Recently I’ve been spending time researching the history Gloucester, and have come across many photos of the fish drying yards that once covered the Gloucester Waterfront before the days of the modern refrigeration like this one circa 1906. There was always something about these photos that I found disturbing, and never figured out why until recently. Looking at the photos, it occurred to me that there is one ubiquitous element of Gloucester Harbor that is hauntingly absent… The gulls. Where are they? What is keeping them from the feast waiting right there on the wharf? If anybody knows the answer, please share.
North Shore Kid
Six relaxing and sunny days down in Virginia and we clocked some serious time swimming, walking the boardwalk, rollerblading, shooting slingshots on the beach, dolphin watching….and feeding the birds.
Safe to say that every meal the boys ordered came with french fries this week…and, while they ate their fair share…they were more concerned about taking their leftovers directly down to the beach for feeding frenzies. For the record, hailing from Cape Ann, I am well aware of how annoying it can be when tourists feed seagulls while you’re trying to eat a meal on a deck. That being the case, I promise you that we fed the birds far away from others…and that the beach was all but empty when doing so.
The birds loved my boys (or at least their french fries). And…because everything is a learning opportunity…we learned something. The seagulls liked to land on the ground to snatch their fries…while the laughing gulls like to hover above and try to grab the fries in flight.
Son of Andrew, well worth the trip. Goya downstairs if the copious amounts of Jamie do not do the trick. If you like Jack Russell Terriers you have to check it out. And Seagulls, lots of seagulls, JFK, Andy Warhol and Nureyev’s large member.
Goya did a bunch of portraits which I had never seen. Compare the size of his head to body length then go over into the American Gallery and check out the portraits there. I always thought the early American portraits were botched a bit because they were not trained in getting the head size right.I thought you needed to shrink them on huge canvas but not too much. Now I am not so sure. Big canvas and sometimes the head goes too big. Check out John Singleton Copley over in the American Gallery as well as compare heads that Jamie Wyeth did.
I did not actually touch this seagull’s butt. But I will use it for tomorrow’s meme on G+ #seagullbuttsaturday.
The Seven Deadly Sins as portrayed by Seagulls. This would be Pride.
Jamie painted this circle on my face and then I took a Selfie. At first I was a bit put off but now I like it. Can I show you my tramp stamp?
Out on Eastern Point this morning great flocks of seagulls were riding the waves while the Niles Pond swans and ducks were tucked into their shoreline retreats. The cormorants were many and could be seen clustering on rocky perches all around the inner harbor.
Gloucester’s DPW crews were out and about clearing the streets from downed limbs.
I only stayed for a moment at the Brace Cove berm because the waves were so tremendous that it really didn’t feel safe. I am glad to report though that at 10:30 this morning the narrowest slip of land that prevents Niles Pond from becoming Brace Cove’s salt marsh appears to have weathered this October nor’easter.
Downed Tree Mangles Portable Potty
An ironic place for some seagulls to snack on lobster legs, isn’t it?
Brazen little buggers sat right on top of our live lobsters to dine on some of their cousins. Well, I can’t really prove that they’re actual cousins…but, you know what I mean.
I can almost hear the lobsters in the crate….”Enough already. I can’t take it. STOP! Why are you doing this? What more do you want from me?”
Brace Rock on the left with ginormous waves crashing onto the path behind the retreat. I estimate the trees on the right to be about 20-25 feet in height. ~ Click photos to view larger.
Seagulls and Buffleheads
Brace Cove Surfers ~ more than only seagulls and buffleheads being tossed around in the surf!
View standing on the flooded path, looking towards the Atlantic
Because I lived on The Fort for six years, I’ve seen a few gulls in my day. Depending on the species, gulls have up to four plumage types as they mature, plus they change from breeding plumage to winter plumage as adults.
This causes many people to throw up their hands is discuss when trying to identify the birds they are seeing. I even get comments from seasoned birders and twitchers that they get confused. With this in mind, I have posted many gull tips over the past few years in hopes that it will help those of us on Cape Ann and also the many, many birders that come here in the winter to find them. Gloucester has some pretty cool birds here in the winter that many inlanders just don’t get to see.
I hope that this information is helpful!
Although ubiquitous where ever we turn, I was curious about the several different species that are often observed fishing and feeding together at dawn. The flocks of seagulls that we see on Cape Ann at this time of year are typically comprised of two species and they are the Great Black-backed Gull and the Herring Gull. In the above photo taken at daybreak (click to view larger), you can see both species; the gulls with speckled feather patterns are first year fledglings of both the Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls.
Interestingly, early in the twentieth century, both species of gulls were mostly winter visitors, neither staying to breed when the weather warmed. The first pair of breeding Herring Gulls was discovered on Martha’s Vineyard in 1912. The first pair of breeding Great Black-backed Gulls was found in Salem in 1932.
The Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) is the larger of the two, up to 30,” with a black back and wings, yellow bill distinguished by a red dot on the bottom near the tip, and pinkish legs.
The Herring Gull (Larus argentus), at 25 inches, has gray wings tipped with black, gray back, white head, pinkish legs, and yellow bill also with a red dot on the bottom near the tip.
The Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) is also a regular visitor but according to Mass Audubon, it has never successfully bred in Massachusetts. The Ring-billed at first glance looks similar to the Herring Gull but is the smallest of the three at 17″ and is also easy to distinguish as it has yellow legs and a dark gray band near the tip of its bill.
I believe they were coaxed with some food.
A seagull crashes into Cape Ann Brewery’s awning, but by the time I finished my beer he/she was on it’s feet ready to find a parked car somewhere in Gloucester.
Hi Joey C,
It’s not a Gloucester seagull, but these photos
are pretty cool. You can decided if they’re blog-worthy.
I’ve had to enjoy Nemo through GMG since I’m out in Chicago for a death in the family. Really appreciated the lovely photos everyone has posted. And your marvelous humor during a hard time.
Notes on Good Harbor Beach November Sunrise
One morning in late November I followed the elusive Great Blue Heron up and down the length of the salt marsh creek while a stunning sunrise unfolded in the background. The dance of the lone heron feeding was as hauntingly beautiful as is the ebb and flow of Fauré’s “Pavane” through its series of musical climaxes, and seemed perfectly choreographed to the intensely focused movements of the heron.
Earlier in the month of November I had filmed three herons feeding simultaneously—the most I typically see at Good Harbor are two at a time. That footage is lost, and perhaps it is just as well because it may not have been the most interesting as the focal length was some distance in order to capture all three in the frame. I found it captivating to see this lone heron feeding alongside the seagulls and ducks, not an event I have often observed. Whenever a dog approached or some other imagined disturbance startled the birds, all would take flight; the seagulls and ducks dispersed and the heron invariably headed to the opposite end of the marsh. This went on for several hours, back and forth, up and down the salt marsh. The Great Blue Heron is majestic in flight, with deep powerful wing beats, and a wingspan of five and a half feet to six and a half feet. Oftentimes difficult to find in the cameras’ lens, the heron’s subdued blue-gray and brown plumage is perfect camouflage against the rocky shoreline, particularly in the pre-dawn light and early hours of sunrise.
I looked for the herons again after that late date of November 29th, but I think they had all departed for warmer shores further south.
If you stay until the end, look for a funny clip after the credits have rolled. I couldn’t figure out how to make this most ordinary of body functions fit with the heron’s beautiful dance.
“Pavane in F-sharp minor, Opus 50,” was composed by Gabriel Fauré in 1887. Fauré’s “Pavane” obtains it slow processional rhythm from the Spanish and Italian court dance of the same name. The earliest known pavane was published in Venice in 1508 by Ottaviano Putrucci and is a dignified partner dance. The original music seems to have been fast, but like many dances, became slower over time. For this film I looked for a recording approximately 8 minutes in length, although Fauré’s “Pavane” is more typically six minutes long. The origin of the term is unknown; possibilities include from the Spanish pavón meaning peacock.
From the sunrise last Friday.
– Fr. Matthew Green
Homies flyin high on the Boulevard.