How beautiful the Maritime Gloucester and Schooners Adventure and Ardelle look decked out in holiday glow!
The Lobster Trap Tree looks extra splendid in fresh fallen snow!
Please share your Lobster Trap Tree photos by tagging @lobstertraptree on Facebook. Our fun funky tree has a way of lifting people’s spirits and the community would love to see your snapshots. Thank you!
If you are not on Facebook, feel free to email your photos to me at email@example.com and I will post them for you.
Despite a major power outage earlier in the afternoon, Sunday evening’s Lobster Trap Tree lighting went off without a hitch. Gloucester’s Fire Department arrived right on schedule. Using an aerial ladder, the firemen hoisted the star to the tippy top of the tree, where Shawn Henry was waiting to secure. Ten, nine, eight… Mayor Sefatia gave the virtual countdown and the vibrantly colored buoys and lights shone brightly.
The Lobster Trap Tree is a very special tradition for our community and we are especially grateful to David Brooks and Shawn Henry for their continued dedication in building, organizing, and sharing through Shawn’s films, particularly during the global pandemic
I love that the tree’s star is currently switched to alternating between colorful and white lights, simply wonderful!
Virtual Lobster Trap Tree Lighting – Sunday, December 13th at 4:30
Since we can’t gather and celebrate this wonderful tradition together, let’s jump on Facebook and be together virtually. Thanks to Good Morning Gloucester and the crew from Gloucestercast, they will be bringing to you live – Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Ken Riehl from the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and the Gloucester Fire Department as they light the Lobster Trap Tree. This tradition is made possible by the Lobster Trap Tree volunteers, Three Lanterns Marine and Fishing and Cape Ann Art Haven. Please do not come to this area of downtown as we do not want a gathering during this very critical time.
VIEW THE LIGHTING LIVE ON THE LOBSTER TRAP TREE FACEBOOK PAGE.
Check out this super fun time lapse video of the 2020 Gloucester Lobster Trap Tree Build from Shawn Henry!
Directed, edited and filmed by Shawn G. Henry
With thanks and deep appreciation to Three Lanterns
Tree Builders: David Brooks, Jason Burroughs, Gregg Cademartori, Dave DeAngelis, Shawn G. Henry, Andrew Nicastro, Josh Oliver, and George Schlichte
Hi Friends, If you take a photo of the Lobster Trap Tree and post on Facebook, we would love to share with the community. Please tag us with our new username @lobstertraptree. Thank you!
UPDATE FOR OUR LOBSTER TRAP TREE FRIENDS –
In response to lots of questions, David Brooks and Shawn Henry share that it appears as though there are enough lights in stock leftover from previous years! This is great news as most of us are on a tighter budget and lighting stocks are running low.
As soon as the lights and buoys are in place, the tree lighting will take place sometime this week, depending on the weather. Because of the global pandemic, the tree lighting will be a virtual tree lighting, hosted by Mayor Sefatia. Stay tuned for time and date!
During the last weeks of summer, I was blessed with the great good fortune to come across a flock of Cedar Waxwings. Everyday I followed their morning antics as they socialized, foraged, preened, and was even “buzzed” several times when making too quick a movement or crunched on a twig too loudly for their liking. They were actually remarkably tolerant of my presence but as soon as another person or two appeared on the path, they quickly departed. I think that is often the case with wildlife; one human is tolerable, but two of us is two too many.
The Cedar Waxwings were seen foraging on wildflower seeds and the insects attracted, making them harder to spot as compared to when seen foraging at berries on trees branches. A flock of Cedar Waxwings is called a “museum” or an “ear-full.” The nickname ear-full is apt as they were readily found each morning by their wonderfully soft social trilling. When you learn to recognize their vocalizations, you will find they are much easier to locate.
Cedar Waxwings really do have wax wings; the red wing tips are a waxy secretion. At first biologist thought the red tips functioned to protect the wings from wear and tear, but there really is no evidence of that. Instead, the red secondary tips appear to be status signals that function in mate selection. The older the Waxwing, the greater the number of waxy tips. Birds with zero to five are immature birds, while those with more than nine are thought to be older.
Waxwings tend to associate with other waxwings within these two age groups. Pairs of older birds nest earlier and raise more fledglings than do pairs of younger birds. The characteristic plumage is important in choosing a mate within the social order of the flock.
By mid-September there were still seeds and insects aplenty in the wildflower patch that I was filming at when the beautiful Waxwings abruptly departed for the safety of neighboring treetops. Why do I write “safety?” I believe they skeedaddled because a dangerous new raptor appeared on the scene. More falcon-like than hawk, the mystifying bird sped like a torpedo through the wildflower patch and swooped into the adjacent birch tree where all the raptors like to perch. It was a Merlin! And the songbird’s mortal enemy. Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, too, had been hunting the area, but the other hawks did not elicit the same terror as did the Merlin.
A small falcon, the Merlin’s short wings allow it to fly fast and hard. The Merlin is often referred to as the “thug” of the bird world for its ability to swoop in quickly and snatch a songbird out of the air. The day after the Merlin appeared, I never again found the Waxwings foraging in the wildlflowers, only in the tree tops.
Within the sociable ear-full, Waxwings take turns foraging. Some perch and preen, serving as sentries while flock-mates dine. Cedar Waxwings mostly eat berries and they love a wide variety. The first half of their name is derived from one of their favorite fruits, the waxy berries of cedar trees. During the breeding season, Waxwings add insects to their diets. Hatchlings are fed insects, gradually switching to berries.
If you would like to attract Cedar Waxwings to your garden here is a handy list that I compiled of some of their most favorite fruits and berries –
Dogwood, Juniper, Chokecherry, Cedar, Honeysuckle, Holy, Crabapple, Hawthorn, Serviceberry, Mulberry, Raspberry, Grapes, and Strawberry. Cedar Waxwings are becoming increasingly more prevalent in backyards because people are planting more ornamental flowering and fruiting trees.
Nesting shorebirds need safe habitat. Please share and Vote the Blue Wave to continue protections afforded under the Endangered Species Act.
What’s happening in this short clip? Within hours after hatching, tiny marshmallow-sized Piping Plover chicks leave the nest and begin foraging on their own. They still need Mom and Dad for thermo-snuggling and for protection. In this clip you can hear Dad Plover piping loudly, commanding the chick to take cover, and the day-old chick’s barely audible peeps in response.
Monarchs are currently migrating, albeit in small numbers, throughout the North Shore. The butterflies arrived several days ago and because of the rainy weather, they are in a holding pattern. When the sun reappears, look for Monarchs on any still-blooming garden favorites such as zinnias, as well as wildflowers. Please send an email or comment in the comment section if you see Monarchs in your garden or while outdoors over the weekend and upcoming week. Thank you!
Many species of asters and goldenrods have finished flowering; instead the Monarchs are fortifying for the long journey by drinking nectar at Black Mustard flowers, and even Dandelions.
Black Mustard is not the easiest nor most efficient plant for Monarchs to draw nectar from. I never see the butterflies on Black Mustard unless it is very late in the migration and there are few other choices available.
The ray flowers of asters provide a convenient landing pad for butterflies. Panicle-shaped flowering plant, such as goldenrods, also provide a convenient landing pad while supplying a smorgasbord of nectar rich florets. Black Mustard provides neither. You can see in several photos in an upcoming post that the Monarchs are nectaring with their legs gripped tightly around the base of the flower.
Black Mustard is an annual plant native to Eurasia and North Africa. Cultivated widely as a condiment, medicinally, and vegetable, it came to North America via the early colonists. The plant is in bloom from May through October, or until the first hard frost, and grows well in disturbed man-made sites.
Black Mustard is a member of the Brassicaceae, also classically called the Cruciferae (Latin, meaning ‘cross-bearing’) in reference to its four ‘crossed petals’, which is commonly known as the mustard family. Black Mustard is related to cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, turnips, and watercress.
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
Life at the Edge of the Sea – Cedar Waxwing Baby Masked Bandits
For over a month I have been filming a flock of Cedar Waxwings. Exquisitely beautiful creatures, with their combination of soft buffy and brilliantly punctuated wing patterning, along with graceful agility, it’s been easy to fall in love with these birds and they have become a bit of an obsession.
I filmed some wonderful scenes and will share the photos and story as soon as there is time but in the meantime I wanted to share these photos of a juvenile Cedar Waxwing so you know what to look for. Waxwings are often found high up in the treetops. They are most easily seen on limbs bare of leaves. Their repetitious soft trilling song gives them away and if you learn the sound you will begin to see Cedar Waxwings everywhere. They have an extended breeding period in our region and because it is so late in the season, this juvenile may be one of a second brood.
While I was shooting for my short short story, the Waxwing flock was mostly on the ground in a wildflower patch devouring insects. Cedar Waxwings are more typically berry-eating frugivores. During the summer they add insects to their diet and I think it may have to do with keeping the hatchling’s bellies filled. It wasn’t until they moved back up into the treetops that this little guy began appearing amongst the flock. He has the same masked face, but the breast is softly streaked. You can see the yellow feathers tips beginning to grow in.
Hello Friends, update on the Piping Plovers at Good Harbor Beach and other PiPl news-
First, a bit of sad news. We lost the second nest at Good Harbor Beach, which was located at area #1, the opposite end of the nest at #3, down by Salt Island Road. It only had two eggs and the exclosure installation was scheduled for Monday.
Good Harbor Beach Nest at Area #1
There is no way of knowing what happened because it was very windy yesterday and the tracks of predator or pet have been blown away.
There is the strong likelihood that the pair will renest and they appear to be making attempts to however, it is getting rather late in the year. This would be truly historic to have two nests at GHB if they do renest.
The good news is that our pair at #3 are coming along beautifully. They are constantly brooding the eggs and are doing an awesome job defending their “territory” against avian species (real and imagined predators) that fly onto the scene including sparrows, finches, Mockingbirds, gulls, and Crows. No bird is too small or too large to escape defense of their territory.
Good Harbor Beach Papa Plover brooding eggs.
A bit of amazing news –there is a Piping Plover nest for the first time ever in Quincy! More to come on that 🙂
Massachusetts is at the forefront of Piping Plover recovery and we can all be so proud of our local and state agencies and how they are managing beaches for both people and wildlife to share, despite the global pandemic. Just some of the organizations include Mass Wildlife, Massachusetts Department of Conservation, Essex Greenbelt, The Trustees of Reservations, Parker River National Wildlife USFWS, and many, many more. Thank you Massachusetts Piping Plover partners for all you are doing to help this tiny threatened shorebird.
On a separate note, over the past several days I have been filming a beautiful nest of four PiPl chicks hatching at a location in the area. It was amazing to witness, so very life reaffirming, and pure joy to see. Hopefully I’ll have time tomorrow to share more of the photos.
In this one photo, you can see the hole where the chick is just starting to peck its way out (far left egg). I had lost track of the days with this particular family and only stopped by to check, not realizing it was “the day.” I said to myself, I don’t recall seeing that big black spot on that egg. After studying it for a few moments, I realized there was movement beneath the hole in the shell. Hatching was about to begin at any moment!
Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer shares all three eggs are still in the nest.
From ECGA website –
Update May 28, 2020 – Not much new to report. The incubation phase for Annie and Squam continues. Squam is still bringing in numerous fresh fish daily, mostly river herring but the occassional small striped bass as well. One we roll into June the count down is on for hatching.
Annie or Squam? One of the pair of Cape Ann’s resident Ospreys (hopefully a family soon).
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 10am – 4pm,
Saturday and Sunday 8am – 2pm
978-281-7707 for pre orders. 🐟🇺🇸🦞
All products are fresh uncooked and landed from our local fishing vessels.
Located in the Food Truck Fisherman’s Wharf parking lot.
Drive Up orders welcomed.
Call ahead orders 978-281-7707 during operating hours.
Cash or Credit accepted.
LOCATED @37 Rogers St. Gloucester MA 01930
Note: Our products are different from typical fish markets. We promote our abundant and locally landed seafood. Top quality, fair prices, a win win for our community. Thanks for your support.
These photos were taken several days ago. I haven’t had time to sort through photos from today, but I think this morning’s sunrise was even more beautiful 🙂
Good News Cape Ann!
Topics Episode #4
Thank you Friends for watching! Links to topics provided below
Timelapse sunrise over Salt Island (see end of video)
Ospreys catch a Skate!
Coronavirus – Sending much love and prayers to my family of friends who are suffering so greatly.
Chocolate-dipped almond biscotti recipe
Please write if there is a Good News topic you would like to share. I am thinking about changing the name of the show to Finding Hope, what do you think about that?
A quiet dinner for two – with no Charlotte and Alex for dinner, we decided to give Allie’s Beach Street Cafe’s take out a whirl. Along with several other fine Cape Ann restaurants, it is now at the top of our list. So nourishing and so delicious, country French cooking is pure comfort food, especially welcome after a cold damp drizzly day.
Tom had the baked haddock, with potatoes and green beans, all cooked to perfection and he LOVED that. I had the most extraordinarily huge serving of the most delicious beef stroganoff. So huge I am having the second half for lunch. The beef was melt in your mouth tender. The mushrooms and noodles were a rich chocolate brown, full flavored with absorbing the outstanding wine/beef/creamy sauce. I am crazy about creamed spinach (I know, it’s a little weird) but creamed spinach made with fresh spinach is amazingly delicious and Allie’s is just that.
Thank you for a great dinner Glenn and Allie Varga!
Allie’s Beach Street cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for both curbside pick up and delivery.
Allie’s is located at 36 Beach Street
Thank you so very much to Scott Weidensaul from Project SNOWStorm for his thoughtful suggestions and kind assistance while writing the script for the film A Snowy Owl Comes to Cape Ann. Not only that, but he has shared the project with the Project SNOWStorm community and people are making very kind comments. Means much coming from knowledgeable owl-lovers <3
Wherever you are during this pandemic lockdown, here’s a special treat to ease the passing of time.
Kim Smith, a naturalist and filmmaker on the North Shore of Massachusetts, spent the winter of 2018 shadowing a young female snowy owl on windy, stormy Cape Ann. The result was five short films about the owl, which Kim was kind enough to share with our team during production, and is generous enough to share with the whole Project SNOWstorm community now that they’re finished. They’re simply beautiful.
You can find all five of Kim’s films here — enjoy!
I started following Project SNOWStorm several years ago and love their posts.. You can sign up here: Subscribe by email, on the right side of the page, or on any of the blog post pages. I promise, you will enjoy reading the fascinating information provided and will look forward to their arrival in your inbox. You can also make a donation here, too, if so inclined 🙂
Happy Earth Day!
What a perfect day to announce the official launch of our new website – www.CedarRockGardens.com
As Cedar Rock Gardens opens for the season, and with our country in the midst of a health crisis of unprecedented proportions, we have been working diligently to provide our community with a new, safer way to shop at Cedar Rock Gardens. We are proud to announce that with the launch of our new website, we are now able to accept online orders for curbside pickup! This approach will minimize the number of people who are at the farm at the same time, as well as the number of points of contact required to get you on your way with a car full of your favorite Cedar Rock Gardens produce, seedlings and garden supplies.
We would encourage you to choose online ordering over in-person shopping at this time (that’s why we built this crazy new site, after all!)
All the best,
Elise and Tucker