Category Archives: Cape Ann Wildlife

THE FRIENDLY RED ADMIRAL


Red Admiral Butterfly Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2015Red Admiral Basking at Niles Pond

So named Friendly because he’ll alight on your arm or head, attracted to the minerals in perspiration. This Red Admiral was found warming its wings in the early morning sun at Niles Pond. Butterflies wings do not work very well in cool, rainy temperatures. I hope the upcoming heat wave brings a batch of butterflies!

Niles Pond Sunrise ©Kim Smith 2015Niles Pond 

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

Kim Smith Lecture Tuesday Evening at the Chelmsford Public Library

Please join me Tuesday evening  at 7pm at the Chelmsford Public Library for my lecture The Pollinator Garden. The event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

11a. Pipevine EggsPipevine Swallowtail Butterfly Eggs, East Gloucester

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

bird-hat-public-domain

 

Queen Anne’s Lace Series

Queen Annes's Lace -3 ©Kim smith 2015 Queen Annes's Lace ©Kim smith 2015 Although not a native North American wildflower, Queen Anne’s Lace has adapted to our climate well, reportedly growing in every state save for Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii. A member of the Umbelliferae, or Carrot Family, Queen Anne’s Lace also goes by the common names Wild Carrot, Bird’s Nest, and Bishops’s Lace. The root of young plants, although white, tastes like a carrot, and when rubbed together between fingers, the foliage smells of parsley (also a member of the Umbel Family).Black Swallowtail osmeterium ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

Queen Anne’s Lace is a caterpillar food plant of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. Don’t despair butterfly lovers. Although the butterflies have been slow to awaken this year, I have high hopes that just as flowering plants are several weeks behind, so too will the butterflies emerge–only later than expected.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Zinnia Male ©Kim Smith 2013.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Nectaring at Zinnia elegans

Please join me Tuesday evening  at 7pm at the Chelmsford Public Library for my lecture The Pollinator Garden. The event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

Queen Annes's Lace -4 ©Kim smith 2015

Coyote Colors

Hi Joey,

I shot this photo a few weeks ago and its cropped from a larger image.  I couldn’t figure out why I took the larger image until I noticed the coyote against the sea wall.  From my perspective when I took this, the coyote blended in extremely well with the stones on the beach and the seawall itself. It was very hard to track her movement along the shore from a distance. 

Enjoy!
~Bill O’Connor
North Shore Kid

Coyote_Camo

SHARK DRONE VIDEO BY MARTIN DEL VECCHIO

In celebration of Shark Week (July 5th through the 12th), I thought it would be fun to see Martin Del Vecchio’s amazing basking shark video shot in 4K with his drone off of Bass Rocks. So cool that Martin captured and so cool we have Basking Sharks visiting our shores!

Chickity Check It: “How Cities Are Adapting to More Coyotes, Cougars and Urban Wildlife” On Gizmodo

How Cities Are Adapting to More Coyotes, Cougars and Urban Wildlife

Several times this spring, coyotes made national headlines when spotted roaming the streets of New York, from Manhattan to Queens.

In recent years, a host of charismatic wild species, the coyote being only the most famous, have returned to American cities in numbers not seen for generations. Yet the official response in many areas has been, at best, disorganized, and people’s responses varied. The time has come for us to accept that these animals are here to stay, and develop a new approach to urban wildlife.

Most big American cities occupy sites that were once rich ecosystems. New York and Boston overlook dynamic river mouths. San Francisco and Seattle border vast estuaries, while large parts of Chicago, New Orleans and Washington, DC rest atop former wetlands. Even Las Vegas sprawls across a rare desert valley with reliable sources of life-giving fresh water, supplied by artesian aquifers the nearby Spring Mountains. All of these places once attracted diverse and abundant wildlife.

For the entire story click here

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

A Group Of 5 Coyote Pups Made It Through The Tough Winter And Are Ready To Play On Eastern Point #GloucesterMA

You may remember Sherman “Pat” Morss incredible National Geographic Quality Coyote photos on Eastern Point February 16th 2015-

Pack Of Coyotes Photographed On Eastern Point After The Storm

Well, there’s a new pack-

Joey:

Our coyotes seem to have survived the winter.  Here is the next generation playing around our house on Eastern Point, a little waterlogged on Fathers Day.  We have 5 in all.

Best Regards, Pat

150621 Gloucester, Eastern Point, coyote pups return (8a) 150621 Gloucester, Eastern Point, coyote pups (1a) 150621 Gloucester, Eastern Point, coyote pups (2a) 150621 Gloucester, Eastern Point, coyote pups (3a) 150621 Gloucester, Eastern Point, coyote pups (4a) 150621 Gloucester, Eastern Point, coyote pups (5a) 150621 Gloucester, Eastern Point, coyote pups return (7a)

 

And Then There Were Three! Baby Bird Update.

Three little chicks chillin’ in our nest!

Some of you have asked for updates on our little eggs and the feathered interloper who has found its way into the House Sparrow nest in our front porch hanging plant.

If you’re not sure of the background information, check out the post HERE!

We started with a nervous momma bird who would bolt each time we entered/exited our little house.

Soon enough we realized that there was a perfect little nest inside our hanging plant with four small eggs….and one larger one.

We discovered the larger egg belonged to an “Interloper”…in this case a Cowbird.

Just a couple of days after the discovery, the baby cowbird hatched.

Somewhere along the way the four house sparrow eggs dwindled slightly to just three! No trace of the egg shell anywhere.  Weird.

The momma house sparrow began taking care of the newly hatched chick…who clearly hatched from an egg deposited into her nest…by a totally different bird!

The update comes here…

A couple of days later, there are now also two much smaller babies in the nest.  For now, the three birds are snuggling together nicely and all seems OK in their world.

Will the peace continue??  I sure hope so!

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Bring on the Butterflies

How sweet is this little Butterfly Garden!  Kudos to the students and staff at O’Maley Innovation Middle School for putting this together.  Kudos also to Awesome Gloucester for knowing a good thing when they see it….as this garden was funded by them!  I love all of the excellent tidbits of knowledge that are available while enjoying the beauty of the space.  What a treat to happen upon this while headed in for a cold, 90 minute hockey practice!

IMG_9763

Interloper

For the past week or so, each and every time we come and go through our front door, a momma house sparrow (I think) takes off from one of our hanging plants and sits in a nearby tree until the coast is clear.

The other day I figured I’d peak into the plant to see just what was going on in there.  I found four precious little eggs…and one, much larger, speckled one.  Hmmmm.

After a shout out to social media and some research, I quickly discovered that we had an interloper on our hands.

According to dictionary.com the definition of interloper is

a person who interferes or meddles in the affairs of others or a person who intrudes into a region, field, or trade without a proper license.

As it happens, cowbirds are interlopers (or the bird variety) and it seems that is what egg #5 might just be.  When the momma of the house (or plant, in this case) was away the female cowbird apparently snuck into the nest and deposited her own egg to be incubated along with the others.  Sneaky.

Upon researching further, I realized that this practice will often lead to the demise of the resident eggs.  The cowbird is much larger and demands more food once being hatched.  Often times the smaller birds don’t stand a chance.  I thought about removing the interloper egg, but that didn’t seem right.  I also read that sometimes all of the birds may hatch and grow successfully…so I didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize that possibility.

The very next day I peaked inside the nest again…and low and behold…the interloper bird had hatched.  It is now three days old and still the only bird in the nest.  The momma house sparrow still comes and goes each time we do the same.  We have been keeping our distance, but I did sneak a few photos….and it would appear that the momma is indeed nurturing the young interloper bird.

I sure hope the other four eggs hatch and that their well-being is not at risk.

*After reading this post this morning to check again for any typos, etc. I noticed that the original 4 House Sparrow eggs have already decreased in number to three.  Not sure how I missed that fact!  Did one egg get kicked out of the nest?  Is the 4th egg underneath the hatched baby bird?  I don’t think so. Did it already hatch and not survive? Hmmm.

Read more about this interesting avian phenomenon HERE

IMG_9706 IMG_9702 IMG_9704 IMG_9744 IMG_9745 Image Image 1 Image 4

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.

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