The West Coast wildfires continue to cast a strange and eerie haze over Eastern skies. The sun appears redder and later in the sky in the morning and disappears behind a thick gray haze earlier in the afternoon.Gloucester Harbor Cape Pond Ice Sunset
Life at the Edge of the Sea – Cedar Waxwing Baby Masked Bandits
For over a month I have been filming a flock of Cedar Waxwings. Exquisitely beautiful creatures, with their combination of soft buffy and brilliantly punctuated wing patterning, along with graceful agility, it’s been easy to fall in love with these birds and they have become a bit of an obsession.
I filmed some wonderful scenes and will share the photos and story as soon as there is time but in the meantime I wanted to share these photos of a juvenile Cedar Waxwing so you know what to look for. Waxwings are often found high up in the treetops. They are most easily seen on limbs bare of leaves. Their repetitious soft trilling song gives them away and if you learn the sound you will begin to see Cedar Waxwings everywhere. They have an extended breeding period in our region and because it is so late in the season, this juvenile may be one of a second brood.
While I was shooting for my short short story, the Waxwing flock was mostly on the ground in a wildflower patch devouring insects. Cedar Waxwings are more typically berry-eating frugivores. During the summer they add insects to their diet and I think it may have to do with keeping the hatchling’s bellies filled. It wasn’t until they moved back up into the treetops that this little guy began appearing amongst the flock. He has the same masked face, but the breast is softly streaked. You can see the yellow feathers tips beginning to grow in.
Green Herons eat a wide variety of fish and small creatures including minnows, sunfish, catfish, pickerel, carp, perch, gobies, shad, silverside, eels, goldfish, insects, spiders, crustaceans, snails, amphibians, reptiles, and rodents. Although found throughout the US but, it is a species in decline in most regions, except California, where the bird appears to be increasing. Green Herons breed in Massachusetts coastal and inland wetlands.
My days are full, full to overflowing sometimes, with taking care of Charlotte and family, film, and design projects. Though there isn’t day a day that goes by that I don’t think of my life as a gift. Daily I try to fit in a walk, always with a camera slung over each shoulder. How blessed are we on Cape Ann, especially during the pandemic, to have such beauty for our eyes to see and our hearts to travel. I can’t keep up with sharing footage and that will all go towards larger projects anyway, and I am behind with sharing photos. Perhaps I should make these walk photos a series – ‘life at the edge of the sea,’ or something along those lines.
Six schooners sailed about Gloucester Harbor Sunday morning. Oh how we all missed this year’s Schooner Festival! But it was glorious to see these sailing beauties out in the harbor together at the same time. I was at Niles Beach Sunday morning and raced home to get my camera. The parade was coming to an end by the time I returned, but how lucky to catch a glimpse of Cape Ann Schooners Redbird, Thomas E. Lannon, and Ardelle lined up.
I am so excited to share that the New Haven Documentary Film Festival begins on Tuesday the 18th. Because of the pandemic, much of the festival is online. Beauty on the Wing will begin airing at 11am on the 21st. There is also an interview about the making of Beauty on the Wing with myself and Karyl Evans.
Very unfortunately and yet another consequence of the pandemic, the films in the program are geoblocked, which means they can only be viewed in Connecticut. Not to worry though, as soon as it is safe, we will have a local premiere and I am very much looking forward to that!
For any of my readers in Connecticut, if you are interested in purchasing a ticket, please GO HERE
To learn more about the New Haven Documentary Film Festival, click here.
See the NHdocs 2020 trailer here (with lots of clips from Beauty on the Wing!) –
Hello PiPl Friends and Ambassadors,
It took awhile to discover where Marshmallow was this morning. He was at the wrack line calling nearly continuously with his soft melodious piping call, (which is how I was able to locate him), before then flying off over the dunes. I found him on my return walk, preening and fluffing at the PiPls favorite piece of driftwood within the enclosure. Note that is the very same driftwood that our PiPl Mom and Dad had their very first nest scrape at, way back in April!
Heidi noticed the pair of Semipalmated Plovers as well; it’s one of the first sightings of Semipalmated Plovers at GHB this summer and is a sure sign that the summer/fall migration is underway. Last year we had an unusual occurrence, Mystery Chick – a Semipalmated Plover fledgling appear suddenly and foraged for a bit with our three PiPl chicks.
Good Harbor Beach, and all of Cape Ann’s shorelines, continue to provide an extraordinary window into the world of migrating creatures. Despite 2020 being such a challenging summer on so very many levels, a saving grace has been our Piping Plovers and having the joy of meeting and getting to know our Ambassadors, and all of Marshmallow’s friends.
Semipalmated Plover fledgling, “Mystery Chick”
Heather Atwood updated us that the Cape Ann Today PiPl episode is not going to air until Friday or Monday and as soon as I know, will let you know.
Have a great day and thank goodness for today’s cooler temperatures 🙂
Although St. Peter’s Fiesta has been canceled this year due to the global pandemic, if you would like to pray the novena to St. Peter, Day Nine is now available on YouTube.
The beautiful voices of the novena are Jean Marie Linquata, Ann Sanfillippo, Joanne Aiello, Nina Groppo, Grace Cusumano, Caryn Ryder, and Faye Quinlan
To view, click on the arrow in the center of the video and share at [https://youtu.be/eWxUHbV2WSI]
If you would like to make a donation for future St. Peter’s Fiesta, checks may be made out to: St. Peter’s Fiesta Committee
Send to: St. Peter’s Fiesta Committee
PO Box 3105￼￼
See below photos from the 2019 closing night novena and procession to Beach Court
Although St. Peter’s Fiesta has been canceled this year due to the global pandemic, if you would like to pray the novena to St. Peter, Day Eight is now available on YouTube. My friend Patty wrote and said she is finding listening very soothing and I couldn’t agree more. Please share.
The beautiful voices of the novena are Jean Marie Linquata, Ann Sanfillippo, Joanne Aiello, Nina Groppo, Grace Cusumano, Caryn Ryder, and Faye Quinlan
To view, click on the arrow in the center of the video and share at [https://youtu.be/WVY51yyAWM8]
Photos below of Saint Peter’s Fiesta Sunday morning procession, 2019
Although St. Peter’s Fiesta has been canceled this year due to the global pandemic, if you would like to pray the novena to St. Peter, Day Seven is now available on YouTube. My friend Patty wrote and said she is finding listening very soothing and I couldn’t agree more. Please share.
To view, click on the arrow in the center of the video and share at [https://youtu.be/OusqfWG3bSA]
Photos below from Laura Ventimiglia’s Nonna, What is Saint Peter’s Fiesta? 2019 Gloucester Stage production.
Although St. Peter’s Fiesta has been canceled this year due to the global pandemic, if you would like to pray the novena to St. Peter, Day Six is now available on YouTube. Please share.
To view, click on the arrow in the center of the video and share at [https://youtu.be/_hSW-zo_wS8]
The following batch of photos, “Confetti Kids,” are from the 2019 Friday night opening celebration
The following batch of photos are from the 2019 mass at Saint Peter’s Square
Although St. Peter’s Fiesta has been canceled this year due to the global pandemic, if you would like to pray the novena to St. Peter, Day Five is now available on YouTube. Please share. To view, click on the arrow in the center of the video and share at [https://youtu.be/Kkf9bKlAmmI]
For Day Three, photos from the 2019 novena were posted here. The following batch of photos are from the 2018 novena.
Although St. Peter’s Fiesta has been canceled this year due to the global pandemic, if you would like to pray the novena to St. Peter, Day Four is now available on YouTube. Please share. To view, click on the arrow in the center of the video and share at [https://youtu.be/Kkf9bKlAmmI]
Snapshots from Novena 2018 –
Although St. Peter’s Fiesta has been canceled this year due to the global pandemic, if you would like to pray the novena to St. Peter, Day Three is now available on YouTube. Please share. To view, click on the arrow in the center of the video and share at [https://youtu.be/Gdfg1q-0oYM]
Snapshots from Novena 2019
Although the St. Peter’s Fiesta has been canceled this year due to the global pandemic, if you would like to pray the novena to St. Peter, Day One is now available on YouTube. Please share at [https://youtu.be/Ol2_s7CajoU]
Hello Friends, update on the Piping Plovers at Good Harbor Beach and other PiPl news-
First, a bit of sad news. We lost the second nest at Good Harbor Beach, which was located at area #1, the opposite end of the nest at #3, down by Salt Island Road. It only had two eggs and the exclosure installation was scheduled for Monday.
Good Harbor Beach Nest at Area #1
There is no way of knowing what happened because it was very windy yesterday and the tracks of predator or pet have been blown away.
There is the strong likelihood that the pair will renest and they appear to be making attempts to however, it is getting rather late in the year. This would be truly historic to have two nests at GHB if they do renest.
The good news is that our pair at #3 are coming along beautifully. They are constantly brooding the eggs and are doing an awesome job defending their “territory” against avian species (real and imagined predators) that fly onto the scene including sparrows, finches, Mockingbirds, gulls, and Crows. No bird is too small or too large to escape defense of their territory.
Good Harbor Beach Papa Plover brooding eggs.
A bit of amazing news –there is a Piping Plover nest for the first time ever in Quincy! More to come on that 🙂
Massachusetts is at the forefront of Piping Plover recovery and we can all be so proud of our local and state agencies and how they are managing beaches for both people and wildlife to share, despite the global pandemic. Just some of the organizations include Mass Wildlife, Massachusetts Department of Conservation, Essex Greenbelt, The Trustees of Reservations, Parker River National Wildlife USFWS, and many, many more. Thank you Massachusetts Piping Plover partners for all you are doing to help this tiny threatened shorebird.
On a separate note, over the past several days I have been filming a beautiful nest of four PiPl chicks hatching at a location in the area. It was amazing to witness, so very life reaffirming, and pure joy to see. Hopefully I’ll have time tomorrow to share more of the photos.
In this one photo, you can see the hole where the chick is just starting to peck its way out (far left egg). I had lost track of the days with this particular family and only stopped by to check, not realizing it was “the day.” I said to myself, I don’t recall seeing that big black spot on that egg. After studying it for a few moments, I realized there was movement beneath the hole in the shell. Hatching was about to begin at any moment!
Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer shares all three eggs are still in the nest.
From ECGA website –
Update May 28, 2020 – Not much new to report. The incubation phase for Annie and Squam continues. Squam is still bringing in numerous fresh fish daily, mostly river herring but the occassional small striped bass as well. One we roll into June the count down is on for hatching.
Annie or Squam? One of the pair of Cape Ann’s resident Ospreys (hopefully a family soon).
I was at one of the beaches where documenting the Piping Plovers and noticed a little chocolate brown duckling shape smack in the middle of a wide sandy beach, sitting all alone. I moved closer to the duckling and it ran towards me, peeping and piping all the while. The little thing would run pell mell through the flats and then plop down exhaustedly. It appeared to be a Common Eider duckling but, not having seen any that small, I wasn’t entirely sure. I looked for its Mom but could not find her.
To my utter surprise, a short time later and while I was still trying to figure out what to do, a second duckling appeared. It, too, was moving in the same direction, running and plopping. I scooped both ducklings up and put them together and they immediately began to cuddle and snuggle with each other. A sweet couple with a baby agreed to watch the pair while I went further down the beach looking for Mom.
I only found a dead female Common Eider and decided these babies were never going to make it on their own. A quick call to wildlife rehabilitator Jodi from Cape Ann Wildlife and she referred me to her friend Hilary, who she said would take the ducklings out on her boat to search for, and possibly join, another Common Eider family.
One thing you should know about Common Eiders is that Common Eider Moms, along with non-breeding “Aunties,” band together for protection. The individual broods come together to form a crèche, which may include as many as 150 ducklings!
The sweet couple and I packed sand at the bottom of one of Charlotte’s beach pails that were conveniently stored in the car’s trunk, placed the ducklings ever so carefully, and then gently covered with an unused diaper. I drove home with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand applying slight pressure to the diaper. I was just imagining what would be the outcome of the two rambunctious little fellows escaped in my car.
Stopping for a minute at our home to grab a larger container because I was again imagining the little escape artists, this time running around on a boat. Husband Tom had packed a crate and Charlotte had a brief, but squealing-with-joy moment.
I arrived at Harbor Loop just before sunset and after quick introductions, Hilary escorted the ducklings and I to her skiff. Pulling out of her slip and passing the Schooner Ardelle two minutes hadn’t gone by when eagle-eyed Hilary spotted a crèche! She zoomed the boat over to the other side of the Harbor at Pirate’s Lane and sure enough there was a small flock of five ducklings and several adult female Common Eiders.
Slowly and expertly Hilary steered the boat towards the flock. I placed the ducklings in the water however, they all began to swim in opposite directions. It looked bad for a few minutes but Hilary turned the boat around and ever so gently corralled the birds until the flock was headed back toward the orphans. The two were peeping continuously and as the flock grew closer, the adults could hear their peeps. The Moms and Aunties began craning their necks and swimming towards the peeps. After only another brief moment, it appeared flock and babies were united. We didn’t hang back very long because the boat we thought may distress the birds.
I am happy to report that the following morning I walked down to the bottom of our hill and found the crèche of Eiders. Guess how many ducklings were swimming with the Moms and Aunties? Seven!
Hilary was simply amazing. She was ready at a moment’s notice to help. This was actually the third time she has reunited Common Eider ducklings.
Many in the community already know and love Hilary for her GHS sailing program, but for me, it was the first time meeting her and it was completely my joy. Thank you, thank you Hilary.You are the best!
Currently Jodi has some little Wood Ducklings in her care. Please consider donating to Cape Ann Wildlife. Who would I have called if not for Jodi, and who else would know to ask Hilary for her kind assistance? Visit the Cape Ann Wildlife Facebook page here. Thank you!
During these days of isolation, GMGI staff have been working behind the scenes to keep their colony of sea urchins at 417 Main Street happy and healthy. They are excited to announce that last week, GMGI Scientist Amanda Baryshyan welcomed the arrival of several baby sea urchins to the GMGI family!
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 10am – 4pm,
Saturday and Sunday 8am – 2pm
978-281-7707 for pre orders. 🐟🇺🇸🦞
All products are fresh uncooked and landed from our local fishing vessels.
Located in the Food Truck Fisherman’s Wharf parking lot.
Drive Up orders welcomed.
Call ahead orders 978-281-7707 during operating hours.
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LOCATED @37 Rogers St. Gloucester MA 01930
Note: Our products are different from typical fish markets. We promote our abundant and locally landed seafood. Top quality, fair prices, a win win for our community. Thanks for your support.