Tag Archives: Eastern Point

STUNNING FROST BEAVER FULL MOON RISE WITH HARBOR SEALS AND EVENING SUNSET!

Sunday night was simply wonderful for sky watching. Looking eastward, the nearly full Beaver Moon (also called Frost Moon) rose over Brace Cove while the seals were still lolling about on the rocks. Passing Niles Beach on the way home the last lingering red rays of light were illuminating the Boston skyline and the Dogbar Breakwater light.

Called the Beaver Moon because according to the Old Farmer’s  Almanac, November is when Beaver’s head into their lodges for the winter.

 

Full Beaver Moon rising

Harbor Seals in the rising moon and fading sun Brace Cove

 

TONIGHT’S VIBRANT VIOLET SKY DRAMA SILHOUETTE LIGHTHOUSE SUNSET

Tonight’s sunset after the storm

I especially love the colors in the above image

SO COLD YOU CAN SEE THE GREAT BLUE HERON’S BREATH

The second photo was taken during the last cold snap. I didn’t realize until looking at the photos tonight that you could see his breath. Note the rock he is perched on. For over a month I would find him there sleeping in the morning. In the top photo, the rock has barely any pooh, so funny because after only a month, it’s really sloshing with it.

WHEN SNOW BUNTINGS FILL THE SKIES!

At this time of year flocks of Snow Buntings small and large can be found at our local sandy beaches and rocky coastlines. I am finding them throughout my roaming range, from Plum Island to South Boston.

What is not to love about this sweetly charming tubby little songbird, including its name, Snow Bunting, and nickname Snowflake. I am often alerted to the Snow Buntings presence by their distinct and highly varied social chattering. More than once though I and it have been startled as one flutters away to avoid my footsteps. The alarmed Snow Bunting will call loudly, warning its flock mates of a human, and then they will all lift to the skies in a swirling unison of Snowflakes.

Snow Buntings especially love rocky crevices and outcroppings. They nest in rocky areas of the Arctic tundra and while resting and foraging along Massachusetts coastlines, Snow Buntings go largely undetected in the similarly colored rocks.

The conical -shaped bill of Snow Buntings tells us that they are are seed eaters and in autumn and winter, Massachusetts beaches provide a wealth of seed heads remaining on expired wildflowers and grasses. Beach stones, along with piles of beach debris, trap seeds and I have captured a number of photos where the foraging songbirds pop up between the rocks with a mouthful of seed.

Early morning invariably finds Snow Buntings sleeping amongst beach rocks. It is a joy to watch as they slowly awaken, stretching and floofing, before tumbling out in a burst of black, white, and rusty brown to forage for the day.

Remarkably, Snow Buntings are nocturnal migrants. They are able to detect the geomagnetic field of the Earth for guidance to their breeding and overwinter grounds. The orientation of the Snow Bunting during migration is independent of any visual cue.

The 40 plus year old annual Christmas Bird Count shows a 64 percent decline in the Snow Bunting population. Climate change and neonicotinoids (pesticides) are thought to be the main reason for the decline.

AN EAR-FULL OF CEDAR WAXWINGS! ALONG WITH MERLINS AND HAWKS ON THE HUNT

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.

These sweet songbirds are strikingly beautiful. Dressed in a black mask that wraps around the eyes, with blue, yellow, and Mourning Dove buffy gray-brown feathers, a cardinal-like crest atop the head, and brilliant red wing tips, Cedar Waxwings are equally as beautiful from the front and rear views.

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.

Merlin, Eastern Point

Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks

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.

Juvenile Cedar Waxwing with adult Waxwings

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.

Station break #2 – Beautiful sunset fishing scene from Dogbar Breakwater last night

Fishing sure is a thing during the time of coronavirus. There have never been so many folks reel fishing on the Backshore and Dogbar as there have been this year.

Orb Weaver’s Magic for All Saints Day and Día de Muertos!

While filming Cedar Waxwings at Eastern Point, I came across this remarkable scene in a small patch of wildflowers. The patch was only about fifteen feet long by ten feet wide, but was layered in hundreds of orb spider webs. I was so glad to have been there that morning because the following day I returned after a storm, and all the spider webs had vanished.

A mystical symbol of the season for their ability to weave intricate webs, orb spiders are an important part of our ecosystem. They eat hundreds of species of insects in our gardens and homes, and are also themselves a source of food for other organisms.

AMAZING 68 HOUR GREAT BLUE HERON NONSTOP FLIGHT FROM CHALEUR BAY, CANADA TO CUMBERLAND ISLAND, GEORGIA!!!

Great Blue Herons truly are the Jet Blue of the avian world! The following incredible story is shared with us by reader Chris Callahan and comes from the Heron Observation Network of  Maine.

Harper Wows Us Again!

Harper, an adult female great blue heron outfitted with a solar-powered GPS unit, has just flown nonstop for 68 hours on her southward migration! She spent the summer in New Brunswick, Canada, and the post-breeding season on Chaleur Bay on the border of QC and NB. At around 7pm on October 8th she left this rich feeding area and flew continuously crossing over Nova Scotia and then out over open ocean. She came within 165 miles of Bermuda but turned westward toward the US mainland. At 3:15pm on October 11th, she finally made landfall on the southern tip of Cumberland Island on the Georgia coast. She has since gradually made her way to the Everglades in Florida. Last year she impressed the world by flying nonstop over open ocean for 38 hours. She nearly doubled that duration this year! We will be watching to see if she returns to last year’s wintering area in Guajaca Uno, Cuba, and will post updates on our Facebook Page. For more information on the tracking project, including how to download the data to explore on your own, visit: https://www1.maine.gov/wordpress/ifwheron/tracking-project/.

Great Blue Heron Gloucester Harbor

Great Blue Heron range map

MONARCHS IN DREAMS

Love when able to successfully (not always achieved!) capture the tracing of the Monarch’s wings in movement -the dot, dot dot of the beautiful border patterning.Monarch Butterfly Migration October 2020 – Monarch and wild mustard flowers

JET BLUE COMING IN FOR A LANDING

Chasing Monarchs, and finding other beauties on the wing

Great Blue Heron 

OCTOBER’S HARVEST MOON OVER EASTERN POINT LIGHTHOUSE

The first of October’s full Moons was setting as the Sun was rising over Eastern Point. Black and white, or color, which do you prefer?

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#hurricaneteddy #gloucesterma GOOD HARBOR BEACH FLOODED, WILD WAVES, DOGBAR BREAKWATER, BRACE COVE, BACK SHORE

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

SPUN GOLD FOR THE FIRST DAY OF AUTUMN

Life at the Edge of the Sea – Web Weaver’s Works

Beautiful spun silver and gold works caught between branches and dissipating wildflowers

To learn more about spiders in Massachusetts visit this fun website here

STRANGE WILDFIRE SUNSETS AND SUNRISES

The West Coast wildfires continue to cast a strange and eerie haze over Eastern skies. The sun appears redder and later in the sky in the morning and disappears behind a thick gray haze earlier in the afternoon.Gloucester Harbor Cape Pond Ice Sunset

Paint Factory “Great Auk” Sunset


Eastern Point Sunrise

BABY CEDAR WAXWINGS IN THE HOOD!

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.

Juvenile Cedar Waxwing

Adult Cedar Waxwing

RARE ROLLING THUNDER CLOUD OVER EASTERN POINT!

I think this is what is meant by a Rolling Thunder Cloud, also called Cumulonimbus Arcus. Click on panoramas to view larger.

 

GLOUCESTER COYOTE CHRONICLES – GOOD MORNING SKITTISH ONE

Not allowing for a close-up, this hungry fellow was circling round and eyeing the neighborhood Turkeys.

 

GLOUCESTER EAST IN THE LIFTING FOG

Friday afternoon into evening the light was spectacular in our neighborhood, The fog was coming and receeding in waves. At moments the sun was shining brightly, seconds later, the sun and anything ten feet in front of you was obscured.

 

BEAUTIFUL EASTERN POINT LIGHTHOUSE IN THE LIFTING FOG

Beautiful foggy Friday afternoon into evening. I have a bunch to post from this foggy afternoon and will do so tomorrow when I have more time, but isn’t this one scene evocative? I filmed it as well, with the waves crashing into Mother Ann in the fog and will add it to my YouTube show, “Good News Cape Ann!’ airing Sunday night. See you then 🙂

NILES POND PANORAMA AND EXQUISITE LIGHT LATE YESTERDAY

Late afternoon when the clouds cleared briefly – click the panorama to view full size.