Tag Archives: Rockport

ALL FOUR CHICKS MISSING/KILLED – REST IN PEACE SWEET CAPE HEDGE PLOVER FAMILY

Dear PiPl Friends,

We’re so very sorry to write that all four Cape Hedge Plover chicks, and possibly Mom, are gone. The Dad was last seen yesterday. The chick in the above photo was found in the intertidal zone at the end of day by PiPl Ambassador DBrown

I think as a community we can do better than this. We have let the Plovers down. Speaking for myself, not only let the Plovers down, but the community. I had to attend a funeral out of state the day after the chicks hatched but had been hoping the chicks would hatch after we returned, not prior to. Their nest was so well-hidden we didn’t learn about it until after it was well-established and had no clear idea of the hatch date.

There is a slim possibility that if the Mom is still alive she will return and renest this season. This scenario seems unlikely though because no one has seen her. Plovers will renest up to five times in the same season. And Plovers typically return to the same nesting site every year. If we do have a renest this year we will be more organized in our ability to help the Plovers.

We are not experts by any means however, we PiPl Ambassadors in Gloucester have six, going on seven, years of experience learning about how people and Plovers can coexist on a beach. We are willing to help and share everything we have learned with our Rockport neighbors because I believe that to a Plover’s way of thinking, Good Harbor to Cape Hedge is just one long continuous beach.

Suggestions on moving forward –

In speaking to people on the beach there was a great deal of confusion about the Plover’s life cycle. For example, folks thought the chicks needed to be “rescued” when they were up on the rocks doing their thing foraging away from an adult. Beachgoers did not get the information that Plover chicks, after only several hours from hatching, begin foraging on their own.

A large, clearly visible basic informational Piping Plover dos and don’ts sign at both ends of the beach entrances/parking areas would go a long way in helping to educate beachgoers what to do and what not to do when a Plover chick or adult is seen on the beach.

I have developed a fun, informational program to help communities better understand the Piping Plover life story and how we can become better stewards. I am happy to present this program, free of charge, to any Rockport community organization that would like to host us.

I met a photographer on the beach Tuesday, I believe it was. I watched as she followed Cape Hedge Dad Plover up and down the beach, much too closely, with an 800mm lens. When gently suggested in a chatty way she move back, she said to the effect, not to worry, she hates other photographers as they get too close, but she on the other hand was conscious not to disrupt.  I didn’t argue with her however, this was a complete fallacy on her part. She was too close, and following a bird, any bird, at close range for over an hour, especially a bird that is not familiar with you, is incredibly disruptive. With a lens anywhere from 400 to 800mm, a person can capture beautifully cropped close-up images. Please, fellow photographers and Piping Plover observers, observe and take photos from at a minimum a hundred feet away and then move on.

Pet regulations on beaches must be posted in a timely fashion. Why even take them down? Both Rockport and Gloucester take down the summer beach regulations signs, which only causes confusion. If they are left in place year round, then it won’t come as a surprise when the summer regulations go into effect.  Other important informational signs are left in place year round.

The Rockport dog laws are clearly stated on the town’s website. No dogs are allowed on the beach beginning June 1st, yet as of today, June 8th, over the course of the past few days there have been countless dogs running Cape Hedge, both on and off leash. The folks on the beach with dogs that we have spoken with are under the impression the leash laws go into effect on June 15th. There is no signage alerting people to the leash laws. Four beautiful and perfectly healthy chicks hatched overnight May 31st to June 1st , at the time of year when the dogs are prohibited from the beach. We need the town government to take seriously the protection of threatened and endangered species and to define what their role is in helping provide protections.

I would be happy to speak with anyone about suggestions for better protecting the Plovers. Please leave a comment, email at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com, or PM me on Facebook with a phone number if you would prefer to talk.

Very best,

xxKim

Every other type of sign, but where are the no dogs on beach signs? We were assured the signs would be posted by June 1st.

Town of Rockport Animal Control website page unambiguously states no dogs allowed June 1st through September 15th.

TENDER TINY EPHEMERAL BEINGS – BEAUTIFUL HOURS OLD PIPING PLOVERS IN THE POPPLES

Overnight on May 31st, the precious Cape Hedge Piping Plover chicks hatched. The photos of these tender tiny ephemeral beings were taken the morning of June 1st when the chicks were only several hours old. In all the photos of the chicks you can still see their teeny white egg tooth, which falls off after a day or so. The hatchlings use their sharp egg tooth to pip, or peck, their way out of the egg shell.

 

The most well-camouflaged nest in Massachusetts –

AMERICAN LADY AT CAPE HEDGE BEACH

There are a surprising number of butterflies this year at Cape Hedge Beach. Several days ago an American Lady was warming on the popples and today, a female Black Swallowtail.

An easy way to see the difference between an American Lady Butterfly and a Painted Lady Butterfly

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) ~ Note the two large eyespots on the underside of the hindwing, close to the outer margin.The Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) has four smaller eyespots on the underside of the hindwing. 

Painted Lady, left; American Lady right

GOOD MORNING CAPE ANN!

Sunrise over the North Light, Thacher Island Twin Lights Rockport

 

THE FINAL GRAND TOTAL OF PIPING PLOVER EGGS!

Dear PiPl Friends,
Happy Memorial Day. I hope you are spending the day with family and friends <3

We have a whopping new grand total of Piping Plover eggs for Cape Ann’s eastern shore and it is an even dozen! This morning when I stopped by for PiPl check in, Salt Island Dad popped off the nest to reveal a fourth egg. All three Cape Ann PiPl families are brooding nests with four eggs in each. We are so blessed to see their beautiful life story unfold!

An added note about the nesting pair at #1, the Salt Island side of Good Harbor Beach – The pair first had a nest of three eggs up in the dune grass. We think it was predated, possibly by a seagull. There were no tracks near the nest and the only evidence found was one crushed egg.

#1 Salt Island original nest

After the first clutch of eggs disappeared, the pair immediately began setting up house away from the grass and closer to the wrack line. Piping Plovers will attempt to re-nest up to five times. The pair eventually settled on a scrape behind a mini mound of dried seaweed, albeit a more vulnerable location than the first.

Salt Island renest

As of today, the Salt Island pair have a nest of four, for a total of seven eggs laid over the past several weeks. Egg laying takes a toll on the Mom. At Good Harbor we now have handicapped Mom at #3 and over extended Mom at #1. When you see Plovers on the beach resting and foraging, please give them lots and lots of space and let them be to do their thing. Thank you!

Tired Mama at #1

Handicapped Mom at #3

GRAND TOTAL CAPE ANN PIPING PLOVER EGGS IN NEST COUNT

Good Morning PiPl Friends,

Joyful update to share from Cape Ann PiPl nest check-up this morning –

Cape Hedge

The Cape Hedge Plover parent’s are doing an excellent job guarding their clutch of four eggs, the most well-camouflaged nest in Massachusetts, as our state coastal waterbird biologist Carolyn Mostello refers to the nest. There was a Coyote scavenging around the wrack line near the nest but Mom and Dad went into full protective mode trying to distract. The “broken wing” display wasn’t too necessary though as the second the Coyote saw me, he/she hightailed into the marsh.

Area #1 Salt Island

Essex Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer installed the exclosure at #1 (Salt Island end of the beach) yesterday afternoon and there are now three eggs in the nest! The Salt Island pair are not yet brooding full time and still continuing to mate. Quite possibly, we’ll have a fourth egg at #1. This little Mama has up to this point laid a total of six eggs, three in the first nest, which we think was predated, and three currently.

Area #3 Saratoga CreeK

In saving the best for last, our amazing handicapped Mom and ever vigilant Super Dad at #3 now have FOUR eggs in the nest. Mom popped off for a brief moment and I was “ploverjoyed” to see a fourth egg. I am not sure when this last egg was laid. It’s going to be a challenge to gauge when is the hatch date but I am working on that this weekend. *Borrowing the expression #ploverjoyed from our PiPl friends at Conserve Wildlife New Jersey 🙂

GHB #3 Mom well-camouflaged on the nest this foggy, foggy morning

Cape Ann’s current grand total of eggs in nests is Eleven (with a possibility of one more).

Yesterday morning, City Councilor Jeff Worthley and I met at Good Harbor Beach. He was very interested in learning about the Plovers and their history at GHB. Jeff agreed that Martha’s idea to speak before the next City Council meeting was a good plan; the next full council meeting is June 14th. He also suggested we do a brief presentation before City Council. The presentation has to be pre-planned and approved by City council president, Valerie Gilman. I don’t know if it’s either/or, or if we would be able to do both. What are your thoughts, PiPl friends? I think also we should definitely plan a “lessons learned” meeting at the end of the season, per Jonathan’s suggestion.

The Good Harbor Beach pre-reservation parking system goes into effect today. Some of the issues will be alleviated with the DPW and parking crew present, restrooms open, and end-of-the school-year high school senior parties behind us. We will still have issues with intoxicated persons tromping through the protected nesting area, but not the sheer numbers as the past two weeks, and hopefully we will see stepped up police enforcement on the beach.

A very brief Monarch update – Monarchs are here (first sightings by friends MJ on the 21st and Patti on May 23rd!) We see them in gardens, meadows, and dunes. Many other species of butterflies, too, have been sighted, including Tiger Swallowtails, Painted Ladies, American Coppers, Common Ringlets, and Spring Azures. May 23rd is early in the season for Monarchs. About every ten years or so we have an extra wonderful year with butterflies. The last was 2012. We are due and perhaps 2022 will be one of those years 🙂

Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly has been invited to screen at the Essex National Heritage Pollinator Week Program on the evening of June 22nd. For more information go here. Also, Beauty on the Wing is an official selection at the Santa Barbara Film Awards.

If anyone stops by GHB or CHB this weekend, please let us know. I feel fairly confident that the nests at GHB are safe, ensconced in their exclosures, but we like to check regularly nonetheless.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with friends and family,
xoKim

Pair of Snow Egrets at Saratoga Creek

PLOVERS IN THE POPPLES MOST EXQUISITELY CAMOUFLAGED NEST!

Our Cape Hedge “Plovers in the Popples” pair have a nest of four eggs! It’s extraordinarily beautiful in how well the eggs blend with the surrounding popples.

Popple Camo!

Tuesday morning the symbolically roped off area was installed by Mass Fish and Wildlife. For friends new to Plover protections, the roping is placed around the nesting area to keep people and pets away from the nest. Signs will be going up shortly. If you are on the beach, please do not stand right up next to, or hover around the roping. We would have liked to have made the area ten feet deeper, but because of the high tide line, it wasn’t possible. Please, please give the birds lots and lots of space. Thank you!

The fantastic thing about the roping installed by Mass Wildlife is that it is four heights of rope, from several inches off the ground to waist height, which really helps keep pets and little persons from slipping through.

Many, many thanks to Carolyn Mostello, the Massachusetts Coastal Waterbird Biologist for coordinating the installation, to Mass Wildlife technicians Joshua and Derek, and special thanks to Rockport resident and Cape Hedge neighbor Sue Catalogna for her great communication with the Cape Hedge plovers <3

Joshua and Derek

Mom and Dad taking turns on the nest

Can you spot the nest?

OH JOYOUS SPRING!

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.

From daily walks, a mini migration update –

Gadwall female

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.

xxKim

Male and Female Gadwalls, American Wigeons, Black Ducks, and Buffleheads foraging for aquatic vegetation

More spring scenes

Eastern Screech Owl in camo, possibly brown morph 

Owl on the prowl

White-tailed Deer at Dusk

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler preening

AUTUMN HARVEST – SONGBIRDS FEASTING ON FRUITS, BERRIES, AND SEEDS

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.

Native Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and Male House Finches

A male and female House Finch feeding each other in the Crabapples!

 

Grass seeds, much beloved by many including Song Sparrows, Bobolinks, and even Snow Buntings

Poison Ivy berries – by no means am I suggesting to plant, just mentioning that over 60 species of birds have been documented eating Poison Ivy drupes.

Cattail seed heads for male Red-winged Blackbirds

 

Sunflower Seeds fo all!

Along with songbirds, come their predators. Look for Merlins, Red-tailed and Cooper’s Hawks

Blue Jay preening after a morning of berry eating

The berries of Spindle Tree are the most beautiful part of the tree, but the tree is not recommended as it reseeds freely and is notorious for pushing out species of native trees and shrubs.

Seed heads make great perches for dragonflies and damselflies

Coyotes getting in on the action– much of their scat at this time of year has plainly visible partially digested fruits and berries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PIPING PLOVER GREAT NEWS UPDATE AND NEW SHORT FILM!

Good morning dear PiPl Friends!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying these beautiful dog days of August. I sure miss you all!

Last week I had the joy to attend the Coastal Waterbird Conservation Cooperators meeting. Next year we are all hoping for in person but for the past two years, the organizers have done  a fantastic job creating an interesting and engaging online event.

The meeting is held annually to bring together people and organizations that are involved with population monitoring and conservation efforts on behalf of coastal waterbirds. Threatened and endangered species, which include Least Terns, Piping Plovers, Roseate Terns, and American Oystercatchers, are given the greatest attention.

Nahant Beach chicks hatch day

Participants were invited by Carolyn Mostello, Mass Wildlife Coastal Waterbird Biologist and the event organizer, to submit to the “Strange and Unusual” part of the program. I created a short film about the Nahant Piping Plovers. It was extraordinary to observe the Nahant PiPl Dad valiantly try to rescue an egg after the king tides of Memorial Day weekend. You can see the video here:

Conservation organizations from all seven Massachusetts coastal regions participated, as well as conservationists from nearby New England states, including representatives from Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. To name just some of the local organizations presenting at the meeting were Mass Wildlife, Trustees of Reservations, Essex Greenbelt, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Mass Audubon, and US Fish and Wildlife.

In the morning, each region gave the 2021 population census report for nesting birds as well as providing information about problems and solutions. We all share similar challenges with predation from crows and gulls, uncontrolled dogs, enforcement, extremely high tides, storm washout, and habitat loss and it was very interesting to learn about how neighboring communities are managing problems and issues.

Unfortunately because of a doctor’s appointment, I had to miss the first part during which Trustees of Reservations Coastal Ecologist Jeff Denoncour presented on behalf of the North of Boston region, of which Gloucester and Rockport are a part.

I am hoping to get the stats from the part of the meeting that I missed and will share those as soon as they are available.

The absolutely tremendous news is that New England is doing fantastically well, particularly when compared to other regions. The policies of New England conservation organizations are extremely successful and are truly making an impactful difference, as you can see from the graph.

As Massachusetts citizens, we can give ourselves a collective pat on the back for the great work our state is accomplishing. The strides being made in Massachusetts are because of the dynamic partnerships between conservation organizations, towns, citizen scientists, volunteers, and ambassadors, just like ourselves, all working together!

Above two screenshots courtesy Coastal Waterbird Conservation Cooperators event.

Super PiPl Ambassador Jonathan Golding sent a photo of two Piping Plovers at Good Harbor Beach. I can’t get down to the Creek bed but I stood on the footbridge Saturday morning and took several snapshots of two Plovers that were way down the Creek. The pair were foraging together when suddenly they began piping their beautiful melodic peeps and off they flew together down the Creek.

If folks are wondering if the Plovers at the Creek are the Salt Island Dad and chick that went missing, these two are not them. Our Salt Island chick  would be about 31 days and would look more like this 33 day old chick from 2019. And it would not be flying as well as the Plovers seen in the photos from Saturday morning.

Have a great rest of your weekend!

xxKim


33 day old PiPl chick, from 2019

Plovers at the Creek Saturday morning –

Pair of Piping Plovers a Good Harbor Beach, August 7

Nahant hatch day chick, June 1, 2021

 

 

 

 

Good Morning from Good Harbor and Cape Hedge Beaches!

Dear PiPl Friends,

Thank you so much for all your wonderful stories!

This week our fledglings/chicks have reached important milestones. Junior is 44 days old, the Cape Hedge chicks are about 35 days old, and our Littlest is two weeks and a day! The Cape Hedge chicks are doing the wonderfly flippy-floppy-fly-thing, and the Littlest is growing roundly, making magnificent treks up and down the beach.

Thank you everyone for your watchful eyes, diplomacy, eagerness to share with the public, and big hearts. You are all creating a wonderfully positive image for shorebirds everywhere and a super positive image for Cape Ann as well!!!

Skittles has been found! He was only about a block away from where he went missing, and sunning himself in a neighbor’s backyard. As Scott said, he was only waiting for the sun to come out 🙂

Have a great day!
xxKim

Happiness is a tail feather snuggle with Mom

SKITTLES THE IGUANA LOST AND FOUND!!!

Happy News! Skittles has been found! He was in a neighbor’s yard sunning himself, only about a block away from where he went missing 🙂

HELLO SUNSHINE! Update on Piping Plover signs and lost Iguana Skittles

Good morning PiPl Friends,

What a gorgeous SUNNY morning! And it’s not humid 🙂

Thank you so much to Denten Crews for the addition of signs at the concession stand and at the Witham Street entrance!

The GHB and CHB PiPls are foraging night and day, as they should be. My biologist friends who are monitoring beaches north of Boston share that they are getting an influx of fledglings and adults from area beaches as they are departing their nesting grounds.

Like shorebirds everywhere, the newly arrived Piping Plovers are intently foraging at tidal flats in preparation for their southward migration. My friends also shared many success stories, but also great challenges including terrible predation of PiPl eggs and chicks by Crows, and a colony of Least Terns wiped out by a skunk.

Skunks eat shorebird eggs and their presence can cause an entire colony to vacate a location. Gulls have taken over many coastal islands, leaving many of the smaller shorebirds to nest in less than desirable locations such as urban beaches. There is the potential for far greater disturbance at popular town and city beaches than at island locations due to cats, dogs, skunks, and people.

Here’s ambassador Jonathan Golding from the lifeguard watch tower

Nothing to do with Plovers, but especially for our Rockport readers and Ambassadors, please keep your eyes posted for a lost Iguana that goes by the adorable name Skittles. The Fitch family writes that they have had Skittles for eight years and he’s a beloved member of their family. He was lost in the Cape Ann Motor Inn area and is most likely in a tree. Iguanas are strictly vegetarians so he may also be in someone’s garden. Skittles is about five feet long.  Don’t approach but contact Rockport ACO Diane Corliss at 978-546-9488 or you can call me, I have the family’s phone number.

Have a great day!
xxKim

PLEASE HELP THE FITCH FAMILY FIND THEIR MISSING IGUANA SKITTLES!

Karen Fitch writes,

Our 5-foot green iguana escaped a few days ago. He is around the Cape Ann Motor Inn area. We have had Skittles for 8 years now. We are so sad and worried. We’re trying everything we can think of to find him. The experts say he is probably up in the trees. Your willingness to help is so appreciated. 

Please email or comment in the comment section if you have seen Skittles. Thank you <3

New Book Launch Twin Lights Tonic-Cape Ann’s Timeless Soda Pop – Limited Quantities Remain Order Today

Limited Collectors Edition

TWIN LIGHTS TONIC
Cape Ann’s Timeless Soda Pop

Dive into history of one of the most popular soft drinks around the Cape Ann area Twin Lights Tonic. This carefully researched story of one of the last family bottlers still in operation. Paul St.Germain and Devlin Sherlock bring you through the history and development of carbonated soft drinks as they trace the narrative of the 115-year-old Twin Lights Bottling Company (originally Thomas Wilson Bottling Company). Woven throughout is the story of one Rockport, MA family of Portuguese immigrants who began producing the tonic in the back of a small town grocer store in 1907.
With over 70 photographs included, this lovingly assembled book is sure to delight.
For a limited time, you will also receive a commemorative postcard and magnet with your purchase!

Click here to order !
Proceeds of sale go to Thacher Island Association
Limited Supply Remains, Order Today!!

ROCKPORT’S BEAUTIFUL LA PROVENCE (AND WE LOVE SANTA’S NORTH POLE OUTPOST POST OFFICE!)

Rockport looks wonderfully festive for a covid-safe stroll through the town’s main streets. Charlotte and I made a special trip to deliver her letter to Santa at the most charming of post boxes, a North Pole special delivery pint-sized mail box.

Next stop was magical La Provence. Dawn’s shop is chock full of beautiful, beautiful linens, gifts, and treats. La Provence is open at 10am in the morning, which is great if you are concerned about shopping around crowds. We went on a weekday morning, early, and felt very welcome and very comfortable shopping.

Wishing all our local shops a safe and successful holiday season.

CAROL LEE’S COTTAGE IS NOW OPEN FOR ONLINE SHOPPING!

My friend JoAnn Sousa wrote this lovely note about her friend Carol Lee and her shop, Carol Lee’s Cottage. I thought it so sweet and that is why I am sharing the note in its entirety –

JoAnn writes,

“I am so glad you have your own blog – wonderful.

I’ve have been mesmerized by your incredible wildlife photos for years and you have heightened my interest in birds.

I realize you may be primarily focused on Gloucester and totally understand and I trust you have a long lists of subjects to cover. I wanted to mention a shop in Rockport , Carol Lee’s Cottage. Carol Lee Kelliher owns it (she has no idea I’m writing to you) and I am always taken by the variety and quality of goods she has. For instance she has a collection of kids tee shirts and long sleeve that have heros on them such as Jane Goodall, Madam Curie etc – I think she’s the only one in NE with the line. She was also one of the first to carry masks. Great jewelry at reasonable prices, cute dresses, it goes on and on. Personally I think she’s the nicest shop on the neck.

If you have any interest you can check out the store and her background story on FB or carolleescottage.com. Her personality matches her colorful goods and she has a nice following.

Anyway, they opened up Bearskin Neck today, curbside pick ups at the restaurants and stores and I thought I’d pass along some info on this little jewel of a store. She’s doing curbside/mailing etc.

Stay well and congrats!”

Thank you JoAnn for sharing! And thank you for your kind comments. I am interested in posting about any small business with their coronavirus endeavors. It’s such a tough time and I admire the resourcefulness and resiliency of so many trying so hard to stay afloat during this most challenging of time.

The children’s tees do look especially wonderful and I Love her selection Turkish beach towels – you are so spot on, her products are wonderfully colorful and fun! Here are some images from Carol’s website, where you can do your online shopping HERE