Category Archives: Life at the Edge of the Sea

WINTER WONDERLAND AT HAMMOND CASTLE IN THE SNOW

Gloucester’s most magical of castles-by-the-sea

 

For more about the unique architecture of Hammond Castle click the link HERE.

My daughter Liv and I love the Cloisters in Manhattan and it’s so interesting to learn that Rockefeller, Hammond’s friend and peer, was so intrigued by Hammond’s new castle, he was inspired to build the Cloisters!!

LATEST RARE STELLER’S SEA EAGLE UPDATE!

From Doug Hitchcox at Maine Audubon

Image wikicommons media

UPDATE – 9 Jan 2022: The Steller’s Sea-Eagle was reported again today, first seen at 7:10AM from the the Maine State Aquarium (currently closed) “heading towards Southport against the wind.” It was found again, perched on Southport Island, across from Mouse Island, at 8:50AM but was only seen for a short time before it was flushed by a passing non-birder. Last seen flying northeast, up Townsends Gut, toward Decker’s Cove, shortly after 9:00AM. There was also a report from ~9:30AM of it flying past the Southport Bridge. Despite lots of effort from birders spreading out across the region, there were no other sightings today.

UPDATE – 8 Jan 2022: First report of the Steller’s Sea-Eagle today was as it flew past the Public Boat Ramp on Landing Road (https://goo.gl/maps/Nvaab5M3CaBYcmbRA) in West Boothbay Harbor at 7:15AM. The eagle was seen flying south, and around 8:45AM it was found perched at the end of Pooler Road (https://goo.gl/maps/Ke9sv2qHaxpdta6o8). Many people were able to see it from roads to the southwest, like Pine Cliff Road, but as people approached Pooler on foot, the eagle was flushed by 9:10AM – a good reminder that people should give this bird plenty of space to avoid flushing it, which causes it to expend energy unnecessarily but also ruins the opportunity for many others trying to see the bird. The eagle settled across the harbor, here: https://goo.gl/maps/FFkWPTHJhVrR3CRS6 and was visible from the Maine State Aquarium (currently closed). By 9:40AM it moved back towards Pooler Road but was shortly after (9:58AM) reported as circling over Boothbay Harbor with ravens, where it was seen flying off towards the east. There were some other possible sightings through the morning, including a second-hand report from Barrett Park around 11:10AM, although the certainty of these, based on reports, seems less than 100%. No other confirmed sightings came in this afternoon.

Tips for Tomorrow: The lack of reports today, and them all coming from a new area, doesn’t help build a pattern that can be helpful. We’ve been suspecting it is roosting somewhere up the Sheepscot River, and the morning sighting of it flying through Townsend Gut seems to suggest that too. It is anyone’s guess, but I’d recommend starting early in an area with visibility towards Barters or MacMahon islands. Spreading out around Boothbay Harbor, or even back towards Five Islands (where it was originally found), or east towards the Damariscotta River (where it was last seen flying today) ought to increase the odds that someone finds it and can get the word out. The Maine Rare Bird Alert GroupMe is the best place for quick and timely updates. Instructions for joining that GroupMe can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/MaineRBAGroupMeRules

Side note: An immature Golden Eagle was spotted by Melissa Roach at 10:30AM, soaring south of Factory Cove in Boothbay. I’m pretty sure this is the first time three species of eagles have been seen at the same time in one place anywhere in the country! Which is pretty neat.

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UPDATE – 7 Jan 2022: The Steller’s Sea-Eagle was found again today, by John Putrino, reported via his Instagram Live stream. He found it in the same area it was seen yesterday, by Thorpe Preserve in West Boothbay Harbor. Parking looks limited and the snow is going to make that even more challenging, but it appears the best place to park is at the Public Boat Ramp on Landing Road (https://goo.gl/maps/Nvaab5M3CaBYcmbRA). Despite a few folks braving the snowy weather, no one was able to relocate the eagle after this initial sighting.

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UPDATE – 6 Jan 2022: After several days without confirmed sightings, Kaili Morgan photographed the Steller’s Sea-Eagle from private property in West Boothbay, around 4pm. The bird was reportedly “active, seen on a beach and in pine trees.” She said she watched it fly off to the northwest, in the direction of Barters Island (following the same pattern that was seen when it was viewed around Five Islands – presumably roosting somewhere up the Sheepscot River.) McKown Point Road, the road to West Boothbay Harbor, is very narrow and Kaili expressed concerned about traffic and congestion (especially because of the nearby Coast Guard Station). Do not park in areas that will block the road.

Tips for Tomorrow (1/7/22): Please beware of the Winter Weather Advisory in effect for January 7: Snow, mainly before 4pm. Patchy blowing snow after noon. High near 32. Northeast wind 10 to 15 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible. Drive safe and do not park in any area that may disrupt plow service. Below is a map Charles Duncan shared in the GroupMe showing the areas the Steller’s Sea-Eagle was seen last weekend (Five Island) compared to the sighting today. These sightings are geographically close as the eagle flies, but a challenging area to bird and access. Do not trespass!

UPDATE – 4 & 5 Jan 2022: No sightings throughout the day. Continue reading

GLOUCESTER’S LOBSTER TRAP TREE IN THE SNOW!

Gloucester’s very own wonderfully unique Lobster Trap Tree, the only one in the world decorated with buoys painted by local kids and local artists.

January 22 and 23rd are “pick up your buoys” days

BEAUTIFUL SNOWFALL WHITE OUT AT THE LIGHTHOUSE

I love the whiteout especially because it obscures that ugly cell tower!

PIPING PLOVERS SOMERSAULTING!

For the first time, as far as anyone can recollect, a pair of Piping Plovers nested at Cape Hedge Beach in Rockport during the summer of 2021. The family was not observed until after the chicks had hatched but we can make a fairly educated guess as to where the nest was hidden. I think, too, based on comparing many photos and film footage that the pair at Cape Hedge had nested originally at the Salt Island end of Good Harbor Beach. That nest of three eggs was washed away by a storm surge during the King Tide.  There was a great deal of competition for nesting territory at Good Harbor during this time period and it is logical the SI pair would have moved north one beach. I imagine that to a Plover’s way of thinking, from Cape Hedge to Good Harbor is one long continuous beach.

One of the most fascinating aspects observed about the Cape Hedge Piping Plover family was the very young chick’s ability to navigate the popples. They used the larger rocks as slides, leapt from rock to rock, occasionally got stuck and, especially when they were very teeny, did mini somersaults.

Why did the Plovers go up and down the steep bank of popples countless times a day? Better camouflage was afforded at the top of the bank while food was more plentiful in the tidal flats. Insects could be had amongst the rocks, but super nourishing mini mollusks and sea worms can only be found in the intertidal zone.

I am currently in the midst of the daunting task of organizing six years of PiPl footage and photographs, from 2016 through 2021. I’ll be posting snippets from time to time. See below for some PiPl acrobatics and a somersault in slow motion 🙂

CAPE ANN SWAN ALERT! NOT ONE, NOT TWO… BUT EIGHT!!!

Eight swans-a-swimming!

What a lift for all who saw the beautiful bevy of Mute Swans at Niles Pond Tuesday afternoon. Many thanks to Duncan B for the text letting me know. I am so appreciative to have seen these much missed magnificent creatures.

The flock is comprised of three adults and five youngsters. You can tell by the color of their beaks and feathers. Five of the eight still have some of their soft buttery brown and tan feathers and their bills have not yet turned bright orange.

The two in the foreground are adults; the two in the background are not yet mature

Deep diving for nourishing pond vegetation

The swans departed at night fall. Where will they go next? Mute Swans don’t migrate long distances, but move around from body of water to body of water within a region. Please keep your eyes peeled and please let us know if you see this bevy of eight beauties. The following are some of the locations to be on the lookout at: Niles Pond, Henry’s Pond, Pebble Beach, Back Beach, Front Beach, Rockport Harbor, Gloucester inner harbor, Mill Pond, Mill River, Annisquam River – pretty much anywhere on Cape Ann!

 

2021 WILD CREATURES REVIEW! PART TWO

Cape Ann Wildlife – a year in pictures and stories

July through December continued from part one

July 2021

Conserve Wildlife NJ senior biologist Todd Pover makes a site visit to Cape Ann beaches, summer long updates from “Plover Central,” GHB Killdeer dune family raise a second brood of chicks,  Cape Hedge chick lost after fireworks disturbance and then reunited with Fam, Great Black-backed Gulls are eating our Plover chicks, thousands of Moon Snail collars at Cape Hedge,  Monarchs abound, #savesaltisland, missing Iguana Skittles, and Earwig eating Cecropia Moth cats.

August 2021

New short film for the Sawyer Free Library The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch!, Coastal Waterbird Conservation Cooperators meeting new short Piping Plover film, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the garden, why we love Joe-pye and other wildflowers, butterfly friends, Monarch cats in the garden, what is the purpose of the gold dots found on Monarch chrysalides?,Black Beauty came calling, Tigers in the garden, School Street sunflowers, Hoverflies, luminescent Sea Salps return to Cape Ann beaches, Petal Dancers and lemony Yellow Sulphurs on the wing.

 

September 2021

Flower Fairies, irruptive Green Darner migration, mini glossary of late summer butterflies, what to do if you find a tagged Monarch, Painted Ladies, White-tailed Deer family, Monarchs mating, Tangerine Butterflies,  yellow fellow in the hood, and Beauty on the Wing first ever live screening at the Shalin Liu.

October 2021

Bee-sized butterfly the American Copper, Monarch conga line, Thunder and Cloud, abandoned Piping Plover egg, School Street Sunflowers, Monarchs migrating, quotidian splendor, Monarch fundraiser updates, collecting milkweed seeds, the Differential Grasshopper, Cooper’s Hawk – a conservation success story,  #ploverjoyed, and nor’easter from the EP Lighthouse.

November 2021

Bridges between life and death, ancient oak tree uprooted, autumn harvest for feathered friends, Monarch migration update, we have achieved our fundraising goal!, Harbor Seal pup hauled out,  flight of the Snow Buntings, and a very rare for these parts wandering Wood Stork calls Cape Ann home for a month.

December 2021

New short film Wandering Wood Stork, tiny tender screech owl suffering from rat poison under the care of Cape Ann Wildlife Inc., Praying Mantis in the autumn garden, masked bandits in the hood, short film The Majestic Buck and Beautiful Doe Courtship Frolic, Snowy Owl boy in the dunes, short film Cedar Waxwing vocalization, the story of the Steller’s Sea-Eagle’s foray to Massachusetts, and Harbor Seal Pig Pile.

 

 

 

SEE PART ONE, JANUARY THROUGH JUNE, HERE

 

BEAUTY ON THE WING: LIFE STORY OF THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY COMING SOON (FEBRUARY 2022) TO A PBS STATION NEAR YOU!

 

 

 

 

2021 WILD CREATURES REVIEW!

Wishing you peace, love and the best of health in 2022 – Happy New Year dear Friends. I am so grateful for blog, Facebook, and Instagram friendships, new and old. Thank you for your kind comments throughout the year.

I would like to thank our wonderfully dedicated volunteer crew of Piping Plover Ambassadors, who provide round-the-day protections to one of Cape Ann’s most tender and threatened species.

I wish also to thank you for your kind support and contributions to our Monarch documentary, Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. 2021 was a fantastic year for the film, winning many awards, including honors at both environmental festivals and awards at family-oriented film festivals, We also had a very successful fundraiser that allowed us to re-edit the film, and to distribute Beauty on the Wing through American Public in order to bring to the widest television audience possible.

Please stay healthy in the coming year. Wishing all your dreams come true. To peace, love, and great health in 2022. <3

 

Cape Ann Wildlife – a year in pictures and stories

Thinking about the wonderful wildlife stories that unfolded before us this past year I believe helps provide balance to the daily drone of the terrible pandemic. 2021 has been an extraordinarily beautiful and exciting year for our local wildlife. Several are truly stand out events including the three pairs of Piping Plovers that nested on Cape Ann’s eastern edge, the most ever! The summer of  2021 also brought a tremendous up take in Monarch numbers, both breeding and migrating, and in autumn a rare wandering Wood Stork made its home on Cape Ann for nearly a month. The following are just some of the photographs, short films, and stories. Scroll through this website and you will see many more!

January 2021

A rarely seen in these parts Black-headed Gull (in winter plumage), a Horned Lark, American Pipits, Red Fox kit all grown up, and an illusive Snowy Owl living at Gloucester Harbor.

February 2021

A red and gray morph pair of Eastern Screech Owls, flocks of winter Robins, and snowshoeing and snow sledding Snow Buntings grace our shores. 

 

March 2021

Bluebirds return to declare their nesting sites, the raptors delight in songbirds’ returning, American Wigeon lovebirds, signs of spring abound, and the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers return on March 26th, right on schedule! Gratefully so, Gloucester’s DPW Joe Lucido and crew install PiPl fencing on March 29th!

April 2021

Ospreys mating, Cedar waxwing lovebirds, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds return, and the Plovers are nest scraping and courting. The early spring storms also brought a dead Minke Whale to the shores of Folly Cove.