Len Burgess writes,
I thought you’d like to see these fair shots of Eiders that I got this afternoon at the Blyman bridge.
There were a large number at the entrance with the tide coming out. Some were diving for fish.
Hope you are doing well.
Thank you for sharing Len!


While filming PiPls, from high overhead came the shrilly distinct call of an Osprey. As majestic in flight as a Bald Eagle, he perused the beach and then circled back several times more. I wondered, is he coming for Piping Plover chicks or possibly the creche of Common Eider ducklings that was sweeping the shoreline for sea lettuce.

Creche of Common Eiders foraging for sea lettuce.

When I returned home I read Osprey pose very little threat to baby birds. Ninety-nine percent of their diet is fish and only rarely do they hunt other creatures, mostly when fish are not available. Commonly called Fish Hawk, Sea Hawk, and River Hawk, Osprey have evolved with such highly specialized physical characteristics to aid in hunting fish that they have been given their own taxonomic genus and family (Pandion haliaetus)

To learn more about Osprey, you may find John J. Audubon’s life history super interesting: Fish Hawk, or Osprey

Link to Essex Greenbelt live osprey cam: https://ecga.org/Osprey-Cam

Piping Plover chicks make easy targets for avian predators, but not Osprey ūüôā


Brace Cove winter sunrise www.kimsmithdesigns 2016Brace Cove at dawn, a great place for bird watching

Please join me Thursday night at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center where I will be presenting a brand new illustrated talk “Beautiful Birds of Cape Ann.” The program¬†covers the¬†gorgeous migrating and resident birds that we see¬†in our neighborhoods, as seen¬†through the seasons, and includes such beauties as the Snowy Owl, Brant Geese,¬†Snow Goose, Redheads, a rarely-seen-in-our region White Pelican, egrets, herons, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, songbirds, and some life history of Cape Ann’s resident swan family.¬†The program begins at 7pm¬†and is¬†part of the RNCC and Mass Audubon ongoing exhibit “For the Birds.” I hope to see you there!

Redhead Duck www. kim smith designsPair of Male Redheads, the Dynamic Duo

Common Eider Gloucester harbor www. kim smith designs

Common Eider Gloucester Harbor

Niles Pond winter sunrise www.kimsmithdesigns 2016

Niles Pond and Gloucester Harbor are both excellent for viewing water birds

Mallard Ducks Gloucester www.kimsmithdesigns 2016JPG


Also too, if any of our readers live in the Rye, New Hampshire area, I am giving my illustrated talk on the Monarch Butterfly tomorrow morning, Tuesday the 16th, at 10am. Please email me if you would like more information.


Kim Smith Talk

Eider Encounter

Finishing up filming cygnets and ducklings for the morning, I noticed a Great Blue heron swoop onto the shore. I got my gear back out and headed over to where it appeared to have landed along the rocky coastline. With eyes peeled for¬†the heron I nearly tripped over the female Common Eider. Literally. Oval-shaped¬†and seemingly immobile, the eider¬†looked just like another rock on the beach. She didn’t budge while I kneeled¬†down on the sand and photographed and filmed her, cameras positioned no more than a foot¬†away. I only stayed close for a few moments and then moved further away and watched for awhile as¬†she thoroughly oiled her feathers. She didn’t appear to be injured. Concerned as I was¬†that she could easily become a coyote’s breakfast if she wasn’t able to fly, still I thought it best to leave her be. As I returned to my car and turned for one last look, she was flying straight up,¬†helicopter fashion,¬†and then forward¬†towards the sea.

Female Common Eider Rockport Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

 Female Common Eider

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Milkweed Seedpod ©Kim Smith 2014

Did You Know That ANYONE Can Become A Member of the Audubon Society?

In case you were unaware, The Audubon Society is not a restricted organization. It is comprised entirely of people like you and me. Massachusetts alone has over 100,000 member citizens that belong to the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Here is a link to get you started: Get Involved.

Particularly for Massachusetts residents, the¬†Massachusetts Audubon Society’s website is especially helpful in identifying birds observed locally; see the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas Find a Bird Page. The¬†Common Eider seen on Rogers Street, and guided to safety¬†by Thomas Donahue, is on the Mass Audubon Find A Bird page and you can read more about this interesting bird here:¬†Common Eider.The atlas¬†isn’t always helpful, for example, GMG contributor Donna recently spotted a Horned Grebe. That particular species is not included on the page however, it was easily¬†identified by looking¬†at¬†other sources, including books and websites such as Cornell’s All About Birds¬†website.

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Reminder: Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend, a program sponsored by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Massachusetts Audubon Society was rescheduled for the weekend of February 27 through the 29th. Click here for details.


Robert Chem Sanderlings painting currently on view at the Trident Gallery



Robert Chem Northern Shrike 

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Additional information about Mass Audubon membership:

Members of the Massachusetts Audubon Society enjoy the following benefits:

Free Places to Explore, a full-color guide to Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries, nature centers, and museums.

Free one-year subscriptions to Connections, our member newsletter, and our new annual publication (first issue will be sent in February).

Member-only discounts on hundreds of exciting programs, camps, courses, and most special events.

Savings on purchases and access to member-only sales at our gift shops.

Member-only access to:

Savings on green auto insurance (10%) with the Environmental Insurance Agency (EIA).

Migrate to Explorer level or higher for even more benefits. Learn about our different membership levels.

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us.

Common Eider With Young On A Camel

The baby ducks are in the middle.

Ducks on A Camel, originally uploaded by captjoe06.

From Jim Barber, resident bird expert-

“Common Eider with young. Common Eider breed on Ten Pound Island but they just started doing so about five years ago. Their range is expanding. I took some of the first photos of Common Eider young in Gloucester harbor at the time and they were published in Bird Observer magazine.
They are source of “eider down”. In Greenland they have vast farms of eider nests and the down is collected from the nest under strict government regulations.”