Category Archives: Life at the Edge of the Sea

DEER DID NOT GET THE 411 TO STAY OUT OF THE PLOVER AREA :)

Good Morning PiPl Friends,

All four chicks and Mom and Dad peacefully foraging at #3.

The footbridge end of the beach is far more active so I did not get down to #1, but Mom and Dad and two chicks were there last evening. I observed as Duncan H expertly escorted the four down the length of the very busy beach. Susan is walking that way when she leaves her shift at 8 today so hopefully, a happy report from #1 will be forthcoming. I am headed back down at 9:30 to cover Marty’s shift so will have a look then if they have not been spotted.

Jonathan joined me on my shift this morning. Thank you Jonathan! He met several of the morning PiPl well wishers including Pat and Delores, long-time Pover fans. Jan Bell was there this morning, too. It’s lovely to have these wonderful members of the community also looking out for the PiPls!

Attached is the latest holiday weekend schedule. Many, many thanks to Jill for taking the 1 to 2pm slot and for also volunteering to check in during the evening on the fireworks situation.

The deer did not get the 411 to stay out of the roped off area!

PIPING PLOVER MILESTONES – HAPPY ONE-WEEK OLD BIRTHDAY AND HAPPY TEN-DAY-OLD BIRTHDAY!

Good Morning PiPl Friends!

Thursday marked the ten-day-old milestone of our GHB #3 Family of four chicks and the one-week-old milestone of our twins from the Salt Island Family. They could not have attained these important dates in a chick’s life without the help of the entire PiPl community and well-wishers. On the one hand I expect any day one will disappear but on the other, I am grateful for each day with these little marshmallows. To have six chicks at GHB is simply astounding!

A huge shout out to our amazing, dedicated, kind-hearted Piping Plover Ambassadors; the City of Gloucester; Mark Cole, Joe Lucido, and the DPW crew; Essex Greenbelt’s Director of Land Stewardship Dave Rimmer; City Councilors Jeff Worthley and Scott Memhard; Coach Lafferty, Athletic Director Byran Lafata, Head Football Coach O’Connor, and the GHS football team. Thank you!

GHB Salt Island one-week-old Plover Chick

GHB Area #3 ten-day-old Piping Plover Chick 

 

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

SIX PIPING PLOVER CHICKS AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH! #ploverjoyed

Good Morning PiPl Friends,

We have wonderful news to share. Four chicks have hatched at Good Harbor Beach at the area we call #3! Today they are one week old, a milestone in a PiPl chick’s life. All four are doing beautifully on this their one week old anniversary. At the north end of the beach, the Salt Island side, we have a pair of four day old chicks, also thriving. This pair came from a re-nest of four eggs. We know three eggs hatched but the third chick, the one that hatched late, did not make it.

I don’t think we have ever had six chicks at GHB and it shows that when a community works together, amazing, beautiful things can happen. The adage,’it takes a village’ rings true when raising Piping Plovers to fledge. We hope with all our hearts all six chicks will survive to adulthood but also recognize that isn’t always the case.

We could not have had this year’s early success without the help of Gloucester’s DPW crew, Animal Control Officers Jamie Eastman and Teagan Dolan, City government especially Councilors Jeff Worthley and Scott Memhard, and the Gloucester Police Department.

We have simply the best Piping Plover Ambassador team imaginable. They are all extraordinarily kind, creative, and helpful individuals devoted to the well being of the tiniest members of our community. With heartfelt thanks and gratitude to our devoted daily monitors Deb Brown, Jennie Meyer, Sally and Jonathan Golding, Susan Pollack, Paula and Alexa Niziak, Jill Ortiz, Sharen Hansen, Marty Coleman, and Mary Keys. Thank you to our outstanding crew of substitutes including Barbara Boudreau, Ann Cortissoz, Duncan Holloman, Peter Van Demark, Linda Bouchard, Karen Thompson, Duncan Todd, and Sue Winslow.

Please, if you go to GHB to see the Plover chicks give them lots and lots of space.  When the parents are concerned you are too close, they will pipe loudly at you to warn the chicks are underfoot. I emphasize underfoot because they are scurrying around all over the beach.

What can you do to help the Piping Plovers? Here are five simple things we can all do to protect the Plovers.

1) Give them them space, lots and lots of space, to forage and to rest. 

2) Do not linger near the Piping Plovers or their nests. Activity around the Plovers  attracts gulls and crows.

3) Do not feed gulls and crows. Gulls eat chicks in all stages of development and crows eat eggs.

4) Don’t leave behind or bury trash or food on the beach. All garbage attracts predators such as crows, seagulls, foxes, and coyotes, and all four of these creatures eat plover eggs and chicks.

5) Respect the fenced off areas that are created to protect the Plovers.

Thank you!

 

YOUR FRIDAY GREASY POLE CHAMPION LEO CANNAVO!!!

Congratulations to Leo and the Cannavo Family <3

BEE PART OF POLLINATOR WEEK!

HAPPY POLLINATOR WEEK!

We can all lend a hand helping pollinators. 

The three best practices –

1) Plant a habitat garden for bees, butterflies, bats, hummingbirds, and songbirds.

2) Keep your home and garden free from pesticides, herbicides, and rodenticides.

3) Support local farmers and beekeepers by purchasing locally produced food.

Please join me tonight at the Salem Regional Visitor Center for a free screening of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly


A wonderfully early-in-the-season for our region batch of Monarch caterpillars feeding on Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), June 11.

TRULY AMAZING WANDERING WOOD STORK – IN NOVA SCOTIA!

Hello Friends,

You may recall the young Wood Stork we had wandering our shores last November. See story here –  Wandering Wood Stork in Massachusetts (Very Rare)

Amazingly, a Wood Stork has been calling New Harbor, Nova Scotia, home for the past week or so. I think quite possibly it could be our Wood Stork. Many thanks to Rowland Spear, Angela MacDonald, and Susan Holmes from Nova Scotia, who generously shared their photos. In the images, you can see the young Wood Stork’s face transitioning from youth to adult and becoming darker and balder, timing-wise, following in what may very well be the progression of Cape Ann’s Wood Stork.

Wood Stork New Harbour, Nova Scotia, June 16, 2022 Angela MacDonald Photo 

Wood Stork New Harbour, Nova Scotia , June 16, 2022 Rowland Spear Photo 

Wood Stork New Harbour, Nova Scotia , June 16, 2022 Susan Holmes Photo 

Wood Stork Cape Ann, Massachusetts, November, 2021

 

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

COMMON EIDER CRECHE – FUJI XT-4 VIDEO TEST

Moms, aunties, grandmoms, and sisters raise Common Eider ducklings in large communal nurseries called crèches. This creche of Common Eiders was feeding on the abundance of seaweed and sea lettuce found along the shores of Cape Ann.

Often enough a wave would wash a few ducklings onshore and they would frantically race back to join the nursery. It was easy to see how the ducklings can become separated from their family. We occasionally find Common Eider ducklings on shore and there is a technique to reuniting them with a crèche.

Please contact your local wildlife rehabber (for Cape Ann contact Jodi at Cape Ann Wildlife, Inc.) if that happens or leave a comment and we will try to help. Common Eider Duckling Rescue with Hilary Frye and Cape Ann Wildlife

Listen to the audio and you can hear the constant vocalizations between the adults and ducklings.

QUITE POSSIBLY THE MOST FRAGRANT ROSE FOUND THE WORLD OVER

After Saturday morning’s arresting sunrise, I took a few more quick tests with the Fuji X-T4, shooting the roses blooming in our garden, or wall of fragrance, would be more apt at this time of year. The Lily-of-the-Valley are nearing the end of their florescence and quite dramatically, all the roses have popped open simultaneously. It doesn’t happen this way every year, usually the blooming times are a bit more staggered, but I am not complaining 🙂

The most potently fragrant rose that blooms in our garden is the Bourbon rose Madame Isaac Pereire. She is thought to be the most fragrant rose on Earth. That is an extraordinary claim to fame but I find it to be true in our little fragrant oasis, as well as in client’s gardens where I have planted Mme. Isaac Pereire.

Bourbon roses originated from Reunion, a small French Island in the Indian Ocean, which lies east of Madagascar. Reunion was formerly known as the Isle de Bourbon. Rose hedges ring the island and here there was a chance cross between the Old Blush China rose and the Autumn Damask rose. The resulting Bourbon roses are known for their repeat flowering, semi-climbing habit, glossy foliage, and intense fragrance.

Plant Bourbon roses and you will be transported to a dreamy Island in the Indian Ocean.

Blooming today in our garden is another deliciously fragrant Bourbon rose, Variegata di Bologna

Our “Mystery Rose” comes from a cutting of a rose found growing in a woodsy glen near our first house that we moved to in Gloucester. When we purchased our own home on the other side of Gloucester, I was afraid I would never smell that beautiful scent again and clipped some cutting (this was before I knew about Bourbon roses). The Mystery Rose surprised in how quickly and how tall it grew. Although only once-blooming, this wonderfully hearty rose some years grows up past my second floor bedroom window. How lucky am I to smell this rose every morning when lying in bed thinking about the upcoming day.

Mystery Rose

Another intoxicatingly fragrant rose of unknown origin is Darlow’s Engima, also blooming and clamoring up the side of the house where is located my office on the first floor, and bedroom on the second.

Two mysterious roses

 

You can read more about Madame Isaac Pereire, Variegata di Bologna, and more potently fragrant roses in my book on garden design, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!, which I both wrote and illustrated, and published by David Godine here.

Read More Here: ROSES FROM THE FRENCH ISLE REUNION

 

FIRST PHOTOS WITH NEW FUJI X-T4 CAMERA BODY!

My new still camera arrived last night, the Fuji X-T4, and I couldn’t wait to test it out this morning. I think I’m in LOvE! <3

Fuji never disappoints in rendering stunning, authentic color straight out of the camera, with rarely any post color correction needed. The X-T4’s new sensor is extraordinarily fine, but what really sold me is the 5 to 6 stops of IS.  Fuji’s ability to track in flight creatures has improved vastly. Can’t wait to test the X-T4’s video capture tomorrow. The reviews are excellent. Even if the video is no good, which it usually isn’t with a still camera, the X-T4 is a definite keeper 🙂
Overcast at daybreak. If this is what the X-T4 can capture on a cloudy day, I’ll be in heaven on a sunny day 🙂

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.

TENDER TINY EPHEMERAL BEINGS – BEAUTIFUL HOURS OLD PIPING PLOVERS IN THE POPPLES

Overnight on May 31st, the precious Cape Hedge Piping Plover chicks hatched. The photos of these tender tiny ephemeral beings were taken the morning of June 1st when the chicks were only several hours old. In all the photos of the chicks you can still see their teeny white egg tooth, which falls off after a day or so. The hatchlings use their sharp egg tooth to pip, or peck, their way out of the egg shell.

 

The most well-camouflaged nest in Massachusetts –

AMERICAN LADY AT CAPE HEDGE BEACH

There are a surprising number of butterflies this year at Cape Hedge Beach. Several days ago an American Lady was warming on the popples and today, a female Black Swallowtail.

An easy way to see the difference between an American Lady Butterfly and a Painted Lady Butterfly

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) ~ Note the two large eyespots on the underside of the hindwing, close to the outer margin.The Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) has four smaller eyespots on the underside of the hindwing. 

Painted Lady, left; American Lady right

GOOD MORNING CAPE ANN!

Sunrise over the North Light, Thacher Island Twin Lights Rockport

 

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

BOBOLINKS, BLUEBIRDS, BLACKBIRDS, BUTTERFLIES AND MORE – MAGICAL WILDLIFE MOMENTS AT GREENBELT’S COX RESERVATION

This past week after enjoying a delicious lunch of clam chowder and fried clams at Woodman’s, Charlotte, my friend Claudia, and I stopped by Greenbelt’s Cox Reservation en route home. Claudia moved to CapeAnn a year ago and had never been. She was delighted to know about Cox Reservation for future beauty walks through meadow and marsh and of course Charlotte had a fantastic time as she always does when running about in nature. While there, we spied a Monarch depositing eggs on Common Milkweed shoots emerging in the grassland meadow.

I returned the following day to see if the female Monarch was still afield and to try also to capture an audio recording of the music where ‘seaside marsh meets grassland meadow.’

I found so much more. A photo tour for your Memorial Day weekend –

Bobolinks in the Chokecherry Tree (Prunus virginiana)

There are several fields at Cox Reservation that are maintained grassland habitat to help nesting birds such as Bobolinks; a beautiful songbird in steep decline.

We’re accustomed to hearing and seeing male Red-winged Blackbirds; it’s not often we see the females as they are usually on the nest. This pretty female flew into a tree, waved her wings, and stuck out her very showy cloaca. I wasn’t sure what she was up to and when a male came from nowhere and suddenly jumped on her back to mate, I was startled and unfortunately jerked the camera, but you get the idea.

Female Red-winged Blackbird

Male and Female Eastern Bluebirds feeding their brood

 

Common Ringlet

Yellow Warbler

American Copper

Osprey pair nesting in the far distant marsh

With deep appreciation and thanks to Essex County Greenbelt Association’s Director of Land Stewardship Dave Rimmer for his continued help with Cape Ann’s Piping Plovers. Dave has been providing free of charge guidance, along with exclosing the Plover nests, since 2016.

Allyn Cox Reservation is located at 82 Eastern Avenue, Essex, MA

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.

HANDICAPPED MOM AND DAD HAVE A NEST OF THREE! #ploverjoyed

Wonderful news for our handicapped Mom and Dad pair at #3. The eggs are safely ensconced in an exclosure, and the pair are brooding a nest of three!

Dad on the nest in the exclosure <3

Our deepest thanks and gratitude to Dave Rimmer, Director of Land Stewardship at Greenbelt for installing the exclosure and for his ongoing assistance with Cape Ann’s Plovers.  If you feel so inclined, please think about making a donation to Greenbelt in Dave’s name to thank Greenbelt for their strictly volunteer assistance over the past seven years. Donate page of Greenbelt here.

Handicapped Mom

Thank you to Everyone for your suggestions regarding Pollution, Urination, and the Underage Drinking Crisis at Good Harbor Beach. Thank you to Andrea Holbrook and Ethan Forman for “Gloucester Beaches Bustling Weekend Before Memorial Day” article in the Gloucester Daily Times for the coverage.

I have to say, we were collectively dismayed by the City’s sugar coated response to the issues at Good Harbor Beach as reported in the Times.

We have written to the Mayor’s office, all City Councilors, and Chief Conley. We have heard back from City Councilor Jeff Worthley. On Saturday, Jeff went from person to person at GHB to let them know that the Creek was contaminated and on Sunday had signs posted by the board of health. During the 1990s, Jeff worked at Good Harbor Beach for five summers and that first summer, when he was only 19 years old, made a list of 25 suggestions on how to improve GHB. Two of those suggestions included opening earlier in the year and dune restoration! We are very much looking forward to meeting with Jeff.

PLOVERS IN THE POPPLES MOST EXQUISITELY CAMOUFLAGED NEST!

Our Cape Hedge “Plovers in the Popples” pair have a nest of four eggs! It’s extraordinarily beautiful in how well the eggs blend with the surrounding popples.

Popple Camo!

Tuesday morning the symbolically roped off area was installed by Mass Fish and Wildlife. For friends new to Plover protections, the roping is placed around the nesting area to keep people and pets away from the nest. Signs will be going up shortly. If you are on the beach, please do not stand right up next to, or hover around the roping. We would have liked to have made the area ten feet deeper, but because of the high tide line, it wasn’t possible. Please, please give the birds lots and lots of space. Thank you!

The fantastic thing about the roping installed by Mass Wildlife is that it is four heights of rope, from several inches off the ground to waist height, which really helps keep pets and little persons from slipping through.

Many, many thanks to Carolyn Mostello, the Massachusetts Coastal Waterbird Biologist for coordinating the installation, to Mass Wildlife technicians Joshua and Derek, and special thanks to Rockport resident and Cape Hedge neighbor Sue Catalogna for her great communication with the Cape Hedge plovers <3

Joshua and Derek

Mom and Dad taking turns on the nest

Can you spot the nest?

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.