Our Great Salt Marsh is beginning to spring back to life. Red-winged Blackbirds can be seen, and heard, chortling from every outpost, Morning Doves are nest building, and the Mallards, Black Ducks, and Canada Geese are pairing up. Only 19 more days until the official start of spring!
My husband Tom suggested that I write a year-end post about the wildlife that I had photographed around Cape Ann. Super idea I thought, that will be fun and easy. Many hours later (not realizing how daunting) the following is a collection of some favorite images from this past year, beginning with the male Snowy Owl photographed at Captain Joe’s last winter, to December’s Red-tailed Hawk huntress.
Living along the great Atlantic Flyway, we have been graced with a bevy of birds. Perhaps the most exciting arrival of all occurred when early summer brought several pairs of nesting Piping Plovers to Gloucester’s most beloved (and most highly trafficked) of beaches, Good Harbor Beach. Their story is being documented on film.
Work on Mr. Swan’s film will also resume this January—the winters are simply not long enough for all I have planned!
While photographing and filming Red-winged Blackbirds this past spring, there was a face-to-face encounter with a hungry coyote, as well as several River Otter sightings.
The summer’s drought brought Muskrats out from the reeds and into full view at a very dry Henry’s Pond, and a short film about a North American Beaver encounter at Langsford Pond. Numerous stories were heard from folks who have lived on Cape Ann far longer than I about the extraordinary number of egrets, both Snowy and Great, dwelling on our shores.
There were few Monarch sightings, but the ones seen thankfully deposited eggs in our garden. Thank you to my new friend Christine who shared her Cecropia Silkmoth eggs with me and thank you to the countless readers who have extended an invitation to come by and photograph an exciting creature in their yard.
Pristine beaches, bodies of fresh water, and great swathes of protected marsh and woodland make for ideal wildlife habitat, and Cape Ann has it all. With global climate change pushing species further away from the Equator, I imagine we’ll be seeing even more creatures along our shores. Butterfly and bee populations are overall in decline, not only because of climate change and the use of pesticides, but also because of loss of habitat. As Massachusetts has become less agrarian and more greatly forested, fields of wildflowers are becoming increasingly rare. And too fields often make the best house lots. Farmers and property owners developing an awareness of the insects’ life cycle and planting and maintaining fields and gardens accordingly will truly help the butterflies and bees.
The images are not arranged in any particular order. If you would like to read more about a particular animal, type the name of the animal in the search box and the original post should come up.
Good morning Kim,
I saw your post on Good Morning Gloucester today and thought you might enjoy these shots.
Last spring, late March into April, I was lucky enough to have a pair of mourning doves nest in a shrub about two feet from my front door. Each day I was able to watch on my way out and into the house. i called them my “grandbirds”. Some of my coworkers thought I was a bit crazy. I wondered how this bird could stay so long, but after some research and observation, I saw that that male and female took turns on the nest. Two eggs hatched, but I think only one survived to leave the nest. On the first day I realized the bird was gone I missed it, and wondered how it was then, when I arrived from work that evening, I spotted it in a ground cover next to my house. I was able to follow it’s growth to “teenage” size with its parent. I am hearing the doves again this spring. I can’t help but wonder if they are the same birds I watched last year. It would be wonderful to see such a thing again this year. I don’t know if they ever nest in the same place again. Thanks so much Jackie for sharing this story!
I’ve been keeping my eye on this pair of Mourning Doves and early this morning I found their nest! They saw me filming and photographing them and flew away. I hope they don’t abandon the nest as it would be wonderful to film the babies (squabs).
I love that you can see a nearby tree reflected in the dove’s eye. This is the above photo of the female Mourning Dove, super cropped.
WELCOME SWEET HARBINGERS OF SPRING
A sure sign spring is on the way with these three singing their way onto the scene!
While the trees have yet to leaf out, late winter is a terrific time of year to observe songbirds. Singing their love songs and courting, establishing and defending territories, and nest building endeavors are more easily seen in the leafless trees.
Male Red-winged Blackbird Love Song (turn up your volume)
During this snowiest of winters, I’ve been refilling the bird feeders several times a day. We usually only purchase safflower seeds because squirrels do not much care for the hard shelled seeds. Recently though I thought that with all the snow cover, our bird friends would benefit from some variety and decided to add black oil sunflower seeds to the mix. What a colossal error! This morning at the feeder a fight broke out over the sunflower seeds, with no less than five squirrels defending their new found cache. The sunflower seeds also drew two fat black rats to the feeders last night. We’re back to strictly safflower seeds!
The following are eight common birds that we see at feeders at this time of year and these eight species are content with the safflower seeds provided.
Don’t forget our feathered friends. I filled the bird feeders three times today!
The sun started to break through mid-afternoon. I headed to Smith’s Cove and then drove (precariously) to Eastern Point to catch the setting sun. Happy Snow Days!