Beautiful Snow Buntings have returned to our shores! You can find them in sand dunes but mostly they can be observed in areas where wildflowers and grasses meet rocky outcroppings and the varying shades of their brown, rust, ivory, and black feathers camouflages perfectly with popples, boulders, and shoreline vegetation.
It’s so nice to write “Cape Ann Plover Central” as I feel this nest on Cape Hedge Beach is an indication that the Pover population may be expanding further throughout our region. You can’t really make a judgement based on one family of Plovers, but with two at GHB and now one at CHB, I think the Cape Ann community as a team is doing our part to help restore this beautiful tender species.
All three chicks, plus Dad, were at GHB feeding in the flats, running nearly the entire length of the beach. I was there at 5am, and then again at 7:30 to say hello to Susan, and did not spot Mom this morning. If anyone sees all five together today, please write.
The Cape Hedge Beach family are thriving, too. One teeny tiny nearly got washed away by a wave this morning. It made me think, what if that actually happens, and a chicklet doesn’t right itself after a wave crashes over its head. I guess we’ll just jump in and try to find it!
Dad at Salt Island was sitting proudly on his nest, chest a-puff, and looking pretty pleased with himself. Perhaps we should call these two Salty and Izzie, rather than Dad and Mom one and two. On that note, Footie and Bridgette for our No.3 family, but I like Sally’s name for Dad, which is Handsome 🙂
Several of our Ambassadors have reminded me that over the Fourth of July weekend, people have been letting off fireworks near the Plovers at Good Harbor Beach. Next email is to Mayor Sefatia and Chief Conley. I am sure the GPD is super, super busy on the night of the Fourth, but I am wondering how Good Harbor Beach will be patrolled knowing it has become a hotspot for fireworks. There are crazy amounts of fireworks going off at Long Beach so I am also wondering, what happens at Cape Hedge and will email Susan C, who lives there and is a new Ambassador.
The GHB chicks were about 15 days old when this clip was shot. Often after thermosnuggling, the chicks pop up and stretch their developing wing muscles. The clip is extra fun because you don’t often see all three stretching as they run off, or if they do stretch, they do it some distance from where they were regulating. A lucky shot for the filmmaker 🙂
Thank goodness for yesterday’s blessed rain! Have a wonderfully cool and comfortable day.
I hope everyone saw the earlier email; all three are present and feeding in the wrack and at the flats. Mom is using her foot today but either there is a new piece of seaweed attached to the part that is still wrapped around her foot or the old piece is coming untangled (wouldn’t that be fantastic!). We’ll just keep monitoring her. I hope the family heads down to the Creek today.
In searching for the chick last night, I found a second nest, with three eggs. This is wonderful and exciting and also follows the behavior of several other pairs around the north shore whose nests were wiped out by that tide and are now renesting. This is a huge commitment on all our parts. Please let me know if you need to spend less time on the beach with our new soon to be chicks and we will try to work out a schedule suitable for everyone.
New nest at Salt island
After that king tide of May 29th wiped out the nest at the Salt Island side, I couldn’t locate the #1 pair and didn’t see any signs of renesting, and no signs of the very pale female. It was very surprising a few days ago to see theSalt Island pale Mom in the roped off area visiting at #3. The Salt Island Dad has been spotted frequently by all of us but I do not know when the first egg was laid therefore we don’t have a definite hatch day. I will try to figure out an approximate time frame and let everyone know. Joe and Dave have been alerted and hopefully the exclosure will go up tomorrow.
All that being said, this is going to be a tough one I think, hatching so late during the busiest part of the summer and so far away from the Creek. We’ll just do the very best we can.
Thanks so very much again to Jonathan, Duncan, and Duncan. The lanyard and badges are such a tremendous help!!!
Sally and I were remarking last night how the chicks seemed to have grown overnight. The plumplings are losing their baby faces and are turning into tweens. All three were feasting in the tide flats and wrack. The tide again was high, not as high as the previous two days, and the receding water is leaving a smorgasbord in its wake. The beach is so quiet on these foggy misty days. Perhaps the peaceful time foraging has allowed them to put on extra ounces.
I only saw Mom very briefly this morning. She was not putting any weight on her right foot and there appears to be a new piece of seaweed attached. I am going to stop by later today and try to get a better look.
Jonathan arrived this morning at GHB with the most fantastic and perfect Piping Plover badges. I think he is passing the bag along to Heidi, who will pass on to either Bette Jean or Jane Marie, and so on throughout the day. A thoughtful gift for us all and so very needed. A HUGE shoutout and thank you to Jonathan for organizing and purchasing, to Duncan T for his wonderful graphic skills, and to Duncan H for helping to organize.
Heidi saw a Dogfish Shark several days ago at the Creek! I think this is the second sighting in the past week. I’ll post her video later today.
Have a great day!
The chicks two days apart, at 14 days and 16 days old
Last week I had the joy of presenting my Monarch documentary Beauty on the Wing to a wonderful bunch of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade O’Maley students. I was invited by the school’s Spanish teacher Heidi Wakeman. Ardis Francour’s library media classes participated as well. The kids were wonderfully engaged and asked the best questions!
Heidi shared their thank you notes. I am so impressed by the kids expressive notes and drawings. Here are just some of their thoughts : Olivia writes, “…The documentary was super interesting and informed me on a topic I didn’t know much about…, ” and Brady writes, ” My favorite part was when you showed the butterfly escaping the chrysalis.” I shared the notes with my husband this morning and we both enjoyed Cassidy’s comment, …”It is crazy that it took ten years to make, that must take a lot of dedication and patience.” Yes, Cassidy it does take a lot of dedication and patience, and YES, it is a bit crazy!
Thanks so much again O’Maley students, Heidi, Ardis, and the Gloucester Cultural Council! it was My Joy!
Monarchs are currently migrating, albeit in small numbers, throughout the North Shore. The butterflies arrived several days ago and because of the rainy weather, they are in a holding pattern. When the sun reappears, look for Monarchs on any still-blooming garden favorites such as zinnias, as well as wildflowers. Please send an email or comment in the comment section if you see Monarchs in your garden or while outdoors over the weekend and upcoming week. Thank you!
Many species of asters and goldenrods have finished flowering; instead the Monarchs are fortifying for the long journey by drinking nectar at Black Mustard flowers, and even Dandelions.
Although not native to North America, Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) is beneficial to bees and butterflies for late season sustenance. Don’t you love its lemony golden beauty in the autumn sunlight?
Black Mustard is not the easiest nor most efficient plant for Monarchs to draw nectar from. I never see the butterflies on Black Mustard unless it is very late in the migration and there are few other choices available.
The ray flowers of asters provide a convenient landing pad for butterflies. Panicle-shaped flowering plant, such as goldenrods, also provide a convenient landing pad while supplying a smorgasbord of nectar rich florets. Black Mustard provides neither. You can see in several photos in an upcoming post that the Monarchs are nectaring with their legs gripped tightly around the base of the flower.
Black Mustard is an annual plant native to Eurasia and North Africa. Cultivated widely as a condiment, medicinally, and vegetable, it came to North America via the early colonists. The plant is in bloom from May through October, or until the first hard frost, and grows well in disturbed man-made sites.
Black Mustard is a member of the Brassicaceae, also classically called the Cruciferae (Latin, meaning ‘cross-bearing’) in reference to its four ‘crossed petals’, which is commonly known as the mustard family. Black Mustard is related to cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, turnips, and watercress.
Startled! is an apt description of the reaction most gardeners experience when first they encounter a clearwing moth. Hovering while nectaring, with wings whirring rapidly and audibly, is it a miniature hummingbird, enormous furry bee, flying lobster, or mutant new world creature?Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) nectaring at Verbena bonariensis
The family Sphingidae are easily identified in both their adult and caterpillar forms. The medium-to-large-sized sphinx, or hawk, moths have characteristic robust, chunky bodies tapering to a point, and slender wings, which are adapted for rapid and sustained flight. Often mistaken for hummingbirds, the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe), with green tufted body and ruby colored scales, suggesting the male hummingbird, and the Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis), with the gold and black striped color pattern similar to that of a fat bumble bee, mimic both the bees and birds they fly with during the day. The ability of certain Sphingids to hover in mid air while nectaring is unusual in nectar feeders and has evolved in only three species: Sphingids, bats, and hummingbirds. Sphinx moths also do an exceptionally unusual movement called “swing-hovering,” swinging from side to side while hovering, it is thought, in an effort to escape predators lying in wait amongst the flora.
Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis), nectaring at Buddleia
Sphinx moths are grouped together because their caterpillars hold their head and thorax erect in a sphinx-like fashion. Most larvae have a horn protruding from their last segment. For this reason, they are often called hornworms. The adult sphinx moth is a powerful flier and usually has a long proboscis suitable for tubular-shaped flowers with a deep calyx, such as trumpet vine. The slender wings must beat rapidly to support their heavy bodies. The names of many sphinx or hawk moth species correlate to their caterpillar host plant, to name but a few examples: Catalpa Sphinx, Huckleberry Sphinx, Paw Paw Sphinx, Cherry Sphinx, and Elm Sphinx.
The order Lepidoptera is comprised of butterflies, moths and skippers. The name is derived from the Greek lepidos for scales and ptera for wings. Their scaled wings distinguish them as a group from all other insects. Shortly after the Hummingbird and Snowberry Clearwings are born, they immediately begin to shed their wing scales, hence the common name clearwing moth. While nectaring, moths receive a dusting of pollen as they brush against the pollen-bearing anthers. Their fuzzy, fur-like scale-covered bodies are an excellent transporter of pollen. Because moths are on the wing primarily at night, moth-pollinated flowers are often white and pale, pastel-hued and tend to be sweetly scented. White flowers are more easily distinguished in the evening light, whereas colorful flowers disappear. Adult clearwing moths are diurnal (day flying) and nectar at a variety of flowers. In our garden, they are most often spotted at our native Phlox ‘David,’ bee balm (Monarda didyma), purple-top Verbena bonariensis, and butterfly bushes with blue and white flowers. The larvae of Hummingbird Clearwings feed primarily on viburnum, honeysuckle, and snowberry (all Caprifoliaceae), and less commonly on hawthorn, cherry, and plum (Rosaceae). Snowberry larvae feed on honeysuckle and snowberry.
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth nectaring at native Phlox paniculata ‘David’
(Click photo to see full size image)
For the most part, Sphinx moths are on the wing at night, although the beautiful White-lined Sphinx (Hyleslineata) is often seen at dusk. The forward wings are dark olive brown streaked with white. The hind wings are black with a vivid band of rose-pink. Found throughout North America, both larvae and adults are consummate generalists. The caterpillars feed on the foliage of apple trees, four-o’clocks, evening primrose, elm, grape, and tomato. The adults nectar at a wide variety of flowers including larkspur, gaura, columbine, petunia, moonflower, lilac, bouncing bet, clover, Jimson weed, and thistle. White-lined Sphinxes are drawn to lights and those that remain in the garden the next morning are quite subdued, and may come to your finger.
Orchids often have a symbiotic relation to very specific sphinx moths. The starry white, six-petalled Comet Orchid (the French common name, “Etoile de Madagascar” means “Star of Madagascar”) produces nectar at the bottom of an extremely long corolla, nearly a foot in length. Star of Madagascar (Angraecum sesquipedale) was predicted by Charles Darwin to have a highly specialized moth pollinator with a proboscis at least that long. “Angraecum sesquipedale has nectaries eleven and a half inches long, with only the lower half filled with very sweet nectar…it is, however, surprising, that any insect should be able to reach the nectar: our English sphinxes have probosces as long as their bodies; but in Madagascar there must be moths with probosces capable of extension to a length of between ten and twelve inches!” (Darwin). The giant hawk moth Xanthopanmorganii praedicta (“the predicted one”) was named appropriately upon its discovery, after Darwin’s death.
Etoile de Madagascar and Hawk Moth Xanthopanmorganii praedicta
Image courtesy wiki commons media
Co-evolution, the specialized biological embrace of two species, bears both benefits and risks. Each partner benefits in that no energy is wasted on finding ways to reproduce. The risk lies in becoming too dependent on a single species. If one half of the co-evolved partnership perishes, the other will surely become extinct as well.
This article was first published on August 3, 2011 and was subsequently republished by the New England Wildflower Society.
Thermo-snuggling for the better part of the early morning and all was quiet. Dad suddenly began piping loudly, jumped up, and flew from Marshmallow. I was busy watching Marshmallow when out of nowhere, our GHB Red Fox trotted through the backside of home base, mere feet from where they had been snuggling, with Dad hot on the Fox’s heels!
At this point in Marshmallow’s life, I don’t think the Red Fox poses a tremendous threat, but they are a threat nonetheless. Anything canid, whether dog, fox, or coyote may step inadvertently on a young chick when they are hunkered down in place and are not yet fully fledged. Additionally, Red Fox dig and hunt shorebird eggs. A Piping Plover cannot tell the difference between a Red Fox and a domestic dog. Dogs have been allowed by their owners to chase after shorebirds for sport, which is another reason the PiPls find the Fox so threatening.
Shortly after the Fox sighting, the pair headed to the Creek where lots of yummy invertebrates were had, including a mini mollusk that you can see the tail end of in Marshmallow’s mouth, and sea worms, fat and thin. Heidi came along soon after. I think the birds Heidi remarked on are the Killdeer family; they were there earlier at the Creek until Dad had chased them off the scene to clear the way for his Marshmallow 🙂Added note about the Red Fox family – The Red Foxes we see currently at Good Harbor Beach are almost always carrying fresh prey in their mouths, small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels, for example, and I don’t think they are going to drop an adult rabbit to chase after a Piping Plover. The Foxes are now crisscrossing the beach several times a day with their mouths full on the return trip, which leads me to believe, the kits have not yet dispersed and Mom and Dad Fox have their paws full supplying the rapidly growing youngsters with nourishment.
The Red Fox diet also includes fresh fruit and berries. If you have a Mulberry tree ripe with fruit you may currently be seeing them in your backyard. I am looking forward to when our neighbor’s apples begin falling from her tree and hope so much our neighborhood Red Fox finds the fallen apple feast.
Heads up – very buggy at the Creek this morning. Hardly any trash today, and isn’t that great news that Mayor Sefatia has closed the beach to nonresidents!
A people and parking pandemonium marked the second weekend in July at Cape Ann beaches during the global pandemic. Mayor Sefatia, Chief Conley, City Council, and the DPW have been working to address last weekend’s pandemic pandemonium so same is not repeated.
The City of Gloucester has closed the parking lots at its three most densely populated beaches, Wingaersheek, Good Harbor Beach, and Stage Fort Park, to resident parking only. In addition, new no parking signs are being installed on residential streets this week, which include towing warnings. Gloucester is not the only community struggling with massive numbers of day trippers overcrowding beaches and parking illegally. Rockport is also experiencing many similar issues.
The amount of parking tickets issued last weekend shattered all previous records. According to Gloucester Times reporting by Taylor Ann Bradford, 478 tickets were issued, totaling approximately $31,000.00. Chief Conley states during the same weekend last year only 154 tickets were issued.
How will the City manage the issue of WALK-ONS? Without addressing this key component, nonresidents will continue to find places to park illegally and pour onto Good Harbor Beach. The parking lots at both Shaws and Stop and Shop were nearly filled to capacity on both Saturday and Sunday. You need only drive down Nautilus Road and watch the mass of beachgoers filing along, packed with a days worth of fun in the sun equipment, to understand the extent of the problem.
The parking lots need attendants during the entire time they are open. The word has gotten out that it’s free and unstaffed in the afternoon. On both weekend days at 5:00pm, the lot was filled to capacity however, cars were continuing to pile in.
Several of our parking attendants have tested positive for covid-19. I feel deeply for City dwellers and out-of-towners that want to come and enjoy our beautiful beaches but we are in the midst of a global pandemic and the first concern is for the safety of our community.
Nonresidents have alternatives to Good Harbor, Wingaersheek, and Stage Fort. Governor Baker has opened all DCR Northshore beaches, including Salisbury, Winthrop, Revere, Lynn Shores Reservation, and Nahant. These state run beaches have the facilities and staff to deal with the inordinate pandemic-sized crowds. Additionally, the police patrol beaches such as Revere on horseback. For Massachusetts residents parking is $10.00 at Nahant and $14.00 at Salisbury.
Stay Safe Friends! Please, WEAR MASKS AND SOCIAL DISTANCE! It shouldn’t be one or the other, but both!
Because the Piping Plovers are continually brought up as a reason for the beach overcrowding the following has been added to the original post –
Edited Note regarding the conservation areas set aside at Good Harbor Beach. A roped-off corridor eleven feet wide was created last spring, which runs the length of the entire beach. This corridor was established to help shore-up the dunes. We think protecting the dunes is a fantastic idea and you can already see positive results. Later in the spring, on April 17, an additional area was roped off for Piping Plover protection by the conservation agent. It was noted at the time that this area was twice as large as in previous years. The extremely large area we felt would obviously and unnecessarily frustrate the community and beach goers once the season was underway. Following that, at the time the nest exclosure was installed many weeks later, on May 29th, it was again noted and summarily dismissed that the area was unnecessarily too large. It’s not possible to change the size of the roped off area now while the PiPl chick is still present at GHB, but hopefully in the future there will be improved communication. Regardless of how anyone feels about Plovers, they are not causing the overcrowding, parking lot, and off street parking pandemonium.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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
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.