What is happening here? A hungry swim of cormorants have pushed a stream of bait fish towards the shallow shore waters. The minnows are met by equally as hungry Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets waiting on the rocks. I’ve watched many egrets eat prey and they often toss it about in the air for half a minute before swallowing whole, I think to line it up so the fish or frog goes straight down its gullet. At that very moment when the egrets are adjusting their catch, the gulls swoop in and try to snatch the minnows from the egrets. This scene was filmed at Niles Beach. My friend Nancy shares that she has observed the egret and cormorant symbiotic feeding partnership many mornings over by where she lives on the Annisquam River.
These aquamarine-eyed beauties were very nearly made extinct from the use of the pesticide DDT and from hunting. DDT wreaked havoc on avian creatures nationwide and since its ban, the Double-crested Cormorant has made an extraordinary recovery, so much so, that some communities spend a great deal of time and expense planning how to kill, or cull, these remarkable birds. Read here for a very thoughtful article on the topic, “To Kill a Cormorant.”
The Double-crested Cormorant get its common name from the double tufts of feathers seen on both male and females, showing only during breeding season. The crests can be white, black, or a combination of both. Photo courtesy wiki.
Tropical storm Hermine’s rain has breathed new life into Cape Ann’s drought depleted freshwater ponds and brackish marshes. Perhaps it was her winds that delivered a surprise visit from the Yellow-crowned Night Heron, a rarity for Massachusetts as we are at the tippy northern end of their breeding range. Towering waves accompanied by a tumbling undertow tossed from the deep sea gifts of nutrient rich seaweeds, mollusks, and tiny crustaceans, providing a feast for our feathered friends. See all that she brought!
Yellow Crowned Night Heron, juvenile
Wind and weather worn Red Admiral Butterfly, drinking salty rain water from the sand and warming its wings in the sun.
The Wingaersheek Piping Plover family has not yet begun their southward migration. Here they are foraging in the bits of shells, tiny clams, and seaweed brought to the shoreline by Hermine and not usually found in this location.
That Rubber Duck is too small. To get a gigantic Rubber Duck to our shores please “like” the Facebook Page, “Bring the Rubber Duck to Gloucester Harbor“. We need that page liked at least one hundred more times before we can submit a gigantic rubber duck request.
I awoke this morning before dawn to film sunrise and found a sweet gift of Virgilios sauce and amazingly fat rigatonis in the basket on my front porch. I am recovering from a leg operation and my friend Catherine Ryan called at the very moment that I was trying my personal recovery technique–on the floor doing a shoulder stand, with phone in hand–and she really got an earful. Thank you Catherine for listening to me complain about itchy leg braces and hospitals. I gave her the wrong impression though because I can walk and work–I just cannot sit or stand in one place for very long.
After putting the sauce and pasta in the cupboard I left to go film, and once again, the exquisite Great Blue Heron was there at Good Harbor Beach fishing amongst the reeds. For the third morning in a row I have observed a flock of cormorants leaving Salt Island en masse to fish with the gulls in the outgoing surf along the shoreline. I wonder, do they sleep there every night?
By now it’s after 8:00 and I almost always go to yoga on Saturday mornings but because of the stitches, thought better of it and instead went to measure a new border at the Gloucester HarborWalk.
Next stop was the farm stand and then on to Pick Your Own at Long Hill in Beverly. In case any pollinators stop by, I prefer to leave my own zinnias growing in the garden and just love the array of colors in the Long Hill garden mix.
All this gorgeousness before 10:00 and I still have a work day if front of me, but it’s been a September Saturday morning I won’t soon forget! For all these gifts, of friendship and of the beauty that surrounds, I am counting my blessings.
I’ve been learning little by little about light when taking pictures. To be perfectly honest 90 percent of the pictures I take are with the automatic settings from the camera. At one point I thought you could never get enough light and that ideally you wanted your subjects flooded with bright sunshine.
If I took this shot in bright sunshine you never would have seen the ruffles of the feathers. The automatic settings would have adjusted the shutter speed and it would have been all black. Because it was dark and overcast it came like this-