The one day old and two newest members of the Cape Ann PiPls club are doing beautifully. Mom, Dad, and the teeny tinies were foraging in the wrack. Dad and Mom both went after a Herring Gull that flew in a little too close for comfort. Despite the parent’s best efforts to incubate, the last egg will not hatch and that is not entirely unusual, especially for a nest this late in the season.
Our beautiful plumpling-almost-fledged-30-day-old chick, and Dad, were running along the length of the beach and too, finding lots to eat in the wrack.
Cape Hedge chicks were also enjoying the beautiful peace and quiet of a misty morning beach. Too wet to bring cameras today, but here is a sequence of one of the Cape Hedge chicks capturing a large insect several days ago.
Enjoy this perfect for shorebird chick rearing weather. Hopefully the worst of Elsa will stay off shore.
This morning a new family of Piping Plovers was located at Cape Hedge Beach. The three chicks appear to be about ten days old. Over the years there have been PiPl sightings at Cape Hedge but I believe these to be the first chicks hatched in Rockport in over a century. Thank you to Susan C, Susan H, and all the people who have written to let us know.
PiPl Ambassador Heidi Wakeman put Leslie Whelan and I in touch; Leslie is Rockport’s Board of Health commissioner and we will try our best to help them get organized with some protections. The chicks are in an extremely vulnerable location. People don’t understand how much space they need. They are coming within three feet to take photos and selfies with the chicks. I have thought for a while we would be seeing chicks at Rockport beaches and have been sharing Piping Plover posts with Rockport Stuff, the town’s public facebook page, to show folks a window into the future. I just didn’t realize it would be this soon!
If we can get a mini Rockport volunteer group together I am hoping we can give them some of our badges. I have an extra sign in my car and Leslie is going to contact Seaside Graphics about using our file that they have on hand to make a few more signs. Dave Rimmer is aware of the situation and we are hoping to get some symbolic fencing up to provide them with some sort of refuge on these busy, busy beach days.
Parking at Cape Hedge is for Rockport residents only. Any Rockporters that are interested in helping please contact Leslie at email@example.com or me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Especially, especially during these first weeks, the chicks are at their most vulnerable and most likely to die. Any help given will be most appreciated.
Our chicks are doing beautifully and have spent much of the day down at the Creek, which is still closed to the public for swimming because of high levels of bacteria. Dave installed an exclosure at the Salt Island refuge this morning.
Thank you to all our Ambassadors braving the heat. It’s totally understandable if you have to leave your shift. Just do your best, as you always do <3
P.S. More super exciting PiPl news to share but today’s a Charlotte day and will fill you in tomorrow.
Dive into history of one of the most popular soft drinks around the Cape Ann area Twin Lights Tonic. This carefully researched story of one of the last family bottlers still in operation. Paul St.Germain and Devlin Sherlock bring you through the history and development of carbonated soft drinks as they trace the narrative of the 115-year-old Twin Lights Bottling Company (originally Thomas Wilson Bottling Company). Woven throughout is the story of one Rockport, MA family of Portuguese immigrants who began producing the tonic in the back of a small town grocer store in 1907.
With over 70 photographs included, this lovingly assembled book is sure to delight.
For a limited time, you will also receive a commemorative postcard and magnet with your purchase!
Click here to order !
Proceeds of sale go to Thacher Island Association
Limited Supply Remains, Order Today!!
Paperback edition of Twin Lights Tonic: Cape Ann’s Timeless Soda Pop
Limited edition Twin Lights Beverages magnet
Limited edition Twin Lights Sparkling Water postcard
Dive into history with this carefully researched story of one of the last family bottlers still in operation. Paul St. Germain and Devlin Sherlock bring you through the history and development of carbonated soft drinks as they trace the narrative of 115-year-old Twin Lights Bottling Company (originally Thomas Wilson Bottling Company). Woven throughout is the narrative of one Rockport, MA family of Portuguese immigrants who began producing the tonic in the back of a small-town grocery store in 1907.
With over 70 photographs included, this lovingly assembled book is sure to delight. For a limited time, you will also receive a commemorative postcard and magnet with your purchase!
Proceeds will benefit the Thacher Island Association for their restoration and maintenance efforts of the island.
The 14 states that make up the East Coast of the U.S. offer up a wide range of climates, geographies and cultures. They include Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida—and all have beautiful, special beach towns worth a visit this summer. You’ll find places as different as Cape Cod, the Outer Banks and the Florida Keys. Historic, charming, tropical, wild, the Atlantic seaboard has it all. Without further delay, here are a few of the East Coast’s best beach towns.
The North Shore, a group of towns in Greater Boston, is a culturally important swath of Massachusetts. The coastal region is known for its excellent seafood, beautiful beaches, and historic landmarks. Many a good film has been filmed here as well, such as Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester-by-the-Sea. There are many towns worth visiting, but Rockport is a favorite among travelers. Forty miles north of Boston, the town has a can’t-miss natural gem in Halibut Point State Park, from which visitors can spot Maine in the distance 80 miles away. Read more here – LINK TO STORY
Photo by Trevor Meunier
Rockport looks wonderfully festive for a covid-safe stroll through the town’s main streets. Charlotte and I made a special trip to deliver her letter to Santa at the most charming of post boxes, a North Pole special delivery pint-sized mail box.
Next stop was magical La Provence. Dawn’s shop is chock full of beautiful, beautiful linens, gifts, and treats. La Provence is open at 10am in the morning, which is great if you are concerned about shopping around crowds. We went on a weekday morning, early, and felt very welcome and very comfortable shopping.
Wishing all our local shops a safe and successful holiday season.
We in Essex County are so incredibly blessed to have Greenbelt working so hard to conserve beautiful green space throughout the region. Check out this super video to get an overview of just some of the good work that has taken place this past year.
From Greenbelt, “Join Greenbelt President, Kate Bowditch, as she reviews Greenbelt’s challenges and accomplishments this past year. Thank you for your continued support of our organization!”
If you’d like to make a donation in support of Greenbelt, please visit ecga.org/annualfundBluebird nesting box Greenbelt Ipswich
Piping Plover Dad and Marshmallow Good Harbor Beach
My friend JoAnn Sousa wrote this lovely note about her friend Carol Lee and her shop, Carol Lee’s Cottage. I thought it so sweet and that is why I am sharing the note in its entirety –
“I am so glad you have your own blog – wonderful.
I’ve have been mesmerized by your incredible wildlife photos for years and you have heightened my interest in birds.
I realize you may be primarily focused on Gloucester and totally understand and I trust you have a long lists of subjects to cover. I wanted to mention a shop in Rockport , Carol Lee’s Cottage. Carol Lee Kelliher owns it (she has no idea I’m writing to you) and I am always taken by the variety and quality of goods she has. For instance she has a collection of kids tee shirts and long sleeve that have heros on them such as Jane Goodall, Madam Curie etc – I think she’s the only one in NE with the line. She was also one of the first to carry masks. Great jewelry at reasonable prices, cute dresses, it goes on and on. Personally I think she’s the nicest shop on the neck.
If you have any interest you can check out the store and her background story on FB or carolleescottage.com. Her personality matches her colorful goods and she has a nice following.
Anyway, they opened up Bearskin Neck today, curbside pick ups at the restaurants and stores and I thought I’d pass along some info on this little jewel of a store. She’s doing curbside/mailing etc.
Stay well and congrats!”
Thank you JoAnn for sharing! And thank you for your kind comments. I am interested in posting about any small business with their coronavirus endeavors. It’s such a tough time and I admire the resourcefulness and resiliency of so many trying so hard to stay afloat during this most challenging of time.
The children’s tees do look especially wonderful and I Love her selection Turkish beach towels – you are so spot on, her products are wonderfully colorful and fun! Here are some images from Carol’s website, where you can do your online shopping HERE
My friend Morgan recently wrote to ask about a tree in full bloom that she is seeing on her hikes around the quarries. She sent along some great photos.
Morgan Faulds Pike Photos
I think the tree is our native Amelanchier canadensis. There are several species of Amelanchiers native to Massachusetts but A. canadensis is the most commonly seen and most hardy for our region. Amelanchier goes by more than a few common names including Junebush, Juneberry, Serviceberry, Canada Serviceberry, Shadbush, and Shadblow. It flowers when the shad is running and fruits in June. The name Serviceberry comes because it blooms early, as soon as the ground starts to thaw, and in old New England, people weren’t able to dig graves and bury the dead until after winter. Arrangements of Serviceberry flowers accompanied many early spring funerals.
Shadblow (my favorite common name) bears delicious small deep red to blue-purple fruits. You’ll barely get to sample one though because they are a songbird favorite. To plant Shadblow, gather seeds and plant in fall so the seeds will experience a cold period. Grow in full sun or light shade in moist well-drained soil.
Amelanchier canadensis attracts Cedar Waxwings, Baltimore Orioles, Catbirds, Bluebirds, Cardinals, Robins, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, woodpeckers, thrushes, and a great many other birds that feed on its fruit. Spring blossoms attract pollinators and other insects, which also provide food for our native songbirds.
Each year customers ask nursery growers for plants earlier and earlier in the season. Yes, purchase if you are worried about stock, but do not plant outdoors until after May 31st. Keep in a protected location and gradually acclimate to outdoor temps (hardening off*). In the old days, after Memorial Day was the standard rule of thumb for New Englanders. We’ve gotten away from that. It’s risky business to plant your annual flowers, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs such as basil oregano outdoors too early, especially this year when we may have a snowfall this coming Mother’s Day weekend.
The following is a handy chart specifically for Cape Ann from the Farmer’s Almanac, although I would modify, ignore the frost date, and plant my warm weather seedlings closer to the June1st – June 5th Moon dates. The first date in each box is based on frost dates, the second line is based on Moon dates. Follow the Moon dates, especially this year when we are having an unusually cool spring.
*What does hardening off your seedlings mean? Think of it this way – seedlings are weaklings. They have delicate slender stalks that are easily blown over and their tiny tender leaves will freeze in a heart beat or shrivel in the penetrating sun of May. Seedlings need time to toughen up before planting out in the garden.
Hardening off is the practice of gradually exposing the seedlings to outdoor conditions. Place plants in a protected area for a few hours a day, out of the way of wind and direct sun. On cold nights bring indoors to a garage, shed, or back inside. Gradually increase the plant’s time spent outdoors. Keep moist and don’t let the soil dry out. In a week or so you will see the stalk and leaves have visibly thickened. House plants and herbs that have been grown indoors all winter (essentially babied) will also benefit from hardening off if you are planning to move outdoors.
Thank you so very much to Scott Weidensaul from Project SNOWStorm for his thoughtful suggestions and kind assistance while writing the script for the film A Snowy Owl Comes to Cape Ann. Not only that, but he has shared the project with the Project SNOWStorm community and people are making very kind comments. Means much coming from knowledgeable owl-lovers <3
Wherever you are during this pandemic lockdown, here’s a special treat to ease the passing of time.
Kim Smith, a naturalist and filmmaker on the North Shore of Massachusetts, spent the winter of 2018 shadowing a young female snowy owl on windy, stormy Cape Ann. The result was five short films about the owl, which Kim was kind enough to share with our team during production, and is generous enough to share with the whole Project SNOWstorm community now that they’re finished. They’re simply beautiful.
You can find all five of Kim’s films here — enjoy!
I started following Project SNOWStorm several years ago and love their posts.. You can sign up here: Subscribe by email, on the right side of the page, or on any of the blog post pages. I promise, you will enjoy reading the fascinating information provided and will look forward to their arrival in your inbox. You can also make a donation here, too, if so inclined 🙂
One of the most haunting images is dog poop in plastic, found haphazardly discarded in every corner of the City, but nowhere more prominently than at our beaches.
What are we leaving for our children to uncover in fifty years?
These photos were taken on the weekend of March 28th, 2020. For two and a half days, the pile grew larger and larger, greeting everyone as they came on and off the beach. The pile was removed by the DPW on Monday morning.
The opening clip is a beautiful scene overlooking Good Harbor Beach. The sun was beginning to appear through a snow squall – April snow squalls bring May flowers.
Good Harbor Beach was jam packed with surfers this morning and Brant Geese were bobbing around at Brace Cove.
Quick glimpse of pretty mystery bird? Palm Warbler?
Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester fresh fish curbside pickup. Each week they have gotten better and better. It was dream of ease and coronavirus protocols. Tuesday through Saturday and here is the number to call 978-281-7707
Brother’s Brew, Seaview Farm, Breakwater Roasters, Sandy Bay Soaps, and many more.
What are some of the favorite dishes you are cooking during Coronavirus?
Tragedies can bring out the best in people, but also the very worst. Cruel people only become crueler and more mean spirited, posting mean thoughtless pranks that they think elevate themselves. I wish this wasn’t happening in our own lives and on social media. We all need to support each other.
Wonderful hopeful news for our Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers. The City has created a safe zone in the spot where they are attempting to nest. Thank you Mayor Sefatia and Gloucester’s DPW for installing the symbolic roping. We need signs and hopefully they will be along very soon.
VIRTUAL ROCKPORT FARMERS MARKET — PICK UP SATURDAY, APRIL 25
Welcome to our first Virtual Rockport Farmers Market!
Orders maybe placed starting Sunday, April 19, and the store will close Thursday, April 23, at 4 p.m. (**Orders from Dancing Daisy Bakers will close WEDNESDAY.) Orders will be picked up during a designated time window on Saturday, April 25, at Seaview Farm in Rockport. You will receive your pick-up time window via email on Friday, April 24.
All sales must be prepaid.
Hello Friends on this rainy, windy day. People’s holiday weekend ran the gamut from joyful to tragic and I so hope yours was not too difficult and you were able to find some light. It was such a beautiful day weather-wise yesterday and if there is one thing about the coronavirus is how wonderful it is to see so many families enjoying each other’s company while out in the fresh air.
Part four, Snowy Owl Takes a Bath, was filmed early one morning. I stopped by to check on Snowy Owl (her nickname at the time was Hedwig) and noticed her face was stained red from breakfast. I only planned to take a few snapshots when she hopped over to a rocky tide pool and began to wash her face. I ran back to the car to get my movie camera and am so glad I did! For the next 40 – 45 minutes she bathed, preened, and fluffed.
I am calling this rare footage because I can’t find anything else like it. Unlike most owls, which are nocturnal (active at night) Snowy Owls are active during the day (diurnal), providing a rare glimpse into the world of owls in the wild.
To see all four episodes together, please go to the Snowy Owl Film Project page on my website. These shorts were created for the kids in the Cape Ann community during this at-home schooling time. The last segment, part five, Snowy Owl Returns to the Arctic, is almost completed and will be posted later this week.
Thank you for watching!
Again, thank you to Scott Weidensaul from ProjectSNOWstorm for script advice.
A Snowy Owl Comes to Cape Ann
Part Four: Snowy Owl Takes a Bath
After a snow squall and as the sun was beginning to appear, a Snowy Owl came out to take a bath. She found a watery icy pool tucked out of sight from dive bombing crows and gulls.
Snowy Owls, like most non-aquatic birds, take baths to clean their feathers.
First washing her face, she tip-dipped and then dunked. After bathing, Snowy fluff dried her feathers, pooped, and preened. During preening, oil from the preen gland, which is located at the base of the tail, is distributed through the feathers to help maintain waterproofing.
Washing, fluffing, and preening took about forty-five minutes from head to talon.
Visionary iartcolony gallerists Bob Armstrong and Jill Whitney Armstrong created an outstanding opening for their new show “be present.” Evocative and thought provoking, the lineup included visual work by artists David Robinson and Jane Hudson (currently exhibiting at iartcolony), Ken Brown video from Psychedelic Cinema,* an oration given by Darin Murphy, and live drawing and painting demonstrations given by Will Pappenheimer and Michael Talbot.
Brian King (What Time is it Mr. Fox) performed his Dionysian piece from his newest playMedusa: Reclaiming the Myth, which premiered this summer at the Museum of Science.
Artist and drummer for the Cars, David Robinson, and cult filmmaker Ken Brown.
David Robinson and photos
be present runs through November 22, 2019. For more information, call 978-764-5495.
*Psychedelic Cinema revives Brown’s Super 8 films, which were shot at the Boston Tea Party, one of Boston’s legendary live rock and blues music venues. The artists he created light shows and films for include Jimi Hendrix, the Velvet Underground, Sly Stone, Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters, and many, many more.
My friend Jill Whitney Armstrong writes that “this is one exhibit not to be missed, with tents in the yard, interactive augmented reality, a magical live painter, free reiki and more! Plus David Robinson has work in the show – a communal atmosphere.”
I am looking forward to attending and hope to see you there!
Hoping to capture the Supermoon, in all its huge glory, rising between the Twin Lights last night, but the sky was pink and hazy around the horizon line. Still, I think it’s good to have a record of a rarely occurring full moon on the first day of spring.
Thacher Island Twin Lights, waiting for the Moon to rise, North Light, left; South Light right.
Over the winter, a Black Vulture has been calling Cape Ann home. My friend Lois first alerted me to this back in December where he has been seen quite often in Rockport. I have been trying to capture some footage of him/her but only ever saw him soaring high above. The Black Vulture in flight is stunning and you can recognize the bird by its distinctive white wing tips.
As luck would have it, East Gloucester resident Larry shared a photo recently and his friend Frank generously allowed me to stop by and take some photos and footage.White wing tips of the Black Vulture
Being found mostly in South America, Central America, and the southern US, the Black Vulture’s range does not historically include Cape Ann (nor anywhere in Massachusetts). The bird’s range has been expanding northward since the early decades of the previous century and it is safe to say there may even be a few pairs breeding in the furthest most western regions of Massachusetts!
Black Vultures feed primarily on carrion. They fly high above on thermal winds looking for dead creatures, and also follow Turkey Vultures, which reportedly have a better sense of smell and can more easily locate carcasses. Black Vultures also kill skunks, possums, Night Herons, turtle hatchlings, chickens, young livestock, and sickly small pets. And, too, they pick through dumps and dumpsters, and even wade into water for small fish and floating carrion. It’s no wonder their range is expanding!
The Black Vulture visiting Frank’s yard appeared to be communicating with Frank. Black Vultures lack a voice box; instead of singing, one of the sounds they make is a low ruff sort of bark. Frank can imitate the bark perfectly, and the bird barks back!
Black Vulture Historic Status in Massachusetts, from Mass Audubon:
The first Black Vulture identified in Massachusetts was shot in Swampscott in November of 1850. The second appeared in Gloucester on September 28, 1863, where it, too, was killed (Howe & Allen 1901). Throughout the next century, the bird was considered an accidental straggler in Massachusetts; and, by the middle of the nineteenth century, the species was on the move from its deep Southern roots, breeding in southern Maryland for the first time in 1922 (Court 1924) and in Pennsylvania by 1952 (Brauning 1992).
If you see Cape Ann’s Black Vulture hanging around your property, please let me know at email@example.com. Thank you so much!
As was everyone else, the Harbor Seals were enjoying Tuesday’s 50 degree weather. Much jockeying, grunting, and gnarling over prime rock-real estate was taking place. Paintings of nudes by Renoir and Botero, along with the made-up word tubylette, come to mind whenever I see these bathing beauties basking on the rocks at Brace Cove.By the time I left after sunset, there were no less than fourteen Harbor Seals hauled out on the rocks.