Author Archives: Kim Smith

Hummingbirds are on the Move!

Hummingbird Feeder ©Kim Smith 2014 copyWith the unseasonable low temperatures, the hummingbird exodus from the north will soon follow. Keep your feeders full of sugar water to help sustain the southward migrants on their long journey to winter destinations.

Hummingbird Rose of Sharon ©Kim Smith 2014Our resident female Ruby-throated Hummingbird was spotted yesterday, making her rounds nectaring at the Rose-of-Sharon, native honeysuckle, hibiscus, and jewelweed.

Hummingbird Feeder Recipe: 1 Cup water to 1/4 Cup pure granulated sugar. Do not add red food coloring or substitute honey for sugar. Replenish frequently, especially during warm weather.

The ROMEOs

Cornelius HauckI adore my father-in-law, especially for his wit and sense of humor. He and my mother-in-law are here visiting for the week for my husband Tom’s 60th birthday. My father-in-law will be NINETY next May 5th. During dinner several nights ago he told us that he belongs to a club that meets every Friday for lunch, They call themselves the ROMEOs, an acronym for Really Old Men Eating Out. They go to each other’s clubs, drink alot and eat fun appetizers such as water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and pigs-in-a-blanket, but then are usually too toasted to actually eat lunch. When I’m ninety I hope to have as much joie de vivre as does he!

Endangered Pied-billed Grebe Encounter

In the dim light of daybreak at first glance I thought the diminutive duck was somehow related to the female mallard. Both were inconspicuous and camouflaged amongst the cattails. Mrs. Mallard was preening and standing on one leg, a thing birds do to regulate their body temperature, and Mystery Duck was actively diving all around her. As the light grew brighter with the rising sun it was easy to see that they weren’t at all akin; Mystery Duck’s bill was shorter and chunkier when compared to the Mallard’s bill, Mystery was half her size, and its perky cotton white tail feathers were unmissable. The Mallard flew off eventually and our Mystery then traveled away, deeply diving and then reemerging some distance further, staying close to the shoreline and always well hidden.

Pied-billed Grebe Massachusetts mallard ©kim Smith 2014

Side-by-side comparison: Pied-billed Grebe, left, female Mallard, right.

The Pied-billed Grebe is rarely seen breeding in Massachusetts any longer and is listed as endangered in nearly every New England state. Rhode Island considers the Pied-billed extirpated (locally extinct). The reason for their decline is low breeding numbers and wetland degradation. Their feathers are thick and soft and were used to make hats and earmuffs during the 19th century. Wantonly hunted to near extinction, Pied-billed Grebes never fully recovered in our region. As wetlands have given way to development, the Pied-billed Grebe’s numbers continue to decline dramatically. They are extremely sensitive to human disturbances, and, too, are less likely to be seen as it is a nocturnal bird, traveling mostly during the night.

Pied-billed Grebe Massachusetts -2 ©kim Smith 2014Fluffy Cottontail

A fun fact about the marsh-nesting Pie-billed is that both male and female contribute to building what at first appears to be a floating nest in vegetation, near open water. The nest is actually a platform anchored to plant stalks.

I wonder if this Pied-billed is a fall migrant or if on Niles Pond, Pied-billed Grebes were nesting this season. Has anyone else documented or seen a Pied-billed Grebe at Niles Pond during the past few months?

Niles Pond Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014

Niles Pond is Ideal Pied-billed Grebe Habitat

See previous GMG post for more information about why birds stand on one leg.

See more photos and audio links here ~
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VIDEO: Len Burgess Stunning Crystal Light Etched Images at Salt Lake City Train Station

See this short video of a train station in Utah incorporating Len Burgess gorgeous ice crystal images, illuminated by colored LED lights.

Crystal Light transforms the two level environment of the Transfer Station of the UTA linking the new line to the airport with the existing commuter line. The dramatic weather of Salt Lake City is suggested in images of water in its different states: ice crystals, clouds, a rushing stream, gentle waves of the lake. These are etched into the glass windscreens and elevator tower to catch the sunlight during the day and at night color flows through the station with programmed lighting.

Len writes, “Some of my ice crystal photos are etched in a Salt Lake City train station. This Salt Lake City train station has been designed using etched glass and changing colored lighting. Here’s a new video of the station. Well known architectural designer Catherine Widgery designed this structure using water in it’s many forms as the theme.”

Berkshire Museum Presents My Butterfly Documentary and Lecture Saturday September 20th

bst_banner_final[PITTSFIELD, MA] – The Berkshire Museum will present a workshop and documentary screening with landscape designer and filmmaker Kim Smith on Saturday, September 20, 2014. Both events are included with regular Museum admission. The slide-illustrated talk, Creating a Bee, Bird, and Butterfly Garden, begins at 10 a.m.and the screening of the film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail, will follow the talk, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Both programs are part of the Museum’s BeMuse program series.

 

Creating a Bee, Bird, and Butterfly Garden

Saturday, September 20, 10 a.m.

Following the rhythm of the seasons, Kim Smith presents a stunning slide show and lecture demonstrating how to create a welcoming haven for bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Native plants and examples of organic and architectural features will be discussed based on their value to particular vertebrates and invertebrates. Pollinator plant list handout included with workshop.

Black Swallowtail osmeterium ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Saturday, September 20, 11:30 a.m. (time approximate; screening follows workshop)

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated film that takes place in a garden and at the sea’s edge. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is suitable for all ages so all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. The film was shot in Gloucester, Massachusetts. A discussion and Q & A with Kim Smith, the filmmaker, will follow the screening. Life Story of the Black Swallowtail is the first film in a trilogy about butterflies and will be followed next year by Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly.

Black swallowtail Butterfly finger ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

About Kim Smith

Kim Smith is a filmmaker, designer, author, illustrator, photographer, and naturalist who documents, in a variety of media, the world around her. She is the author and illustrator of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden (David R. Godine, publisher, 2009). Kim’s landscape and interior design firm, Kim Smith Designs, works with clientele to create highly individualized homes and gardens, and she specializes in creating butterfly and songbird habitat gardens in public spaces. Smith is a daily contributor to the stellar community blog Good Morning Gloucester. 

 MAP to BERKSHIRE MUSEUM, thanks to Cat Ryan!

About the Berkshire Museum

Located in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at 39 South St., the Berkshire Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $13 adult, $6 child; Museum members and children age 3 and under enjoy free admission. Admission to the Butterfly Pavilion is an additional $2 per person. For more information, visit Berkshire Museum or call 413.443.7171.

In association with the Smithsonian since 2013, Berkshire Museum is part of a select group of museums, cultural, educational, and arts organizations that share the Smithsonian’s resources with the nation.

Established by Zenas Crane in 1903, Berkshire Museum integrates art, history, and natural science in a wide range of programs and exhibitions that inspire educational connections between the disciplines. Butterflies is on view throughOctober 26, 2014. Objectify: A Look into the Permanent Collection is currently on view. Little Cinema is open year-round. Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Worlds in Miniature, Aquarium, and other exhibits are ongoing.

SEE PREVIOUS GMG POST ABOUT BUTTERFLIES! AT THE BERKSHIRE MUSEUM

Making Limoncello with Friends and Nina Groppo’s Cucuzza

Groppo limoncello Feast of saint Joseph -2 ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Left to right, front: Nina Groppo and Kathy Pratl; back: Jane Beddus and Catherine Gunn

Groppo limoncello Feast of saint Joseph ©Kim Smith 2014

Kathy Pratl limoncello Feast of saint Joseph ©Kim Smith 2014 copyThis past weekend filming continued on the Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project. Nina and Frank Groppo serve the most wonderful homemade limoncello during the Feast and we decided back in March to include limoncello-making in the story of how Saint Joseph’s special day is celebrated in Gloucester. Nina, Kathy, Catherine, and Jane not only graciously agreed to allow filming, but also included me in the preparations and you’ll see what fun we had in the forthcoming film!

Kathy Pratl cucuzza limoncello Feast of saint Joseph ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

While at the Groppo’s garden you can’t help but notice their amazing crop of cucuzza (pronounced ku-koz-za, also goo-gootz), hanging from their handmade arbor. Cucuzza is an Italian squash that from what I understand, in English, means something like “super long squash.” A single squash can grow ten inches in one day!

For our first of several limoncello-making days, Nina created a beautiful lunch. She served cucuzza soup, made from both the fruit and the leaves. It was fabulous and delicious and like no other soup I had sampled before. She also baked wonderfully fresh hake filets and prepared a lovely tomato salad, with heirloom tomatoes from her garden.

Nina described how she hand pollinates the fruit ~ Each plant produces male and female flowers. She explains that it is easy to identify the female flowers as they have a small swollen fruit (ovary) on the stem, just behind the flowers. She plucks the male flowers off the vine and gently brushes together the male’s anther and female’s stigma, the flower’s reproduction parts, which insures good pollination. By removing the male flowers from the vine, you are not eliminating any potential fruit because the male flowers don’t bear fruit.

Cucuzza Groppo ©kim Smith 2014

I have been planning an arbor for my garden patio for sometime and after seeing and tasting the Groppo’s fabulous cucuzza, I am not waiting any longer to build one!

Thank you dear Nina, Kathy, Catherine, and Jane for your continuing help with the Saint Joseph Film Project!

 

 

Best Places to Photograph Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly Gloucester HarborWalk ©Kim Smith 2014

Monarch Butterfly Nectaring at the Gloucester HarborWalk

Reader Gia Vento writes the following:

“Dear Kim,
I met you at the Stoneham Garden Club two years ago.
I’d like to take butterfly photos for my own collection.
Is it too late in the year to do so outdoors?
Can you recommend a good outdoor place where I could capture some images–especially monarchs, other butterflies, ladybugs, and hummingbirds?
I appreciate your time.”
Gia Vento”

My response:

I recall our meeting and so good to hear from you Gia. No, its not too late. Many species of butterflies are on the wing during the late summer and early autumn months, as long as the warm weather holds up. Hopefully, too, the monarch migration will be more successful this year than last. I find the best time of day to see the most species of butterflies is from about 10:30 to about 3ish (generally the warmest and sunniest hours of the day).

The Massachusetts Butterfly Club offers a great publication, The Massachusetts Butterfly Club Guide to Good Butterfly Sites. Several of the best places featured are right here on Cape Ann! Follow this link to purchase the guide from their site (scroll down the webpage about half way): Massachusetts Butterfly Club Guide to Good Butterfly Sites

Happy Photographing!

Warmest wishes,

Kim
guide-cover

American Lady Butterfly New York Ironweed ©Kim Smith 2014

Painted Lady Butterfly Nectaring at New York Ironweed, Gloucester HarborWalk

Welcoming Lunch at Passports Restaurant

India, Lyla, Shawna Passports Restaurant Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014Over Labor Day weekend we went with our daughter’s boyfriend, Matt, to Passports for a beautiful lunch. We were greeted by wonderfully friendly, helpful, and super professional India, Lyla, and Shawna.

Passports Restaurant Popovers ©kim Smith 2014 copyAs all who have eaten at Passports know, within a few moments after being seated, guests are immediately served fresh from the oven, piping hot popovers. This is always a welcome treat, and was especially so for Liv and Matt that afternoon as they had been hiking all around Coolidge Reservation earlier in the day.Passports Restuarant Fried Oysters ©Kim Smith 2014

Next we shared a plate of Eric’s fried oysters and without a doubt, I think they are THE BEST FRIED OYSTERS in town! What makes Passport’s oysters so special you may be wondering? Because every single time we go, their fried oysters are fantastically crisp on the outside and sweet-salty fresh oyster perfection on the inside; Passports oysters are never, ever soggy or greasy.

Passports Restaurant Lobster Roll Sald ©Kim Smith 2014We ALL ordered Eric’s fabulous Lobster Salad Roll and it was divine–big chunks of fresh sweet Captain Joe and Sons succulent lobster meat, surrounded by a lovely array of fresh seasonal veggies (mine is pictured, requested without roll).

Thanks Eric, Lyla, India, and Shawna for welcoming Matt and showing him one of the reasons why we love Gloucester!

ZDF Filming at Gloucester’s Eastern Point Lighthouse

ZDF film Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014This morning while filming B-roll and “Bee”-roll for my nature documentaries I came upon the German National television channel’s ZDF cast and crew getting organized for a day of filming at the Eastern Point Lighthouse. They are shooting films based on the Katie Fforde romance novels. Not considered a mini-series, four separate films are being shot all around the North Shore and filming will continue to take place in Gloucester this week.

“All of Fforde’s stories-into-movies focus on the lead character (usually a woman) overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream. Each film runs for 90 commercial-free minutes.”

For the past several seasons the show has been filmed in and around Poughkeepsie, New York. This year, the producers wanted to change it up and film north of Boston. I hope they decide to come back next year!

Stills from last night and this morning ~

Beacon Marine ©kim Smith 2014

Gaura llindheimeri ©kim Smith 2014“Bee”-roll ~ Native Wildflower Gaura lindheimeri — Its Common Name is ‘Whirling Butterflies’

Henry' Allen's sweet coneflower ©Kim Smith 2014Henry Eiler’s Sweet Coneflower ~ Note the Unique Quilled Petals

Sunflower ©Kim Smith 2014 copyHelianthus annuus ~ Sunflower

Good Harbor Beach ©Kim Smith 2014Good Harbor Beach Sunrise Today

Hyperlapse

My daughter Liv’s new beau, Matt, took this very fun timelapse with the new phone app, HYPERLAPSE, while they were bike riding on Mount Pleasant Street.

Hyperlapse takes only a moment to install and you are instantly brought to the record screen. The phone can be held vertically or horizontally. After recording, you are given multiple choices by which to speed up the footage, from 1x to 12x and each can be previewed. After you’ve decided on the speed check the green checkmark. Your video will be automatically saved to your camera roll and you’ll have the option to share it on Facebook or Instagram

A note of caution-be careful how you save the footage. I took a terrific Hyperlapse at Captain Joes and it was unfortunately saved in real time. I am not sure how that happened and hope it was my error and not a kink in the app.

 

Breaking News: Jolie Holland to Play EP Lit House!

JH_LRT-1Hi Kim,

It’s official: ANTI-Records recording artist Jolie Holland is playing the Lit House on Thursday, September 11! Holland is warming up for her European tour with a brief living room tour that takes her from Gloucester to NYC. Tickets are available only through her website, where you can also get more information. That link is here: http://joliehollandmusic.com/september-living-room-tour/
This is a fantastic opportunity to see an artist who would usually play The Middle East, House of Blues, or The Sinclair. But this time she’s coming to the Lit House. She’ll be joined by her guitarist for this intimate, acoustic show. Pow!
Cheers!
Chris

Poor Little Lost Bat

Bat trapped ©Kim Smith 2014Around and around the room flew the bat, neatly missing walls and chandelier. My husband’s response was calm and collected–and to me–you’re my nature girl he said. Not when it comes to bats trapped in our dining room I wailed in dismay. After a few unsettled moments, I realized the bat wasn’t going to bite him or me and it truly was just a poor little lost bat struggling to find its way out. I ran and got our trusty butterfly net that, although it has never been used to catch a butterfly with any success, has rescued myriad songbirds and hummingbirds. Tom caught the little bat in a flash and out into the night it flew.

How did it get in we wondered, with all the doors closed and the windows screened?

*    *    *

Butterfly net ©Kim Smith 2014When our children were very young, I made each a net using  a dowel, piece of wire bent into a hoop-shape, fabric remnant, and recycled leather shoelace. The nets conveniently live in the mud room and they sure have come in handy over the years!

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