Tag Archives: Cape Ann

Calling All Poets! Open Mic in Rockport

A tradition of the Motif No.1 Day arts festival is to feature poets from Cape Ann and their work in a poetry reading, which takes place each year at 4pm.

This year the event is hosted by Christopher Anderson of the Eastern Point Lit House, and will take place in an open mic format. Poets and readers of all ages welcome. Come early for the other literary events at the festival (the Magnetic Poetry Slam, Book Spine Poetry, selections from Shakespeare presented by Cape Ann Shakespeare Troupe, and more) and stay for the Words Before Dinner Poetry Reading.

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Click HERE for a general festival Schedule of Events.

A Modern Day Gloucester Sea Monster Encounter

A true story, the following is a modern day fanciful beast encounter. I have been reluctant to write about this adventure for fear it would draw sight-seers to regions of Cape Ann off the beaten path, as happened with the white pelican sighting. Now that the mystery of its identity may perhaps be solved, I think it safe.

One morning at daybreak as I was unloading my gear at Brace Cove, I paused to scan the edges and then the whole of Niles Pond. I do this often when out filming and photographing at our local ponds and marshes, looking for swans and other wild birds that may be seeking shelter along these idyllic shores. In the middle of the pond was a float of ice with a great many seagulls just beginning to awaken with the rising sun. Nothing unusual about that. What caught my attention was a very large brown shape there on the ice amongst the gulls. Harumph! I said to no one but myself, what a view spoiler and how utterly trashy that a large brown paper lawn and leaf bag should blow out to the middle of the pond and become stuck there. And then the brown shape slithered into the pond. I not only saw it, but heard the very distinct sound of a creature sliding expertly into water. I tried in vain to catch another glimpse and spent the remainder of the morning half spooked and half kicking myself for not more hurriedly making the effort to film and photograph the “garbage bag.” If only I’d known it was alive!

Shortly after the creature encounter, I read about the Ten Pound Island sea monster sightings and concluded, that yes, a mysterious sea creature could easily swim around Eastern Point Lighthouse, haul up at Brace Cove, cross the causeway, and have himself a swim at Niles Pond, if he were so inclined.

I thought about this beast encounter for weeks and at one point, somewhat embarrassedly, asked my husband to come with me to photograph a moonlit evening at Niles Pond as I wasn’t sure I wanted to come face to face with such a great creature at night. By myself. Being the good sport that he is, he came, if just to prove that it was perfectly safe to photograph in the moonlight.

As mentioned, I’ve been hesitant to write this until very recently when at Henry’s Pond, on a rainy and chilly early spring morning I spied for only a few moments what appeared to be a very mini version of the Niles Pond creature. It was swimming at top speed with a long sinuous streamlined shape beneath the surface of the water and only a bit of its head visible above the water. I took a blurry snapshot and raced home to search books and internet for any clues. The creature was too big to be a muskrat and its tail too slender to be a beaver. I am almost certain that what I saw at Henry’s was a North American River Otter. Two weeks passed when while filming Mr. Swan, again on an overcast morning at Henry’s, the little creature energetically appeared near the marshy shore on the opposite side of the pond, looked all around, dove, re-emerged, again looked all about, and then disappeared. This time I was able to capture a few seconds of video of this inquisitive little otter.

What I have learned about North American River Otters is that they can grow very large, up to five and half feet and weigh thirty pounds. There is the Great River Otter of South America, which can grow over six feet, but the creature I saw at Niles was about four and half to five feet long.

Well there you go, a modern day fanciful beast encounter. After seeing my beast, I think it quite easy to understand how sea monster stories from days gone by could so easily capture people’s imaginations.

Please write if you think you have seen a River Otter in your neighborhood. Thank you!

Look toward the marsh in the first clip, with Mr. Swan in the foreground. You can see the bobbing head of the otter in the background. I was hoping to see the otter again and try to capture better footage but it has been several weeks and no further sightings.

Cape Ann Earthquake 260 years ago today

260 years ago today at 4:30 AM November 18, 1755, The Cape Ann earthquake struck. Epicenter was only 24 miles east of Gloucester, some ships thought they were going aground. A few steeples all the way down to Boston tipped and some chimneys fell. If it happened today, 2 billion in damages. There was an earthquake in Medfield this morning.

260 years ago today at 4:30 AM November 18, 1755, The Cape Ann earthquake struck. Epicenter was only 24 miles east of Gloucester, some ships thought they were going aground. A few steeples all the way down to Boston tipped and some chimneys fell. If it happened today, 2 billion in damages. There was an earthquake in Medfield this morning.

“Mother Ann” on a Beautiful Day

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mother Ann is a rock formation located near the Eastern Point Lighthouse in Gloucester, Massachusetts, United States.  When viewed at the correct angle, the formation appears to be the silhouette of a reclining Puritan woman.  It is also believed locally that the formation represents the royal mother of King Charles I,  Anne of Denmark, after whom Cape Ann is named.

The formation may have been named by Captain William Thompson of Salem in 1891, and has since been compared to New Hampshire’s Old Man in the Mountain.[3] A nearby whistling buoy is known as “Mother Ann’s Cow”.

NEW FILM: Luminescent Sea Salps

These salps were filmed in Gloucester’s inner harbor and had a luminous appearance in the blue lights of the fishing boat Hot Tuna, the largest boat in the Wicked Tuna fleet. I think the song “La Luna” by Lucy Schwartz adds to the magical movement of the salps and other creatures in the glowing blue. (So sorry to Captain Ott for startling him while hanging over the edge of the dock to film the salps at the rear of his boat, and Hey to Nicky Avelis!)

Sea salps are warm ocean water creatures, exploding in population during algae blooms. With beating heart, notochcord, and gills they are more closely evolutionarily linked to humans than to jellyfish. Sea salps are individual creatures that through asexual reproduction, can form linear chains up to fifteen feet long!

Salps are planktonic (free floating) members of the subphylum Tunicata. Tunicates get their name from the unique outer covering or “tunic,” which acts as an exoskeleton. The sea salp’s tunic is translucent and gelatinous; in some species it is tough and thick.

John Theo’s new murder mystery novel Cape Ann (CLEAN READS, 2015) is now available where all e-books are sold.

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Jeremy Callahan is an ex-cop turned schoolteacher. He lives in the small seaside town of Rockport, Massachusetts, located in the heart of Cape Ann.  His best friend is Brian Walden, a CEO of a software company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. One night Brian is gunned down in front of Jeremy by an apparent drive-by-shooting. Jeremy utilizes his law enforcement background to embark on a mission to find out who murdered his friend. While on the trail he runs into the FBI, Securities and Exchange Commission and into the arms of a beautiful new Harbormaster named Carrie.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Theo Jr. has been a freelance writer for over ten years publishing both fiction and non fiction. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. He is an adjunct professor at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts, where he teaches screenwriting. Cape Ann is his second full length novel. John lives on Cape Ann, Massachusetts with his family.  

Check out the Facebook Page here-

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https://www.facebook.com/capeannbook?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Gloucester’s 5th Annual Overdose Vigil

Some pictures from last nights 5th Annual Overdose Vigil. A time to remember those lost and to highlight the epidemic heroin addiction has become; an issue Gloucester has become a widely recognized leader for coordinating police to get help for addicts, not arrests. Speakers told about their loss, experience and hope that one day there will be no need for a vigil. With candles lit, the names of all family and friends lost was read to close out the evening.

“Art, Rocks!” Sunday! Heads Up! 08/16/2015 at 5:00pm

I heard an Art Rock will be left somewhere on the Harbor Walk on the Waterfront today 08/16/2015 at 5:00pm.

A post on GMG at 4:59pm will give a hint of it’s location.

Try to find it if you dare or don’t if you don’t give a crap.:)

GOOD LUCK TO THOSE THAT TRY!

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Game 1 Intertown Twilight League Championship Manchester-Essex Vs. Rowley

The Manchester Essex Mariners and the Rowley Rams squared off Saturday afternoon in game one of their best of 5 championship series. Manchester-Essex Mariners took control early and won the opener 9-3. Rory Gentile got the win and Mike Cain went deep for the game’s only home run.

History

Founded in 1929, The Intertown Twilight League is the oldest active amateur baseball league in the country, and is recognized by the National Baseball Hall of Fame as such.

Schedule

Game 2 of the series is played Sunday at 4:00PM in Rowley with Game 3 on Wednesday at 5:30PM back at Memorial Field in Essex.

The Healing Wall – Before Opening

I was taking pictures of the Wall yesterday, before the crowds. Very impressive display. Looking forward to seeing it with people there!

Friday Crowd at Pavillon Beach

GLOSSY IBIS FLOCK IN MAGNOLIA

Glossy Ibis Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015JPGThank you to the wonderful Anderson Family for sharing their Glossy Ibis sighting. After Chris’s super tip, I easily found them foraging in the fields several mornings in a row. I think there are anywhere between 20 to 30 members to the flock. They don’t allow you to get very close. Someone with a a 300-400mm lens may be able to take much better close ups. Nonetheless, they are fun to watch. I imagine since they are here at the end of June, the ibis may be nesting.

Dear Readers, If you see the Glossy Ibis, can you please share the time and day of your sighting. I understand from Mass Audubon that they rarely breed in our region and it would be exciting if we sighted a breeding pair. Thank you!

And thank you once again to the Andersons who this past year have supplied us with Snow Goose, Brant Geese, Snowy Owl, and now Glossy Ibis tips!!!

Glossy Ibis in flight Gloucester Massachusetts  ©Kim Smith 2015JPG

Niles Beach Fog Saturday 05/30

Until the fog burned off the International Dory Eliminations race directions were going to be simple:  “If you see Hammond Castle, turn around…”

International Dory Race Qualifier Saturday 05/30

After the fog burned off the races were on!

BASKING SHARKS ON THE EDGE OF EXTINCTION

790px-Basking_SharkWhat makes Martin Del Vecchio’s drone footage particularly poignant is that Basking Sharks are reportedly on the edge of extinction. I wonder how often we’ll have witness to the world’s second largest fish feeding along the shores of Cape Ann. Truly an incredibly awesome capture.

The following is an interesting article written by David Suzuki about why these gentle giants have been driven to near extinction:

“The basking shark is huge—often bigger than a bus. As fish go, it’s second in size only to the whale shark. It has been roaming the world’s oceans for at least 30 million years. Mariners throughout history have mistaken it for a mythical sea serpent or the legendary cadborosaurus. Despite its massive size, it feeds mostly on tiny zooplankton.

These are some of the things we know about this gentle giant. But our understanding is limited; we don’t really know much more about them than we did in the early 1800s. One thing we do know is that they used to be plentiful in the waters off the coast of B.C., in Queen Charlotte Sound, Clayoquot Sound, Barkley Sound, and even the Strait of Georgia. Only half a century ago, people taking a ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island may have spotted half a dozen lazily swimming by. But now, reported sightings are down to less than one a year off the B.C. coast. All indications are that this magnificent animal is on the edge of extinction. It makes my blood boil!

Over the past two centuries, people have been killing them for sport, for food, for the oil from their half-tonne livers, and to get them out of the way of commercial fishing operations. Many were also killed accidentally by fishing gear.

In their 2006 book Basking Sharks: The Slaughter of B.C.’s Gentle Giants, marine biologist (and David Suzuki Foundation sustainable fisheries analyst) Scott Wallace and maritime historian Brian Gisborne note that the “pest control” methods used in the 1950s and ’60s were particularly gruesome. Basking sharks are so named because they appear to bask as they feed on plankton on the water’s surface. And even though they don’t eat salmon and other fish, they sometimes get tangled in gillnets, hindering commercial fishing operations. So fisheries patrol boats with large knives attached to their bows would slice the animals in half as they “basked” on the surface.”

Read the full article here: Exit Stage Right

See the NBC piece on Martin and watch his basking shark drone video here.

How to Tell the Difference Between Geese and Ducks

During a recent podcast we were talking about the wonderful influx of Brant Geese that have been seen all around the coves of Cape Ann. Joey asked a great question, “how to tell the difference between ducks and geese?” Ducks, geese, and swans all belong to the Anatidae family and I could only answer that size is the predominate difference between duck and goose. If you are out on the water or onshore and trying to id whether duck or goose I think the surest way to tell is that geese are larger, with longer necks and bodies. I was curious to learn more and google led to interesting differences, some obvious and correlate to what we observe in our region, and some not so obvious.

Geese are generally white, gray, or monochromatic and both males and females are the same color. Ducks are multicolored and there are obvious pattern differences between the males and females.

Geese migrate further distances. We have seen that this past year with our Snow Goose visitor, a bird that breeds in colonies on the Canadian tundra, as do the Brants.

Another quick way to determine whether goose or duck is by what they are eating; geese generally eat grasses and grains; ducks eat fish and insects. The Snow Goose that visited Good Harbor Beach this past winter foraged for sea grass alongside the Canadian Geese.

Snow Goose Juvenile Canadian Geese Gloucester Massachusetts Essex County  ©Kim Smith 2015Snow Goose and Canadian Geese Foraging for Sea Grass

Photographer and fisherman Brian O’Connor reported that a fisherman mentioned to him that Brants are observed in an area when there is a heavy crop of sea “vegetables” and that is precisely what is occurring in our region–the “green” waves. Sea lettuce is a staple of the Brant’s diet and it is sometimes referred to as “Brant lettuce!”

Brants Cape Ann Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015Brants in Sea Vegetable Heaven

Please let us know if you see any Brants, where and at what time. Thank you to Zefra for writing last week about Brants at Lighthouse Beach. And thank you to Bill Hubbard who wrote to say that during the 40s and 50s hundreds were often seen, less so beginning in the late 50s.

Snow Goose Juvenile Gloucester Massachusetts -4 ©Kim Smith 2015

Juvenile Snow Goose Good Harbor Beach Gloucester
Cosmos ©Kim Smith 2014  --8

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

BRANT GEESE INVASION!

Brant Geese Plum Cove Beach Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

Brant Geese Plum Cove Beach Gloucester

Just kidding, however, they have recently been spotted all around Cape Ann! Several weeks ago I noticed three on Niles Beach, yesterday another 20 or so bobbing and diving in the waves off a little beach in Rockport, and this morning Michelle Anderson emailed that her son Atticus, with his eagle eyes, had spotted a blizzard at Plum Cove Beach. I was working on a design project in Andover and wasn’t able to get there until afternoon. The Brants were still there! Perhaps there were 50 or so feeding at the shoreline and another several hundred further off shore.

Brant Goose Plum Cove Beach Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015The geese are shy. At one point while photographing, I lay flat down in the beach grass trying to blend in with the landscape while inching forward, but they were not deceived. Too far away for my camera to get a good close up, and heavily overcast today, nonetheless you can see that they are quite beautiful creatures.

Brant Geese Plum Cove Beach Rockport Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

Brant Geese Rockport

Smaller than Canadian geese, the Brant Goose, also called Brent, Black Brant, and American Brant, is a coastal bird that breeds in the Arctic tundra. It migrates along both the Atlantic and Pacific flyways. With white or buff belly, black head and neck, and contrasting white bars at the neck, Brants are easy to identify. They feed on green plants including sea lettuce and eel grass. Brants have a highly developed salt gland, which allows them to consume salt water.

PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU SEE ANY BRANTS, AT WHAT LOCATION AND WHEN. We would love to hear from you!

Brant Geese Plum Cove Beach Rockport Massachusetts -2 ©Kim Smith 2015*   *   *
Comsos 12 ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Kites and Flight… or Attempts

Additional shots from Saturday’s Kite Day at Cogswell’s Grant in Essex. Some young, some old, some creative, some multitasking, a dog, and a lot of fun. Some great style and expressions!

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