Tag Archives: Ipswich

Grant helps plovers have record year on Crane Beach, featuring Jeff Denoncour —

ROTARY CLUB PAID FOR THREE SOLAR-POWERED ELECTRIC FENCES

IPSWICH — Those little birds you see running around the beach don’t have it easy.

Although they have wings, they won’t fly to trees to build their nests. Instead, they scoop holes, or “scrapes,” in the sand and lay their eggs there.

And that’s an invitation for all kinds of trouble: predators, rogue waves, dogs, or clumsy or malicious humans.

Combined with widespread loss of habitat, piping plovers are now on the federal government’s threatened species list. One estimate says there are just 8,400 left worldwide.

But along with lease terns, which are protected in Massachusetts, the plovers are well taken care of on Crane Beach.

In fact, they were so well taken care of in 2019 that a record number of chicks fledged and are now ready for the next perilous phase of their lives — a migration to the Bahamas.

This year, 49 pairs of plovers raised 96 chicks, said Jeff Denoncour, coastal ecologist with The Trustees of Reservations.

The last year that good for the birds was in 1999, when 44 pairs produced 89 fledglings, he added.

To show how precarious the species’ existence can be, Denoncour said the year 2000 was disastrous. Just 12 fledglings survived despite the efforts of 49 pairs. “That was due to a major storm,” he explained.

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

Jeff Denoncour and Courtney Richardson last year at Jeff’s program on coastal ecology held at the Cape Ann Museum

A GOLDEN SEA OF SUNFLOWERS AT THE STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL SCHOOL STREET SUNFLOWER FARM

The brand new beautiful School Street Sunflower field is not to be missed. With gently rolling hills, abundantly planted rows, and a wide, easy path to stroll (easy enough for a two-year-old to navigate), the 5 acres of sunflowers is a wildflower lover’s dream.

Paul Wegzyn and his Dad, also Paul Wegzyn, shared their enthusiasm for this exiting new venture.

There are picnic tables for those who would like to take lunch, and positioned artfully around the fields are photo props such as tractors and bales of hay, but for the most part, the scene is straight up gorgeous sunflowers (and bees!).

The variety planted blooms in 50 to 60 days from when planted and today is day 61. Only a few flowers have droopy seed-laden heads, or have passed. NOW is the time to go as the blooms will all have expired in another two weeks.

Kissable Butterflies

School Street Sunflower Farm

At the corner of Linebrook Road and School Street (for google maps type in – 79 Linebrook Road)

Ipswich, Massachusetts

Open 8am to sunset.

The cost is eight dollars during the week, ten dollars on weekends, and the ticket covers a full day. Wristbands are available if you would like to return the same day. Children under five are free.

Instagram: @schoolstreetsunflowers

Facebook: @schoolstreetsunflowers

Thoughtful sayings posted throughout the field ~

“Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.”

CRANE BEACH PIPING PLOVER UPDATE FROM TRUSTEES OF RESERVATIONS JEFF DENONCOURT

Trustees of Reservations ecologist Jeff Denoncour kindly shares information about the Piping Plovers at Crane Beach and he wrote two days ago with an update for us on their Piping Plover population. “Unfortunately the weather has been pretty inclement this year making it tough to monitor and really nail down the number of pairs. That mixed with an abundance of birds and a lot of loss due to storms and high tides and a bit of predation its really hard for me to get an accurate pair count right now. I am estimating that we have more than 33 plover pairs.

So far we have discovered 36 plover nests, but right now we only have 19 active nests. 3 of the 36 nests are renests, which is why I’m saying we have 33 or more pairs. Some pairs have been scraping consistently in areas but have not laid eggs.

Our first nest is due to hatch tomorrow.”

I sent him an email this morning and hopefully we’ll have news of hatchlings!

If you would like to learn more about the outstanding work of the Trustees of Reservations Shorebird Protection Program go here.

Least Tern (left) and Common Tern Crane Beach

IT’S SNOWING IN IPSWICH!

Tiny flakes falling through the trees, making that distinct pitapat sound of snowdrops landing on crisp frozen leaves below. But wait, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. An assembly of Redpolls overhead, hungrily teasing seeds from the tree’s cones were creating a shower of snow-seeds.

I followed along ever so quietly as the flock moved from tree to tree, expertly pulling the cones apart for the small kernel held within.

Returning several times to the same trail and hoping to catch sight again but, with most of the cones gone, so too were the Redpolls.

The Common Redpoll is a species of finch with a distinct crimson cap that looks like a mini French beret, giving the song bird a bit of a rakish appearance.

Their small yellow bills evolved to eat small seeds, such as those of thistles and birches. Some studies show that in winter Redpolls subsist almost entirely on birch seeds.

Common Redpolls have been known to survive temperatures of -65 degrees below and even sleep at night in snow tunnels that can be up to a foot long. Redpolls nest in the Arctic tundra; we only ever see them during the winter months.

Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly

This striking Baltimore Checkerspot was photographed last week in a field of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). The field is located in Ipswich’s town center.

Notice the Baltimore Checkerspot’s vivid orange antennal clubs and white and orange dotted abdomen. The caterpillar’s food plant, or host plant, is mainly turtlehead (Chelone glabra) in low lands and gerardias upland, e.g., Smooth False Foxglove (Aureolaria flava).

Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) Ventral

I find absolutely the most interesting creatures in fields where grows Common Milkweed, which tells us that the plant provides a wealth of nourishment for a diverse range of organisms.

Note: The underside of butterfly wings are referred to as ventral; the upper surface as dorsal. An easy way to remember the difference between the terms dorsal and ventral is to think of the dorsal fin of a dolphin.