Beautiful to see Easter morning’s full Pink Moon descending behind the twin towers of City Hall
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.
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.
Male and Female Gadwalls, American Wigeons, Black Ducks, and Buffleheads foraging for aquatic vegetation
More spring scenes
Orange-crowned Warbler preening
Ocean effect snow creates a magical scene at Hammond Castle.
Gloucester’s most magical of castles-by-the-sea
My daughter Liv and I love the Cloisters in Manhattan and it’s so interesting to learn that Rockefeller, Hammond’s friend and peer, was so intrigued by Hammond’s new castle, he was inspired to build the Cloisters!!
The Harborview Inn always appears lovely and well kept and I often want to stop and take a photo of their summer gardens. The Inn looked especially beautiful in the fresh fallen snow and I couldn’t pass without stopping this time.
The Harborview Inn is open all year round. For more information email at email@example.com and check out their live webcam from the front porch that faces the boulevard.
The rain put the kibosh on viewing the full lunar eclipse, but happily the skies cleared fairly quickly to catch what I think is the tail end. You can see in the photo below that the Earth is casting a reddish shadow on the lower right side of the moon. The Moon had a lovely overall golden rusty-reddish hue as it was descending over the Harbor and behind Our Lady of Good Voyage.
I took a bunch of photos of the beautiful Beaver Moon over the past few days, the skies have been so cooperative!, and will try to find the time to post this weekend.
A very berry morning to you!
During early morning walks it has been a joy to observe the many beautiful songbirds breakfasting on the array of autumn foods readily available, truly a smorgasbord of seeds, berries, and fruits.
My wild creature habitat radar has been especially drawn to a wonderful spot, so nicknamed ‘Four Berries Corners.’ Always alive at this time of year with chattering songbirds, there is a lovely crabapple tree, bittersweet, a small tree with black berries, privet I think, and two scraggly, but highly productive, Eastern Red Cedar trees.
In thinking about the about the most successful habitats for songbirds, a combination of seed-producing wildflowers, grasses, and garden flowers are planted along with primarily native flowering and fruiting trees and shrubs. The shrubs and trees also play the important role of providing nesting habitat and protective cover. The photo collection is a small sampling, and meant for design inspiration.
I think perhaps because we are enjoying more freedom than we have had over the past year and a half, coupled with delightfully balmy weather, this year’s All Hallows Eve was especially magical and festive. I love how our East Gloucester neighbors celebrate the evening. The surrounding streets become a spread-out block party of sorts, with families and friends traveling in large groups, kids running rambunctiously about, sometimes with the adults, sometimes not, lots of laughter, catching up, treats, and funny tricks. And it seemed as though everyone stepped up their decorations, too.
We love making our ofrenda, not only as a tribute to loved ones that have passed, but I think of our offering as a way to express love for the beautiful creatures in our lives.
Celebrating Dia de Muertos brings back cherished memories of my sweet brother, who died way too young. Our beloved and generous grandmother, Mimi, was an artist who provided tremendous inspiration to me during her long, full, life well-lived. I think too of my husband’s best friend and song writing partner, Brian, who also died needlessly and way too young.
Joyful thoughts turn to the carved wooden creatures representative of a Piping Plover, Snowy Owl, and our crazy, fun, affectionate cat Cosmos, who passed away at 27 years old. This year we added a wonderfully thoughtful gift from my friend Mary Weissblum, a very realistic hand painted Monarch.
To add to the magic, the three Monarchs that eclosed during the wildly windy nor’easter, along with a fourth that emerged early Halloween morning, were released. Mid-day on the 31st, the four began shivering and quivering, as if waking from a deep sleep. When muscles were sufficiently warmed, they all took flight in a southwesterly direction.
Safe travels Monarca!
Bridges Between Life and Death ~ Celebrating Halloween – Dia de Muertos – All Souls Day – All Saints Day ~ October 31st through November 2nd
Snapshot from a recent afternoon. Love these autumn skies!Ocean House Hotel
Please join us for a free live premiere of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly at the Shalin Liu on Thursday, September 23rd, at 7pm. I hope to see you there! For more information go here.
Beautiful doe and two fawns find a treasure trove of fallen apples –
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On Monday morning Good Harbor Beach daily walker, Bill, spotted a Horseshoe Crab at the shoreline. It was burrowing in the sand and heading out by the time I ran over to photograph. When I wrote about this briefly in a Piping Plover post, Tom Schaefer shared that he had recently seen a pair mating at Good Harbor Beach! And Martha Cooney wrote to say she and her brother had seen a Horseshoe Crab a Smiths Cove.
Horseshoe Crabs are seen at many of our local beaches and inlets but I think it is a fairly rare occurrence at GHB. If you have ever seen a Horseshoe Crab at Good Harbor Beach, please write and let us know. And we’d love to know also of any recent sightings around the north shore. Thank you!
From Mass Audubon –
Horseshoe Crab Massachusetts Conservation Efforts
Horseshoe crabs have been crawling ashore in Massachusetts for about 350 million years, and they look the same now as they did when living side-by-side with dinosaurs.
In fact, horseshoe crabs are commonly referred to as “living fossils” because they are one of the most ancient creatures still living today.
The species that currently calls Massachusetts home is the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus). Unfortunately, the Commonwealth’s population of these incredible marine animals is in decline and facing increasing threats to their survival.
Horseshoe crabs are one of the most fascinating creatures in our oceans!
They have excellent eyesight thanks to 5 pairs of eyes, and can see just as well at night as they can during the day. Horseshoe crabs also have a wide field of vision, which means they can see their surroundings in all directions—in front, behind, both sides, and above!
Photoreceptors on their tails are sensitive to circadian rhythms, enabling horseshoe crabs to “tell time” by tracking the hours of daylight. Large chemical receptors on their legs gather sensory input in much the same way as insect antennae.
Mating & Nesting
In spring, adult crabs make their way onto beaches during full moons to mate. Females usually only come ashore to nest for a single tide cycle each year. Males use their front clasping claws to physically attach themselves to their chosen mate, and they will stay attached for the entire tide cycle (or longer!). The female digs shallow nests about 5″-10″ deep in the sand, where she then lays 2-5 clusters that each consist of anywhere from 2,000-4,000 eggs.
Development takes 2-4 weeks, during which the eggs will molt four times before finally hatching. Once hatched, larvae remain in their clusters in the sand, not feeding, for several more weeks. They then molt into tiny, spiny juveniles and usually swim out to sea at the next moon cycle. Young crabs will spend anywhere from a few weeks to a full year near the beach where they hatched before heading out to new waters.
In Massachusetts, horseshoe crabs are harvested to be used as bait for the eel and conch fisheries. Additionally, their blood is the only source of a chemical that’s used to test medical devices and injectable drugs for toxins. When harvested for medical use, the crabs are caught, bled, and then returned to the water.
Increased harvesting of these fascinating animals threatens their population. The problem has been compounded by closures of horseshoe crab fisheries in New Jersey, New York, and other neighboring states. As a result, there is increased harvest pressure on the dwindling populations of horseshoe crabs in Massachusetts waters.
It’s crucial that state managers have a robust estimate of the number of crabs in Massachusetts before they can set appropriate harvest quotas to ensure a sustainable fishery. As a first response, Massachusetts has reduced the annual quota for horseshoe crabs and prohibited harvests around full moons from late April through June.
Research & Ways to Help
Mass Audubon has been conducting long-term surveys of spawning horseshoe crabs on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard since 2001 in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island, the National Park Service, the MA Division of Marine Fisheries, and several other organizations and institutions.
At our Felix Neck and Wellfleet Bay wildlife sanctuaries, conservation staff work with trained community science volunteers in the spring and early summer to count adult horseshoe crabs spawning at several sites on and around the new and full moons at high tide.
The data collected during these surveys is submitted to the MA Division of Marine Fisheries, which uses the information to determine the best conservation and management practices for Massachusetts horseshoe crabs and the horseshoe crab fishery.
We invite you to join our efforts to help preserve these very special marine animals! Volunteers are needed every year during April, May, and June to count horseshoe crabs as they come onto beaches to spawn at high tide during the new and full moons.
Heading out to sea
Just as did Robert McCloskey’s Beacon Hill Mr. and Mrs. Mallard Duck hatch eight ducklings, so too did our Niles Pond pair. Meet Luck, Chuck, Puck, Cluck, Stuck, Huck, Oouck, and Muck.
The family foraged for seaweed in the rough surf of the Cove before crossing the berm. The ducklings bathed, preened, and swam in fresh water Niles Pond. Mrs Mallard found a cozy patch of dried reeds to take a nap, which lasted all of two minutes before the little quackers were back in the water.
The past week I have been astounded with the array of warblers that we are seeing in our garden and on walks in the neighborhood. The big attraction in the garden is the native pink flowering dogwood tree (Cornus florida ‘Rubra’), my neighbor’s maple tree and the tiny insects feeding there, and our funky weathered old bird bath. There has been so much activity in the bird bath we are changing the water several times a day! Perhaps the travelers are dusty and dirty and appreciate the fresh bathing water.
One of the most fun to see was an American Redstart and the new-to-my-eyes Bay-breasted Warbler.
We also had a trio of black and white birds for an afternoon, the Black and White Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and a female Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Black and White Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Yellow-rumped Warbler
There’s much that could be written about each species. I’m posting these photos for ID purposes in case anyone else has noticed a recent influx of warblers in your backyard or neighborhood. Please write if you do. Thank you!
Common Yellowthroat taking a bath
Sharing this beautiful arrangement sent to us by our daughter Liv. The bouquet looks exquisite no matter which way you turn the vase, and is becoming more beautiful with each passing day. The fabulous combination of scents – of roses, peonies, and Oriental lilies – are wafting through our home. Created by Audrey’s Flower Shop.
The dead Minke Whale that washed ashore Friday at Folly Cove is still there, although his carcass has shifted further in shore. His body is torn and weather beaten and appears to have been tossed around quite a bit before washing ashore.
Wear boots with good treads if you plan to cross the slippery rocks to go see.
Several years ago, Al Bezanson shared the photo below of a Minke Whale stranded at Rocky Neck (the whale escaped).
Gloucester Daily Times
April 15, 2021
The public celebration of St. Peter’s Fiesta will be cancelled for 2021.
As headlines continue to spread the news of the COVID-19 surges in both the United States and overseas, the St. Peter’s Fiesta Committee had to make the call to cancel this year’s festivities because of the uncertainty and the potential health risk.
But the novena – the nine-day prayer service –will take place virtually again this year thanks to the efforts of the group of women who lead this effort each year. The St. Peter’s Fiesta Committee will make details known as the novena organizers’ effort evolves in the coming weeks.
“We want to keep everyone safe and we don’t want to add to the problem,” said St. Peter’s Fiesta Committee President Joe Novello. “It wasn’t an easy decision but we believe it was the only and right decision. We still have to be patient.”
READ the full story hereAlthough Fiesta is cancelled, the Novena will take place virtually