Category Archives: MassWildlife

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!

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS WANDERING WOOD STORK UPDATE

The beautiful young Wood Stork appears to have departed the shores of Cape Ann. As far as I am aware, no further sightings have been reported. A week ago, Tuesday the 23rd of November, the weather turned much cooler with early morning temps dipping in the low thirties. I observed the young WS foraging and swooping across the marsh at daybreak before heading to work. At the end of Tuesday, I didn’t see him, nor the following morning when temps were in the low twenties. Daily checks in all his hotspots have resulted in no sightings. Possibly the cold weather prompted a movement southward. Many of the Great Blue Herons that were also feeding in the marsh have also moved on. Perhaps most have gotten the message that it’s time to get out of here!

The Wood Stork has been on Cape Ann for over a month. I first caught site of him swooping over the marsh and into a tall deciduous tree along Route 128. The site of the WS in flight took my breath away. Several times I circled around trying to catch a second glimpse, but did not see. Over the course of the next month, many sightings were reported and by the mid-November, the WS had settled into the marsh near the railroad tracks.

Fortunately, I did manage to capture some footage of the Wood Stork foraging at dusk and am working on a short video. Most of its time spent feeding on Cape Ann, the WS was crouched down low with only torso visible. I really lucked out because the Wood Stork flew to an opening in a marsh tidal pool where I could see his legs and feet in action. This great gawky bird does an elegant dance shaking its feet in the mud to stir up edible creatures. At one point that you can clearly see in the footage, he does a delightful backward turn whilst foraging.

Elegant dance of the Wood Stork

In reading abut Wood Stork sightings in Massachusetts (see story here, of an elusive juvenile Wood Stork on Cape Cod in 2019),  I learned the Wood Stork is rather tolerant of people, which would explain why Cape Ann’s Wood Stork appeared relatively unfazed by the large crowds he attracted:

Mike Faherty, NPR, “I connect with Wood Storks, and not just because we are both bald. They remind me of my younger days doing bird research in the Everglades, where the Wood Stork is one of those birds that, although federally Endangered, could be seen in roadside ditches next to strip malls. Such is birding in South Florida, where the birds are tame and abundant even in the unlikeliest of places. Wood Stork populations crashed from 15,000 pairs to 500 pairs when the Everglades were ditched and drained in the early 20th century, but populations have stabilized enough recently to upgrade them from Endangered to Threatened.

Read More Here: WANDERING WOOD STORK IN MASSACHUSETTS (VERY RARE)

HOW TO WATCH BEAUTY ON THE WING THROUGH THE SWITZERLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL PORTAL

Good morning Monarch Friends!

If you would like to watch Beauty on the Wing today for free, here is the link to the Switzerland International Film Festival. Go to the festival and click the green box with “Screenings.” Today is documentary film screening day so you will be directed to a selection of docs. Beauty on the Wing is about fifteen rows down. Click on Beauty. If it doesn’t play, copy the password (monarchbutterflyfilm22) and go to the Vimeo link provided.

I think the link will only be good through 5pm EST. The festival changes genres at midnight, Swiss time.

I hope so much you enjoy if you haven’t already seen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

xoKim

WHY DO SO FEW MONARCH EGGS SURVIVE IN THE WILD?

A female Monarch deposits 300 to 500 eggs during her lifetime. We knew the rate of survival for Monarch eggs in nature was low, as low as 10 percent, but recently I learned it is actually closer to 5 percent.

Why is the rate of survival so low? Mostly, because a tiny egg or tiny caterpillar is a food for an insect. But I have always been curious as to what insects exactly?

Female Monarch curling her abdomen to deposit an egg.

Michigan State University phd entomology student Andrew Myers was determined to find out. He noticed much of the predation happened after nightfall. He camped out for three nights monitoring milkweed plants to discover who exactly were the culprits. The night time predators were earwigs, harvestmen, ants, tree crickets, and spiders. The daytime munchers included stinkbugs, plant bugs, mites, jumping spiders, and milkweed bugs.

Tip for raising Monarchs – When you see a female ovipositing eggs in the garden, wait until she has completely finished depositing her clutch and then head out immediately and snip the leaves and stems with the eggs.  If you wait even an hour, many will have already been eaten.

We had a terrible problem with earwigs this summer. They ate every one of our Cecropia Moth eggs and newly emerged caterpillars, despite the fact that the tops of the glass terrariums are covered with several layers of cheesecloth and a fine mesh screen. The pesky creatures can slither into anywhere! Next year, all eggs and newborns are living in the house until they become too big to be an earwig or stinkbug meal!

Note the two eggs above – pinhead-sized eggs are a yummy meal for hungry insects

Stinkbug

Earwig

Earwig and Stinkbug bug photos courtesy wikicommons media

 

AUTUMN HARVEST – SONGBIRDS FEASTING ON FRUITS, BERRIES, AND SEEDS

A very berry morning to you!

During early morning walks it has been a joy to observe the many beautiful songbirds breakfasting  on the array of autumn foods readily available, truly a smorgasbord of seeds, berries, and fruits.

My wild creature habitat radar has been especially drawn to a wonderful spot, so nicknamed ‘Four Berries Corners.’ Always alive at this time of year with chattering songbirds, there is a lovely crabapple tree, bittersweet, a small tree with black berries, privet I think, and two scraggly, but highly productive, Eastern Red Cedar trees.

In thinking about the about the most successful habitats for songbirds, a combination of seed-producing wildflowers, grasses, and garden flowers are planted along with primarily native flowering and fruiting trees and shrubs. The shrubs and trees also play the important role of providing nesting habitat and protective cover. The photo collection is a small sampling, and meant for design inspiration.

Native Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and Male House Finches

A male and female House Finch feeding each other in the Crabapples!

 

Grass seeds, much beloved by many including Song Sparrows, Bobolinks, and even Snow Buntings

Poison Ivy berries – by no means am I suggesting to plant, just mentioning that over 60 species of birds have been documented eating Poison Ivy drupes.

Cattail seed heads for male Red-winged Blackbirds

 

Sunflower Seeds fo all!

Along with songbirds, come their predators. Look for Merlins, Red-tailed and Cooper’s Hawks

Blue Jay preening after a morning of berry eating

The berries of Spindle Tree are the most beautiful part of the tree, but the tree is not recommended as it reseeds freely and is notorious for pushing out species of native trees and shrubs.

Seed heads make great perches for dragonflies and damselflies

Coyotes getting in on the action– much of their scat at this time of year has plainly visible partially digested fruits and berries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONARCH MIGRATION UPDATE AND LAST WEEK OF FUNDRAISING!

Good Morning Monarch Friends!

Thank you to all who have contributed so generously to Beauty on the Wing. We are in the final week of fundraising. I want to thank everyone who has given so generously, not only to this fundraiser to bring our documentary to American Public Television, but also to the first fundraiser we had back in 2018, which was for post-production. Although I did everything on the film up to post, including screenplay, editing, and camera work, the cost for rerecording the narration, sound mix, and color correction was large. Because of your generosity for the first fundraiser we were able to finish the documentary and just as importantly, to showcase at film festivals. In this second fundraiser, your donations are contributing to creating a new edit for public television, marketing and distribution fees, the cost of insurance, and more. A number of you have given to both fundraisers, and I am so very grateful for that. The list that you see at the bottom of the page includes everyone, from both fundraisers.

I wanted to share with you the stunning map that we have been able to license from Paul Mirocha, which will be added to the new edit. Paul designed an original map for Monarch Watch, which he later adapted for the USFWS. He has created a new map for Beauty on the Wing with further adaptations, along with the most up to date information on the Monarch’s migratory routes.

MONARCH MIGRATION UPDATE!

We on Cape Ann have been enjoying a beautiful mini wave of Monarchs over the past week. The butterflies are fortifying for the long southward journey, mostly drinking nectar from wild Black Mustard, the few remaining asters, and other wildflowers and garden blooms they can locate. Thank you to Caroline Haines and Ellen Higgins for sharing your Monarch sightings from Washington Street and from Gloucester High School!

As of yesterday morning, Monarchs at Cape May were waiting for the right winds to cross the Delaware Bay but I think the latest news is that they have begun to cross and have mostly departed.

The first wave of Monarchs are passing through Texas in high numbers and have been arriving to northern Mexico in splendid swirls overhead and overnight roosts.

The truly exciting news in the world of Monarchs is that the Pacific Coast western population has seen an uptick in Monarchs, from last year’s record breaking low numbers, to several thousand at both Pismo Beach and Pacific Grove Monarch sanctuaries.  Insect populations fluctuate wildly from year to year however, the numbers were so low last year, their extirpation from California has been predicted.

From the Western Monarch Count, “On October 16th, 2021, over 1,300 monarchs were counted at the Pacific Grove overwintering site; this site did not have a single monarch butterfly during last year’s count. Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and an adjacent site tallied roughly 8,000 Monarchs on October 20th, 2021; last year, these sites hosted less than 300 butterflies.” Although these numbers are heartening, for perspective, see the graph below to show how dire the situation is.

Western Monarchs at Eucalyptus grove, Goleta, Santa Barbara, 2015

Fundraising Update

We are in the final week of fundraising to bring Beauty on the Wing to American Public Television. If you have thought about giving a contribution and have not yet done so, please consider making a tax deductible donation or becoming an underwriter to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to public television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go hereThank you!

An added note – for any person or organization contributing over $1,000.00, your name will be at the beginning and end credits each and every time the documentary airs nationwide! For contributions of $5,000.00 or more, your organization’s logo will be featured in the credits. For more information, please feel free to contact me.

With gratitude and deep appreciation to the following for their generous contributions to Beauty on the Wing during both the first fundraiser and the current fundraiser –

Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), John Hauck Foundation, New Breeze Foundation, Jan and Bob Crandall, Nina Goodick, Sherman Morss, Jay Featherstone, Juni VanDyke, Karen Maslow, Kimberly McGovern, Megan Houser (Pride’s Crossing), Jim VanBuskirk (Pittsburgh), Donna Stroman, Joey Ciaramitaro, Robert Redis (New York), Hilda Santos (Saugus), Patricia VanDerpool, Fred Fredericks (Chelmsford), Leslie Heffron, Dave Moore (Korea), John Steiger, Pat Dalpiaz, Amy Kerr, Barbara T. (Jewett, NY), Roberta C. (NY), Marianne G. (Windham, NY), Paula Ryan O’Brien (Walton, NY), Martha Swanson, Patti Sullivan, Ronn Farren, Susan Nadworny (Merose), Diane Lindquist (Manchester), Jennifer Cullen, Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Nancy Leavitt, Susan Pollack, Alice and David Gardner (Beverly), Kristina and Gene Martin, Gail and Thomas Pease (Beverly), Carol and Duncan Ballantyne (Beverly), Sharon Byrne Kashida, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan, Mary Rhinelander, Ann Cortissoz, Mark Nelson (Essex), Christine and Paul Callahan and Wassetman, Todd Pover, Martin Del Vecchio, Ellen Higgins

#ploverjoyed FOR A BIT OF PLOVER FLOUFERY!

Over the weekend a mini flock of a half dozen Semipalmated Plovers arrived on Eastern Point, basking in the warm sun and partaking of an abundance of sea worms. I had to take a second look because at this time of year, Semipalmated Plovers look very similar to Piping Plovers. The SemiPs fade from rich chocolate brown and black plumage to hues of weathered driftwood and sandy shores, very closely resembling their cousins.

SemiPs bathe just as do PiPls. They cautiously approach the water, making sure there are no predators before plunging. Repeatedly dipping and diving, then springing from the water with  outstretched wings in a hopping flourish, they then take some quiet moments to flouf and to pouf.