Author Archives: E.J.

Common Gallinule


Although I have encountered gallinules in MA, I haven’t encountered them on Cape Ann.  This adult and chick were photographed in Florida, where they are plentiful but shy.

“The common gallinule (Gallinula galeata) is a bird in the family Rallidae. It was split from the common moorhen by the American Ornithologists’ Union in July 2011.[2] It lives around well-vegetated marshes, ponds, canals, and other wetlands in the Americas. The species is not found in the polar regions or many tropical rainforests. Elsewhere, the common gallinule is likely the most commonly seen rail species in much of North America, excepting the American coot in some regions.

The gallinule has dark plumage apart from the white undertail, yellow legs and a red frontal shield. The young are browner and lack the red shield. It has a wide range of gargling calls and will emit loud hisses when threatened.[3]

This is a common breeding bird in marsh environments and well-vegetated lakes. Populations in areas where the waters freeze, such as southern Canada and the northern USA, will migrate to more temperate climes. This species will consume a wide variety of vegetable material and small aquatic creatures. It forages beside or in the water, sometimes upending in the water to feed. Its wide feet allow it to hop about on lily pads. It is often secretive, but can become tame in some areas. Despite loss of habitat in parts of its range, the common gallinule remains plentiful and widespread.

The common gallinule will fight to defend its territory. The nest is a basket built on the ground in dense vegetation. Laying starts in spring, between mid-March and mid-May in northern hemisphere temperate regions. About 8 eggs are usually laid per female early in the season; a brood later in the year usually has only 5–8 or even fewer eggs. Nests may be re-used by different females. Incubation lasts about three weeks. Both parents incubate and feed the young. These fledge after 40–50 days, become independent usually a few weeks thereafter, and may raise their first brood the next spring. When threatened, the young may cling to a parent’s body, after which the adult birds fly away to safety, carrying their offspring with them.” From Wikipedia

E.J. Lefavour

Strip Poker Invitation

senior center fun

Another word about Rose Baker Senior Center.  They really have some amazing things going on there.  Juni Vandyke does an incredible job with the art program at the Senior Center.  At top are the wonderful portraits some of the seniors have done under her direction.  They have a marvelous singing program, which my mother, who sang in the choir most of her life, really loves because they sing for the joy of it, not under the gun of having to learn a cantata or new music for an upcoming service.  There are also some serious card sharks there, both men and women.  These three gentlemen were just starting their rummie game when I asked if I could take their picture.  One man said they had a seat open and I could join them.  I told them I didn’t know how to play and they would just take all of my money. One replied that they could make it strip poker instead.  Some things never change with age (thank God).

To me the most wonderful program they offer is the Adult Supportive Day program, which my mother is now involved with.  It operates Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:00am to 2:30pm and offers a secure, fun, engaging, loving environment where I feel very comfortable leaving my mother, and she enjoys.  If you are a caregiver for a parent or older relative, or are a senior who wants to get out of the house and enjoys being with other really friendly, lovely people, look into the Adult Supportive Day program.  It has given me the respite I really needed to have some time for myself, and has given my mother the opportunity to be with peers, make new friends, and do things she enjoys independent of me.  It is a Godsend.

Also, don’t forget Monday, July 6, The Ole Salty Jazz Band returns to the Senior Center from 1:00-3:00pm.  They are great musicians and play lively music to dance to.  I already have a couple of guys on my dance card, but more are welcome.  All are welcome, and it a great way to break up your Monday with some movement, good music and fun.

E.J. Lefavour

Black Crowned Night Heron

night heron rn and niles

One of the Niles Pond night herons, and one of the two that hang out at Smiths Cove every evening.  They may be the same two – hard to tell (I’m shooting through two not very clean windowpanes in the dusk, so Smiths Cove shots aren’t great).

The night herons are medium-sized herons in the genera Nycticorax, Nyctanassa, and Gorsachius. The genus name Nycticorax derives from the Greek for “night raven” and refers to the largely nocturnal feeding habits of this group of birds, and the croaking crow-like call of the best known species, the black-crowned night heron.

In Europe, night heron is often used to refer to the black-crowned night heron, since it is the only member of the genus in that continent.

Adults are short-necked, short-legged, and stout herons with a primarily brown or grey plumage, and, in most, a black crown. Young birds are brown, flecked with white. At least some of the extinct Mascarenes taxa appear to have retained this juvenile plumage in adult birds.

Night herons nest alone or in colonies, on platforms of sticks in a group of trees, or on the ground in protected locations such as islands or reedbeds. 3-8 eggs are laid.

Night herons stand still at the water’s edge, and wait to ambush prey, mainly at night. They primarily eat small fish, crustaceans, frogs, aquatic insects, and small mammals. During the day, they rest in trees or bushes.

There are seven extant species. The genus Nycticorax has suffered more than any other ciconiiform genus from extinction, mainly because of their capability to colonize small, predator-free oceanic islands, and a tendency to evolve towards flightlessness. (Wikipedia)

E.J. Lefavour

Cedar Waxwing

cedar waxwing

The cedar waxwing is easily found in open habitat where there are berries. It times its nesting to coincide with summer berry production, putting it among the latest of North American birds to nest. It is highly gregarious; flocks of hundreds, occasionally thousands, are encountered during migration and winter.

I haven’t seen a cedar waxwing in years.  I used to see them when I lived in Newbury, and a flock would land in a tree in the yard that had red berries.  They would perch in a line along a branch.  The first bird would pick a berry and then pass it to the next bird in line and on down until the last in line would eat it and on they would go in a progressive communal dinner party.  It was the coolest thing to witness.  This one was gathering dry stuff, obviously to make a nest.

E.J. Lefavour

Rose Baker Senior Center is a true jewel of our community

rose baker senior center

I recently brought my mother, Jean, who is with me for the summer on Rocky Neck, over to the senior center.  I have tried to get her to go to senior centers in her hometown and while we were down in Florida, to no avail.  Rose Baker was different from the moment we walked in the door.  People (workers, volunteers and members) were outwardly welcoming and lovely.  We walked in last Monday to hear the end of Dave Sag and The Ole Salty Jazz Band, who were just wonderful, and I even got asked to dance by a charming man named Sam!  If you have free time between 1-3:00 pm on Mondays (they will be away until July 6), definitely stop in and break up the day with a little dancing.  I’ll put you on my dance card.

We have been back for lunch, which was delicious, fresh and lovingly prepared by Open Door.  Mom has joined in a singing group, and the supportive social day care program on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which gives us each some time away from each other and with our own peers.

The Senior Center offers so many wonderful programs from computer classes, knitting & crocheting group, longevity training, yoga, tai chi, zumba, Bingo, meditation, Reiki, drawing, art program with our Juni Vandyke, swimming at the Y, shopping trips, hearing clinic, cards (some serious players there of bridge, whist and poker), pool room and so much more.  I joined mainly to get my mother to go, but there are a number of offerings I want to take advantage of (the benefit of being 60!).  If you or a loved one are reaching or well into their “senior” years, you owe it to yourself to check out the wonderful resource we have here in the Rose Baker Senior Center.

E.J. Lefavour

Gator Bites

jolly gator fish camp

Now that people here are snowless and warm again and shouldn’t hate on me for doing so, I wanted to share a few photos and adventures from Florida.  My mother and I were driving state road 46 in Geneva, FL on our way to Sanford to take the auto train, in the middle of nowhere, Florida, when we came across a long bridge spanning the St. Johns River and saw way off the road, the first sign of civilization we had seen in some time.  It required a white knuckle hairpin turn at 55 mph off single lane 46 to get onto the dirt access road to reach it, but the trip to Jolly Gator Fish Camp was so well worth it.  If you ever find yourself on or near State Road 46 in Geneva, FL (not far from Cocoa Beach), don’t miss the opportunity to stop.  The food and view are amazing, and the staff were so warm and wonderful.  We had grilled gator bites (so yummy!) and Florida Cabbage (equally delicious).

E.J. Lefavour

Hobbit House Studio

Saturday night on Rocky Neck

Regina_my mother my self

Don’t miss Regina Piantedosi’s exhibit at her new YUPO Gallery space, 74 Rocky New Ave., “My Mother-My Self” presenting an impressive array of retrospective works by Anna DelloRusso (Regina’s Renaissance woman artist mother) and Regina.  Opening Reception Saturday, June 13th from 4-8pm.

Also don’t miss the Opening Reception for Joseph Flack Weiler’s photography exhibit at Gallery 53, 53 Rocky Neck Ave., also on Saturday, June 13th from 5-7pm.

dark gable

Finally, watch for the opening of the Madfish Grille next weekend, with a soft opening Friday evening, June 12.  The restaurant will not be serving food this year, offering music Thursday through Sunday, and Dark Gable’s BBQ by Andre under the canopy. Check out the cool graffiti art in the bar by James A. Fox, artist from Beverly who works as a teach of graffiti and mixed media arts at Collins Middle School in Salem.

E.J. Lefavour

Hobbit House Studio

Blueberry Pancakes with a Smile

sailor stans smiling pancakes

Sailor Stan’s is now open Tuesday through Sunday from 7:00 am until 12:00 or so.  Stop in for some of Wayne’s happy blueberry pancakes, awesome omelettes, specials of the day, and new offerings of homemade muffins.  Rocky Neck – 1 Wonson Street – the cool funky place filled with local characters, good food and fun.

Mom and I have had breakfast there twice since landing back in the land of miracles, and it is great!  So glad to be back on Rocky Neck!

E.J. Lefavour

Hobbit House Studio

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