Tag Archives: thacher island

SPECTACULAR TWIN LIGHTS THACHER ISLAND WAVES -By Kim Smith

The photos were taken after the storm on Tuesday morning, at dead low tide, standing almost to Salt Island and looking toward Thacher Island. I don’t recall ever seeing such enormous waves at low tide and will stay tuned in the future. Look for the surfer’s head in the waves 🙂

GREAT NEWS FOR STRAITSMOUTH ISLAND AND CONGRATULATIONS TO PAUL ST. GERMAIN AND THACHER ISLAND ASSOCIATION!!

A huge shout out to Thacher Island Association and president Paul St. Germain for winning an Essex National Heritage Area partnership grant to restore the elevated pedestrian lighthouse walkway on Straitsmouth Island.

Paul St. Germain writes, “We will restore the original C 1850, 220-foot granite and wooden timber walkway to provide safe and easy access for the public to visit the lighthouse from the keeper house. This walkway has been there since 1854 and was destroyed sometime in the 1930’s. Besides its usefulness it has also been an iconic signature of the island’s profile for over 80 years.”

This unique 1906 photo shows the 315-foot walkway, the oil house, and keeper house, as well as Thacher Island’s Twin Lights in the distance.

Facts about Straitsmouth Island Light Station

  
  • First lighthouse was established in 1835 to mark the entrance to Rockport Harbor.
  • The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1851 and again in 1896.
  • A 6th order Fresnel lens was installed in the lantern in 1857.
  • The current Victorian styled keeper house was built in 1878 similar to the one on Thacher Island.
  • In 1932 the light was converted from white to green.
  • Coast Guard moved the station to shore at Gap Head and sold the island to private parties in 1934.
  • Coast Guard continues to maintain the light as an official aid to navigation today. In 1967 the island (except for the lighthouse) was donated to Massachusetts Audubon Society who maintains it as a wildlife sanctuary.
  • Straitsmouth Island was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
  • In 2010 the lighthouse and 1.8 acres of land was given to the Town of Rockport by the coast guard.
  • In 2014 the Town of Rockport signed a long term 30 year lease with Mass Audubon for the use of the keeper and oil houses.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THACHER ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE AND STRAITSMOUTH ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE, VISIT THE THACHER ISLAND ASSOCIATION WEBSITE HERE

Straitsmouth Island pounding waves after March nor’easter

ATLANTIC OCEAN WAVE WATCHING -EXPLODERS, BANGERS, ROLLERS, CRASHERS, AND SONIC BOOMERS – #GLOUCESTEMA #ROCKPORTMA MARCH NOR’ESTER STORM RILEY -By Kim Smith

Atlantic Road today 🌊 🌊 🌊 #gloucesterma #noreaster #riley #waves

A post shared by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

The best wave watching Sunday afternoon was from Atlantic Road, especially when the light turned silver-gray-violet. The mist from the pounding waves filled the air, creating a beautiful diffused quality. It was mesmerizing to see the waves hurling against the rocky coastline. Often the force was so loud, it sounded like a sonic boom had exploded. Atlantic Road was closed to car traffic while pedestrians strolled the road as though a promenade. After watching the full force of the waves during high tide, I headed over to Straitsmouth Island in Rockport. Less in strength, but still spectacular to watch.

 

RATS, RATS, AND MORE RATS! SNOWY OWL HEDWIG WEEKEND UPDATE #2 -By Kim Smith

Hedwig was observed Saturday morning, when repeated harassment by a flock of crows sent her hiding. She reappeared Saturday afternoon, and was again seen Sunday morning in the drizzle, not too far from where she was perched Saturday evening. Later Sunday afternoon she slept and rested in the pouring rain.

Hedwig sleeping in the rain (thank you to Arly Pett for letting me know she was out in the rain!)

That she stays in a highly localized winter territory seems in keeping with known Snowy Owl behavior traits. I read that during the summer season in the Arctic, male Snowies hunt over hundreds of miles, whereas female Snowies typically hunt within a much smaller range. She has been observed eating sea ducks and rabbits and there are plenty of rat holes along the backshore rocks.

Both rats and lemmings (the Snowies super food in the Arctic) belong to the order Rodentia. From wiki, “A lemming is a small rodent usually found in or near the Arctic in tundra biomes. Lemmings are subnivean animals. They make up the subfamily Arcicolinae together with voles and muskrats which forms part of the superfamily Muroidea which also includes rats, mice, hamsters, and gerbils.”

Lemming (Lemmini)

Often Hedwig has been seen flying straight out over the water towards Twin Lights. I wondered, if she is hunting there, does Thacher Island have a rat population. Thacher Island Association president Paul St. Germain answers that question for our readers, 

“Hi Kim, there are lots of rats on Thacher mostly in the shore line rocks. We don’t see them often but know they are there. I discovered a bunch in the cellar of the keeper house making their nest in an old tarp. I would love to see Hedwig out there but we don’t go out in the winter. Have never seen snowy owls in the summer.” 

Great info and thanks to Paul for sharing that! A Snowy Owl has been seen on the rocks in Rockport, across the strait, opposite Twin Lights, and wonder if it is our Hedwig.

Rat and Lemming photos courtesy wiki commons media

This brings up the topic, what to do if you have a rat problem. The absolute worst way to control rats is with rat poison, namely for the sake of beautiful predatory birds such as Snowy Owls, falcons, hawks, and eagles. Birds that ingest rats that have been poisoned with rat poison will generally become gravely ill and die. Secondly, it is a cruel, slow death for the rat. They will usually go back to their nest to die. If that nest is located behind a wall in your home, you will smell that unmistakeable horrendous smell for many months. Thirdly, rat poison is only 60 percent effective. I wonder if the rats that survive rat poison will go on to breed super rats.

The best way to avoid having to kill a rat is to make sure they cannot gain access to your home or business by regularly inspecting soffits and woodwork for holes. Old-fashioned snap traps and live trapping continue to be the most effective way to rid your home or business of rats.

Saturday I stopped to say hello to a group of birders flocked together along the backshore who had traveled all the way from western Mass. They were observing Grebes, Buffleheads, and a Common Murre. And a Puffin had been spotted! I asked if they were planning to go to any of our local restaurants for lunch, but they had packed lunches. One Mom shared that an expert from Audubon told the group that there were at least a “dozen Snowy Owls” on Bass Rocks. Bananas! I have to say that it makes me hoppin’ mad when folks spread misinformation about our local wildlife. I gently told her that no, there were not a dozen owls, but that if she and her group waited until late afternoon, they might catch sight of Hedwig.

Twin Lights from a Snowy Owl POV

 

 

 

 

 

CAPE ANN LIGHTHOUSES SHROUDED IN SEA SMOKE

Evocative views looking through sea smoke along the shoreline this morning, from Ten Pound Island to Twin Lights, and at every vantage point along the way. On my very last stop photographing a buoy in the sea smoke, I spied a mystery bird far off shore. Bobbing in the water and with a bill not at all shaped liked a seagulls, it was a SNOW GOOSE! He was too far away to get a great photo, but wonderful to see nonetheless!

Winter Solstice Anal Emma and more

David Cox got after me at the Christmas party I was not posting enough and goodness, a month has practically gone by since my last photo. So instead of posting my annual analemma shot for Winter Solstice, and wish everyone a Happy Festivus, I’ll post some pics from the other end of the analemma. When Thacher Island is a hot paddle in July.

No kayaking today!

Six lighthouses on Cape Ann to choose from but these two are my favorite.

If you ever played the Computer game Myst popular in 1993 you know that the Miller brothers had to have visited Thacher Island.

Except in Myst, there were zip lines between the lighthouses. Rockport should install them.

Rubber Duck wanted to say hello to the sixty seagulls lining the rail. Only Homie stuck around.

Me: “What rhymes with orange.” Rubber Duck: “No it doesn’t.”

I quack myself up. OK, I’ll stick to photos. Here is the analemma. Today on the winter sostice we are the yellow ball. The blue ball of course denotes when certain people who do not chicken out jump into Gloucester Harbor.

The meteorological start of Spring, March First, is only seventy days away. (And Mother’s Day, the day we catch the first striper, is 143 days away.)

Happy Festivus one and all. (Now help me up bro, my knee!)

Natural page turner: quite a 10 minute story of vast sea and sky

Beautiful radical variations till the clouds rolled by (roughly 6:05-6:18 AM) before I met with clients in Boston and Beverly. There were some snowflakes but when I returned to Gloucester at 1pm, the roads were dry and an even pale sky.

IMG_20170331_060530IMG_20170331_060716IMG_20170331_060720IMG_20170331_061846IMG_20170331_061857IMG_20170331_061916

NEW SHORT FILM: THE UNCOMMON COMMON TERN

What fun to encounter a small flock of terns teaching its young to fish. Nearly as large as the adults, the tubby terns cheekily squawk and demand food (shrimp I think in this case). Watch as the fledglings try to master fishing skills while the adults tirelessly guide the young on how to feed themselves.

With thanks to Paul St. Germain, president of the Thacher Island Association, for information about the ongoing restoration of shorebirds on Thacher Island.

common-tern-fledgling-feeding-copyright-kim-smith

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GOOD HARBOR BEACH DAZZLING DAYBREAK

Good Harbor beach sunrise August 17, 2016 -1 copyright Kim SmithBedazzled by a single morning’s sunrise–every shade all at once–from hues of rose-violet-blue giving way to fiery bands of red-yellow-orange. I can’t decide which I like best, you choose 🙂

 

 

THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM

Sanderling eating insect copyright kim Smith

My grandmother was fond of saying “the early bird catches the worm.” I assumed she said that because I adored getting up early to eat breakfast with my grandfather before he left for work. In a large family with siblings and cousins, I had him all to myself in those day break hours. Having developed a passion and love for wild creatures and wild places, I understand better what she meant. She and my grandfather built a summer home for their family in a beautiful, natural seashore setting and both she and my parents packed our home with books and magazines about nature. Now I see her design…

Wednesday morning at day break, beautiful scene, beautiful creatures by the sea’s edge

God Harbor Beach Sunrise August 3, 2016 -2 copyright Kim Smith

Song Sparrow copyright Kim SmithSong Sparrow breakfast

American Robin fledgling copyright Kim SmithAmerican Robin fledgling, note its speckled breast feathers

Mockingbird copyright Kim SmithMockingbird feeding its fledgling

Song Sparrow Virginia creeper copyright Kim SmithSong Sparrow and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) flowers and fruit

Sanderling copyright Kim SmithSanderling

Gull eating crab copyright kim Smith

God Harbor Beach Sunrise August 3, 2016 copyright Kim Smith

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