Category Archives: Birds

Quarky Pants Junior!

Juvenile Black Crowned Night heron ©Kim Smith 2015Allowing me to get a little closer, perhaps one of these days (before he/she’s all grown up), I’ll catch a side-by-side of Black-crowned Night Heron parent and juvenile. Here he is standing on one leg, just as do mom and dad!Great Blue Heron ©Kim Smith 2015

A little ways off was a Great Blue Heron also hunting amongst the reeds. I captured him in fight with my movie camera as he flew to the other side of the pond. Thanks to E.J., who was on a morning walk and pointed out the general vicinity to where he had landed, I was able to get another clip of the heron flying.

I am searching for quiet places to record harbor and shore sounds, away from the roar of the surf, as well as where boat and machine engines don’t muffle or drown out every other sound. Its harder than you may imagine especially because there can be little to no wind. If you know of a quiet place where you especially love to listen to the music of Cape Ann, please answer in the comments section or email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. Thank you! 

MR. AND MRS. QUARKY PANTS HAD A BABY!

Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -1 ©Kim Smith 2015For the past several months on my filming forays around Niles Pond I have encountered a pair of Black-crowned Night Herons. With a loud quark, at least one flies up into the trees as soon as my presence is detected and I can never get a closeup photo with both in the same shot.Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -4 ©Kim Smith 2015

I was wondering if they were a nesting pair or even husband and wife; I mean they could be siblings. Today before daybreak I saw their fledgling, but only for the briefest second.

Black-crowned Night Heron fledgling Gloucester -5 ©Kim Smith 2015Hoping to take a better shot of the fledgling (above) before it gains its adult feathers.

Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -2 ©Kim Smith 2015It flew off, along with one of the parents, but one did stay while I was recording daybreak foley.

Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -3 ©Kim Smith 2015

Black-crowned Night Heron standing on one leg, a characteristic many birds share, which they do primarily to conserve energy and body heat.

Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2015A Face Only a Mother Could Love

Sunrise Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2015

Today’s Niles Pond Sunrise

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MALE AND FEMALE SWAN

Mute Swan male female çygnus olor ©Kim Smith 2015Side-by-side Comparison ~ Female Swan Back, Male Swan Front

Have you ever wondered whether you are looking at a male or female swan? I had often until I learned that the male’s black protuberance at the base of the bill swells during the breeding season. Very recently, I learned that the fleshy black knob has a name. So now rather than calling it a knob, nobble, thingamabob, or that black protuberance above the bill, I can say blackberry, and you can too. That really is an often used term in Europe, their native home. The blackberry is also unique to Mute Swans; no other species of swans has this feature.

Mute swan male female cygnet cygnus olor ©Kim Smith 2015I’ve posted this photo before however, it shows very well the different sizes of the male and female’s blackberries. Male, left; female, right.

FLEDGLING HOMIE RESCUE UNDERWAY AT SEVEN SEAS WHALE WATCH (EDITED)

UPDATE: HOMIE LEARNED TO FLY!

Seagull fledgling ©Kim Smith 2015Heather Dagle from 7 Seas Whale Watch reports that this sweet fledgling appeared several days ago after its nest, which was located at Fisherman’s Wharf, was destroyed in a recent storm. He/she has yet to learn how to fly however, its Mom stops by daily to feed it regurgitated food. After seeing how much the fledgling enjoyed splashing around in a bowl of water placed there by Heather and Kate, I dropped off a big galvanized tub. Heather promises to send a picture if he jumps in!

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Did you know that 7 Seas Whale Watch was voted best Boston’s Best Whale Watching company by WGBH-Boston Reader’s Poll? Check out their website Here.

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gray-seal-3Gray Seal Eating a Striper

All images except fledgling gull courtesy Google image search.

Eastern Point Before and After Thunderstorm Photos AND WHIMSICAL WHIMBRELS!

Gloucester storm 2015On my way home from work several days ago. I stopped to take a photo of the fast and furious oncoming storm. To my utter delight I spotted a pair of whimbrels feeding alongside the mallards at the water’s edge however, to my dismay, I only had my still camera. They didn’t allow for close-up photography and flew off in the direction of Brace Rock as soon as this human was noticed. Returning with movie camera after the storm to see if they were still in the neighborhood, they were not, and have not been spotted since.

Whimbrels East Gloucester Massachusetts july 25 ©Kim Smith 2015The only other time I have seen a pair of whimbrels, or any whimbrels for that matter, was at Good Harbor Beach several years ago, in mid-September. Whimbrels breed in the Arctic, departing in July for parts further south. It seems early in the season for them to have begun their southward migration, or perhaps they have been here all along. I wonder if any of our readers have spotted whimbrels?

Gloucester storm ©Kim Smith 2015

GREAT EGRET: HUNTED TO NEAR EXTINCTION

Great Egret Gloucester airgrettes ©Kim Smith 2015During the breeding season, Great Egrets grow long feathers from their back called airgrettes.

Great Egret airgrettes ©Kim Smith 2015The airgrettes were the feathers sought by the 19th and early 20th century plume-hunters for the millinery trade.

The magnificent Great Egret was very nearly hunted to extinction during the “Plume Bloom” of the early 20th century. Startling, cumbersome, and hideous, hats were fashioned with every manner of beautiful bird feather. Europeans were partial to exotic birds that were hunted the world over and they included hummingbirds, toucans, birds of paradise, the condor, and emu. The American milinery trade favored herons for their natural abundance. The atrocities committed by the murderous millinery led to the formation of the first Audubon and conservation societies however, what truly led to saving the birds from extinction was the boyish bob and other short hairstyles introduced in about 1913. The short cuts could not support the hat extravaganzas, which led to the popularity of the cloche and the demise of the plume-hunters.

banned-egretsConfiscated dead egrets

humming-birds-rzsThousands of hummingbird pelts at 2 cents apiece

kate-middleton-2-435As absurdly ridiculous now as then

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GLOSSY IBIS FLOCK IN MAGNOLIA

Glossy Ibis Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015JPGThank you to the wonderful Anderson Family for sharing their Glossy Ibis sighting. After Chris’s super tip, I easily found them foraging in the fields several mornings in a row. I think there are anywhere between 20 to 30 members to the flock. They don’t allow you to get very close. Someone with a a 300-400mm lens may be able to take much better close ups. Nonetheless, they are fun to watch. I imagine since they are here at the end of June, the ibis may be nesting.

Dear Readers, If you see the Glossy Ibis, can you please share the time and day of your sighting. I understand from Mass Audubon that they rarely breed in our region and it would be exciting if we sighted a breeding pair. Thank you!

And thank you once again to the Andersons who this past year have supplied us with Snow Goose, Brant Geese, Snowy Owl, and now Glossy Ibis tips!!!

Glossy Ibis in flight Gloucester Massachusetts  ©Kim Smith 2015JPG

BEAUTIFUL BABY SWAN GONE

Mute swan cygnet  Massachusetts  -1©Kim Smith 2015The beautiful single cygnet at Henry’s Pond has disappeared. Did anyone by chance see what happened?

Mute swan cygnet pen, female Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015May 28, 2015

Mute swan cygnet cob pen, female male Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015May 30th, male, or cob on the left, female pen on the right, cygnet tucked between the two

Mute swan cygnet -3  Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015June 7th, adeptly preening, or oiling its feathers.

Mute swan cygnet pen, female Massachusetts -2 ©Kim Smith 2015Anytime is nap time.

Mute swan cygnet pen, female Massachusetts -3 ©Kim Smith 2015June 12th early morning, last sighting.

 

 

Loblolly Cove ~ Red-winged Blackbird Habitat

Loblolly Cove Rockport Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015Loblolly Cove, Rockport
Male Red-winged Blackbird Massachusetts -4 ©Kim Smith 2015Male Red-winged Blackbird

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Comsos 12 ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Eider Encounter

Finishing up filming cygnets and ducklings for the morning, I noticed a Great Blue heron swoop onto the shore. I got my gear back out and headed over to where it appeared to have landed along the rocky coastline. With eyes peeled for the heron I nearly tripped over the female Common Eider. Literally. Oval-shaped and seemingly immobile, the eider looked just like another rock on the beach. She didn’t budge while I kneeled down on the sand and photographed and filmed her, cameras positioned no more than a foot away. I only stayed close for a few moments and then moved further away and watched for awhile as she thoroughly oiled her feathers. She didn’t appear to be injured. Concerned as I was that she could easily become a coyote’s breakfast if she wasn’t able to fly, still I thought it best to leave her be. As I returned to my car and turned for one last look, she was flying straight up, helicopter fashion, and then forward towards the sea.

Female Common Eider Rockport Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

 Female Common Eider

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Milkweed Seedpod ©Kim Smith 2014

Stars of the Marsh

Male Red-winged Blackbird Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015Heard at nearly every New England marsh, one can’t help but notice the beautiful and seemingly never ending song of the male Red-winged Blackbird. From sunrise to sunset he’s calling to his girl. Early this spring I set out to record the sounds of the marsh for my Monarch film. The male Red-winged Blackbirds are the stars of the marsh and while capturing their vocalizations, I also was also able to capture footage of their fascinating behaviors.Male Red-winged Blackbird Massachusetts -5 ©Kim Smith 2015

 Male Red-winged Blackbirds Perching on Cattails (and Eating the Seed Heads, Too)

You’ll see many more males because they perch on higher ground, at the top of the cattails, phragmites, scrubby shrubs, phone lines, and treetops. They are defending their territory through song and a showy display of red and yellow wing bars. The males too, often swoop to the edge of the pond’s shoreline and peck at the sand.

Female Red-winged Blackbird Massachusetts  -3©Kim Smith 2015

Plain Jane Female ~ What’s All the Fuss About!

The female Red-winged Blackbird, with her more subdued feathers of brown and beige, typically stays closer to the ground, building her nest and eating insects.Female and Male Red-winged Blackbird Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

Female Red-winged Blackbird in the foreground with male in the background. As you can see in the photo, the female looks like a large dark sparrow.

Loblolly Cove ©Kim Smith 2015Loblolly Cove ~ Red-winged Blackbird Superhighway

Comsos 12 ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

See More Photos Here Read more

Day Three Filming the Ducklings

Mallard Duck Family ©Kim Smith 2015I’m a bit sad to write that all but one of the ducklings that I have been filming has survived. He stays very close to Mama Mallard and Pa is never too far away. Today I filmed two different Mallard families, one with three ducklings and the other with five. I hope they have a better survival rate.

Mallard Duckling ©Kim Smith 2015Mallard Duckling Grooming ©Kim  Smith 2015Sleeping Mallard Duckling ©Kim Smith 2015Nap Time

Day 2 Filming the Duckling Family

Mallard Duckling ©Kim Smith 2015The Mallard Duck family that I have been filming during the early morning hours this past week is allowing me to get very close, venturing to within two feet from where I am tucked in amongst the reeds by the water’s edge. The ducklings mirror the parent’s every action and they are are especially adorable learning how to oil their feathers. Although the female attempts to stay close, and the male is always hovering nearby, one is becoming increasingly independent, a little too independent if you ask me. I can’t get over the ducklings vulnerability–its a miracle any survive to adulthood.

Female Mallard and Ducklings ©Kim Smith 2015

The mixed flock of ducks is comprised mostly of Mallards, with several pairs of American Black Ducks mixed in. A single pair of Blue-winged Teals was spotted for several days.

Blue-winged Teal adult male breeding ©Kim Smith 2015

Blue-winged Teal Adult Male Breeding Plummage

American Black Duck ©Kim smith 2015American Black Duck

Look What Andrea Holbrook Captured ~ A GLOSSY IBIS IN GLOUCESTER!

 

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Andrea writes, “OK , because of where I work — Gloucester — and amazing bird photos posted by friends — that would be you Kimberley Caruso and Kim Smith — I find myself stopping to shoot shorebirds with a camera. Spotted Thursday morning at Grant Circle, a glossy ibis and two snowy egrets. Not great photos but I had never seen a glossy ibis before!”

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Thank you so much Andrea for sharing your photos of the stunning Glossy Ibis. It’s breeding range in the Western Hemisphere is quite narrow and I would love, love to capture this species on film. Keeping my eyes peeled thanks to you!

From the Mass Audubon website, “In Ancient Egypt, ibises were venerated as sacred birds. They were believed to have a connection to the deity Thoth, the wise scribe and lorekeeper of the Egyptian pantheon. While Glossy Ibises are not literate, they are marvelous travelers. The Western Hemisphere population of this species represents a fairly recent arrival to the New World, believed to be descendants of birds who flew from Africa to South America in the early nineteenth century (Davis & Kricher 2000). Read More Here

 

NO GEESE ALLOWED!

Don’t mess with Mama Swan!

Mute Swan attacking ©Kim Smith 2015

Mute Swans are extraordinarily powerful birds and I have seen them turn on a dime, especially at this time of year when the cygnets are beginning to hatch. The above Canadian Goose tried to make a landing but was immediately rebuffed, in no uncertain terms. Several times since, I have observed geese circling overhead, but as soon as the swan is seen, they immediately change course.

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