Category Archives: Cape Ann Wildlife

Thank You So Much to Our Friends, New and Old, of the HarborWalk!

American Lady Butterfly New York Ironweed Gloucester house HarborWalk ©Kim Smith 2014Thank you Beth, Lynn, Frieda, Catherine, Mary Jo, Lise, Susan, Deborah, and Roger for a super meeting and weeding this morning. Thank you to all our newest “Friends of the HarborWalk” members who, although could not make it this morning, have expressed interest in helping.

If you would like to join the Friends of the HarborWalk, please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. In September I am giving a close-up photo workshop, in the garden, to all our Friends of the HarborWalk members. Date to be determined.

You do not need to be an expert gardener to join. Membership is open to all, and we’ll give you on-the-job training, no worries!

Note to Lucinda: I could not retrieve your email address from the comments. Please send me an email and I will add you to the mailing list. Thank you.

American Lady Butterfly New York Ironweed -2 ©Kim Smith 2014Look who joined us while weeding and meeting this morning at the gardens, an American Lady Butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis), and she was nectaring from the ginromously tall New York Ironweed (Veronia noveboracensis), a true North American native beauty and fabulous source of nectar for butterflies and bees. 

American Lady Butterfly New York Ironweed ©Kim Smith 2014American Lady Butterfly

Community Events: Sawyer Free Library, Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team, Cape Ann Community Cinema

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CAPE ANN VERNAL POND TEAM UPDATE

Rick Roth writes:

“Nice time at the Farmer’s Market on Thursday.  Great weather, great crowd.  Thanks to volunteers Colleen Anderson and John Gallagher.  And thanks to the crew from Art Haven, Amelia, Avery and Natalie, for leading the Kid’s activity.

 

Saturday was the Petco Reptile Rally.  Nathan Dubrow was there with his green tree python.  I had a few snakes there and it was a fun event. Thanks to the Petco people who helped us out: Amanda, Acacia, Zac and Caroline.

 

Saturday  July 26, 2014  Time 10am

Snakes of New England and the World- 1 hour live animal presentation.

Sawyer Free Library, 2 Dale Ave., Gloucester MA

 

Saturday  August 2,  9am-5pm

Book Fair at the Manchester Public Library

We’ll be there all day with a bunch of snakes and I believe that someone is going to lead a Kid’s activity.

 

Friday and Saturday  August 8-9  9am-5pm

Gloucester Sidwalk Bazaar, Main Street in front of the Sargent House, near Bananas, where we’ve been for several years.

Bunch of snakes.

 

So… we really need lots of volunteers for the next three weeks.  Remember, even if you can do an hour or two, it will give someone a lunch break or something.  These events are great exposure for us, so please get in touch and let me know that you want to help out.  Those of you that have been around for a while know that I can really pester people about volunteering to the point where they wish they were never born.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Volunteer.

 

Meanwhile… this really cool vernal pond thing is about to take place, likely in the next week or two.  The emergence of newly metamorphosed wood frogs.  They look just like the adults except tiny.  Like 1/2 inch.  We’ll be doing a daytime field trip to see these guys soon.  Nick Taormina is scouting the pond to see just when they start hopping.  Keep watching your CAVPT emails for final details on this exciting outing.  And don’t forget to volunteer.

 

Thanks,  Rick

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CAPE ANN COMMUNITY CINEMA

Hello Kim,
Last push for this Friday’s Giggles Glosta Comedy Show Featuring Artie Januario, Ira Proctor, and Graig Murphy.

CAPE ANN COMMUNITY CINEMA

BLURB:
Join us for the next GIGGLES GLOSTA comedy night on Friday, July 25 at 8:00pm!

Host Graig Murphy performs with a pair of nationally known comedy stars – Artie Januario and Ira Proctor. Known as the “funniest pharmacist”, Januario is one of the most well known and respected comedians in the area who makes any show a resounding success. Proctor has taken his comedy show across the states and overseas receiving rave reviews. Host Graig Murphy is one of Boston’s Up and Coming performers.

Tickets for these shows are $25 general admission, $22.50 for Cinema Members. Advance tickets are preferred.

photo caption: Giggles Glosta’s Comedy Show featuring Graig Murphy, Ira Proctor, and Artie Januario, Friday, July 25 @ 7:30pm

Many thanks,
Anne-Marie

Breaking News! Warning from Wingaersheek Beach!

Warning from Wingaersheek Beach!

 

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Birds of Cape Ann: How to Tell the Difference Between a Snowy Egret and a Great Egret

Great egret Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014Great Egret

For the Chief, and anyone who wants a quick and easy reference on how to tell the difference between the Snowy and Great Egrets, both white and both often times found feeding in the marsh and tide pools together. The Great Egret is greater in size and has a bright yellow bill, with black legs and black feet. The smaller Snowy Egret has the opposite markings, with unmistakeable cadmium yellow feet and a black bill.
Great Egret Snowwy Egret how to tell the difference ©Kim Smith 2014

Snowy Egret and Great Egret

In the above photo taken this morning, the egrets were too far away for my camera’s lens to get a really clear picture however, when cropped, you can see a side-by-side comparison. The Snowy Egret, with black bill and bright yellow feet, is flying in the background and the Great Egret, with black feet and yellow bill, is perched.

Great Egret lobster Cove Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014Great Egret Lobster Cove

More posts about Great Egret and Snowy Egrets:

BIRDS OF CAPE ANN: GREAT EGRET VS. GREAT EGRET

BEAUTIFUL GOOD HARBOR FOGGY MORNING SUNRISE, SNOWY EGRET, AND WHIMBRELS

Save the Date ~ Screening of My Film “Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly”

On August 16th at the Berkshire Museum they’ll be showing a double header of sorts. Earlier in the afternoon at 2:00pm is a presentation of my program on how to attract butterflies and pollinators to your garden, titled “The Pollinator Garden,” followed by a showing of my film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, followed by a Q & A. The event is part of the “Butterflies” exhibit currently on display at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. I hope you can come join me!

Black Swallowtail osmeterium ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

In the above photo, the orange horn-like structure at the top of the caterpillar’s head is called an osmeterium. When the caterpillar is distressed, it everts the osmeterium. The osmeterium is thought to be a mimic of a snake’s tongue and is a defense against would-be predators such as birds. Additionally, a horrible smelly odor is released from the osmeterium, which can be smelled from a distance of up to ten feet away, and is yet another defense mechanism!

See previous GMG posts about the “Butterflies” exhibit here.

 Butterflies at the Berkshire

Museum Map to Berkshire Museum Provided by GMG FOB Catherine Ryan

Exciting New Film Assignment for the Berkshire Museum Black Swallowtail Butterfly Male ©Kim Smith 2013

Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team Update

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We had a nice time at Summerfaire at the UU Church in Rockport on Saturday. Great weather, lots of people interested in our snakes. And courageous volunteers: John Gallagher, Colleen Anderson and Caroline from Petco. Thank you. And Terri Desmaris for inviting us.

We need some volunteers for Thursday. The Farmer’s Market is always a fun gig and the weather is supposed to be very nice. So… come over, help with our exhibit and check out the market.
Thursday July 17, 2014 3-6pm (I think)
Cape Ann Farmer’s Market, Stage Fort Park, Gloucester
We’ll be there with a bunch of snakes and the good people from Art Haven will lead the Kid’s Activity- painting wooden snakes.

Saturday July 19, 2014 1-3pm
Petco Reptile Rally at Petco at Gloucester Crossing
We’ll be there with a few snakes. Should be fun.

And then…
Saturday July 26, 2014 Time TBA
Snakes of New England and the World- 1 hour live animal presentation.
Sawyer Free Library, 2 Dale Ave., Gloucester MA

Meanwhile… this really cool vernal pond thing is about to take place, likely in the next week or two. The emergence of newly metamorphosed wood frogs. They look just like the adults except tiny. Like 1/2 inch. We’ll be doing a daytime field trip to see these guys soon. Nick Taormina is scouting the pond to see just when they start hopping. Keep watching your CAVPT emails for final details on this exciting outing. And don’t forget to volunteer.

Thanks, Rick

 

we only have one earth, save it

Lights! Camera! Nature! Movies by kids ages 7-12 @ Cape Ann Community Cinema Tomorrow (SAT 7/12) NOON-2pm

From Cape Ann TV’s Lisa Smith:

Lights! Camera! Nature! Come to the Cape Ann Community Cinema on Sat., July 12 at Noon to 2 PM , to watch nature movies made by kids ages 7-12 in the the Kestrel Educational Adventure Program.

Here is one of the movies being screened “Telephone Island”:

Welcome to Telephone Island a magical island off the coast of Gloucester, Ma and it is filled with fascinating animals. This movie was made in the Spring-Summer of 2014 by a student in the Kestrel Foundation’s Lights, Camera, Nature program. The program is led by Jessica Kagle and made in co-operation with Cape Ann TV where the students edited their movies. Screening of this movie and the others made in the spring program will be at the Cape Ann Community Cinema on Main St. in Gloucester, Sat., July 12, 2014 at noon to 2pm along with NOVA’s “The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies”.

What the Fluke

I will swim with a humpback whale some day.

It’s at the top of my bucket list for sure.

I actually planned a vacation to Costa Rica several years ago for the opportunity to swim with the whales in Drake Bay, but sadly, no whales were in the area during my stay.

I have, however, had the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions, rays, black tip reef sharks, and manatees.  Each of those experiences are kind of sacred to me.  All are moments that I will never forget.

While swimming with wild marine life may not be everyone’s cup of tea, if you haven’t been on at least one amazing whale watch, you are missing out.  We are incredibly fortunate to have whales not far off our coast for a good part of the year.  I, all kidding aside, sometimes find myself laying awake at night thinking, “I wonder what the whales are doing right now?” Freak meter rating high, I realize, but true nonetheless.

So, today, knowing that the whales have been plentiful for the past several days, we went for a trip with Cape Ann Whale Watch.  How do I know they’ve been plentiful you may ask?  I follow their blog.

I had the opportunity to speak with both long time owners, Nick Danikas and Jim Douglass, in the parking lot prior to the trip.  Both are great guys who are pretty passionate about offering trips that leave guests with memories to last a lifetime.

Likewise, the crew and the naturalists are phenomenal and beyond highly educated on the matter of whales and sea life indigenous to our waters. Their enthusiasm was contagious.  Even the captain, John Karvelas, was excitedly pointing out bubble clouds as they formed on the surface of the water.  Bubble clouds are a method that whales use to trap krill and sand eels in a tight school so that they can emerge, mouths open, and swallow up a giant meal.

Today’s trip was nothing short of amazing.  To begin, we only had to head 11 miles off the Dog Bar Breakwater, which was a treat in itself.  After a short steam, we were literally surrounded by humpback whales.  I’ve been on many whale watches.  Both on local whale watching boats and on smaller private boats. Today’s trip was one for the record books.

Click Here for more information about Cape Ann Whale Watch

Hear are some of my favorite photos from today’s trip.

 

Baby Robins, Brought to You by Wolf Hill

We are so fortunate in Gloucester to have not one, but two, terrific garden centers, Wolf Hill and Goose Cove Gardens (and Corliss Brothers in Ipswich isn’t too far off the beaten track, either). Barbara and her team at Goose Cove are phenomenal as is the team at Wolf Hill–Kate, Joe, Ben, Dave, Jake, and all the guys. Baby American Robin ©Kim Smith 2014 Both Wolf Hill and Goose Cove take wonderful care of the wildlife that makes their home in the very inviting environment of their nurseries. Last year Kate kept me well supplied in butterfly eggs, which had been deposited on Wolf Hill plants, and whenever I shop at either garden center, a frequent topic of conversation is the robins because they oftentimes build their nests smack dab in the middle of a plant, or group of plants, that are for sale. Robins especially like to nest in hanging flower baskets. This year was no exception. Today when at Wolf Hill I spied a mama robin zooming away from a balled and burlapped tree. The nest was at eye level! I ran and got my cameras but filmed for only a moment because both parents found it highly disturbing. The babies were hungry, with wide gaping greedy mouths, and it was clear my presence was keeping them from their breakfasts. As soon as I turned away, the parents resumed feeding the babies.

_S956668Isn’t this sweet how they take care of the robins at Wolf Hill?

Have You Picked Up Your Summer Issue of Cape Ann Magazine?

What a terrific issue and the perfect read to bring to the beach (and not just because my story about the Cape Ann to Mexico Monarch connection is featured on the cover!).

Cape Ann Magazine’s Summer 2014 issue provides a wonderful window into summer living on our beautiful North Shore. I throughly enjoyed reading all the articles, including Gail McCarthy’s about Essex sculptor Shelly Bradbury and the beautiful work she does designing for Mariposa; Alexandra Pecci’s two articles, one about Mariposa, aptly titled “Elegance for Everday,” and a second interesting story about Woodman’s celebrating their 100th year in business; Andrea Holbrook’s story featuring Gloucester’s only sailmaker Josh Bevins; and Sean Horgan’s article about tuna-chasing Johnny Johnson. Pick up the Summer 2014 issue of Cape Ann Magazine. I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed!

Cape Ann Magazine Summer 2014 butterfly ©Kim Smith 2014

Luxuriating before work with Cape Ann Magazine’s summer issue and Brother’s Brew fab house-made doughnut! 

Excerpt from “Cape Ann to Mexico: The Monarch Butterfly Connection”

Like many communities throughout North America, Cape Ann shares in the interconnected web of the wondrous migration of the monarch butterfly. The very same monarchs that we see nectaring in our gardens and along the shoreline in late summer make a journey of over 2,500 miles south to Mexico to spend the winter in the unique and magnificent oyamel fir and pine tree forests of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, known locally as the Sierra Nevada (Snowy Mountain Range).

Last December, reports began to pour in from Mexican and American scientists that the number of monarchs overwintering was the lowest ever documented, representing a 90% decline from population numbers recorded in the 1990s. This coincided with the lamentably few monarchs seen breeding and feeding in our Cape Ann gardens during the summer of 2013. For the past three years I have been filming the monarchs in Gloucester, and all around Cape Ann, for my forthcoming film, Beauty on the Wing—Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. I came to the realization that if I did not travel to Mexico at this moment in time, there may never again be the opportunity to film the monarch butterfly migration.

Read more in the Cape Ann Magazine Summer 2014 issue available at the following shops: 

Gloucester

The Gloucester Times, 36 Whittemore St., 978-283-7000

The Book Store, 61 Main St., 978-281-1548

Good Harbor Liquors, 340 Main St., 978-281-7100

Harbor Loop Gifts, 1 Harbor Loop, 978-283-3060

Jeff’s Variety, 71 Eastern Ave., 978-281-5800

Richdale, 410 Washington St., 978-281-4670

Richdale, 120 E. Main St., 978-283-2179

7 Eleven, 50 Bass Ave., 978-283-6868

Savour, 76 Prospect St., 978-282-1455

 

Rockport

Hershey Frame Shop, 8 Rr Pleasant St., 978-546-2655

Rockport Market, 21 Broadway, 978-546-3684

Toad Hall Book Store, 47 Main St., 978-546-7323

Tucks Candy, 15 Main St., 978- 546-6352

 

Manchester

Richdale, 8 Beach St., 978-526-7294

 

See Joey’s funny post about GMG Media Moguls here.

Cape Ann Magazine Cover Kim Smith. Summer 2014

 

Fringetree on Rocky Neck ~ American Native Beauty in Our Midst

Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus  Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014jpgFringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)

Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus), the American native small tree, is so rarely planted today. Trees and plants trend at nurseries and, unfortunately, Fringetree has become one of those beauties that we need reminding of its great merits. The above specimen can be seen today in full glorious bloom on Rocky Neck, across the street from Judith and Gordon Goetmann’s Gallery. The botanical name translates lossely as snow flower, aptly describing the fluffy panicles covering the Fringetree when in bloom.

Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus Rocky Neck Gloucester MA -2 ©Kim Smith 2014

The sweetly scented airy blossoms are attractive to bees and butterflies and the ripened fruits are a wonderful food source for songbirds and small mammals. In autumn, the foliage turns a brilliant clear golden yellow. Fringetree grows from Canada to the Gulf Coast, and famously tolerates air pollution, making it ideal for urban landscapes. Grow Fringetree in sun to part sun, in moist fertile soil. At maturity, the tree tops out at twelve to twenty feet high and equally as wide.

The one negative is that Fringetree is slow to leaf out in spring, with a tendency to look dry and woody. Don’t plant it with your spring ephemerals and you won’t notice!

Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus  Gloucester MA -2 ©Kim Smith 2014Fringetrees are dioecious, which means they have separate male and female plants, similar to hollies. Some flowers are “perfect,” meaning they have male and female parts. The male’s flowers are showier than the females, and the female and perfect flowers give way to blackish-blue fruit in late summer. Chionanthus virginicus is a member of the Oleaceae, or Olive Family, and the fruits of Fringetree are similar looking to that of Olea eruopea, the olive tree cultivated throughout the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia for its edible fruit.

I ran into Anne Malvaux while photographing the Rocky Neck Fringetree and she reports that she doesn’t recall seeing any fruit, which means it is most likely a male of the species, or that the fruit is so delicious it is quickly devoured by wildlife (often the case with native trees and shrubs). Or if it is a female and doesn’t bear fruit, it may because there is no males growing nearby. We’ll have a another look in late summer.Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus Rocky Neck Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014

Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team Update

Rick Roth writes ~

We had a nice time at Visiting Scientist Day at O’Malley Middle School on Friday. Five 45 minute classes of sixth graders. We brought salamanders, frogs, turtles and snakes. Sam Bevins took the day off from Gloucester High to do the presentaion, and he’s really good at it. Extra help from sixth grader Sam Ciolino. Thanks guys.

Got home to find Gretchen, one of our bull snakes had laid nine eggs. They are now in the incubator at 79F. for about 70 days. Evilyn, our female white-lipped python looks quite gravid (snake talk for pregnant). Hope to see eggs soon. A couple of our other snakers are starting to look like they might be eggy too.

Met with Eric and Brendan from the Green Team at Manchester/Essex Regional High School last week. It looks like we might get two students next school year to help with all manner of CAVPT activities.

Meanwhile… Nick Taormina and I have been checking our turtle traps on Essex County Greenbelt property every day for about three weeks, where there is a record of a Blanding’s Turtle (Threatened Species in Mass). It was kind of a bust, we only found one turtle- a ten inch snapper. But there my be more we can do there. Gotta check with ECGB, Fish and Wildlife and a herpetologist buddy of mine. More on that later.

Meanwhile…we have a show to do:

Saturday June 14, 2014 3pm
Snakes of New England and the World- one hour live animal presentation
Lincoln School: Hartwell Pod B
We need volunteers. Please get in touch if you can help with the show. Or… if you’re in the hood, check it out. There is a suggested donation of $5 or $15 for a family of 3 or more. We’re going to try our best to make it worth it.

Later, Rick

we only have one earth, save it

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Do Any of Our Readers Know Why the Entire Swan Family at Henry’s Pond Has Disappeared?

Cygnets ©Kim Smith 2014GMG Reader Denise Penta writes in the comment section of a previous GMG post “Exterminate All Swans” by 2015:

June 2, 2014

“In Rockport, MA across from Pebble Beach I enjoyed a male and female mute swan along with their 4 pens. Two days later, I returned to take more photographs and they were gone. I have asked the regular walkers in that area if they have seen them and to my dismay, they disappeared. At the same time, the ducks has 5 babies and now there are only 4. I also noticed many round indentures in the sandy water near the shore and wonder if an animal frolicked about consuming some ducks. I miss the swans terribly. I also drove around the waters where they are found throughout the summer, but to no avail.

Then after reading several articles, including this one, I learned what is occurring more frequently is that of hunting and removal by state and federal wildlife officials. State and Federal wildlife officials are removing Mute Swans and killing them so that they can open new habitats to introduce the larger Trumpeter Swan species which will in the next few years be used as a Trophy Waterfowl for hunting purposes. Wildlife budgets are experiencing huge deficits and now wildlife officials are trying to enhance these budgets by enticing hunters through Trophy Waterfowl which will greatly increase hunting and the cost of hunting permits.

We have been fighting with other entities to stop this killing and have successfully worked with legislators in New York to introduce legislation to stop the killing of Mute Swans in New York until wildlife officials can present true research instead of the false basis for killing the swans that have been perpetuated upon the taxpayer. Yes, the taxpayer is funding this killing and reintroduction of the Trumpeter Swans so that a few of the population can enjoy them by killing them.

I would like to know who in God’s name gave these people permission to plan the killings and replacements? The government does not have an all-rights to nature and without votes from the public, there should be great protests to such an elimination. I would be the first one with a sign if I find the government removed our beloved swans.”

Addendum from Denise: “I apologize, I clicked send before placing quotations from the source that I got the information from, so here is the site link to where I got the information.” http://www.stanley-park-swans.com/cgi-bin/ask/index.pl?read=7412

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