A people and parking pandemonium marked the second weekend in July at Cape Ann beaches during the global pandemic. Mayor Sefatia, Chief Conley, City Council, and the DPW have been working to address last weekend’s pandemic pandemonium so same is not repeated.
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!
Because the Piping Plovers are continually brought up as a reason for the beach overcrowding the following has been added to the original post –
Edited Note regarding the conservation areas set aside at Good Harbor Beach. A roped-off corridor eleven feet wide was created last spring, which runs the length of the entire beach. This corridor was established to help shore-up the dunes. We think protecting the dunes is a fantastic idea and you can already see positive results. Later in the spring, on April 17, an additional area was roped off for Piping Plover protection by the conservation agent. It was noted at the time that this area was twice as large as in previous years. The extremely large area we felt would obviously and unnecessarily frustrate the community and beach goers once the season was underway. Following that, at the time the nest exclosure was installed many weeks later, on May 29th, it was again noted and summarily dismissed that the area was unnecessarily too large. It’s not possible to change the size of the roped off area now while the PiPl chick is still present at GHB, but hopefully in the future there will be improved communication. Regardless of how anyone feels about Plovers, they are not causing the overcrowding, parking lot, and off street parking pandemonium.
Wonderfully fun and funny, heartfelt, quirky, original, and fabulous musicians all, Guster headlined Gloucester’s first Riverfest Seaside Music Festival. Montage of highlights from the show with favorite songs “Amsterdam,” “Happier,” “Satellite,” “Stay With Me Jesus,” “Homecoming King,” “Ramona,” “Do You Love Me,” “This Could All Be Yours,” and more.
For information on upcoming shows, tickets, store, and to see Guster’s latest hit video for “Overexcited,” go HERE to www.guster.com
Headlining act Guster gave a fantastic and fabulous-in-every-way show at the Riverfest Seaside Music Festival Saturday afternoon. They played all the fan favorites for a wonderfully fun and eclectic audience. Some of my favorite songs from their beautiful repertoire of music included “Amsterdam,” Do You Love Me,” “This Could All Be Yours,” “Homecoming King,” “Satellite,” “Stay With Me Jesus,” and many, many more. Video with music highlights to come later this week 🙂
Although I had to work most of the day and didn’t get to the event until after 3:30, the festival went fabulously well, from this fan’s perspective. A huge shout out to Donald St. Sauveur and radio 92.5 The River (the best rock radio station, bar none!), Mayor Sefatia and her team for bringing Riverfest to Gloucester, to Jill Cahill and Gloucester’s stellar DPW for the advanced planning and organizing (Stage Fort Park looked absolutely gorgeous!), to all the sponsors, and especially to the fans. Everyone was having a grand time-enjoying the music, dancing, spending time with family and friends, and just having fun.
Thank you festival organizers for a wonderfully new and exciting event for Gloucester! I hope it is the the first of many Riverfests to come!!!
HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PIPING PLOVER AND A KILLDEER
This past week, we have received a half dozen reports of “plovers” nesting in local parking lots. Folks are correct, they are a type of plover, but they are not Piping Plovers. The bird is a more common sort, a Killdeer, and Killdeers, like Piping Plovers (and other species of plovers), share many similar courting, nest scraping, mating, and defensive behaviors.
Killdeers have been nesting in the dunes and in the Good Harbor Beach parking lot for a number of years, and some years they even have two broods. Last year, the first brood of the season hatched from a nest in the dunes, the second brood, from a nest at the perimeter of the parking lot. For the second nest, Gloucester’s amazing DPW crew put up a large rock adjacent to the nest, to prevent cars from driving over the nest.
We don’t hear as much about Killdeer Plovers because they are not an endangered species. Killdeers are found in every state of the continental US, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. They are the least shorebird-like of shorebirds because they breed and dwell in many types of habitats including grasslands, fields, urban areas, gravel pits, airports, parking lots, athletic fields, and golf courses. Despite their super ability to adapt to human habitats, it is a species in decline.
Killdeers are nearly twice as large as Piping Plovers, but you wouldn’t know that unless you see them side-by-side. The easiest way to tell the difference is Killdeers have two black collar bands whereas PiPls only have one.
The back and wing feathers of the Killdeers are a mid-shade of brown, with rust and orange under wings. This coloration more easily blends with gravel pits, grasslands, and scrubby dune habitats. The Piping Plover’s wing and back feathers are a soft pale gray, in shades of driftwood and sand; the birds are much better camouflaged for beach life. The Killdeer has a red eye ring, the Piping Plover’s eyes are jet black. Killdeer’s bills are more elongated and are a solid black, the PiPls’s is shorter and orange, tipped in black. Piping Plovers have orangish legs; Killdeer’s legs are light buff and light gray.
The feathers of the Killdeers at Stage Fort park blend beautifully with gravel, scrubby grass, and dirt found there in the parking lot. Notice in the third photo in the above gallery how the Killdeer blends with its grassy surroundings.
Piping Plovers are camouflaged in coastal hues of sand and driftwood.
The same advice that applies to observing Piping Plover chicks as does to Killdeer chicks. Watch from a safe distance that does not cause the birds to flush and never pick up or touch the eggs or chick.
Killdeer and Piping Plover chicks are precocial. That is a word biologists use to describe a baby bird’s stage of development at birth. Precocial means that shortly after hatching, the bird is fully mobile. Plover chicks are not completely mature, they still need parents to help regulate their body temperature, but they have downy feathers and can run and feed themselves within moments after emerging. Both Killdeer and Piping plover chicks are well camouflaged in their natural habitats.
The opposite of precocial is altricial. Birds that hatch helpless, naked, usually blind, and are incapable of departing the nest are altricial. Robins and Cardinals are examples of altricial birds.
Even though they are not Piping Plovers, we still love to hear about Killdeers and to learn more about where they are nesting in our area. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any information you would like to share about Killdeers. Thank you.
Today marked the last of the ribbon cutting ceremonies for the exciting new kiosks (nine total) that have been installed by the Essex National Heritage all along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. Mayor Sefatia and Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante did the honors. The kiosk is located at Stage Fort Park near the visitor’s center. Despite the biting wind and freezing temperatures the event was well-attended. To learn more about the Coastal Byway, visit www.CoastalByway.org
Red, White, and Blue Grand Finale
I thought the fireworks this fourth extra stupendous. If you agree, the Gloucester Fireworks Committee is looking for donations, small and large, for the fireworks display during Schooner Festival over Labor Day Weekend. If you haven’t already contributed, they would appreciate your help. You can donate by clicking here or sending a check to:
The Gloucester Fund
45 Middle Street
Gloucester, MA 01930
Please make the notation on your check “Fireworks.”
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