Category Archives: eastern point

BEAUTIFUL BRACE COVE

The Brace Cove/Niles Pond causeway is weathering the winter very well so far, knock wood.

brace-cove-panoramaBrace Cove and Niles Pond Panoroama. Click image to see full size.

Brace Cove daybreak

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CALM AFTER THE STORM

mr-swan-sleeping-2-copyright-kim-smithMr. Swan was safely nestled in along the shore at Niles Pond yesterday morning during the nor’easter. I found him this morning sleeping amongst the reeds, none the worse for the storm.

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Niles Pond Causeway

The newly restored causeway weathered the storm beautifully. By day’s end the waves had settled but this morning at high tide they were still packing some fury. In the next photo, I am standing on the far side of the pond, looking towards Brace Cove. As you can see, the waves were crashing into the causeway.

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WILD WAVES! SCENES FROM THE NOR’EASTER AT HIGH TIDE

WILD, WET, AND WINDY–there is incredible beauty to be seen in the power of the sea. 

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#noreaster high tide Eastern Point #gloucesterma #scenesofnewengland

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TONIGHT’S BEAUTIFUL FULL WOLF MOON RISING OVER CAPE ANN

full-moon-wolf-moon-twin-lights-cape-ann-copyright-kim-smithTwin Lights in the Moonlight

While out for an early evening walk with our pooch tonight I was unexpectedly delighted to catch the full Wolf Moon rising over the back shore. I wonder whose house that is on Niles and if they knew the moon was rising so picture perfect above their home.full-moon-wolf-moon-brace-cove-gloucester-seals-cape-ann-copyright-kim-smithBrace Cove Harbor Seals lolling about under the moonlight on this unseasonably warm evening

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BEAUTIFUL BACKSHORE-BRACE COVE-GOOD HARBOR BEACH-TWIN LIGHTS BIG ROLLERS – and hello there fearless (crazy) person(s)

good-harbor-beach-gloucester-waves-copyright-kim-smithAs one bank of clouds departed, another soon took its place. The waves were wild and wooly but the surfers were out in full force at GHB and Brace Cove.back-shore-good-harbor-beach-gloucester-waves-copyright-kim-smith

Pretty Spindrift Wave

Not for the faint of heart–from where I was standing way across on the other side of the Cove you could hear the roar of the waves slamming Brace Rock–would you ever try this?surfers-brace-cove-back-shore-gloucester-waves-2-copyright-kim-smithsurfers-brace-cove-back-shore-gloucester-waves-copyright-kim-smith

And crashers #gloucesterma #scenesofnewengland #waves

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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

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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

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

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

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

BREAKING: NILES CLOSED DUE TO BLUE OCEAN SHIPWRECK DEBRIS LITTERING BEACH

blue-ocean-dragger-shipwreck-gloucester-ma-niles-beach-closed-copyright-kim-smithKnocked about by rough seas and high winds, the pilot house and other large parts of the Blue Ocean dragger overnight washed ashore onto Niles. Updated plans for the ship’s total demise include towing onto the beach and crushing it, which may take place Tuesday.

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UPDATE ON BLUE OCEAN DRAGGER SHIPWRECK

gloucester-shipwreck-fv-blue-ocean-23-copyright-kim-smith-copyDiver Ted Barnes reports that efforts to float the shipwrecked Blue Ocean dragger will resume tomorrow, Sunday. The crews and divers will again attempt to get the float straps under the keel. The Blue Ocean is now resting on its port side. See photos from earlier today – Breaking: Shipwrecked Blue Ocean Salvage Underway

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Diver Ted Barnes

 

 

BREAKING: SHIPWRECKED BLUE OCEAN SALVAGE UNDERWAY

Work to float the dragger Blue Ocean, shipwrecked at Nile Beach, is underway.blue-ocean-dragger-shipwreck-salvage-gloucester-ma-20-copyright-kim-smithblue-ocean-dragger-shipwreck-salvage-gloucester-ma-2-copyright-kim-smith

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DRAGGER SHIPWRECK OFF NILES BEACH GLOUCESTER

We hope the old FV Blue Ocean is salvageable after breaking mooring in the gale force winds late last night. The Blue Ocean is a wooden converted Eastern rig side dragger. The ship was built in 1952 and is owned by Michael Ragusa of Gloucester. Beach clean-up is well underway and as reported in the Gloucester Times, the boat does not pose an environmental threat because there was no fuel or oil on board. Photos from this morning at high tide and then again at low tide this afternoon. gloucester-shipwreck-fv-blue-ocean-1-copyright-kim-smithgloucester-shipwreck-fv-blue-ocean-6-copyright-kim-smith

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Shipwreck at Niles Beach

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For more photos of the Blue Ocean see Paul Frontiero’s post from 2014

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

HARBOR SEALS WARMING IN THE MORNING SUN

Basking Harbor Seals dotting the rocks all around Brace Cove during sunrises this past week. The funny thing is watching them battle for top dog spot. When standing on the Niles Pond/Brace Cove causeway you are close enough to hear their quite audible grunting and snorting. Click photos to enlarge to get a closer look. 

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OUTSTANDING ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS FOR GLOUCESTER PART TWO!

niles-pond-causeway-restoration-2-copyright-kim-smithThe Niles Pond-Brace Cove causeway restoration is progressing admirably. You may recall our story about the extensive damage the causeway had suffered from several fierce back to back storms. In 2014, the Association of Eastern Point Residents restored the structural rocks supporting the causeway. This past week, preparations for restoring the plantings has begun.  

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Below are  photos taken in 2013 of storm damage, prior to restoration.

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Phase one of restoration work, 2014

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