At the top of my husband Tom’s birthday wish list was a schooner ride aboard the Thomas Lannon. His birthday is still a week away so we had a pre-bday celebration last night. My kids and I treated and we met our friends Jade and Will, and their adorable kids, for the Schooner Challenge.
Although not much of challenge with super calm seas, it was a gorgeous night to be sailing around the harbor with family, friends and the wonderful Captain Heath Ellis and his topnotch crew. Former Lannon Captain Tom Ellis was aboard, making the sail even more perfect.
The night could not have been more magical and I think my husband is super pleased. What a way to start off the 37th Annual Gloucester Schooner Festival weekend and husband’s birthday week!!
GLOUCESTER 37th ANNUAL SCHOONER FESTIVAL SCHEDULE!
Thursday, Sept 2
SCHOONER CHALLENGE – 6:00 to 7:30pm – Gloucester Harbor
Join our local Schooner Captains as they participate in a friendly competition putting their seamanship to the test over an “obstacle” course. Passengers will be given their own set of tasks to win the coveted Rum Bottle Award. Visiting schooners already arrived will join the event. The public is invited to purchase tickets aboard participating schooners. Check various schooner websites for ticketing details.
Friday, Sept 3
All Day – The SCHOONERS ARRIVE – Gloucester Harbor with shoreside viewing
Historic Gloucester Harbor sets the scene for the arrival of over 2 dozen schooners throughout the day and. Spend the day viewing these wonderful vessels filling our harbor. Details of schooner arrival times will be provided as possible via social media.
6:00 to 10:00pm – Gloucester Block Party – Main Street, Gloucester
Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and local businesses roll out the red carpet on Main Street for Gloucester Schooner Festival with a street party! Shopping, food, entertainment, and fun are on the agenda all evening.
Maritime Heritage Day – 10:00am to 4:00pm – Maritime Gloucester, 23 Harbor Loop
The heart of land-based activities is Maritime Heritage Day! Maritime Gloucester opens its campus for a day of maritime heritage, live demonstrations, schooner sails, family fun, and food. Plan your day at Maritime Gloucester to be part of this historic year. See the full Maritime Heritage Day schedule
International Dory Committee Exhibition – 9:00 to 11:00am – Maritime Gloucester, 23 Harbor Loop –
*NEW THIS YEAR!*
We are excited to have the International Dory Race Committee be part of our 37th Annual Gloucester Schooner Festival in 2021. As we celebrate the 101st anniversary of the International Fisherman’s Race, we honor the heritage of the International Dory Races that coincided with the IFR since 1923. At 9:00am, the committee will run an exhibition race from Maritime Gloucester Pier toward the historic Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory and back. At 10:00am, visiting schooner crews will join for a second round of exhibition races. Solomon Jacobs Park will be a great viewing location.
Schooner Viewing and Deck Tours! – 10:00am to 4:00pm –
Thanks to generous support from our sponsors, we are again able to provide a visitor-based dockside experience that puts the public on schooners for deck tours. Public viewing will take place at Maritime Gloucester’s pier and at I4C2. This is a free option for the public, but donations for Gloucester Schooner Festival are appreciated to support this experience.
Gertrude L. Thebaud Pennant Viewing – 10:00am to 4:00pm – Maritime Gloucester, 23 Harbor Loop
*NEW THIS YEAR ONLY!*
For the first time in over 50 years, the Gertrude L. Thebaud Pennant will be displayed live at Maritime Gloucester’s Gorton’s Seafoods Gallery. This 25ft by 11ft pennant was proudly flown on the Gertrude L. Thebaud and is a site to behold in pure scale. After a small amount of work, we are once more able to hang this priceless piece of history for a limited time for public viewing.
Schooner Tour by Water – SOLD OUT – Gloucester Harbor Tours, Solomon Jacobs Park
Gloucester Harbor Tours teams up with Gloucester Schooner Festival to provide a narrated tour of the Schooners at the dock and on their moorings. This water-based tour will give ticketed customers a chance to hear about local maritime history and view these vessels from a unique perspective. This is a fun way for groups to experience the Gloucester Schooner Festival.
6:30 to 10:30pm – Concert on Stacy Boulevard
Live music and light effects light up the night overlooking the harbor on Stacy Boulevard.
The night sky lights up with the annual fireworks display over Stage Fort Park. Get on a schooner charter, watch from your boat, or enjoy from nearly anywhere in the city, this spectacle is a great way to enjoy Schooner Festival.
Parade of Sail – 10:00am to 12:00pm – Gloucester Harbor, Stacey Boulevard and Eastern Point viewing
The entire fleet of schooners joins together for a Parade of Sail not to be missed! Whether you get aboard a schooner or watch from the shore, this is a memorable experience for all. Prime viewing areas are Stacy Boulevard, Stage Fort Park, and Eastern Point. On the Boulevard, our Festival Chair Daisy Nell Collinson, Michael Costello, and Maritime Gloucester Historian Justin Demetri will provide live commentary. Schooners proceed from the Inner Harbor, past the Fisherman’s Memorial on Stacy Boulevard, to the race starting area off Eastern Point.
11:00 am to 1:30pm – Shuttle Bus to Eastern Point Light
Catch the CATA shuttle from Eastern Point Gate (Eastern Point Boulevard at Farrington Ave) to watch the start of the Mayor’s Race. Free of charge, courtesy of Cape Ann Transportation Authority
Mayor’s Cup Race – 1:00pm to 4:00pm – Massachusetts Bay off Gloucester
The Premier Event – The Mayor’s Races! This year’s schooners match up in small, medium, and large categories for a reach-reach competition viewing for the Esperanto Cup, The Ned Cameron Trophy, and The Betty Ramsey Award.
Monday, Sept 6 – Labor Day
Rain Date for Heritage Day or Race. Maritime Gloucester open from 10 to 4pm
Schooner Challenge aboard the Thomas Lannon with Redbird, Thomas Story, and Ardelle
I could only locate two chicks at Cape Hedge Beach. Perhaps one is off foraging on his own. Hopefully he will be spotted later today. I am so sorry to say though that it is not unusual for chicks to become separated from their family during a storm (or fireworks!).
Cape Hedge chicks
Our two-day-old pair of chicks at Good Harbor are doing wonderfully and spent the early morning foraging and thermosnuggling. One still has his little egg tooth, which typically falls off after the first or second day. The parents are awesome and going after very gull and crow in their ever changing territory. I didn’t see little fledgling and Handsome down by #3, but spent most of the morning with the new teeny tinies.
Jane shares that she and Maggie spotted a deer at GHB this morning, how wonderful!!
Today we are celebrating Charlotte’s fourth birthday so I will be home but tied up with family.
Thank you so very much to everyone for your continued dedication and big hearts.
The one day old and two newest members of the Cape Ann PiPls club are doing beautifully. Mom, Dad, and the teeny tinies were foraging in the wrack. Dad and Mom both went after a Herring Gull that flew in a little too close for comfort. Despite the parent’s best efforts to incubate, the last egg will not hatch and that is not entirely unusual, especially for a nest this late in the season.
Our beautiful plumpling-almost-fledged-30-day-old chick, and Dad, were running along the length of the beach and too, finding lots to eat in the wrack.
Cape Hedge chicks were also enjoying the beautiful peace and quiet of a misty morning beach. Too wet to bring cameras today, but here is a sequence of one of the Cape Hedge chicks capturing a large insect several days ago.
Enjoy this perfect for shorebird chick rearing weather. Hopefully the worst of Elsa will stay off shore.
Lots to share – Heidi wrote that she watched our GHB chick take flight for several feet. Hooray! Many, many thanks to Susan for filling in for Heidi, who did a wonderful job and is a joy to talk with, and it’s so nice to have Heidi back. Heidi remarked what a difference a week makes in growth and development.
Proud Dad and 30 day old fledgling
The chicks are hatching at the Salt Island end of the beach!!! This is phenomenal, to have two successful nests at Good Harbor Beach.
It’s going to be a tough situation at this end of the beach and we have myriad questions, namely will the family try to make the super long trek to the Creek on hot, busy beach days to forage?
Mom and Dad are taking turns snuggling the two chicks that have hatched. The third egg has yet to hatch. We’ll check back at the end of the day.
I met several lovely couples and families at Cape Hedge this morning. Everyone is super interested in the Plovers, just as they are at GHB. All three chicks there are thriving, foraging in the tidal flats and between the popples, running for the shelter of the rocks when the occasional dog comes near, and staying relatively close to each other. A smart little one completely flattened in the sand as the Barn Swallows swooped low across the flats.
Two of the three Cape Hedge chicks navigating the popples
I was hoping the Ambassadors would have a little break between looking out for the Nautilus Road chicks and the Salt Island chicks. We are losing several Ambassadors during this flux. I have either a very rotten summer cold or the flu and am not able to take on extra shifts this week. Please email if you would like to be a Piping Plover Ambassador – email@example.com. You will meet the nicest, most kind hearted group of people.
Thank you to our Cape Ann community and Ambassadors. It’s going to take a village to fledge all these chicks!
Only one chick and Dad were feeding in the flats this morning. The take happened yesterday when Jill was watching the chicks and Dad up by the dune beach grass. A Great Black-backed, quickly joined by a flock, swooped in and appeared to be fighting over a bag of chips when the GBB Gull grabbed the chick. Dad tried once again valiantly to rescue his chick but was unsuccessful.
Our GHB chicks have been growing right on schedule and are finding good foraging at the Creek and in the flats. It is incredibly heartbreaking to lose chicks at any age, but especially these older stronger chicks, one at 22 days and now one at 27 days.
No ambassador should feel responsible in any way. Everyone of you is doing a fantastic job and your dedication of time and energy is so very much appreciated and worthwhile. Takes can happen on anyone’s shift and as I said before it is tremendous for the collective knowledge of PiPls to know how these takes happen and why their numbers are dwindling.
Would these two deaths have occurred if Mom had not been injured? It’s very hard to know because up until a few days ago, she appeared to be managing her injury, while both supervising and defending her chicks, and feeding herself.
What we do know is that American Crows and Great Black-backed Gulls are wreaking havoc on Piping Plover populations on the North Shore. For example, Crows have eaten every egg and chick on Revere Beach (with the exception of one nest still intact) and gulls are eating nearly fully fledged birds.
Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls are relatively new breeders to the Massachusetts coastline. Up until 1912, they were primarily winter visitors. The first Herring Gull nest ever recorded was in 1912 and the first Great Black-backed Gull nest in 1930. Because of easy access to food, they are thriving. Gulls are colonial breeders. They have pushed terns off islands (traditional tern nesting areas), forcing the terns to breed in less desirable locations. I think until we can somehow manage the gull population, the threatened and endangered Massachusetts shorebird species will continue to struggle greatly and recovery will be painstakingly slow..
This weekend I watched a couple dump all the remains of their picnic in front of a gull in the GHB parking lot. The two laughed as an enormous flock suddenly appeared, dining and squabbling over on the garbage. Humans feeding gulls and crows is exacerbating the problem tenfold and dogs running on the beach, which forces the PiPl parents to stop tending nests and chicks to chase after the dogs, leaves the babies vulnerable to gull and crow takes.
Area #3 Dad and one remaining chick, 28 days old
On a brighter note, the three Cape Hedge chicks are all present and accounted for on this beautiful July morning. I am estimating they are twenty days old, not based on their size, but because of the first sighting submitted. The family was joined by two Great Blue Herons, until a photographer frightened the herons off the beach, which may be just as well because GBH eat Plovers, too.
Sally witnessed a most beautiful PiPl parenting moment last night, and it is one of the reasons why we all continue to work so hard for these tender tiny creatures. She writes, ” I found Dad and one chick at the Creek. Dad showed off his flying skills to the baby and then encouraged his chick to cross the creek from the island to the mainland. It was a wonderful experience to watch the communications between the two of them and to see the little one paddle across the creek.”
Thank you PiPl Ambassadors for all you are doing to help grow Cape Ann’s Plover population.
Yesterday we received a call from Rockport ACO Diane Corliss and Cape Hedge neighbor Bethany that there was a chick stranded near the ramp.
Sure enough, a teeny was isolated from the family and heading up the ramp to the lookout and parking area. I scoured the beach and quickly found Mom and Dad and one chick, then ran back to the little lost one, scooped him up, and holding him securely in my hands, we then ran back to the parents.
As I approached, the Mom piped a single warning pipe that we were too close. Hearing Mom pipe, that little tiny chick in my hands called out the loudest, sharpest, PEEP you have ever heard from a chick. Hearing the little guy peep, Mom and Dad both began fluttering and piping. Knowing all were aware of each other’s presence, I gently placed the chick in the sand, backed out cautiously, and within seconds, Dad was snuggling the tiny displaced bird.
The Cape Hedge chick that became separated from its Mom and Dad and siblings after the fireworks has been reunited and all three chicks were thremosnuggling and foraging this morning!
As my Rockport friend and wonderful conservationist Eric Hutchins wrote, this year at Cape Hedge is more triage than planning. Next year there will be a managed plan in place, possibly headed by Eric and friends, and we are looking forward to helping in any way.
I am sharing this story because we all need to be aware of the nesting shorebird’s presence on the beach however, no one should ever, ever touch a chick and could receive a vey hefty fine from the federal government by doing so. The chicks wander far and wide on the beach, but in this case, where the chick had been sepeartated from Mom and Dad for many hours, we felt it was urgent to get the family back together again The beachgoers did the right thing, initiating a call to their town’s ACO, in this instance, Diane Corliss.
Good morning PiPl Friends,
Lots to talk about this morning. First a huge shout out to Jonathan for the fantastic new ambassador lanyards – here’s beautiful Sally modeling – you can practically see these from a mile away. Many, many thanks to Jonathan – the green ones were awesome but these yellow and orange customized ones are fantabulous!! and I love the little bird 🙂Sally and our new custom ambassador lanyards!
Super Valliant Mom, Dad, and the two 26 day old chicks are all present and accounted for. Mom is not putting any weight on her bad leg. But she is foraging and doing a tremendous job supervising the chicks. I want to prepare everyone that Mom may very well lose her leg. This occasionally happens to shorebirds when there is a filament tightly wrapped. They do survive, and often go on with nicknames such as peg-leg (I don’t think I could bring myself to call our Mom that). We really hope this does not happen, but I just want to let everyone know.
It appears there was only one area where fireworks had been detonated at GHB; much, much improved over last year where fireworks were detonated next to, and within, the PiPl roped off refuge.
Good Harbor Beach 26 day old Piping Plovers
The nest at the Salt Island end of the beach is doing perfectly as expected. Dad was brooding and Mom was foraging at the incoming tide. To clarify, the nest is not on Salt Island, but at the Salt Island end of the beach, in area #1. No evidence of fireworks there.
Fireworks debris Cape Hedge
I could only find two chicks and Mom and Dad at Cape Hedge Beach this morning. If anyone sees the third, please write.
Sadly, the beach was littered with fireworks debris. It is not unusual to lose chicks, and adults, after a night of fireworks, especially as these were being detonated within feet of where the PiPls like to snuggle.
Cape Hedge Beach Dad thermosnuggling two chicks
Fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts. I wish towns would enforce this, especially where there are nesting Plovers. We are going to be more proactive on this front next year. Community, please, if you see people detonating fireworks at GHB or CHB, please call the police.
Last night I stopped in to check on ambassador Barbara and there were five dogs in the space of the twenty minutes that I was there. Three leashed and two not on leashes. Everytime the PiPls went to the shore to forage, they ran back in terror to the roped off refuge. Early morning and evening are ideal times for the PiPls to forage as there are fewer people on the beach. Very little foraging was taking place while much running away in fear was happening.
Barbara and dog owner – the dog owner was lovely and departed, not all are so kind
The problem is worse this year than last year. Last year we had the bold yellow signs in the parking lot and at the Witham Street end and we are still working on getting those reinstalled. Not everyone knows the rules, especially out of towners, air b and bers (is that a word), house guests, and hotel guests. The yellow signs really help, or at least compared to last year when we had the signs up, there were fewer dogs after hours.
Free wheeling pup in front of the PiPl refuge. Where was the owner?
I haven’t had time to read everyone’s emails from yesterday but will this afternoon. If there was anything pressing, please write again.
Jill, I can’t recall if you said you were covering the 11-12 and 2-4 times today as well as the weekend? It’s tough to tell if this is going to be a typical holiday beach day, but if anyone has some free time, please stop by in case, especially during mid-day. Thank you! Hurrying to write this as the youngest member of Team Plover is getting dropped off shortly.
Again, many thanks to Jonathan for the brilliant lanyards!!
Miraculously Little Chick and Dad were found at their home base snuggling on yet another chilly, foggy morning. Despite a second night of Good Harbor Beach Wild West activity, the duo were foraging and thermoregulating as is usual for these cooler days.
Jonathan and Sally stopped by the beach around 8pm and Tom and I about 8:30 pm and all appeared relatively calm and peaceful. I lost my phone in the sand and my sweet guy went back to GHB about an hour later to look for it where he found a bunch of kids INSIDE home base, lighting firecrackers. We both called the police, he from the beach and me from home, but after forty minutes he couldn’t wait any longer. The police dispatcher said they were dealing with over 100 phone calls about fireworks!!
Edited Note – Mayor Sefatia writes that the police were at GHB last night, but they also had to be at many, many other places as well. “We are lucky there were no fires or serious injuries and that the Plovers survived.”
And in trying to see the humor in a very challenging situation, she adds, our GHB PiPls must be Sicilian Plovers because they have such a high tolerance for screaming and loud noises 🙂 The threatened species roped off area was lined with the boxes of spent fireworks that you see in the photos above and below. What are these things?? I’ve been piling them up for trash removal but I wonder if it is even safe to handle.
What are solutions for next Fourth of July weekend if we have another late nest? Duncan had a great idea; perhaps hire a private police officer, or an off duty officer, to stay near PiPl home base on the nights of July 3rd and 4th.
Shelby is starting back to work on Monday. Thank you so very much Shelby, you were terrific and we so appreciate your help. Best, best wishes, starting back to work.
Little Chick thermoregulating on a chilly morning
Let’s keep our hopes up our little family makes it through the rest of the holiday weekend.
It’s the Wild West at Good Harbor Beach in the evening, even more so this year with coronavirus. Last night we heard an explosion so loud I didn’t believe it was fireworks. This morning at the entrance to the footbridge there was evidence of fireworks but I don’t know if this is what caused that extraordinary boom.
As are many wild and domesticated animals, Piping Plovers are extremely frightened by fireworks and I was just praying both would still be in their protected area. To make matters worse, there were remains of fireworks surrounding their home base area.
Gratefully so, both Dad and Little Chick were present and just fine. The pair made a beeline for the Creek as soon as they heard the raking machine. Our PiPls have caught a tiny bit of a break with the overcast Fourth of July weather, hopefully cloudy skies will continue throughout the weekend.
Do you think someone actually carted the lifeguard chair down to the Beach Club or did the tide carry it?
The “never ending” was my favorite part of the Gloucester Schooner Festival/Labor Day fireworks, but it was all super spectacular. An adorable little girl, Belle, was standing next to me while filming the fireworks. At one point during the show Belle asked her Mom if the sharks and mermaids were watching the firework.
The view from the Beauport Hotel restaurant looking towards Stage Fort Park. Happy 4th of July!
Red, White, and Blue Grand Finale
I thought the fireworks this fourth extra stupendous. If you agree, the Gloucester Fireworks Committee is looking for donations, small and large, for the fireworks display during Schooner Festival over Labor Day Weekend. If you haven’t already contributed, they would appreciate your help. You can donate by clicking here or sending a check to:
The Gloucester Fund
45 Middle Street
Gloucester, MA 01930
Please make the notation on your check “Fireworks.”