Tag Archives: Seagulls



By Kim Smith

Cape Ann provides welcome habitat for a menagerie of creatures beautiful, from the tiniest winged wonder to our region’s top predator, the Eastern Coyote. Last year I posted a Cape Ann Wildlife Year in Pictures 2016 and I hope you will find the wildlife stories of 2017 equally as beautiful. Click on the image to find the name of each species.


The only partially frozen ponds at the start of winter allowed for dabblers and divers such as Mallards, Mergansers, and Buffleheads to forage at the freshwater. Mr. Swan had his usual entourage of quwackers and daily heads to the other side of the pond to get away for his morning stretches. Sightings of Red-tailed Hawks and other raptors abounded. Although photographed in Newburyport, the owl photos are included because these species are found readily on Cape Ann. An Eastern Screech Owl (red-morph) was seen daily perched above a playground and Barred Owl sightings too were reported throughout the winter. Raptors live on Cape Ann all year round but are much easier to see in winter when the trees are bare of foliage.

The beautiful aqua green eyes of the juvenile Double-crested Cormorants were seen wintering at both Niles Pond and Rockport Harbor. And during a warm February day on a snowless marsh a turkey bromance shindig commenced.


In early spring, a male and female American Wigeon arrived on the scene making local ponds their home for several weeks. In the right light the male’s electric green feathers at the top of his head shine brightly and both the male and female have baby blue bills.

Meadow and marsh, dune and treetop were graced with the heralding harbingers of spring with photos of a Red-winged Blackbird, a pair of Cedar Waxwings, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Kingbird, Tree Swallow, and Grackle included here.

The Great Swan Escape story made headlines in Boston as Mr. Swan eluded captors for hours. He had re-injured his foot and someone took it upon themselves to call the animal rescuers, which would have surely meant death for our beloved 27-year old swan if he had been wrangled into captivity.

M is clearly for Migration through Massachusetts and the month-long arrivals and departures did not abate. Short-billed Dowitchers, winsome Willets, Yellow Legs, Brandt Geese, and Ruddy Turnstones are just some of the migrating birds spied on Cape Ann beaches and marshes. The best news in May was the return of the Piping Plovers. Of the five or six that camped at Good Harbor Beach to investigate potential nesting sites, one pair bonded and built their nest mere yards from the nesting pair of last year. Could it be the same pair? The nesting Piping Plover story took up much of the spring and by early summer four little Piping Plover chicks hatched over Fiesta weekend. Hundreds of photos and hours of film footage are in the process of being organized with a children’s book and documentary in progress.

Piping Plover Courtship Dance

Piping Plover Nest



The survival of one Piping Plover chick was made possible by a wholesale community effort, with volunteers covering all hours of daylight, along with Mayor Sefatia and her team, Ken Whittaker from the conservation office, Chief McCarthy, and animal control officer Diane Corliss all lending a hand.

Sadly, several Northern Gannets came ashore to die on our Cape Ann beaches, struck by the same mysterious and deadly disease that is afflicting Northern Gannets in other coastal regions. During the summer season they are typically at their North American breeding grounds, which are six well-established colonies, three in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec, and three in the North Atlantic, off the coast of Newfoundland.

An orphaned swan was introduced to Niles Pond, much to the dismay of Mr. Swan. Eastern Point residents Skip and Lyn kept watch over the two while they reluctantly became acquainted.

By mid-July many of us were seeing Monarchs in much greater numbers than recent years. Nearly every region within the continental United States experienced a fantastic Painted Lady irruption and butterflies of every stripe and polka dot were seen flitting about our meadows, fields, and gardens.

The tadpoles and froglets of American Bullfrogs and Green Frogs made for good eating for several families of resident otters, who are making their homes in abandoned beaver lodges. Little Blue Herons too, find plentiful frogs at our local ponds.

Tree Swallows Massing

In early August we see the Tree Swallows begin to mass for their return migration. They find an abundance of fruits and insects in the dunes, headlands, and beaches. The Cedar Waxwings and Ruddy Trunstones were observed back again foraging on their southward journey, along with myriad species of songbirds, shorebirds, divers, and dabblers.


The Late Great Monarch Migration continued into fall as we were treated to a wonderfully warm autumn. Waves and waves of Monarchs came ashore and more butterflies arrived on the scene including new batches of Painted Ladies, Clouded Sulphurs and Common Buckeyes (nothing common about these beauties!).

A pair of Northern Pintails called Cape Ann ponds and coves home for nearly a month while we seem to be seeing more and more raptors such as Red-tailed Hawks, Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons. Juvenile herons of every species that breeds on Cape Ann lingered long into the fall—Black-crowned Night Herons, Yellow-crowned Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, and Green Herons.

Just as Mr. Swan and the Young Swan appeared to be warming to each other, the Young Swan, who has yet to learn to fly, became trapped in the ice at Niles Pond. He was rescued by caretakers Lyn and Dan and is now spending the winter at a cozy sanctuary built by Lyn and friends.


Heart Wings Monarch Butterfly

Thank you to all our readers for your kind comments of appreciation throughout the year for the beautiful wild creatures with which we share this gorgeous peninsula called Cape Ann. If you’d like to read more about a particular animal, type the name of the animal in the search box and the original post should come up

With its expansive marshes and dunes, bodies of fresh, clear water, saltwater coves and inlets, and geographic location within the Atlantic Flyway, 2017 has been a banner year for Cape Ann’s wild and wonderful creatures. I can’t wait to see what awaits in 2018!

Snowy Owl “Hedwig” January 2018 Backshore Gloucester


Snowy April Fools Day scenes from Niles Beach, the Greasy Pole, City Hall, backshore, Bass Rocks, Good Harbor Beach, Fitz Henry Lane house, and more. 

#snowyday #gloucesterma Niles Beach seagulls #aprilfoolsday #spring #snow #seagulls

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Snowy day tour of Gloucester #aprilfools #spring #snowyday #gloucesterma #cityhall

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bass-rocks-ocean-inn-2-gloucester-february-2017-snowstorm-copyright-kim-smith-jpgVenturing out today around 1:00pm, I caught the tail end of the storm. The winds were still blizzarding and great gusts of snow made places like Brace Cove impossible to photograph. The tide was super high at Good Harbor Beach, but not as high as some recent storms. The waves were tremendous, although they weren’t the ginormous rollers of many nor’easters either.


good-harbor-beach-gloucester-february-2017-snowstorm-copyright-kim-smithSeagulls and sanderlings were hunkering down in the coves and others, sailing the surf. 

Blizzard Spindrifts and Homie #scenesofnewengland #blizzard2017 #gloucesterma #seagulls

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Chasing seagulls

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Things with wings

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Niles Beach Sunset

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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


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Brace Rock Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2015 JPGBrace Cove and Niles Pond in the lifting fog ~ When I first got to the causeway, Brace Rock was completely obscured. As the fog drifted away an army of cormorants began to appear, joining the gulls on the rocks and feeding from the surf.

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Where’s Homie?

Hi Joey,

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.

~Bill O’Connor
North Shore Kid


Alfred Hitchcockesque

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.

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Jamie Wyeth Exhibit Boston Museum of Fine Arts ends December 28

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?


October Nor’easter Storm Snapshots

Eastern Point Seagulls ©Kim Smith 2014Out 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.

Niles Pond Swans ©kim Smith 2014Gloucester’s DPW crews were out and about clearing the streets from downed limbs.Gloucester DPW ©Kim Smith 2014

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.

Brace Cove seagulls ©Kim Smith 2014

storm damage Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014Downed Tree Mangles Portable Potty

Isn’t it Ironic?

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?”




Wild and Woolly Waves at Brace Cove After Friday’s Storm

Brace Cove Brace rock ©Kim Smith 2014 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.

Brace Cove seagulls buffleheads ©Kim Smith 2014Seagulls and Buffleheads

Brace Cove surfers ©Kim Smith 2014Brace Cove Surfers ~ more than only seagulls and buffleheads being tossed around in the surf!

Brace Cove big wave -2 ©Kim Smith 2014View standing on the flooded path, looking towards the Atlantic
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Gull identification link from good pal Steve Borichevsky

Iceland Gull 11 January 2014 - 003[3][1]

Hi Joey,

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!

Steve Borichevsky

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