Cape Ann, and throughout Coastal Massachusetts, is experiencing a magnificent late summer and early fall migration, and not just with Monarchs. Other species of butterflies migrating in plentiful numbers include Painted Ladies and Buckeyes. All along our beaches and waterways, from Rockport to Gloucester to Manchester to Essex, we are seeing steady streams of shorebirds, waders, and songbirds gathering. Several mass movements of Green Darners have come ashore, too.

Clover Plover Killdeer Chick, June 2019

A small flock of Killdeers at Good Harbor Beach was recently observed. It’s difficult to know for certain if they are the same family that nested this summer (our Clover Plovers), but they certainly appeared to have a routine, first dining on crickets during the hour before dawn in the marsh, then flying over to the Creek to take a family bath.

Killdeer eating a cricket at GHB

Killdeers Good Harbor Beach September 21, 2019

When out and about, take a look for Willets, Black-bellied Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels, and Spotted Sandpipers, to name just some. The young Ring-tailed Duck is still here, too, and I am wondering if she’ll be calling Cape Ann home this winter.

Ring-tailed Duck female nodding off while swimming 


My friend Elaine pointed out this sweet little sea duck sleeping on the rocks. Softly hued in shades of white, buff, and chocolate brown, with root beer colored eyes, a pale blue mottled bill, bluish-white feet and legs, and only about as large as a crow, we struggled to figure out what species. The little toothy hook at the end of the bill gave it away. I am almost ninety percent certain the little mystery duck is a female immature Long-tailed Duck. If any of our readers know otherwise, please write 🙂

Long-tailed Ducks breed in the Arctic wetlabds but in the winter they are found in our area, along the coast in salty water and sandy shorelines. Perhaps the young duck will stay for the winter. Write and let us know if you see any Long-tailed Ducks in your neighborhood. Thank you!