A bob of five Harbor Seals has spent the past few afternoons lollying about in a socially distant fashion on the rocks at Brace Cove. I write ‘naturally’ distancing not because of coronavirus, but because they prefer some measure of personal space when hauled out. We see both Harbor Seals and Gray Seals at Brace Cove throughout the year although there seem to be fewer during the spring and summer months. I wonder if that is because they are busy breeding and raising young. With the onset of cooler weather their numbers have been increasing once again. On a bright sunny day last winter we counted twenty-nine!
A note about the photos – for the past five years I have been photographing and filming the Cormorants massing. The photos are from 2016 – 2019, and most recently, from 2020. Some of the earliest ones were taken at Niles Beach in 2017. In 2018, my friend Nina wrote to say that the massing also takes place in her neighborhood on the Annisquam River. Several weeks ago, while hiking on the backside of Sandy Point, facing the Ipswich Yacht Club, the Cormorants were massing there, too. Please write if you have seen this spectacular event taking place in your neighborhood. Thank you so much!
Massing in great numbers as they gather at this time of year, Double Crested Cormorants, along with many species of gulls and herons, are benefitting from the tremendous numbers of minnows that are currently present all around the shores of Cape Ann.
At inlets on the Annisquam and Essex Rivers, as well as the inner Harbor and Brace Cove, you can see great gulps of Cormorants. In unison, they push the minnows to shore, where gulls and herons are hungrily waiting. The fish try to swim back out toward open water but the equally as hungry Cormorants have formed a barrier. From an onlooker’s point of view, it looks like utter mayhem with dramatic splashing, diving, and devouring. In many of the photos, you can see that the birds are indeed catching fish.
The Double-crested Cormorants are driving the feeding frenzy. I have seen this symbiotic feeding with individual pairs of DCCormorants and Snowy Egrets at our waterways during the summer, but only see this extraordinary massing of gulls, herons, and cormorants at this time of year, in late summer and early autumn.
Cormorants catch fish by diving from the surface, chasing their prey under water and seizing it with the hooked bill.
Double-crested Cormorants are ubiquitous. When compared to Great Cormorants, DCCormorants are a true North American species and breed, winter over, and migrate along the shores of Cape Ann.
After feeding, the herons often find a quiet place to preen before heading back in the late afternoon to their overnight roosting grounds.
Double-crested Cormomrant range map
For the past several weeks I have been filming at day break at fields with autumn’s beautifully expiring wildflowers and grasses. I didn’t have time this morning for trekking around and all that, and as I lay in bed looking out at the overcast sky, I wondered, should I just loll around for a few extra minutes or go and see sunrise on the Back Shore? It was a beauty this morning and am so glad I did 🙂
Hurricane Teddy delivered wild waves and flooding along Gloucester’s shoreline edges.The GHB parking lot was completely flooded, the high water mark was up to the very base of the dunes, but the footbridge came through with flying colors (last I checked and thanks to Gloucester’s awesome DPW).
Photos from Good Harbor Beach, the Back Shore, Brace Cove, and Eastern Point.
“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” – Oscar Wilde
Life at the Edge of the Sea – Web Weaver’s Works
Beautiful spun silver and gold works caught between branches and dissipating wildflowers
Clethra alnifolia is more commonly known by its many descriptive names of Summersweet, Sweet Pepperbush, and Honeysweet. In an old book on fragrance, written by Louise Beebe Wilder, she writes that in Gloucester of old it was described as ‘Sailor’s Delight.’ During the 19th and early 20th century, as told by Wilder, the sailors entering the harbor on homebound ships would reportedly delight in its fragrance wafting out to see.
The following is an excerpt from a book that I wrote back in 2004-2007, which was published by David R. Godine in 2009. The book is about designing landscape habitats for wild creatures and for people, titled Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities: Notes from a Gloucester Garden, and all that I wrote then, still holds true to day.
“Summersweet bears small white florets held on racemes, and depending on the cultivar may be shaded with varying hues of pink to rose-red. The tapering spires of fragrant blossoms appear in mid to late summer. Clethra has a sweet and spicy though somewhat pungent aroma, and when the summer air is sultry and humid, the fragrance permeates the garden, Summersweet is a nectar food attractive to bees and a wide variety of butterflies, notably the Silver-spotted Skipper.” See more at Oh GardenMyriad species of bees and butterflies, along with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, are attracted to Clethra for its sweet nectar, while American Robins, Goldfinches and warblers dine on Summersweet’s ripened berries.
Clethra fruits ripening
Throughout the winter of 2019-2020 we have been graced with a sweet pair of Pipits. As you can see from the map, we are fairly far north of their winter range. Sunday, March 15th, the two were seen again in their usual location at Brace Cove. They have found plenty to eat, between the wildflower seed heads and the tiny mollusks and insects available in the seaweed
That beautiful Cape Ann rosie pink light
After Thursday’s storm we tried going for a beach walk at Good Harbor, Brace Cove, and Niles before giving up and finding a less windy stroll along Niles Pond. The water was a gorgeous deep ultramarine and even the inner harbor was beautiful with whitecaps.
BY TAYLOR ANN BRADFORD
GLOUCESTER — When Brian Flynn found out that his sister Abbie was missing, he hopped on the next available flight to the East Coast.
Abbie Flynn, 59, of Gloucester went missing on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2, around 4:30 p.m. after she had prepared to host a party at her Saint Louis Avenue home.
Ten days later, the search and investigation into the Gloucester resident’s disappearance is still inconclusive.
“I got the call on the Sunday night that Abbie went missing,” said Brian, who currently lives in Bermuda. “The Mass. State Police sent out a Facebook alert. I was with my son in California and he saw it and drove me right to the airport so I was at the house at 10 a.m.”
He said that Flynn’s family — Brian, his wife Leslie, her three children and husband Rich — were all there Monday morning.
“We just want to get Abbie back,” Brian said Friday. “That is all we care about.”
As the investigation continues, Brian feels that the family has been embraced by the entire city.
READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE: https://www.salemnews.com/news/local_news/we-just-want-abbie-back/article_13709d2e-14f5-585e-bf40-10755d65d71d.html
GLOUCESSTER DAILY TIMES
BY TAYLOR ANN BRADFORD
Since 59-year-old Abbie Flynn went missing on Super Bowl Sunday, people across Cape Ann and further away have been trying to figure out what happened.
People have hypothesized about coyotes, suspicious vehicles, and made connections to drownings and other missing person cases in social media posts and in phone calls to the Times.
The Gloucester Police Department wants to put the public at ease.
“There is no indication, zero at all, no, none that this is connected in any way to any other cases or that foul play was involved,” police Chief Ed Conley told the Times on Thursday.
Conley confirmed that this is based on evidence.
“I have been as clear and transparent as I possibly can,” he said. “If I thought there was some sort of danger to the public, I would err on the side of releasing that information rather than keep it. But there is none.”
READ THE FULL STYORY HERE:
This is the coat Abbie was most likely wearing the day she vanished. Reportedly she did not have her camera gear with her.
Today marks the ninth day that Abbie Flynn went missing. I spoke with Gloucester Police Detective Quinn this morning as he and state police officers were awaiting the arrival of the Harbormaster’s boat. The underwater sonar search is standard under these circumstances and is not being carried out because new information has been discovered or reported. Gloucester detectives waiting for the Harbormaster
How the sonar search works, as explained by GP detectives. The sonar can see the bottom of the seabed for about thirty to forty feet. The boat will criss cross Brace Cove until the floor of the Cove has been thoroughly scanned. Sometimes rocks or other anomalies get in the way and they return to an area. All the data is recorded on GPS coordinates so that if they have to return with a dive team to investigate, they know just where to go.
The search is coming to an end as of 1pm today. Nothing out of the ordinary has been discovered.
Harbormaster criss crossing Brace Cove with sonar
Our thoughts and prayers are with Abbie and her family and friends. This is an ongoing investigation. Please report any clues or information you may have seen or heard to the Gloucester Police at 978-283-1212.
Thank you to Detective Quinn and to a second Gloucester officer for information provided (so sorry I did not get his name). I want to let our readers know that the Gloucester Police are doing an outstanding job. Last week I met Detective Mizzoni to share information and can only say that in speaking with the detectives, they are leaving no stones unturned. Their compassion is more than apparent and desire to provide transparent information to the public is sincere. Solving the disappearance of Abbie is their utmost priority.
Our shores abound with wonderful wild creatures we more often see in wintertime, and species we can view better because the trees are bare. The duo of male American Wigeons are still here, as are the pair of Pipits. I watched yesterday afternoon as the Pipits flew away from the beach in unison, and then returned together about twenty minutes later to continue to forage in the seaweed and sand.
Don’t you just love the name ‘Pipit?’ At first glance the American Pipit looks rather like a Plain Jane but their sweet name complements their spunky personality. I loved watching them energetically forage on the beach as they ran hither and thither wagging their tails and craning their necks chicken-like while searching for tiny bits of seafood amongst the popples and seaweed.
With a silhouette that looks something like a slender and smaller American Robin, and a facial expression to match, I was having trouble identifying the bird. I emailed John Nelson, author of Flight Calls and a recent guest on our GMG podcast, and he knew just what they were.