Esteemed conservationist and bird and insect authority, Chris Leahy discussed recent multi-year surveys of Essex County islands for Mass Audubon and Mass Fish & Wildlife with humor and depth as only he can having resided on the North Shore, in Gloucester, and championed this Important Bird Area for some 50 years.
The islands range in size and offer different kinds of nesting habitat. There are great shoals for fishing. Islands include familiar names like Tinkers, Straitsmouth, Thacher, Children’s, Kettle, House, Eagle, Ram, Cormorant and Ten Pound. Leahy recalled visiting some in the 1960s-70s for the first ever field counts with Dorothy “Dottie” Addams Brown, Sarah Fraser Robbins & others, and readily compares data then and now.
Some of the bird species making the count: gulls, egrets, herons, cormorants, harlequin duck, geese, loon, coots, purple arctic sandpiper, common eiders, and snowy owls. There are not a lot of songbirds due to restricted habitat although so many song sparrows he quips, “it almost feels like they’re going to attack.” Predators do and did. Gulls and rats stuck in my mind, and our ruinous plume hat trade. At that time “Snowy egrets– in FLA and elsewhere south– were slaughtered for plumage developed solely at breeding time, leaving any young to die and rot.”
Climate is partly a factor and population dispersement in the birds they find. Sometimes there are great “fallout” of migratories which are unpredicatable and awesome. Various species are easier to count especially those perched amid low tree shrubs. Guess which ones? Forgot the burrowers! Forecasts are exciting. He predicts we might see Manx shearwters maybe nesting here in the coming years.
Kindness of organizations and people with boats helps make this happen. And one steel hulled sailboat that makes access to these rocky isles a bit more possible.
Chris Leahy presented Treasure Islands for Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library. Mary Weissblum has endeavored to host evenings for Leahy’s numerous publications and projects, so many that she’s lost count. “Always a treat to be educated and charmed by his incredible store of knowledge,” she writes. Look for Chris Leahy’s next talk.
Learn more about Thacher Island Association (Paul St Germain) here
Learn more about Birdlife International here
photos below ©Linda Bosselman Sawyer Free Library- thanks for sharing Linda!
The best wave watching Sunday afternoon was from Atlantic Road, especially when the light turned silver-gray-violet. The mist from the pounding waves filled the air, creating a beautiful diffused quality. It was mesmerizing to see the waves hurling against the rocky coastline. Often the force was so loud, it sounded like a sonic boom had exploded. Atlantic Road was closed to car traffic while pedestrians strolled the road as though a promenade. After watching the full force of the waves during high tide, I headed over to Straitsmouth Island in Rockport. Less in strength, but still spectacular to watch.
It appears as though the Eastern Point Lighthouse parking lot and road were hit with surges from both the harbor side and from the Atlantic, washing away the road and leaving the area littered with surge debris, mostly rocks, seaweed, and seagrass. The storm drain, which formerly ran under the road, is now completely exposed. At low tide early this evening, the marsh was still completely flooded.
If you are planning on checking on the EPLighthouse, park your car and walk. Several folks got stuck as there is nowhere to turn around under the current conditions.
From a great distance roughly same spot at the Gloucester end of Long Beach, various days and times July 2017.
WILD, WET, AND WINDY–there is incredible beauty to be seen in the power of the sea.
Cat Ryan submits-
Over 1000 people attended the Lego Movie Wednesday night. Gloucester Stage sponsored a fun one. Markouk sold out. Jaws is presented by Cape Ann TV. Great job Matt Coogan, Community Development, Carol Thistle, Mack and Zak; North Shore 104.9 team; Wenham Museum; and Rob Newton Cape Ann Community Cinema for the community through art.
Joey, but wait; there’s more. You and several GMG contributors, and other Gloucester residents, generously contributed content for the HarborWalk. Enjoy the feedback by a grateful mom who took time to write a memorable note to Mayor Kirk and the City.
Plus, photos from David Cox and a super cool lego prize from Cat Barbagallo.
From Carol Thistle, Senior Project Manager for the City, sharing a note from the City Website:
“I thought GMG readers would be interested to see this great thank you note that Mayor Kirk received from Beth van Duzer; her children won a HarborWalk Certificate at Wednesday night’s Lego Movie as part of the HarborWalk Summer Cinema Series. Many children participated in the HarborWalk challenge, and fourteen youth completed all story posts making them official “HarborWalk Explorers”. In addition to the certificate all the kids received a HarborWalk goodie bag filled with prizes, including a special “Ten Pound Island” Lighthouse Lego designed by Cat Barbagallo. Bring in your completed sheets next week! Here’s the note
Greetings Mayor Kirk.
I just wanted to tell you what a joy it was to complete the Gloucester Harbor Walk. My friend, Mary-Clare Dalzell, was born and raised in Gloucester. It was her idea to go to the outdoor movie where we heard about the Harbor Walk. My daughter, Lucy, has autism and Mary-Clare’s son, Lee, was born with some medical issues so we did drive the children around to the markers that were further off the beaten path. I just wanted to share with you some of our experiences.
We started off our search up at Stage Fort Park. We parked in the 20 minute parking area asked in the visitor center if they knew where the marker was. They either really didn’t know or did an amazing job at making us believe they didn’t know – either way they didn’t tell us where the marker was. We left the visitor center and roamed around a bit, looking near Tablet Rock and down by the water, but we were unsuccessful. As we returned to the visitor center Lee noticed the pillar, right at the end of the visitor center’s drive. Two of the children were instantly exuberant as they each made their rubbings and we happily returned to the car, followed by a police officer. Apparently, we were close to the 20 minute time limit and were really, really close to getting a ticket. The officer was very nice and probably got a chuckle out of our antics and, most importantly, we didn’t get a ticket.
We moved on to the markers down the road where, I must say, we found lots of parking. Some of it was only 15 minute parking but that was enough for our clown car adventure of having the children and parents jump out of a minivan, run down to a marker, make the rubbing – try to make the children read a bit about the marker – and jump back into the car for the next marker. Whilst on the walk Mary-Clare found a photo of her Grandfather and Lee took a selfie with the photo. Lucy found a boat named Lucy and took a photo with it. Lola took time to stop and smell the flowers at the memorial garden.
The best part for the children was when they found the markers all together along Rogers St. Each child (yes, even the two 12-year-olds) delighted in running to be the first to claim a rubbing. From this Harbor Walk my children and I saw parts of Gloucester we had never seen before and I found out where to park – which is almost everywhere. Lucy, Lola (my other daughter), and Lee had a grand time. Mary-Clare and I probably had more fun than the kids, by the end of the day they were a little cranky since our mission was to complete the Harbor Walk in one day, which we did. I homeschool my girls. We are studying Medieval History this year, and I already told them we will revisit Hammond Castle and the Joan of Arc statue when we reach that point in our curriculum.
As Mayor you probably receive a lot of complaints. I just wanted to make sure you knew how much fun we had. It was fabulous that our children were able to meet you last night and all the children were ecstatic with their prize bags. Lucy has already announced that she will be displaying the Ten Pound Island Lego lighthouse in her room. Lola can’t wait to show up for the Jaws movie in her Gloucester Harbor Walk t-shirt and hat. Thanks again to the City of Gloucester for creating an adventure that anybody can take part in. Thank your for posing with photos with the children and rewarding them for completing the walk. It was definitely one of the highlights of this summer.
Beth van Duzer”
The “lighthouse” at the end of the harbor breakwater on Bearskin Neck in Rockport has precariously tumbled away from its perch. Even though I live right down the street and go by this often by boat, I’m not sure exactly when this happened. Anyone?