Tag Archives: Essex County


The photos from the Lobster Trap Tree build were taken late Friday afternoon, where you can see the footprint of the tree beginning to take shape, through Saturday, when most of the building took place, and into Sunday morning, when the crew was installing the lights.

Lots of friends and family stopped by to check on the tree’s progress. That’s David’s wife and their three kids and David’s sister with her kids looking up at the tree top, and also ‘helping’ Shawn.

Shout out again to David Brooks, Shawn Henry, and the wonderfully dedicated tree building crew – Shane O’Neill, Dave D’Angelis, Peter Asaro, Devin Carr,  John Cooney, Andrew Nicastro, Steve Larkin, Dave Pratt, and Peter Cannavo.

The Lobster Trap Tree is located at Solomon Jacobs Park, at Harbor Loop, in between the Coast Guard Station and Maritime Gloucester. Youth from around Cape Ann are painting buoys to decorate the tree with. The tree lighting takes place after the Middle Street Walk on Saturday December 9th at 4:30pm.

For a complete list of events for the Middle Street Walk, please click here.

To celebrate Gloucester’s 400th anniversary, 400 brand new lobster traps were donated by Riverdale Mills. Read more about the background of the Lobster Trap Tree and Three Lantern Marine Supply’s program that will allow youth to obtain student lobstering permits to use the traps at the Gloucester Daily Times

To sign-up for buoy painting, please go here: https://www.arthaven.org/


The Lobster Trap Tree build in its new location at Solomon Jacobs Park was a resounding success. David Brooks and Shawn Henry led the team from early morning, until the last rays of light. We’re creating a longer video, but here is a brief window of the up and down and up and down climbing that it takes to get those traps up to the tippy top of the tree.

The tree’s new location at Solomon Jacobs Park at Harbor Loop has proven to be a win win for the tree builders. There is plenty of space to organize the traps and lay out the lights. This year’s tree is bigger by about 40 traps, with not two, but three, doorways leading in and out of the tree. Not only is the visitor’s view fabulously beautiful, folks that live and work on the harbor will have a spectacular view of the tree as well.

To celebrate Gloucester’s 400th anniversary, 400 brand new lobster traps were donated by Riverdale Mills. Read more about the background of the Lobster Trap Tree and Three Lantern Marine Supply’s program that will allow youth to obtain student lobstering permits to use the traps here at the Gloucester Daily Times

To sign-up for buoy painting, please go here: https://www.arthaven.org/

Gloucester’s Lobster Trap Tree Lighting takes place Saturday, December 9th, at 4:30pm



If you see these big-hearted guys around town, please give them a huge thank you <3

Left to right: Shawn Henry, Dave D’Angelis, Peter Asaro, Devin Carr, David Brooks, John Cooney, Andrew Nicastro, Steve Larkin, and “Fancy” Dave Pratt. Not pictured, but just as dedicated and hard working, are Shane O’Neill and Peter Cannavo.

Please write if anyone’s name is missing and I will add it to the post. Thank you!


A mini swirl of birds was heard overhead before scattering on the beach. At first glance, I thought of the little flock of American Pipits that was here last winter and was hoping for the same. Even more wonderful, it was a flock of eleven Horned Larks!  Only ever having seen singleton Horned Larks mixed in with flocks of Snow Buntings, I was overjoyed to see the troupe scampering through the seaweed and along the wrackline.

Horned Larks are called as such not because they have actual horns, but because of the little tufts of feathers that stick out on either side of its head which are sometimes, but not always, visible. Black stockinged legs, feathered knickers, horned and masked, the Larks are wonderfully fun to observe as they forage amongst the seaweed and dried wildflowers.

At 54 seconds, through 1:05, you can clearly see the difference between the male, with the yellow mask, and the female, with the more subdued markings.

I haven’t been able to locate the flock of Horned Larks for a few days and think they have departed our shores.  As one wave of travelers moves on, another soon follows. It’s a joy to see the bossy boy Buffleheads have returned to our waterways!

Horned Larks were formerly more prevalent in Massachusetts. With fewer farm fields and an increase in development, much of its breeding habitat has been lost. Look at the two maps created by Mass Audubon. These maps are called Breeding Bird Atlases. The Breeding Bird Atlas 1 was created from data collected during bird counts held from 1974-1979. The BBA2 Atlas was created from data collected from 2007 through 2011. Theses maps are of invaluable help for the future of conservation in Massachusetts and give clear proof of changing bird breeding habits over the past 45 years.

Note that there are fewer dark green squares from Atlas 1 to Atlas 2, especially in the north of Boston region, signaling a decrease in the breeding population of Horned Larks.
Horned Lark Breeding Bird Atlas 1 (1974-1979)

“During Atlas 1 Horned Larks were making a living at scattered locations inland, but their stringent habitat requirements meant that they were mostly coastal in distribution. The Marble Valleys had 10% Horned Lark occupancy, likely in areas of abandoned or fallow farmland. The Connecticut River Valley apparently had suitable breeding locations in 14% of the region, both in farm fields and at airports kept free of dense vegetation. Only a small scattering of occupied blocks bridged the gap from the Connecticut River Valley to the coast. The Coastal Plains had breeding Horned Larks on the beaches of Essex and Plymouth Counties, and the Bristol/Narragansett Lowlands reported several instances of inland breeding as well as nests found around the shores of Buzzards Bay. More than 60% of the species’ statewide distribution fell in Cape Cod and the Islands, where sandy dune habitat was readily available for Horned Larks looking to settle down.”

Horned Lark Breeding Bird Atlas 2 (2007-2011)

“Within the three decades between Atlas 1 and Atlas 2, the Horned Lark began to opt out of Massachusetts as a breeding locality. Distribution patterns in Atlas 2 weakly mirror those of Atlas 1: up the Connecticut River, sparsely spread eastward, with the species’ most notable breeding strongholds in the southeastern Coastal Plains and on Cape Cod and the Islands. Horned Larks completely retreated from the far west and almost completely retreated from the Bristol/Narragansett Lowlands. The birds posted only a symbolic guard in Essex County, and even in their stronghold on Cape Cod and the Islands they disappeared from a dozen of the most well-surveyed blocks.”


Beautiful glowing pink Hunter’s Moonrise over Cape Hedge, Pebble Beach, and the Twin Lights. Happy Halloween!


Lately there has been a pod of Gray Seals just off shore. I counted five one morning. Mostly they yawn and doze but the other day, two were sort of “frolicking,” if you can call it that.

I read Gray Seals mate and pup at this time of year. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what their next moves are. They’re official name is Gray Seal, but I love one of their nicknames, the Horsehead Seal, because it is aptly descriptive. The bulls especially have large heads.

One of the ways to tell the difference between a Harbor Seal and a Gray Seal is by looking at their heads. Harbor Seals have the large round “puppy dog” eyes, heart-shaped nostrils, and proportionately smaller heads.

Harbor Seal

Gray Seals have proportionately large heads and flaring nostrils.

Harbor Seal head shape left, Gray Seal head right

Harbor Seals have a concave shaped forehead, with a dog-like snout. The head of a Grey Seal is elongated, with a flatter forehead and nose.


With tiny shapes of human figures for scale


Favorite wave photo from today. If only all hurricanes could be this splendid and non-destructive (hopefully other communities managed as well as did Gloucester).



I love trying to capture friend’s boats during the Parade of Sail. Here’s our neighbor’s Geoff and Mandy’s beautiful Schooner Strombus that they built and launched back in 2017, and the sweetest crew of East Gloucester friends!

The Schooner Strombus won the 2023 Betty Ramsey Award in the Marconi Rigged Class!


Strombus Schooner Launch Party, from July 2017-  

A new schooner was added to Gloucester’s growing fleet. The schooner was launched today at 11am from the Rocky Neck Marine Railways. Strombus, built by Geoff Deckebach, with help from his wife Mandy, was twelve years in the making. They began gutting and restoring the boat all those many years ago when work and raising a family slowed progress. About a year ago, Geoff decided to turn his full attention to the restoration. The schooner is simply beautiful. More work will continue on the interior and it will be ready enough to motor along in this year’s upcoming Schooner Festival.


Scenes from the Gloucester Schooner Festival Challenge August31, 2023

Schooners Isabella, Ardelle, and Thomas Lannon  – all three schooners were built by Harold Burnham



The exquisite young Nighthawk was seen quietly resting on a branch at mid-day. Nearly motionless and perfectly camouflaged in plumage that mirrors tree bark, the Nighthawk was easy to lose sight of even when staring directly at it. These ephemeral beauties are well-camouflaged at all stages of development, in fact the hatchlings are so well disguised that the parents don’t bother to build a nest; the female lays her eggs directly on the ground.

The name Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) is confusing as they are neither strictly nocturnal nor related to hawks. Nighthawks are crepuscular, meaning they typically hunt during the low light hours of  early morning and early evening. The Nighthawk’s diet consists entirely of insects. As insect populations are declining, so too are the Nighthawks.

These sublime creatures formerly nested in Massachusetts. It’s been a number of decades since a breeding pair was last seen in our state. They are long distance migrators and there is much still to understand why they are disappearing. Loss of food, loss of habitat, and pesticide use surely are at the top of the list.

I was awe struck by how sweetly peaceful the bird appeared, with its teeny beak and only occasionally opening its large black eyes, sleeping the day away in preparation for an evening hunt. I wondered, though, is this the last time I will ever see a Nighthawk?

Watch this very cool map of the the migratory route of the Common Nighthawk


East Gloucester and Veteran’s kindergarten classes were treated to a fabulous excursion aboard the Hurricane II, Cape Ann Whale Watch’s premiere whale watching boat. The kids had a blast and were fantastically well behaved. Miss Daly, Charlotte’s kindergarten teacher, mentioned that this was the Gloucester kindergartener’s first ever whale watch adventure. The trip was so successful they hope to make it a tradition. Many, many thanks to Cape Ann Whale Watch for the special rate for kindergarteners and their families!

The first sighting of the morning was a Basking Shark, which delighted everyone, including the crew, as Basking Sharks had not been seen for several years. Our naturalist, Tina McMahon, is wonderfully knowledgeable as well as passionate about marine life and she shared so much information, I hope I am reporting accurately. According to Tina, Basking Sharks are filter feeders and harmless.

We motored on until reaching Stellwagen Bank, where, to the utter delight of everyone on board, a female Humpback, named Dross, and her approximately two-to three-month old baby were spotted. Tina reported that this is the fourth calf of Dross’s that the Cape Ann Whale Watch team has seen over the years.

Reading more about baby Humpbacks, they are approximately 1 to 1.5 tons at birth. For the first six months, they only drink mother’s milk; a super concentrated formula high in nutrients and fat. On a diet of about 100 gallons of mother’s milk each day, they grow an inch a day and gain about 100 pounds per day!  Doing the math, baby Humpbacks add on an additional ton about every 20 days!

Needing to keep Baby Dross well fed, Mom dove deeply and frequently to feed, leaving her calf at the surface. The baby was very curious and came within inches of the boat. When calves are in the area, the Captain turns off the motor to keep the calf safe and to allow the young whale to check out the boat to satisfy its curiosity.

Humpback Whale flukes help naturalists and scientist identify individual whales. The markings on the under side, revealed when the whale dives, as well as the pattern of the serrated edge of the fluke all provide information in identifying the Humpback. Baby whales are not named until they are a bit older and their flukes take on a distinctive pattern.

Compare Mama Dross’s fluke to baby Humpback fluke. The serrated edges of Mama’s fluke are  jagged (first photo) whereas the calf’s are smoother (next photo).

In the footage, first you see Dross deep diving for food, with her fluke thrust upward. In the next clip, she has resurfaced alongside her calf and deeply exhales (blows). In the third clip, Mom and calf are swimming side-by-side and the baby does a mini blow. He then dives, but without the upward thrust of the fluke, which is a learned behavior. In the last clip, Mom does another deep dive and her calf dives, too.

The music is the from the album Songs of the Humpback Whale, produced by Roger Payne in 1970. The track is ” Distant Whale.” Reportedly, only the males sing however, I thought the ethereal vocalizing was beautiful when combined with the footage.

For more about Cape Ann Whale Watch adventures go here.

More about Head Naturalist Tina McMahon: “Please join me aboard the Hurricane II. I have been fascinated with whales and marine environment since my first whale watch in the early 90’s. I love to share my passion for the natural world and have passengers experience the awe of mother nature. My goal is to inspire others, to instill a curiosity and promote stewardship for the planet.”
Biography and Experience
: An Adirondack native, Tina relocated to Gloucester in the early 90’s and taught science for 32 years. During her summer months, she was a naturalist for Cape Ann Whale Watch. Tina recently retired from teaching and is the educational coordinator and senior naturalist for the company. In addition, she was a PolarTREC teacher on a research expedition to Greenland, a member of the Stellwagen Bank Advisory Council and continues to look for experiences that she can bring back to the passengers aboard the Hurricane II.


Mom’s chunkier dorsal fin and the young whale’s smaller dorsal fin (foreground)


Check out the excellent commentary featured in the Gloucester Daily Times on Wednesday –

Commentary: Creating Commons

“If this land be not rich, then is the whole world poor.”

So wrote Thomas Morton upon his arrival on Cape Ann in 1624. In a treatise published in London, Morton described the coast he encountered as a “New English Canaan,” a promised land filled with flora and fauna the likes of which Europeans had not yet known. Morton’s description of the area’s bounty was not singular. For example, John Smith’s report back to the imperial center preceded Morton’s and John Josselyn’s was published shortly after Morton’s. Such 17th-century writings inspired the English occupation of what would become the New England colonies and the accompanying genocide of the Native populations that had been here for centuries before the first European set foot on Cape Ann.

We begin with a return to this early settler history not to celebrate the violence and destruction it inspired, but to recall how awestruck Europeans were by the abundant natural beauty of the place that we call our home. Cape Ann was beautiful then, and it is beautiful now. This hardly needs saying. Artists have captured its twilight, poets have described its “granite teeth,” and mystics have meditated on its shores. But even as the land has been celebrated over the centuries, it too has been exploited. This story is not unique to Cape Ann, of course; it is the American story of land. On this island, the merchants of the 18th century were replaced by industrialists who then gave way to the 20th century’s financiers, all of them extracting, privatizing, and profiting from Cape Ann’s abundant timber and granite. With the dawning of beach tourism in the mid-19th century, the extensive coastline with its generous beaches led to further cordoning off and construction.

Now, in the 21st century, as we stare down the barrel of climate collapse, we must consider how, over four centuries of European occupation, we have grown so estranged from the land, so out of step with its natural rhythms and cycles. We are invited, in the spirit of the Potawatomi environmental biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer and others who advocate for new paradigms of land stewardship, to consider how we might live in relationships of reciprocity with the place we inhabit and with its many abundances. We seek, to borrow a phrase from the novelist Catherine Bush, “not control, but the agency to engage in acts of repair.”

This is the common cause that unites our collective of artists, avant gardeners, arborists, historians, and thinkers. We are all longtime residents of Cape Ann, and we share an endless fascination — even infatuation — with its local flora. READ MORE HERE 

Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) currently blooming at Millbrook Meadow, Rockport


More love in the air- Observations suggest that pairs mate between 88 and 338 times before laying eggs. I believe it after spending some time filming Osprey pairs over the past month, setting up house at locations all around Massachusetts. I don’t think they are always making a “connection,” and perhaps it’s equally as much a bonding behavior.

I love watching Ospreys in flight; to my way of thinking, one of the most graceful flight patterns of all the raptors we see in New England. They have a beautiful way of floating/hovering mid-air over their nests.

Are Ospreys a member of the eagle family or a member of the hawk family? They are neither. Up until fairly recently, they were classified with hawks, but now they are in a category all their own.

Greenbelt’s Osprey cam is up, with residents Annie and Squam and their clutch of 3 eggs. You can find the link, and also read periodic updates provided by Dave Rimmer, HERE 


Over the past several weeks, MM and his partner, the young sub-adult, have been seen mating at least five times, as observed by myself and neighbors. One neighbor commented, “they must be newlyweds.” In all matings observed, MM has assumed the dominant position so we think he must be the male. We hope the love birds are making lots of baby eaglets although, its not entirely clear whether or not a sub-adult is mature enough to produce eggs.

In thinking about tiny Piping Plovers and majestic Bald Eagles, it’s inspiring to know that conservation success measures, such as those taken to bring the Bald Eagle back from near extinction, are tremendously meaningful and impactful.

The below graph of Bald Eagle breeding pairs speaks a thousand words –


While the scallop boats are still here delivering fresh plump scallops daily to Gloucester, we are making the most of the fabulous quality and terrific prices. At Cape Ann Lobstermen, a two pound tub is only $32.00!!

Several weeks ago I mentioned a scallop and spring risotto yummy dinner that was a big hit with the Family. Friends have asked for the recipe but I don’t usually use a recipe when making risotto. Last night I tried to think about amounts.

I love making risotto and find it utterly relaxing to just stand at the stove and stir, as long as you have all the ingredients chopped, grated, and lined-up ready to go. I am writing this hurriedly so if anything is left out or you have a question, please write and let me know, happy to answer <3

Ingredients –

Do this first – For the vegetable stock, cover with about 8 cups of water – 1 onion quartered, I carrot cut in half, several stalks of celery. Do not add salt. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, and allow to gently simmer while cooking the risotto

1/4 lb. chopped pancetta or bacon

Olive Oil

I medium onion loosely chopped

About 1 3/4 Cup Arborio rice


Veggies – whatever you like. Last night’s dinner we had fresh fiddleheads from the garden!, also 1/2 zucchini chopped, handful of snowpeas, 2 ears of fresh corn (kernels removed from the cob), and about six stalks of asparagus chopped in 1 inch pieces.

Butter to taste – 2 TBs or more

Romano or parmesan to taste (about 1/2 to 3/4 C.), grated

Render the fat from the pancetta. Remove pancetta from pan and set aside. Leave the fat in the pan.

Add a few  tablespoons of olive oil. Sautee onions until translucent.

Add arborio rice. Turn heat down. Toast rice for a minute or two with the onions, until you hear a crackly sound. Cover rice with Prosecco.

Stir continually throughout. Allow rice to absorb most of the Prosecco. Add about two ladle-fulls of the simmering stock. Allow rice to absorb the stock before adding more.

Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is almost done, still a tiny bit al dente. Add the veggies and more stock if needed. Add back the pancetta. Cook for a few more minutes until veggies are done, bright green but cooked through.

Take off the heat. Add butter and cheese to taste. While the risotto is resting, pan sear the scallops. Our whiz in the kitchen Alex cooks the scallops 🙂


Serve with extra cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

Cape Ann Lobstermen is located at 111 Main Street in Gloucester








A joy, and surprise, to see MM swooping across the marsh, although he wasn’t too happy. A murder of Crows and one Osprey were hot on his trail. MM landed for a brief second, only about twenty  feet from where I was standing. I had just arrived and struggled to get may camera out quickly, but did catch the tail end of the action. How beautiful to see his majestic wingspan. You can see his leg bands in the last few frames.

Perhaps MM simply did not want to be annoyed and that is why he flew off. Bald Eagles are very powerful and it was just last spring that either MM, or his mate, drowned a nesting Osprey.

from Avian Report – Female bald eagles have longer wingspans than males

In most birds, males are larger than females, but in most birds of prey is the opposite. The female bald eagle is larger and has a longer wingspan than the male.

Ornithologists suggest that such differences in size and wingspan allow male and female eagles to hunt prey of different sizes and avoid competition over prey of the same size.

Another line of thought suggests that females are larger to protect their eggs and chicks from larger predators and aggressive bald eagle males that may attack their chicks and female eagles.

The literature indicates that the bald eagle’s wingspan ranges between 5.11” feet and 7.7” feet. The lower end indicates the smallest males, while the upper end refers to the largest females in the range. However, most males have a wingspan of 6.4” while most females have a wingspan of 7.2” feet.

Read more here




For my pond ecology documentary I have been filming Red-winged Blackbirds at ponds and marshes all around Cape Ann. Only about 15 seconds of footage is needed, but when I began, it was mid-February and their songs filling the marsh was a welcome reminder that spring was on its way.

When the blackbirds first arrived, there was snow on the ground and chunks of ice on the cattails. It was so cold you could see their breath. The choristers perch from every outpost, from the tallest tree to the slenderest of reeds, singing their hearts out, calling to the females. Red-winged Blackbirds are especially fond of perching on cattails; they construct their nests with cattail fluff (along with other bits of vegetation).

In all that time, two months roughly, I never saw a single female once. Mid- April and at long last the elusive females are beginning to arrive. Rather a Plain-Jane compared to the male’s dashing velvety black with brilliant red shoulder epaulettes, underlined in a slash of yellow, nonetheless, she is the object of desire of the chortling males.

Red-winged Blackbird’s nests are well camouflaged in the reeds, and so is she! Look for the females at the very end of short film, the last two clips. Happy Spring, Happy Earth Day!




As the cat is out of the bag, so to speak (the Eagle’s location is being shared widely on social media platforms), the following is some information that may minimize further confusion and help folks better understand what is happening with the adult eagle and sub-adult eagle living in our midst.

The sub-adult appears to be about 3.5 to 4 years old and is un-banded. The adult (with the pure white head) was thought to have been banded at a north of Boston town (in 2015 or 2016)  and is referred to as MM. Eagles get their “names” from the first two letters of the leg bands they received just before they fledged their nests.

The pair have been constructing a nest together. Is it unusual for an adult and sub-adult to bond and nest?  Prior to live nest cams, ideas about Bald Eagle nesting and mating behaviors were more rigid. But much, much more is known now and it’s wonderfully captivating!

MM was perched when the sub-adult flew in. MM gave several loud croaky gull-like greetings. He/she assumed the dominant position and copulation took all of ten seconds (which is typical for birds!) MM dismounted and the pair stayed side-by-side together for sometime afterward.

Although MM took the dominant position, that does not mean he/she is a male. Female Bald Eagles also approach. Both male and females initiate bonding and both may assume a dominant position when bonding.

It’s also difficult to tell by observing. Eagles are sexually dimorphic, meaning the females are bigger than the males. To compare MM and his friend side by side, MM looks to be a bit smaller however, juveniles also appear a little bigger than adults due to longer feathers that help them fly more easily.

Bald Eagle MM and subadult, possibly 3.5  to 4 years of age 

More reading –

Courtship, Copulation and Other Romantic Things – https://medium.com/@exploreorg/courtship-copulation-and-other-things-romantic-3c31d93e1627

Successful nesting by Bald Eagles Ages Three and Four –

Click to access p00113-p00114.pdf

Click to access 17(2)-p0085-p0086.pdf




Are you seeing more Coyotes (Canis latrans) lately? The reason may be because Coyotes are breeding. Mating season peaks in mid-February and at this time of year we often observe pairs. If you are seeing Coyotes in your neighborhood, please write. Thank you!

Coyote on the Prowl – The beautiful robust Coyote seen in the above clips was successful hunting an Eastern Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus). After capturing and then, I think, double checking that it was fully incapacitated, he gleefully rolled around on the Meadow Vole many times over before resuming eating. Royalty free music by Antonio Vivaldi ” L’inv erno, Concerto No.4 In Fa Minore.”

I haven’t seen our neighborhood Coyotes recently, perhaps because several unfortunately had what appeared to be very advanced stages of mange.

Eastern Coyote pup image courtesy Wiki Commons media

The average gestation period for Coyotes Is about 63 days, which means the pups are usually born from mid-March to mid-May. The litter may be anywhere from four to seven pups. Coyotes usually sleep above ground. The only time they use a den is during pup season. A den my be a rocky outcrop, hollowed out tree stump, or an existing burrow made by a Racoon, Red Fox, or other mid-sized burrowing mammal. Sometimes the female digs a den from scratch.

The Eastern Coyote is a colossally successful species. The map below illustrates how dramatically the Eastern Coyote’s range has expanded in less than 120 years.


For many months, we lovers-of-Niles Pond have been treated to the presence of a regularly appearing Great Blue Heron. Great Blue Herons are nothing new to Niles Pond, it’s just that this one could be seen daily at one corner of the Pond. The elegant heron was assigned the nickname Hank by my friend Pat Morss. Hank hunted, preened, and rested for hours on end in this one particular spot. Occasionally we would see two Herons, Hank in his location, and the others around the perimeter of the Pond.

The fish in the film clip is the largest i have seen Hank catch. I think it’s a Common Yellow Perch, but if my fishermen friends know differently, please write.

Hank didn’t mind when the Pond briefly froze over as he was still able to find food. He departed after the ice skaters arrived. Of course the Pond is for all to enjoy, I just don’t think Hank felt comfortable sharing. Lately, a solitary GBH that looks alike like Hank has been foraging at the salt marsh at Good Harbor Beach. Hopefully, if it is Hank, he will get the 411 to head south 🙂

It’s not unusual for GBHerons to winter over on Cape Ann however, most do not. Hank will have an easier time of it if he does migrate. The purple shaded areas of the map denote the Great Blue Heron’s year round range.



This beautiful Northern Lapwing has been residing in Ipswich; it is thought at least since the violent storm of December 22nd.

The Lapwing was so interesting to watch as it foraged in the pasture using the same foot tamping technique that we see Piping Plovers exhibit when hunting for mini mollusks and sea worms at the beach. The Lapwing was using its feet to instead stir up worms in the muddy field.

Also called the Green Plover, the Lapwing is very elegant looking, with glossy green plumage (when caught in the right light), and a fine crest accented with long wispy feathers.  It’s quite a bit larger than the Piping Plover, several inches larger than even a Killdeer.

The adorable chicks look like a cross between Killdeer, PiPl, and Semi-palmated Plover chicks! Chick images courtesy Wiki Commons media

Typically, the wind in the North Atlantic flows in a positive phase from west to east. We occasionally see Lapwing vagrants when the wind in the North Atlantic changes its pattern to a negative east to west flow.

To better understand why New England, Newfoundland, and Labrador are occasionally “invaded” by Northern Lapwings, read this easy to comprehend article by author Amy Davis here:

Lapwing distribution: yellow breeding range; purple wintering range; green year-long resident.

Lapwing distribution: yellow breeding range; purple wintering range; green year-long resident.

The map below shows where Northern Lapwings have been observed in the US and Canada.

Lapwings are sensitive to climate change, which is thought to explain a northward expansion of its range.

December 22nd storm damage to the berm that separates freshwater Niles Pond from the Atlantic Ocean.




TRIPLE WOW, actually! Hats off to the Rockport Department of Public Works and all who are involved with installing and decorating the spectacular tree in the center of town. I don’t recall ever seeing so many lights on the tree and it seems extra especially wondrous this year. 

Looking for her favorite ball on the tree, the red one with the “bumps,” has become a tradition for Charlotte and I. Happy girl finding it <3

Tonight is a perfect night to go and see the tree as it is Rockport’s Holiday Shopping Night. Lots of gift prizes and an after party at Fleur Cuisine. For more details visit Christmas in Rockport here.