Category Archives: Cape Ann Wildlife

GLOUCESTER POODLE MAULED AND KILLED BY COYOTE WHILE WOMEN FORCED TO TAKE REFUGE IN CAR

eastern-coyote-canis-latrans-massachusetts-kim-smithimg_4034Councilman Scott Memhard shares photo of the porch where the poddle was killed

AS reported in thelocalnews.ws

Sumac Lane, Rocky Neck

GLOUCESTER — The mayor and police chief are advising residents to keep a careful watch on all pets after a resident’s dog was killed by a coyote last night.

Two women who tried to save the dog were forced to hide in a car after the coyote turned on them.

Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and Interim Chief John McCarthy issued the advice after the dog was attacked last night (January 15).

At around 9:30 p.m., “Gloucester Animal Control responded to Sumac Lane for reports of a resident whose dog had been attacked and killed by a coyote,” a police statement said.

“The dog was on a fixed leash in the yard while its owner was inside the home. Animal control officers searched the surrounding area but did not find the coyote,” it added.

Rocky Neck resident Mark Olsen told WBZ TV the dog, a poodle, belonged to his 75-year-old mother.

The dog was out for about five minutes when the coyote attacked, he told reporters.

Olsen said his mother and sister “tried to save the dog, but they had to hide in their car when the coyote came after them,” WBZ said.

As a result, animal control officers and Gloucester Environmental Police are monitoring the entire Rocky Neck area today.

City officials said the coyote population has been increasing on Cape Ann recently. Olsen agreed, saying he had seen three or four recently. He also said they are becoming “more brazen.”

The Boston Globe reported last year that 250 residents attended a meeting last year to voice concern about the increasing coyote population.

In October 2015, a woman drinking coffee on her front porch was attacked by a coyote, according to Good Morning Gloucester.

To prevent coyote attacks, Gloucester Police advise residents to follow safety tips from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife:

  1. Do not approach, feed, pet, or try to interact with wildlife, including coyotes, foxes, or other wild animals.
  2. It is always a good idea to leash pets at all times if outdoors. Small cats and dogs are seen as prey and larger dogs competition.
  3. Don’t hesitate to scare or threaten coyotes with loud noises, bright lights, or water sprayed from a hose.
  4. Cut back bushy edges, as these areas provide cover for coyotes and their prey.
  5. Secure your garbage. Coyotes raid open trash materials and compost piles. Secure your garbage in tough plastic containers with tight-fitting lids and keep them in secure buildings when possible.
  6. Take out trash when the morning pick-up is scheduled, not the previous night.
  7. Keep compost in secure, vented containers, and keep barbecue grills clean to reduce attractive odors.
  8. Keep bird feeder areas clean. Use feeders designed to keep seed off the ground, as the seed attracts many small mammals coyotes prey upon.
  9. Remove feeders if coyotes are regularly seen around your yard.

More information regarding the city’s increasing coyote population will be released on the City of Gloucester website this week.

Anyone who sees a coyote in Gloucester should immediately contact Gloucester Animal Control at 978-281-9746.eastern-coyote-massachusetts-kim-smith

 

CROWS OF THE SEA

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These aquamarine-eyed beauties were very nearly made extinct from the use of the pesticide DDT and from hunting. DDT wreaked havoc on avian creatures nationwide and since its ban, the Double-crested Cormorant has made an extraordinary recovery, so much so, that some communities spend a great deal of time and expense planning how to kill, or cull, these remarkable birds. Read here for a very thoughtful article on the topic, “To Kill a Cormorant.”double-crested-cormorant-rockport-harbor-massachusetts-3-copyright-kim-smithdouble-crested-cormorant-rockport-harbor-massachusetts-2-copyright-kim-smithdouble-crested-cormorant-rockport-harbor-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith

doublec-crested-cormorants-rockport-harborPair of Juvenile Double-crested Cormorants at Rockport Harbor

double-crested-cormorants-massing-essex-river-1-copyright-kim-smithDouble-crested Cormorants massing at the mouth of the Essex River in late summer

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800px-double-crested_cormorant_during_breeding_seasonThe Double-crested Cormorant get its common name from the double tufts of feathers seen on both male and females, showing only during breeding season. The crests can be white, black, or a combination of both. Photo courtesy wiki.

 

EARLY MORNING SCENES FROM BEAUTIFUL ROCKPORT HARBOR, GRANITE PIER, MR. SWAN AND DUCK ENTOURAGE, PAIR OF JUVENILE DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, FV WINDY, AND OF COURSE, MOTIF NO.1

Photos from an early morning walk all around Rockport Harbor (sub0zero walk I should add). My technique for photographing when it’s 10 degrees out is to snap away until my fingers can’t stand it any more, run back to the car, which has been left running, warm up, and then try again. Repeat in ten to fifteen minute intervals. I have the utmost respect for the fishermen; I don’t understand how they can work on the water when the air temperature is so cold.

rockport-congregational-church-sun-rays-copyright-kim-smithRockport Congregational Church and Shalin Liu Sunrays

Double-crested cormorant-juvenile-sleeping-rockport-harbor-copyright-kim-smithOne of a sleeping pair of juvenile Double-crested Cormorants

CAPE ANN WILDLIFE: A YEAR IN PICTURES

snowy-owl-gloucester-massachusetts-c2a9kim-smith-2015My husband Tom suggested that I write a year-end post about the wildlife that I had photographed around Cape Ann. Super idea I thought, that will be fun and easy. Many hours later (not realizing how daunting) the following is a collection of some favorite images from this past year, beginning with the male Snowy Owl photographed at Captain Joe’s last winter, to December’s Red-tailed Hawk huntress.

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Living along the great Atlantic Flyway, we have been graced with a bevy of birds. Perhaps the most exciting arrival of all occurred when early summer brought several pairs of nesting Piping Plovers to Gloucester’s most beloved (and most highly trafficked) of beaches, Good Harbor Beach. Their story is being documented on film.

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Work on Mr. Swan’s film will also resume this January—the winters are simply not long enough for all I have planned!

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While photographing and filming Red-winged Blackbirds this past spring, there was a face-to-face encounter with a hungry coyote, as well as several River Otter sightings.

female-red-winged-blackbird-copyright-kim-smitrhFemale Red-winged Blackbird

eastern-coyote-massachusetts-kim-smithThe summer’s drought brought Muskrats out from the reeds and into full view at a very dry Henry’s Pond, and a short film about a North American Beaver encounter at Langsford Pond. Numerous stories were heard from folks who have lived on Cape Ann far longer than I about the extraordinary number of egrets, both Snowy and Great, dwelling on our shores.three-muskrat-family-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith

Three Muskrateersfemale-monarch-depositing-eggs-1-copyright-kim-smithnewly-emerged-monarch-butterfly-copyright-kim-smith-jpg

There were few Monarch sightings, but the ones seen thankfully deposited eggs in our garden. Thank you to my new friend Christine who shared her Cecropia Silkmoth eggs with me and thank you to the countless readers who have extended an invitation to come by and photograph an exciting creature in their yard.

cecropia-moth-caterpillar-copyright-kim-smithPristine beaches, bodies of fresh water, and great swathes of protected marsh and woodland make for ideal wildlife habitat, and Cape Ann has it all. With global climate change pushing species further away from the Equator, I imagine we’ll be seeing even more creatures along our shores. Butterfly and bee populations are overall in decline, not only because of climate change and the use of pesticides, but also because of loss of habitat. As Massachusetts has become less agrarian and more greatly forested, fields of wildflowers are becoming increasingly rare. And too fields often make the best house lots. Farmers and property owners developing an awareness of the insects’ life cycle and planting and maintaining fields and gardens accordingly will truly help the butterflies and bees.

female-mallard-nine-ducklings-kim-smithThank you to all our readers for your kind comments of appreciation throughout the year for the beautiful wild creatures with which we share this gorgeous peninsula called Cape Ann.

The images are not arranged in any particular order. If you would like to read more about a particular animal, type the name of the animal in the search box and the original post should come up.

I wonder what 2017 will bring?nine-piping-plovers-napping-gloucester-copyright-kim-smith

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WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES RED-TAILED HAWK DEVOURING GREAT CORMORANT CLOSE UP

ALERT: Please skip this article if you are feeling the least bit squeamish.

Click on the Read More tab below the text to see all the photos.

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Looking for Snow Buntings while walking alongside Niles Pond, I came around a bend in the road and noticed from a distance the head of a large bird pecking at something on the embankment. Hmmm, a hawk, that’s why there weren’t any birds to be found. Hawks swooping their territory overhead quickly clears the woods and puts the kibosh on photographing songbirds.

Inching forward, baby step by baby step, the hawk was broad and large, and with its beautiful rust-red tail feathers, I thought it was most likely a female Red-tailed Hawk. The females are 25 to 30 percent bigger than the males, and because this bird was definitely on the larger size, for the sake of our story, we’ll refer to the hawk as a female.

She was intently devouring a freshly killed bird and if she had not been very hungry, I doubt she would have allowed me to move in so close. At one point, after having nearly eviscerated the entire bird, she tried to lift and carry away the carcass with her claw-shaped talons (one of the last photos in the batch). She did not succeed and finding more body parts, continued to eat.red-tailed-hawk-eating-prey-gloucester-massachusetts-23-copyright-kim-smith

After a bit, some boisterous folks came up from behind, startling both the hawk and myself, and off she flew to the far side of the pond. I found a stick and turned the dead carcass over onto its back. The head was missing, but by looking at the black webbed feet as well as the chest and belly feathers, it quickly became apparent that the victim was a Great Cormorant. I am sad to say that I think it was the very same juvenile Great Cormorant that had been living at Niles Pond for the past month as I have not seen another since.

Red-tailed hawks are extraordinarily adept hunters and highly variable in their diet. Eighty percent of the Hawk’s prey is comprised of mammals. For example, mice, voles, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, and rabbits. Records indicate that they also eat songbirds, pigeons, shorebirds, and unbelievably so, female Wild Turkeys and pheasants. Now we can add Great Cormorant to the list. Red-tailed Hawks weigh approximately between 1.5 pounds to 3.2 pounds, female Wild Turkeys average 9 to 10 pounds, and Great Cormorants weigh 5 to 8 pounds.

There were birders in the neighborhood earlier that morning, the morning of the winter solstice, December 21st. I wonder if they saw the Hawk kill the Cormorant, or if the Hawk came upon the freshly killed bird and it had been taken down by another predator. If you were one of the birders watching the Hawk out on Eastern Point near Niles Pond, on December 21st, please write. Thank you so much!

MORE PHOTOS HERE

Read more

DREDGING THE ESSEX RIVER?

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Essex River Sunset and Great Blue Heron

Readers, what do you think?

December 27th Gloucester Daily Times letter to the editor from Elizabeth and Brad Story.

“To the editor:

Cape Ann folks should be aware of the fact that there is significant opposition to dredging the Essex River in town and it comes from local people who know the river best. Rather than celebrating a boondoggle like dredging, we ought to be mourning a body blow to an incredible local natural resource.

The reason the Essex River hasn’t been dredged since the ‘90s is that dredging:

 — doesn’t work for more than a few years;

— actually causes the river to fill in more quickly;

— is terrible environmentally, no matter where the dredge spoils are dumped;

— is a waste of money.

When the channel is dredged, the banks are steeper. More boats use the river at higher speeds and the wakes and turbulence from the boats causes the steeper banks to collapse. The collapsed bank material fills in the channel. Now the river is spread out over the tops of the old banks and more filling in occurs.

We have seen this over and over again. If you look at the time period between dredging projects in the 20th century you will see that the time gets shorter and shorter. This is because the dredging makes the river less deep over time.

In the 19th century hundreds of huge Gloucester fishing schooners, steamers and other large vessels were built and launched on the banks of the river and were brought downriver on successive tides. There was plenty of water for them in the basin where they were launched and the trip down river just had to be guided by someone who knew the river. Once steam tugs were available they didn’t even have to necessarily wait for more than one tide.

Harold Burnham, who brings the Schooner Ardelle up the river to his boatyard, and has brought other large vessels up the river many times, uses the same method today. It is not a problem. My family operated the Story Shipyard, where the Essex Shipbuilding Museum is now, for many generations and I did business there until 1985. I built and launched many boats there and sailed from there downriver to Ipswich Bay hundreds of times.

The only people who have a problem are people who want to zoom up the river to the restaurants or marinas, and don’t want to deal with the state of the tide or the shoal areas. The police chief/harbormaster, who has so far refused to dock his boat at Conomo Point where there is deep water on all tides, also wants dredging. Maybe we need a harbormaster who doesn’t have to do double duty as police chief and therefore doesn’t need to be close to his office in the center of town? Might this work better without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on harmful dredging?

The Coast Guard has always had a problem getting in the lower Essex River but dredging won’t affect that. The problem is the sandbars shifting across the mouth of the river and between the ends of Crane Beach and Coffin’s Beach each year. No amount of dredging will ever change that, nor is it intended to.

The main problem in the Essex River is not its shallow draft. It is people going way too fast in big, powerful boats. This is our public safety problem. We face it every time we try to go boating, especially on summer weekends.”

 

Read complete letter here.

mouth-of-essex-river-copyright-kim-smithMouth of the Essex River, looking towards Cranes Beach, and Double-crested Cormorants

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MERMAIDS HATE PLASTIC

By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.
vonwong_plasticmermaid-4_plastic_drain-1024x683“If the average American uses 167 plastic bottles a year, in 60 years they will have used 10,000 plastic bottles.
Those same single use bottles will be around for your children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children.

That’s a lot of bottles to be running away from, for a very very long time.”

Read more at the artist vonwong’s project here www.450years.com

 

CHRISTMAS ROBIN

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christmas-robin-winterberry-2-copyright-kim-smithRobin Finds Christmas was a favorite book from childhood, given to me by my Grandmother. Funny how sweet little children’s stories stay with you forever. Robin Finds Christmas is about searching for the true meaning of Christmas and was written by the English writer and illustrator Molly Brett.

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HELLO LITTLE CHRISTMAS SNOW BUNTING!!

snow-bunting-cape-ann-massachusetts-7-copyright-kim-smithThis sweet sparrow-sized bird caught my attention as it was feeding alongside a more subdued-hued Song Sparrow, both smack dab in the middle of the road. How could it not, with its strikingly patterned tail feathers, brilliant white underparts, and unusual hopping-walking-running habit.

snow-bunting-cape-ann-massachusetts-4-copyright-kim-smithAptly named Snow Bunting, and colloquially called  “Snowflake”, worldwide this little songbird travels furtherest north of any member of the passerine, breeding in the high Arctic tundra.

In Massachusetts, Snow Buntings are seen during the winter along the coastline and in small flocks, foraging on seeds and tiny crustaceans.

I hope more Snow Buntings join the lone Snowflake spotted on Eastern Point. If you see a Snow Bunting, please write and let us know. Thank you!snow_bunting_map_big sneeuwgorsm
snbu_ad_gth1Snow Bunting in Arctic summer breeding plumage, photo courtesy BirdNote

SUPER MOON, HOWLING COYOTES, FLYING SWAN, SONGBIRDS GOING CRAZY, AND BEAUTIFUL BRACE COVE DAYBREAK

rocky-neck-smith-cove-daybreak-copyright-kim-smithLast Tuesday was a photographer’s magical dream morning. After photographing and filming December’s “Long Night’s Moon” descending over the Gloucester city skyline, I turned toward the east to see a peaceful daybreak scene over Rocky Neck. Perhaps the sun hadn’t fully risen I thought and hurried to Brace Cove. The sun had rose behind Brace Rock with just enough clouds that it was still pretty, not blasted out by too much light.

I then walked along the edge of Niles Pond, meeting up with Mr. Swan who was occupied with his morning swim, which often indicates he is readying to take flight. He did, and with movie camera in hand, he circled the Pond before landing at Brace Cove, near the breakwater.

Eerily, the coyotes were howling in the distance, actually howling, like wolves, and for quite a long while. I often hear their meet-and-greet yipping and socializing barks that they make shortly after sunset, and too the terrible sound they make when killing a creature, but I have never heard them howling in the morning. I wonder if it had something to do with the full moon? Do our readers hear coyotes howling regularly?

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Tufted Titmouse

Further along the Pond walk there was a large flock of American Robins and they, along with a lively group of Blue Jays, Tufted Titmice, Song Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, and Cardinals were hungrily eating every berry in sight, so much so that when I returned to the same spot a few days later, there wasn’t a berry or fruit to be seen. A magical morning at a magical place we’re fortunate to call home.

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December Long Night’s Moon

NEW SHORT: HELLO HUNGRY BEAVER!

Beaver Pond, also known as Langsford Pond, is located on the outskirts of Cape Ann’s Dogtown. Exquisitely beautiful and peaceful, the pond is teeming with life, habitat largely created by the relatively new presence of the North American Beaver (Castor canadensis).

Beavers were absent from the Massachusetts landscape from 1750 to the early 1900s due to deforestation from agriculture and unregulated hunting and fur trapping. In the early 1900s forests began to recover as farmers abandoned their fields to work in cities. By 1928, a Beaver was found in Stockbridge. The public’s enthusiasm for the return of the beavers abounded and in 1932 three additional beavers from New York were introduced and released in Lennox. Today, Beavers have rebounded to the extent that some controlled hunting is permitted.

Beavers are ecosystem engineers and the ponds they create become wildlife magnets. Think about just this one example of the ecology of a beaver pond: woodpeckers make holes in the dead trees engineered by Beaver activity, Wood Ducks nest in the holes created by the woodpeckers, and raptors hunt the smaller birds.

More examples of how Beavers benefit other species of wildlife include favored nesting sites of both the Great Blue Herons and Osprey are the dead treetops of older trees in beaver swamps. Local species of turtles, the Snapping Turtle and the Eastern Painted Turtle, benefit from abundant vegetation created by beaver tree felling, which causes the forest to regenerate. Snapping and Eastern Painted Turtles prefer standing and slow moving water and hibernate under logs and lodges of Beavers. Painted Turtles also use floating logs to bask upon.

Like Niles Pond and Henry’s Pond, Langsford Pond is another superb example of a body of fresh water close to a saltwater cove where the combination of the two ecosystems provides shelter, nesting sites, and an abundance of food. While at Langsford Pond, I often see Great Blue Herons, swooping overhead, coming and going, between feeding grounds at the head of Lobster Cove and the shelter found in the vegetation surrounding the pond. Today, December 8th, a juvenile was seen on the far side of the pond, as were numerous Wood Ducks.

Since 1999, Langsford Pond has been protected by the Essex County Greenbelt Association. When I was filming there in October and November it was wonderfully overgrown and somewhat difficult to access. Recently, vegetation has been cut back, which makes walking to the pond’s edge much easier. Disease bearing ticks are present.

Some favorite Beaver food, ferns and American White Birch (Betula papyrifera).

beaver-pond-langsford-pond-gloucester-ma-copyright-kim-smithSimilar scenes as several in the film, only a month later without the vibrant fall foliage –“stick” season

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Beaver Lodge

GOOD MORNING GLOUCESTER, BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE SENSATIONAL MR. SWAN!

mute-swan-mr-swan-niles-pond-gloucester-ma-copyright-kim-smithGlorious swan’s wings! In these photos you can see Mr. Swan’s magnificent new set of feathers.

Mr. Swan has resumed his habit of traveling from body of water to body of water within his territory. Why does he not travel during the summer months, primarily dwelling at Niles Pond? Swans molt each summer and during the molting period, they cannot fly.

Mute Swans molt when their cygnets cannot fly. The female (pen) begins to molt almost immediately after the young hatch. The male, or cob, waits until the female’s flight feathers have grown back completely. The reason for this staggered molting period is because swans use their wings in battle and to defend their young. The swan family will never be left defenseless with at least one of the pair’s set of wings fully functional. The molting period lasts anywhere from four to seven weeks.

mute-swan-stretching-wings-niles-pond-gloucester-ma-copyright-kim-smithGood morning Gloucester! Mr. Swan’s big morning stretch before he sets off to patrol his territory

WELL HELLO THERE BIG FOOT! RED-NECKED GREBE SPOTTED AT NILES POND

red-necked-grebe-niles-pond-gloucester-ma-1-copyright-kim-smithForaging around the perimeter of Niles Pond this morning was a charming Red-necked Grebe. I write charming because his feet are exquisitely enormous! As it dove for food, they were put to good use as a sort of paddling propellor. The bird spent much of the morning with its head half submerged and feet furiously working, vigorously hunting small fish and vegetation.red-necked-grebe-niles-pond-gloucester-ma-4-copyright-kim-smith

Check out the size of the Red-necked Grebe’s foot 🙂red-necked-grebe-niles-pond-gloucester-ma-3-copyright-kim-smith

Elusive

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Niles Pond is a special place that provides habitat for myriad species of wildlife, birds especially. Its close proximity to the ocean, abundance of food, and clear fresh, gentle water draws beautiful creatures to our shores all year round.

red-necked-grebe-niles-pond-gloucester-ma-6-copyright-kim-smithAlthough considered a large member of the grebe family, the Red-necked Grebe is comparatively quite a bit smaller than the Mallards. The Red-necked Grebe is on the far right.

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rgrebe_leeRed-necked Grebe in Breeding Plumage, photo courtesy Cornell All About Birds

RARE TICKBORNE DISEASES ARRIVE ON CAPE ANN

Did you know that ticks carry a number of diseases beside Lyme disease? Two that in recent years have reared their ugly heads on Cape Ann are anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Both are transmitted by the black-legged tick (deer tick) in the northeastern U.S. and both have similar symptoms. When symptoms are exhibited, blood is drawn to determine which pathogen is present.

Recently I was bitten by a black-legged tick. The tick was only on my person for several hours. I brushed it off before realizing that it was a tick. The tick was completely flat and not in the least bit engorged. It left a slightly red raised bump that was itchy for a week or so. At my doctor’s office the staff insisted that because the tick was not engorged and because it was attached for less than twenty four hours I was safe from disease. This information was also reinforced by reading about Lyme disease on countless websites.

deer_tick_typesTicks of all sizes and at all stages of life can harbor diseases

That you cannot get sick from a tick attached for less than twenty four hours is 100 percent false. Several weeks ago I staggered home from a very busy day planting a client’s garden. I thought perhaps I had just overdone it and went straight to bed. The next day I could barely move. For the next two weeks I would make an effort to get to work but wind up back in bed a few short hours later. I at first thought it was the flu, but instead of running its course and getting better, things went from bad to worse until I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. That’s one of the things with anaplasmosis, it also effects your respiratory system.

Kelly Ries, Gloucester’s public health nurse shares that less than five cases of anaplasmosis and babesiosis have been reported in Gloucester. Symptoms of anaplasmosis include fever, headache, muscle pain, malaise, chills, nausea, abdominal pain, cough, confusion, and loss of appetite, of which I had all.

I am writing to help create an awareness with our readers that Lyme disease is not the only pathogen carried by the black-legged tick. Each year, more and more cases of anaplasmosis and babesiosis are being diagnosed in the northeast. Nurse Kelly also reports that black-legged ticks are still active at this time of year and can continue to transmit disease even after the first snowfall of the season. If any of our readers have contracted anaplasmosis (which I sincerely hope not) please write and let us know your experience. Thank you so much.

Doxycycline is the first line of defense for adults and children of all ages and should be initiated immediately whenever anaplasmosis is suspected however, the CDC website provides a warning regarding prophylaxis (preventative treatment): Antibiotic treatment following a tick bite is not recommended as a means to prevent anaplasmosis. There is no evidence this practice is effective, and this may simply delay onset of disease. Instead, persons who experience a tick bite should be alert for symptoms suggestive of tickborne illness and consult a physician if fever, rash, or other symptoms of concern develop.

For more information about about anaplasmosis see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.

As you can see from the map below, prior to 2010, there were zero cases of anaplasmosis reported in Massachusetts.ana_incidslide_18

THEY’RE BACK! BEAUTIFUL CAPE ANN WINTER SHOREBIRDS

Hello winter friends! As the herons, egrets, and plovers have departed for parts warmer, Cape Ann welcomes mergansers, buffleheads, grebes, and so many more. Overcast morning walk along the shores of Niles Pond –

male-female-red-breasted-mergansers-copyright-kim-smithMale and Female Red-breasted Mergansers

pied-billed-grebe-gloucester-ma-copyright-kim-smithJuvenile Pied-billed Grebe

male-bufflehead-female-red-breasted-merganser-copyright-kim-smithMale Buffleheads and Female Red-breasted Merganser

brace-cove-gloucester-ma-copyright-kim-smithBrace Rock

YET ANOTHER BAD BREAK FOR THE MONARCHS

monarch-butterfly-gloucester-ma-2-copyright-kim-smithAmerica’s growing demand for avocados is fueling the deforestation of central Mexico’s forests. Avocado trees grow at the same altitude as do the sacred oyamel fir forests in the mountains of Michoacán, the only state in Mexico permitted to grow the fruit.

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, the Monarch’s unique winter habitat, is located in Michoacán and the state of Mexico. The area of deforestation is beginning to encroach on the butterfly’s sanctuary. Unfortunately the region is one of desperate poverty and avocado farming is extremely lucrative. Additionally, the avocado trees and chemicals used to maintain the farms are putting a tremendous strain on the crystalline mountain waters on which people, the butterflies, and myriad species of wildlife depend.

For more information, see links below:

http://www.fronterasdesk.org/content/9945/avocado-orchards-mexico-compete-forest-land

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/9176bc7479e048508203f10a68da6fa7/mexico-high-avocado-prices-fueling-deforestation

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SCENES FROM AN EARLY MORNING WALK ALONG THE BRACE COVE NILES POND CAUSEWAY

Sleepy Mr. Swan waking up on this coldest and most blustery morning of the season #scenesofnewengland

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

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Mixed flock of gulls and ducks feeding in the surf Brace Cove #scenesofnewengland #gloucesterma

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

brace-cove-daybreak-gloucester-ma-copyright-kim-smithBrace Cove daybreak

HOLY CANNOLI–A PENGUIN IN GLOUCESTER–AT NILES POND–NOW I’VE SEEN EVERYTHING!

great-cormorant-juvenile-niles-pond-gloucester-massachustts-2-copyright-kim-smithThose were my initial thoughts upon catching a glimpse of a large black-feathered and white-breasted mystery creature from across the pond. I entered the narrow opening through the shrubby growth that surrounds Niles Pond and inched my way closer to the sleeping bird, when up popped its head. Naturally not a penguin, it looked like some sort of cormorant, just not the ones we see on a daily basis on the shores of Cape Ann.

I later learned it was a Great Cormorant. As you can see from the photo below, in the early morning light and from a distance, its not hard to imagine a penguin.great-cormorant-juvenile-niles-pond-gloucester-massachustts-copyright-kim-smith

I wrote the title of the post thinking that possibly we could all use a beautiful creature to learn a bit about and a touch of humor, too. It has been a very difficult and divisive election and a very tough day for slightly more than half of the American electorate. Let’s keep our chins up, and realize going forward that it is preferable to build bridges together than to construct walls that divide.great-cormorant-juvenile-niles-pond-gloucester-massachustts-3-copyright-kim-smith

Back to Great Cormorants. With its white-feathered breast, this one is a juvenile. Great Cormorants, although widespread in much of the Old World, are generally only found in North America along the Atlantic Coast. Great Cormorants are described as heavy-bodied seabirds and larger than the usually seen Double-crested Cormorant. I watched him depart, his take-off was heavy and clumsy, but perhaps that was because he had awoken only moments earlier.

double-crested-cormorant-niles-pond-gloucester-massachustts-copyright-kim-smithCompare the Double-crested Cormorant (above photo). Massing in great numbers as they fly along the Annisquam and Essex Rivers at this time of year, the Double-crested Cormorants are ubiquitous. They are a true North American species and breed, winter over, and migrate along the shores of Cape Ann. great-cormorant-juvenile-niles-pond-gloucester-massachustts-1-copyright-kim-smith

Great Cormorant — notice the white throat pouch of the Great Cormorant, versus the orange pouch of the Double-crested Cormorant.

great_cormorant_map_largeRange Map Great Cormorant in North America

double_crested_cormorant_map_bigRange Map Double-crested Cormorant

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