Category Archives: Swans (Cygnus olor)

MR. SWAN EXPLORING THE ANNISQUAM!

A number of friends have been texting and emailing that they are seeing a swan all along the Annisquam. I suspected that it was Mr. Swan as I have seem him on the Annisquam, near the bridge and Cape Ann Marina after he lost his second mate. It would be swan-logical that he would head over to the Annisquam in search of open, fresh water because both Henry’s and Niles ponds are still frozen.

Thanks to Craig Kimberley, who texted a swan sighting in real time, I was able to get a closeup of the swan, and YES, it is Mr. Swan that many of our readers are seeing. Mr. Swan’s bill is uniquely marked and he has beautiful blue eyes, which is unusual for most Mute Swans seen in these parts. In the closeup photo above it is difficult to tell his eyes are blue. It’s much easier to notice when his eyes reflect sunlight, but trust me, if it were a black-eyed swan, you would not be able to distinguish the iris at all.

Thanks so much to Craig, Brianne, and facebook friends for sharing your Mr. Swan sightings, so very much appreciated 🙂

Craig Kimberley iPhone photo from this morning.

The Annisquam River stretches from Annisquam Harbor on the north to Gloucester Harbor on south.

CAPE ANN WILDLIFE: A YEAR IN PICTURES 2017

CAPE ANN WILDLIFE: A YEAR IN PICTURES 2017

By Kim Smith

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

WINTER

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

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

SPRING

 

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

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

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

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

Piping Plover Courtship Dance

Piping Plover Nest

 

SUMMER

 

OctoPop

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tree Swallows Massing

FALL

 

 

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

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

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

Heart-wings Monarch

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

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

Snowy Owl “Hedwig” January 2018 Backshore Gloucester

OUR HAPPY SWAN SWIMMING!

Lyn set up a tub in the Young Swan’s winter home. It’s quite nice, and she loves it. Her first order of business was to wash her neck, and then she jumped in!

If you would like to help with the expense of taking care of the Young Swan this winter, please send a check (tax deductible) to:

Cape Ann Wildlife

P.O Box 405

Essex, Massachusetts 01929

Be sure to include in the memo that your donation is for the Young Swan.

Thank you!

Lyn Fonzo Photo

THE YOUNG SWAN LOVES HER COLLARD GREENS!

Not only collards, but kale, spinach and, Lyn reports, she is extra bananas for romaine lettuce, even trying to take them from Lyn’s hand! Lyn has added a fantastic improvement to the swan’s winter sanctuary and will update tomorrow when not so tied up with Christmas-making 🙂

LYN SHARES A PHOTO OF THE THE YOUNG SWAN -SNUG AS A BUG :)

Cozy in her winter nest.

Lyn Fonzo Photo

THE YOUNG SWAN GETS A SANCTUARY FIT FOR A PRINCESS (Or Prince?)

Joel and Skip Munroe arrived yesterday morning at Lyn’s home and the three spent the day continuing to modify the chicken coop-turned swan house-turned fantastic sanctuary (Joel is one of Mr. Swan’s caregivers and a carpenter). Lyn has generously added her dog’s run to extend the swan’s home, providing room enough for the Young Swan to stretch her wings and walk around within the enclosure.

Increasing the size of the enclosure. 

Today, the very awesome landscaper Patrick Low, owner of JPL Landscape Solutions spent the morning modifying and attaching the (former) dog run to the chicken coop and securing the entire structure from predators such as coyotes and racoons. Pat, Joel, and Skip have very generously donated their time and services to creating the winter swan sanctuary.

Pat Low, creatively solving potential predator issues.

A friend of Lyn’s is donating three bales of hay. To supplement the pellets and corn Lyn has been feeding the swan, yesterday she purchased collard greens (which the Young Swan loved), spinach, and kale (yet to try).

We still do not know whether the Young Swan is male or female. Jodi Swenson kindly paid for the swan’s checkup at Dr. Cahill’s (with funds provided from her recent fundraiser) and Lyn has volunteered to pay for the DNA test. We should have the results back from the DNA test in several weeks. The Young Swan has a temporary name, TOS, an acronym for The Other Swan, but perhaps when we determine whether male or female we can give her a gender specific name, and possibly tie in a naming contest with a mini-fundraiser, to help defray the unexpected cost of taking care of her for the winter.

Success! Photo courtesy Lyn Fonzo

THE YOUNG SWAN GOES TO SEAPORT VETERINARY HOSPITAL

The Niles Pond Young Swan, rescued by Lyn Fonzo and Dan Harris on Friday, was taken to SeaPort Veterinary Hospital Saturday morning for a wellness checkup and because it is thought she may have contracted round worm at the shelter from where she originated. Dr. Cahill gave her a complete physical, checking on wings, feet, degree of fat on her bones, took an xray, and drew blood for a blood work up. His assistant also plucked a few feathers to send off to a lab to determine the sex of the young Mute Swan. It will take several weeks for the results of the tests, but based on Dr. Cahill’s visual assessment, she appears to be in excellent health!!

Swans can become very defensive when they feel threatened however, the Young Swan has a relatively speaking mild temperament. Lyn and Dan handled her with lots of tender care and caution and no one was bit during during transport and during the exam.

While we were at the vets, Joel Murnroe, one of Mr. Swan’s loyal caregivers, and a fine carpenter, was back at Lyn’s home modifying the chicken coop, with a larger entryway door and swan-sized rebuilt ramp.

The Young Swan has had an eventful and productive first day in captivity. With much gratitude and thanks to Lyn for taking on the tremendous responsibility of caring for a wild swan for the winter. Our hope is that the Young Swan is a she, and that she will be re-released to Niles Pond this coming spring.

1) Lyn Fonzo and Dan Harris, 2) Joel Munroe, 3) Dan Harris and the Young Swan