Early morning photos from around Gloucester after yesterday’s beautiful snowfall
More wild wave clips from the February 2nd Nor’easter
Good Harbor wildly beautiful waves
Gloucester’s February 2nd Nor’easter brought rain, high winds, and area flooding. Both Nautilus Road and Atlantic Road were temporarily closed at high tide due to over wash. The waves along the back shore were tremendous!!
Hurricane Teddy delivered wild waves and flooding along Gloucester’s shoreline edges.The GHB parking lot was completely flooded, the high water mark was up to the very base of the dunes, but the footbridge came through with flying colors (last I checked and thanks to Gloucester’s awesome DPW).
Photos from Good Harbor Beach, the Back Shore, Brace Cove, and Eastern Point.
“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” – Oscar Wilde
This morning on my way out I saw the most gratifying sight. A Red Fox KIT was carrying a captured rabbit in its mouth! Why so happy to see this? Because it means our neighborhood Red Fox family is dispersing, the Mama and Papa fox have taught the kits well, and that the young ones are able to hunt for themselves! The moment was so fleeting I wasn’t able to take a photo but the sighting reminded me that I hadn’t finished posting the last batch of photos from the week with the Good Harbor Beach Red Fox Family.
Face to face encounter with a kit – I was very quietly filming his siblings when I heard a faint scraping/rustling noise behind me and turned to see this curious one, perched on a garage roof above looking down. We were only several feet apart and for many good long moments we were able to examine each other eye to eye before he scampered off the roof. Dad Red Fox
I just want to add for the benefit of people who think Red Fox are a nuisance and may even be a bit frightened by their presence. Red Fox are solitary animals (unless denning). They do not hunt in packs and are about half to two-thirds the size of the Eastern Coyote, also seen in our neighborhoods. Their diet consists largely of small rodents, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, fruits, berries, and insects. Generally speaking, they do not go after people’s cats and dogs.
A tremendous plus to having Red Fox in our community is that they are the best hunters of mice and chipmunks, far better than Eastern Coyotes. Chipmunks and mice are the greatest vectors (carriers) of Lyme disease. So the presence of Red Fox is a good thing to help cut down on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Because Red Fox compete with Eastern Coyotes for habitat, and because Coyotes eat fox kits, Red Fox are denning closer to human dwellings as they deem it a safer choice than denning where they may encounter a Coyote.
The one drawback to the presence of Red Fox is that they also eat chickens. I am sure. you have heard the phrase don’t allow the ‘fox to guard the henhouse.’ The root of that phrase comes from the fact that unlike many of their competing predators, fox cache their food, meaning they will kill a large number, and then hide the food, which has been known to happen at henhouses.
Here are some fun facts I learned about Red Fox while photographing and filming the Good Harbor Beach fox family –
Red Fox are super fast runners that can reach speeds of nearly 30 miles per hour. And they can also leap more than six feet high!
The Red Fox was originally thought to be introduced from Europe in the 19th century, recent DNA tests have shown that these foxes are indeed native to North America.
To keep warm in winter, the Red Fox uses its bushy tail.
Enjoy any fox sightings, Red or Gray, and please let me know if you are continuing to see them in your neighborhood.
From Gloucester Beaches –
As a result of the storms that traveled through the area on Wednesday, our weekly test results were not favorable and therefore the creek at Good Harbor Beach is closed to swimming until further notice. We’re optimistic that the next 2 tide cycles will bring the levels back to acceptable. And will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.
Over the past several months of documenting our Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers, beginning in March, we have seen a beautiful collection of shorebirds, gulls, hawks, and wading birds. The continuous ebb and flow of replenishing waters at the tidal creek, expansive marsh, and intertidal pools make for a range of rich habitat where birds can find food and shelter. Minnows, sea worms, crabs, tiny mollusks, and a wide variety of other invertebrates provide fuel for hungry travelers as well as summer residents.
Too many photos for one post I just realized and will post heron and egret photos next.
Here are just some of the beauties!
Beautiful, beautiful trio of Dowitchers
Herring Gull eating a Green Crab
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 🙂
Over the week I spent filming the Red Fox family, the kits became habituated to my presence. I worried about that, worried for the sake of the kits, especially after one incident where I heard a noise behind me and a kit was standing over my head looking down at me, only a mere few feet away. Several weeks later I was walking in the same neighborhood and the sound of hooves running wildly alerted me to a deer running pell mell up the hill, with a kit in hot pursuit. Red Fox adults don’t even take down deer and I wondered if the kit was practicing its hunting skills and also wondered, thinking about my eye to eye encounter with a kit, if I hadn’t looked up when one was looking down at me, if he was planning to pounce on me!
Every morning the dog and vixen brought mouths full of fresh prey to their kits. It was startling to see when an entire nest of baby bunnies was delivered, which one would imagine would be breakfast for all three kits, but was quickly devoured by the first kit in line waiting for breakfast.
As the season progressed, some early mornings we would see the foxes make several trips across the beach, always with a large rabbit, or two, clutched tightly in it jaws on the return trip.
The Red Fox adults left dead small mammals all around the family’s home base, I think to encourage the youngsters to begin hunting on their own.
My favorite few moments of filming was on a particularly beautiful morning when Dad was acting very chill. He had delivered breakfast, licked one of the kits clean, and was relaxing on the grassy knoll. The kit playfully surprise attacked him, coming in from behind and pouncing with an open jaw. It was beautiful to watch this familial scene with the Red Fox family unfold and is a moment I won’t soon forget.
Here are a few more photos. I have another batch, the last day with the Fox Family and will try to find the time to post next week.
Good Morning PiPl Friends and Ambassadors,
As I was leaving, Heidi and I crossed paths on the footbridge. What a joy to be replaced each day by Heidi and have a moment of good conversation, something I am sure many of us are not getting enough of during the pandemic.
The raker had not yet come but Dad and Marshmallow were peacefully foraging down at the Creek. More bathing, preening, floofing, and flippy floppy flying thing, with only the Killdeers causing Dad to leave his post.
Taylor Ann Bradford from the Gloucester Times wrote a very thoughtful article about our PiPls – here is the link: https://www.gloucestertimes.com/news/local_news/piping-plovers-are-back/article_bf6d8ab4-da1b-59ce-b3c2-2bb8ca6ccf50.html I think she is doing a fantastic job at the Times and it was a pleasure to speak with her!
Terrific quote from Jennie, thank you Jennie so much for keeping it positive <3
Here is the link to Marshmallow taking a bath yesterday- https://kimsmithdesigns.com/2020/07/19/marshmallow-takes-a-bath/
A heartfelt thank you to all our Ambassadors, Mayor Sefatia, Dave Rimmer from Greenbelt, Councilor Memhard, PiPl Friends, City Council, GDP, GPD, and all who are lending a hand and good wishes for Marshmallow reaching the tremendous milestone of 28 days, tremendous in the way that, thanks to you all, he is getting off to an excellent start, despite growing up in our most highly trafficked and wildly popular City beach. Only (roughly) two more weeks to go <3
Marshmallow takes a dip on a warm summer morning!
Piping Plovers take baths daily, starting from a very early age. It’s nearly always the same, no matter the age. The only difference really is younger chicks will splash around more. Twenty-seven-days-old Marshmallow takes a bath now much the same way as does Dad, quickly and efficiently.
Adults and older chicks will first eye-ball the area, while cautiously considering whether or not it’s safe to immerse in water. Small birds especially are vulnerable to predator attacks when their feathers are wet.
Plover bathing entails a thorough dunking, from tip to toe, ending with a leap from the water, with wings spread wide and tail feathers shaking, to dry off droplets. Bath time is followed by floofing, poofing, preening, and head scratching. And then, generally speaking, a return to the most important business of all, foraging to not only grow strong and develop well, but to build up their fat reserves for the long migration south.
Good Morning PiPl friends and Ambassadors –
Thank you Heidi for the morning update. And aren’t we so blessed for yesterday and the actions Mayor Sefatia has taken. Praying for a second day of relative calm at GHB today. See post here – Mayor Sefatia Restores Peace and Order to Gloucester Beaches
Thank you so very much Friends for all you are doing to help our GHB PiPls. If you cannot make your shift or need to shorten it, thank you for trying to switch, but if not covered, try not to worry. The next Ambassador will be along and it seemed positively calm at the Creek yesterday. I hope they stay there all day but the tide was high last night and they may come back to the main beach during high tide, at 11:07am today. Many, many beachgoers were already being dropped off at the footbridge when I left at 7:30 this morning, so perhaps the worst of it will be before noon, which would be a good thing.
Hoping to post footage of Marshmallow taking a bath from today, if I can find the time.
Have a great day – so gorgeous out!!
After a week of planning, organizing, and press conferences, Mayor Sefatia has restored Good Harbor Beach to normal pre-pandemic beach day fun. People were spaced widely and the crowds manageable. Beach Rangers now patrol our busiest beaches. No parking signs have been installed and, based on the few streets I drove down today, the off street parking seemed much as on a usual summer day.
Parking lot attendants and Rangers are now on duty until 8pm nightly at Good Harbor Beach and they are strictly enforcing the new residents only policy, even after hours.
Tonight I spoke with new Beach Ranger Mark when entering the parking lot at GHB at 6pm. He was considerate and polite and remarked that he thought the scene at GHB was much improved, with people acting much more respectfully.
Because I wasn’t there, I can’t speak to Wingaersheek Beach and State Fort Park, but based on what we saw today at GHB, I can only imagine the improvements are equally as tremendous!
The Mayor, City Council, Administration, DPW, and Gloucester Police have extraordinary issues and problems to deal with during this most extraordinary of times. Thank you to all and especially to Mayor Sefatia for everything she is doing to keep Gloucester citizens safe.
Good Morning PiPl Friends and Ambassadors!
Beautiful, tranquil early morning at Good Harbor Beach. I found the pair at the Creek, foraging and preening. Dad was in his usual super dad mode, chasing Killdeers, as well as some unseen-to-my-eyes imaginary beings.
Heidi and I had to laugh as we watched Marshmallow chase, and then capture and eat, a white butterfly, actually a moth I think.
Hopefully all the good work Mayor Sefatia and her administration have endeavored to do this past week will help keep the crowds down to a manageable size this weekend.
Will write more tomorrow, working on several stories to share. Thank you one again PiPl Ambassadors for your great gifts of time and kindness in helping our Good Harbor Piping Plovers survive Gloucester’s busiest of beaches.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO LEAVE THE PROTECTED AREA IN PLACE AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH UNTIL THE CHICK HAS FULLY FLEDGED AND THE BIRDS DEPARTED?
Good Morning PiPl Friends and Ambassadors!
Dad and Marshmallow made a round about trip to the Creek just before the storm started at about 6:45. That’s it, nothing more to report from this cold rainy morning 🙂
Why is it so critical to leave the protected area in place for the full length of time the PiPls spend at Good Harbor Beach? The following video was shot in the early evening and is a chick from one of the other Piping Plover families that I am documenting. The chick in the clip is 39 days old. To avoid confusion, I have to repeat that this is NOT Marshmallow, but an entirely different chick. Actually, he/she is a near fledgling at 39 days old. Our Marshmallow is only 24 days old.
I would like folks to see in slower motion the funny flippy floppy fly thing all chicks and fledglings do, but the footage also serves the purpose of highlighting how vitally important it is to keep sheltering areas in place at the beach for as long as the Plovers are present.
You can see in the video that it takes several moments for the youngster to alight. While becoming proficient at flying, chicks are still very vulnerable to predator attacks from gulls, crows, owls, hawks, herons, dogs, coyotes, and foxes. Symbolically roped off areas continue to provide shelter and safety to Piping Plover adults and fledglings alike, even after the chicks have reached their so-called official fledge date. Not all chicks mature at precisely the same rate over precisely the same number of days. Their weight, development, and flying ability depend largely on how rich, plentiful, and accessible is their food source.
Have a great day 🙂
Good Morning PiPl Friends!
Thermo-snuggling for the better part of the early morning and all was quiet. Dad suddenly began piping loudly, jumped up, and flew from Marshmallow. I was busy watching Marshmallow when out of nowhere, our GHB Red Fox trotted through the backside of home base, mere feet from where they had been snuggling, with Dad hot on the Fox’s heels!
At this point in Marshmallow’s life, I don’t think the Red Fox poses a tremendous threat, but they are a threat nonetheless. Anything canid, whether dog, fox, or coyote may step inadvertently on a young chick when they are hunkered down in place and are not yet fully fledged. Additionally, Red Fox dig and hunt shorebird eggs. A Piping Plover cannot tell the difference between a Red Fox and a domestic dog. Dogs have been allowed by their owners to chase after shorebirds for sport, which is another reason the PiPls find the Fox so threatening.
Shortly after the Fox sighting, the pair headed to the Creek where lots of yummy invertebrates were had, including a mini mollusk that you can see the tail end of in Marshmallow’s mouth, and sea worms, fat and thin. Heidi came along soon after. I think the birds Heidi remarked on are the Killdeer family; they were there earlier at the Creek until Dad had chased them off the scene to clear the way for his Marshmallow 🙂Added note about the Red Fox family – The Red Foxes we see currently at Good Harbor Beach are almost always carrying fresh prey in their mouths, small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels, for example, and I don’t think they are going to drop an adult rabbit to chase after a Piping Plover. The Foxes are now crisscrossing the beach several times a day with their mouths full on the return trip, which leads me to believe, the kits have not yet dispersed and Mom and Dad Fox have their paws full supplying the rapidly growing youngsters with nourishment.
The Red Fox diet also includes fresh fruit and berries. If you have a Mulberry tree ripe with fruit you may currently be seeing them in your backyard. I am looking forward to when our neighbor’s apples begin falling from her tree and hope so much our neighborhood Red Fox finds the fallen apple feast.
Heads up – very buggy at the Creek this morning. Hardly any trash today, and isn’t that great news that Mayor Sefatia has closed the beach to nonresidents!
Have a super day!
Good afternoon PiPl Ambassadors,
As Bette, Jane, and Jennie have shared, the beach was very quiet this morning and activity was low.
I love Jonathan’s new term for thermoregulating – “thermo-snuggling.” It more aptly describes their behavior, and that is all Marshmallow wanted to do this morning! I wish the footage was more exciting but the temperature was in the low 60s and it was drizzling when Heidi came along at 7:00. Marshmallow ran out of the roped off area several times but returned just as quickly as there were several gulls and a crow getting too close for Dad’s comfort.
Taylor Ann Bradford from the Gloucester Times phoned this morning and I shared with her your names. You may have already received an email from her.
The following is a link to a post that I wrote addressing the overcrowding at GHB. The last paragraph is about the PiPls. I have read on several social media sites that the PiPls are taking a bad rap for overcrowding at GHB, which, when you look at the pandemonium on the side streets and understaffed, overstuffed parking lot, even suggesting the PiPls are to blame is more than ridiculous.
Video footage of Marshmallow from this morning –
Have a great day!
The City of Gloucester has closed the parking lots at its three most densely populated beaches, Wingaersheek, Good Harbor Beach, and Stage Fort Park, to resident parking only. In addition, new no parking signs are being installed on residential streets this week, which include towing warnings. Gloucester is not the only community struggling with massive numbers of day trippers overcrowding beaches and parking illegally. Rockport is also experiencing many similar issues.
The amount of parking tickets issued last weekend shattered all previous records. According to Gloucester Times reporting by Taylor Ann Bradford, 478 tickets were issued, totaling approximately $31,000.00. Chief Conley states during the same weekend last year only 154 tickets were issued.
How will the City manage the issue of WALK-ONS? Without addressing this key component, nonresidents will continue to find places to park illegally and pour onto Good Harbor Beach. The parking lots at both Shaws and Stop and Shop were nearly filled to capacity on both Saturday and Sunday. You need only drive down Nautilus Road and watch the mass of beachgoers filing along, packed with a days worth of fun in the sun equipment, to understand the extent of the problem.
The parking lots need attendants during the entire time they are open. The word has gotten out that it’s free and unstaffed in the afternoon. On both weekend days at 5:00pm, the lot was filled to capacity however, cars were continuing to pile in.
Several of our parking attendants have tested positive for covid-19. I feel deeply for City dwellers and out-of-towners that want to come and enjoy our beautiful beaches but we are in the midst of a global pandemic and the first concern is for the safety of our community.
Nonresidents have alternatives to Good Harbor, Wingaersheek, and Stage Fort. Governor Baker has opened all DCR Northshore beaches, including Salisbury, Winthrop, Revere, Lynn Shores Reservation, and Nahant. These state run beaches have the facilities and staff to deal with the inordinate pandemic-sized crowds. Additionally, the police patrol beaches such as Revere on horseback. For Massachusetts residents parking is $10.00 at Nahant and $14.00 at Salisbury.
Stay Safe Friends! Please, WEAR MASKS AND SOCIAL DISTANCE! It shouldn’t be one or the other, but both!
Good Morning PiPl Ambassadors!
Dad and Marshmallow were so peaceful and well-camouflaged that I didn’t see them for nearly the first hour, which gave me a chance to tidy up the beach. I was just about ready to check on the Creek when they both came scooting across the center of the protected area, heading to the water’s edge.
Three weeks marks a tremendous milestone. Thank you Everyone for your dedication during this craziest of busy beach weekends. Thank you for staying long, long extra hours and keeping your eyes on our PiPl family. Little Marshmallow is growing visibly plumper and stronger by the day, thanks largely to our group’s collective effort to keep him safe and protected, especially while he is foraging at the Creek, his most important job.
Today was Heidi Wakeman’s first morning and within her first five minutes, Marshmallow flew across the sand about a six or seven foot distance, about four or five inches off the ground. This wasn’t a funny flutter-hop, but a true little test run. So exciting to see these first flights!!!
Thunderstorms predicted later today, so please don’t stay if it happens on your shift.
Good Morning Piping Plover Ambassadors,
Dad and Marshmallow live another day in their struggle for survival! This morning’s shift was happily uneventful. I found Dad and the Little One within the protected area at the main beach and after a long stretch of thermoregulating and before moving onto the Creek, Marshmallow did his beautiful crazy pre-flight flutter-hop dance. He’ll be flying brief distances at low altitude well before the upcoming week is out.
Yesterday was a tough one. As the day marched on, the tide rose higher and higher, and beach visitors kept pouring in. The duo never returned to home base at the main beach but instead spent the day-into-evening on a teeny, tiny bit of dry sand at nearly the furthest most point at the Creek, before the bend.
Piping Plover Chick 20 days old
I stopped by late in the afternoon to see how Jonathan and Sally were faring. They had their eyes keenly peeled on Dad, who was perched on a bare little mound of sand. Dad was keeping his eyes peeled on potential threats. Sally and Jonathan kindly shared their binoculars with all who were interested in learning more about the Plovers, young and old alike.
It was surprising to see the parking lot still completely full at 5:30 and folks still pouring in. Disputes over parking erupted as people tried to wait for others to leave. People were entering in droves across the footbridge as well. All this happening during the early evening, when in a typical year, people are leaving the beach at about this time of day.
A question arose yesterday about why we are cleaning the beach. The DPW and all the beach maintenance guys do a TREMENDOUS JOB. We are only cleaning near and around the PiPl area so that the beach rake does not have too come close to the roped off area.
Today the weather is going to be beautiful, which means a super crowded beach. Please call, text, or email if you need anything. Thank you all for your valiant efforts on behalf of our GHB PiPls!
Good Morning PiPl Ambassadors!
A pea soup foggy morning and Marshmallow was snuggling with Dad within the protected area when I arrived, where they stayed for quite some time.
I filled two trash bags, mostly with empty beer bottles and cans etc., many within the roped off area. So disappointed to see people partying inside the roping. I left briefly to run home to pick up 2 more trash bags and when I arrived the beach raker was driving alongside the roping, going the length of the beach. I spoke with him, but hope so much for next year the City will be amenable to creating a much safer raking plan and the lines of communication will include all rakers. The rakers have their hands full, the beach was an absolute pigpen this morning, and I am in no way criticizing the hard work they do everyday. We just need much better communication I think between all parties.
Two more of the large sized heavy duty trash bags were filled to the brim. That is four bags too many, from one very small section of the beach.
I couldn’t find the pair within the enclosure when I arrived the second time, but after a bit, did find Dad and Marshmallow down at the Creek. I left just before 8 and didn’t see my replacement but know they are fairly safe at the Creek at this hour of the day.
I understand from several monitors that during their afternoon shifts there have been incidences this past week with a group of middle school age boys seriously harassing, and possibly even intentionally trying to harm Dad and the Chick. After insuring the two are safe, it is absolutely imperative that we call the Gloucester Police main number at 978-283-1212 (please put this number in favorites or speed dial on your phone, if you have not already done so) and speak with an officer so that at the very least, a report is filed. Even if the boys have skedaddled, it is so important to let the police know what is happening and that there is a record of the incident. The City does not want to loose a PiPl by harassment, that would be considered a “take’ by the endangered species laws and we would receive a very substantial fine, possibly in the tens of thousands of dollars.
If you do see a person harming the PiPls, please stay with the bird and please call me immediately. We will get medical attention to the PiPl asap. Please also take as much photographic evidence as possible. We can not touch an injured bird, but we can phone my friend who in the past has been allowed to handle endangered and threatened wildlife. This is a worst case scenario I know, but as the harassment has been going on for several days we need to talk about this.
It’s going to be a super busy beautiful weekend. Please call if you need help in anyway. Thank you for all you are doing to help our GHB PiPls thrive!