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.
Tag Archives: Wingaersheek Beach
Update: DPW barrels at beach paths, construction by the Good Harbor Beach footbridge, and the creek is OPEN
CONSTRUCTION BY THE FOOT BRIDGE
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.
DPW TRASH BARRELS AT BEACH PATHS are “pretty much a weekend thing only”
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
Cape Ann TV has a big, beautiful and bold goal: to be one of the premiere community media stations in the country
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.”
CATV AND COMCAST
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
START YOUR OWN TV SHOW AT CATV
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.
CREATE YOUR OWN PODCAST AT CATV
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.”
WHAT’S ON CATV?
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.
DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN HIRE CATV FOR COMMERCIAL CONTENT?
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.
DID YOU KNOW GRANT FUNDERS AND COMMUNITY GET DOUBLE VALUE?
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!
A NOTE FROM MAYOR ROMEO-THEKEN
“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.
The Beaches- partial list
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.
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.
GLOUCESTER BEACHES SANDWICH DIRECTORY
on the way to Gloucester’s GOOD HARBOR BEACH
- main concession stand at Gloucester’s Good Harbor Beach (978) 281-9785
- Snack bar window at Good Harbor Beach Inn (978) 283-1489
- *Jeff’s Variety (978)281-5800
- Surfside Subs surfside slices/ Long Beach Dairy Maid (978)281-1700
- Cape Ann Coffees (978)282-1717
- Charlie’s Place subs to go (978) 281-5002
- the elusive Happy Taco truck
on the way to Gloucester/ Rockport LONG BEACH
- *Jeff’s Variety (978) 281-5800
- Surfside Subs (aka also Surfside Slices) and Long Beach Dairy Maid
- Cape Ann Coffees (978)282-1717
- Charlie’s Place subs to go (978) 281-5002
- the elusive Happy Taco truck
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.
Just another exquisite morning on one of Gloucester’s gorgeous beaches!
Gloucester’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
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.
This morning readying for July 4th.
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 email@example.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?
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.
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.
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:
What 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.