We’d like to send a heartfelt thank you to the Gloucester Daily Times staff writer Ethan Forman and editor-in-chief Andrea Holbrook for writing about our Good Harbor Beach Plovers. We friends of Cape Ann Plovers appreciate so much your thoughtful writing and taking the time to get the story straight!
Mass Audubon to help protect threatened plovers
By Ethan Forman
The sighting of the one-footed piping plover Super Mom, and others like her on Good Harbor Beach during the last week in March, coincides with human activity there meant to help preserve and protect coastal shorebirds during the busy summer beach season.
That includes the installation of symbolic fencing made up of metal posts and yellow rope around the dunes with signs letting beachgoers know the “Restricted Area” is “a natural breeding ground for piping plovers.”
“These rare birds, their nests and eggs are protected under Massachusetts and federal laws,” the signs read.
The nation’s oldest seaport is taking extra steps this year to monitor and minimize disturbances to Super Mom and others of her threatened species of small, stocky migratory birds that have made the popular beach their summer home in recent years.
On Monday, the city announced it had entered into an agreement with Mass Audubon to help with the monitoring and management of coastal nesting birds, including piping plovers, on the city’s public beaches, according to a press release.
Thank you so very much to Gloucester Times Editor Andrea Holbrook and staff writer Michael Cronin for sharing about the fence post installation and the great information provided for the public. We are so appreciative of the ongoing support given by the community and the Gloucester Times.
By Michael Cronin
Photo by Paul Bilodeau
March 29, 2021
Part of Good Harbor Beach is fenced off to protect some tiny seasonal visitors.
A crew of Public Works personnel began fencing out an area of the beach on Monday to protect migrating piping plovers. The first pair of the threatened shorebirds reportedly landed this weekend.
“They put up the posts today,” said Kim Smith, a local documentarian and advocate for the piping plovers. “The roping will come next and then they’ll put up the signage telling people what’s going on. This is super that they’re doing it early this season. The earlier it goes up, the earlier the chicks hatch which gives them a better chance of survival as the beaches aren’t so busy yet.”
According to Smith, the piping plovers that visit Good Harbor typically nest in the same spot each year.
“One year they nested out in the parking lot because they were pushed out by the dogs on the beach,” she recalled. “But once the ordinance was put in place they were able to return to their usual spot.”
Dog are banned from Good Harbor Beach between April and September. Wingaersheek will remain open to canines on odd numbered days until April 30.
Smith said she’s waiting for the birds to lay their eggs. Once they do, members of the Essex County Greenbelt Association will encapsulate the nest with wire netting.
“Dave Rimmer of Essex County Greenbelt has been guiding us since 2016,” said Smith. “He’s the first one I call when the first egg is laid. The holes in the cage are big enough for the birds to enter and leave, but small enough to keep predators out.”
Lovely update from the Gloucester Daily Times Gail McCarthy for Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. So many thanks to the Times for their continued support for BotWing. I am so grateful and appreciative!
AROUND CAPE ANN: Local artists earn accolades
Around Cape Ann Gail McCarthy January 14, 2020
Gloucester’s Kim Smith, who boasts a love of nature, photography and all things art, has found growing recognition for her film “Beauty on the Wing,” about the life of the monarch butterfly and its intercontinental migration from Canada to Mexico.
Smith spent more than eight years researching and documenting the natural phenomenon, whose more than 3,000 miles includes Cape Ann.
This fall, her documentary was accepted into the Boston International Kids Film Festival, where it earned an award for best documentary.
More recently, “Beauty on the Wing” received an Award of Excellence from the Nature Without Borders International Film Festival and was accepted as an official selection to the Providence Children’s Film Festival, which takes place in February.
“I am overjoyed that ‘Beauty on the Wing’ is finding acceptance at both children’s and conservation festivals; that jurors see it as it was meant to be, a conservation film for people of all ages,” Smith said.
Rockport artist Susan Lynn won the grand prize at the EnPleinAirTEXAS competition with her painting titled “Peace on the River.”
“It was overwhelming to get the grand prize because there is a stellar group of painters in that competition every year,” she said. “It was humbling, and I was very honored to be recognized in that group.”
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Joann Mackenzie, Andrea Holbrook, and the Gloucester Times for the beautifully written story“Butterfly Film Takes Flight”.
Ten years in the making, Kim Smith’s butterfly film takes flight
Kim Smith’s monarch movie 10 years in the making
GLOUCESTER TIMES OCTOBER 28, 2020
By Joann Mackenzie Staff Writer
Every story has a back story, and Kim Smith’s back story began in her backyard.
In the mid 1990s, Smith — an award-winning landscape designer — filled her Gloucester garden with native and pollinator plantings that attract all manner of winged creatures. These, thanks to lots of milkweed, included lots of magnificent monarch butterflies. “I just loved them,” says Smith, “I wanted more and more of them.”
There began a tale that this year saw Smith complete a 10-year project, the making of the 56-minute documentary “Beauty on the Wing — Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly.” In a few short months, and despite the pandemic canceling its local premiere, the film has seen its way to six film festivals, all virtual, the latest of which — the Boston International Kids Film Festival — runs Nov. 20 to 22.
American Public TV Worldwide —the world’s largest distributor of educational television has just signed the documentary for global distribution.
Armed with a handheld digital camera, an artist’s eye, and a love of her subject, Smith has captured the life, work and world of what she calls “this charismatic little creature,” beginning with its metamorphosis from a tiny egg, to its amazing annual journey from the summer shores of its Gloucester habitats to its winter habitats in the Mexican mountains and forests of Michoacán, where the monarchs annual arrival has long been regarded as something of a miracle: the returning of the souls of the dead descending from the sky in fluttering orange clouds, to roost by the millions in the trees.
When she began the project in 2006, Smith knew nothing about filmmaking. Photographing the monarchs, first as “a record,” she was urged on by family and friends. One of them, Gloucester’s late historian Joe Garland, was particularly encouraging. “Oh, I thought, I have to learn to make a film,” she recalls, of her early days learning the basics with Andrew Love and Lisa Smith at Cape Ann TV (now Studio 1623).
Investing in a hand-held HD Canon video camera, Smith began shooting digital. “It was small and so easy to use that I could crouch down, or lie down to capture extreme close-ups,” she says. Supported by community fundraising that covered the $35,000 production budget, she shot “tons of footage over the years,” wrote and recorded the narrative script, and saved on post production costs by teaching herself to digitally edit her film.
Her goal, she says, was not just to celebrate the monarch, but to educate viewers about the plight of this creature that is loved around the world. Indigenous to North America, these light, bright orange butterflies have through the centuries been blown by wind and weather to other continents, including England, where, in the late 17th century, they were named in honor of King William III of England, also known as the Prince of Orange.
In the last 20 years, however, the butterflies’ numbers have plummeted worldwide from a billion to 30 million, as the excessive use of herbicides has killed off much of their main food source —milkweed— while climate change has confused their flight patterns. And in Mexico, the logging of trees has sabotaged the delicate ecosystem of their annual return.
Smith’s film joins a growing body of environmental activism on behalf of the monarch butterfly. Gardeners across the nation have, like Smith, filled flower beds with milkweed to feed their numbers. The Obama administration, concerned by its alarming decline, allocated $3.2 million to protect it.
In making her documentary, Smith traveled to Mexico twice to film, and learned firsthand just how endangered the monarchs have become. Over time, she says, she came to see monarchs as “little gateway creatures that can open the way to for people to learn about other endangered creatures.”
At Good Harbor Beach, a favorite early morning photographic haunt, Smith began to turn her camera to another local endangered species, piping plovers. Like the monarchs, the little shore birds rely on a fragile ecosystem that Smith began to take an active role in protecting, while filming them. With her monarch documentary now in worldwide release, the piping plovers are on their way to star billing in a new documentary, now in production.
Meanwhile, the Boston International Kids Film Festival, a program of Filmmakers Collaborative, will screen Smith’s documentary as “one of best that the world of independent filmmaking has to offer.” Shown for one week to schoolchildren across the city, the festival, which describes her documentary as “illuminating how two regions, separated by thousands of miles, are ecologically interconnected,” will then host a Zoom author event in which the students can engage in a Q&A which Smith herself.
Smith, by the way, doesn’t just train her talents on winged creatures. In yet another ongoing film project, she captures the aerial antics of Gloucester’s falling Greasy Pole walkers. That documentary, which celebrates the spirit of the city’s annual St Peters Fiesta, is well underway.
Gloucester resident Kim Smith is a documentary filmmaker, environmental conservationist, photojournalist, author, illustrator and award-winning landscape designer.
Her documentary “Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly” was released in February. It has been chosen as an official selection at New Haven Documentary, Nature Without Borders International, Flickers’ Rhode Island International , Docs Without Borders , WRPN Women’s International, and Conservation Wildlife film festivals.
It next shows at the Boston International Kids Film Festival (https://bikff.org/schedule/) on Nov. 20 to 22; tickets start at $20. Links to view the film will be provided upon ticket purchase.
What a terrific issue and the perfect read to bring to the beach (and not just because my story about the Cape Ann to Mexico Monarch connection is featured on the cover!).
Cape Ann Magazine’s Summer 2014 issue provides a wonderful window into summer living on our beautiful North Shore. I throughly enjoyed reading all the articles, including Gail McCarthy’s about Essex sculptor Shelly Bradbury and the beautiful work she does designing for Mariposa; Alexandra Pecci’s two articles, one about Mariposa, aptly titled “Elegance for Everday,” and a second interesting story about Woodman’s celebrating their 100th year in business; Andrea Holbrook’s story featuring Gloucester’s only sailmaker Josh Bevins; and Sean Horgan’s article about tuna-chasing Johnny Johnson. Pick up the Summer 2014 issue of Cape Ann Magazine. I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed!
Luxuriating before work with Cape Ann Magazine’s summer issue and Brother’s Brew fab house-made doughnut!
Excerpt from “Cape Ann to Mexico: The Monarch Butterfly Connection”
Like many communities throughout North America, Cape Ann shares in the interconnected web of the wondrous migration of the monarch butterfly. The very same monarchs that we see nectaring in our gardens and along the shoreline in late summer make a journey of over 2,500 miles south to Mexico to spend the winter in the unique and magnificent oyamel fir and pine tree forests of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, known locally as the Sierra Nevada (Snowy Mountain Range).
Last December, reports began to pour in from Mexican and American scientists that the number of monarchs overwintering was the lowest ever documented, representing a 90% decline from population numbers recorded in the 1990s. This coincided with the lamentably few monarchs seen breeding and feeding in our Cape Ann gardens during the summer of 2013. For the past three years I have been filming the monarchs in Gloucester, and all around Cape Ann, for my forthcoming film, Beauty on the Wing—Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. I came to the realization that if I did not travel to Mexico at this moment in time, there may never again be the opportunity to film the monarch butterfly migration.
Read more in the Cape Ann Magazine Summer 2014 issue available at the following shops:
The Gloucester Times, 36 Whittemore St., 978-283-7000
The Book Store, 61 Main St., 978-281-1548
Good Harbor Liquors, 340 Main St., 978-281-7100
Harbor Loop Gifts, 1 Harbor Loop, 978-283-3060
Jeff’s Variety, 71 Eastern Ave., 978-281-5800
Richdale, 410 Washington St., 978-281-4670
Richdale, 120 E. Main St., 978-283-2179
7 Eleven, 50 Bass Ave., 978-283-6868
Savour, 76 Prospect St., 978-282-1455
Hershey Frame Shop, 8 Rr Pleasant St., 978-546-2655