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 🙂
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.
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
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 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.
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 –
“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
The opening clip is a beautiful scene overlooking Good Harbor Beach. The sun was beginning to appear through a snow squall – April snow squalls bring May flowers.
Good Harbor Beach was jam packed with surfers this morning and Brant Geese were bobbing around at Brace Cove.
Quick glimpse of pretty mystery bird? Palm Warbler?
Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester fresh fish curbside pickup. Each week they have gotten better and better. It was dream of ease and coronavirus protocols. Tuesday through Saturday and here is the number to call 978-281-7707
Brother’s Brew, Seaview Farm, Breakwater Roasters, Sandy Bay Soaps, and many more.
What are some of the favorite dishes you are cooking during Coronavirus?
Tragedies can bring out the best in people, but also the very worst. Cruel people only become crueler and more mean spirited, posting mean thoughtless pranks that they think elevate themselves. I wish this wasn’t happening in our own lives and on social media. We all need to support each other.
Wonderful hopeful news for our Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers. The City has created a safe zone in the spot where they are attempting to nest. Thank you Mayor Sefatia and Gloucester’s DPW for installing the symbolic roping. We need signs and hopefully they will be along very soon.
Today marks a full week from when Abbie Flynn was first reported missing by friends at approximately 6pm on Sunday, February 2nd. Friends arrived at her home to attend a Super Bowl get together only to find party preparations underway, but the home empty.
After several days of a massive search, which included a coordinated effort by land, sea, and air, with seemingly no trace nor clues left behind, Eastern Point has resumed its former quietude. Yesterday, Saturday, morning I took a walk around the Point. There were many others out walking in the howling wind. A lone coyote trotted along the berm, a flock of turkeys foraged in their usual locale, the ducks were diving and feeding on pond vegetation, the gulls resting on the half frozen water, and our winter resident juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron was still present. On the face of it all, everything appears back to normal but in reality, there is a terrible sense of eerie disquietude.
Friends and family are heartsick about Abbie’s disappearance. Please let’s not forget Abbie. If you have any clues or thoughts about her disappearance, please contact the Gloucester PD at 978-283-1212.
Many of us continue to be struck by how similar to Abbie’s disappearance is that of Theresa Cohen’s disappearance. Both seemed to vanish into thin air. According to the Charley Report, Theresa’s case was reported solved just this past week. After two years, that in itself is suspect. If Theresa did take her own life, we truly wish the Rockport Police would reveal how that is known. Our understanding is that only a few of her remains were found at a beach in Chatham, which certainly does not seem evidence enough of suicide. Out of respect for her family, we don’t want to know the details, just how it was determined. Providing transparent information would put a great many Rockport and Gloucester residents mind at ease and end the continuing suspicion and speculation.
Edited note – It has come to my attention that someone has commented that this post is a negative comment on the great work the police have done in investigating the disappearance of Abbie Flynn. Nothing could be further from the truth. I only have the utmost respect for the hard work, concern, and dedication the Gloucester officers and detectives have devoted to solving the mystery of Abbie’s disappearance. There simply remain many unanswered questions. It is my greatest hope that Abbie is found.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Abbie’s family and friends.
Frost Moon rising between the Twin Lights. The Frost Moon is also known as the Beaver Moon and Mourning Moon. Oh how I wish I had my tripod with me tonight, but this image is fun anyway. I think it would make a better painting.
My husband and I are huge fans of Jesse Cook and with gorgeous music and extraordinary musicianship, his concerts are not to be missed. Tom introduced me to his work several years ago when I was looking for a uniquely beautiful sound to score a short film for the Berkshire Museum, about butterflies in flight, for which Jesse graciously and generously permitted. More about Jesse and Monarchs when my forthcoming documentary is released.
Jesse Cook travels the world with his fingers. Through his globe-spanning and genre-bending compositions, the nimble-fingered guitarist has taken nouveau flamenco to places it has never been, creating new fascinating hybrids. As one of the most celebrated instrumentalists on the planet, Cook is forever restless, constantly searching for new sounds, rhythms and textures to explore.
Born in Paris and raised in Toronto, Cook studied classical and jazz guitar, and as a child was always intrigued by the highly rhythmic rumba flamenco style. Following up on that curiosity, Cook dove headfirst into the gypsy musical tradition as he began to find his own musical voice. After a show-stopping performance at the 1995 Catalina Jazz Festival, Cook’s little-heard debut, Tempest, suddenly took off in the U.S., landing at # 14 on the Billboard Charts. Cook’s career has seen steady growth in the years that followed, his multi-cultural take on rumba flamenco striking a nerve with listeners. One of the hallmarks of his sound and aesthetic is to travel the world, meeting and collaborating with artists and incorporating the results into his music. In addition to headlining concerts and festivals, he has opened for such legends as B.B. King, Ray Charles, The Chieftains and Diana Krall.
In 1998, Cook was nominated for a Juno Award as Instrumental Artist of the Year. In 2001, he received a Juno Nomination for Best Male Artist, as well as winning in the Best Instrumental Album category for Free Fall. In 2009, he was Acoustic Guitar’s Player’s Choice Award silver winner in the Flamenco category. He is a three-time winner of the Canadian Smooth Jazz award for Guitarist of the Year and numerous other awards. Over twenty years into his career, Cook is now forging more than just musical traditions of the world. With his 2015’s One World, he is now forging the ancient with the modern, infusing contemporary sounds of the electronic digital age into his timeless rumba flamenco rhythms.
“…lightning fast and bright flamenco guitarist…Jesse Cook…is about as seductive, percussive and danceable as this kind of music gets…also a powerful pop songwriter, with each melody standing out above the weaving rhythms sung by his intoxicating strings.” Jazziz
Visionary iartcolony gallerists Bob Armstrong and Jill Whitney Armstrong created an outstanding opening for their new show “be present.” Evocative and thought provoking, the lineup included visual work by artists David Robinson and Jane Hudson (currently exhibiting at iartcolony), Ken Brown video from Psychedelic Cinema,* an oration given by Darin Murphy, and live drawing and painting demonstrations given by Will Pappenheimer and Michael Talbot.
Brian King (What Time is it Mr. Fox) performed his Dionysian piece from his newest playMedusa: Reclaiming the Myth, which premiered this summer at the Museum of Science.
Artist and drummer for the Cars, David Robinson, and cult filmmaker Ken Brown.
David Robinson and photos
be present runs through November 22, 2019. For more information, call 978-764-5495.
*Psychedelic Cinema revives Brown’s Super 8 films, which were shot at the Boston Tea Party, one of Boston’s legendary live rock and blues music venues. The artists he created light shows and films for include Jimi Hendrix, the Velvet Underground, Sly Stone, Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters, and many, many more.
Over the winter, a Black Vulture has been calling Cape Ann home. My friend Lois first alerted me to this back in December where he has been seen quite often in Rockport. I have been trying to capture some footage of him/her but only ever saw him soaring high above. The Black Vulture in flight is stunning and you can recognize the bird by its distinctive white wing tips.
As luck would have it, East Gloucester resident Larry shared a photo recently and his friend Frank generously allowed me to stop by and take some photos and footage.White wing tips of the Black Vulture
Being found mostly in South America, Central America, and the southern US, the Black Vulture’s range does not historically include Cape Ann (nor anywhere in Massachusetts). The bird’s range has been expanding northward since the early decades of the previous century and it is safe to say there may even be a few pairs breeding in the furthest most western regions of Massachusetts!
Black Vultures feed primarily on carrion. They fly high above on thermal winds looking for dead creatures, and also follow Turkey Vultures, which reportedly have a better sense of smell and can more easily locate carcasses. Black Vultures also kill skunks, possums, Night Herons, turtle hatchlings, chickens, young livestock, and sickly small pets. And, too, they pick through dumps and dumpsters, and even wade into water for small fish and floating carrion. It’s no wonder their range is expanding!
The Black Vulture visiting Frank’s yard appeared to be communicating with Frank. Black Vultures lack a voice box; instead of singing, one of the sounds they make is a low ruff sort of bark. Frank can imitate the bark perfectly, and the bird barks back!
Black Vulture Historic Status in Massachusetts, from Mass Audubon:
The first Black Vulture identified in Massachusetts was shot in Swampscott in November of 1850. The second appeared in Gloucester on September 28, 1863, where it, too, was killed (Howe & Allen 1901). Throughout the next century, the bird was considered an accidental straggler in Massachusetts; and, by the middle of the nineteenth century, the species was on the move from its deep Southern roots, breeding in southern Maryland for the first time in 1922 (Court 1924) and in Pennsylvania by 1952 (Brauning 1992).
If you see Cape Ann’s Black Vulture hanging around your property, please let me know at email@example.com. Thank you so much!
Friday afternoon, after the nor’easter, the sun came out just barely before the skies again darkened with a brief snow squall. I was driving along Atlantic Road during those fleeting in between moments when way off in the distance I spied a flock of birds, with the distinct shape of swans in flight. Swans fly with their long necks extended, unlike herons and egrets, which fly with their necks curved in. What on Earth is Mr. Swan doing out in this wildly windy weather I thought. But it wasn’t Mr. Swan, it was an entire family of Swans! There were two adults and four cygnets. Stunning to see and very uplifting. They flew over the Twin Lights and then further and further until I could not see them any longer.
The first and third swans are the adults, the second, fourth, fifth and sixth are the cygnets, or first-hatch year juveniles.The young swans will retain their grayish brown feathers until their second summer.
Please write and let me know if you saw the Mute Swan family on Friday afternoon. They were flying along the backshore at about 2:15. Or, if you live on the Northshore and know of any swan family with two adults and four youngsters, I would love to learn more about them. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much for any leads!
Swans and wave crashing
A few more of the Mute Swan family flying toward and over Thacher Island
So sorry this PiPl update is so terribly brief but I am leaving shortly to go film Fiesta.
On the evening of the day our GHB Piping Plover Family were terrorized off Good Harbor Beach (between Tuesday 9:30 pm and Wednesday 4:40am), two were seen at Cape Hedge Beach by Rockport resident Gail Borgman.
The following morning, Thursday, I met Boston PiPl monitor Laurie Sawin at GHB. She had come all the way from Boston to check on the Cape Hedge report. We headed over to Cape Hedge to check on the sighting and met Gail and her husband there. Sure enough, a PiPl was going back and forth between the sandy beach and rocks at Cape Hedge! We didn’t stay long because of the downpour.
This morning, I met Essex Greenbelt Dave Rimmer’s assistant, Dave McKinnon. We were contemplating removing the symbolic fencing, when one, and then two PiPl entered the roped off nesting area. At first we thought it was the Mama and Papa, but it could also have been two males.
The symbolic fencing will remain at least for another few days. Although it is late in the season for nesting there is the possibility that the PiPl will re-nest. I guess we will all just stay tuned as to what our remarkable PiPls will do next!
We don’t know what terrorized the PiPl Tuesday night. There has been a great deal of dog tracks around the nesting area , as seen by all the morning volunteers, over the past week, as well as evidence of a party Tuesday night. A hypodermic needle was found on the beach by one of Coach Latoffs players early Wednesday morning. Friends, it is going to take a village if the PiPl re-nest. Please, please, if you see anything suspicious at GHB–bonfires, dogs, heavy drinking, and anything else along those lines, please, please call the police. Thank you!Piping Plover Cape Hedge Beach June 28, 2018
Covering storms back to back, I didn’t have time to post on both Good Morning Gloucester and on my blog. The following are links to storm posts from the region’s three March nor’easters, beginning on March 2nd.
The northward avian migration is heating up! The following are just three of the fascinating species of wild birds readily seen at this time of year, found all around Cape Ann. Look for Brants, Scaups, and Ring-necked Ducks at coves, bays, ponds, quarries, and marshes.
Currently migrating along Cape Ann’s shoreline is a beautiful brigade of Brant Geese. They usually turn up at about this time of year, late winter through early spring, and I have been looking for them in all the usual places. Brants thrive in Cape Ann coves, devouring sea lettuce while riding the incoming and outgoing waves. I see them eating and pecking for food atop barnacle-crusted rocks and am not sure if they are eating seaweed caught on the rocks or tiny crustaceans.
Brants eating bright green sea lettuce.
In the 1930s a terrible disease devastated eel grass and the Brant population plummeted. Surviving Brants adapted to sea lettuce and as the eel grass recovered, so too is the population of Brants recovering.
Brants are wonderfully vocal, making a funny “cronk” sound. I was walking past a flock of geese off in the distance and wasn’t paying much attention. Thinking they were Canada Geese, I ignored them until hearing their vigorous cronking.
They fight with each too, over rocks and food. Tomorrow if I can find the time I will try to post photos that I took of a Brant scuffle.
Brants feeding on the rocks are knocked off by the incoming tide, but then quickly get right back up again.
Brants migrate the furthest north of any species of goose, as far north as Hedwig territory.
Two Males and a Female Greater Scaup
The Greater Scaup breeds as far north as Snowy Owls and Brant Geese, and Ring-necked Ducks are also passing through, not traveling quite as far, but on their way to the Alaskan and Canadian boreal forests. Greater Scaups travel in flocks, sometimes forming rafts of thousands. You can see why in the photos Greater Scaups are colloquially called Bluebills.
Three male Greater Scaups and a Red-breasted Merganser
The most significant threat to Greater Scaups is habitat loss, oil, and sewage pollution. Nearly eighty percent winter over in the Atlantic Flyway where they are subjected to heavy metals in foods and habitat.
So many suitors! Lone female Ring-necked Duck with potential mates.
The two species are closely related (Aythya collaris and Atythya marila); both are small diving ducks and both are vulnerable to becoming poisoned by lead from diving for food and incidentally eating the lead shot and lures that continues to cause problems in our wetlands.
Photographing shorebirds early today and this Homie arrives on the scene, loudly announcing his catch. Before I could turn on my movie camera, he swallowed the whole lobster, in one big gulp! You could see the sharp edges of the lobster as it went down his gullet. I predict a Homie with a tummy ache.
The tremendous variety of seaweed currently covering Pebble Beach captures a wealth of sustenance for migrating shorebirds (and Homies).
Sanderlings, Sandpipers, Semiplamated Plovers, and one Snowy Egret at Pebble Beach today, September 12, 2017.
Article by Boston Globe correspondent Emily Sweeney
Photos courtesy Kim Smith
A popular swan at Henry’s Pond in Rockport managed to stay one step ahead of rescuers who were trying to capture him Tuesday.
The elderly bird, known affectionately as “Mr. Swan,” has been a common sight at the pond for many years. During that time, he’s fathered many cygnets and outlived two of his mates, and led a peaceful existence on the water.
But things took a turn recently when Mr. Swan hurt his leg. Although he could still swim, some people began to notice that Mr. Swan was having difficulty walking. And they began to worry.
Soon enough, the Animal Rescue League was called in to help.
“The swan is considered a community pet, so the goal was to capture it, have it treated, and then returned to the pond,” said Michael DeFina, a spokesman for the Animal Rescue League.
While that mission sounds simple, carrying it out proved to be anything but. Catching Mr. Swan turned out to be an impossible task for the organization’s rescue team. Armed with large nets, the two rescuers — Bill Tanguay and Mark Vogel — used kayaks to pursue Mr. Swan on the water. At one point, Vogel almost caught Mr. Swan in his net, but the bird was able to break free.
Mr. Swan eventually sought refuge in the reeds, and the rescuers decided to call off the chase.
“The swan was stressed, and the soaring temperatures made him very tired,” said DeFina. “The fact he eluded capture and was able to swim without showing obvious signs of pain led to the conclusion that the injury may not be that severe.”
“After giving up the chase, ARL and the concerned parties agreed to continually monitor the swan’s condition, and if it worsens, ARL will be contacted to get the swan medical attention, and again, have him returned to the pond,” DeFina said.
Kim Smith, a Gloucester resident who counts herself among one of Mr. Swan’s many fans, described the rescue attempt as a “wild swan chase.”
“He was chased back and forth across the pond,” she said.
What made his escape even more impressive is Mr. Swan’s age. According to Smith, sightings of Mr. Swan date back to the early 1990s, which would make him at least 27 years old. (Smith knows Mr. Swan well: she’s spent the past six years filming him for a documentary film.)
“He’s an amazing creature,” she said.
DeFina said that the average lifespan for a swan in the wild can be about 10 to 15 years due to the hazards they can encounter (getting caught in fishing gear, getting hit by a boat, etc.), while a swan living in a protected environment can live 20 to 30 years.
“It’s clear that there are certainly people in Gloucester who care for this swan, if he’s in fact been around that long,” DeFina said.
Smith said that although the Animal Rescue League’s efforts were well-intentioned, she’s happy that Mr. Swan eluded capture.
“He’s lived this long, he deserves to spend his last days in his own neighborhood with his friends,” she said.
Featuring: Brant Geese, Black-capped Chickadees, Black-crowned Night Heron, Blue Jays, Cardinals, American Robins, Mockingbirds, Savannah Sparrows, House Finches, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Common Grackle.
Beautiful iridescent feathers of the Common Grackle.
Spring is a fantastic time of year in Massachusetts to see wildlife, whether that be whale or winged creature. Marine species are migrating to the abundant feeding grounds of the North Atlantic as avian species are traveling along the Atlantic Flyway to summer breeding regions in the boreal forests and Arctic tundra. And, too, the bare limbs of tree branches and naked shrubs make for easy viewing of species that breed and nest in our region. Verdant foliage that will soon spring open, although much longed for, also obscures nesting activity. Get out today and you’ll be richly rewarded by what you see along shoreline and pond bank.
Male Red-winged Blackbird singing to his lady love
Once the trees leaf, we’ll still hear the songsters but see them less.
Nests will be hidden from view.
Five migrating Brant Geese were foraging on seaweed at Loblolly Cove this morning.