Category Archives: eastern point
Providing excellent camouflage, Harbor Seals have evolved with coats that blend perfectly with the surrounding rocks and sandy shores on which they “haul out.” Each individual Harbor Seal’s pattern of spots is unique, with two basic variations, either a light coat with dark spots or a dark coat with light spots. Their bellies are generally lighter colored.
Harbor Seals are easily disturbed by human activity, which is the reason why they are all looking in my direction. I climbed way out on the rocks to get a closer look that they found disturbing enough, when a loud crash in the distance made them all jump simultaneously.
Fellow friends of Niles Pond and I have all noticed that the seal in the above photo is noticeably whiter. He has a big gash on his neck as you can see in the close-up photo, which I didn’t notice until looking through the pictures. I wonder if that is why he has been spending so much time on the rocks. Perhaps he is recovering.
Interesting fact: Although Harbor Seals have been seen as far south as the Carolinas, Massachusetts is the most southern region in which they breed.
Imagine the excitement when after filming Mr. Swan this morning, I spotted across the pond a very swan-like large white bird. The first thought that came to mind was a new Mrs. Swan had magically appeared on the scene. But no–not as wonderful–but equally as exciting, with its large orange pouched bill, the bird was unmistakably a pelican!
It was swimming toward the berm so I raced back to the other side of the pond and was able to get somewhat nearer, close enough so that the footage is passable. Without warning, the pelican suddenly took to the air with elegant, graceful wingbeats and I was lucky to have movie camera in hand. The light was murky this morning and all would have been more beautiful if the sun were out a bit more. Nonetheless, it’s great to have a record of this very unusual occurrence.
The American White Pelican is a rare sight in Massachusetts and I wonder if any of our readers have ever seen one on our shores. Please write if you have.
With wings spanning nine feet, the American White Pelican is one of our largest native birds, only the Trumpeter Swan and California Condor are larger, reportedly having up to ten-foot wingspans. Comparatively, the wings of a Mute Swan span approximately seven to eight feet. Please note that Mr. Swan is a Mute Swan, not a Trumpeter Swan, and is not indigenous.
The Niles Pond pelican was far off course. Pelicans east of the Rocky Mountains typically migrate through the Mississippi Valley, from breeding grounds in northernmost North America to the Gulf of Mexico Texas and Florida coasts. Unlike Brown Pelicans, which dive and plunge for food, white pelicans catch prey while swimming.
As with the Brown Pelican, during the mid-twentieth century, the American White Pelican was severely adversely affected by spraying DDT in fields and wetlands. Habitat destruction, shoreline erosion, and mass poisonings when pesticides are used near breeding grounds continue to threaten the American White Pelican.
Map provided by South Dakota Birds, via Peter Houlihan, who is Anna from Cape Ann Giclee’s brother. Peter teaches biology at UMass Amherst, has a PhD in biology/animal behavior, and is an ornithologist. Thank you Peter!
Daybreak from around Niles Pond, Brace Cove, and Henry’s Pond in Rockport.
Mr. Swan left Niles Pond yesterday morning and although he flew in his usual direction towards Henry’s Pond, he did NOT fly to Henry’s, which had become his habit. I did not see him at Henry’s, Niles, or the harbor this morning either. Perhaps he has flown to another region in search of a new Mrs. Swan. We can only hope!
See additional photos here of Mr. Swan, dead skunk, and more ~ Read more
Although scientists have long known that the toxic sap that flows through milkweed veins, called cardenolides, can make a bird very sick if it attempts to eat a Monarch caterpillar, it was unclear whether the butterfly’s acquired adaption to the toxicity was a side effect that allowed the caterpillar to eat the milkweed or had developed separately as a defensive mechanism against predators. A Cornell University study recently published in Proceedings B of The Royal Society Publishing reveals that they have indeed evolved to weaponize milkweed toxins! Thank you so much to Maggie Rosa for sharing “The Scientist” article and you can read more about it here.
“Monarch butterfly caterpillars have evolved the ability to store toxins known as cardenolides, obtained from their milkweed diet, specifically to make themselves poisonous to birds, as has at least one other species of milkweed-munching caterpillar, according to a study published Wednesday (November 4) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“This finding is fascinating and novel,” Stephen Malcolm, a professor at Western Michigan University who studies cardenolides but was not involved in the new research, wrote in an email to The Scientist. “It is exciting to have evidence for the importance of top-down influences from predators.” Continue Reading
Please join me Thursday evening, November 12th, at 7pm at the Sawyer Free Library for my illustrated talk, Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. Looking forward to seeing you there!
Meadow Anderson and Monarch Caterpillar
Gulls departing Brace Cove after the storm
Great Blue Heron, seals, and gull
See More Photos Here
Please join us at the Sawyer Free Library on Thursday November 12th at 7:30 pm for my Monarch butterfly program. I am especially, especially excited to present to our community. I hope to see you there! Please note that this is my photo and lecture program, not the new film, which will be coming soon.
For more information visit my website Kim Smith Designs.
Special thanks to Valerie Marino at the Sawyer Free for creating the program flyer!
Brace Cove and Niles Pond in the lifting fog ~ When I first got to the causeway, Brace Rock was completely obscured. As the fog drifted away an army of cormorants began to appear, joining the gulls on the rocks and feeding from the surf.
More photos here Read more
Nauset Light, moved from its previous precarious perch above eroding bluffs, is today beautifully maintained by the Nauset Light Preservation Society, a group of dedicated locals who are committed to preserving and interpreting its important story for visitors.
From the Nauset Light Preservation Society website: The Coast Guard owned Nauset Light and had no plans for saving it. Modern instrumentation has diminished the need for lighthouses. However, the lighthouse is still used by the fishing fleets and small recreational boaters who navigate close to the shore. Nauset Light is an important part of Eastham’s cultural and maritime history, and is the most well-known and photographed lighthouse on Cape Cod.
A group of citizens in Eastham formed the Nauset Light Preservation Society, a non-profit volunteer organization whose original mission was to rescue the lighthouse. This was accomplished in November 1996. Read More Here.
Dog Bar Breakwater panorama, from end to end!
Click panorama to view larger
Built to protect ships from the Dog Bar Reef, the Dog Bar breakwater was built on top of the ledge. The half mile long breakwater is seven and a half feet above mean high water and ten feet wide, constructed of 231,756 tons of Cape Ann granite over a substructure of rubble. Built by the Army Corps of Engineers between 1894 and 1905 at a cost of only $300,000.00, I wonder what it would cost to build a granite breakwater such as Gloucester’s in today’s economy?
What is the purpose of the sail on the Amber and John? Is to help power the boat or does it have some other purpose? I would love to know. Thank you.
BREAKING NEWS: EASTERN POINT WOMAN ATTACKED BY COYOTE
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.
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.
Allowing 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!
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 email@example.com. Thank you!
If you look closely, you can see the the spider repairing its web in the lower right corner and if you look even more closely to the opposite lower left corner, you can see the reflection of the web in the pond water.
For 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.
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 standing on one leg, a characteristic many birds share, which they do primarily to conserve energy and body heat.
Today’s Niles Pond Sunrise
Have you ever wondered whether you are looking at a male or female swan? I had often until I learned that the male’s black protuberance at the base of the bill swells during the breeding season. Very recently, I learned that the fleshy black knob has a name. So now rather than calling it a knob, nobble, thingamabob, or that black protuberance above the bill, I can say blackberry, and you can too. That really is an often used term in Europe, their native home. The blackberry is also unique to Mute Swans; no other species of swans has this feature.