Tag Archives: Pebble beach
Mr. Swan resting (trying to) in the early morning sun. Mallards courting make nap time difficult.
Last night’s Cape Ann sunset (these snapshots from Loblolly Cove and Pebble Beach), was yet another splendid beauty treat. How fortunate are we who live here!
The smallest, and I think most would agree, among the cutest North American sea ducks, every autumn Buffleheads arrive on the shores of Cape Ann after having journeyed many thousands of miles from their summer breeding grounds in the Canadian boreal forests. They are seen in twos or in small groups and unlike most ducks, are monogamous. Some males begin courting very early in the season as demonstrated in the flock currently residing on Cape Ann however, the birds will not pair until spring.
When out for a walk along shore and pond, you may notice a great deal of bufflehead kerfuffling taking place. The male’s courtship displays are wonderfully exuberant, with much head pumping, chest thrusting, and aggressive flying. The male goes so far as to exaggerate the size of his head by puffing out his bushy crest. Occasionally, the males chase females, but most of the chasing is directed towards other males in territorial displays, which are accomplished by both flying and skidding across the water as well as via underwater chasing. The female encourages her suitor vocally and with a less animated head pumping motion.
Female Bufflehead, left and male Bufflehead, right
Buffleheads are diving ducks, finding nourishment on Cape Ann on small sea creatures and pond grasses, as well as seed heads at the shoreline’s edge.
By the early twentieth century Buffleheads were nearing extinction due to over hunting. Their numbers have increased although now their greatest threat is loss of habitat stemming from deforestation in the boreal forests and aspen parklands of Canada.
The word bufflehead is a corruption of buffalo-head, called as such because of their disproportionately large and bulbous head. Buffleheads are a joy to watch and are seen all around Cape Ann throughout the fall, winter, and early spring. Their old-fashioned name, “Butterball,” aptly describes these handsome and welcome winter migrants!
Listen for the Buffleheads mating vocalizations. The Bufflehead courtship scenes were filmed on Niles Pond. The end clip is of a flock of Buffleheads in flight and was shot at Pebble Beach, Rockport.
Last night’s sunset from Pebble Beach
The first photo was taken with an iPhone, the next photo with my new long lens, standing in the same spot as the first photo.
Climate change is complicated but the damage done from rising sea levels is very apparent in our own community. With the inundation of seawater upon freshwater ponds, vernal pools, and wetlands, at risk especially are habitats for fish, shellfish, wildlife, and plants.
Penzance Road, the narrow strip of land that divides Pebble Beach, on the Atlantic side, and freshwater Henry’s Pond on the opposite side, is periodically closed because of storm damage. I don’t recall ever seeing this degree of destruction however, we have lived here for only twenty years. It would be very interesting and much appreciated to learn from any of our readers who have lived through some of the worst blizzards and hurricanes to hit Cape Ann to compare the levels of damage.
What are Towns thinking? They own Nature now?
I’m sure and I hope this sign is made for Commercial Companys that would haul away the rocks and smash them into decorative stones for Driveways and road shoulders.
“I’ll give you my rocks when you pry them from my cold, dead hands“
-Paul F. Frontiero Jr.
GloucesterCast With Guest Paulie Walnuts Frontiero and Host Joey Ciaramitaro Taped 8/17/14 #GloucesterMA
GloucesterCast With Guest Paulie Walnuts Frontiero and Host Joey Ciaramitaro Taped 8/17/14
Topics Include: Guest Paulie Walnuts Frontiero,Gloucester Schooner Festival Website, Coast Guard Eagle, Patriot Act , Tracey Arabian Comes Through,Waterfront Festival, Rusty Kinunnen,Block Party, Mark McDonough and Valerie Markeley resign from Block Party Committee, Asking Musicians To Play For Free,Pebble Beach Sign,Fine For Taking Beach Rocks, Block Party Altercation, Thankless Volunteerism, Gloucester Downtown Group, Beauport Princess, Trying To Figure Out How To Broadcast The Schooner Race Action, Schooner Virginia, The Black Dog Schooner Is The Alabama (Joey Called It Wrong),Kudos To Tom Ellis and Harold Burnham, Art Rocks, Hit Rate On Reported Found Art Rocks, Glosta Rocks.
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.
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.
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!”
thanks so much for your great blog. i always enjoy reading it.
i went for my morning walk today to see what happened after sandy hit last night. i smelled something foul and came across parts of the whale washed ashore on the road which runs along pebble beach in rockport. i imagine parts may be showing up elsewhere as it is obviously now not a whole whale.
i thought other readers would be interested.
keep your eyes open!
i don’t know if this is the best way to share photos? please let me know if there is another way.
thanks, kim diebboll
Heads Up!! New Kids On The Block
In the pond across from Pebble Beach
What are these things? Geese? Swans? Big assed Ducks? Or what?
Someone is sharing their love at Pebble Beach. Thanks for also sharing your creativity with the world-whomever you are!
Cape Ann is filled with so many beaches, and all are unique. I love the sound of waves gently crashing and retreating from the pebbles. It sounds even better underwater, for that reason alone its a favorite dive spot.
Ever wonder what it’s like under water off our coast? well wonder no more-
Scuba Diving Off Of Pebble Beach Video From BHELMAN