Piping Plover male and chicks copyright Kim SmithWith sadness, but not entirely unexpected, I am sorry to report that only one baby Piping Plover chick remains at Good Harbor. The good news is that the one surviving chick is doing fantastically as of this writing. Don’t worry when I write too that the Mom has left the family. She has begun to migrate southward. This is somewhat normal and I don’t think she would have left had not the chick been doing so well. Dad is minding the baby full time and he is doing a tremendous job.

A week since the Plovers hatched and it sure has been a joy to film, and wonderfully educational. I am very inspired to work on this short film and hope to have it ready for our community this summer.

Piping Plover chick copyright Kim SmithNotice the growing wing buds!

Piping Plover tiny chick copyright Kim SmithThe tiniest

A heartfelt reminder to please, please, please let’s all work together to keep the dogs off the beach. I had a terrible encounter, really frustrating and the owner and his friends very cruel. Ninety nine point nine percent of dog owners are wonderful and respectful and are rooting for the Plovers as much as are non-dog owners. The Plovers are all over the sandy beach, at the water’s edge, and down the creek. Although growing beautifully, the chick is still about the size of a cotton ball, maybe a cotton ball and a half. Up until fourteen days old, they are at their most vulnerable.

As with before, please fee free to share the photos and information on social media. The more people know about the garbage and dog owner trouble (certain dog owners that is), the more likely the chick’s chance of survival. Thank you!

Piping Plover garbage and chick copyright Kim SmithGarbage left on the beach late in the day and overnight continues to be an issue. Bring a bag with you and we can help the DPW by cleaning up after the the folks who don’t know any better. Garbage strewn on the beach attracts gulls, and they, especially Great Black-backed Gulls, eat baby Plovers. 

Piping Plover male and chick copyright Kim Smith

Piping Plovers, like many shore birds, are precocial. That means that within hours after hatching, they are ready to leave the nest and can feed themselves. They cannot however immediately regulate their body temperature and rely on Mom and Dad to warm them under their wings. Although the chick is six days old in the above photo, it still looks to Dad for warmth and protection. Examples of other precocial birds are ducks, geese, and chickens.

If you spot the baby and want to observe, I recommend staying fifteen to twenty feet away at least. Any closer and Dad has to spend a great deal of energy trying to distract you. We don’t want him to get tired out and unable to care for the baby. Also, you’ll appear less threatening if you sit or kneel while observing the chick. No sudden movements and talk quietly and the baby may come right up to you!


A sweet dog with a very unkind owner.

Around 6pm Saturday evening, this playful dog came bounding down the water’s edge, within inches of the baby. I stood between the owner, dog, and Plovers, with cameras in hand, and cell phone unfortunately back in my bag. After a good twenty minutes of arguing he and his equally unkind friends departed. In the mean time, the Plovers were able to get away from the dog and further down the shore line.

Piping Plover male and chick -2 copyright Kim SmithDad and chick this morning Monday, the 18th, exactly one week old!

Have I told y’all how obsessed with my 30oz double walled stainless tumbler?

10:05AM Iced coffee. Still a ton of ice at 3:47PM. Have I told y’all how obsessed with my 30oz double walled stainless tumbler?

Check out the reviews when you hit the link!



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Blackburn Challenge Rubber Duck Wrap Up

Preliminary results posted on this page. It was a perfect day. Nice high tide in the Annisquam, flat water most of the way around, lovely breeze, choppiest water was the last two miles in Gloucester Harbor.

So Russ Cone and Tom Bohrer go around Cape Ann in a sliding seat double in 2 hours 26 minutes. Are you serious? 9 mph or around 7.8 knots! The harbormaster will give you a ticket in the “No Wake” zone going that fast. How is that possible to do for a hundred yards much less over 20 miles of bumpy water? It is possible because a majority of the contestants in the Blackburn seem to be only made out of leather and sinew and have likely run an Ironman triathlon in the past week. Conversations at the high school before we take off, “I only drink coconut milk and free range basil the day before so my potassium levels are high and I don’t get twitchy.” Well shit I wish someone had told me that before I had three martinis and pork ribs the night before because I sure got twitchy out there.

For the rest, you should really click on the Blackburn Challenge 2016 Results. Each posted time is a story. The SUP stand up paddles mostly made it under 5 hours. That is amazing. I always find the most amazing are the dories and work boats posting faster times than me. Rubber Duck is in a 30 pound kayak and they are in a quarter ton or much more boat. You could pile ten lobster traps in the stern and they might add a few seconds to their time.

So how did the Rubber Duck do? I finished. 5:22:07. My goal is to break 5 hours but I blew a seal at Lanes Cove. Maybe three seals. They jumped in my boat and wanted to party. No wait, wrong type of seal. I whip down the Annisquam and actually still see the leaders of SK kayaks at the river mouth. Which means I am going too fast and not pacing myself. And sure enough one elbow and one leg get a case of the twitchies and I have to take my feet off the pegs and straight arm paddle for 30 minutes while I dream of coconut milk. Sandy Bay is a stretched out nightmare that never ends and by Milk Island I am in survival mode. Just finish. By Good Harbor Beach I want to paddle in and throw myself onto the shore but I would scare the kids and the piping Plovers would run away. Being a local I know exactly where Brace Rock is and how long the Dogbar Breakwater is (over two thousand gruesome feet!) and Gloucester Harbor measures exactly two miles and every whale watch boat wants to kill me. I swear one missed me then backed up to try to finish me off, OK the mind goes after 5 hours of paddling.

Greasy pole, time is recorded, flip boat to lay in water for ten minutes then on up to pour two pints of cold Ipswich Summer Ale down my throat. That wasn’t so bad. Let’s do it again!

Lessons learned: Everyone else has a winged paddle in my group. They giggle at my Werner Cypress paddle. Who knew? Not me. Getting one of those. Coconut milk and basil. Yup, potassium next year I’ll have a case, no martinis for 24 hours. 2017 I break 5 hours. Nothing damaged, feel great, time for a nap, this typing is making my poor pruney fingers tired.

Rubber Duck: "You can't paddle any faster?" Pikachu: "Will there be any beer left?"
Rubber Duck: “You can’t paddle any faster?” Pikachu: “Will there be any beer left?”

And last but not least, The Cape Ann Rowing Club pulls off another flawless race. An all volunteer army gets 300 contestants into the water with humor, keeps an eye on them for 20 miles with the safety boats all the way to the finish line and beyond including picking up the errant pulled pork plate on Pavilion Beach.

Kindness ROCKS!

A few weeks ago I was inspired by a Facebook friend of mine who posted about TheKindnessRocksProject. It’s a movement whose goal is to #1: inspire others #2: recruit every person who stumbles upon it to join the pursuit of inspiring others through kindness!

With everything negative that happens in this world I thought what a cool thing this would be to start in my own area just to make someone smile or give a few words of inspiration if needed. Yes, I know it’s not world peace but “One moment can change a day, One day can change a life, and one life can change the world” (Gautama Buddha)

The Kindness Rocks Project was created to spread inspiration and motivation for unsuspecting recipients through random rocks dropped along the way. It’s easy…you collect some rocks, write something motivational or inspirational on it, then leave it behind for someone that might need it.

So I started coloring some rocks and my daughter Abbey joined in (I mean…who doesn’t like to color? Right?) Then she and I spent a couple of hours putting a little kindness back into the world, one rock at a time… which was fun…like a reverse scavenger hunt! We would love to see others create some rocks too, so feel free to join in and instagram your rocks to @thekindnessrocksproject and to me @shutterbythesea!

“Your legacy is every life you have touched!”




McCartney, Weir, and Gronkowski?

So, I could go on and on about how unbelievable it was to see Paul McCartney play at Fenway Park last night….and I probably will in tomorrow’s post…but, for now….  Here is a tidbit of something you are not apt to see again in this lifetime.  Paul McCartney, Bob Weir, and Rob Gronkowski performing Helter Skelter….on stage…in Center Field…of Fenway Park.  Just saying.