Category Archives: Native Plants

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!

 

 

 

 

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVE, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND NEW SHORT CEDAR WAXWING FILM

Dear Friends,

Wishing you Happy Holidays, good health, peace and joy in the coming year. I am so thankful for you and grateful for your support of our Monarch documentary, Cape Ann’s Piping Plovers, and for the shared love of all our backyard and shorebird wild creatures.

I made this short film for you, mostly for the audio, but there is a funny moment when one of the Waxwings takes a large berry that is a challenge to swallow.

Several people have asked how  do I “see” so many Waxwings. Cedar Waxwings are sociable birds that tend to flock together. They make a wonderfully ascending trilling sound, which once you learn their vocalizations, you will begin to hear everywhere. When Waxwings are at eye level dining on fruits and berries, they are readily detected. Often, though, Waxwings congregate in treetops. You can hear them, but can’t see unless you look to the tippy top of trees. Learn the Cedar Waxwing’s lovely trilling sounds and look up!

In the following short, shot several weeks ago in early December, the Cedar Waxwings were intermittently feeding alongside American Robins, flitting between several crabapple trees and a large clump of native Winterberry. You can also hear the Robin’s birdsongs in the video. The Waxwings are here in our midst, as long as there are plentiful fruits. Happy finding!

Butt shot 🙂

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

BEAUTY ON THE WING INVITED TO THE SWITZERLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL!

I am delighted to write that Beauty on the Wing has been accepted to the Switzerland International Film Festival, which runs from November 22 through the 25th. The festival is entirely virtual and I believe ours is screening on the foreign films screening day, which is November 22nd. As soon as I know the exact time, I’ll add it to this post.

Thank you to everyone who has so generously contributed to Beauty on the Wing. All the laurels that you see in the poster are in large parts thanks to you!  Without your kind generosity, we would not have been able to submit to film festivals

 


With gratitude and deep appreciation to the following for their generous contributions to Beauty on the Wing during both the first fundraiser and 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), 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, 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, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan, Mary Rhinelander, Ann Cortissoz, Mark Nelson (Essex), Christine and Paul Callahan and Wasserman, Todd Pover (Springfield), Martin Del Vecchio, Ellen Higgins, Maggie Debbie, Mary John Boylan, Michelle Barton and Christopher Anderson, Lyda Kuth and Maria Letunic (Belmont), Forsythe-Fandetti Family (Cambridge)

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

 

MONARCH MIGRATION UPDATE AND WE HAVE ACHIEVED OUR FUNDRAISING GOAL!!

Dear Monarch Friends,

We have wonderful, fantastic news to share. With thanks and gratitude to all of you, we have surpassed our fundraising goal. I don’t yet have the total as we are waiting for two last minute contributions, but will let you know after they arrive. Because of your kind generosity we were able to complete Beauty on the Wing with our very professional film finisher, Eric, participate in film festivals, and now bring our documentary to public television. As mentioned in a previous email, 88.5 percent of public television stations across the US will be airing Beauty on the Wing, beginning in February of 2022. These stations also cover 23 of the top 25 markets.

My heart is full of gratitude and thanks to each and everyone for all you have contributed. I would like to give a special thanks to my friend Lauren, who has been extraordinarily generous and who loves Monarchs. Wherever she calls home, she creates beautiful, productive habitats for birds and butterflies, and also loves raising Monarchs (and Cecropia Moths!).

MONARCHS ON THE HOME FRONT

More great news to share – Six in total of the crazily late caterpillars that we had in our garden have flown the coop. Two prior to the storm and four on Halloween at mid-day. One butterfly eclosed Halloween morning but three had eclosed around the time of the storm. It was way too cold and windy for the three to fly. They stayed very quiet, barely moving for almost a week while we waited for the weather to shift again. Halloween morning, I put them out on a sunny patch of zinnias as temperatures were expected to reach the low sixties. Sure enough, around noon time they all began emerging from their deep, deep sleep, quivering and shivering to warm their flight muscles. All four (two males and two females) took off in a southwesterly direction after about fifteen minutes of wing warming.

My friend Caroline Haines shares she saw another migrating Monarch last week near GHS, Sherman Morss shares he saw several Monarchs last week on Eastern Point, as have I seen a number of Monarchs (and Sulphurs and American Ladies) at EP, mostly drinking nectar from the yellow flowers of Black Mustard.

MONARCH MIGRATION EAST OF THE ROCKIES

The first Monarchs have been sighted by our friends Ellen and Joel at their JM Butterfly B&B, which is located at Cerro Pelon, one of the most pristinely beautiful Monarch sanctuaries. The Monarchs arrived just in time for the family’s Dia de Muertos celebration! Roosts are beginning to form around the mountainside.

 

I love this graphic posted by Monarch Friends at Point Pelee, Monarch to Monarca.

MONARCH MIGRATION WEST OF THE ROCKIES

Two years ago, in 2019, 29,436 Monarch Butterflies were counted at the California overwintering sites. In 2020, only 1,899 were counted. So far this year, the unofficial counts put the population at about 14,000 at Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and as of October 29, almost 10,000 were counted at Pacific Grove. Roosts with smaller numbers have been counted at Santa Cruz, Ventura, and elsewhere, all locations at well above the 2019 and 2018 levels. These are unofficial numbers because Monarchs are still arriving!

ANTENNAE FOR MONARCH NEWS!

A group of biologists and engineers from the University of Michigan is developing a new system for determining the daily flight paths of migrating Monarchs. The group has designed a teeny solar-powered sensor equal to the weight of an uncooked flake of oatmeal. The sensor will be attached to the thorax (mid part of the Monarch’s body from where the wings extend). Wherever the butterfly is located, the sensor will record time, temperature, and light. When a sensor-bearing Monarch is in the range of a detector, the data from the Monarch’s migratory path can be downloaded and its location determined for each day. For more information, go here https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3447993.3483263.

Dia de Muertos on Plum Street

Happy Autumn Days! and for a collection of photos of songbirds feasting on autumn fruits and berries go here – A very berry good morning to you!

xoKim

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), 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, 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, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan, Mary Rhinelander, Ann Cortissoz, Mark Nelson (Essex), Christine and Paul Callahan and Wasserman, Todd Pover (Springfield), Martin Del Vecchio, Ellen Higgins, Maggie Debbie, Mary John Boylan, Michelle Barton and Christopher Anderson, Lyda Kuth and Maria Letunic (Belmont), Forsythe-Fandetti Family (Cambridge)

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.