I hope you are all doing well, or as well as can be expected during this heartbreaking pandemic event. The following kind words were spoken by Pope Francis today and I think they could not be truer.
“We are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed,” he said.
“All of us called to row together, each of us in need of each other.”
In the world of wildlife spring migration is well underway and gratefully, nothing has changed for creatures small and large. That may change though in the coming days as resources for threatened and endangered species may become scarce.
A friend posted on Facebook that “we are all going to become birders, whether we like it or not.” I love seeing so many people out walking in the fresh air and think it is really the best medicine for our souls.
Several times I was at Good Harbor Beach over the weekend and people were being awesome practicing physical distancing. Both Salt Island Road and Nautilus Road were filled with cars, but none dangerously so, no more than we would see at a grocery store parking lot. I’m just getting over pneumonia and think I will get my old bike out, which sad to say hasn’t been ridden in several years. Cycling is a great thing to do with a friend while still practicing distancing and I am excited to get back on my bike.
An early spring wildlife scene update
The Niles Pond juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron made it through the winter!! He was seen this past week in his usual reedy location. Isn’t it amazing that he/she survived so much further north than what is typical winter range for BCHN.
Many of the winter resident ducks are departing. There are fewer and fewer Buffleheads, Scaups, and Ring-necked Ducks seen at our local waterways and ponds.
No sign lately of the American Pipits. For several days there were three! Snow Buntings at the berm at Brace Cove.
As some of the beautiful creatures that have been residing on our shores depart new arrivals are seen daily. Our morning walks are made sweeter with the songs of passerines courting and mating.
Song Sparrows, Mockingbirds, Robins, Cardinals, Chicadees, Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, and Carolina Wrens are just a few of the love songs filling backyard, fields, dunes, and woodland.
Cape Ann’s Kildeers appeared about a week or so ago, and wonderful of wonderful news, a Piping Plover pair has been courting at Good Harbor Beach since they arrived on March 22, a full three days earlier than last year.
Why do I think it is our PiPls returned? Because Piping Plovers show great fidelity to nesting sites and this pair is no exception. They are building nest scrapes in almost exactly the same location as was last year’s nest.
We should be seeing Fox kits and Coyote pups any day now, along with baby Beavers, Otters, and Muskrats 🙂
It’s been an off year for Snowy Owls in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic with relatively many fewer owls than that wonderful irruptive winter of 2017-2018 when Hedwig was living on the back shore. 2019 was a poor summer for nesting however, reports of high numbers of Lemmings at their eastern breeding grounds are coming in, which could mean a good nesting season for Snowies in 2020, which could lead to many more Snowies migrating south in the winter of 2020-2021.
Take care Friends and be well ❤
Photos of the full Super Worm Moon rising and setting.
Called the Worm Moon because the ground begins to soften and earthworms reappear, inviting Robins to our gardens. Among many names, March’s Full Moon is also called the Sleepy Moon, Sap Moon, Crust Moon, Lenten Moon, and Crow Moon.
Good Harbor Beach
In recent weeks, there have been more than a few reports of Dovekies and other seabirds found on our local beaches, both alive and dead. Friend Jeff Papows has found several dead birds and has returned one live Dovekie and one Common Murre.
Jeff knew just what to do with the stranded birds, which is to return them to the water. Jodi Swenson, from Cape Ann Wildlife, recommends this is best. She shares that seabirds do not do well in rehab. If on the other hand the bird appears sick or emaciated, then please call Tufts at (508) 839-7918.
Dovekies, like many seabirds, are clumsy on land, however they do nest on land, so we know they are able to walk. Then why are they stranding? It most commonly happens to young, inexperienced birds. But stranding can also happen in great numbers to exhausted adults after large storms. This influx is known as a wreck. One of the most tragic and dramatic wrecks occurred along the East Coast in 1932, when thousands of Dovekies literally “rained” from the sky.
Photos Jeff Papows
We’d like to get an understanding of how many seabirds are washing ashore. If you have seen a Dovekie, or other species of seabird, dead or alive on the beach this winter, please write and let us know when and where. Thank you so much.
Common Murres are more crow-sized whereas Dovekies are more similar in size to an American Robin
While filming the tiny Dovekie as he was blithely bopping along in the inner Harbor, dip diving for breakfast and seeming to find plenty to eat, suddenly from directly beneath the Dovekie, two ginromous chocolate brown heads popped up. Almost sea serpent-like and so completely unexpected! I leapt up and totally ruined the shot, and the little Dovekie was even more startled. He didn’t fly away but ran pell mell across the water about fifteen feet before giving a furtive look back, and then submerging himself.
So there we were face to face, only about twenty feet apart. We spent a good deal of time eyeing each other, several minutes at least, both trying to figure out the other’s next move. Their eyes are so large and expressively beautiful. Down they dove and search as I might, could not spot them again.
There have been plenty of Harbor Seals seen in Gloucester Harbor, but I have never been so close to a Grey Seal, and so delighted to see not one, but two!
The following are a number of ways to tell the difference between a Harbor Seal and a Grey Seal.
Harbor Seals are smaller (5 to 6 feet) than average Grey Seals (6 feet 9 inches long to 8 feet 10 inches long). Bull Grey Seals have been recorded measuring 10 feet 10 inches long!
Harbor Seals have a concave shaped forehead, with a dog-like snout. The head of a Grey Seal is elongated, with a flatter forehead and nose.
Harbor Seal head shape left, Grey Seal head right
Harbor Seals have a heart or V-shaped nostrils. The nostrils of Grey Seals do not meet at the bottom and create more of a W-shape.
Grey Seals are not necessarily gray. They are also black and brown. Their spots are more irregular than the spots of a Harbor Seal.
The tiny “Little Auk” has been on our shores for several days and this morning I was finally able to take a few good snapshots. It dips and bobs in a funny manner, weaving back and forth, up and down the channel, before using its wings to deeply dive for small fish and crustaceans.
Gloucester Harbor look so cold on Thursday afternoon and Annisquam from Washington Street.
How majestic to see the towering masts of the Columbia in our harbor during Schooner Fest!
A low flying helicopter overhead prompted Charlotte and I to head to the Harbor this morning. A fishing captain we met suggested it was a Wicked Tuna film crew, but I don’t recognize the boat Kraken from the show. By the time we got there, a dense fog bank was rolling in and filming quickly ended. If any of our readers know more, please write. Thank you 🙂
What is a Kraken I wondered? From wiki: The Kraken is a legendary cephalodpod-like sea monster of giant size in Scandinavian folklore. According to the Norse sagas, the Kraken dwells off the coast of Norway and Greenland and terrorizes nearby sailors. Authors over the years have postulated that the legend may have originated from sightings of giant squids that may grow 13-15 meters (40 to 50 feet) in length. Read more here.
From the race press: save the date — it’s a great, family friendly spectator sport event!
“CELEBRATE THE CLEAN HARBOR OPEN WATER SWIMMING FESTIVAL will be held August 17 and 18, 2019.
Starting off the festival will be the Clean Harbor Kids Swim on Saturday, a 500 meter swim along the shore of Niles Beach for 8-12 year olds. Held since 2015, this is a wonderful way to introduce kids to the sport of Open Water Swimming.
Also on Saturday will be the 1.2 Mile Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim
For 2019, we are continuing a second day to the event, creating the festival. We will be holding the 10 mile Clean Harbor Relay event on Sunday, August 18th. This event will be held on a 1.0 mile course, very similar to Saturday’s event. We suggest teams of 5, and swimming through the rotation two times. Your team may have more or less than 5 swimmers. We believe the more the merrier. There will be a 6.5 hour limit. This will be a fun atmosphere, so bring a beach chair/blanket, snacks, some sunscreen and shade, and have a great time hanging out on the beach between your swims with your closest swimming friends. “
Proceeds raised target Maritime Gloucester and Fishermen Wives Club
What a beautiful day Sunday was. Rick and I went kayaking around Gloucester Harbor and had our lunch on Ten Pound Island, we visited Joey on the dock, Wicked Tuna being filmed and paddle through the west wind and choppy ocean. It was fantastic. Also we saw the barge that took down the Magnolia Pier.
Again we are so lucky.