Birds of Cape Ann: Buffleheads

Next time you see a flock of ducks, look closely. You may be surprised by the range of  different species within the group. Although not always the case, but more often than not at this time of year, I see several species within a flock. What typically happens as I try to get closer to photograph or film a flock of shore birds, the Mallards, which seem very comfortable around people will stay and the somewhat less seen species, such as Buffleheads, Gadwalls, and American Wigeons will fly away.

Buffleheads, gulls Brace Cove ©Kim Smith 2014 I counted six different species of birds feeding in the seaweed at Brace Cove in the above photo.

This past autumn, and continuing through this winter, I have been filming and photographing B roll all around the ponds and marshes of Cape Ann. Today begins a mini series about shore birds, ducks, and wading birds, including photos and interesting facts, to help better identify the differences between the ducks and wading birds that migrate through, and winter over, on Cape Ann.

One of several Cape Ann geographical features that allows for such a wonderfully wide range of birds to be found on our shores and marshes is the fact that we lie within a largely unrestricted north south corridor for migratory species of birds and butterflies. What exactly does that mean? From the eastern coastline, all the way from Maine to Florida, and between the Appalachian Mountain range further west is a corridor where there are no barriers such as large bodies of water or mountains to fly over, which allows for unrestricted movement of birds and butterflies.

Male and Female buffflerheads ©Kim Smith 2014Male and Female Buffleheads

Male Buffleheads are one of the easiest birds to distinguish from a distance and within a group because of their sharp black and white coloring, comparatively smaller size, and pert, rounded shape. Upon closer inspection the males heads are marked with striking iridescent green and purplish feathers. The photo above shows three males and one female, and she is differentiated by her all over darker color and the patch of white feathers on her check. Rapid wingbeats make Buffleheads easier to distinguish when in flight as well. Their old-fashioned name of “Butterballs” aptly describes these beautiful and welcome winter migrants!

I am by no means a bird expert. I love to film and photograph the natural world around us and along the way find it fascinating to learn about the wildlife and flora that surrounds. Note to all GMG nature and bird-loving readers ~  I hope you’ll comment with your expertise. We would love to hear from you!

A Badelynge of Buffleheads

badelynge of buffleheads

OK technically it is a raft or paddling of buffleheads since they are in the water, but I just couldn’t pass up using badelynge (pronounced bad-ling), which refers a group of ducks on land.  Buffleheads are my favorite little sea duck, and I have the pleasure of regularly seeing this group on Smiths Cove from my window.

Buffleheads have evolved their small size in order to fit into the nesting cavity of their “metabiotic” host, the Northern Flicker.  Due to their small size, they are highly active, diving almost continuously.  They do not tend to collect in large flocks; but are usually limited to small rafts.  One duck will serve as a sentry, watching for predators as the others in the group dive in search of food.  Buffleheads are among the last waterfowl to leave their breeding grounds and one of the world’s most punctual migrants, arriving on their wintering grounds within a narrow margin of time each year.  Buffleheads are monogamous, and the females return to the same breeding site, year after year.  (adapted from Wikipedia)

E.J. Lefavour

The Gift That Keeps On Giving…This weeks GMG Cooks!

PrintThis Weeks GMG Cooks…..Thank you for taking the time to share your comments, and photos of dishes that you created from my easy Step-by-Step tutorials. They warm my heart and bring a smile to face every day…keep them coming!

Lia Rix pasta gorgonzola

Lia Rix From Lexington Ma. writes~ Eating one of Sista Felicia recipes. Lia made it.

Lia, your Pasta Gorgonzola looks delicious, and I’m thrilled your enjoying my “Gifts Of Gold In A Sicilian Kitchen With Sista Felicia, Harvest” cookbook….your holly berry dinner plates are beautiful! Happy New Year and Happy Cooking! Thank you for sharing your photo.

michelle Lewis-Nassar

Michelle Lewis-Nasser writes~ Pumpkin Caramel coffee cake…so good! I’ve made it before but today seemed like the perfect morning for it!

Michelle, I agree it is so good! It’s one of my favorite coffee cakes to make…hum… you have me thinking…This week I have been on a roll of making things with extra pantry items left over from the holidays…I think I remember seeing a can of pumpkin in my pantry…I’m going to check……

pantry photo

Yes… Jackpot! Looks like I’ll be making one this week for my family!

All  “Sista Felicia Recipe” photos sent to GMG, Twitter @ Sista Felicia or my personal Facebook page will be posted once per week… send your photos in and join the GMG Cooks Club!

I put a twist on my Pasta Gorgonzola recipe  tonight … I received a huge wedge of Stilton Gorgonzola as a gift for my New Years Year celebtration last week, from our dear family friend Toby Pett … AKA  “The One and only all around great guy Toby Pett and GMG co-podcast host.” We have enjoyed snacking on it with cured olives, roasted red peppers and assorted crackers all week. I had only a small piece saved to make Pasta Gorgonzola  for my daughter Amanda before her return to school, her favorite and a recipe featured on page 208 in my cookbook “Gifts of Gold.” Tonight I decided to  served it over a bed of baby spinach and few toasted pecans… It was simply Delicious!

pasta gogonzola with a twist

Kill Me With Kindness!

This afternoon, my first day in the gallery since New Year's Eve, Bob Morgan of Savour Wine and Cheese, came in with a present for the gallery. He and Kathleen Erickson wanted to thank me for helping them. These 12 bottles of Prosecco will be used for our next gallery event. January Chocolate Tour? Valentine's Party? Or big GMG Mug Up? As I learned from Joey C., don't solicit contributions. But if they are forthcoming, I'll share them with all of my friends from Good Morning Gloucester.
This afternoon, my first day in the gallery since New Year’s Eve, Bob Morgan of Savour Wine and Cheese, came in with a present for the gallery. He and Kathleen Erickson wanted to thank me for helping them. These 12 bottles of Prosecco will be used for our next gallery event. January Chocolate Tour? Valentine’s Party? Or big GMG Mug Up? As I learned from Joey C., don’t solicit contributions. But if they are forthcoming, I’ll share them with all of my friends from Good Morning Gloucester.

Sunrise Today: Sun is closest to the Earth!

Sunrise Rockport January 5, 2014. Breakwater to the left and the Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses to the right with Straitsmouth lighthouse too.

The sun reached perihelion last night which means it is the closest it gets to earth all year. Can’t you feel those rays up close and personal? This morning from Andrews Point the sun rose to the right of the breakwater. In a few short weeks that sunrise will move behind the breakwater as it heads north to … wait for it … SUMMER!

-Rubber Duck armed with a weenie iPhone 5s

Snowed in with Kids? Go to Wolf Hollow Today 1 PM

Cooped up in the house for the past few days? Well, it’s a beautiful day out there and what better kid trip then to take them all to Wolf Hollow. The Wolves will be ready for you at 1 PM.wolf3

Hours and Directions to Wolf Hollow. A short drive off Cape Ann. Take your camera and send Rubber Duck a photo of your favorite wolf and I’ll post it here at GMG. Way more fun then a dumb football game.

-Rubber Duck

Community Photos 1/5/14

“And then the sun came out to shine on Brace Rock……January 3, 2014

Robert N. Elwell Jr.

Brace Rock January 3 2014 (S)

Snowstorm photos from Anthony Marks


Different Seasons at the “Rudder” From John Nasser

What a difference a season makes! Note the GMG sticker on the door way in the summer photo.


Here’s a picture of Kiara age 6 playing in the snow by the docks!


Frank McCall Lanes Cove Storm Video II

Hi Joey,

I took another walk to Lanes Cove after I finished my shoveling today. The water level was higher than yesterday’s high tide and the breakwater had quite a bit more splash-over. If you watch carefully, you will see water pouring through the breakwater as well. I could not stand in the same place where I took my video yesterday because that location was underwater!

Frank McCall