SHOUT OUT TO YOUNG CONSERVATIONISTS DIMITRI AND SVETLANA!

Svetlana, Dimitri, and Robert

This amazing family was in the parking lot at Good Harbor Beach. They had collected a trash bag full of garbage from around the lot. Dad Robert explained that because they love Good Harbor Beach so much, and go often during the summer, they wanted to give back.

Our DPW does an incredible job keeping the beach and lot clean however, it’s impossible for any one entity to keep up with the amount of litter that happens on our beaches. It takes a village, and it is people like Sveltana, Dimitri, and Robert that are making a real difference.

*Although I wrote down the names of the kids, somehow the message to myself was deleted. I think their names are spelled correctly, but if not, please write. Thank you šŸ™‚

One determined seagull on Nautilus Road

Carry In, Carry Out

TEE-HEE TEE-HEE – LAUGHING GULL AT GOOD HAROBR BEACH!

Laughing Gull Good Harbor Beach Gloucester Massachusetts copyright Kim SmithLook for this unmistakeable gull at Good Harbor Beach. It has been here for several days.Ā You can’t miss his distinguishedĀ black head and deepest slate gray wings. If lucky, he may even laughĀ his funnyĀ laugh for you. This is a first for me,Ā seeing a Laughing Gull at Good Harbor Beach. When I was a child we would see them oftenĀ at my Grandparent’s beach on Cape Cod.Ā If you have seen Laughing GullsĀ on Cape Ann please write and let usĀ know.

Mass Audubon’s historic status on the Laughing Gull reports that this smallest of ourĀ breeding gulls has had a difficult timeĀ reproducing in Massachusetts. In the mid 1800s, Laughing Gulls reigned over Muskeget Island, off the Nantucket coast, but within a 25-year period, commercial eggers reduced their population to but only a few nesting pairs. “By 1923, however, protective actions taken by the keeper of the island’s lifesaving station helped the Laughing Gull population rebound to the thousands. Further bolstered by the protection afforded by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, Laughing Gulls expanded their colony at Muskeget Island to 20,000 pairs by the 1940s. Unfortunately, a preponderance of Herring Gulls also benefited from the protection of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as well as from the increase in food available to them at open landfills at that time.” The rise of the Herring Gull has ultimately led to the severe decline of breeding Laughing Gulls in Massachusetts and today there are thought to be only about 500 pairs. Imagine, from 20,000 pairs to only 500!

One interesting fact is that not only do they nest in Dune Grass, but also have a penchantĀ for dense patches of Poison Ivy. The Good Harbor Beach Laughing Gull has beenĀ foraging on crustaceans and invertebrates atĀ the tide pools.

Cape Ann Seagulls

Great Black-back & Herring Gulls Massachusetts Ā©Kim Smith 2013Although ubiquitous where ever we turn, I was curious about the several different species that are often observed fishing and feeding together at dawn.Ā The flocks of seagulls that we see on Cape Ann at this time of year are typically comprised of two species and they are the Great Black-backed Gull and the Herring Gull. In the above photo taken at daybreak (click to view larger), you can see both species; the gulls with speckled feather patterns are first year fledglings of both the Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls.

Great Black-back & Herring Gulls in flight  Ā©Kim Smith 2013.

Interestingly, early in the twentieth century, both species of gulls were mostly winter visitors, neither staying to breed when the weather warmed. The first pair of breeding Herring Gulls was discovered on Martha’s Vineyard in 1912. The first pair of breeding Great Black-backed Gulls was found in Salem in 1932.

Great Black-back & Herring Gulls Massachusetts in flight Ā©Kim Smith 2013.

The Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) is the larger of the two, up to 30,” with a black back and wings, yellow bill distinguished by a red dot on the bottom near the tip, and pinkish legs.

The Herring Gull (Larus argentus), at 25 inches, has gray wings tipped with black, gray back, white head, pinkish legs, and yellow bill also with a red dot on the bottom near the tip.

The Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) is also a regular visitor but according to Mass Audubon, it has never successfully bred in Massachusetts. The Ring-billed at first glance looks similar to the Herring Gull but isĀ the smallest of the three at 17″ and is alsoĀ easy to distinguish as it has yellow legs and a dark gray band near the tip of its bill.

Great Black-back & Herring Gulls MassachusettsTwin Lights Ā©Kim Smith 2013Twins!