Covid-19 and summer brought an old post to mind. Reposting summer 2020; First published in July 2016.
Are you up for a Gloucester beaches challenge?
A mid-week vacation day is the easiest. Oh, and you’ll need your resident beach sticker. We prepped our car with a picnic blanket for the seat, extra towels, and ice waters. Start early and grab a big “lobsterjack” breakfast because you’ll need the fuel. End late.
Let’s establish some base rules here.
First off, you need to spend at least 15 minutes at each beach. (You can tweak this a little if you want.) Next, you need to dive under. We suggest a ritual for each beach, e.g. ‘The Five and Dive’. Finally, you have to stop for ice cream and candy. Remember, you can do these beaches (or others or quarries in Gloucester) and jumps in any order. Be flexible for different ages and unexpected delays like staying at one beach for hours, or a friend asking you to drop off a sub (*cough* Joey *cough*). Most importantly, you have to do at least 13 beaches and 2 jumps in one day. Mind the tides. Be grateful we have so many choices.
Annisquam lighthouse. Coffin’s beach. Good Harbor beach. Long beach. Magnolia beach. Niles beach. Pavilion beach (by Beach Court). Pavilion beach bonus (by the cut). Plum Cove beach. Rocky Neck Oakes Cove beach. Stage Fort Park (1) – Cressy’s beach ( our alt. title ‘sea serpent’ big beach). Stage Fort Park (2) – Half Moon beach. Wheeler’s Point. Wingaersheek beach.
Annisquam bridge. Magnolia Pier.
*We did this challenge at least once each summer. (In 2016) we started off with breakfast at Willow’s Rest and continued from there. Our timing was random especially as we spent hours at Wingaersheek. The second meal to get us through the day came from the sandwich counter at Annie’s by Wingaersheek. Yes, they have a sandwich counter.
At Wingaersheek Beach on Sunday, the clouds looks so interesting.
On a cold and rainy Monday, the light on the Annisquam facing Wingaersheek Beach look so quiet.
Without doubt, the spectacular summer/autumn migration that takes place each year along the shores of Cape Ann has begun. Everywhere we turn, there are magnificent creatures foraging along our shoreline. In one day alone on an early morning walk this past week were Ruddy Turnstones, Black-bellied Plovers, Willets, Spotted Sandpipers, and great flocks of Semi-palmated Plovers and Sanderlings. I think I’ll write a little series with a paragraph or two devoted to each species for the upcoming week.
For today though, I wanted to share photos of a flock of Tree Swallows that were gathering at Good Harbor Beach. A friend wrote wanting to know more about the beautiful birds we see massing at both Good Harbor and Wingaersheek Beaches at this time of year.
From 2018 – Over the course of the summer while filming the Piping Plover Family at Wingaersheek Beach, Tree Swallows began flocking in ever increasing numbers. They became part of the Piping Plover story not only because they occasionally dive bomb the Piping Plovers, for whatever reason I am not entirely sure, but also because they are beautiful to observe, and occasionally, seemingly playful, too.
Songbirds that they are, Tree Swallows make a cheery chirping chatter. They have long narrow forked tails, all the better for gliding and for their signature aerial acrobatics. The male’s upper parts are a brilliant iridescent blue-green, the female’s somewhat duller, and both female and male have white underparts. The migrating juveniles are almost entirely brown with either white or pale grayish underparts.
Tree Swallows breed in the wetlands and fields of Cape Ann. Their name comes from the species habit of nesting in tree cavities. Tree Swallows have benefited tremendously from efforts to help save the Eastern Bluebird because they also nest in the nest boxes built specifically for the Bluebirds.
Acrobatic aerialists, they twist and turn mid-flight to capture a wide variety of insects including butterflies, dragonflies, greenheads, bees, beetles, and wasps.
Utilizing both fresh and saltwater to bathe, Tree Swallows have a unique habit of quickly dipping and then shaking off the excess water while flying straight upwards.
Tree Swallows begin migrating southward in July and August. The flocks that we see gathering on Cape Ann migrate along the Atlantic Flyway. They overwinter in the southern states of the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Unlike migrating species of butterflies, several generations of Tree Swallows migrate together, the older birds showing the younger birds the way.
Music composed by Jules Massenet: “Méditation” from Thaïs
Took a walk over at Wingaersheek Beach on Thursday. The sun was out and the feel of summer was in the air.
We Piping Plover volunteer monitors are grateful for the time and effort Ken has put forth in helping to protect our threatened Piping Plovers. We’re especially appreciative of the time he spent coordinating the volunteer monitors–not an easy task! We wish Ken all the best in his retirement.
Ken and Jim Destino introduced Adrienne Lennon, Gloucester’s new conservation agent. We had a few minutes after the introduction to speak with Adrienne. Her experience includes working for seven years at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, located in Ipswich on the Plum Island causeway, adjacent to the infamous Pink House. While there, Adrienne gained extensive knowledge in Piping Plover conservation. She is especially interested in preserving and protecting our beach dunes. Adrienne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of success to Adrienne in her new position as Gloucester’s Conservation Agent!
Photos of Ken and Adrienne at City Hall courtesy of City Council Vice President Steve LeBlanc
During Piping Plover nesting season, I have visited the public beach at the northern end of Plum Island, Newbury Beach. I believe the PiPl nesting areas at Newbury Beach are monitored by Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center. Newbury Beach is similar in several ways to Good Harbor Beach in that it is a popular town beach in a residential area with many access points and nearby hotels. Last year the beach and dunes were extremely hard hit by late winter storms, just as was Good Harbor Beach.
About Joppa Flats Education Center: Overlooking the Merrimack River and near the entrance to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, the Joppa Flats Education Center offers unique educational opportunities for people of all ages. Here, you can explore the region’s wildlife-rich habitats (salt marshes, mudflats, rivers, bays, and coastal waters) through guided tours, marine touch tanks, art exhibits, drop-in programs, and interpretive displays.
Scenes from behind the Joppa Flats Education Center and Plum Island causeway.
Councilors Steve LeBlanc and Melissa Cox wearing Piping Plover monitor hats provided by Ken Whittaker.
Coffins Beach and Wingaersheek Beach are going to be more closely monitored this year for Piping Plovers. The above photo is from 2016 when NINE chicks fledged at Coffins Beach!
Three-day-old Piping Plover Chick, Good Harbor Beach
My daughter Ericka and her cute dog Freddy came up on Sunday afternoon. We went to Wingaersheek Beach. It was really pretty and lots of people walking around. Love the golden retrievers taking a swim.
On Monday the wind died down and so I decided to take a walk on Wingaersheek Beach. Again never disappoints. The tide was very low.
Early Saturday morning, you could already see it was going to be an amazing beach day.
The 2018 winter storms exposed an expansive and blindingly obvious glacial outcropping by the footbridge side of Good Harbor Beach near the piping plover enclosure. In 2017 the feature was something more than a rock and I don’t mean scale. After two severe thunderstorms on July 8, 2017, one chick remained and the family acted strange. One of the parent plovers perched atop that rock for my entire shift, seemingly in mourning. The rock was a sheltering spot and helpful monitor landmark which it still is this year. This summer the rock revealed itself like a tip of an iceberg, and made Good Harbor Beach resemble a bit of Wingaersheek.
Here are a few Before (2017) and After (2018) comparisons. The photographs illustrate how much dry sand disappeared and how the beach was basically scrubbed of any scrub.
he’s 6′ to give you idea of scale
Wingaersheek Beach January 2018
reposting as I had some trouble uploading photos (prior)
Went over to Wingaersheek Beach the other day. Another beautiful beach we are blessed to have in our beautiful city.
Right before the storm started on Tuesday afternoon, Wingaersheek Beach looks so beautiful.