Tag Archives: Wingaersheek Beach


Bonaparte's Gulls Gloucester Massachusetts -2 copyright Kim SmithBonaparte’s Gulls

Recently, several Laughing Gulls were spotted all around Cape Ann. Laughing Gulls are easy to confuse with Bonaparte’s Gulls, which at this time of year, also have black heads. As the breeding season winds to an end, the Bonaparte’s black head feathers give way to white, where only a smudge of an earmuff will remain. Bonaparte’s Gulls breed in the Arctic; we see them on both their northward and southward journeys and some make Massachusetts their winter home. Small flocks of Bonaparte’s Gulls can be seen at area beaches including Good Harbor Beach, Lighthouse Beach, and Wingaersheek Beach.

Bonaparte's Gulls Gloucester Massachusetts -5 copyright Kim Smith

While foraging, Bonaparte’s Gulls vigorously churn the sandy bottom with their feet to stir up tiny marine creatures. Note the transitioning head feathers in the above gull.

They are feeding intently, fortifying for the migration, and often get into disagreements over feeding turf.

Bonaparte's Gulls Gloucester massachusetts copyright Kim SmithBonaparte’s in a territory tussle

Bonaparte's Gulls Gloucester Massachusetts -4 copyright Kim SmithBonaparte’s Gulls are smaller than Laughing, Ring-billed, and Herring Gulls, about 11 to 15 inches in length

The easiest and quickest way to distinguish Laughing Gull from Bonaparte’s Gull is to look at the legs and feet. Bonaparte’s Gulls are a vivid orange, more pink later in the season. The Laughing Gull’s legs and feet are blackish-reddish.

Laughing Gull Gloucester Massachusetts cooyright Kim SmithLaughing Gull, with dark feet and legs.

Bonaparte's Gulls Gloucester Massachusetts -6 copyright Kim Smith

Bonaparte’s Gulls have bright orange legs and feet

bonapartes-gulls-gloucester-2-copyright kim-smith-2015Photograph from last September; Bonaparte’s with only a hint of black head feathers remaining.

Are you up for the 13-2 Gloucester beaches challenge? 13 beaches. 2 jumps. 1 city. Go!

A mid-week vacation day is the easiest. Oh, and you’ll need your resident beach sticker. We prepped our car with a picnic blanket for the seat, extra towels, and ice waters. Start early and grab a big  “lobsterjack”  breakfast because you’ll need the fuel. End late.

Let’s establish some base rules here.

First off, you need to spend at least 15 minutes at each beach. (You can tweak this a little if you want.) Next, you need to dive under. We suggest a ritual for each beach, e.g. ‘The Five and Dive’. Finally, you have to stop for ice cream and candy. Remember, you can do these beaches (or others in Gloucester) and jumps in any order. Be flexible for unexpected delays like staying at one beach for hours, or a friend asking you to drop off a sub (*cough* Joey *cough*). Most importantly, you have to do at least 13 beaches and 2 jumps in one day. Mind the tides. Be grateful we have so many choices.

The Beaches- partial list

alphabetical order

Annisquam lighthouse.  Coffin’s beach.  Good Harbor beach.  Long beach. Magnolia beach. Niles beach. Pavilion beach (by Beach Court). Pavilion beach bonus (by the cut). Plum Cove beach. Rocky Neck Oakes Cove beach. Stage Fort Park (1) – Cressy’s beach ( our alt. title ‘sea serpent’ big beach). Stage Fort Park (2) – Half Moon beach. Wheeler’s Point. Wingaersheek beach.

The Jumps- partial list

Annisquam bridge. Magnolia Pier.

*We do this challenge at least once each summer. Yesterday we started off with breakfast at Willow’s Rest and continued from there. Our timing was random especially as we spent hours at Wingaersheek. The second meal to get us through the day came from the sandwich counter at Annie’s by Wingaersheek. Yes, they have a sandwich counter.

Gloucester Beaches sandwich directory



Call ahead for the best subs of summer. Gloucester beaches sandwich directory.


Hungry? Pack light. You’ll pass great sandwich shops, locally owned and operated, en route to Gloucester’s magnificent beaches. Jeff’s Variety can set you up for a good lunch to go wherever you’re headed including Good Harbor Beach, Long Beach, or the back shore. Jeff says that there are many repeat customers that come back each and every season–for years–on their way to Good Harbor Beach. IF you have a big group, you can order trays with finger sandwiches. Sandwich platters featuring Virgilio’s rolls need at least two days notice to prepare. They’re open Sundays. What else? “Yes!” the answer to my question if they have plenty of call ahead requests from cars caught in traffic. Passengers calling only, please!

Scroll down the post for a one-stop, sub-shopping Gloucester directory with phone numbers and links. I could add in our favorite choices from each place.




*the great 2013 Good Morning Gloucester Italian sub winners

on the way to Gloucester’s GOOD HARBOR BEACH

on the way to Gloucester/ Rockport LONG BEACH

on the way downtown headed in any direction to Gloucester beaches: Pavilion, Cressy, Half Moon, Niles, Good Harbor

  • Cafe Sicilia (978) 283-7345 sandwiches and pizza slices
  • Cave (978) 283-0896 for baguette/cheese French picnic style fare
  • Cupboard (978) 281-1908
  • *Destino’s Subs 
  • Cape Ann Farmer’s Market (Thursdays) fresh produce & baguette/cheese French picnic style fare
  • *Jeff’s Variety (978) 281-5800
  • Leonardo’s  (978) 281-7882
  • Last Stop (978) 281-2616
  • Mike’s  (978) 282-0777
  • Morning Glory (978) 281-1851
  • Poseidons (978) 290-4313
  • *Sclafanis (978) 283-6622
  • *Virgilios (978) 283-5295
  • Yellow Sub Shop (978) 281-2217

on the way to Gloucester’s NILES BEACH

  • Last Stop (978) 281-2616
  • Sailor Stan’s to go (978) 281-4470

on the way to Gloucester’s PLUM COVE BEACH / ANNISQUAM/ LANESVILLE 

  • Captain Hooks (978) 282-4665
  • Plum Cove Grind (978) 281-3377
  • Willow Rest  sub and/or the farmer’s market fresh produce, cheese, specialty prepared meals picnic option (978)283-2417

on the way to Gloucester’s WINGAERSHEEK BEACH

  • main concession stand at Gloucester’s Wingaersheek beach (978) 281-9785
  • Annie’s Variety  (978) 283-2887
  • Marshall’s Farm Stand (picnic route rather than sandwich counter)  (978) 283-2168 (pints of fruit, munchies, loaf artisan bread, mozzarella specialty cheeses)

I haven’t forgotten Magnolia–just missing Magnolia’s House of Pizza. ON Mondays there’s Cape Ann Farmer’s market for Magnolia. “M” for Mondays, “M” for Magnolia.

piping plovers on Coffins Beach: intertidal mile and they’re holdin’ on.


20160715_143652Gloucester’s Coffins Beach is a long, long stretch of wide open sandy seashore framed by dunes, sea and sky. Growing up, we called it the private side of Wingaersheek. I could hear piping plovers and saw two ‘in the zone’– the intertidal bit that is still wet at low tide and well under water at high tide. I didn’t see birds in the safe retreats by the upper part of the beach, but heard the melodious chirps that inspired their nickname.

Listen to the piping plover




Essex County Greenbelt protective measures in concert with  MA Wildlife


dog prints by the rope fence


saw 5 dogs on the beach

FHL coffins beach mfa

Fitz Hugh Lane, Coffins Beach, MFA


Piping plovers have quite a story. In Massachusetts, the vast majority are south, Cape Cod and the islands. By the close of the 19th century, these birds were near extinction. They rebounded successfully by the 1950’s.

I spoke with Dave Rimmer of Essex County Greenbelt, Marion Larson with Ma Wildlife, Deborah Cramer and Chris Leahy. All of them have updates for GMG which I’ll add next. First,

Chris Leahy, MA Audubon, explained that a second age of precipitous piping plover decline occurred in the 1960’s and 70’s. What do you think it was?

Read on to find out.
Read more

Author Deborah Cramer asks were there plentiful horseshoe crabs in Gloucester? Leads to Winslow Homer, John Bell, and Cher Ami

Deborah Cramer thanks Good Morning Gloucester for mentioning her book and asks for photographs and stories about horseshoe crabs, otherwise known as the nearly scene stealing co-stars from her inspiring book on sandpipers, The Narrow Edge.

“I’m in the midst of a project right now trying to uncover the almost forgotten history of the whereabouts of horseshoe crabs in Gloucester.  I’ve heard some fantastic stories, like one from a man who used to go down to Lobster Cove after school and find horseshoe crabs so plentiful he could fill a dory. Do you think there’s a value to putting up a few pictures on GMG and asking people to send in their recollections of beaches, coves where they used to see them in abundance?”

We do. Please send in photos or stories if you have them about horseshoe crabs in Gloucester or the North Shore for Deborah Cramer’s project. Write in comments below and/or email cryan225@gmail.com

Here’s one data point. Look closely at this 1869 Winslow Homer painting. Can you spot the horseshoe crabs? Can you identify the rocks and beach?

Winslow Homer Rocky Coast and Gulls (manchester)

Winslow Homer, Rocky Coast and Gulls, 1869, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, installed in room #234 with so many other Homers (Fog Warning, All’s Well, Driftwood, …)

zoomed into horseshoe crabs (detail )

(zoomed into horseshoe crabs)

cr 2015 mfa


While reading The Narrow Edge, and looking at Kim Smith’s Piping Plover photographs, I thought about Raid on a Sand Swallow Colony (How Many Eggs?) 1873 by Homer and how some things change while much remains the same.When my sons were little, they were thrilled with the first 1/3 or so of Swiss Family Robinson.  As taken as they were with the family’s ingenuity, adventure, and tree house–they recoiled as page after page described a gorgeous new bird, promptly shot. They wouldn’t go for disturbing eggs in a wild habitat. The title ascribed to this Homer, perhaps the eager query from the clambering youngest boy, feels timeless. Was the boys’ precarious gathering sport, study, or food? What was common practice with swallows’ eggs in the 1860s and 70s? Homer’s birds are diminutive and active, but imprecise. Homer sometimes combined place, figures, subject and themes. One thing is clear: the composition, line and shadow are primed and effective for an engraving.


Homer watercolor 1873

Harper’s Weekly published the image on June 13, 1875. Artists often drew directly on the edge grain of boxwood and a master engraver (Lagrade in this case) removed the wood from pencil and wash lines.

Winslow Homer


2016. Wingaersheek dunes and nests 140+ years later.




Besides Homer, Deborah’s book had me thinking about Chris Leahy, where I first heard about the history of Ma Audubon and our state’s bragging rights. It had me dig out photographs of a visit to Harvard where reproductions of the dodo and auk skeletons made us as sad as Swiss Family Robinson, and to wonder about Deborah Dickson’s documentary on sculptor Todd McGrain, which I haven’t seen yet.


“Gone and nearly forgotten in extinction, the Labrador Duck, the Great Auk, the Heath Hen, the Carolina Parakeet, and the Passenger Pigeon leave holes not just in the North American landscape but in our collective memories. Moved by their stories, sculptor Todd McGrain set out to create memorials to the lost birds—to bring their vanished forms back into the world.”

I must thank Deborah Cramer for another Gloucester prompt. Last year while visiting Mass Moca for business, I happened upon the ECLIPSE exhibit by Elizabeth Kolbert, the New Yorker writer, in collaboration with the duo, Sayler/Morris. It was a gorgeous, elegiac passenger pigeon multi-media tribute. Coincidentally it was Earth Day. I immediately wrote John Bell, because he had spoken with me about Gloucester’s Cher Ami, which I promised to write about.

Does anyone remember Cher Ami and homing pigeons of Gloucester? Let me know.

For more on Deborah Cramer, and to listen to her being interviewed by Meghna Chakrabarti, please continue:

Read more


ANNISQUAM LIGHTHOUSE Sunset ©Kim Smith 2015What a treat, these last lingering days of Indian Summer! I am trying to get out of doors as much as possible to enjoy the fleeting amber-gold moments. The photos below were taken standing at the mouth of the Annisquam, looking towards Wingaersheek Beach.

Annisquam River panorama sunset ©Kim Smioth 2015 Annisquam River Sunset ©Kim Snith 2015 Annisquam sunset November ©Kim Smith 2015

High and Dry

You can keep on pulling on that anchor line, but I’m quite certain the boat isn’t going to budge.


There are worse places in the world to be stuck than the back side of Wingaersheek….and I’m fairly certain this guy knew that too. He got that sucker WAAAY up there.  Assuming it was on purpose, he gets a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 How to Make Summer Weekends Last into September.  If it wasn’t on purpose, well, he still gets a 10….but, on a scale of 1 to 10 How Much Do You Agree That Boaters Should Need Licenses to Operate a Vessel.  

It ins’t over yet, Peeps!

WTF! Crocodile on Wingaersheek Beach!

brendas crocodile

Breaking News!  Brenda Malloy was walking on Wingaersheek Beach around noon today and discovered this partially eaten crocodile (or alligator) carcass.  She estimates its length to have been at least 8′ long, as more than 4-1/2′ of it still remains.  What do you folks out there see – crocodile, alligator, baby sea serpent, and where did it come from?  It was right above the high tide mark, so if you want to see it, get out there before dark.  It is located on the beach in front of the stucco mansion with the red roof.

E.J. Lefavour

Found on the Hard Drive

I found this photo of a Painting I did of Annisquam Light seen from Wingaersheek Beach. I donated it a couple of years a go to a St. Ann’s School Auction. It reminded me a little of a Beautiful photo Marty posted recently.
16″x20″ Oil on Canvas

« Older Entries