Another glimpse of the Niles Pond juvenile Great Cormorant
Category Archives: eastern point
Knocked 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.
Diver 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
Diver Ted Barnes
Activity at the Blue Ocean shipwreck early this morning.
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.
Those 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 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.
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.
Compare 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 — notice the white throat pouch of the Great Cormorant, versus the orange pouch of the Double-crested Cormorant.
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.
Lovely and peaceful Brace Cove sunrise this morning
The 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.
Below are photos taken in 2013 of storm damage, prior to restoration.
Phase one of restoration work, 2014
Live blogging: In Their Own Words- Henry Sleeper and Halfdan Hanson Build Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House. Cape Ann Museum and Historic New England special tour!
We are on this incredible tour at Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House. Descendants of both Sleeper and Hanson are here! This special programming duet was brought together by two Gloucester institutions, the Cape Ann Museum in collaboration with Historic New England’s Beauport property, inspired by the Cape Ann Museum’s Design/Build exhibition.
Lorna Condon, senior curator of Historic New England’s Library and Archives, is leading the tour. Martha Van Koevering is the Site Manager for the Beauport Sleeper-McCann House.
The smallest, and I think most would agree, among the cutest North American sea ducks, every autumn Buffleheads arrive on the shores of Cape Ann after having journeyed many thousands of miles from their summer breeding grounds in the Canadian boreal forests. They are seen in twos or in small groups and unlike most ducks, are monogamous. Some males begin courting very early in the season as demonstrated in the flock currently residing on Cape Ann however, the birds will not pair until spring.
When out for a walk along shore and pond, you may notice a great deal of bufflehead kerfuffling taking place. The male’s courtship displays are wonderfully exuberant, with much head pumping, chest thrusting, and aggressive flying. The male goes so far as to exaggerate the size of his head by puffing out his bushy crest. Occasionally, the males chase females, but most of the chasing is directed towards other males in territorial displays, which are accomplished by both flying and skidding across the water as well as via underwater chasing. The female encourages her suitor vocally and with a less animated head pumping motion.
Female Bufflehead, left and male Bufflehead, right
Buffleheads are diving ducks, finding nourishment on Cape Ann on small sea creatures and pond grasses, as well as seed heads at the shoreline’s edge.
By the early twentieth century Buffleheads were nearing extinction due to over hunting. Their numbers have increased although now their greatest threat is loss of habitat stemming from deforestation in the boreal forests and aspen parklands of Canada.
The word bufflehead is a corruption of buffalo-head, called as such because of their disproportionately large and bulbous head. Buffleheads are a joy to watch and are seen all around Cape Ann throughout the fall, winter, and early spring. Their old-fashioned name, “Butterball,” aptly describes these handsome and welcome winter migrants!
Listen for the Buffleheads mating vocalizations. The Bufflehead courtship scenes were filmed on Niles Pond. The end clip is of a flock of Buffleheads in flight and was shot at Pebble Beach, Rockport.
I hope to see you at my talk at the Cultural Center at Rocky Neck tonight!
Perhaps I am just imagining, but the seals that were at Brace Cove several mornings ago appear to have a much different pattern of spots on their coats than the Harbor Seals we typically see hauled out on the rocks. I know that Harp Seals are also seen in our area at this time of year and read that the juveniles molt in interesting patterns. The two pinnipeds on the far right have very large irregular patches and the seal on the left seemed half the size of the other three with an almost pointed snout. Is it a different species or a young seal I wonder? Looking at several sources to id and I am still puzzled. Would love to hear from our readers. Thank you so much!