Tag Archives: Essex County

HANDICAPPED MOM AND DAD HAVE A NEST OF THREE! #ploverjoyed

Wonderful news for our handicapped Mom and Dad pair at #3. The eggs are safely ensconced in an exclosure, and the pair are brooding a nest of three!

Dad on the nest in the exclosure <3

Our deepest thanks and gratitude to Dave Rimmer, Director of Land Stewardship at Greenbelt for installing the exclosure and for his ongoing assistance with Cape Ann’s Plovers.  If you feel so inclined, please think about making a donation to Greenbelt in Dave’s name to thank Greenbelt for their strictly volunteer assistance over the past seven years. Donate page of Greenbelt here.

Handicapped Mom

Thank you to Everyone for your suggestions regarding Pollution, Urination, and the Underage Drinking Crisis at Good Harbor Beach. Thank you to Andrea Holbrook and Ethan Forman for “Gloucester Beaches Bustling Weekend Before Memorial Day” article in the Gloucester Daily Times for the coverage.

I have to say, we were collectively dismayed by the City’s sugar coated response to the issues at Good Harbor Beach as reported in the Times.

We have written to the Mayor’s office, all City Councilors, and Chief Conley. We have heard back from City Councilor Jeff Worthley. On Saturday, Jeff went from person to person at GHB to let them know that the Creek was contaminated and on Sunday had signs posted by the board of health. During the 1990s, Jeff worked at Good Harbor Beach for five summers and that first summer, when he was only 19 years old, made a list of 25 suggestions on how to improve GHB. Two of those suggestions included opening earlier in the year and dune restoration! We are very much looking forward to meeting with Jeff.

PLOVERS IN THE POPPLES MOST EXQUISITELY CAMOUFLAGED NEST!

Our Cape Hedge “Plovers in the Popples” pair have a nest of four eggs! It’s extraordinarily beautiful in how well the eggs blend with the surrounding popples.

Popple Camo!

Tuesday morning the symbolically roped off area was installed by Mass Fish and Wildlife. For friends new to Plover protections, the roping is placed around the nesting area to keep people and pets away from the nest. Signs will be going up shortly. If you are on the beach, please do not stand right up next to, or hover around the roping. We would have liked to have made the area ten feet deeper, but because of the high tide line, it wasn’t possible. Please, please give the birds lots and lots of space. Thank you!

The fantastic thing about the roping installed by Mass Wildlife is that it is four heights of rope, from several inches off the ground to waist height, which really helps keep pets and little persons from slipping through.

Many, many thanks to Carolyn Mostello, the Massachusetts Coastal Waterbird Biologist for coordinating the installation, to Mass Wildlife technicians Joshua and Derek, and special thanks to Rockport resident and Cape Hedge neighbor Sue Catalogna for her great communication with the Cape Hedge plovers <3

Joshua and Derek

Mom and Dad taking turns on the nest

Can you spot the nest?

OUR BEAUTIFUL MOM HAS LOST HER FOOT

A story of patience, fidelity, resilience, and hope 

You may recall that last year our Piping Plover Mom’s foot became entangled in what appeared to be both dried seaweed and monofilament. Mom visibly struggled with her foot entanglement. Although initially she could still thermoregulate the chicks and stayed nearby, we began to see less and less of her. Much of the parenting of chicks was left to Dad as she was infrequently seen lying low in the tall beach grass. We wondered if she even made it through the summer.

Mom’s very painful looking injury caused her to behave as though she was trying to adapt to the awkwardness of carrying a ball and chain. Sometimes the chicks would get caught in the seaweed and monofilament entanglement and she was continuously pulling at it, trying to remove.

Fast forward to April of this year. For a month we have had a new pair of Plovers attempting to nest, first at area #3, the original pair of Plover’s original nesting site (beginning in 2016), and then I believe shifting further north up the beach, toward Salt Island. I checked on that pair on Wednesday morning, the fifth, just before leaving for Ohio and despite the unseasonably cool temperatures and rough winds, everything was as it should be in Ploverville.

Upon our return Monday morning all had turned upside down in the world of Plover nesting. It took me a day to understand what had taken place.  Miraculously, our original Mom and Dad have returned to #3. We are overjoyed to see them both, Mom especially, but the bittersweet of it is that she has lost her foot.

Dad is clearly eager to mate but, for lack of a better word, is being extraordinarily patient with Mom. She spent the first few days after arriving quietly lying in the grass, so much so we were becoming concerned. But Mom has rallied and is showing interest in Dad and his nest scrapes. He is very attentive, staying nearby and defending her against real and imagined intruders. We all got a laugh when Assistant Library Director Beth Pocock’s commented, “Not very Darwinian of him.”

Dad in one of his nest scrapes

The pair are approximately five weeks later in arriving than the past several years.  It’s not entirely unexpected that Mom’s foot has been amputated by the monofilament and seaweed wrapped so tightly that it was cutting off her circulation. Plovers historically have survived with one foot/leg. One of the most common reasons for loss of foot or leg is when debris becomes caught in a leg band on Plovers that have been banded. The thing is, it is taking double the amount of effort for Mom to do things that Plovers ordinarily do daily. Her gait step is twice as many steps as compared to Dad’s. She is spending a good amount of time lying down, rather than standing.

Piping Plovers show tremendous fidelity to each other and to their nesting site. Our Good Harbor Beach Original Plovers are fantastically resilient — recalling just one of their many trials and adventures — the year they nested in the parking lot, driven to this measure by the plethora of dogs allowed off leash by their owners; dogs running and  prancing through the  Plover’s roped off area disrupting their nesting.

Will Mom be able to breed and take care of chicks this summer? Only time will tell. But because  she is now “handicapped,” it’s imperative that we eliminate all disturbances.

Mom is able to use her peg leg to scratch an itch

On Saturday, we had a serious problem with several very large groups of teens drinking, creating a mountain of trash, playing in the nesting area, and running through the area to use the dunes as their bathroom. Their complete disregard of the clearly marked off area destroyed the Plover’s nest scrapes, which are the potential possible sites for eggs. The police were called. The officers were very patient with the teens. One girl in particular was extremely rude to the officers, barely coherent and nearly falling down drunk.  It took more patience than you can possibly imagine for the officers to de-escalate as they did.  It wasn’t until the police appeared that the teens began attempting to clean up their trash, which without the officer’s insistence that they clean up, surely would have resulted in the more than one huge trash bag that I filled this morning.

These were not local kids but we have to do better than this as a community. There must be a way to have some authority figure patrol the beach on warm spring and summer afternoons. These teens were completely smashed and the amount of trash from alcoholic beverages was astounding. As soon as the officers appeared on the beach, the teens began to clean up their behavior, language, and garbage. But I don’t believe it should have gotten to this point.

We’ll keep an eye on the weather and we Ambassadors will mobilize on the next warm beach day but frankly, we have very little authority. None of us feel safe approaching a group of 30 or 40 unruly and intoxicated (and foul mouthed as was the case Saturday) teens. Truly, the ideal solution is to assign an officer or ranger to patrol the beach on warm afternoons and evenings.

If anyone sees people rough housing in, playing in, or repeatedly entering the roped off areas, please call the police and explain what you are seeing. If a nest with eggs or an adult or a chick is harmed in any way or killed by this kind of behavior, that is considered a “take” by both state and federal regulations. The City and the individuals responsible are liable for thousands of dollars in fines and potential closure of Good Harbor Beach. Our mission is to keep our beautiful GHB open for everyone and to keep our Plovers safe.From Saturday – how people treat our beautiful beach – trash on the beach brings crows and gulls, which eat Plover eggs and chicks

 

THANK YOU SAWYER FREE LIBRARY AND GUESTS! AND COINCIDENTALLY, TODAY IS WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY!

Thank you to Jennifer Santomauro, Beth Pocock, and Linda Bossleman at the Sawyer Free Library and to everyone who came to the Piping Plover program this afternoon. Despite the gorgeous weather and protest marches nationwide, we had a wonderful group of interested attendees. It’s the first in-person presentation I’ve given in several years and I just want to thank everyone so much for coming.

World Migratory Bird Day is held annually on the second Saturday of May (May 14th in 2022).This year’s WMBD focuses on the impact of light pollution on migratory birds.

“Most birds migrate at night. They have been doing this for eons, as a night sky typically means calmer air space and fewer predators. Nocturnally migrating birds include ducks and geese, plovers and sandpipers, and songbirds of all kinds. These birds may travel thousands of miles between their breeding and non-breeding grounds.

However, the night sky is under threat. Artificial light is increasing globally by at least two percent a year, presenting a problem for birds. Light pollution from homes, businesses, and other infrastructure attracts and disorients migrating birds, making them more likely to land in dangerous areas where they are more vulnerable to collisions and predation. Artificial light also impacts birds in the breeding and winter seasons, disrupting feeding and other vital behaviors.

In 2022, the impact of light pollution is the focus of World Migratory Bird Day, an annual global campaign that celebrates the migration of birds across countries and continents. Throughout the year we will spread the message to “dim the lights for birds at night” and highlight the steps that individuals, communities, and governments can take to reduce the impact of light pollution on our shared birds.”

One of the featured species in WMBD 2022 is the Baltimore Oriole (as seen in the above illustration)!

 

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)

Length: 8.3” (21.1cm)

Wingspan: 11.5” (29.2cm)

Weight: 1.2oz (34g)

You may find this colorful member of the blackbird family in open woodlands, parks, or even your backyard. It eats a lot of insects, especially caterpillars, as well as fruit and nectar. Baltimore Orioles and many other songbirds need dark skies to safely migrate—you can help by reducing the amount of light outside your home at night.

Conservation Status: Low Concern

WHAT IS WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY?

In 1993, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center created International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD). This educational campaign focused on the Western Hemisphere celebrated its 25th year in 2018. Since 2007, IMBD has been coordinated by Environment for the Americas (EFTA), a non-profit organization that strives to connect people to bird conservation.

In 2018, EFTA joined the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) to create a single, global bird conservation education campaign, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD). Continuing our tradition with IMBD, WMBD celebrates and brings attention to one of the most important and spectacular events in the Americas – bird migration.

This new alliance furthers migratory bird conservation around the globe by creating a worldwide campaign organized around the planet’s major migratory bird corridors, the African-Eurasian flyway, the East Asian-Australasian flyway, and the Americas flyway. By promoting the same event name, annual conservation theme, and messaging, we combine our voices into a global chorus to boost the urgent need for migratory bird conservation.

EFTA will continue to focus its efforts on the flyways in the Americas to highlight the need to conserve migratory birds and protect their habitats, and will continue to coordinate events, programs, and activities in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean at protected areas, refuges, parks, museums, schools, zoos, and more. As many as 700 events and programs are hosted annually to introduce the public to migratory birds and ways to conserve them.

READ MORE HERE

BEAUTIFUL ORIOLE ALERT- BOTH ORCHARD AND BALTIMORE ORIOLES!!

Time to put out orange slices (and hummingbird feeders, if you haven’t already done so.) Orioles are nectar feeders and follow the blooming times of fruit trees on their northward migration along the East Coast. My friend Sally Jackson spotted a Baltimore Oriole at her hummingbird feeder several days ago, and they are delighting in our pear tree blossoms and orange halves we have placed in the garden.

Baltimore Oriole male

Recently while recording audio in a field, I was delightfully surprised by an Orchard Oriole, a species new to my eyes. Orchard Orioles are slightly smaller than Baltimore Orioles and their plumage is more rusty red rather than vivid orange. Nonetheless, they sing a characteristically beautiful bird song and it was a joy to hear the chorister from across the meadow.

Orchard Oriole male

You can see from the photos that orioles have evolved with long pointed bills, ideal for extracting nectar from fruit blossoms. Their toes, too, are especially well adapted to forging for tree fruits and nectar as they are long and flexible, allowing the birds to dangle every which way while clinging to the branches.

Ancient Crabapple tree, where the Orchard Oriole was spotted

*    *    *

Please join me at the Sawyer Free Library on Saturday, May 14th, at 2pm for a FREE in-person all ages presentation about the life story of the Piping Plover –

Why Give a Peep for Plovers?

The Piping Plover is one of only a handful of birds that nests on North Atlantic beaches. By learning about this tiny but most resilient of shorebirds, we gain a deeper understanding on how best to protect Piping Plovers and our shared coastal habitat.

Told through the lens of Kim Smith’s photo journal work, the Piping Plover’s life story is presented from migration to nesting to fledging. We’ll also cover the current status of the bird’s population, learn about where Piping Plovers spend the winter, and how communities and conservation organizations can work together to help Piping Plovers flourish for generations to come.

If you are new to or have ever considered joining our Piping Plover Ambassador group, this presentation is a great way to become introduced to Piping Plovers. Please come and learn more about these most lovable and charismatic shorebirds.

We hope to see you there!

PIPING PLOVER UPDATE AND PLEASE JOIN ME SATURDAY FOR A FREE IN-PERSON PIPL PRESENTATION

Good afternoon PiPl Friends!

We returned Monday from a trip to visit my husband’s dear family in Ohio. If you can imagine, we were celebrating my father-in-law’s 97th birthday!! He is simply amazing and boasts his doctor told him he has the legs of a 70 year-old! We also squeezed in a trip to the butterfly exhibit at the Krohn Conservatory, the Cincinnati Zoo, and visited the old homestead located at the Hauck Botanical Gardens. And had the BEST BBQ at Eli’s Riverside. The Hauck Botanical Gardens, set in downtown Cincinnati, is a relatively small public park created decades ago by my father-in-law’s father (husband’s grandfather) and is richly planted with a collection of rare and North American native trees. Photos coming in a future post 🙂

A week away from Cape Ann’s Plovers and much has been taking place. The GHB PiPls are getting off to a slow start nesting this year and three solid days of fierce wind from the northeast is not helping matters. Yesterday morning there was a great deal of flying and piping at each other, but the funny thing was, they would take periodic breaks from skirmishing and huddle close to each other to get out of the wind.

The Cape Hedge Plover pair are settling in and I will have more on the CHB family towards the end of the week. The photo of the CHB Dad was taken Tuesday. He spent the better part of the time Charlotte and I were there trying to distract dogs that were running off leash.

Please join me Saturday at the Sawyer Free for a presentation about the Plovers (see below). Please feel free to wear a mask and please practice social distancing. Covid cases are on the rise in Gloucester (and everywhere) and I think I will be wearing a mask when not speaking.

I hope to see you there.
Warmest wishes,
Kim

Please join me at the Sawyer Free Library on Saturday, May 14th, at 2pm for a FREE in-person all ages presentation about the life story of the Piping Plover –

Why Give a Peep for Plovers?

The Piping Plover is one of only a handful of birds that nests on North Atlantic beaches. By learning about this tiny but most resilient of shorebirds, we gain a deeper understanding on how best to protect Piping Plovers and our shared coastal habitat.

Told through the lens of Kim Smith’s photo journal work, the Piping Plover’s life story is presented from migration to nesting to fledging. We’ll also cover the current status of the bird’s population, learn about where Piping Plovers spend the winter, and how communities and conservation organizations can work together to help Piping Plovers flourish for generations to come.

If you are new to or have ever considered joining our Piping Plover Ambassador group, this presentation is a great way to become introduced to Piping Plovers. Please come and learn more about these most lovable and charismatic shorebirds.

We hope to see you there!

BLUEBIRD LOOK SEE

Dad Bluebird peering out to make sure the coast is clear.

WHY GIVE A PEEP FOR PLOVERS? SAVE THE DATE – PIPING PLOVER PRESENTATION AT THE SAWYER FREE LIBRARY!

Please join me at the Sawyer Free Library on Saturday, May 14th, at 2pm for a FREE in-person all ages presentation about the life story of the Piping Plover –

Why Give a Peep for Plovers?

The Piping Plover is one of only a handful of birds that nests on North Atlantic beaches. By learning about this tiny but most resilient of shorebirds, we gain a deeper understanding on how best to protect Piping Plovers and our shared coastal habitat.

Told through the lens of Kim Smith’s photo journal work, the Piping Plover’s life story is presented from migration to nesting to fledging. We’ll also cover the current status of the bird’s population, learn about where Piping Plovers spend the winter, and how communities and conservation organizations can work together to help Piping Plovers flourish for generations to come.

If you are new to or have ever considered joining our Piping Plover Ambassador group, this presentation is a great way to become introduced to Piping Plovers. Please come and learn more about these most lovable and charismatic shorebirds.

We hope to see you there!

GOOD HARBOR BEACH PIPING PLOVER UPDATE

Our GHB Mom and Dad have, for the most part, been lying low during this recent cold snap. However, given the warming temps over the past few days, the pair has resumed courting. And our pair at Cape Hedge continues to spotted regularly. More PiPls will likely be arriving soon. I am so looking forward to the magical month of May in Massachusetts for the magnificent peak migration that takes place all along our shores.

Courtship has resumed!

Willets at Good Harbor Beach

Our beloved Good Harbor Beach is yet another reason to protect shorebirds. Where ever conservation measures have been put in place to help shorebirds, these same actions have had a profoundly positive impact on helping to protect coastlines.

 

PRETTY SILVERY WAVES AND PIPING PLOVER AFTER STORM UPDATE

The howling winds of the April 18th overnight storm brought super high tides, downed trees, downed power lines and poles. We lost one of our beautiful ‘Dragon Lady’ hollies, one of a pair planted when we first moved to our home, and a tree that gave the birds many tree-fruits over the years.

The wind also carried in a somewhat befuddled Great Egret, clinging to a shrub and still trying to gain his bearings when photographed at mid-day.

Super high tide to the base of the dunes

Mom and Dad foraging in the intertidal zone

Mom

Dad

The highest tide during the storm went up and a bit past the base of the dunes. Our nesting pair of Plovers appeared relatively unfazed and, despite the continued high winds at day’s end, were busy courting and foraging at the newly washed over beach scape.

Churned-up

EASTER’S APRIL FULL MOON #pinkmoon

Beautiful to see Easter morning’s full Pink Moon descending behind the twin towers of City Hall

THANK YOU MAYOR VERGA, AC OFFICERS JAMIE AND TEAGAN, MARK COLE, JOE LUCIDO, AND THE GLOUCESTER DPW CREW!

Speaking on behalf of the Piping Plover Ambassadors, we would like to thank Mayor Verga, Mark Cole, Joe Lucido, and the Gloucester DPW Crew, and Animal Control Officers Jamie and Teagan for helping to protect our Cape Ann Plovers. We are grateful and so appreciate their very timely efforts.

The many recent actions we are grateful for –

All the roping is now in place at areas #1, #2, and #3. Hooray!! Why is this action so important? It gives the Plovers safe space to court and to nest. Plovers will rebuild their nest up to five times. If they have safe spaces from the get go, chances are they will nest earlier in the season and be on their way before the beach gets crazy busy with people enjoying the beach.

DPW Crew installing the symbolically roped off area on Wednesday, April 13th

We are grateful that Officers Teagan Dolan and Jamie Eastman are daily patrolling the beach  at varying times. For the same reason the roping needs to go up early, the earlier in the season the dogs are off the beach, the safer it is for Plovers, along with the many shorebirds stopping over at Good Harbor Beach on their annual northward migration.

We are so appreciative of the signs now in place, both the endangered species signs on the cordoned off areas and the No Dogs signs at entrances to the beach and parking lots.

If you are heading to Good Harbor Beach, you can’t help but notice the blinking sign in the road near the intersection of Beach and Nautilus Roads. The sign will greatly help the AC Officers who often hear, “I didn’t know”, or “I didn’t’ see the (large screaming yellow) sign at the footbridge. The fine is $300.00 for each dog off leash and doubled if the dog charges through the clearly marked nesting area. Why the hefty fine? Because the City will be held accountable by state and federal agencies for any threatened or endangered bird that is killed or injured at Good Harbor Beach. A fine of $25,000.00 or more could be levied against the community if a bird listed as threatened or endangered is killed by a dog, person, or stray ball.

Again, we can’t thank enough Mayor Verga, Mark Cole, Joe Lucido, Gloucester’s ACOs, and entire DPW crew for their consideration and kind help protecting the Plovers!

Piping Plover love stories update –

The very pale female that was the first to arrive only stayed for a few days. She was followed by the Three Bachelors. A Bachelorette joined the scene over the weekend and paired up with Bachelor #3.

We now have one sweet couple attentively courting and nest scraping.

We’ve temporarily lost sight of Bachelors #1 and #2 but the precocious and Interfering Sanderling is still on the scene. The situation is fluid and we expect more PiPls will be arriving in the coming days. 

If you would like to be a Piping Plover Ambassador, please contact me by either leaving a comment or emailing at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com.

Today’s Pea Soup Fog

Beach House construction underway – don’t you think this dried grass will add greatly to the decor honey?

 

 

 

 

CALLING ALL BACHELORETTES!

Good afternoon PiPl Friends,

Currently we have three male Piping Plovers positioned for action at Good Harbor Beach at respective territories. The bachelors are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the bachelorettes, marking their turf with nest scraping and the calls for which Piping Plovers are so well known, all accomplished with chests a-puff.

 Meet the three candidates-Bachelor #1  

Bachelor #2  

Bachelor #3

#1 chasing #2 off his turf

The head count can change on a dime overnight. Let’s hope the ladies will soon be arriving.

If you would like to be a Piping Plover Ambassador, please contact me by either leaving a comment or emailing at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com.

Exciting news, we have three new wonderful recruits! We’ll have an informational meeting later this spring, once we have an actively nesting pair. I am so looking forward to working with you all, both our super experienced and dedicated volunteers, along with our new members!

Jennie and Deb, I received your requests to continue in your last year’s time slots and we will also work on getting more coverage at peak times.

xxKim

WONDERFUL PIPING PLOVER NEWS!

Good Morning PiPl Friends,

Happy news to share – the first of our little friends arrived overnight Friday. We found him/her feeding with great gusto at the intertidal zone Saturday morning. After foraging she moved to the roped off area at #3 to find shelter from the wind. Not sure yet if it is a male or female and we’ll know once courtship starts, but I am leaning towards female.

And, a reader shared that she saw several PiPls Sunday!

Finding mini mollusks in the intertidal zone

Please, If you see Plovers, stay a good distance away and give them some space as they are very worn out from their journeys (from where I wish we knew.)

We are looking for volunteer Plover Ambassadors. The volunteer season begins when the Plovers chicks are close to hatching, which is not for approximately another two months. We are a wonderfully dedicated group and if you are interested in joining, please leave a comment in the comment section or email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy Spring!

xxKim

Windy, windy morning

GOOD MORNING! AND A HUGE SHOUT OUT TO MARK COLE, JOE LUCIDO, AND THE GLOUCESTER DPW CREW!

Good Morning Friends of Cape Ann’s PiPls!

I hope so much everyone is doing well. Another crazy winter for us all with Corona fortunately waning but then the terrible war in Ukraine began. We are so very blessed here on Cape Ann and I am grateful to you all and your outstanding teamwork in helping to protect one of our most vulnerable of creatures. The Plovers bring us joy (and frustration, too), but mostly joy and I am looking forward to working with you all again. I’d love to get an idea of what you are thinking regarding whether or not you want to keep your time slot, etc. but it’s a little early in the season so we can put that off a bit.

I did want to share that we had a great PiPl meeting with the City on Tuesday. Mark Cole, who is an assistant director at the DPW, is our new liaison with the City. We met with Mark, Joe Lucido, AC Officer Jamie Eastman, GPD Officer Quinn, Mike Hale, and Adrienne Lennon. Mark and Joe are already doing an outstanding job. The Piping Plover symbolic fencing was installed on Tuesday, the first time this has ever happened before the Plovers arrived.  It’s perfect, too, just the right distance from the dunes to help the Plovers get established. Our deepest thanks and appreciation to Mark and Joe!

My husband Tom and I have been checking daily for the Plovers. There has been one unconfirmed sighting but I doubt it was a PiPl or if it was, not one of ours because once they are here, as we all know, they make their presence known. A number of Plovers have arrived at beaches south of us, so we can surely expect to see ours any day now.

Freshly arrived male and female Piping Plovers with eyes shut tightly against the March wind, Boston

If I am slow to respond to emails, I am so sorry and please forgive. I am in the midst of sorting through, converting, and building the rough cut for my next film project. Huge chunks of time are needed to tell the story of the Plovers in the true and beautiful light that I imagine. Aside from taking care of Charlotte and my family, I am in hermit mode. Usually I’ll respond within a day, but if not, please feel free to email again, no problem. Once we get on the other side of this rough, rough cut (another week or two), I’ll be much more available. Thank you for your understanding <3

Happy Spring!

xxKim

If you no longer wish to receive Plover updates please write and let me know 🙂

OH JOYOUS SPRING!

Happy Spring dear Friends!

Please forgive me if I am slow to respond to your notes, emails, and kind comments. I am so sorry about that but am spending every spare minute on the Piping Plover film project, creating the first rough cut while converting six plus years of footage. And uncovering wonderful clips of these extraordinary creatures, some I am just seeing for the first time since shooting! Not an easy task but I am so inspired and full of joy for this project, trying not to become overwhelmed, and taking it one chunk at a time, literally “bird by bird,” as Anne Lamott would say.

From daily walks, a mini migration update –

Gadwall female

Gadwall and American Wigeon pairs abound. Both in the genus Mareca, they share similar foraging habits when here on our shores and can often be seen dabbling for sea vegetation together.  The Orange-crowned Warbler was still with us as of mid-week last, as well as the trio of American Pipits. The very first of the Great Egrets have been spotted and Killdeers are coming in strong. The first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will be here any day now; at the time of this writing they have migrated as far north as North Carolina

Have you noticed the Weeping Willows branches are turning bright yellow? In the next phase they will become chartreuse. For me it it one of the earliest, earliest indicators that trees are starting to emerge from dormancy. And our magnolia buds are beginning to swell, too. Please write with your favorite early signs of spring and I’ll make a post of them.

xxKim

Male and Female Gadwalls, American Wigeons, Black Ducks, and Buffleheads foraging for aquatic vegetation

More spring scenes

Eastern Screech Owl in camo, possibly brown morph 

Owl on the prowl

White-tailed Deer at Dusk

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler preening

EGADS, GADWALL LOVEBIRDS!

The male and female pair of dabbling Gadwalls pictured here have been enjoying the aquatic vegetation, salt water invertebrates, and relative quietude of Cape Ann’s cove beaches. They’ll soon be heading north and west to breed.

Gadwalls are “seasonally monogamous,” and almost always pair up during the fall migration. Seasonally monogamous– a new term to my ears–and one I find rather funny.

Black butt feathers

With understated, yet beautifully intricate feather patterning, look for the males black rear end feathers.

Exquisite feather pattern

FINDING HOPE

As Putin’s war rages and the Russian’s crimes against humanity continue to hold the Ukrainian people hostage, we look for hope everywhere and anywhere. Especially when taking care of a child, an ill family member, or an elderly person we have to keep our spirits up, for the sake of our loved ones at the very least.

Hope is nations coming together and helping nations and individuals helping individuals, in the form of the hand extended to two million (and counting) refugees given by European neighboring countries, to the crushing economic sanctions imposed, to supplies arriving to the Ukraine from NATO countries and from around the globe, along with everyone in the world (aside from Putin and his allies at home and abroad), trying their damndest to prevent World War Three.We’re finding hope, too, in the signs of spring and new life beginning.

Four year old Charlotte coming in breathless with delight at the crocus and daffodil shoots emerging in the garden. And one of the most welcome sounds of spring is the beautiful chorus of courtship love songs of Passerines. There is renewed energy with the neighborhood songbirds; their appetites have increased markedly and nest building has commenced.

Eastern Bluebird male, Black-capped Chickadee, and American Robin eating the last of the Sumac fruits.

Monarch Butterflies are departing Mexico in a great swirling exodus while our winter resident birds are shoring up for their mass migration northward. Some have already left our coastline and waterways. There have been no sightings of the Snow Buntings for a week and fewer Buffleheads appear to be about. Soon, most of the Snowies will have departed. Local owls and eagles are laying eggs, while many travelers have yet to arrive.

Snow Buntings on the wing

Grand flocks of Brant Geese are massing. A long distant migrant, they’ve earned the nickname ‘Little Sea Goose’ for their habit of wintering over in saltwater bays, marshes, and sounds.

Killdeer nestlings

Killdeers have arrived and are sorting out their territories and, If you can imagine, Piping Plovers will be returning in just a few short weeks. To follow are members of the Ardeidae Family – Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Black and Yellow Crowned Herons, and Little Blue and Green Herons.

Piping Plover nest with two eggs

Mother River Otter and kits

We’ll soon see Muskrats, River Otters, and Beavers skirting around thawing ponds and baby Red Fox kits will in no time at all be peaking from dens.

Red Fox Kits

Red-winged Blackbirds have been here for several weeks. The male’s courtship call is welcome music of the marsh. He poses a striking silhouette chortling from the tips of Cattails, dressed in jet plumage with red shoulder epaulettes underlined in yellow. A female has yet to be spotted in her plain jane nesting camouflage of brown and tan.

Despite the horrors unfolding before our very eyes there is much to look forward to in the arrival of spring. We can’t as individuals end the war but we can take heart in a thousand acts of kindness and find joy in the unfolding beauty that surrounds, of new life in spring.

Pussy Willows (Salix discolor)

RED-TAILED HAWK SETTING OUT FOR THE HUNT

Nearly every afternoon late in the day, we see this beautiful young Red-tailed Hawk hovering to hunt prey, seemingly effortlessly suspended in mid-air and barely moving a muscle.

EASTERN POINT BEACON PAINT BOX SUNSET

Eastern Point Dogbar and Lighthouse Beacon

LAST OF GLOUCESTER’S COAST GUARD ISLAND CUTTERS, THE KEY LARGO

By 2023, the Coast Guard plans to phase out home-ported Island Cutters. They will be replaced with a fleet of six larger vessels called Fast Response Cutters that will be ported and maintained in Boston.

USCG Key Largo from Niles Beach

SNOW BUNTING SNOWBIRD SNOWFLAKES AND WHAT DOES BEACH HABITAT RESTORATION LOOK LIKE IN WINTER TIME?

One of the most beautiful creatures of the snowy landscape has to be the Snow Bunting.  Also known as Snowflakes, Snow Buntings light up winter scapes with swirls of flight and highly animated foraging habits.

During the breeding season in the high Arctic, Snow Buntings eat a protein rich insect diet but while here during the winter months in the relatively milder climate of Massachusetts, they forage on tiny grass seeds and must constantly eat. Although their feeding habits are highly entertaining to the human observer, it’s really a matter of life or death for these cold weather warriors.

Standing on tiptoes for breakfast

Snow Buntings have several methods for extracting seeds. Sometimes they vigorously shake a wildflower or stalk of grass at the base of the plant. Other times they alight on a single blade of dried beach grass and slide their beaks along, shredding the stalk and releasing teeny seeds. They may stay alit and eat their foraged treasure, but more often than not, they shake the blade while perched and release the seeds to the ground. The Snow Bunting’s fellow flock member will seize upon the shower of released seeds and try to gobble them up. Herein lies the the conflict and disputes occur non stop while a flock is feeding. Typically one will readily retreat while the other dines, but occasionally a nasty battle ensues.

The wonderfully rich beach grass habitat where the Snow Buntings flock was formerly a barren scape that persistently washed away after every storm. Beach grass was planted, temporary dune fencing installed, and small rocks were added. After only several seasons, this habitat restoration project began attracting butterflies, songbirds, and nesting shorebirds during the spring and summer months, along with glorious creatures such as the beautiful Snow Bunting during the winter months.

I plan to find out exactly what this species of beach grass is that the Snow Buntings find so appealing because there are several locations on Cape Ann where habitat restoration is badly needed and I think this precise species of grass would surely be at the top of the list for stabilizing shoreline conservation projects.

Snow Bunting tracks

See Snow Bunting previous posts:

WHEN SNOW BUNTINGS FILL THE SKIES

BEAUTIFUL SNOWSHOEING AND SNOW SLEDDING SNOW BUNTING SNOWFLAKES

FLIGHT OF THE SNOW BUNTINGS