Tag Archives: Cape Ann birds

What if…a section of Dogtown brush was cleared away? If you missed Chris Leahy at Sawyer Free Library last week come to a summit by Essex County Greenbelt & Mass Audubon at Cape Ann Museum March 4

“This Saturday morning forum is offered in collaboration with Essex County Greenbelt, Friends of Dogtown, Lanesville Community Center and Mass Audubon and held at Cape Ann Museum. The forum will be moderated by Ed Becker, President of the Essex County Greenbelt Association.”

Register here

UPDATE: Cape Ann TV is scheduled to film the event!

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Edward Hopper Cape Ann Pasture watercolor drawing (ca.1928) was gifted to Yale University in 1930

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East Gloucester Atwood’s Gallery on the Moors as seen on the left in 1921–open vistas at that time

 

Chris Leahy gave a presentation at Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library on February 23, 2017: Dogtown- the Biography of a Landscape: 750 Million Years Ago to the Present
A photographic history through slides presented by the Gloucester Lyceum and the Friends of the Library. Mary Weissblum opened the program.

Chris broadly covered the history of the local landscape from an ecological bent with a bias to birds and blueberry picking, naturally. New England is a patchwork of forested landscapes. He stressed the evolution of bio diversity and succession phenomenon when the earth and climate change. “Nature takes a lot of courses.” He focused on Dogtown, “a very special place”, and possible merits of land stewardship geared at fostering greater biodiversity. Perhaps some of the core acres could be coaxed to grasslands as when parts of Gloucester were described as moors? Characteristic wildlife, butterflies, and birds no longer present may swing back.  There were many philosophical takeaways and tips: he recommends visiting the dioramas “Changes in New England Landscape” display at Harvard Forest HQ in Petersham.

“Isolation of islands is a main driver of evolution”

“Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester has the highest concentration* of native butterflies in all of Massachusetts because of secondary habitats.”  *of Mass Audubon’s c.40,000 acres of wildlife sanctuaries statewide. “The fact that Brook Meadow Brook is in greater Worcester, rather than a forested wilderness, underscores the value of secondary habitats.”

“1830– roughly the time of Thoreau (1817-1862)– was the maximum period of clearing thus the heyday for grasslands…As farmsteads were abandoned, stages of forests return.”

Below are photos from February 23, 2017. I added some images of art inspired by Dogtown. I also pulled out a photograph by Frank L Cox, David Cox’s father, of Gallery on the Moors  (then) compared with a photo of mine from 2011 to illustrate how the picturesque description wasn’t isolated to Dogtown.

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Edward Hopper, Cape Ann Granite, 1928, oil on canvas can we get this painting into the Cape Ann Museum collection?

dogtown-cape-ann-massachuestts-by-louise-upton-brumback-o-c-vose-galleryLouise Upton Brumback (1867-1929), Dogtown- Cape Ann, 1920 oil on canvas

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Birds of Cape Ann: Divers or Dabblers and the Green-winged Teal

Female Green-winged Teal -- ©Kim Smith 2013.Female Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) 

While filming at Henry’s Pond in Rockport I at first thought I was seeing a pair of pint-sized, or immature female Mallards amongst a mixed flock of full grown Mallards and American Black Ducks. But no, upon closer examination, their behavior was different from that of the much larger Mallards. They stayed together, the two females, foraging for food along the pond’s edge. When one flashed her brilliant emerald green wing, I realized it was no Mallard but the beautiful Green-winged Teal.

Female Green-winged Teal ©Kim Smith 2013Like the chubby little Bufflehead, the Green-winged Teal is similar in size, about 13-15 inches in length.

I find it interesting that, based on their style of foraging, ecologists assemble waterfowl into several groups.“Dabbler” ducks skim food from the surface, or feed in shallow water by tipping forward to submerge their heads (which is exactly what I had observed while filming the petite Green-winged Teal). “Diving” ducks propel themselves underwater with large feet. A few dabblers may dive, but for the most part, dabblers skim.

Dabblers that we see in our region include Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, and Northern Shoveler. Diving ducks are the Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Ruddy Duck, Masked Duck, and American Wigeon.

A third category, which includes Buffleheads are called “seaducks.” American Black Duck, Eiders, Scooters, Harlequin Duck, Oldsquaw, Goldeneyes, and Mergansers are encompassed in the seaduck group. Read more about Dabblers vs. Divers here.

Male Mallard, Female Mallard Green -Green-winged Teal ©Kim Smith 2013.

In the above photo of a male and female Mallard in the foreground, and Green-winged teal in the background, you can see how close in color are the feathers of the females of the two species. The wing pattern is subtly different and you can also see the difference in size between the two species.

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I have been organizing research and lots of photos for our Birds of Cape Ann series. Upcoming stories will feature songbirds, including Mourning Doves, American Robins, and Northern Cardinals, shorebirds of every size and shape including dabblers, divers, and seaducks, and I’ve planned a post just on bird food to grow in your gardens to attract our fine-feathered friends. As I often remind my readers, “When you plant, they will come!”

Green-Winged Teal, Birding Center, Port Aransas, TexasMale Green-winged Teal image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Birds of Cape Ann: Buffleheads