Category Archives: Cape Ann Wildlife



An Eastern Point resident was attacked by a coyote at 5:15 this morning. She was curled up in an Adirondack chair drinking coffee and watching the stars before heading off to work. The wolf-size coyote leapt on her back. She jumped to her feet and fought it back with her fists. She next grabbed a broom and in the process hit her truck’s key fob, which sounded the alarm. The coyote slunk back into the brush and observed her as she threw rocks at it and yelled loudly, to no avail. It stayed for some time watching her. The coyote could be rabid.

The woman describes the coyote’s drool as smelling like foul meat and the fur as coarse and bristly. The drool was in her hair and took some time to wash out the smell. She does not inherently dislike coyotes and is an animal lover by nature, owns many pets and chickens, and was the former owner of a horse stable. There are several fences around her family’s property, in place to keep her pets safe, including an electric fence.

The woman called the police, who informed her that the animal control officer was not in. She has not heard from animal control.


bst_banner_final copyPlease join me tomorrow night in Nashua, New Hampshire for a screening of my film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. For more information visit the Events page of my website. I hope to see you there!

Next week I am giving programs in Brockton and Nauset however in early November I’ll be home, with a screening of the Black Swallowtail film for the Seaside Garden Club at the Manchester Community Center on the 10th, and on the 12th of November I am the guest speaker at the Sawyer Free Library!

Black swallowtail Caterpillar ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

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. Filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Discussion and Q & A with the filmmaker to follow screening.

Queen Annes's Lace -4 ©Kim smith 2015Queen Anne’s Lace, Black Swallowtail Caterpillar food Plant


Furtive creatures that peer at you, while you are filming and photographing them!

White-tailed deer -2 ©Kim Smith 2015

While recording audio for my Monarch film at the same field over a several week period, occasionally I came upon a deer family. Not quick enough to get more than a fleeting snapshot however, these two deer were spotted peering at me while I waited in vain for their return, so that I could peer back at them!

Wild Turkey ©Kim Smith 2015 copySurprise Turkey-in-a-Tree Encounter

Rabbit ©Kim Smith 2015Ubiquitous bunny, abundantly present on every film shoot. 

Chipmunk ©Kim Smith 2015Chipmunk

White-tailed Deer ©Kim Smith 2015The wrong end of the deer I’m most likely to capture.



NEW FILM: Luminescent Sea Salps

These salps were filmed in Gloucester’s inner harbor and had a luminous appearance in the blue lights of the fishing boat Hot Tuna, the largest boat in the Wicked Tuna fleet. I think the song “La Luna” by Lucy Schwartz adds to the magical movement of the salps and other creatures in the glowing blue. (So sorry to Captain Ott for startling him while hanging over the edge of the dock to film the salps at the rear of his boat, and Hey to Nicky Avelis!)

Sea salps are warm ocean water creatures, exploding in population during algae blooms. With beating heart, notochcord, and gills they are more closely evolutionarily linked to humans than to jellyfish. Sea salps are individual creatures that through asexual reproduction, can form linear chains up to fifteen feet long!

Salps are planktonic (free floating) members of the subphylum Tunicata. Tunicates get their name from the unique outer covering or “tunic,” which acts as an exoskeleton. The sea salp’s tunic is translucent and gelatinous; in some species it is tough and thick.

Leucistic Crow From Arthur Adamson

Hi Joey,

I thought I’d share a couple of pics I got of a crow in my front yard in Rockport.  A rare leucistic  condition that occurs in many different species of animals.  Just the head and tip of the left wing are affected. 

Love your page!

Arthur Adamson

Highview Road


leucistic crow 1

Leucistic crow 2


Male Swan Niles Pond September ©Kim Smith 2015A listless Mr. Swan this past Saturday

Mr. Swan is slowly coming back to life and has begun to move around to his other pond homes. He is very lonely still and cries his plaintive cry however, one of our dear readers writes that when he lost his first wife about six years ago, a cormorant came and sat with him everyday until “Little Girl Swan” showed up on the scene (his second wife). Hopefully history will repeat itself. Mr. Swan is thought to be about twenty years old, which is remarkable for a swan in the wild.

Male Female Swan January 2014 Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2014

Mr. (right) and Mrs. (left) sharing pond vegetation with ducks, Niles Pond January 2014

Thank you to all who have written, sent photos, and reported sightings. We’re so blessed to be a part of this wonderfully caring community.

Female swan cygnet June 2015 ©Kim Smith 2015

Mrs. Swan and Cygnet June 2015

Mute swan male female cygnet cygnus olor ©Kim Smith 2015RIP Mrs. Swan and Cygnet

My Monarch Butterfly Film at the Leonardo Museum in Utah!

As part of a revolving exhibit titled “Spark!,” the short film that I created for the Berkshire Museum, A Flight of Monarchs, will be playing continuously from now through November at the Leonardo in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am super excited about this–the exhibit sounds wonderful–

“What is “spark?” Is it that feeling you get when you know you’re on to something big? Is it that irresistible flow of an idea that’s just about to burst into reality? What happens when your creativity is ignited?  What becomes possible?

We get it– which is why we created this brand new (and really big) exhibition.

Imagine, explore and interact with over 700 pieces of original 2D and 3D art, live performances, original writings, and more.”  Read more about it here: SPARK!

Thank you for watching! More about Monarchs and the potential for a spike in this year’s southward migration tomorrow. 


Pilar Monarch Day ©Kim Smith 2015Pilar has started a new fashion trend, Monarchs as hair accessory.

Enchanted by Monarchs!  We had a fantastic day filmmaking, thanks to Emma, Pilar, Frieda, Annie Kate, Lotus, April, Elijah, Esme, Charlie, Atticus, and last but not least, Meadow. And an extra huge thank you to all the moms and dads for not minding the early morning wake up calls and texts to let the kids know the butterflies were emerging! I was tied up filming and so wish I’d taken more stills.

Annie kate, Emma, Pilar Monarch Day ©kim Smith 2015 copyAnnie Kate, Emma, and Pilar

Meadow Monarch Day ©Kim Smith 2015 copy




Thank you to my friend Lyn for sharing this story. Lyn lives on Niles Pond and, as do several family’s around the pond, she keeps a watchful eye on the swans, ducks, and all the birds that make Nile Pond their home. Lyn thinks the last time the swans were seen together was Monday, Labor Day. Mr. Swan has taken to sitting in the middle of the pond, crying and wailing, lamenting the loss of his beautiful mate. Wednesday Lyn took me around the causeway to the spot where it looks as though the kill took place, with only her feathers remaining.

If anyone has additional information, please share. Thank you so much.

dead swan remains Nile Pond ©Kim Smith 2015


Bonaparte's Gulls Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015While recording audio for film projects this past week I was wonderfully surprised to come upon this small flock of the beautiful and graceful Bonaparte’s Gulls feeding at low tide!.Bonaparte's Gull winter plumage Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015Bonaparte's Gull Massachusetts Diving ©Kim Smith 2015

The water was very clear and I think in the above photo you are seeing not the gull’s reflection, but its open mouth plunge for tiny shrimp.

Bonaparte's Gulls Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

Non-breeding plumage.

Bonaparte’s Gulls are exquisite creatures to observe. Appearing to delight in riding the waves, they twirl every which way before diving for krill.

In this flock you can see very clearly the changing feather patterns from breeding to non-breeding, with the signature charcoal gray smudge behind the ear on the gull on the left. Typically by mid-August they have gained their winter plumage. During breeding season the feathers of the hood become entirely black.

We see Bonaparte’s Gulls in Massachusetts in spring on their northward migration to the boreal forests of Alaska and Canada and again in the summer as they return to winter grounds along the Gulf of Mexico and southern Great Lakes region. I at first thought that these were Laughing Gulls but the pinkish-orange feet and legs and buzzy vocalizations tell us otherwise.

I ran into my friend and long-time Annisquam resident Hank Junker on Lighthouse Beach and he reports that every summer he sees at least one Bonaparte’s at Lighthouse Beach or the adjacent Cambridge Street Beach. Hank also mentioned that they are typically here earlier in the summer, around the first week of August.

Bonaparte's Gull Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

Black wing-tips and pink-orange feet suggest Bonaparte’s Gulls

Bonaparte's Gull -Ring-backed Gull Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

Ring-billed Gull in the background, Bonaparte’s in the fore.

The Bonaparte’s Gull is about half the size of the Ring-billed Gull. I have learned to observe closely groups of gulls because different species sometimes feed together and you never know what fascinating bird may be amongst the flock.

Bonaparte's Gull Diving ©Kim Smith 2015

Bonaparte's Gull Diving -3 Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015The gulls are finding a smorgasbord at dawn’s low tide, feeding on krill and other crustaceans.   They get into tussles over feeding turf and, with a flourish of wings and a sharp, rasping “keh-keh,” they give each other the business, in no uncertain terms!

Two more photos here Read more

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 Thank you! 


Atticus Monarch caterpillar ©Kim Smith 2015An integral part of the Monarch film is to show the connection between wildflowers and caterpillars. Emma, Pilar, Atticus, and Meadow were fantastic with the caterpillars and a huge help with the project. We are so blessed to know these bright and curious kids, and their incredible parents!Pilar Atticus Meadow Emma monarch caterpillar ©Kim Smith 2015

Pilar Atticus Meadow Emma monarch caterpillars ©Kim Smith 2015Thank you Pilar, Atticus, Meadow, and Emma for all your help filmmaking!

Meadow monarch caterpillar ©Kim Smith 2015 copy


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

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