Right before the storm started on Tuesday afternoon, Wingaersheek Beach looks so beautiful.
Right before the storm started on Tuesday afternoon, Wingaersheek Beach looks so beautiful.
The recent winter storms of 2018 have provided empirical evidence of how global climate change and the consequential rising sea level is impacting the Massachusetts coastline. Whether broken barriers between the ocean and small bodies of fresh water, the tremendous erosion along beaches, or the loss of plant life at the edge of the sea, these disturbances are profoundly impacting wildlife habitats.
The following photos were taken after the March nor’easter of 2018 along with photos of the same areas, before the storm, and identify several specific species of wildlife that are affected by the tremendous loss of habitat.
Barrier Beach Erosion
Nesting species of shorebirds such as Piping Plovers require flat or gently sloping areas above the wrack line for chick rearing. Notice how the March nor’easter created bluffs with steep sides, making safe areas for tiny chicks nonexistent.
You can see in the photos of Good Harbor Beach (top photo and photos 3 and 4 in the gallery) that the metal fence posts are completely exposed. In 2016, the posts were half buried and in 2017, the posts were nearly completely buried. After the recent storms, the posts are fully exposed and the dune has eroded half a dozen feet behind the posts.
Although scrubby growth shrubs and sea grass help prevent erosion, the plants have been ripped out by the roots and swept away due to the rise in sea level.
Plants draw tiny insects, which is food for tiny chicks, and also provide cover from predators, as well as shelter from weather conditions. If the Piping Plovers return, will they find suitable nesting areas, and will plant life recover in time for this year’s brood?Other species of shorebirds that nest on Massachusetts’s beaches include the Common Tern, Least Tern, Roseate Tern, American Oyster Catcher, Killdeer, and Black Skimmer.
Where Have All the Wildflowers Gone?
Wildflowers are the main source of food for myriad species of beneficial insects such as native bees and butterflies.
Monarch Butterflies arriving on our shores not only depend upon milkweed for the survival of the species, but the fall migrants rely heavily on wildflowers that bloom in late summer and early fall. Eastern Point is a major point of entry, and stopover, for the southward migrating butterflies. We have already lost much of the wildflower habitat that formerly graced the Lighthouse landscape.
Barriers that divide small bodies of fresh water from the open sea have been especially hard hit. The fresh bodies of water adjacent to the sea provide habitat, food, and drinking water for hundreds of species of wildlife and tens of thousands of migrating song and shorebirds that travel through our region.
The road that runs along Pebble Beach, separating the sea from Henry’s Pond has been washed out.
Mallards, North American Beavers, Muskrats, North American River Otters, and Painted Turtles are only a few examples of species that breed in Massachusetts fresh water ponds and wetlands. All the wildlife photos and videos were shot on Cape Ann.
Cape Ann is hardly alone in coping with the impact of our warming planet and of rising sea level. These photos are meant to show examples of what is happening locally. Regions like Plymouth County, which include Scituate and Hingham, have been equally as hard hit. Plum Island is famously heading for disaster and similar Massachusetts barrier beaches, like Cranes Beach, have all been dramatically altered by the cumulative effects of sea level rising, and recently accelerated by the devastating winter storms of 2018.
To be continued.
Impassable Road to Plum Island
and a frost weathered shell-cracked horseshoe crab. Sequential views and hues in response to requests for Wingaersheek Beach photographs.
I needed a flashlight at first, mostly for the ice, long stretches in the parking lot then frozen ice scoops in the dry sand. I waited for sunrise, returing to spots I’ve favored since I was a little girl, adding glances back in the direction of Wheeler’s Point, where my parents lived, and over picnic boulders and slide pools out to Annisquam Lighthouse. The light was simultaneously a ring of orange mauve fire and rosy pale violet gray. More photos:
After the rain on Sunday went over to Wingaersheek Beach and the light was beautiful.
Nice letter from Patti Amaral in today’s Gloucester Daily Times writing on behalf of the city’s Clean City Initiative. She thanked the city, donors and supporters while providing some background about the Carry In Carry Out art. In case you missed it: Nov 9 2017 Letter to the Editor
The murals were refurbished by Jason Burroughs in October 2017. They were designed and painted by Bob Viau from StudioVo 15 years ago. Here are a few photos documenting the refurbishing. The Wingaersheek wall needed more attention.
Anyone interested in sponsoring a possible update to these beach displays, please let her know!
While driving over to Wingaersheek Beach stopped at one of the little parking areas and saw beautiful reflections. Beautiful day on Tuesday.
September 26, 1852
The increasing scarlet and yellow tints around the meadows and the river remind me of the opening of a vast flower bud. They are the petals of its corolla, which is of the width of the valleys. It is the flower of autumn whose expanding bud just begins to blush. As yet however in the forest there are very few changes of foliage.
September 24, 1852
…Am surprised to find, by Botrychium Swamp, a Rhus Radicans* …, – growing in the midst of a clump of barberry bushes which it overhangs. It is now at the height of its change, very handsome scarlet and yellow, and I not at first know what it was.
October 24, 1858
The brilliant autumnal colors are red and yellow and the various tints–hues and shades of these. Blue is reserved to be the color of the sky**, but yellow and red are the colors of the earth flower. Every fruit on ripening, and just before its fall, acquires a bright tint. So do the leaves–so the sky before the end of the day, and the year near its setting. October is the red sunset sky–November the later twilight…The scarlet oak…is now in its glory…Look at one completely changed from green to bright dark scarlet–every leaf, as if it had been dipped into a scarlet dye, between you and the sun. Was not this worth waiting for? Little did you think ten days ago that that cold green tree could assume such color as this.
*Rhus Radicans is poison ivy **and the sea all around us
Log entries focused on Thoreau’s observations of flowers in Concord, MA, are gathered together into a wonderful volume, ed. Geoff Wisner.
September 19, 1854
Thinking this afternoon of the prospect of my writing lectures and going abroad to read them the next winter, I realized how incomparably great the advantages of obscurity and poverty which I have enjoyed so long (and may still perhaps enjoy). I thought with what more than princely, with what poetical leisure I had spent my years hitherto, without care or engagement, fancy free. I have given myself up to nature. I have lived so many springs and summers and autumns and winters as if I had nothing else to do but live them–and imbibe whatever nutriment they had for me. I have spent a couple of years, for instance, with the flowers chiefly, having none other so binding engagement as to observe when they opened. I could have afforded to spend a whole fall observing the changing tints of the foliage.
A Barry Moser whale drawing is featured on the Gloucester HarborWalk whale marker.
Here is a digital who’s who catalogue with portraits of the participating artists and scenes from the inaugural Cape Ann Art Show at the Beauport Hotel Gloucester, MA. The art fair and the hotel were jumping on this gorgeous evening. Original works of art (not reproductions) were priced under $100 and up from there. The artists and the hotel were so well prepared and joyous, I was compelled to record their effort. Apologies if I missed anyone. I jotted down contact information and linked to artists when possible.
They’re in alphabetical order. Please let me know if you or your contact information was missed. I tried to capture the complete installation. Congratulations to the artists and Beauport Hotel! It was a great fair.
You may have noticed the pretty swallows perching in clusters on telephone lines and flying low over the sand. Both Barn and Tree Swallows can be found at the beach throughout the warmer months, but the birds that are beginning to gather on Cape Ann en masse are the Tree Swallows. The following is a short film from last year’s migration that explains what is happening at this time of year with the Tree Swallows here on our beaches and dunes, and in our neighborhoods.
Gloucester Department of Public Works (DPW) is clearing out and revamping a little overgrown corner by the scenic footbridge. Pretty much everything that was there is returning: the bench, bike racks, sign, and 1 trash barrel. Weeds will be cleared out. The rotting sign is being replaced and relocated by the tree and perpendicular to the road so as to be readable and preserve view shed. DPW is installing a foot wash which has been a request for a number of years, a tiny water tap off the water main and regulated with a meter. The recent “paving was just an overlay to address a series of potholes.” They’re repairing some broken sidewalk panels, too.
TRASH BARRELS ON THE WEEKENDS – Now you’ll see them
TRASH BARRELS DURING THE WEEK – Now you won’t
There will be pairs of barrels at the beach paths on Gloucester’s two biggest beaches– Good Harbor and Wingaersheek– on weekends as a trial experiment. The barrels will be emptied including a late evening sweep to ensure they’re not left overflowing through the night. It’s a combo option of carry in / carry out with carry in / carry off, because the former works well for most people, not all.
What did DPW find this past weekend?
The barrels were full both days. It was less messy than some of the previous busy weekends. There was lots of dog waste. By morning, they found that there was still trash left in the parking lot which means…
Some beach goers disregard all options: carry in /carry out policy, new blue plastic bags, new barrel pairs at the paths, even a dumpster they walked by behind the concession stand. Oh, and there’s the dog waste despite the No Dog May-October ordinance.
Of course, the litter is not just at beaches. Yes, it detracts from other priorities. DPW is finding trash pretty much everywhere people park (like the boat ramps.) Some people feel that it’s ok to leave behind bags of trash outside where they parked, or next to a full barrel. Gentle reminder from DPW: Pizza to go boxes atop the barrels can block bins that may hold more. Pizza boxes need to be compacted.
GHB parking lot clean as a whistle after busy weekend
pedestrian bridge? clean as a whistle? not so much and yet so –keeping it positive–the beach was jam packed yesterday!
other: Creek opened Monday (board of health, not DPW)
Never fails to amaze me how that can happen so quickly!
CAPE ANN SUP is renting paddle boards at Cape Ann Motor Inn Long Beach and Beauport Hotel Pavilion Beach. It’s a great day to try it out, but be warned. We did that last year and bought a couple of kypads because of Dominic!
We’re looking forward to the First Annual Cape Ann SUPAHBOWL on site at Beauport Hotel.
While taking a walk at Wingaersheek Beach came across this cutie. The owner told me that her Iguana was house broken and knew his name. When I petted Iggy he actually looked right at me. His owner told me that Iggy was very smart.
This short film is dedicated a dear friend who recently lost a beloved family member. Along with the tender melody by Jules Massenet, especially the last bits of footage (before the credits) made me think of angels and of hope.
* * *
Over the course of the summer while filming the Piping Plover Family at Wingaersheek Beach, Tree Swallows began flocking in ever increasing numbers. They became part of the Piping Plover story not only because a Tree Swallow will occasionally dive bomb a Piping Plover, for whatever reason I am not entirely sure, but also because they are beautiful to observe, and occasionally, seemingly playful, too.
Songbirds that they are, Tree Swallows make a cheery chirping chatter. They have long narrow forked tails, all the better for gliding and for their signature aerial acrobatics. The male’s upper parts are a brilliant iridescent blue-green, the female’s somewhat duller, and both female and male have white underparts. The migrating juveniles are almost entirely brown with either white or pale grayish underparts.
Tree Swallows breed in the wetlands and fields of Cape Ann. Their name comes from the species habit of nesting in tree cavities. Tree Swallows have benefited tremendously from efforts to help save the Eastern Bluebird because they also nest in the nest boxes built specifically for the Bluebirds.
Tree Swallows eating insects on the beach and from the crevasses in the driftwood.
Utilizing both fresh and saltwater to bathe, Tree Swallows have a unique habit of quickly dipping and then shaking off the excess water while flying straight upwards.
Tree Swallows begin migrating southward in July and August. The flocks that we see gathering on Cape Ann migrate along the Atlantic Flyway. They overwinter in the southern states of the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Unlike migrating species of butterflies, several generations of Tree Swallows migrate together, the older birds showing the younger birds the way.
Music composed by Jules Massenet: “Méditation” from Thaïs
How? Executive Director Erich Archer states it plainly: “The team at Cape Ann TV and this community make that goal possible. There’s something special and local: the characters, stories and the beauty of Cape Ann. People actively participate in this community, which is incredibly important. Plus, there’s high caliber and diverse talent.”
Cape Ann TV is located at 38 Blackburn Center in Gloucester, MA, and it’s community television, local, social, and non-commercial. Unlike PBS –which produces shows for a national audience and broadcasts broadly via satellites– community television stations create, produce, and distribute content locally, via a cable provider. There are 350+ active community television stations across the country that operate with a variety of funding sources depending upon how they’re set up. *Since an FCC mandate in 1972, cable providers receive access to rights of way in exchange for funding local cable TV channels by and for the public. The cable television franchise contract fees pay for equipment, training, facilities, studio time and channels (air time). Currently the fiscal model for Cape Ann TV covers operation and capital needs. Comcast is the local Cape Ann TV cable provider. Archer said that Cape Ann TV has spent more than a year working together with local governments, area schools, partners and citizens to outline and identify what the communities wanted to include in renegotiation terms for the next 10 year contract with Comcast. It was a massive document and effort, and is currently under negotiation.
The original purpose of cable access continues to be providing TV studios and support for community members so they can make their own content. Our station, CATV, has much to offer that’s relevant. If you need video, CATV can make it for you whether you are an individual, non-profit, for profit or municipality. Make it a point to visit the station and use this invaluable resource. While you’re at it, why not
Here’s your chance. Members can use the cameras, production, and the studio to make their own TV show. You can sign up for film maker and editing classes, lunch workshops, state of the art equipment, cameras, the conference room for community meetings, editing banks, and studio time. Do it. Have fun.
There have been upgrades to CATV headquarters: new wall color, original art, and re-design including transposing an under-utilized lobby into a beautiful podcast studio. Podcasts are on an uptick everywhere thanks to easy on demand listening. Since the podcast studio was put in at Cape Ann TV there have been hundreds of downloads–beyond clicking and listening. Invested audiences are saving the shows to listen at their convenience. Archer notes, “We have podcasts about high school sports, one from NOAA about fishery-related issues, arts and variety, and more.” CATV encourages people to start one if they’re interested. “We’ll help them every step of the way.”
Cape Ann TV broadcasts original programs and local coverage: area high school sports, city council and municipal meetings, community meetings, Cape Ann Museum programs, library events, local artists and art groups, Cape Ann scenics, and school productions to name just a few. Award winning programs include: The Portrait Series; Awesome Gloucester; GMG podcasts; Writers Block with John Ronan; All Things Victorian; and the Emmy-winning On the Waterfront, a series about how local seafood gets to your plate.
Does your business or organization need any professional video shot? Cape Ann TV funding sources also include for profit productions for commercial content. So, if you want to make a video for commercial purposes that will not air on Cape Ann TV, you can contract Cape Ann TV to make it. CATV can work at a high quality and any budget. Do you have an exciting event you’d like to capture? Do you need to film a board room meeting? One example- CATV produced film for a permanent display at Cape Ann Museum.
CATV has strategically partnered with organizations seeking grant funding. If an organization is writing a grant proposal that includes a video element, they can write CATV into the grant, and CATV will match the grant funds with in kind services. So for example Cape Ann Seafood Exchange wrote a big grant, and they won $5000 as part of this big grant to make a video. CATV matched that award which meant Seafood Exchange could make a $10,000 value video. Next time you’re writing a grant, think about ramping up the application with a video component, and plan ahead so it can happen!
“Cape Ann Television is an invaluable asset to Gloucester and the Cape Ann community. The city turns to CATV for important local news, information and media education opportunities. The dedicated staff members and volunteers at Cape Ann Television through the leadership of Erich Archer work tirelessly to improve and broaden their coverage of public, education, and government events, keeping our citizens informed and entertained. I have been involved with Cape Ann Television for many years, sharing my views as a city councilor, mayoral candidate and finally, today as Mayor. From this personal experience, I have always recognized the value that CATV provides, allowing local citizens the opportunity to share opinions and information. It is a critical piece of our city’s democracy.” Mayor Romeo Theken, City of Gloucester, MA
Erich Archer has been at the helm of Cape Ann TV for three years. He is a filmmaker and editor by profession. “I try to produce at least one original project a year that I’m proud of. The two On the Waterfront episodes are definitely in that category, as are the two Portrait Series pieces.”
Prior to running the station he worked in Los Angeles in TV and advertising. He moved back from LA for…love. His wife, Tara, is a wardrobe stylist who grew up on the North Shore. They have two children and reside in Beverly. As a boy, Archer spent summers on Wingaersheek beach with his family. His parents recently moved to Rocky Neck; his mother, Kathleen Gerdon Archer, had a gallery on Rocky Neck. That’s her original art on the walls.
MassAccess (Massachusetts Community Media, INC) state advocacy membership organization and network. Cape Ann TV is a member and Archer is serving as an officer.
*For more information see Cable Communications Act of 1984
2014 Boston Globe good article by Steven Rosenberg
Beautiful fall morning. I like how the sand fills in the boardwalk come October
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.
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.
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.
Bonaparte’s Gulls have bright orange legs and feet
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
on the way to Gloucester’s NILES BEACH
on the way to Gloucester’s PLUM COVE BEACH / ANNISQUAM/ LANESVILLE
on the way to Gloucester’s WINGAERSHEEK BEACH
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.