A mid-week vacation day is the easiest. Oh, and you’ll need your resident beach sticker. We prepped our car with a picnic blanket for the seat, extra towels, and ice waters. Start early and grab a big “lobsterjack” breakfast because you’ll need the fuel. End late.
Let’s establish some base rules here.
First off, you need to spend at least 15 minutes at each beach. (You can tweak this a little if you want.) Next, you need to dive under. We suggest a ritual for each beach, e.g. ‘The Five and Dive’. Finally, you have to stop for ice cream and candy. Remember, you can do these beaches (or others in Gloucester) and jumps in any order. Be flexible for unexpected delays like staying at one beach for hours, or a friend asking you to drop off a sub (*cough* Joey *cough*). Most importantly, you have to do at least 13 beaches and 2 jumps in one day. Mind the tides. Be grateful we have so many choices.
The Beaches- partial list
Annisquam lighthouse. Coffin’s beach. Good Harbor beach. Long beach. Magnolia beach. Niles beach. Pavilion beach (by Beach Court). Pavilion beach bonus (by the cut). Plum Cove beach. Rocky Neck Oakes Cove beach. Stage Fort Park (1) – Cressy’s beach ( our alt. title ‘sea serpent’ big beach). Stage Fort Park (2) – Half Moon beach. Wheeler’s Point. Wingaersheek beach.
The Jumps- partial list
Annisquam bridge. Magnolia Pier.
*We do this challenge at least once each summer. Yesterday we started off with breakfast at Willow’s Rest and continued from there. Our timing was random especially as we spent hours at Wingaersheek. The second meal to get us through the day came from the sandwich counter at Annie’s by Wingaersheek. Yes, they have a sandwich counter.
David Rimmer wrote a big thank you for all the GMG attention. He explained that Mass Wildlife and the Greenbelt Association are working with the City of Gloucester and sends this update:
“There are 4 pairs of piping plovers at Coffins Beach – 2 pairs on the front beach and 2 pairs on the inside beach.
3 pairs are on private land and 1 pair is on Greenbelt land. Mass Wildlife and Greenbelt have been monitoring and managing this area, too, (as with Good Harbor)
at Coffins Beach, one pair has 4 chicks; one pair has 3 chicks; one pair has 2 chicks; and one pair has no chicks.
Greenbelt also has an Osprey Program, which focuses on managing and monitoring nesting Osprey from East Boston to Salisbury.” Greenbelt has set up webcams and platforms. Learn more http://www.ecga.org/what_we_do/osprey_program. Chris Leahy and Marion Larson from Ma Wildlife also mentioned Greenbelt’s fantastic Osprey program.
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
Essex County Greenbelt protective measures in concert with MA Wildlife
dog prints by the rope fence
saw 5 dogs on the beach
Fitz Hugh Lane, Coffins Beach, MFA
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?