Tag Archives: Niles Pond


Coyotes typically sleep above ground in the open or under cover of shrubbery and wooded patches. Pup season is the only time coyotes use a den, which is usually a rocky outcrop, hollowed out stump, or a burrow made by fox, raccoon, skunk, or other medium-sized mammal. Coyotes will also make a den by digging a hole.

The color and shape of coyote poop (scat) varies, depending on what food is available. Purportedly at this time of year the scat is oftentimes reddish-orange because their diet is rich in apples.


In case you were wondering, where do turtles go in winter?

The Eastern Painted Turtle is our most common turtle and this beauty was found at Niles Pond, crossing the road heading towards one of several little babbling brooks that flow towards the pond. Perhaps it was planning to hibernate there as it was the last day of October.

Turtles are an ectotherm, which means that their body temperature mirrors the temperature of the surrounding environment, whether pond water or sunlit rock. During the fall they find a comfy spot in the mud at either a pond or stream and burrow in. The Painted Turtle’s metabolism slows dramatically and it won’t usually come up for air until spring, although even during hibernation they require some slight bit of oxygen, which they take in through their skin. Painted Turtles do move around a bit in the mud during the winter but do not travel far and do not move very swiftly.

Painted Turtle Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2015



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.

White pelican Massachusetts gloucester ©Kim Smith 11-16-15Far off course, a white pelican migrates through Gloucester

american_white_pelican_map_bigMap 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.

Niles Pond Sunrise ©Kim Smith 2015

Niles Pond 

Brace Cove Rock Sunrise Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2015Brace Rock Daybreak

Good morning from Brace's Rock!

A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Brace Cove Sunrise ©Kim Smith 2015

Brace Cove

Mr. Swan ©Kim Smith 2015Mr. Swan Morning Preening

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


Scenes from around Niles Pond and Brace Cove OctoberCattails in the wind ©Kim Smith ©2015

Cattails in the windPainted Turtle Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2015Painted Turtle

Brace Cove ©Kim Smith 2015

Gulls departing Brace Cove after the storm

Great Blue heron Gull Seals Brace cove ©Kim Smith 2015

Great Blue Heron, seals, and gull


Mr. Swan seems lonely still. The past few days he swims around and around the pond and continues to call plaintively.

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

See More Photos Here


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A friendly sort, this little guy was found in the middle of Niles Pond Road headed towards the brook. He posed patiently while I filmed him for the swan film, took his photo, and tested out my new phone 4K video feature. I placed him near the brook but he started to cross the road again and then just plopped there in the middle! I was late getting back to work so I marched him down an overgrown path and positioned him near a rock at the water’s edge. We can only hope. Perhaps he was confused by the gorgeous warm weather this morning.

An exciting turtle instagram :)

Painted Turtle rescue at Niles Pond!

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Eastern Painted Turtles live in fresh water such as Niles Pond, and hibernate in the mud during the winter months. Painted Turtles are the most widespread turtle species of North America.



Male Swan Niles Pond September ©Kim Smith 2015A listless Mr. Swan this past Saturday

Mr. Swan is slowly coming back to life and has begun to move around to his other pond homes. He is very lonely still and cries his plaintive cry however, one of our dear readers writes that when he lost his first wife about six years ago, a cormorant came and sat with him everyday until “Little Girl Swan” showed up on the scene (his second wife). Hopefully history will repeat itself. Mr. Swan is thought to be about twenty years old, which is remarkable for a swan in the wild.

Male Female Swan January 2014 Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2014

Mr. (right) and Mrs. (left) sharing pond vegetation with ducks, Niles Pond January 2014

Thank you to all who have written, sent photos, and reported sightings. We’re so blessed to be a part of this wonderfully caring community.

Female swan cygnet June 2015 ©Kim Smith 2015

Mrs. Swan and Cygnet June 2015

Mute swan male female cygnet cygnus olor ©Kim Smith 2015RIP Mrs. Swan and Cygnet

Quarky Pants Junior!

Juvenile Black Crowned Night heron ©Kim Smith 2015Allowing 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!Great Blue Heron ©Kim Smith 2015

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 kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. Thank you! 


Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -1 ©Kim Smith 2015For 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.Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -4 ©Kim Smith 2015

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 fledgling Gloucester -5 ©Kim Smith 2015Hoping to take a better shot of the fledgling (above) before it gains its adult feathers.

Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -2 ©Kim Smith 2015It flew off, along with one of the parents, but one did stay while I was recording daybreak foley.

Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -3 ©Kim Smith 2015

Black-crowned Night Heron standing on one leg, a characteristic many birds share, which they do primarily to conserve energy and body heat.

Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2015A Face Only a Mother Could Love

Sunrise Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2015

Today’s Niles Pond Sunrise


Mute Swan male female çygnus olor ©Kim Smith 2015Side-by-side Comparison ~ Female Swan Back, Male Swan Front

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.

Mute swan male female cygnet cygnus olor ©Kim Smith 2015I’ve posted this photo before however, it shows very well the different sizes of the male and female’s blackberries. Male, left; female, right.


Red Admiral Butterfly Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2015Red Admiral Basking at Niles Pond

So named Friendly because he’ll alight on your arm or head, attracted to the minerals in perspiration. This Red Admiral was found warming its wings in the early morning sun at Niles Pond. Butterflies wings do not work very well in cool, rainy temperatures. I hope the upcoming heat wave brings a batch of butterflies!

Niles Pond Sunrise ©Kim Smith 2015Niles Pond 

Eastern Point Before and After Thunderstorm Photos AND WHIMSICAL WHIMBRELS!

Gloucester storm 2015On my way home from work several days ago. I stopped to take a photo of the fast and furious oncoming storm. To my utter delight I spotted a pair of whimbrels feeding alongside the mallards at the water’s edge however, to my dismay, I only had my still camera. They didn’t allow for close-up photography and flew off in the direction of Brace Rock as soon as this human was noticed. Returning with movie camera after the storm to see if they were still in the neighborhood, they were not, and have not been spotted since.

Whimbrels East Gloucester Massachusetts july 25 ©Kim Smith 2015The only other time I have seen a pair of whimbrels, or any whimbrels for that matter, was at Good Harbor Beach several years ago, in mid-September. Whimbrels breed in the Arctic, departing in July for parts further south. It seems early in the season for them to have begun their southward migration, or perhaps they have been here all along. I wonder if any of our readers have spotted whimbrels?

Gloucester storm ©Kim Smith 2015


Great Egret Gloucester airgrettes ©Kim Smith 2015During the breeding season, Great Egrets grow long feathers from their back called airgrettes.

Great Egret airgrettes ©Kim Smith 2015The airgrettes were the feathers sought by the 19th and early 20th century plume-hunters for the millinery trade.

The magnificent Great Egret was very nearly hunted to extinction during the “Plume Bloom” of the early 20th century. Startling, cumbersome, and hideous, hats were fashioned with every manner of beautiful bird feather. Europeans were partial to exotic birds that were hunted the world over and they included hummingbirds, toucans, birds of paradise, the condor, and emu. The American milinery trade favored herons for their natural abundance. The atrocities committed by the murderous millinery led to the formation of the first Audubon and conservation societies however, what truly led to saving the birds from extinction was the boyish bob and other short hairstyles introduced in about 1913. The short cuts could not support the hat extravaganzas, which led to the popularity of the cloche and the demise of the plume-hunters.

banned-egretsConfiscated dead egrets

humming-birds-rzsThousands of hummingbird pelts at 2 cents apiece

kate-middleton-2-435As absurdly ridiculous now as then




Niles Pond Duckling ©Kim Smith 2015Last week, Mom Mallard had to cut a path through the lily pads.

Last week, Mama mallard had to lead the way through the water lilies…

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

This morning, the duckling led the way!

Niles Pond Ducklings -5 ©Kim Smith 2015

There are half a dozen duckling families at Niles Pond, all at seemingly different ages of development, from the smallest, an “only” duckling, to “tweens,” and “teens.”  I am happy to see many have made it past snapping-turtle-breakfast-age!

Niles Pond Ducklings -2 ©Kim Smith 2015The “Tweens”

Niles Pond Ducklings -3 ©Kim Smith 2015The “Teens”

Niles Pond Ducklings ©Kim Smith 2015Camouflaged

Niles Pond Ducklings -4 ©Kim Smith 2015Listen-up!

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