SEA AND LAND TRAINING HOSTED AT CEDAR ROCK GARDENS!

Congratulations to SaLT Academy for receiving an Awesome Gloucester grant! What a fantastic and incredibly timely, relevant idea!!!

What is SaLT?

The project’s draft mission statement —a work under development— reads: Create community food security, agility and interconnectivity through collaborative innovation directed at serving the needs of Gloucester today, while preparing for the future.

The project will focus on the interdependence of land and sea in our island environment. The project aims to bring attention to the vital role every Gloucester resident plays in protecting and nurturing our local food supply, by virtue of personal choices and actions. Outdoor education programs will allow local and visiting school-aged youth to experience the worlds of fishers and farmers, inspiring a sense of community and connection to the people and place that feed them. Next generation training for fishers and farmers, currently underway, will be a program highlight. In addition to hands on training by land and by sea, aspiring fishers and farmers will explore local ecosystem science while sharing their respective knowledge and enhancing their capacity as citizen scientists.

According to the USDA, “As consumers across the nation express a growing interest in a closer connection to their food producers—whether through access to more localized markets and/or shorter supply chains— cities and regions have begun to regard the expansion of local food marketing activities as a critical component of their economic development strategies.”

Responding to Change Together (a working name that will change as the project moves into its next developmental phase) unites a range of local industry experts to consider how a unified land and sea mind-set can enhance local food security and awareness as well as community agility and interconnectivity. Land & sea harvesters, processors, retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, educators and scientists will create a rich and robust collaborative system designed to provide a renewed sense of pride, belonging, security and vision to America’s oldest, settled fishing port.

GLOUCESTER TIMES TERRIFIC WRITE-UP FOR ALEXA NIZIAK “CAPE ANNER STARS IN LATEST STEPHEN KING FILM”

Thank you to Taylor Ann Bradford and the Gloucester Times for the excellent story about local Rockport resident Alexa Niziak (who is also one of our wonderful Piping Plover Ambassadors) <3

CAPE ANNER STARS IN LATEST STEPHEN KING FILM

Time – and piping plovers – fly when you are having fun.

And for Cape Ann resident Alexa Niziak, that fun is found on the beach with the tenacious fledglings and on the big screen.

“It is too fun for it not to fly,” she said of being on the set of the newest Stephen King film. “At the end of the day, you are wishing you would be called back the next day because it is addictive in a way.”

Piping Plover Ambassador Alexa Niziak, 21, is starring in John Lee Hancock and Stephen King’s “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” a horror film that follows a young boy who begins to receive text messages from his dead friend.

The film, which came out earlier this month on Netflix, is an adaptation of King’s previously unpublished short story that was released in 2020. The film showcases the talent of Academy Award winning Donald Sutherland and “Knives Out” star Jaeden Martell.

Niziak got the phone call that she had landed the job after just one self tape her manager had submitted.

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

 

RARE LARK SPARROW RETURNS TO #gloucesterma!

The Lark Sparrow returns!  It’s been a delight to observe her foraging at Eastern Point. She has been here for over a week, finding plenty to eat in the seed heads of wildflowers. The Lark Sparrow is also eating caterpillars she uncovers at the base of plants and snatching insects tucked in the tree branches.

You can see from the Lark Sparrow’s range map that she is far off course, although this is the second time I have seen a visiting Lark Sparrow at Eastern Point. In November of 2019, we were graced with an extended visit from a Lark Sparrow. You can read more about that here:

THE RARELY SEEN IN MASSACHUSETTS LARK SPARROW IS STILL WITH US!

While working on the Piping Plover film project, I am also creating a half hour long documentary on the ecology of New England pond life. Some of the beloved creatures that we regularly see at our local ponds that are featured in the film include Beavers, Muskrats, Otters, herons, frogs (of course), raptors, butterflies, bees, spiders, turtles, snakes, songbirds, and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Being able to include rarely seen wild creatures such the Lark Sparrow, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and the Orange-crowned Warbler adds to the joy and fun of the film and i am so excited to be working on this project.  I just hope I can edit everyone in within a half hour time frame!

 

Lark Sparrow Eastern Point 2022

When out in the field and only a quick glance is afforded, the easiest way to tell the difference between the the Lark Sparrow and the Song Sparrow, (the sparrow most commonly seen in these part) is to compare breast feathers. The Lark Sparrows breast is white with only faint streaking and a prominent black spot in the center of the upper chest. Compare that to the more heavily streaked Song Sparrow’s chest feathers (see below).

DANSE MACABRE – HALLOWEEN ORBWEAVER SPIDER CATCHING BEES

Danse of the Orbweaver – For my husband Tom, who loves Halloween and the Orbweavers.

The female Cross Orbweaver spider filmed here has been residing in our garden for several months. She catches a great many insects and also spends a great deal of time maintaining her web, re-spinning damaged sections. The day she caught not one, but two bees, she appeared visibly excited and kept running between the two, seemingly to ensure they were indeed sufficiently immobilized.

Mom Orbweaver has produced an egg sac that is well hidden amongst a loosely arranged nest of several leaves stuck together with her silk. The egg sac is almost as big as she is and may contain up to 800 eggs! She is still hanging around and will guard the eggs for the rest of her life. The first hard frost kills any remaining Orbweavers.

The collective name for spiders is clutster or clutter. The spiderlings will hatch in spring. The cluster stays together until their first molt and then scatter. Come late summer, a mature male may approach a female, cautiously, with lots of advance-and-retreat, and tentative touching. The females are bigger and hungrier. Males don’t survive long after mating, and she may very well eat him.

Saint-Saëns and his Danse Macabre for Halloween
by Cynthia Collins

Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre, Op. 40,” was composed in 1874 as an orchestral tone poem based on a French legend about Death appearing every Halloween at midnight. As he plays his fiddle, the skeletons rise from their graves and dance until dawn, returning to their graves when the rooster crows. Death’s appearance is heard as a solo violin playing tritones.

The idea of a Danse Macabre is more than a legend. Danse Macabre, or Dance of Death, is an allegory that has been around since the 13th century to illustrate that regardless of one’s station in life, death is universal and inevitable. It has been depicted in paintings, frescoes, plays and musical settings. It gained prominence in Europe following major events in the 14th century such as famine, war, and the Black Death.

The use of tritones to represent death or the devil is also rooted in history. Musically, a tritone is three consecutive whole tones, making it an augmented fourth or diminished fifth. During the Middle Ages, it was called the diabolus in musica, or “the Devil in music.” The sound is dissonant, leaving the listener with a sense of it being unfinished, needing resolution.

Saint-Saëns’ first version of his “Danse Macabre” was composed in 1872 as an art song for voice and piano. The text by poet and doctor Henri Cazalis followed the legend. Saint-Saëns reworked the piece for orchestra, with solo violin replacing the vocal line. The music gets faster and faster as the skeletons dance at a frenzied pace but when dawn arrives, everything suddenly slows to a stop for another year.

When the orchestral version was first premiered in 1875, it did not receive good reviews. It was soon transcribed for piano by Franz Liszt, who was a friend of Saint-Saëns. From that, it steadily gained popularity. The work has been performed in concerts throughout the world in various ways from the full orchestral score to piano solos, choreographed for dance performances, and used in film and television programs.

Read More Here

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS EATING POISON IVY

All around Cape Ann, from West Gloucester to East, from Cape Hedge to Good Harbor to Cox Reservation, I have been checking out the Poison Ivy patches and sure enough, there are Yellow-rumped Warblers relishing the white waxy fruits at every locale. Who knew it was a thing 🙂 And now I have a new favorite species to add to the long list of beloved wild creatures.

According to Cornell, Yellow-rumped Warblers are the only warbler able to digest the waxes found in Wax Myrtle and Bayberries. This ability to digest waxy fruit allows the Yellow-rumped Warbler to winter as far north as Newfoundland.

Yellow -rumped warblers are versatile foragers. They eat insects in the spring, summer, and when available. You may see them picking at insects on washed up seaweed. During migration and the winter months, their habit is to eat Poison Ivy fruits, grapes, Wax Myrtle, Bayberries, Virginia Creeper berries, dogwood fruits, and Juniper berries. Yellow-rumped Warblers also eat goldenrod seeds and beach grass seed, and if you are fortunate to have them at your feeder, provide Sunflowers seeds, raisins, peanut butter, and suet.

The Yellow-rumped Warblers have been dining on PI fruits for over a month. As autumn has unfolded, I’ve added new clips to the short film below. Filmed from mid-September to mid-October I see no signs of the feast abating as there is still plenty of fruit around. More photos to come when I have time to sort though.

See a story form March of this year, Yellow-rumped Warblers in the Snow.

For more about Poison Ivy, and the myriad species of wildlife this native vine supports, go here:

Leaves of Three, Let it Be

Please join the Town Green and the Save Salt Island Group for what promises to be a fantastic virtual webinar and workshop on the ecosystem of. Good Harbor Beach.

Event: The first of a three-part workshop/webinar series focusing on the Good Harbor Beach ecosystem: Protecting and Preserving the Good Harbor Beach Ecosystem for Current and Future Generations

When: Wednesday, October 26th from 6:30-8:30pm on Zoom (register here) (https://bit.ly/3RBEa3v)

What: An online workshop/webinar with several small group breakout sessions for participants to discuss the issues raised and reflect on the changes that have already happened

Speakers include:

  • Professor Charles Waldheim from the Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Jayne Knott, TownGreen board member and founder of HydroPredictions
  • Denton Crews from Friends of Good Harbor
  • Mary Ellen Lepionka, local historian

You will learn about:

  • The history of Good Harbor Beach
  • The Good Harbor Beach ecosystem and current climate threats
  • Incremental sea level rise, flooding, ecosystem adaptation, and vulnerable infrastructure
  • The Great Storm scenario based on research from Harvard Graduate School of Design

 The first workshop will be followed by a Good Harbor Beach field trip on October 27th to tour vulnerable areas identified in the workshop. The second and third workshop/webinars will address adaptation options and project planning for the Good Harbor Beach area. The Good Harbor Beach ecosystem workshop/webinar series is a pilot public education program that TownGreen will replicate to focus on climate impacts in Essex, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Rockport.

Jayne F. Knott, Ph.D.

JFK Environmental Services LLC

https://HydroPredictions.com

jfknott@hydropredictions.com

508-344-2831

YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO!

What was that flash of brown and white that whizzed by? Too large to be a sparrow and hoping to learn what it was, I watched quietly as it stayed motionless in the tree branches, well hidden, except for its bright white breast. I think it was watching me and didn’t budge for a good fifteen minutes. I crept a little closer to try to get a better view. What was this pretty, with a lovely curved bill, soft Mourning Dove grey/brown wing feathers and white breast? Could it be a Yellow-billed Cuckoo bird? YES!!

I had only ever seen them in books and was thrilled to catch a glimpse, however brief. Yellow-billed Cuckoos are not necessarily rare I don’t think, but they have a reputation for being illusive, and this one surely was. I sure wish I could have gotten a clear glimpse of its tail feathers, which look polka dot when see from below.

Yellow-billed Cuckoos are long distant travelers. They breed in our area before heading to parts much further south, some as far as Argentina.

BEAUTIFUL BUCKEYES!

A truly glorious weekend weather-wise with warm sun, mild temperatures, beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There are still loads of butterflies on the wing. Saturday was a five species afternoon, not an everyday occurrence in mid-October on Cape Ann. Monarchs were on the move, along with American Ladies, Clouded Sulphurs, Orange Sulphurs, and one of my favorites, the wholly uncommon, Common Buckeye. The gloriously patterned 3 pairs of eyespots of the Common Buckeye are meant to frighten avian predators, a scary six-eyed monster if you will, but we humans find them enchanting.

Each summer Common Buckeyes emigrate to New England from southern states. Some years we see many more than others. It’s always a delight to come upon one and I typically find them at the edge of a marsh nectaring at Seaside Goldenrod or basking in the sun on a sandy path.

Underwing (ventral) view of Common Buckeye

To see a photo collection and short film of some of October’s most commonly seen butterflies go here –

A MINI- GLOSSARY OF LATE SUMMER BUTTERFLIES

Buckeyes begin around 2:40

Common Buckeye Larval Host Plants

Female Common Buckeyes deposit their eggs on a variety of plants, both native and non-native.

Caterpillar food plants from Mass Audubon –

Many documented. In the Northeast, larvae usually feed on “members of the snapdragon family (and) plantain family” (Opler and Krizek, 1984), including Blue Toadflax (Linaria canadensis); False Foxglove and gerardias (Gerardia, species), plantains (Plantago, sp.), and Snapdragon (Antirrhinum). Buckeye larvae have been observed in Massachusetts on Butter and eggs (Linaria vulgaris) and Slender Gerardia (Gerardia tenuifolia)

And from The Butterflies of Massachusetts

Today, lacking such an abundance of gerardia, Common Buckeye’s most usual host plant in Massachusetts may be Plantago lanceolata, or lance-leaved plantain, a widespread non-native weed introduced with the arrival of European settlers.  The 1990-95 Connecticut Atlas workers observed Buckeye ovipositing on lance-leaved plantain in the wild, and the caterpillars have been successfully raised on it many times, for example by caterpillar photographer Sam Jaffe in July 2011.  Buckeyes have been observed in the wild ovipositing on the native purslane speedwell (Veronica peregrina) (S. Jaffe 6/21/2011), and on the non-native butter-and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris) (M. Champagne 7/14/2008).  They are also reported to use blue toadflax (Linaria canadensis), slender gerardia (Agalinis tenuifolia), and sometimes non-native garden snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) (Scott 1986).

Common Buckeye and Painted Lady

LEAVES OF THREE, LET IT BE

In thinking about our community’s efforts to Save Salt Island from deforestation and development, I wanted to share evidence that the vines and shrubs on the island are an important source of food for a host of small mammals and birds.

One of the most reviled of plants, Poison Ivy, is an excellent food plant for wildlife and will not cause the itchy uncomfortable rash if you do not touch the leaves, stems, fruits, and roots. Poison Ivy can either look like a shrub or a vine. Regardless of the shape, the leaves are easily identifiable in that they are always arranged in three; two leaves opposite one another, and between them the third leaf is borne on a stem growing at a right angle from the two shorter leaves.

Common Bonnet Fungi and Poison Ivy

Out on Eastern Point there are large patches of Poison Ivy that grow smack on the edge of very well traveled pathways. They have grown that way for decades, yet no one bothers the Poison Ivy and the Poison Ivy bothers no one. The spring blooming greenish yellow clusters of flowers are beloved by bees and myriad pollinators, while the vitamin rich white waxy berries are relished by resident and migrating songbirds alike.

In autumn, the plant’s glossy green leaves turn a brilliant red, which acts as a “red flag” to hungry songbirds. The long list of birds that dine on Poison Ivy fruits include Yellow-rumped Warblers, Eastern Bluebirds, Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Mockingbirds, Song Sparrows, Gray Catbirds, Bobwhites, and many, many more.

Poison Ivy Tips – If you come in contact, rinse the area with cold water, not soap, as soon after contact as possible. Ocean water works well when near to the beach. If you have Jewelweed growing handily nearby, smear the juice of the stem on the exposed skin. Never burn Poison Ivy. With burning,  urushiol (the poisonous oil in Poison Ivy) becomes volatilized in the smoke and you can get it in your lungs, which is very dangerous and can even lead to death.

Yellow-rumped Warbler and Poison Ivy

RESPLENDENT MONARCH MIGRATION

 

Dear Monarch Friends,

This new short, titled Resplendent Monarch Migration, features Monarchs during the late summer southward migration. Also highlighted are some of the more commonly seen butterflies of late summer, including the American Lady, the spectacular Common Buckeye (2:53), Pearl Crescent, Yellow Sulphur, and American Copper. The flora seen includes New England Asters, Seaside Goldenrod, Tall Goldenrod, Smooth Aster (pale lavender), and Common Milkweed. When you plant for the butterflies, they will come!

At 3:30 you can see a small overnight roost beginning to form. As the sun sets, particularly on chilly or windy evenings, Monarchs head for the trees. One by one they fly in, some settling quickly, others restless and shifting to a more preferable spot. By nightfall, all are tucked into the sheltering boughs of the Black Cherry tree. (4:15).

With the warming rays of Sun’s first light, the Monarchs begin to awaken (4:20). If it’s cold and windy they”ll stay a bit longer but typically, the butterflies either float down to the wildflowers in the marsh below, or in the case of this particular roost at Eastern Point, the Monarchs wasted no time and quickly departed. They flew directly south towards Boston by first traveling along the length of the Dogbar Breakwater before heading out to sea (4:30).

It took patience (and a lot of luck) to capture the butterfly heading up into the clouds (5:44). I wanted to share the imagery of the scale of a tiny speck of a creature juxtaposed against the vastness of sea and sky. Imagine, a butterfly that weighs less than a paper clip, journeys 2500 miles to the trans Mexican volcanic mountaintops.

Safe travels oh resilient one!

I have received a number of requests for Monarch footage. I cannot lend the footage from my documentary, Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, currently airing on PBS however, this past summer, I spent time shooting butterflies in my garden, butterflies in pollinator gardens that I have designed for clients, and at our local marshes and meadows. All the footage was shot in beautiful 4k, which is what organizations are requesting.

Several weeks ago I posted Monarchs and Friends in the Summer Garden and you can see that here. This short features butterflies you may typically see in mid-summer drinking nectar alongside Monarchs.

Cast, in order of appearance:

Monarch Butterfly

Hoverfly

Clouded Sulphur

Autumn Meadowhawk Dragonfly

American Copper

American Lady

Pearl Crescent

Common Buckeye

 

 

 

SEALS IN THE RISING HUNTER’S FULL MOON

Late day Sunday, Charlotte and I took a walk to Niles Pond hoping to see the Harbor Seals in the rising Hunter’s Moon. We were not disappointed! We also saw a mini flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Merlin on the hunt.

GOOD MORNING, YOU LIVING BEING NEARLY UNCHANGED FOR 90 MILLION YEARS!

Snapping Turtle(s) Encounter

Even though back-lit, the unmistakeable foot and a half long lump in the middle of the road demanded action. I pulled my car over, turned on the flashers, stood guard over the Snapper, and contemplated how to get the fellow across the road before he became squished Snapping Turtle breakfast for the Coyotes and Vultures. The last time there was a Snapper in the middle of Niles Pond Road I had retrieved the yoga mat in my car, rolled it up, and working from the tail end prodded the creature across the street. It’s unwise to think you can move a Snapping Turtle with your bare hands. Snappers look slow, act slow, and generally are slow, unless they are hungry or feel threatened.  When that happens, the Snapper will snarl and swiftly lunge, its powerful jaws wide open, ready to chomp down with its piercing beak.

After digging around in my trunk I found our winter windshield wiper ice scraping gadget, which conveniently has an extension. I first tried gently pushing him in the direction he was facing. He wouldn’t budge. Next I tried pushing him a little harder with the ice scraper, still nothing. On the third try, the irascible fellow turned with lightening speed and latched hard onto the scraper. After a mini tug of war, he released the ice scraper and turned around to head back to the side from where he came. Okay that’s fine with me, I thought. I’ll check in with him on my return from filming.

Walking back to my car, there was a second Snapper at the roadside edge, appearing as if he/ she was also planning to cross the road. This Snapper was a bit smaller and a bit more skittish. She changed her mind about crossing and headed back toward the pond. I followed the turtle as she lumbered over the woodland floor onto the muddy bank, where she paused briefly before entering the water.

I wondered, were these both females looking for a place to nest? A suitable place to hunker down for the winter? So many questions! According to several sites, Snapping Turtle nesting season runs from April through November although perhaps they are talking about Snappers in warmer regions in regard to nesting in November. And after insemination, a female Snapping Turtle remains fertile for up to three years!

From Audubon, “The snapping turtle family, Chelydridae, evolved in North America and has haunted our wetlands almost unchanged for nearly 90 million years. Ancestors spread to Eurasia about 40 million years ago and then disappeared from that continent in the late Pliocene, about two million years ago. Chelydrids have been sequestered in the Western Hemisphere ever since, which makes them among our truest and oldest turtles. They were present when dinosaurs lived and died, and had been laying round, white, leathery eggs in sandy loam and glacial till for millions of years when the first Amerindians wandered over the Bering Land Bridge. Snapping turtles have witnessed the drift of continents, the birth of islands, the drowning of coastlines, the rise and fall of mountain ranges, the spread of prairies and deserts, the comings and goings of glaciers.”

Turtle populations in Massachusetts are declining. How utterly tragic if we were to lose these 90 million year old relics. Turtles are the ultimate survivors, but they need several types of habitats to survive and to nest. To access their habitats, a turtle must often cross a road. Cars and trucks are among the top threats to turtles. Other threats include habitat loss and fragmentation, collection as pets, disease, and increased predation.

By no means am I suggesting you do this on a busy highway but if you are traveling along a country lane, find a safe place to pull over, and if you are able, escort the turtle to either side of the road.

 

 

SUNSET BUOYS AND BOATS

Enjoying October’s glow these past few days. Buoys and boats in the setting sun

PECTORAL SANDPIPER IN OUR MIDST

If you see a larger, chunkyish sandpiper foraging alongside Semipalmated Plovers and Sanderlings, look at its neck and chest feathers. The Pectoral Sandpiper is heavily streaked above with bright white below.

This long distant traveler breeds in wet coastal areas of the Arctic tundra, from easternmost Russia, across Alaska, and into Canada.  According to Cornell’s All About Birds, most winter over in southern South America, which means that some Pectoral Sandpipers migrate a whopping 19,000 miles every year!

CLIMATE CHANGE ON THE GOOD HARBOR BEACH ECOSYSTEM UPCOMING PRESENTATION

Dear Friends of Good Harbor Beach and Save Salt Island,

Jayne Knot shares the following –

“Given your interest in Salt Island, we are inviting you to attend an upcoming workshop/webinar that will focus on climate impacts to the Good Harbor Beach ecosystem. We think you will find this workshop/webinar engaging, informative, and specific to an area of Gloucester that we all love and want to preserve. 

We have been involved in the planning of this event and Jayne will be one of the speakers. We’ve attached a flier and the press release for more information, and are happy to answer any questions you may have.

We hope to see you on October 26th for this important event.  Please share this invitation with your networks, friends, and family. Thank you.

 Kind regards,

Jayne and Andy”

Here is more information:

Event: The first of a three-part workshop/webinar series focusing on the Good Harbor Beach ecosystem: Protecting and Preserving the Good Harbor Beach Ecosystem for Current and Future Generations

When: Wednesday, October 26th from 6:30-8:30pm on Zoom (register here) (https://bit.ly/3RBEa3v)

What: An online workshop/webinar with several small group breakout sessions for participants to discuss the issues raised and reflect on the changes that have already happened

Speakers include:

  • Professor Charles Waldheim from the Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Jayne Knott, TownGreen board member and founder of HydroPredictions
  • Denton Crews from Friends of Good Harbor
  • Mary Ellen Lepionka, local historian

You will learn about:

  • The history of Good Harbor Beach
  • The Good Harbor Beach ecosystem and current climate threats
  • Incremental sea level rise, flooding, ecosystem adaptation, and vulnerable infrastructure
  • The Great Storm scenario based on research from Harvard Graduate School of Design

 The first workshop will be followed by a Good Harbor Beach field trip on October 27th to tour vulnerable areas identified in the workshop. The second and third workshop/webinars will address adaptation options and project planning for the Good Harbor Beach area. The Good Harbor Beach ecosystem workshop/webinar series is a pilot public education program that TownGreen will replicate to focus on climate impacts in Essex, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Rockport.

Jayne F. Knott, Ph.D.

JFK Environmental Services LLC

https://HydroPredictions.com

jfknott@hydropredictions.com

508-344-2831

AUTUMN MEADOWHAWKS MATING AND IN-TANDEM

At this time of year, look for Autumn Meadowhawk Dragonflies at our local ponds, wetlands, slow moving streams, marshes, and woodlands. They emerge in mid-summer and are on the wing as late as through November. The males especially are easily spotted with their brilliant vermilion abdomens. Male Meadowhawks dart about chasing other males away from their territory.Autumn Meadowhawks copulating in the typical dragonfly “mating wheel” fashion. The male (vermilion abdomen) grasps the female behind her head while the female places the tip of her abdomen at the spot on his abdomen where he stores sperm.

Autumn Meadowhawks in-tandem

After mating, the female Autumn Meadowhawk oviposits (lays) her eggs in-tandem with the male. They stay attached while he repeatedly dips her in water and at the base of vegetation as she deposits her eggs. By staying joined together and flying in-tandem, he prevents other male Meadowhawks from replacing his sperm with their own.

These late season dragonflies are an important strand in our wetland ecology. Their tiny larvae provide food for ducks, fish, frogs, shorebirds, and wading birds, while migrating songbirds traveling through dine on the adults.

American Bullfrog patiently waiting for a dragonfly snack

Autumn Meadowhawks range map

 

GOOD MORNING MONARCHS! – CAPE ANN MONARCH MIGRATION UPDATE

Monarchs awakening in the morning sun

Compared to year’s past, the 2022 fall southward migration has been a relatively quiet year (so far) for Monarchs traveling through Cape Ann. That is not to say we won’t see another batch or two coming through, but for the most part, we did not have the spectacular roosts that we have seen in some year’s past. We had many travelers flying through during the month of September, but the conditions were favorable and they kept moving along at a steady pace.

I found several roosts in late September. On one evening, the wind was blowing hard from the northwest and the Monarchs were clustered tightly on the east facing side of the tree, to get out of the wind. I didn’t notice the silhouette of Monarch arcs until twilight and counted a dozen or so Monarch arcs.

The golden morning sun revealed several hundred butterflies! It was a joy to see them stirring and fluttering in the dawn light.

Upon awakening, the butterflies didn’t spend any time drinking nectar from the wildflower meadow below as they often do, but headed straight out over the Dogbar Breakwater.

Although Cape Ann has not seen many large roosts this season, two Monarch staging areas, Cape May, New Jersey and Point Pelee, Ontario are both having spectacular migrations!! Monarchs gather at  the Point Pelee peninsula before crossing over Lake Erie into Ohio. Likewise, the butterflies stage at Cape May before crossing the Delaware Bay. The butterflies wait for favorable winds to help carry them across bodies of water.

Point Pelee

Cape May (red star)

PIPING PLOVER MIGRATING THROUGH CAPE ANN! #ploverjoyed

Very late  in the day Thursday, September 29th, while checking on Monarchs, and other travelers, a new friend pointed out a Piping Plover foraging in the seaweed at Brace Cove. I zipped down to the beach and sure enough, there was a very shy PiPl foraging alongside Semipalmated Plovers and sandpipers of several different species. He/she had a fairly steady gait so I am certain it wasn’t Hip Hop, although it was a little challenging to see in the super thick seaweed. And, too, this PiPl was extremely skittish of larger birds flying overhead, displaying an usual way of crouching its upper body and holding its tail end up high, a behavior not shared with Hip Hop.

I returned to Brace Cove early the following morning and the traveling PiPl had departed overnight.

I am posting this information especially for fans of Hip Hop to show that it is not unheard of for stragglers to have not yet left our region. It’s evolution and nature’s way for creatures to remain and depart over a period of time, to ensure survival of the species. If all the Monarchs and all the PiPlovers migrated at precisely the same time, one storm could wipe out the entire species.

Safe travels to all our little migrating friends. Hopefully they are finding shelter from the storm.

GOODNIGHT MONARCHS!

A silhouette of Monarchs aligned against the night sky.

On chilly or windy evenings, Monarchs often roost close together in trees. They tend to prefer native trees such as this native cherry tree.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALEXA NIZIAK, LOCAL ACTRESS (AND PIPING PLOVER AMBASSADOR), FOR HER STEVEN KING FILM NETFLIX PREMIERE!!

Congratulations and wonderful wishes to Alexa Niziak! Her latest film project, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, premiered last night in Hollywood. Alexa is also a full time student at the outstanding NYU Tish School of the Arts. She didn’t want to miss classes so Alexa flew out to LA just for the night to attend the premiere.

Alexa is a Rockport resident. You may recall that she was also one of our super Piping Plover ambassadors, along with her beautiful Mom Paula. They had originally volunteered to help with the Cape Hedge chicks but after all four chicks perished, the two joined us at Good Harbor Beach. They are one of our most kind-hearted and dedicated and we were so grateful to have had their help this summer. We may lose Alexa to her flourishing career (we sure hope not), but if so, success could not happen to a nicer person.

Alexa is a gifted dancer, actress, and singer. She has performed on Broadway (the Tony-award winning Matilda the Musical), Off-Broadway, and television shows such as “Orange is the New Black.”  To read more about Alexa, visit her website here.

Alexa Niziak (second from left) in Mr. Harrigan’s Phone

Just in time for Halloween, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is a super spooky thriller. Husband Tom is a big Steven King so I nabbed a copy off his bookshelf and read it on the plane to Ohio. I cannot wait to see Alexa in the film. She plays Margie, the lead character’s best friend.

We’re so proud of you Alexa!!! xo

A boy and an aging billionaire bond over books — and their first iPhones. But when the older man passes, their mysterious connection refuses to die. From Ryan Murphy, Blumhouse and Stephen King comes a supernatural coming-of-age story, starring Donald Sutherland and Jaeden Martell. Written and directed for the screen by John Lee Hancock.

READ MORE HERE

CAR TALK WITH CHARLOTTE – LIVIN’ THE DREAM

Driving in the car with Charlotte while we sing and converse, there is never a dull moment. On a recent trip to Russell Orchards traveling along Rt. 133 in Essex –

Me – Look at that beautiful field of goldenrod honey.

Charlotte – Monarchs must live there Mimi (normal tone of voice). Then she shouts, Monarchs livin’ the dream in the goldenrod patch!

Kid’s brains are endlessly making wonderful connections. She learned that expression from her Bops (my husband Tom), I think. He is always saying thing like “we live in paradise,”, or “we’re living the dream.” It was just funny thinking about Monarchs in the context of living the dream in a field of wildflowers, but of course they are 🙂

HOLIDAY DELIGHTS IS BACK IN GLOUCESTER AND LOOKING TO CAST!

Director Heidi Dallin shares –

JOIN THE CAST!!

A Cape Ann Holiday Tradition Returns!

Holiday Delights

Back on Stage in Gloucester

The Cape Ann YMCA presents Holiday Delights, the beloved holiday production. Registration is now open for young people age 6 to 17 to perform in Holiday Delights. Set in Gloucester, Holiday Delights is a festive evening of stories, music and dance recounting the special traditions that other cultures and families experience as seen through a young child’s magical journey on Christmas Eve to discover what is really important during the holiday season. Young people can learn the basics of professional theatre as well as be a part of a Cape Ann Holiday tradition. “There are terrific roles for young actors of all ages! All actors that register will be cast in the production,” says YMCA of the North Shore Theatre Specialist and Holiday Delights Director Heidi Dallin. Rehearsals will be at the Cape Ann YMCA and the schedule is flexible. Dallin has assembled a YMCA Theatre Team that includes West Parish Elementary School Music teacher Rin Wolter as Music Director, Manchester native Jenny Hersey as Stage Manager, and former Holiday Delights cast member and recent college graduate TS Burnham as Choreographer/Costume Designer. Performances are December 9 at 7pm; December 10 at 2pm and December 11 at 2pm at the American Legion, 8 Washington Street, Gloucester , MA. To join the cast, go to Register For Programs at www.northshoreymca.org and search for Holiday Delights. For further information and questions, contact Heidi Dallin at dallinh@northshoreymca.org or 978-729-1094.

Photo: Holiday Delights 2021 Performance Workshop in rehearsal

IN DEFENSE OF LITERARY FREEDOM AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION – FRIDAY AT GLOUCESTER CITY HALL!!

Gloucester stands in solidarity with Salman Rushdie

SEVEN SUNS GALLERY IS HOSTING THEIR FIRST GUEST ARTIST RECEPTION!

Gallery owner and artist extraordinaire Loren Doucette shares the following –

Hi All,

Seven Suns Gallery is happy to announce our first guest artist reception as our Fall Event.
Please help us in welcoming artist Matthew Billey and his “Red Sun” series. His work will be on display from Oct. 7- Nov. 25 here at the gallery.
 
Guest Artist Matthew Billey showing at Seven Suns Gallery Oct. 7 – Nov. 25
Artist Reception: Friday, Oct. 14 from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Matthew Billey has been a traditional wooden boat builder for the last 25 years. He has a special interest in Scandinavian designs and construction methods. Matt built and lives aboard his 27’ Danish Cutter, Jette. She appears frequently as the main subject matter in his artwork. His expertise in designing, building and sailing wooden sailboats lends a discerning eye when portraying them accurately in their element.
His 7 year old daughter, Naomi, was a major influence in getting him started as a painter. Since the Spring of 2022, he has made several works based on his interest in metaphysics, global ascension, astrology, perception beyond the ordinary five senses and spirituality. He merges that interest with his passion for landscapes and boats. Matt’s latest body of work, The “Red Sun” series, showcases 7 tall vertical paintings; all acrylic on wood and all fantastical in nature.
The “Red Sun” series and others of Matt’s paintings will be featured as a Fall Event at Loren Doucette Studio at Seven Suns Gallery from Oct. 7 – Nov. 25th. The guest artist reception will be Friday, Oct. 14 from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm and is free and open to the public. Seven Suns Gallery is located at 48 Bearskin Neck in Rockport, Ma. and is open 7 days a week from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Warm wishes,
Loren


Loren Doucette Studio at Seven Suns Gallery

48 Bearskin Neck, Rockport, MA 01966
(978)-879-6588

WILD MUSTANG BEAUTY, MONARCH MIGRATION, AND HIP HOP!

Dear Friends,

While I began writing this note yesterday morning and was looking out my office window, there were Monarchs drinking nectar from the Zinnias in the front flower border and Monarchs nectaring at the New England Asters around back. The migration is underway, with small assemblages here and there. I’m keeping my hopes up that we will see a greater influx in the coming days. And hopefully, too, the drought has not too badly harmed the Monarchs as there seems to have been enough moisture in the air that native wildflowers such as goldenrods and asters are blooming.

It was a good year for many species of butterflies in our garden. Here is a short video set to Camile Saint-Saens “Carnival of the Animals,” organized for a request for footage by a news organization:Monarchs and Friends in the Summer Garden #plantforthepollinators

On another note, the Shalin Liu and the Boston Film Festival are screening a new film titled Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West on Friday evening. This screening is free and open to the public. Here is a link to the trailer: Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the WestThe footage of the wild horses looks stunning. The film documents that wild horses are disappearing. You can find more information on my website here, too much for an email.

Our sweet little Hip Hop has not been seen for several days (as of this writing), but as Piping Plover Ambassador Deb writes, he has a Houdini-like way of disappearing and reappearing. Hopefully, he has departed. I am not sure if I sent this along to you – Ethan Forman from the GTimes wrote a fantastic article about our GHB Plovers. You can find the story here: Best Year Ever for Plovers at Good Harbor Beach.

I was so happy to read in the Gloucester Times that Mayor Verga’s new beach reservation system is a success, not only for the City, but because an interesting outcome is that I think the reservation system also helped the PiPls. Folks with reservations weren’t desperate to get to the beach by 7am and took their time arriving. The net result was that the wildlife that finds shelter and sustenance on the beach was less disturbed and could forage in relative peace. The new system appears to be a win for all!

In the sixties with mostly sunny skies this weekend. There are many creatures migrating along the coast and through New England currently. I believe I saw a pair of American Golden Plovers but haven’t had time to check my footage to verify 100 percent. I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy the predicted beautiful weather and see some wildlife.

Warmest wishes,

Kim

Charlotte’s first day of kindergarten with a newly emerged Monarch to send her off – her idea to accessorize 🙂