownGreen in 2015, the level of understanding of the threat of climate change was not widespread. Yes, TownGreen had some good Sustainability Fairs with large attendance, and we had a nice solarize campaign in 2017-2018 with well over 100 roof installations at discounted prices. But was there a general awareness that our very existence on the coast was threatened by sea level rise, extreme heat, and more severe climate threats? Not really.

Now, eight short years later, the tide of public opinion is quickly changing. I am heartened by the rapid growth of support for climate action. TownGreen’s community education programs, informed by the valuable research from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, brings climate change home to our local neighborhoods and beloved icons of Cape Ann, such as Good Harbor Beach. Our programs are resulting in a heightened community awareness of climate impacts and increasing threats to our region. The challenge now is to identify and implement mitigation and adaptation strategies as best we can.

I am thankful for the large numbers of people who have made a difference by supporting TownGreen. There are literally hundreds of you who have contributed to our annual fund, who regularly attend TownGreen webinars and in-person events, and lend your hearts and minds to concrete climate action. Thank you. There is no greater mission than being in this climate fight to save our Cape Ann community for future generations. We are grateful to be working alongside such a wonderful group of friends.

All the best on Earth Day 2023!
Dick Prouty, Chair, TownGreen Board of Directors

GLOUCESTER DPW’S MIKE TARANTINO AND TYLER CURTIS KEEPING GOOD HARBOR BEACH SAFE AND BEAUTIFUL!

Check out the new boardwalk built this week by Mike Tarantino and Tyler Curtis. The boardwalk at #1 gets the most damage and appears to take the brunt of the nor-easters. Even the framing was rotted.

New framing and  new boards – Looks fantastic gentlemen! Thank you Gloucester DPW for keeping Good Harbor Beach safe and beautiful for all to enjoy!Mike Tarantino and Tyler Curtis

Watch how handicapped Piping Plover Super Mom has adapted in how she gets around

Lots of folks are asking, “how does Piping Plover Super Mom manage with her missing foot?” She has adapted beautifully however, you can see from these short clips, that it takes much more effort to get around.

If you see Plovers on the beach know that one may be Super Mom. Plovers need minimal disruption as they are becoming established at their nesting sites and Super Mom even more so.

Thank you for giving the Plovers all the space that they need!

In the summer of 2021, one of the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover’s foot became entangled in dried seaweed and monofilament. Over the winter she lost all the toes on her right foot. She returned to GHB in 2022. Piping Plover Super Mom has adapted in how she walks, runs, forages, preens, and even in how she mates. Over the summer of 2022 she and her long time partner, Super Dad, successfully raised four chicks to fledge. She has again returned to her nesting site in the spring of 2023. She is healthy, foraging well, and nest scraping with her mate!

FROM THE GLOUCESTER TIMES – MASS AUDUBON TO HELP PROTECT PLOVERS

We’d like to send a heartfelt thank you to the Gloucester Daily Times staff writer Ethan Forman and editor-in-chief Andrea Holbrook for writing about our Good Harbor Beach Plovers. We friends of Cape Ann Plovers appreciate so much your thoughtful writing and taking the time to get the story straight!

Mass Audubon to help protect threatened plovers

By Ethan Forman

The sighting of the one-footed piping plover Super Mom, and others like her on Good Harbor Beach during the last week in March, coincides with human activity there meant to help preserve and protect coastal shorebirds during the busy summer beach season.

That includes the installation of symbolic fencing made up of metal posts and yellow rope around the dunes with signs letting beachgoers know the “Restricted Area” is “a natural breeding ground for piping plovers.”

“These rare birds, their nests and eggs are protected under Massachusetts and federal laws,” the signs read.

The nation’s oldest seaport is taking extra steps this year to monitor and minimize disturbances to Super Mom and others of her threatened species of small, stocky migratory birds that have made the popular beach their summer home in recent years.

On Monday, the city announced it had entered into an agreement with Mass Audubon to help with the monitoring and management of coastal nesting birds, including piping plovers, on the city’s public beaches, according to a press release.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

SAVE THE DATE FOR THE GOOD HARBOR BEACH CLEAN-UP AND EARTH DAY CELEBRATION!

Reverend Sue from the Annisquam Village Church writes

The Cape Ann Climate Coalition Interfaith group is hosting our 2nd Annual Earth Day event on Saturday, April 22nd at 9 a.m. We will begin with a beach clean-up and then gather at 9:30 for an interfaith ritual.  The event is being co-sponsored by the AVC Creation Care Team, Clean the Creek and the Piping Plover Ambassadors.  A flyer is attached.  If you would like to help lead the event, please let me know.
Peace, Sue

 

I hope you can join us!

SOME REALLY GREAT CONSERVATION/ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS FOR GOOD HARBOR BEACH!

Dear Friends,

We don’t often hear good news about environmental issues. I just wanted to share this bit of upbeat progress at Good Harbor Beach. While looking for PiPl tracks yesterday morning, I noticed a huge new patch of American Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata) growing at the base of the dunes.

About five years ago (will have to check the exact date), and upon the recommendation of Essex County Greenbelt’s director of land stewardship, Dave Rimmer, the City bumped out the dune fencing that runs the length of the beach by exactly 12 feet. Rather than use the slatted fencing, the area was symbolically roped off. This was done after several years of devastating back-to-back storms that had destroyed huge portions of the dunes. The objective was to help restore the dunes.

Because a newly expanded area was symbolically roped off, foot traffic in the dunes was decreased. It doesn’t prevent people and pets from altogether staying out of the dunes but it has lessened foot traffic at the base of the dunes.

Last year, the Plovers symbolically roped off areas stayed up a little bit longer than usual because of our handicapped family. The net result of these actions is that dune grass is filling in and growing in areas where we haven’t seen vegetation in many, many years!!! Why is this so vitally important? Established vegetation leads to bigger, healthier dunes and helps to mitigate erosion from climate change.

Click on the photo below to embiggen and you can see the Plovers symbolically roped off area, the old dune fencing, the more recently roped off dune restoration area, and the area between where the beach grass is now filling in!

 

Compare to the photos below where you can see the very vulnerable corner of the dune edge by the Creek. The extra 12 foot bump out has not been maintained at this corner and this area is not roped off for the Plovers. Notice how ragged is the edge of the dune and the dramatic increase in erosion that has taken place when compared to the first photo.

In the first photo, you can see the old dune fencing posts are nearly buried by sand because that area of the dunes is being naturally replenished with sand. In the photos below, the same exact posts that were installed at the same exact height are fully exposed by approximately four feet. People sit and recreate right up to the edge of the old fencing in this location.

Only old dune fencing remains at the corner by the Creek

It’s great to compare how, with only modest effort, we can help protect our shores from the threat of climate change. Have a super day!

xxKim

THEY’RE BACK! CAPE ANN PIPING PLOVER UPDATE AND A HUGE SHOUT OUT TO MAYOR VERGA, MARK COLE AND THE GLOUCESTER DPW, AND ROCKPORT RESIDENT ERIC HUTCHINS!!

Dear PiPl Friends,

Yesterday I had planned and written this post to be about the Good Harbor Beach and Cape Hedge Plover signs and symbolically roped off area installations but the grand news is that our first pair of PiPls arrived overnight!!

They are worn out from the long migration. The pair spent the morning sheltering behind mini hummocks, out of the way of the cold biting wind, and warming in the morning sun. If you see them on the beach please give them lots and lots of space. They are travel-weary and need to rest up. Thank you!

Thank you to Good Harbor Beach daily walkers and super Plover friends Pat and Dolores, and to my husband Tom, for being the first to spot the 2023 GHB Plovers!

We’d like to thank Mark Cole and the DPW Crew for installing the symbolically roped off areas ahead of  April 1st. And for also reinstalling the pet rules sign at the footbridge. We are so appreciative of their kind assistance.

We’d also like to thank Plover Ambassador Eric Hutchins, who made the barrels to hold signs and installed all yesterday at Cape Hedge Beach. The barrels were Eric’s idea and I think it’s a fantastic solution for the deeply poppled beach scape.

If you would like to join our Piping Plover Ambassador Team, please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com or leave a comment in the comment section and I will get back to you. Thank you!

CAPE ANN PIPING PLOVER UPDATE!

Dear PiPl Friends,

Very Happy News to share – yesterday at GHB I spotted a little smattering of PiPl tracks. I could not locate any Plovers, but the beach has been very busy with dogs and they may just be lying low. Their arrival is right on schedule. The past several years the first sightings have been on the 25th and 26th.

Piping Plover tracks, Good Harbor Beach, March 27, 2023

If anyone is concerned as to why the dog regulations are not yet posted at the footbridge, it is because the old sign and posts were damaged during a winter storm. The DPW is building a new one, the second coat of paint is going on tomorrow, and signs should be posted by the 30th. Keeping our fingers crossed that they do go up before the 31st! The symbolically roped off areas have not yet been installed. Last year this was done prior to April 1st, so we are very much hoping that this job is on DPW’s  agenda for this week as well.

Signage really helps more than many people fully understand. Yesterday was an on-leash day however, there are currently no signs at the footbridge end. At this time of year, the footbridge side of GHB is the main access point to the beach as the parking lot is still closed. I only ever take Charlotte to the beach on on-leash days because although dogs off-leash are supposed to be under voice command, that is simply not the case at any public space in Gloucester where dogs are allowed off-leash. In the forty-five minute time frame that Charlotte and I were there, 14 dogs were on the beach, two on-leash, the other 12 were not on-leash. I thought we were safe as we were up by the dunes looking for tracks while all the dogs were down by the water’s edge. We did not hear the German Shepherd approaching. The dog knocked Charlotte over and left her in hysterics. The owners did nothing to control their dog as it came back around a second time, only shouting that their dog was “friendly.” We walked back to the car through the parking lot as it was the least threatening choice. Charlotte is not prone to hysterics but when you are only three and a half feet tall and an animal twice your size knocks you down, well it just made us both feel terrible. Me, because I let it happen and her because she was so frightened. I don’t want my granddaughter to grow up feeling so terribly afraid of large dogs.

Back to good news – On Boston’s North Shore, Plovers have been spotted at Crane, Plum Island, and Winthrop Beaches. Our Cape Ann Plover Ambassadors are ready for a super summer of Plover monitoring. Rockport has a new conservation agent, John Lopez who, coincidentally, did his thesis on how off road vehicles impact Plovers. Gloucester City Councilors Scott Memhard and Jeff Worthley have been working with the ambassadors this winter on creating Plover awareness and also working with the Clean the Creek grassroots organization to get to the bottom of the Creek contamination. We have many new Ambassadors and are looking forward to meeting them all at our first informational meeting, which will take place when the Plovers are more settled in. If you would like to be a Piping Plover Ambassador this summer, please contact me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com or leave a comment in the comment section. We would love to have you!

Warmest wishes,

xxKim

ONEGREENEARTH.GLOUCESTER CLEANS 158 POUNDS OF TRASH FROM GOOD HARBOR BEACH!!!

Thank you OneGreenEarth! Last weekend an outstanding group of young people descended upon Good Harbor Beach. They cleaned a whopping 158 pounds of trash from GHB.

Founded by Lia Numerosi, the goals of OneGreenEarth.Gloucester are to improve the health of our environment and build community through the beautification of our natural landscapes. They organize Community Cleanups, providing all that is needed, encouraging people to get out in nature, meet like-minded citizens, help the environment, and build pride in our community.

If you’d like to find out more about future Community Cleanups and stay in touch, follow OneGreenEarth.Gloucester on Facebook and Instagram and visit their website here.

 

 

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION TO CLEAN THE GOOD HARBOR BEACH CREEK!

Our beautiful Good Harbor Beach is in very serious trouble. Over the past several years the water at the tidal creek has tested with increasingly higher and higher levels of Enterococci Bacteria, indicating there is fecal matter in the water. Swimming at the Creek is no longer allowed at any time of year because of the astoundingly high levels of bacteria. Surfers surfing at the mouth of the Creek have come down with dysentery-like symptoms. Families are unfortunately allowed to play along the banks of the Creek in the sand, where fecal matter levels may even be higher, but without comprehensive testing, there is no way of knowing.

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 Clean the Creek grassroots action group has organized a petition. Below is the description of the petition as well as a link to sign the petition, a link to the Clean the Creek website, and a link to a health form. If you have become ill after swimming at Good Harbor, please report as it will be very helpful in organizing data

Website: https://cleanthecreek.org

Petition: https://www.change.org/p/clean-the-creek?recruiter=1301225170&recruited_by_id=413c14f0-c4d8-11ed-9ed2-c185d585f8a6&utm_source=share_petition&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=us_web_gs_ua_sap_20220830_generic-petition_conversions-sap&utm_medium=copylink&utm_content=cl_sharecopy_35728476_en-US%3A3

Health Form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfFetMaHkCEd_N48CkNezWtJ6SKW_KMNLZErjDs1LdVbYEzUw/viewform

CLEAN THE CREEK Petition Description

According to a recent investigation by the city, sewer infrastructure is one of the main causes of GHB creek pollution. Also heavy rains lead to significantly higher levels of bacteria such as enterococci. Enterococci bacteria is an indicator that there is fecal matter in the water. Exposure to Enterococci Bacteria can cause symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, pain when urinating, fatigue, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding gums, and subsequent infections that include meningitis, endocarditis, UTI, wound infections, sinus infections, and periodontitis. In our ongoing surveys a lot of these symptoms have been reported.

Clean the Creek is a grassroots organization devoted to creating a healthier ocean environment at Good Harbor Beach and surrounding water bodies of Cape Ann. Please help us reduce the ongoing bacterial water pollution impacting our health and environment. We are asking that the City of Gloucester act on the following:

●  Increase testing frequency and expand to other  areas.

●  Find the underlying cause(s) to address the issue head-on.

●  Partner with the State and Federal government to gain the  necessary

support needed to solve the problem.

●  Make it a top priority to find the proper supporting staff for our Board

of Health to champion this issue.

●  Hold DPW accountable for monitoring the safety and well-being  of

our waterways in regards to sewage overflow, upkeeping infrastructure, and oversight of new

projects which add to increased waste.

Sign the petition to act for our Mayor and City Council in Gloucester, MA!

*Must be a resident of Gloucester*

LINK FOR CLEAN THE CREEK HYBRID MEETING THURSDAY EVENING AT SURFARI AT 6:30

Rory McCarthy, who is spearheading the effort to Clean the Creek, writes –

Greetings!

Hope everyone is doing well. We have a hybrid meeting this Thursday, March 16th. The meeting will be at Surfari and on zoom at 6:30pm.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/75690729110?pwd=5P3oTDuadOJfBTkloBEw8TVACdkZz1.1

Meeting ID: 756 9072 9110
Passcode: asiA43

Agenda:
1. Our mission and how we can work together to resolve the problem with the city
2. Governing and decision making structure
3. Committee involvement…ribbed mussels, citizen science, data, beach walk through, press etc.
4. Public Outreach
5. Health data collection…if you have gotten sick please, please, please fill out the form – it is super important
6. Goals for the next 3-6 months
7. Plans of action: emails, signs, grants/funding, etc
8. What are we missing? Please let us know if you think we need to address something

It is super important that we all work together, get the word out, and empower each other by sharing our ideas and experiences. We need to work with the city to better understand the problem in order to provide solutions.

Let’s work together to Clean The Creek!

Best,

Rory and Lyndsay

CLEAN THE CREEK HYBIRD MEETING AT SURFARI!

CLEAN THE CREEK

HYBRID MEETING AT SURFARI

THURSDAY, MARCH16TH at 6:30 pm

Bacteria levels (fecal matter) at the Good Harbor Beach Creek are unacceptably high, actually at astoundingly high levels. This is not just a summertime/warm weather issue any longer. Please come to the meeting to learn about how we can all help, short and long term plans to mitigate the issue, how development is impacting the bacteria levels, the wide ranging area from where the bacteria is being emitted (it’s not just “one broken pipe”), and plans to seed Mussels at the Creek.

Rory from Clean the Creek shares information on the upcoming meeting:

Greetings!

Hope everyone is doing well. Christian has kindly opened up Surfari for another hybrid meeting for Clean The Creek next Thursday, March 16, at 6:30pm. There will be a zoom link sent out next week for those that can not make it in person. Hope to see everyone soon!

We are moving ahead and gaining traction. With that said, here is a list of committees that are available to join, including an e-board. If you would like to start your own committee, please reach out and we will incorporate it!

Committee options: community outreach (going to local residents, restaurants, and places like the blue shutters), Graphic design that can create a flyer/yard sign, posting flyers around the city, working with the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Board (organizations that support Gloucester and its economy), citizen science – finding ways to test the water and maybe partner with a local university/organization, and a group to work on finding grants/working with our local congressmen to find funding.

Next week we will discuss our next steps, continuing public outreach, setting a date for a low tide creek walk through and beach cleanup, finding economic data related to GHB, citizen science opportunities, grants/federal fund updates, and any other information that you want to share. Your experience and opinion is important and we want to hear it!

For those that have gotten sick from swimming or surfing in and around the Creek, we need your help. It has been recommended to collect the details of everyone that has gotten sick in a more formal way. We would greatly appreciate it if you could fill out a form. We will compare the dates of your illness to water data. This form can be anonymous and you will be listed as “anonymous stakeholder”.

Looking forward to Clean The Creek!

Best,

Rory

 

PIPING PLOVER FAQS FROM THE PIPING PLOVER PROJECT

Thank you Friends for writing in some of your most frequently asked questions. I’ve added the questions to the new website, The Piping Plover Project.

Piping Plover Frequently Asked Question

We’re glad you stopped by to learn more about Piping Plovers! The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about nesting Plovers. If you don’t find an answer to your question here, please write in the comments and let us know. The question you have, others may have as well. Thank you!

Do Plovers really start walking as soon as they hatch?

Yes! Plovers are precocial birds. That is a term biologists use to describe a baby bird’s stage of development at birth. Unlike songbirds, which generally hatch helpless, naked, and blind, Plovers hatch with downy soft feathers and are fully mobile. They can run, peck, and are learning to forage within a few hours after hatching. The one thing they can’t do is regulate their body temperature. Plover chicks feed in short intervals, then run to snuggle beneath Mom or Dad’s warm underwings.

Do they have predators? What is their greatest threat?

Plover chicks are vulnerable to a great number of predators including Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, American Crows, Peregrine Falcons, Eastern Coyotes, Red Foxes, and Gray Foxes. The greatest threat to Plovers is when dogs are allowed to run freely through the nesting area, which causes the adults to chase the dogs, which leaves the eggs and chicks vulnerable to avian predators. The second greatest threat to Plovers is the garbage left behind by beachgoers, which attracts crows and gulls, both of which eat chicks and eggs.

How many generally survive?

On average, only 1.3 chicks survive per nesting pair. Most chicks are lost within the first two days.

How long does it take a Plover chick to learn to fly?

By the time a Plover is about 25 days old, it can take very brief test flights. At about 35 days, or five weeks, a Plover is considered fully fledged.

Where do they migrate to when they leave their northern breeding grounds?

We know from Plover banding programs conducted at the University of Rhode Island that the majority of Massachusetts Piping Plovers fly  non-stop to the outer banks of North Carolina. Here they will stage for about a month. After fattening up for the next leg of their journey, many Plovers from the north Atlantic region migrate to the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the Turks and Caicos.

During this staging period, Plovers also undergo a molt, where they lose their old tired feathers and grow new fresh feathers.

Just as Piping Plovers are site faithful to their breeding grounds, so too are they are site faithful to their winter homes.

Do they come back to the same nest site every year?

Remarkably, many mated pairs do return to the very same nesting site. Piping Plovers show tremendous fidelity to each other and to their nesting site.  Even though they may winter-over in different locations, Piping Plover pairs may return to their breeding grounds within days of each other, and sometimes on the very same day. The chicks will  most likely not return to the precise location of their birth, but may return to the same region.

Why are the areas on the beach roped off .

Plovers need a safe haven from dogs and people when they are nesting, especially on busy beach days. Even after the nestlings have hatched and are running on the beach, the Plovers know that it is generally safe from disturbance within the symbolically protected area. The roped off areas also allows beach vegetation to regrow, which provides shelter and food for the chicks and adults. The new growth helps fortify the dunes against future storm damage and rising sea level.

Why don’t Plovers nest in the dunes.

Plovers generally do not nest in the dunes, but in the sand, precisely where beachgoers enjoy sitting. Plovers evolved to nest in sand. For one reason in particular, their eggs are very well camouflaged in sand, so well camouflaged in fact that is is easy for people and pets to accidentally step on them. Prior to the mid-1900s, beaches were not as widely used as the recreational areas they have become today. There was far less interaction with humans. Nesting in dunes poses an even less safe set of challenges, including predation of their eggs by mammals and rodents.

What’s the story with the local organization that is advocating to harm, eat, and/or kill Piping Plovers?

Piping Plovers are listed as a federal and state protected endangered and threatened bird species. Threatened species are afforded the same exact protections as are endangered species. It is illegal to eat, kill, harm, or harass Plovers in any way, and punishable by fines in the tens of thousands of dollars. If humans intentionally create an untenable situation for nesting birds, a beach may become closed for the season

Plovers are very small, only slightly larger than a sparrow, with unfortunately, a history of harassment that in some cases, has led to death. It’s amazing that such a tender tiny bird can elicit the worst behavior in some humans while also evoking the best in people who recognize their vulnerability.

Fortunately for the Plovers, conservation groups, volunteers, and an ever increasingly aware beach-going population of educated and kind hearted citizens are working toward helping folks better understand that by sharing the shore, we not only allow for our own enjoyment by keeping the beach open to the public, we are protecting and promoting the continuation of a species.

Can’t we just capture the Plovers and take them to a less trafficked beach, or build the birds a nest in a tree?

Plovers do not nest in trees. If the Plovers were removed from the beach, they would very likely return. Plovers will rebuild a nest up to five time during a single season. With continual disturbance to the birds, the end result would be no eggs and no chicks. The purpose of the Endangered Species Act and shorebird conservation programs is to rebuild the population to return the Plovers to safe numbers where we know the species will survive.

Do volunteers come every day?

Yes, PiPl Ambassadors are on the beach everyday, seven days a week, from sunrise until sunset. If you would like to be a Piping Plover volunteers, please contact Kim Smith at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com or leave a comment.

 

 

Piping Plovers arriving soon :)

Dear PiPl Friends,

Looking out the window at snow covered scapes, it’s hard to imagine that in just about a month little feathered friends will be arriving at our local beaches. For the past several years our original Piping Plover pair at #3 have arrived on March 25th. It’s very possible they may have flown directly from their wintering sites, hundreds of miles, if not over a thousand (we know this from banding programs at URI). The pair are usually weary and in need of quiet rest, at least for the first several days… then comes the business of courting and establishing a nest. I am so hopeful our handicapped Mom will be returning for a second summer after losing her foot. It’s unlikely we will see HipHop, not because he wasn’t strong enough to return, but because offspring don’t usually return to their exact birth location. We may see HipHop though at area beaches.

As usual, we will be providing Plover updates in emails, on our new website, Facebook, and Instagram. We are so appreciative of the Gloucester Daily Times’s Andrea Holbrook and Ethan Forman for their recent article highlighting the upcoming Plover season and helping to get the word out about our Ambassador program!

Welcome to our new friends and possible volunteers, George, Meah, Susan, Leslie, and Terry! Thank you so much for offering to volunteer and/or support us in other ways through getting the word out about our Ambassador program.

At our recent Plover organizational meeting, hosted by Jonathan and Sally, we decided our areas of focus are: Safety, Education, Volunteers, and City Support (thank you for organizing the topics Sally!) Jonathan added April/May strategies, which as we seasoned volunteers know, poses a different set of challenges. City Councilor Jeff Worthley was in attendance, and it was a huge help to have someone who can provide insights into what can be accomplished through working with the City. Jeff shared that in the 90s he worked at Good Harbor Beach for five summers and he was also the chairperson of Beach Parking and Traffic Committee that brought us the advance ticket reservation system, so he also has great historical perspective on the ongoing issues at GHB.

The Creek is still closed due to storm/sewage runoff and it appears the City is no closer to determining the exact source. The fecal matter levels are 14,000 times what is acceptable. This may not seem like a Plover matter (so far, it does not appear to affect their well-being) but it often falls upon the Ambassadors to let people know how unsafe it is to swim there. The high levels are frequently reported on in the GDTimes, but if the City posted the actual levels on the signs at the beach, people might not be so quick to dismiss the warnings. We also discussed that it is probably not safe for swimmers at the mouth of the Creek either as a bunch of surfers that were recently surfing there are reportedly ill. We’d like to thank Councilors Scott Memhard and Jeff Worthley for addressing the contamination at the Creek issue, including walking the beach to let people know, and ensuring the warning signs are in place.

Here is a link to our new website – The Piping Plover Project. Many thanks to PiPl Ambassadors Paula and Alexa for sending along their most frequently asked questions, it was super helpful in putting the list together (link to FAQs). Please let me know if you have any FAQs you would like added to the list.

Happy Sunday and warmest wishes,
Kim

CHECK OUT TODAY’S GLOUCESTER TIMES “TALK OF THE TIMES!” Ambassadors sought to watch over Plover chicks

GLOUCESTER DAILY TIMES

TALK OF THE TIMES/ All Hands

Saturday, February 18, 2022

A Gloucester group is seeking volunteers to help look after the piping plovers when they nest at Good Harbor Beach, and setting up a website, pipingploverproject.org, offering information on the birds.

“We have received a number of inquiries regarding the upcoming plover season,” said Gloucester resident and Piping Plover Ambassador Kim Smith of the website. “And we wanted to have a page ready where people could find sign up information.”

“I envision this site as a place where we can not only get information, updates, and stories about our Cape Ann plover families, but to also learn more about plovers in general, other shorebirds, habitat conservation, and how climate change is impacting all,” said Smith in an email.

READ THE FULL “TALK’ HERE!

 

NEW WEBSITE HOME FOR OUR PIPING PLOVER PROJECT!

Dear Friends,

Our new website, The Piping Plover Project, is under construction nonetheless, I wanted to get it up and running. We’ve received a number of inquiries regarding the upcoming Plover season (just around the corner if you can believe it!) and we wanted to have a page ready where people could find sign up information.

I envision this site as a place where we can not only get information, updates, and stories about our Cape Ann Plover families, but to also learn more about Plovers in general, other shorebirds, habitat conservation, and how climate change is impacting all. If you come across a story or article you would like to see posted here, please forward along. Or if you have a story of your own you would like to share, please, by all means we would love to read it. If you would like to follow this site, move your cursor in the lower right corner and a “follow” box should appear.

Link to website: The Piping Plover Project

Still to come is the FAQs page, which you can help me write if you would like. If an Ambassador is reading this, please let me know what questions you are frequently asked. If a PiPl Friend, please write if you have a question you would like answered. Thank you!

More about becoming a Piping Plover Ambassador

What are the responsibilities of a Plover Ambassador? Plover management is as much about people management as it is about caring for the Plovers. We believe we play an important role in not only representing the Plovers, but it is equally as important to represent Gloucester and Rockport in a positive light. We are there to answer questions, share information, point out the location of the Plovers to interested beachgoers, and direct foot traffic away from the chicks when they are on the beach foraging and resting. Many of our Ambassadors even share their binoculars to better help visitors enjoy watching the chicks.

We begin watching over the chicks on their first day, the day they hatch. The shifts are roughly an hour long, everyday, for about five weeks. We provide coverage from sunrise until sunset. Each person signs up for a specific time ie., 7 to 8, 8 to 9, etc. Several of our Ambassadors like to share their shift with a friend and switching your times around with a fellow Ambassador is okay, too.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about becoming a Piping Plover Ambassador, please contact Kim Smith at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com or leave a comment in the comment section

We are also planning to link this site to a QR code to help folks on the beach who are curious and want to learn more about Cape Ann Plovers.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to being in touch during this upcoming season of Piping Plover chronicles.

Warmest wishes,

xxKim

Link to website: The Piping Plover Project

Hours-old Piping Plover chick, with egg tooth