Category Archives: #sharetheshore

MONARCHS MATING IN SEPTEMBER – SAY WHAT??

Please join us for a free live premiere of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly at the Shalin Liu on Thursday, September 23rd, at 7pm. I hope to see you there! Masks are required to be worn at all times while in the hall. For more information go here.

Unusual, but not unheard of, every year during the Monarch’s annual southward migration, I come across a pair, sometimes two, that are mating. This year was no exception. The butterflies apparently did not get the 411 that they are supposed to be migrating, not mating! The Monarchs that eclose (emerge from their chrysalides) at the end of the summer are the Methuselah Monarchs, or a super generation of Monarchs. These Super Monarchs eclose in a state of sexual immaturity, or diapause. Rather than expending energy looking for a mate and egg laying, they spend all their days drinking nectar and building their fat reserves for the long journey south. They are often a bit larger than their counterparts that emerge earlier in the summer and they are biologically oriented to fly southward. Methuselah Monarchs live about eight months, nearly eight times longer than the spring and early summer Monarchs. They are called Methuselah Monarchs  after the Biblical patriarch who is said to have lived 969 years.

While joined together, abdomen to abdomen, the mating Monarchs flew into a neighboring tree.

Occasionally though individuals are reproductively active. I often wondered what happens to the Monarchs that mate in September. Do they lay eggs, will the eggs hatch, and will the caterpillars complete metamorphosis?

Female Monarch depositing eggs on Common Milkweed, September 13, 2021

The first question has been answered. A beautiful female, apparently newly emerged, with vibrant fully intact wings, arrived in our garden and laid dozens and dozens of eggs. I  placed many, but not all, of the eggs in our terrariums. Will these eggs hatch? We’ll know within the next week or so. I’ll keep you posted on these late September babes. If they go through their entire life cycle, they won’t be ready to fly off for another five weeks or thereabouts. The butterflies most likely will not make it to Mexico, but may journey as far as Florida, where they will spend the cooler months.

Four eggs on one leaf!

BEAUTY ON THE WING AT THE SHALIN LIU! AND THANK YOU NEW ENGLAND BIOLABS!!!

Good Morning Butterfly Friends!

Don’t you love these last days of summer, they are simply so atmospherically glowing! According to the calendar, September 22nd marks the official beginning of autumn but if this balmy weather continues we still have many days ahead of warm golden light to look forward to.

The Monarch’s are on the move with continuous reports from all around the region of great flyovers and stopovers at meadows and friend’s gardens. I thought I was done rearing butterflies but a beautiful Mama stopped in our garden on Monday where she deposited dozens and dozens of eggs. More about that when I have time to write the story about why this happens. My friend Lauren was getting milkweed for the last of her caterpillars. She found an egg on one of the milkweed plants and it hatched yesterday! These late hatching Monarchs most likely won’t make it to Mexico, but they may travel as far as Florida where they will spend the cooler months there.

Female Monarch in the garden depositing eggs on September 13, 2021. Note the two tiny pin-head sized eggs on the milkweed leaf.

I am very delighted and proud to announce that we have our first corporate contributor/underwriter, New England Biolabs, Inc. We are equally as proud to write that New England Biolabs is a certified B Corporation, which means that a Certified B Corporation, or B Corp as it is commonly referred to, is a for-profit company that meets the highest level of third-party verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. More about New England Biolabs and its founder, Donald G. Comb’s love of butterflies, in an upcoming post.

I have been working like crazy making posters and postcards for the upcoming screening, along with preparing images and artwork for American Public Television and PBS. It’s all pretty exciting, and also a bit nerve wracking, as this is the first time Beauty on the Wing will be appearing in front of a live audience on the big screen. We have printed a few extra posters. Any suggestions of where would be the best place to post, please write. Many thanks to Samantha at Seaside Graphicsfor her excellent advice in printing! The screening and Q and A are next Thursday, September 23rd, at 7pm.

I hope so much that all our friends who have supported Beauty so greatly, through interest and good will and/or contributions, will be able to attend. Please spread the word to your friends and family.  The screening is early enough in the evening that I think school age kids can attend and will really enjoy. Please be assured that this is a masked event and proof of vaccination may be required.

That Beauty on the Wing is having its live premiere at the Sahlin Liu is a full circle moment. Jesse Cook, the artist whose transcendent music you hear in the documentary, played at the Shalin Liu several years ago, pre Covid. Link to the concert photos at the Shalin Liu “Follow the Road

Here is the link to the lovely Rockport Music/Shalin Liu listing. Many thanks to Rockport Music’s Michelle Alekson for creating the page!

Happy September Days!

xoKim

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!

With deep appreciation and gratitude for generous contributions to the following butterfly friends –

Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Inc., Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Susan Pollack

New Poster –

HELLO MONARCH ACTU 676! – WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A TAGGED MONARCH

Good morning Butterfly Friends!

I hope you were able to get out and enjoy the glorious weather this past weekend! We dropped off our daughter Liv at Logan on Saturday. It was a dream having her home during this broken leg period and I am so grateful for her kind and loving care. We’ll all miss her terribly but her work and beautiful California call and we understand.

I graduated from the giant boot to the mini boot several weeks ago and am now doing well hopping around with only one crutch, which means, joyfully so, I can carry my cameras with my free arm! While out in marshes over the weekend I photographed a living tagged butterfly. I don’t usually see living tagged butterflies, only dead ones. Unfortunately, in the past, I have been in a field after a bunch of children ran unsupervised in catching and tagging butterflies, without proper training. Many were killed and/or mangled. Fortunately, male Monarch ACTU 676 appeared just fine and was flying well.

Only a small fraction of the butterflies tagged are actually recovered at their wintering grounds in the volcanic mountains of Mexico. Some are spotted near to where they were tagged, some along the migratory route, and the ones recovered and recorded in Mexico provide a meaningful connection between the tagger and the recoverer.

If you find a tagged Monarch, alive or dead, please go to the official online tagging form provided by Monarch Watch. You can find the 2020 -2021 form here and it looks like this screenshot –
As you can see, it’s a basic form and there is a link provided to add a photo. By submitting your sighting, you as a citizen scientist are participating in a long term study, first developed by Monarch Watch in 1992.

Please join us Thursday, September 23rd at 7pm for the world Live Premiere of Beauty on the Wing at the Shalin Liu, presented by the Boston Film Festival and Rockport Music. For more information, please go here.

Happy Butterfly Days,

xxKim

A MINI- GLOSSARY OF LATE SUMMER BUTTERFLIES

A gallery of some of the butterflies most commonly seen during the Monarch’s southward migration.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) – wingspan 1.6 inches -2.9 inches

American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) – wingspan 1.75 – 2.40 inches

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) – wingspan 2.75 – 3 inches

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) – wingspan 1.5 to 2.75 inches 

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) – wingspan 3 to 4 inches 

Small White /Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) – wingspan 1.3 – 1.9 inches

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice) – wingspan 1.25 – 2 inches

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme) -wingspan 1.3 – 2.3

Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) – wingspan 3 – 4 inches

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) – wingspan 3.1 to 5.5 inches

American Copper (Lycaena phleas) – wingspan .75 to 1.5 inches 

Silver-bordered Fritillary (Bolaria selene) – wingspan 1.25 – 2.25 inches

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) – wingspan 1 – 1.5 inches

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) – wingspan 2.25 – 4 inches

 

Beauty on the Wing Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly premiering locally on September 23rd at the Shalin Liu. For more information, please go here.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation (or becoming an underwriter) to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and here: Over the Moon

To DONATE go here.

Thank you!

Pearl Crescent Male (left) and Female (right). You can tell the butterfly on the left is a male because males typically have black-tipped antennae clubs

 

THE BEST NEWS FOR BEAUTY ON THE WING AND PLEASE SAVE THE DATE!

Good morning Butterfly Friends!

I hope so much you had an enjoyable Labor Day weekend. We on Cape Ann were treated to the magnificent Schooner Festival. The Schooner Festival committee, Maritime Gloucester, and the City of Gloucester create a magical last-weekend-of-the-season hurrah, all tied around the Schooner Fest, and each year more and more fun events and activities for the whole family are added.

I have fantastic news to share. As many of you know, all my in person film screenings and live film festival events were cancelled because of Covid. Beauty on the Wing has never been shown on the Big Screen. We have been accepted to the outstanding Boston Film Festival! Not only that, but Robin Dawson, the Executive Director of the Boston Film Festival, has created a wonderful event. We are going to have a live, free, in-person, fundraising, community screening and Q and A at the Shalin Liu!!!

Please save the date of September 23rd at 7pm. The film is 56 minutes long, followed by the Q and A. I think the standard for all Boston Film Festival live screenings will be masks and proof of vaccination required. Admission will be on a first come first serve basis I believe but will find out more about that. The Boston Film Festival, which runs September 23rd through September 27th is truly a stellar event and as soon as I know more about the lineup of films and full schedule, I will post that as well.

For my several new Butterfly Friends who are reading this, please go to kimsmithfilms.com or here and here to learn more about our ongoing fundraising efforts to bring Beauty on the Wing to PBS.

Monarch and Zinnia elegans

Common Green Darners on the move!

An added note of good news – with all the breeding Monarchs we have been seeing this summer, the butterflies are on the move and it appears as though we may have a strong migration. So many friends from around the Northeast are reporting many sightings and for we on Cape Ann, this is very early in the season. And from what we are observing empirically (not actual numbers counted) we are having a phenomenal dragonfly and darner migration, too.

Happy September Butterfly Days!

xoKim

With deep appreciation and gratitude for generous contributions to the following butterfly friends –

Lauren Mercadante, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!

Threatened Birds Have a Defender on N.Y. Beaches: The Plover Patrol

Happy World Shorebirds Day!

Thank you to Piping Plover Friends Marguerite Matera and Mary Rhinelander who both shared the following wonderful article from the NYTimes

Threatened Birds Have a Defender on N.Y. Beaches: The Plover Patrol

A group of volunteers patrols beaches where endangered Piping Plovers nest.

By Daniel E. Slotnik

September 6, 2021

Piping plovers, dun-colored shorebirds that lay their eggs in tiny scrapes in the sand, are easy to miss as they dart over the beach. Chris Allieri is harder to overlook.

This past spring, Mr. Allieri started the N.Y.C. Plover Project, an organization dedicated to protecting the threatened birds on beaches in the Rockaways in Queens. He has recruited more than 50 volunteers who have spent most of the spring and summer patrolling the beaches to defend plovers from dogs and oblivious beachgoers.

Some interactions can be uncomfortable, like when Mr. Allieri intercepted a young woman carrying a small dog from her boat to the shore of Breezy Point Tip on a sweltering Saturday. Not far away a handful of fledgling plovers wheeled over the waves while at least three chicks scampered over the sand.

Mr. Allieri explained that the dog was forbidden. The woman said she understood and returned to the boat. But then a man stomped from the boat through waist-high water, asking Mr. Allieri, “You work for the government?”

Mr. Allieri said he did not but would call law enforcement if the dog set foot on the beach. The man said he didn’t like being told what to do. Mr. Allieri called the Parks Police before the man walked back to his boat.

Arguments like that are atypical, Mr. Allieri said, but days at the beach have not exactly been relaxing since he started watching over plovers.

Mr. Allieri, 47, lives in Brooklyn and owns a public relations company that specializes in clean energy and climate technologies. He saw his first plover as a child with his father, an avid birder, at the Jersey Shore. He said it was like seeing “a unicorn.”

Last year, Mr. Allieri was at Fort Tilden Beach at Gateway National Recreation Area in Queens when a plover appeared next to him on the beach. Then he saw another, and another.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 6TH IS WORLD SHOREBIRDS DAY!

Discover Caribbean Shorebirds this World Shorebirds Day

World Shorebirds Day, on Monday, September 6, is just around the bend. In honor of this annual global event, BirdsCaribbean created a new video to celebrate Caribbean shorebirds. From plump plovers to wave-catching Sanderlings to stately Stilt Sandpipers, shorebirds are delightful birds to get to know and love. Enjoy our short video and learn more about how you can help to conserve these treasures of our beaches and wetlands.

It is prime time to learn about and celebrate the diversity of shorebirds in the Caribbean. During late summer and early fall, our resident shorebirds, like the Killdeer and Wilson’s Plover, are joined by long-distance migrants, such as the Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, and many more. These migratory birds have just completed their breeding seasons, hopefully with much success, in the northern U.S. and Canada. Now, many are passing through the Caribbean, stopping to rest and feed as they travel to wintering areas further south. Other bird arrivals may stay with us for the entire winter.

Shorebirds are a diverse group of wading birds that live close to water—you can find them on our beaches, mangroves, marshes, salt ponds, and mudflats. Many can be easily identified by their long legs or unique bills, which are especially adapted to their diet and habitat. For example, the long, thin, probing bill of the Black-necked Stilt is ideal for plucking worms and crabs from sticky mud; while the Ruddy Turnstone, with his short, stubby bill, is adept at flipping over stones and shells to find tasty insects on the beach.

Migratory shorebirds make amazing journeys of thousands of kilometres! Beforehand, they need to store enough energy in the form of fat reserves to migrate. These small birds will eat until they are about double their normal weight. You may think that flying at their top weight would slow shorebirds down, but they are the marathon-winners of flight. Incredibly, this group of birds does not do any soaring, they are physically flapping the entire way!

Sadly, shorebird numbers have declined by roughly forty percent  over the last 50 years, due to a number of threats. An increase in developments and various types of pollution have resulted in their habitats being degraded or even lost altogether. Human disturbance, hunting, and climate change…All these factors threaten shorebirds. Please join us this World Shorebirds Day to learn more about these fascinating birds and what you can do to help protect them.

Join the Global Shorebird Count, September 1 to 7 – every shorebird counts!

One of the main activities of World Shorebirds Day is the Global Shorebird Count. We encourage bird enthusiasts in the region to go out and count shorebirds from the 1st to 7th September 2021.

Your counts will help us to understand which species (and how many) are stopping to rest and feed in the Caribbean. This allows us to assess the health of populations and to determine whether they are increasing, decreasing, or stable. The data you collect will also help scientists to coordinate follow-up research and conservation actions, such as protecting important sites – or even taking immediate action to reduce threats to shorebirds and their environments, if necessary.

READ MORE HERE

 

TINY CATERPILLAR MOLTING

Did you ever wonder how a caterpillar fits into its new suit after shedding the old? The caterpillar in the photo has just shed its skin, or molted, and you can see its discarded and shriveled skin.

After molting, the caterpillar rests quietly for a bit, sucking in great deal of air, which expands the new suit. After molting and resting, the caterpillar eats its old skin.

The caterpillar feeds and feeds, expanding and growing into its baggy suit until it again feels a sense of tightening and will molt again.

Caterpillars molt four to five times and each stage is called an instar, for example, 1st instar, 2nd instar, 3rd instar, etc.

I haven’t seen a female depositing eggs for a week or so. Perhaps this is our last batch of caterpillars and these will grow to become the Super Monarchs, the Monarchs that journey to Mexico.

Last of the teeny tinies?

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!

MONARCHS EMERGING AT BREAKFAST

Last weekend watching the Monarchs emerge at breakfast – I think Charlotte loves butterflies nearly as much as do I <3

 

PIPING PLOVER GREAT NEWS UPDATE AND NEW SHORT FILM!

Good morning dear PiPl Friends!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying these beautiful dog days of August. I sure miss you all!

Last week I had the joy to attend the Coastal Waterbird Conservation Cooperators meeting. Next year we are all hoping for in person but for the past two years, the organizers have done  a fantastic job creating an interesting and engaging online event.

The meeting is held annually to bring together people and organizations that are involved with population monitoring and conservation efforts on behalf of coastal waterbirds. Threatened and endangered species, which include Least Terns, Piping Plovers, Roseate Terns, and American Oystercatchers, are given the greatest attention.

Nahant Beach chicks hatch day

Participants were invited by Carolyn Mostello, Mass Wildlife Coastal Waterbird Biologist and the event organizer, to submit to the “Strange and Unusual” part of the program. I created a short film about the Nahant Piping Plovers. It was extraordinary to observe the Nahant PiPl Dad valiantly try to rescue an egg after the king tides of Memorial Day weekend. You can see the video here:

Conservation organizations from all seven Massachusetts coastal regions participated, as well as conservationists from nearby New England states, including representatives from Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. To name just some of the local organizations presenting at the meeting were Mass Wildlife, Trustees of Reservations, Essex Greenbelt, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Mass Audubon, and US Fish and Wildlife.

In the morning, each region gave the 2021 population census report for nesting birds as well as providing information about problems and solutions. We all share similar challenges with predation from crows and gulls, uncontrolled dogs, enforcement, extremely high tides, storm washout, and habitat loss and it was very interesting to learn about how neighboring communities are managing problems and issues.

Unfortunately because of a doctor’s appointment, I had to miss the first part during which Trustees of Reservations Coastal Ecologist Jeff Denoncour presented on behalf of the North of Boston region, of which Gloucester and Rockport are a part.

I am hoping to get the stats from the part of the meeting that I missed and will share those as soon as they are available.

The absolutely tremendous news is that New England is doing fantastically well, particularly when compared to other regions. The policies of New England conservation organizations are extremely successful and are truly making an impactful difference, as you can see from the graph.

As Massachusetts citizens, we can give ourselves a collective pat on the back for the great work our state is accomplishing. The strides being made in Massachusetts are because of the dynamic partnerships between conservation organizations, towns, citizen scientists, volunteers, and ambassadors, just like ourselves, all working together!

Above two screenshots courtesy Coastal Waterbird Conservation Cooperators event.

Super PiPl Ambassador Jonathan Golding sent a photo of two Piping Plovers at Good Harbor Beach. I can’t get down to the Creek bed but I stood on the footbridge Saturday morning and took several snapshots of two Plovers that were way down the Creek. The pair were foraging together when suddenly they began piping their beautiful melodic peeps and off they flew together down the Creek.

If folks are wondering if the Plovers at the Creek are the Salt Island Dad and chick that went missing, these two are not them. Our Salt Island chick  would be about 31 days and would look more like this 33 day old chick from 2019. And it would not be flying as well as the Plovers seen in the photos from Saturday morning.

Have a great rest of your weekend!

xxKim


33 day old PiPl chick, from 2019

Plovers at the Creek Saturday morning –

Pair of Piping Plovers a Good Harbor Beach, August 7

Nahant hatch day chick, June 1, 2021

 

 

 

 

Good Morning from Good Harbor and Cape Hedge Beaches!

Dear PiPl Friends,

Thank you so much for all your wonderful stories!

This week our fledglings/chicks have reached important milestones. Junior is 44 days old, the Cape Hedge chicks are about 35 days old, and our Littlest is two weeks and a day! The Cape Hedge chicks are doing the wonderfly flippy-floppy-fly-thing, and the Littlest is growing roundly, making magnificent treks up and down the beach.

Thank you everyone for your watchful eyes, diplomacy, eagerness to share with the public, and big hearts. You are all creating a wonderfully positive image for shorebirds everywhere and a super positive image for Cape Ann as well!!!

Skittles has been found! He was only about a block away from where he went missing, and sunning himself in a neighbor’s backyard. As Scott said, he was only waiting for the sun to come out 🙂

Have a great day!
xxKim

Happiness is a tail feather snuggle with Mom

HELLO SUNSHINE! Update on Piping Plover signs and lost Iguana Skittles

Good morning PiPl Friends,

What a gorgeous SUNNY morning! And it’s not humid 🙂

Thank you so much to Denten Crews for the addition of signs at the concession stand and at the Witham Street entrance!

The GHB and CHB PiPls are foraging night and day, as they should be. My biologist friends who are monitoring beaches north of Boston share that they are getting an influx of fledglings and adults from area beaches as they are departing their nesting grounds.

Like shorebirds everywhere, the newly arrived Piping Plovers are intently foraging at tidal flats in preparation for their southward migration. My friends also shared many success stories, but also great challenges including terrible predation of PiPl eggs and chicks by Crows, and a colony of Least Terns wiped out by a skunk.

Skunks eat shorebird eggs and their presence can cause an entire colony to vacate a location. Gulls have taken over many coastal islands, leaving many of the smaller shorebirds to nest in less than desirable locations such as urban beaches. There is the potential for far greater disturbance at popular town and city beaches than at island locations due to cats, dogs, skunks, and people.

Here’s ambassador Jonathan Golding from the lifeguard watch tower

Nothing to do with Plovers, but especially for our Rockport readers and Ambassadors, please keep your eyes posted for a lost Iguana that goes by the adorable name Skittles. The Fitch family writes that they have had Skittles for eight years and he’s a beloved member of their family. He was lost in the Cape Ann Motor Inn area and is most likely in a tree. Iguanas are strictly vegetarians so he may also be in someone’s garden. Skittles is about five feet long.  Don’t approach but contact Rockport ACO Diane Corliss at 978-546-9488 or you can call me, I have the family’s phone number.

Have a great day!
xxKim

SALT ISLAND UPDATE and we have the swimmingest Plovers ever at Good Harbor Beach!

Good morning dear lovers of all things PiPl!

I hope everyone is doing well. I sure miss seeing you at the beaches.

Salt Island Update (thank you to our Ward One Councilor Scott Memhard for the information) – the Salt Island hearing has been postponed upon Mr. Martignetti’s request. The hearing will be rescheduled for August.

In the meantime we can add Adrienne Lennon, the Conservation Commission clerk to the people who we should be sending our emails to –

alennon@gloucester-ma.gov

Please also send an email to Robert Gulla, the Conservation Commission co-chair  –

rgulla@robertgulla.com.

You can find a list of all members of the Conservation Commission here: https://gloucester-ma.gov/1027/Conservation-Commission, where their snail mail only addresses are provided

Several years ago, in 2019 I believe, our GHB PiPls began swimming daily across the Creek to forage on the other side. This year Junior was observed swimming, and now our littlest is also swimming.

PiPl Ambassador Deb writes, “Here’s the story. Dad and chick were feeding in different spots along the creek, then stopped to take a rest at the end of the creek. When they got back to work, Dad flew to the other side of the creek; chick dabbled her feet in the water, then swam over to the other side. At that point the creek was only about three feet wide.”
Deb sent a video but I am having trouble uploading. Thank you Deb for sharing! Here is the video from 2019 – Gloucester Plovers Go swimming

Have a great day!

xoKim

 

EVERYONE’S HELP IS NEEDED TO SAVE SALT ISLAND FROM DEVELOPMENT AND FROM GOAT INVASION!!! YOU CAN TAKE ACTION!

The entire community’s help is needed. Salt Island is one of Gloucester’s most beautiful natural treasures and a vibrant part of our coastal ecosystem. Martignetti’s proposed future dream house for Salt Island

Why goats are a terrible idea for a coastal ecosystem

Goats used to control vegetation in places like Central Park and cemeteries have had some success however, these locations are not fragile coastal ecosystems. Goats are not discriminating and will eat everything in their path. To eradicate PI, you must dig it up by the roots.

Salt Island is an oasis of native plants and shrubs. Natural, largely undisturbed habitats, like Salt Island, provide refuge and food for resident and migrating birds alike.  Note in the photo below, which was taken at the time of installing the fence posts, the beautiful native vegetation growing at the Island.

We need to point out that the fallacy stated by Mr. Matignetti at the Conservation Committee meeting,”Poison Ivy is an invasive species,”  is incorrect. Poison Ivy is a native North America plant and is known for its value to wildlife. Poison Ivy flowers bloom early in the spring, providing nectar to myraid species of bees and other pollinators. The fruit of Poison Ivy is consumed by dozens and dozens of songbird species. The berries provide much needed sustenance in the late summer, fall, and winter. These are just some of the birds that eat PI fruits: Northern Flicker, Bobwhite. Quail, Eastern Phoebe, Cedar Waxwing, woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, and American Robin.

Granted, Poison Ivy is not a plant you want to become entangled with but the entire Island does not need the vegetation eradicated under the guise of removing PI. 

There are shorebirds, ducks, and gulls nesting at Salt Island, along with a highly productive shellfish bed. Lobsters are caught off the shores of Salt Island and baby lobsters need fresh, uncontaminated water. We do not want goat feces and goat worms contaminating this vibrant coastal ecosystem!

Typical fencing used for goat vegetation control is three feet tall livestock fencing-

unlike the fence posts that have been installed at Salt Island, which are permanently bolted into the granite rocks.Fence posts permanently bolted to the granite at Salt Island

Notice how far the fence posts go down on the left. This is not a “keep in the goats” fence line, but a “keep out the people fence line.”

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE:

Please email our City Councilors. We learned that when trying to change the dog ordinance to protect Piping Plovers that the more people that write to the Councilors, the better chance our voices will be heard. There is power in numbers. Please write in your own words, or copy paste the following –

Dear Councilor,

Please help us save Salt Island from future development, goats, and all destructive and detrimental activities to this vibrant coastal ecosystem. Thank you.

Attend the virtual Conservation Committee meeting on Wednesday evening at 6pm.

https://gloucester-ma-gov.zoom.us/j/85146365487

Councilors email addresses:

Ward 1 Salt Island Councilor Scott Memhard smemhard@gloucester-ma.gov

Melissa Cox mcox@gloucester-ma.gov

John McCarthy jmccarthy@gloucester-ma.gov

Jamie O’Hara johara@gloucester-ma.gov

Barry Pett bpett@gloucester-ma.gov

Steven LeBlanc sleblanc@gloucester-ma.gov

Valerie Gilman vgilman@gloucester-ma.gov

Sean Nolan snolan@gloucester-ma.gov

Jen Holmgren jholmgren@gloucester-ma.gov

Joanne Senos City Clerk jsenos@gloucester-ma.gov

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Photos of fence post installation May 12, 2021 –

Exploring fun at Salt Island

HAPPY TEN DAY OLD MILESTONE LITTLE CREEK BABY!

Good morning PiPL Friends,

Sunday marked the late nest little chick’s ten-day-old milestone. Thank you to all our GHB and CHB ambassadors for your wonderfully watchful eyes and updates. And thank you Deb and Duncan for the late day/ early evening misty sightings.

Susan Pollack writes from her morning shift,

“Good morning all,

On this drizzly morning I found the new dad and chick all the way down the beach, foraging at the water’s edge. It was high tide, no time to be at the creek.

The dad was as protective ever, chasing off sanderlings skittering at the tideline and piping at walkers to keep their distance. In quieter moments he and the chick, as lively as ever, resorted to some thermo-snuggling.

When Jane arrived at 8, I headed west to look for Handsome and the fledgling. I found them  with Mom, who seems to have lost a leg, and a plover I assume is the mother of the new chick. All four birds were resting contentedly in the sand, their bodies cocked into the wind. No other birds were in sight, a peaceful scene.”

and Jennie shares a haiku for Heidi,

Heavy cloud day—
refuge for chick and dad
at river’s bend.

A brief update from Dave Rimmer – although there were PiPls at Coffins Beach, for the first time in a long while, there were no nests. The good news is that there are three chicks in Beverly!! Thanks so much to Dave for sharing the 411.

Jill, please let me know if you touch base with Joe regarding the monofilament bin. Thank you 🙂

Have a great day!
xxKim

Some photos of our little ten-day-old chick and family

From a nest of three eggs, two hatched

The egg that didn’t

First daysThe tiny one-day-old chick that perished

Salt Island Dad puffed out, making himself look larger while defending the littlest chick from Handsome

DRONES AND GREAT BLUE HERONS AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH

Good morning PiPl Friends,

Eventful day for our PiPls and our Ambassadors was yesterday!

Thank you Jennie and Ann for being on top of the drone issue. The City’s website only says 50 feet but I am not sure if that follows federal and state guidelines. I thought the distance was 200 meters (650 feet, or approximately two football fields as my husband pointed out), which is what I wrote on the informational one sheets. We can find out from Carolyn where specifically it is written and exactly what is the distance. Either distance, causing a disturbance to the Plovers is considered harassment and is fineable.

Last summer I watched a drone hovering over a Plover family with only one-day-old chicks. It was mortifying to see how terrified the adults were and it took hours for them to settle down. Later that summer, I observed a drone chase a Great Blue Heron from treetop to treetop. These drone operators were there intentionally to film the birds. It was difficult to observe how oblivious they were to the bird’s responses. I reported the PiPl drone incident to the DCR biologists, but the man had left the area.

Thankfully the two guys yesterday at GHB stopped after some talking to by Jennie, and the Plovers were not their focus. Thank you Jennie and Ann for seeing the issue through and staying until they packed up.

Regarding the Great Blue Herons at Good Harbor yesterday, GBH are frequent visitors to GHB, both in the marsh, at the Creek, and along the front of the beach, too. They eat everything, including adult Plovers and chicks 🙁 As much as I love them, I keep a close watch.

Sue Winslow has been by to check on the GHB PiPls. She hasn’t yet seen them but can hear peeps in the marsh. Hopefully all survived the unrelenting deluge this early am. High tide was at 6:07, precisely when the storm was at its worse.

Udate, the parent and chick have been spotted down the Creek.

Thank you so very much again to everyone for your kind well wishes and offers to help. I have an appointment with a specialist tomorrow afternoon and will know then whether an operation is needed.

Have a lovely Sunday, funday!
xoKim

Although I made this video over eight years ago its still fun to see the Great Blue Heron at GHB eating an eel.

HOW DO WE KNOW HOW OLD THE CAPE HEDGE CHICKS ARE?

Good Morning dear PiPl Friends,

Thank you all so very much for the updates and great insights. And for all your watchful eyes over our Cape Ann PiPls!

Many thanks again to Denton Crews for installing the posters, to Jonathan for organizing the printing and laminating, and to Duncan Todd for designing. What a tremendous contribution! Thanks to Jonathan for providing the photos, it’s so nice to see!

Thank you Deb and Sally for pointing out the Least Terns. Both Least and Common Terns were here last summer at this time. I wonder if they are nesting on Salt Island? Wouldn’ that be exciting!

A note about the age of the Cape Hedge chicks, which are approximately four weeks old as of last Thursday. The first sighting was reported on Friday June 18th and was confirmed by Sue Catalogna on June 26th. The chicks were teenie tiny on the 18th so I am assuming their hatch date was roughly Thursday the 17th, which would make them approximately four weeks old last Thursday, the 15th of July.

They look smaller than our GHB chicks at the same age, due largely I think to their diet at Cape Hedge. Chicks develop at different rates, depending on the availability and quality of food.

The sun is shining now, but it looks as though the rest of the weekend may be another overcast and quietly perfect day for chick rearing 🙂

Have a super weekend!

xoKim

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ALL OUR CAPE ANN PIPING PLOVERS!

Hello dear PiPl Friends!

All good news to share about our Cape Ann PiPl families!

Happy Birthday to our oldest chick/fledgling who reached the five week/36 day old milestone today!

Happy Birthday to our Cape Hedge chicks who we think are 28 days, or four weeks old, approximately today!

And last, but not least, Happy Birthday to our littlest Salt Island chick, who turned one week old today!Dad and chicks, it’s not easy to spot the Cape Hedge Family in the fog and popples!

Wonderful sightings about all three families are being shared by our great team of Piping Plover Ambassadors. They are keeping excellent watch over Cape Ann’s Plovers but it hasn’t been easy, trying to locate these beautifully well-camouflaged chicks in the super dense fog of recent days.

Hello and a haiku from ambassador Heidi Wakeman this morning:

Fledgling, Dad at bridge,
Teeny, Dad,thermosnuggling
Up the creek, all’s well!

Later in the morning, ambassador Duncan adds this haiku

On this misty morning
Where are the miracle birds?
Ah…see?… right… here.

The Plover informational posters are being installed at the Good Harbor Beach kiosks either today or tomorrow. With gratitude and deep appreciation to Duncan Todd for creating the posters, to Jonathan and Sally for printing and laminating, and to Denton Crews for installing in the kiosks. Hooray Team Plover!

Keep your eyes peeled for interesting shorebirds visiting our beaches. The summer southward migration has begun!  Today ambassador Maggie spotted two Semipalmated Sandpipers and several days ago, a Dowitcher was seen at Brace Cove. Both species are returning from their northern breeding grounds at the Arctic tundra.Dowitchers at Good Harbor last spring on their northward migration

Spotted Sandpiper, left, Semipalmated Sandpiper, right

 

SUPER RAINY MORNING UPDATE FROM GOOD HARBOR BEACH

Good morning PiPl Friends,

I am so sorry to write that we lost one of the teeny weeinies yesterday afternoon. Mid-morning, the family made the trek from #1 to the Creek, which I think is at least half a mile. This is a tremendous journey for three-day-old chicks and proved to be too much for the one that was a little more sleepy-eyed and not as strong as its sibling. It was difficult to observe how torn the parents were between sheltering the weak and dying chic and defending the mobile, healthy chick.

The #1 family spent the entire day at the Creek. There weren’t too many people however, the greatest disturbances were from fellow Plovers. A tremendous battle for territory is underway. For six years, the Creek has been the original Dad’s territory and is now being impinged upon by the new family. This behavior we predicted, I just didn’t realize the fighting would last an entire day, into the early evening. Piping Plovers display this same ferocity when establishing their nesting territory in early spring. Unfortunately, when territorial disputes take place around chicks, they often become targeted.

Piping Plover Smackdown

On a brighter note, this early rainy morning found Mom and Dad and the little one at the Creek contentedly foraging in the rain undisturbed.

Both Handsome and Junior were at #3 stuffing themselves in this year’s very excellent wrack!

Thank you to everyone who could for coming to the meeting. We were able to welcome our newest member of team Plover, Ann Cortissoz. She has been following along with our Plover chronicles and is going to take the impossible-to-fill two to four shift!!!! So nice to meet Ann, and so many thanks for lending a hand.

Our Ward One City Councilor Scott Memhard stopped by to say hello. Scott is running for re-election, so please sign his nomination papers when you see him. Thanks so much to Scott for being a super early supporter of the Plovers!

Unless the rain lets up, please take a much deserved day off. I’ll send the new schedule and phone numbers later this afternoon.

Have a great fun rainy-splash-in-the-puddles-sort-of-day (at least that is how I am presenting the day to Charlotte) 🙂

xoKim

THOUSANDS OF MOON SNAIL BABY EGGS IN COLLARS AT CAPE HEDGE BEACH!

Saturday morning’s low tide revealed dozens of Northern Moon Snail sand collars on the flats at Cape Hedge Beach. Perhaps the storm released the collars from the ocean floor.

There are hundreds of species of moon snails, so named because they are round like the Moon. The sand collars we see locally and all along the northern Atlantic Coast are made by the beautiful Northern Moon Snail (Euspira heros).

Moon snails are marine gastropods that live in the intertidal zone. We often find their shells washed ashore but rarely see living ones. When you find a clam or mussel shell,  or even another moon snail shell, with a perfectly drilled hole, chances are it was eaten by a moon snail.

Moon snail drill holes – Liv Hauck photo

Piping Plover chick and Northern Moon Snail

The beautiful sculptural sand collars at Cape Hedge Beach are Northern Moon Snail egg cases. When you find a collar, and it is soft, and flexible, it is comprised of thousand eggs. Please don’t remove the collar from the beach. Toss it back into the water, which will also help prevent other folks from collecting.

How the female Moon Snail constructs the egg collar is nothing short of spectacular. When a female is ready to lay her eggs, at low tide,  she begins preparing her egg collar by secreting mucus. During high tide, she digs down to begin forming the collar with mucus and sand. She spreads out the front part of her foot (the propodium) so that it covers her shell.  She collects grains of sand with tiny cilia that cover her foot. Creating a sort of egg “sand”- wich, she combines a layer of mucus with thousands (and even hundreds of thousands) of released eggs and then cements all with another layer of mucus to form the flexible egg case.

The snail lies at the center of the collar as she creates it, so the hole in center of the collar gives an indication of the size of the mother snail. When finished building the collar she has to escape from her egg case sitting on the ocean floor. She digs straight down using her foot and burrows away from the collar.

The collars are pushed to the surface and, during low tide, are visible on the beach. The egg cases stay on the beach as the water from the incoming tide washes over them.

The eggs hatch before the collar falls apart. so while it is still flexible and rubbery there are thousands of tiny Northern Moon Snail larvae swimming in the mucus matrix of the collar.

Within a week or so, the mucus breaks down and the collar begins to disintegrate, freeing the larvae.

Piping Plover chick and Northern Moon Snail collar

Daughter Liv loves collecting beautiful Northern Moon Snails – Liv photos

PIPING PLOVER SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE FROM GOOD HARBOR AND CAPE HEDGE BEACHES

Good morning PiPl Friends,

Beautiful, beautiful morning! Early morning at GHB and the three day old teenie weenies were actively foraging between #1 and #2. Heidi noted Handsome (Sally’s name for Dad) and 32 day old plumping were spotted between #2 and #3. One of the pluses about #1 is that there is a Mockingbird nest in the vicinity. The Mockingbirds are unrelenting in chasing away the Crows 🙂

Lying low in the foxholes, waiting for dad to return

CHB between 7 and 7:30 found all four–the two chicks, and Mom and Dad–feeding in the flats. Mom caught a super fat juicy seaworm and the chicks were foraging nonstop, with foot tamping expertly executed.

Yesterday I found a dozen sand collars at CHB and this morning, none. Posting a story about sand collars later today. Such an amazing creation!

Hoping so much the cloudy weather predicted will help keep beachgoers to a minimum.

Have a super day!

xxKim

Brief update – we may have lost a chick at Cape Hedge

Good Morning PiPl Friends,

I could only locate two chicks at Cape Hedge Beach. Perhaps one is off foraging on his own. Hopefully he will be spotted later today. I am so sorry to say though that it is not unusual for chicks to become separated from their family during a storm (or fireworks!).

Cape Hedge chicks

Our two-day-old pair of chicks at Good Harbor are doing wonderfully and spent the early morning foraging and thermosnuggling. One still has his little egg tooth, which typically falls off after the first or second day. The parents are awesome and going after very gull and crow in their ever changing territory. I didn’t see little fledgling and Handsome down by #3, but spent most of the morning with the new teeny tinies.

Jane shares that she and Maggie spotted a deer at GHB this morning, how wonderful!!

Today we are celebrating Charlotte’s fourth birthday so I will be home but tied up with family.

Thank you so very much to everyone for your continued dedication and big hearts.
xoKim

Good Harbor Beach one day old chicks

WONDERFUL NEWS FROM GOOD HARBOR AND CAPE HEDGE BEACHES!

Good Morning PiPl Friends!

Lots to share – Heidi wrote that she watched our GHB chick take flight for several feet. Hooray! Many, many thanks to Susan for filling in for Heidi, who did a wonderful job and is a joy to talk with, and it’s so nice to have Heidi back. Heidi remarked what a difference a week makes in growth and development.