Category Archives: North Shore Boston

NEW YOUTUBE SHOW – BEAUTY BY THE SEA EPISODE #9

 

Male American Bullfrog mating serenade

Beaver, Beaver Lily Pad Eater

Reinventing our culture to benefit the many, not just the few.

Pitch Perfect Pandemic Precautions –

Alexandra’s Bread

Blue Collar Lobster Co – Steamers!

Beauport Hotel

Cedar Rock Gardens

Wolf Hill native noneysuckle (Lonicera semervirens) and super Hummingbird attractant ‘John Clayton’

Common Eider Duckling Rescue with Hilary Frye

Thank you Jodi from Cape Ann Wildlife Inc!

Piping Plover Chronicles –

Exclosure installed by Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer and Gloucester’s DPW’s Joe Lucido.

Huge Shout Out to Essex Greenbelt and Dave Rimmer, director of land stewardship.

Huge thank you to Joe Luciodo!

People’s Letters Really Helped. Thank you, thank you for writing!

Castaways Vintage Café Street Boutique

Charlotte Pops In ❤

PIPING PLOVERS ARE ON TONIGHTS’ CITY COUNCIL MEETING AT 6 PM AND WHY EXCLOSURES (the wire cages) ARE IMPERATIVE TO THE SURVIVAL OF THE GOOD HARBOR BEACH PIPLS

EDITED NOTE: Carolyn from Mass Wildlife just shared that Dave has been asked to install the exclosure!!!!!!!

Piping Plovers are on the City Council’s agenda tonight. Despite the fact the wire exclosures have been used with tremendous success the previous four years, there is resistance to using them this year, we can’t imagine for what reason other than the City’s conservation agent was denied a permit for lack of training. The exclosures are still needed without doubt.

The meeting is tonight, Tuesday, at 6pm and can be viewed live. I am trying to find the link and will post that as soon as it is located 🙂

Here is the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84416635156

Please bear in mind ALL FIFTEEN OF THE FIFTEEN EGGS that were laid at Good HarborBeach over the past four years hatched. The success of eggs hatching would not have been possible without the use of the exclosures. Read more below and thank you so much for taking the time to read.

Dear Friends of Gloucester’s Piping Plovers,

I hope you are well, staying safe, and taking care.

As you may have heard, we have a nest with two eggs! at Good Harbor Beach (there may be a third egg as of this writing). The nest is only mere feet from the location of the nest of the four previous years. The attached photo was taken Sunday night at around 7pm.

In the past, within hours of phoning Essex County Greenbelt’s Director of Land Stewardship, Dave Rimmer, to report a nest with eggs, Dave and an assistant would arrive to install the exclosure.

Dave and assistant Fionna installing a wire exclosure in 2019

For friends who may not recall what an exclosure is – an exclosure is a six foot in diameter wire cage placed over a nest and held securely with metal stakes. The openings in the exclosure are large enough to allow PiPl sized birds to go in and out of the cage, but small enough to prevent most small mammals and larger birds such as crows, gulls, hawks, and owls from entering and eating the eggs. Exclosures don’t work in all circumstances but are very practical at busy town beaches such as ours for the reasons outlined below. Also, please bear in mind that over the course of four years, 15 eggs have been laid by one Piping Plover pair. All fifteen eggs survived and hatched because of the use of an exclosure. There simply is no denying that.

Installing an exclosure is tricky and can be disruptive to the birds. In the past, Dave  and his assistants did the installation with lightening speed and the birds returned to the nest within a few moments. Exclosures can only be installed by a trained, certified person. Certification is issued by Mass Wildlife.

It is our understanding that the conservation agent may not wish to install the exclosure. It is also our understanding that she applied for a permit and was told she could obtain a permit if she received training from Greenbelt, as Audubon offices were closed due to the pandemic. She opted not to receive training and was subsequently denied a permit. Because of these choices and set of events, it would be a tragic mistake to deny the birds the protections they need to survive at Good Harbor Beach.

Why exclosures are imperative to the survival of Piping Plovers at Good Harbor Beach.

The use of exclosures is imperative to the survival of Piping Plover eggs at Good Harbor Beach. Over the previous four years Piping Plover eggs have been protected by exclosures. Why are they used? Because exclosures are extremely effective in safeguarding the birds from dogs, crows, seagulls, stray balls, unwitting people, foxes, coyotes, and all manner of small predatory mammals, from eating or stepping on the eggs.

In 2016, the use of an exclosure to protect eggs at Good Harbor Beach was determined necessary by Mass Wildlife’s John Regosin and Essex Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer.

Because of the use of exclosures, all 15 Piping Plover eggs that have been laid at Good Harbor Beach have hatched.

The critical survival challenge facing our PiPl population happens after the chicks hatch and they are running around on the beach; dangers include gulls, crows, and off-leash dogs, as has been documented.

Exclosures protect shorebird eggs from:

1)   Gulls and crows are attracted to Good Harbor beach in great numbers because of the garbage left behind on the beach.

2)   Off-leash dogs running through the nesting area. Please see attached photo from the evening of May 24th from 7:00pm to 7:30pm when there were four dogs on the beach during that half hour. Dogs are at Good Harbor Beach during off hours regularly. The large yellow No Dog signs have not yet been installed in the parking lot or at the Whitham Street end of GHB. Even when the signs are posted, people still bring pets to GHB after hours. Signage helps, but it doesn’t prevent everyone from disregarding the rules. Suggestion: A brief period of enforcement (ticketing) during off hours would help get the word out No Dogs allowed.

 

3)   Beachgoers regularly cut through the nesting area, especially by #3, where the nest with eggs is located. It is the most private area of the dunes, which they use as a bathroom, and it is a short cut to their car if they are parked at creek end of the beach.

4)   Volleyball games are played adjacent to where the nest is located. Soccer tournaments are also set up next to the nesting area. People bring all kinds of balls to the beach and they often end up in the nesting area.

5)   Foxes, which love to eat shorebird eggs.

Thank you so very much for taking the time to read the above.

We are grateful for your consideration.Please take care and be well.

Kind regards,

Kim

NEW YOUTUBE SHOW – BEAUTY BY THE SEA EPISODE #7

 

Timelapse Sunrise Twin Lighthouses at Thacher Island

To clarify about My Blog. Several friends have written with confused questions re my blog. I have been writing, filming, designing, photographing, and painting all my life. I started my own blog long before I began contributing to a local community blog. I both wrote and illustrated a book on garden design, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!, which was published by David R. Godine, and have written many articles for numerous publications including a weekly column on habitat gardening. Here is a link to my blog and to my book, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden.

If you would like to follow or subscribe to my blog, click the Follow button in the lower right hand corner. Thank you so much if you do! http://www.kimsmithdesigns.com.

Baltimore Orioles arrive when the pears and crabapples come into bloom in our garden. Great idea for an Oriole feeder from friend Robin!

Shadblow (Amelanchier canadensis) question from Morgan Faulds Pike

Caffe Sicilia reopening May 20, Wednesday. What are you going to order?

We Love the Franklin Cape Ann

Castaways Vintage Cafe

Gloucester Fisherman’ Wharf

Cedar Rock Gardens

Piping Plover Chronicles –

Piping Plover Smackdowns

Still no threatened/endangered species signage. Please write to your councilor.

How can you help raise the next generation of PiPls? It’s a great deal to ask of people during coronavirus to care for, and write letters about, tiny little shorebirds, but people do care. For over forty years, partners have been working to protect these threatened creatures and it is a shame to put them at risk like this needlessly.  We have been working with Ward One City Councilor Scott Memhard and he has been beyond terrific in helping us sort through the problems this year; however, I think if we wrote emails or letters to all our City Councilors and asked them to help us get signs installed it would be super helpful. Please keep letters kind and friendly, or just simply copy paste the following:

Subject Line: Piping Plovers Need Our Help

Dear City Councilors,

Gloucester Plovers need our help. Please ask the Conservation Commission to install the threatened species signs at the symbolically cordoned off nesting areas and at the entrances at Good Harbor Beach.

Thank you for helping these birds raise their next generation.

Your Name

Link to all the City Councilors, but I believe that if you send one letter and also cc to Joanne Senos, a copy will be sent to all the City Councilors. Her address is: JSenos@gloucester-ma.gov

Piping Plover Smackdown

GROVE! A FABULOUS NEW NORTH SHORE RESTAURANT SERVING BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER, AND BRUNCH – Check out their menus here!

The fabulous and fantastic brand new restaurant, Grove, opened this past week. The restaurant is part of the Briar Barn Inn, spa, and art gallery complex, which is located at 101 Main Street in Rowley. I was invited to attend a soft opening by my friend Sarah Boucher, Briar Barn Inn’s Director of Sales and Marketing, and had the joy of sharing breakfast with her charming husband Jeff and their adorable daughter Cordelia.

The country-style restaurant is simply beyond gorgeous, with soaring post and beam ceilings and natural light spilling in all around. The beautiful light fixtures create a warm, ambient glow and the furnishings are an inviting mix of modern comfort with Swedish farmhouse style and country French.

The restaurant is not only open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch, but the space is ideally perfect for small to mid-sized weddings, as well as a host of events including company meetings and parties. And the staff is wonderfully kid friendly, too 🙂

If you have ever attended a wedding or special event at Willowdale Estate, then you know of their renowned catering team and how exquisitely delicious is the fare. Chef Ben Lightbody, Willowdale’s Executive Chef, is also the Executive Chef at Grove, and he has created an outstanding menu.

I really don’t need to say more, but just in case you have never sampled Willowdale’s offerings, Grove’s French toast, with cinnamon crème anglaise, is the best French toast I have ever had, and I make really good French toast. The outer layer was a thin perfectly butter browned crust, while the bread was moist and tender inside. The cinnamon crème anglaise was pure perfection and the candied pecans made for a wonderfully crunchy counterpoint. I cannot wait to bring my family and try lunch and dinner!

SPRING HOURS

Sunday: 9:00am – 9:00pm

Monday: Closed

Tuesday – Thursday: 7:30am – 9:00pm

Friday: 7:30am – 10:00pm

Saturday: 9:00am – 2:00pm

* Alcoholic beverage service begins at 11am

Call or Email for Reservations:

978-484-5166   |   Grove@BriarBarnInn.com

OUR PIPING PLOVERS HAVE ARRIVED AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH!

Our beautiful Piping Plovers have returned! Monday afternoon we observed them foraging at the shoreline, then chased up to the wrack line by a bounding off-leash dog. After the dog departed the area, the two PiPls dozed off in the drifts of sand and dry beach grass.

The pair look plump and vigorous, not nearly as weary looking as the PiPls that arrived last year on April 3rd, after the four March nor’easters.

Unbelievably, the male is already displaying courtship behavior! And even more amazingly so, he was doing it within mere feet of where they have nested for the past three years.

I know I sound like a broken record, but today was an on-leash day. There were at least a half a dozen dogs off-leash in the forty-five minutes Charlotte, Tom, and I were there. I purposefully bring Charlotte to the beach on on-leash days because of the out of control dogs. A forty to fifty pound off-leash Golden Retriever puppy came bounding up to Charlotte, while its owner stood back shouting he’ll slobber all over her. I was more concerned with the oversized pup knocking her over and used considerable force to hold the puppy back, while Tom scooped up Charlotte. Everyone I spoke with was not aware of the dog laws, old laws and the new laws, and the new 300.00 fines. All the ordinances on the books are not going to do a thing, unless they are enforced.

THE LUXURIOUS AND ELEGANT BRIAR BARN INN IS OPEN!

Briar Forsythe, owner of the Briar Barn Inn, recently took me on a grand tour of her newly opened inn. I had visited several times while under construction and I have to say, now that it is open, the Inn is even more beautiful than imagined. Elegant, luxurious, serene, relaxing, and welcoming are just some of the many superlatives that come to mind. Briar Barn Inn is just off Route 1A in scenic Rowley, minutes away from Route 95, yet as you head down the long driveway, you feel as though you have entered another world.

Gerald Fandetti, architect; Charlotte Forsythe, artist and interior designer; and art and antiques curating firm Electric Iris, have created a stunning first-rate inn and special events venue. The interior rooms are an eclectic mix of contemporary art, the fine antique furniture once found in ship captain’s homes, curious collections, luxurious bedding and textiles, folk art, and Arts and Crafts period inspired furnishings.

Coffee and a light breakfast can be had in the common areas found on each floor. The gathering areas are furnished with comfort in mind (think down cushioned chairs and settees you can sink into). Did I mention every guest room and gathering area has a cozy working fireplace? No two guest rooms are alike and each one either faces into a lovely central courtyard or has a bucolic woodland view. It’s an easy stroll from the Inn to the restaurant, through the expansive terraced alfresco dining area, which surrounds a large fire pit.

The fabulous country barn restaurant, boasting stunning post and beam construction, is opening very soon. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be served to hotel guests, and to the public, seven days a week. I (and my husband) simply can not wait to experience the cuisine! Chef Ben Lightbody, Briar Barn Inn’s executive chef, has gained a reputation for the wonderfully delicious and seasonally fresh food served at Willowdale Estate. The Fandetti-Forsythe Family is renowned in the Cambridge area for their hospitality (The Kendall Hotel and The Mary Prentiss Inn). With Willowdale Estate, and now Briar Barn Inn and Restaurant, I think you will see why.

The pool, spa, and art gallery are opening this summer.

Briar Barn Inn is located in Rowley on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway at 101 Main Street (Route 1A). For more information about the Inn visit the Briar Barn Inn website here. To book your stay call 978-653-5323.

BRIAR BARN INN PREVIEW – LUXURIOUS NEW COUNTRY INN ESTATE COMING TO THE ESSEX COASTAL SCENIC BYWAY (AND WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESS, TOO!)

My friend Briar Fandetti Forsythe is building a luxurious country inn estate in Rowley, on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. The grand opening for Briar Barn Inn is scheduled for November. Last week I toured the Inn with Briar, while it is still under construction.

Set against a bucolic background, everything about Briar Barn Inn embodies relaxation, luxury, and comfort, from the full service restaurant to the art gallery, spa, and swimming pool. Designed by architect Gerald Fandetti, with interiors by artist Charlotte Forsythe, stunning and elegant architectural details abound.

Each wing of the Inn has a unique theme, and design to suit the theme–an elegant silo turned library for example–and each wing has a common area with gorgeous soaring vaulted ceilings. The guest rooms surround an inner courtyard; every guest room is actually a suite, with beautiful arching entryways leading from bedroom to living area, and every room has its own fireplace!  

Stay tuned- more updates on the Inn’s progress to come!

Construction photos of the Inn ~

The restaurant at the Inn is a beautifully designed post and beam barn, and will not only be open year round, but the rustically elegant decor also makes the perfect setting for weddings and special events. Ben Lightbody, Willowdale Estate’s renowned executive chef, partners with local farms, including Cedar Rock Gardens and Aprilla Farm, to offer the freshest seasonal produce and seafood. The full service restaurant will be open to hotel guests and the community, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week, the year round.

Briar Barn Inn is located in Rowley on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway at 101 Main Street (Route 1). For more information about the Inn visit the Briar Barn Inn website here. To book your stay call 978-653-5323.

Artists renderings of Briar Barn Inn ~ 

CAPE ANN WILDLIFE: A YEAR IN PICTURES 2017

CAPE ANN WILDLIFE: A YEAR IN PICTURES 2017

By Kim Smith

Cape Ann provides welcome habitat for a menagerie of creatures beautiful, from the tiniest winged wonder to our region’s top predator, the Eastern Coyote. Last year I posted a Cape Ann Wildlife Year in Pictures 2016 and I hope you will find the wildlife stories of 2017 equally as beautiful. Click on the image to find the name of each species.

WINTER

Winter: Only partially frozen ponds allowed for dabblers and divers such as Mallards, Mergansers, and Buffleheads to forage at the freshwater. Mr. Swan had his usual entourage of quwackers and daily heads to the other side of the pond to get away for his morning stretches. Sightings of Red-tailed Hawks and other raptors abounded. Although photographed in Newburyport, the owl photos are included, well, just because I like them. An Eastern Screech Owl (red-morph) was seen daily perched above a playground and Barred Owl sightings too were reported throughout the winter. Raptors live on Cape Ann all year round but are much easier to see in winter when the trees are bare of foliage.

The beautiful green eyes of the juvenile Double-crested Cormorants were seen wintering at both Niles Pond and Rockport Harbor. And during a warm February day on a snowless marsh a turkey bromance shindig commenced.

SPRING

 

In early spring, a male and female American Wigeon arrived on the scene making local ponds their home for several weeks. In the right light the male’s electric green feathers at the top of his head shine brightly and both the male and female have baby blue bills.

Meadow and marsh, dune and treetop were graced with the heralding harbingers of spring with photos of a Red-winged Blackbird, a pair of Cedar Waxwings, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Kingbird, Tree Swallow, and Grackle included here.

The Great Swan Escape story made the news in Boston as Mr. Swan eluded captors for hours. He had re-injured his foot and someone took it upon themselves to call the animal rescuers, which would have surely meant death for our beloved 27-year old swan if he had been wrangled into captivity.

M is clearly for Migration through Massachusetts and the month-long arrivals and departures did not abate. Short-billed Dowitchers, winsome Willets, Yellow Legs, and Ruddy Turnstones are just some of the migrating shorebirds spied on Cape Ann beaches and marshes. The best news in May was the return of the Piping Plovers. Of the five or six that camped at Good Harbor Beach to investigate potential nesting sites, one pair bonded and built their nest mere yards from the nesting pair of last year. Could it be the same pair? The nesting Piping Plover story took up much of the spring and by early summer four little Piping Plover chicks hatched over Fiesta weekend. Hundreds of photos and hours of film footage are in the process of being organized with a children’s book and documentary in progress.

Piping Plover Courtship Dance

Piping Plover Nest

 

SUMMER

 

OctoPop

The survival of one Piping Plover chick was made possible by a wholesale community effort, with volunteers covering all hours of daylight, along with Mayor Sefatia and her team, Ken Whittaker from the conservation office, Chief McCarthy, and animal control officer Diane Corliss all lending a hand.

Sadly, several Northern Gannets came ashore to die on our Cape Ann beaches, struck by the same mysterious and deadly disease that is afflicting Northern Gannets in other regions. During the summer season they are typically at their North American breeding grounds, which are six well-established colonies, three in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec, and three in the North Atlantic, off the coast of Newfoundland.

An orphaned swan was introduced to Niles Pond, much to the dismay of Mr. Swan. Eastern Point residents Skip and Lyn kept watch over the two while they reluctantly became acquainted.

By mid-July many of us were seeing Monarchs in much greater numbers than recent years. Nearly every region within the continental United States experienced a fantastic Painted Lady irruption and butterflies of every stripe and polka dot were seen flitting about our meadows, fields, and gardens.

The tadpoles and froglets of American Bullfrogs and Green Frogs made for good eating for several families of resident otters, who are making their homes in abandoned beaver lodges. Little Blue Herons too, find plentiful frogs at our local ponds.

In early August we see the Tree Swallows begin to mass for their return migration. They find an abundance of fruits and insects in the dunes, headlands, and beaches. The Cedar Waxwings and Ruddy Trunstones were back again observed foraging on their southward journey, along with myriad species of songbird, shorebird, diver, and dabbler.

Tree Swallows Massing

FALL

 

 

The Late Great Monarch migration continued into the fall as we were treated to a wonderfully warm autumn. Waves and waves of Monarchs came ashore and more butterflies arrived on the scene including new batches of Painted Ladies, Clouded Sulphurs and Common Buckeyes (nothing common about these beauties!).

A pair of Northern Pintails called Cape Ann ponds and coves home for nearly a month while we seem to be seeing more and more raptors such as Red-tailed Hawks, Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons. Juvenile herons of every species that breeds on Cape Ann lingered long into the fall—Black-crowned Night Herons, Yellow-crowned Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, and Green Herons.

Just as Mr. Swan and the Young Swan appeared to be warming to each other, the Young Swan, who has yet to learn to fly, became trapped in the ice at Niles Pond. He was rescued by caretakers Lyn and Dan and is now spending the winter at a cozy sanctuary built by Lyn and friends.

Heart-wings Monarch

Thank you to all our readers for your kind comments of appreciation throughout the year for the beautiful wild creatures with which we share this gorgeous peninsula called Cape Ann. If you’d like to read more about a particular animal, type the name of the animal in the search box and the original post should come up

With its expansive marshes and dunes, bodies of fresh clear water, saltwater coves and inlets, and geographic location within the Atlantic Flyway, 2017 has been a banner year for Cape Ann’s wild and wonderful creatures. I can’t wait to see what awaits in 2018!

Snowy Owl “Hedwig” January 2018 Backshore Gloucester

WHERE DO ALL THE MONARCHS GO?

Monarch Butterfly and Seaside Goldenrod at Gooseberry Island, Westport

After departing the shores of Cape Ann in autumn, where is the Monarch’s next destination on their several thousand mile journey to Mexico? Our Cape Ann Monarchs join the stream of Monarchs that are migrating southward along the Atlantic Coast. They hug the coastline, crossing bays and ponds, and pausing at beaches to nectar and rest when caught in a headwind or during a storm. When weather and habitat variables combine to create a favorable year for the Monarchs, there may be tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of butterflies traveling along the Atlantic Coast beaches.

The Gooseberry Island old lookout tower is surrounded by a sea of Seaside Goldenrod.

The next major stopover is Westport in Massachusetts, at Gooseberry Island and Allen’s Pond Wildlife Sancturary. Here they find dunes and fields of nectar-rich wildflowers such as Frost Asters, Purple-stemmed Asters, Seaside Goldenrod, Knapweed, Red Clover, and more.

Monarchs drinking nectar from Red Clover at Allen’s Pond Middle Meadow

The sanctuary at Allen’s Pond is host to many species of butterflies during the Monarch’s fall migration, including Clouded Sulphurs, Orange Sulphurs, and Painted Ladies.  They, too, drink nectar from the Knapweed, Red Clover, asters, goldenrod, and Black Mustard in the sanctuary fields.

The Atlantic Monarchs next head to New York, traveling along the coast of Long Island, from the eastern tip of Montauk, southwest to Fire Island, and continuing to Coney Island. On the day of October 9th, because of a storm passing through, a batch of migrating Monarchs was “stuck” on Plumb Island in Brooklyn.  After the storm passed the following morning, tens of thousand of Monarchs were observed flying over the dunes and along the beach, resuming their journey south.

Monarchs in the gardens at Battery Park with ferry to the Statue of Liberty in the background. Liv photo and video (below).

Our daughter Liv reports that over the weekend of October 21-22, New York City was teeming with Monarchs. She observed hundreds at Coney Island on Saturday, and even more at the gardens at Battery Park on Sunday. Liv has even seen them in the NYC underground subway stations!

After departing the shores of Long Island and NYC, the next great stopover and roosting area is Cape May, New Jersey. The Monarchs pause along the way, stopping to drink nectar and rest on the barrier beaches of the Jersey Shore. Latest field reports suggest that the dunes and fields of Cape May are rife with Seaside Goldenrod that is still in bloom. I am on my way there today and will report all that I see.

From Cape May Point the Monarchs travel ten miles across the Delaware Bay, then journey along the eastern shores of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Some years the Monarchs converge by the millions at the Virginia National Wildlife Refuge waiting for the right winds to carry them across the Chesapeake Bay.

Some Monarch Butterflies travel to Florida, but most are funneled in through the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains, on into Texas and central Mexico.

If you would like to help towards the completion of my documentary film Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, filmed in the wilds of Cape Ann and Angangueo, Mexico, please consider making a tax deductible donation here:

DONATE HERE

Donors contributing over $5,000. will be listed in the credits as a film producer.

For more information, visit the film’s website here: Monarch Butterfly Film

For an overview of the film’s budget, please go here: Budget

Thank you so very much for your help.

With gratitude,

Kim Smith

 

KIM SMITH POLLINATOR GARDEN PROGRAM FOR THE NORTH SHORE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY TONIGHT

I am looking forward to presenting my “Pollinator Garden” program tonight at 7:30 for the North Shore Horticultural Society. The program begins at 7:30 at the American Legion Hall, 14 Church Street, Manchester (behind Town Hall). I hope to see you there!

male-female-monarch-butterfly-marsh-milkweed-2-c2a9kim-smith-2012-copyMale and Female Monarch Butterfly Marsh Milkweed

THE HARBOR SEAL’S COAT OF MANY SPOTS

Harbor Seals spotted coat Atlantic ©kim Smith 2015Providing excellent camouflage, Harbor Seals have evolved with coats that blend perfectly with the surrounding rocks and sandy shores on which they “haul out.”  Each individual Harbor Seal’s pattern of spots is unique, with two basic variations, either a light coat with dark spots or a dark coat with light spots. Their bellies are generally lighter colored.

Harbor Seals are easily disturbed by human activity, which is the reason why they are all looking in my direction. I climbed way out on the rocks to get a closer look that they found disturbing enough, when a loud crash in the distance made them all jump simultaneously.

Harobr Seal white Atlantic ©Kim Smith 2015JPGFellow friends of Niles Pond and I have all noticed that the seal in the above photo is noticeably whiter. He has a big gash on his neck as you can see in the close-up photo, which I didn’t notice until looking through the pictures. I wonder if that is why he has been spending so much time on the rocks. Perhaps he is recovering.

Injured harbor seal ©Kim Smith 2015Interesting fact: Although Harbor Seals have been seen as far south as the Carolinas, Massachusetts is the most southern region in which they breed.

CLARK POND FOGGY MORNING

Spider's Webs ©Kim Smith 2015Clark Pond duck fog ©Kim Smith 2015Snapshots from a recent foggy morning wood’s walk at Coolidge Reservation with daughter Liv. Nature walk at a tortoise pace as she enjoys stopping to take photos as much as do I.

Spider web Clark Pond ©Kim Smith 2015Cormorant Clark Pond ©Kim Smith 2015Spider web Clark Pond ©Kim Smith 2015.JPGSpider web -2Clark Pond ©Kim Smith 2015xx

FURTIVE CREATURES

Furtive creatures that peer at you, while you are filming and photographing them!

White-tailed deer -2 ©Kim Smith 2015

While recording audio for my Monarch film at the same field over a several week period, occasionally I came upon a deer family. Not quick enough to get more than a fleeting snapshot however, these two deer were spotted peering at me while I waited in vain for their return, so that I could peer back at them!

Wild Turkey ©Kim Smith 2015Surprise Turkey-in-a-Tree Encounter

Rabbit ©Kim Smith 2015Ubiquitous bunny, abundantly present on every film shoot. 

Chipmunk ©Kim Smith 2015Chipmunk

White-tailed Deer ©Kim Smith 2015The wrong end of the deer I am most likely to capture.

 

EASTERN POINT SUNRISE SCENES

Harbor Seals Brace Cove Sunrise ©Kim Smith 2015Photos from around Eastern Point early morning walks. 

Male Red-breasted Mergansers ©kim Smith 2015Two Male Red-Breasted Mergansers Sunning on a Rock

Black-crowned Night Heron -2 ©Kim Smith 2015Black-crowned Night Heron ~ One of a nesting pair possibly?

Male Red-winged Blackbird Love Song (turn up your volume)

SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE Continue reading

Annisquam Lighthouse Saturday Spring Snowstorm

Do Birds Have Teeth?

Snow Goose teeth tomia Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015Snow Goose Beak and Tomia

If I had thought about the answer to that question when I was five, I would have said yes, most definitely. At that time, our family was living on a lake in north central Florida. A friend’s unruly pet goose chased me home, nipping my bottom all the way to our front stoop!

The jagged points in the serrated-edge jaw of the Snow Goose are not called teeth because teeth are defined as having an enamel coating. There is a special word for the points and they are called tomia. During the Mesozoic era birds had teeth. Over time, birds developed specialized beaks suited to their diets. Bird beaks do the job teeth and lips once did. The Snow Goose’s tomia are not as tough as teeth but are perfectly suited to slicing through slippery grass.

The super graphic below, found on wiki, illustrates types of beaks and how the different shapes relate to the bird’s diet and foraging habits.

Wiki Bird Beak Graphic copy

A Splash of Color for Winter Weary Eyes!

Cosmos ©Kim Smith 2014Cosmos bipinatus

In preparation for my upcoming season of programs, which are centered around designing gardens to support pollinators, one of my jobs is to refresh and update the photos that are an integral part of the presentation. This past month I have been immersed in colorful images and tomorrow I am giving my new monarch butterfly presentation at (the other) Cape. Here are some of the outtakes from my pollinator habitat programs for our winter weary eyes.

For more information about programs and upcoming events, please visit my website at kimsmithdesigns.com

Luna Moth Phlox DavidPhlox and Luna Moth

Sunflower and Joe-pye  ©Kim Smith 2014Sunflower and Joe-pye Weed

Goleta Monarch Butterfly Santa Barbara California Cape Honeysuckle ©Kim Smith 2015.Monarch Butterfly and Cape Honeysuckle, Goleta California

Cosmos -1 Donovan Field ©Kim Smith 2013

ZDF Filming at Gloucester’s Eastern Point Lighthouse

 

ZDF Katie FForde film Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014While filming B-roll and “Bee”-roll for my nature documentaries this morning, I came upon the German National television channel’s ZDF cast and crew getting organized for a day of filming at the Eastern Point Lighthouse. They are shooting films based on the Katie Fforde romance novels. Not considered mini-series, four separate films are being shot all around the North Shore and filming will continue to take place in Gloucester this week.

“All of Fforde’s stories-into-movies focus on the lead character (usually a woman) overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream. Each film runs for 90 commercial-free minutes.”

For the past several seasons the show has been filmed in and around Poughkeepsie, New York. This year, the producers wanted to change it up and film north of Boston. I hope they decide to come back next year!

Stills from last night and this morning ~

Beacon Marine ©kim Smith 2014Beacon Marine Basin

Gaura llindheimeri ©kim Smith 2014“Bee”-roll ~ Native Wildflower Gaura lindheimeri — Its Common Name is ‘Whirling Butterflies’

Henry' Allen's sweet coneflower ©Kim Smith 2014Henry Eiler’s Sweet Coneflower ~ Note the Unique Quilled petals

Sunflower ©Kim Smith 2014 copyHelianthus annuus ~ Sunflower

Good Harbor Beach ©Kim Smith 2014Good Harbor Beach Sunrise Today

Cape Ann Milkweed Project Continues ~ Plant Milkweed Seeds to Save the Monarchs!

Monarch Butterfly Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca Honey Bee©Kim Smith 2013Good Harbor Beach Common Milkweed

Last year was the beginning of our first and wonderfully successful Cape Ann Milkweed Project. My friend Joe Ciaramitaro from Good Morning Gloucester generously offered to hold the plant sale at Captain Joe and Sons, which is very conveniently located on East Main Street, and we had a fantastic turnout. This year I am thinking about doing things a little differently. Rather than shipping and handling live small plants, I am planning to purchase milkweed seeds in bulk. My question is, and this is not the official order form, but just to get a sense of participation, does anyone have an interest in planting milkweed from seed in their gardens, meadows, and/or abandoned areas around our community?

I think I can get good quantities of seed of Marsh Milkweed, Common Milkweed, and Prairie Milkweed. All three are very easy to grow from seed and take about 14 days to germinate. I will provide complete information and tips on growing milkweed from seed.

Please answer in the comment section if you are interested in growing milkweed from seed.

monarch-butterfly-overwintering-graph-journey-northWhy is it so important to plant milkweed for the Monarchs? I’ve written much about that and at the end of the post, please find a list of posts previously published about the importance of milkweed. In a nutshell, milkweed is the only caterpillar food plant of the Monarch Butterfly. The Monarch Butterfly migration is in serious peril One way we can all take action to is to plant milkweed to help mitigate the loss of habitat, partly due to global climate change and primarily due to the use of Monsanto’s GMO Roundup Ready corn, soybean, and sorghum seed along with the massive use of their herbicide Roundup.

Cape Ann Milkweed Project

News Release: MONARCH WATCH ANNOUNCES ‘BRING BACK THE MONARCHS’ CAMPAIGN

How Exactly is Monsanto’s Roundup Ravaging the Monarch Butterfly Population?

Where Are All the Monarchs?

 

Monarch Butterfly Marsh Milkweed ©Kim Smith 2012

Request for Help and Monarch Film Update

Header Good FINAL FINALFor the past three years I have been filming the life story of the Monarch Butterfly in backyards and along the shores of Cape Ann. My original intent was to tell the story of the butterflies primarily as it relates to their northern breeding grounds and specifically here in our community. Prior to filming, I wrote a children’s story about the Monarchs and during this entire time I have had an ongoing inner debate as to whether or not to travel to Mexico. While editing the film these past few months, I determined that capturing the butterfly’s story in their winter sleeping grounds as they are awakening in Mexico would only add to the film’s depth and beauty. To film in Mexico would be a dream come true.

In February I am going to Mexico to film the Monarchs!!! This all has come about very quickly! I have to practice walking five miles a day, recall how to ride a horse, and learn enough Spanish so that if I am separated from my group or kidnapped by bandits, I can at least inquire as to where is the bathroom.

Does anyone know of a local outfit that gives lessons in trail riding? And does anyone have experience with a Spanish language lesson CD (basic)? If so, can you please recommend in the comment section. Thank  you!!!!!!!

Stay tuned for adventures from Mexico! Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly will premiere  in the summer of 2014.

Rather than wait until the film was complete, this weekend I made a new website for the film-in-progress. When you have a moment, I hope you’ll visit my website and read more about Beauty on the Wing here.

monarch-butterfly-milkweed-good-harbor-beach-c2a9kim-smith-2011Monarch Butterfly Nectaring at Common Milkweed ~ Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester

Beauty on the Wing celebrates the poetry and majesty of the uniquely North American phenomenon of the Monarch butterfly and its migration. There are no other butterflies the world over that travel this distance and it is a fascinating ecological link that connects Mexico with nearly every geographic region within the United States and Canada. How well the forested habitats of Michoacán are taken care of is as of equal importance to the Monarchs as how we in Gloucester conserve our habitats.

Fields From Which Dreams Are Made

So many thanks to the Donovan Family for allowing me continued access to film and photograph B-roll for my Monarch film, at their beautiful…

Wildflower Field of Dreams

Donovan Wildflower Field & House ©Kim Smith 2013 copySkylar’s Field

Goldfinch and Cosmos ©Kim Smith 2013Male American Goldfinch Eating Seed Heads ~ click to view larger

Large file Juvenile Blue Heron & Cosmos Donovan ©Kim Smith 2013Juvenile Blue Heron

Sunflower Donovan Field ©Kim Smith 2013 copySunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Pick Your Own Flowers at Long Hill

Sunflower ©Kim Smith 2013Last Thursday I spent the day photographing gardens around the north shore and couldn’t resist stopping at Long Hill and Sedgwick Garden in Beverly to pick a bouquet.

Pick your Own Long Hill Beverly ©Kim Smith 2013

Annual Rudbeckia ©Kim Smith 2013Annual Rudbeckia

Bee and Phlox ©Kim Smith 2013JPGCarpenter Bee and Phlox

Rare Footage of a Luna Moth Taking Flight

 Beauty on the Wing ~ A Luna Moth takes Flight

My friend James, the facilities director at Willowdale Estate, sent a photo of a newly emerged moth on Sunday afternoon. He initially thought it was a paper napkin stuck to one of the lampposts, but upon inspection, discovered that it was a Luna Moth (Actias luna). With high hopes the moth would still be there, I dropped everything and raced over to Willowdale to photograph and film the moth. It is not that the moths are particularly rare, but that they are most often seen in flight at night.  Lucky me, to have had such a wonderful encounter with one of the most beautiful moths in all the world!

The Willowdale Luna Moth is a male of the species; you can tell by his bushy and feathery plumosa (or antennae). The female’s antennae are more thread-like. Notice too, just before he takes flight, how his body vibrates, which helps warm and energize the wings in preparation for flying.

Luna moths are members of the Saturniidae, subfamily Saturniinae. With a wingspan of typically up to four and a half inches, atypically up to seven inches, they are one of North America’s largest moths. Luna Moths are most often seen in the earlier part of summer in our region; this Luna Moth encounter took place on August 11, 2013. Luna Moths, like all members of the Saturn family of moths, eclose without mouthparts. They emerge solely to mate and deposit eggs of the next generation and live for only about one week.

Luna Moth larvae (caterpillars) feed on wide variety of broadleaf plants and different geological populations of Luna Moths are adapted to different hostplants. Northernmost populations most often feed on white birch (Betula papyrifera). More southerly populations feed on persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), hickories (Carya), walnuts (Juglans), and sumacs (Rhus).

The damage done by Luna Moth caterpillars on host trees is never significant enough to harm the host trees. Please don’t spray your trees with pesticides or herbicides!

Male Luna Moth Actias Luna ©Kim Smith 2013

A note about the music playing in the background ~

Ave Maria, Ellens Gesang III, D. 839, No 6, 1852, was composed by Franz Schubert in 1852 and is a setting of seven songs from Walter Scotts epic poem The Lady of the Lake. Performed by Barbara Bonney.

Read More: Continue reading

Gifts of Gold ~ In a Sicilian Kitchen with Sista Felicia

 

Amanda, Felicia, Pat Ciaramitaro.

Three Generations ~ Daughter Amanda, Felicia, and Mom Pat

How to Help a Seal on the Beach

Several mornings ago I went for an early morning walk at Good Harbor and discovered this beautiful baby Harbor Seal stranded at the high water mark. Over the next six hours it struggled to survive the world of curious humans. Fortunately, all ended well and the seal returned to the sea. I’ll post a PSA video later in the week because a great many of the beach goers today seemed completely clueless to the fact that stranded baby seals must be left alone. I had to call the environmental police (thank you Lieutenant Roger Thurlow) to prevent this one man from actually touching the seal, despite the fact that the seal’s breathing was obviously very labored and it was terrified. Later in the morning a lifeguard appeared and kept the crowd under control. I asked for her name but the lifeguards have been instructed not to speak to the media. I hope the lifeguard sees this post because I would like to thank her–she did an absolutely awesome job keeping people from getting too close to the seal–and it wasn’t easy.

Good Harbor Beach Harbor Seal ©Kim Smith 2013Click photo to view larger