You may have noticed the pretty swallows perching in clusters on telephone lines and flying low over the sand. Both Barn and Tree Swallows can be found at the beach throughout the warmer months, but the birds that are beginning to gather on Cape Ann en masse are the Tree Swallows. The following is a short film from last year’s migration that explains what is happening at this time of year with the Tree Swallows here on our beaches and dunes, and in our neighborhoods.
Tag Archives: birds
Come on over to the Sawyer Free Library Thursday night and learn how you can create a welcoming haven for birds, bees, and butterflies!
Plant Cosmos for the Birds, Bees, and Butterflies
This short film is dedicated a dear friend who recently lost a beloved family member. Along with the tender melody by Jules Massenet, especially the last bits of footage (before the credits) made me think of angels and of hope.
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Over the course of the summer while filming the Piping Plover Family at Wingaersheek Beach, Tree Swallows began flocking in ever increasing numbers. They became part of the Piping Plover story not only because a Tree Swallow will occasionally dive bomb a Piping Plover, for whatever reason I am not entirely sure, but also because they are beautiful to observe, and occasionally, seemingly playful, too.
Songbirds that they are, Tree Swallows make a cheery chirping chatter. They have long narrow forked tails, all the better for gliding and for their signature aerial acrobatics. The male’s upper parts are a brilliant iridescent blue-green, the female’s somewhat duller, and both female and male have white underparts. The migrating juveniles are almost entirely brown with either white or pale grayish underparts.
Tree Swallows breed in the wetlands and fields of Cape Ann. Their name comes from the species habit of nesting in tree cavities. Tree Swallows have benefited tremendously from efforts to help save the Eastern Bluebird because they also nest in the nest boxes built specifically for the Bluebirds.
Tree Swallows eating insects on the beach and from the crevasses in the driftwood.
Utilizing both fresh and saltwater to bathe, Tree Swallows have a unique habit of quickly dipping and then shaking off the excess water while flying straight upwards.
Tree Swallows begin migrating southward in July and August. The flocks that we see gathering on Cape Ann migrate along the Atlantic Flyway. They overwinter in the southern states of the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Unlike migrating species of butterflies, several generations of Tree Swallows migrate together, the older birds showing the younger birds the way.
Music composed by Jules Massenet: “Méditation” from Thaïs
The waze and wikipedia of bird sightings- Ebird, crowdsourcing since 2002- shows Gloucester whale watching great for birding and
The online database collaboration of Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society compiles aggregate data from engaged birders. What a staggering quantity of volunteers taking the time to share and record data!
Although Cape Ann towns are not ‘hot spots’
it’s fun to sift through the information and peek at some public competition. The top 100 birders in MA are predominantly male. (We know Cape Ann is a birding hot spot though it may not be a recording hot spot.) There are plenty of reports from scenic North Shore sites: Cranes Beach, Plum Island, Chewbacco Woods, Coolidge Reservation, Eastern Point, and Halibut Point. Less traveled spots such as ‘Lanesville Community garden’ and local cemeteries have a diary entry feel to them and fun to peruse. Checklists indicate the distance and effort taken for any given outing, and the duration, often significant.
There are scores of reports from Gloucester whale watch trips –customers and staff. Look for ‘Stellwagen Bank’ as a listed location. I think I’d like the location column added to one default screen, and a category for whale watching.
eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available: http://www.ebird.org. (Accessed: Date [July 30, 2016]).
Gloucester HarborWalk marker for birds/birding is located along the walkway by Gloucester House, I4C2, and Topside Grill.
Gloucester HarborWalk marker for whales is located just outside Tonno.
SEVEN SEAS WHALE WATCH +1-888-283-1776
CAPE ANN WHALE WATCH +1-800-877-5110
CAPT BILL & SONS +1-800-339-4253
YANKEE FLEET +1-978-283-0313
Gloucester’s Coffins Beach is a long, long stretch of wide open sandy seashore framed by dunes, sea and sky. Growing up, we called it the private side of Wingaersheek. I could hear piping plovers and saw two ‘in the zone’– the intertidal bit that is still wet at low tide and well under water at high tide. I didn’t see birds in the safe retreats by the upper part of the beach, but heard the melodious chirps that inspired their nickname.
Listen to the piping plover
Piping plovers have quite a story. In Massachusetts, the vast majority are south, Cape Cod and the islands. By the close of the 19th century, these birds were near extinction. They rebounded successfully by the 1950’s.
I spoke with Dave Rimmer of Essex County Greenbelt, Marion Larson with Ma Wildlife, Deborah Cramer and Chris Leahy. All of them have updates for GMG which I’ll add next. First,
Chris Leahy, MA Audubon, explained that a second age of precipitous piping plover decline occurred in the 1960’s and 70’s. What do you think it was?
Read on to find out.
As I was driving Route 127 from Rockport yesterday came across this interesting bird. Not sure what kind of water fowl this is.
I thought they were buffleheads when I first saw them, but they appeared a little too large and weren’t diving constantly the way buffleheads usually do. They were way off shore, so the photos aren’t great. I think they are goldeneyes, but not sure. Who knows?
This magnificent bird cast a shadow as it flew by my office on Friday. I believe it was having some lunch.
There was a time when I would have known what these were, but they are cute and there were a bunch of them on the shore at Brace Cove. Anyone know what they are?
I am so pleased with the success of this bird feeder click link below to see how it was made
I was fortunate to spend 10 days in Costa Rica, staying at Silver King Lodge operated and Managed by Roseanne Cody of Gloucester.
I will be posting photos of life on the Rio Colorado (Brown Colored River)
Below are photos of a Lizard who likes to rest on a hammock and eat bugs.
Below are some of the birds found at the lodge.
Check out this news release from Cape Ann TV’s Lisa Smith about a brand new show premiering Thursday @8:30pm.
Did you know that birds from the Arctic tundra and birds all the way down to the grasslands of Argentina visit Cape Ann each year? Join BirdWatcherTV host Robert Sherman, also producer, videographer and editor of this series, as he travels around Cape Ann in search of wild birds. Along the way, you’ll meet the people who watch birds, feed birds, study birds or who are just plain crazy about birds.
Gloucester resident, Robert Sherman is a naturalist, who works as a park ranger and natural history interpreter for Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. His interest in ornithology/bird watching began during his college years when he was a geography major at UMass-Amherst. Robert has been leading birding tours in Massachusetts since the early 1990s. SEE PREVIEW HERE
In this new series Robert captures the natural beauty of Cape Ann and its stunning wildlife on camera. Robert was trained in television production at Cape Ann TV and used its editing facilities and field camera equipment to produce BirdWatcherTV. Cape Ann TV Production Coordinator, Lisa Smith states, “Robert is very dedicated to this project. He created this program over the past few months in his “down time” and made a remarkable first-time documentary on the birds that inhabit Cape Ann. You can really tell that this a labor of love. We are look forward to Robert’s next program highlighting the Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend that occurred earlier in February.” Robert said he hopes viewers of BirdWatcherTV, “gain a greater appreciation of the beauty and diversity of what is so close to home, and I want to encourage people to get outside and enjoy nature.”
BirdWatcherTV premiers this week and airs on Cape Ann TV Channel 12 on Thursday, February 21 at 8:30 p.m.; Friday, February 22 at 3:30 p.m.; Saturday, February 23 at 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, February 24 at 8:00 p.m.