Wonderful Essex County islands IBA #ornithology talk by Chris Leahy | Straightsmouth keeper’s house gets love from Thacher Island Assoc & looks like a scene from Edward Hopper!

Esteemed conservationist and bird and insect authority, Chris Leahy discussed recent multi-year surveys of Essex County islands for Mass Audubon and Mass Fish & Wildlife with humor and depth as only he can having resided on the North Shore, in Gloucester, and championed this Important Bird Area for some 50 years.

The islands range in size and offer different kinds of nesting habitat. There are great shoals for fishing. Islands include familiar names like Tinkers, Straitsmouth, Thacher, Children’s, Kettle, House, Eagle, Ram, Cormorant and Ten Pound. Leahy recalled visiting some in the 1960s-70s for the first ever field counts with Dorothy “Dottie” Addams Brown, Sarah Fraser Robbins & others, and readily compares data then and now.

Some of the bird species making the count: gulls, egrets, herons, cormorants, harlequin duck, geese, loon, coots, purple arctic sandpiper, common eiders, and snowy owls. There are not a lot of songbirds due to restricted habitat although so many song sparrows he quips, “it almost feels like they’re going to attack.” Predators do and did. Gulls and rats stuck in my mind, and our ruinous plume hat trade. At that time “Snowy egrets– in FLA and elsewhere south– were slaughtered for plumage developed solely at breeding time, leaving any young to die and rot.”

Climate is partly a factor and population dispersement in the birds they find. Sometimes there are great “fallout” of migratories which are unpredicatable and awesome. Various species are easier to count especially those perched amid low tree shrubs. Guess which ones? Forgot the burrowers! Forecasts are exciting. He predicts we might see Manx shearwters maybe nesting here in the coming years.

Kindness of organizations and people with boats helps make this happen. And one steel hulled sailboat that makes access to these rocky isles a bit more possible.

Chris Leahy presented Treasure Islands for Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library. Mary Weissblum has endeavored to host evenings for Leahy’s numerous publications and projects, so many that she’s lost count. “Always a treat to be educated and charmed by his incredible store of knowledge,” she writes. Look for Chris Leahy’s next talk.

Learn more about Thacher Island Association (Paul St Germain) here 

Learn more about Birdlife International here

photos below ©Linda Bosselman Sawyer Free Library- thanks for sharing Linda!

Cape Ann Museum and Historic New England present Thomas Jefferson Coolidge lecture at Coolidge Point by William R Cross

Coolidge_0038©c ryan.JPG
Ocean lawn, 2006

postcards from my collection- Coolidge Marble Palace, Magnolia, MA and Coolidge Italian Gardens, Magnolia, MA

enjoy press release from Cape Ann Museum below:

SAVE THE DATE: June 23 at 10:00 a.m.

Thomas Jefferson Coolidge: A Man Ahead of His Time

An illustrated talk by local historian William R. Cross

 GLOUCESTER, Mass. (June 13, 2018) – The Cape Ann Museum and Historic New England are pleased to present a special lecture about Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, on Saturday, June 23 at 10:00 a.m. at Coolidge Point: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Manchester, MA. This program is $15 for CAM/HNE members or $20 nonmembers. Advance purchase of tickets is required. Space is limited. Visit capeannmuseum.org or historicnewengland.org for more information, or call 978-283-0455 x10.

Thomas Jefferson Coolidge: A Man Ahead of His Time, presented by William R. Cross, spotlights the 19th century industrialist whose vision and generosity shape Manchester and New England to this day.  Discover the history of Coolidge’s “wild promontory,” which he shaped into one of the most beautiful places in Massachusetts. Following the lecture, enjoy a visit to the grounds of Historic New England’s most recent acquisition; light refreshments provided.

William R. Cross is a member of the Board of the Cape Ann Museum with a deep knowledge of the 19th century history of Manchester and of Cape Ann.  A longtime public and private equity investor, he now serves as a consultant to various museums, and writes and lectures on art and local history.  He also serves on the Board of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, and has served in the past on many other for-profit and not-for-profit boards, including those of Christ Church (Hamilton, MA), Christians in the Visual Arts (Madison, WI), and the Museum of Biblical Art (aka MOBIA, formerly New York, NY). He received his BA from Yale College magna cum laude, and his MBA from Harvard University.  He resides in Manchester with his wife Ellen; they are the proud parents of two grown sons. 

Coolidge Point: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is located at 9 Coolidge Point, Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA 01944. Several special public programs will be held there this summer. It is one of more than three dozen historic sites owned and operated by Historic New England, the oldest and largest regional heritage organization in the nation. Historic New England saves and shares New England’s past to engage and inform present and future generations. Historic New England engages diverse audiences in developing a deeper understanding and enjoyment of New England home life by being the national leader in collecting, preserving, and using significant buildings, landscapes, archives, stories, and objects from the past to today.

caption this! Hawk eating prey after the storm

Hawk eating an unfortunate bird on the roof of an office of Gloucester home by the boulevard

Post storm wildlife

How would you caption this scene outside your window? My friend shared this photograph of a hawk eating an unfortunate bird on a small roof at her house by the boulevard, Gloucester, MA, January 6 2018.

The waze and wikipedia of bird sightings- Ebird, crowdsourcing since 2002- shows Gloucester whale watching great for birding and

The online database collaboration of Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society compiles aggregate data from engaged birders. What a staggering quantity of volunteers taking the time to share and record data!

Although Cape Ann towns are not ‘hot spots’

it’s fun to sift through the information and peek at some public competition. The top 100 birders in MA are predominantly male.  (We know Cape Ann is a birding hot spot though it may not be a recording hot spot.) There are plenty of reports from scenic North Shore sites: Cranes Beach, Plum Island, Chewbacco Woods, Coolidge Reservation, Eastern Point, and Halibut Point. Less traveled spots such as ‘Lanesville Community garden’ and local cemeteries have a diary entry feel to them and fun to peruse. Checklists indicate the distance and effort taken for any given outing, and the duration, often significant.

There are scores of reports from Gloucester whale watch trips –customers and staff. Look for ‘Stellwagen Bank’ as a listed location. I think I’d like the location column added to one default screen, and a category for whale watching.

ebird

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Screenshot_073016_070550_AM Screenshot_073016_064734_AM

 

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eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Available: http://www.ebird.org. (Accessed: Date [July 30, 2016]).

Gloucester HarborWalk marker for birds/birding is located along the walkway by Gloucester House, I4C2, and Topside Grill.

Gloucester HarborWalk marker for whales is located just outside Tonno.

SEVEN SEAS WHALE WATCH +1-888-283-1776
CAPE ANN WHALE WATCH +1-800-877-5110
CAPT BILL & SONS +1-800-339-4253
YANKEE FLEET +1-978-283-0313

 

Do you Love Great Bird Paintings and Birding?

Trident gallery opening_winter meditations

Then definitely go check out the Winter Meditations exhibit at Trident Gallery, 189 Main Street.  The Opening last night was great and the work is exceptional and very exciting to be able to see right here on Main Street.  The space is wonderful and I’m just sorry it took me so long to check it out.  A fabulous addition to Gloucester’s art scene.

From Friday, January 24th, through Sunday, March 2d, Trident Gallery is proud to host a loan from the Massachusetts Audubon Museum of American Bird Art of more than 30 prints, paintings, and miniature sculptures by the renowned and important artists John James Audubon, Milton Avery, Andy Warhol, Allen James King, Robert Verity Clem, Lars Jonsson, and others. All the works of art depict bird species present on Cape Ann in winter, and their exhibition constitutes a new extension to the Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend (Friday–Sunday, 31 January – 2 February) a festival which celebrates the winter bird life of Cape Ann, especially those Arctic species rarely encountered farther south. Sponsored by Mass Audubon and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, the event draws several hundred participants to hear expert presentations and embark on bus tours and a boat trip to see the birds. A birding guide for the event in past years, Director Swift has this year orchestrated the festival’s new art component at Trident Gallery.

Throughout Winter Meditations, the public is invited to respond with commentary and with contributions of their own winter meditations at TridentGallery.com/WinterMeditations (not yet live). Director Swift will share selected Meditations submitted by the public within the gallery.

Works of art by Gabrielle Barzaghi, Winston Swift Boyer, Charlie Carroll, Susan Erony, Dennis Flavin, Eileen Mueller, Joe Poirier, and Lynn Swigart will be on display during the entirety of Winter Meditations. In the final phase, Persephone’s Return, additional works of art by these and other Trident Gallery artists will take the place of the departing Mass Audubon winter bird art.

E.J. Lefavour

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.

http://shootingmyuniverse.blogspot.com/search/label/Gull%20ID%20Tips%20-%20Easy-Peasy

I hope that this information is helpful!

Steve Borichevsky

Community Stuff 1/25/13

Cape Ann Winter Birding

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Did you know there are more birds on Cape Ann in the winter than there are
in the summer? A great opportunity to see and photograph them is coming up
at the Chamber’s Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend, February 1-3. It will be
headquartered at the Elks’ on the backshore, itself a good place to see
birds. There’ll be lectures and exhibitions, but there are also Saturday bus
trips with expert guides to all the best vantage points on the Cape to see
birds like the harlequin ducks on the logo. On Sunday morning (weather
permitting) there’ll be a boat trip offshore to see pelagic birds such as
eiders and gannets. Serious birders will get a chance to add to their life
lists, novices will get a chance to see what all the fuss is about, with
knowledgeable help. It’s great for kids too, very inexpensive, and all
wrapped up before the Super Bowl starts, (as if anyone cares anymore.) More
info is available at the Chamber website
<http://www.capeannchamber.com/birdingweekend/index.htm> .


Submission:

From Dora Tevan, Ethnic Arts Center-

Baba Yaga


MARITIME GLOUCESTER FEBRUARY VACATION PLANNING

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February Vacation Programming

February Vacation

Our educators have put together a series of fun and informative programs for February school vacation.

Morning sessions for pre-K through 1st grade (with a parent or guardian) include: Giant Plankton!; Make your own "Socktopus"; Ancient Sea Creatures; How to Catch a Fish; and Big Fish Eat Little Fish.


Afternoon drop-off sessions for 2nd through 5th grades include:

Microphotography Workshop; Octopus and Squid Printing Lab; Fossils and Prehistoric Sea Life; Fishes and Fishing Gear; Predators, Prey, and Ocean Food Webs.

All programs are $20 each for non-members, $15 for members.  Sign up for all programs in a session and receive a 20% discount (one program for free!).  Visit our website for more information or to register.

When:  February 18-22, 2013

Where:  Maritime Gloucester

              23 Harbor Loop, Gloucester

FEBRUARY — You’ve Got to Love the 2013 Winter Lecture Series

Those dark cold days of February make some of us want to hibernate. Maritime Gloucester is pleased to provide a good reason to come out of your cave at least once a week.  Thursday nights, to be more specific.

February events focus on our love affair with Cape Ann and Gloucester Harbor. The first two events are:

February 7th: "Sea Monsters of Cape Ann: A Diver Tells All"

presented by Phil Colarusso, Ph.D. Through pictures, video and narrative, Phil describes what is going on beneath of the surface.

February 14th: "A Birthday Party for Stubby the Cat"

A Special Fun Event for Stubby and anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting this independent Harbor Loop cat. Stay tuned for more details.

Watch here or check our website for updates to the full listing of speakers and events.

All lectures are free and open to the public.  Seating is limited and we recommend early arrival.

Chasing Ice

Chasing Ice

Maritime Gloucester is pleased to partner with Cape Ann Community Cinema (CACC) for a showing of Chasing Ice this Sunday, January 27th at 6 pm at CACC as a benefit for Maritime Gloucester. 

Tickets for the show can be purchased online through CACC, or at the event if seats are still available.

When: Sunday, January 27th, 6:00 pm

Where: Cape Ann Community Cinema

             21 Main Street, Gloucester


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Rubber Duck Review: Birding Binoculars

I’m not a birder with a life list but I wanted to get Sue a pair of decent birding binoculars. So I asked my sister who does have a life list and does go to Panama to crouch behind dumpsters to check out birds. She said to go to birdwatching.com and see what pair scored highest in the mid-priced binocs. There was a pair at the top of the list scored by how they function as birding glasses for $350.00. After going back and forth to Amazon and a bunch of other sites I bought them through birdwatching.com since they had the best price and availability. Showed up three days later. These puppies are awesome.

Vanguard Endeavor ED 8×42 Read the review here.  So why 8×42 and why this particular pair? At 8×42 you get the best fit for a pair of binocs you don’t mind hanging around your neck all day. See a bird and instantly have it in view and focused. Higher mag and all that gets a little more difficult. This pair gathers so much light with great eye relief (your eye can move around a bit behind the pair without the image going black) that they are just a lot more fun to use than the old pair we had been using.

They are also perfect for checking out the moons of Jupiter or the Orion Nebula. Can’t wait for those warm evenings laying on my back out on Halibut Point checking out the stars. With these binocs it is as Carl Sagan said, there are billions and billions of stars. More than the estimated 2.6 billion birds in the United States.

New Birding Strategy: One Bird at aTime

Last week I was all pumped about my new strategy for learning the birds of Cape Ann. I would keep track of all the birds I could see sitting in one spot on Andrews Point for a year. Epic fail, at least for now. As Greg Bover pointed out to me Sunday over breakfast, there are more birds on Cape Ann in the winter than in the summer. And the fact these little feathered dip-shits change plumage if they are juvenile, one year, two year, adult, mating, molting, dating but not mating and it seemed hopeless. Just my one tiny viewing spot and the common eider, harlequin duck, scoters, maybe buffleheads got me so confused the one female mallard was throwing me off. I might get them straight for ten minutes then forget who was who the next day without my Sibley bird guide in hand.

So, new strategy: One bird at a time until I can identify and relate to that species with my eyes closed. This favors my scientist, beat the small OCD details to death, approach. (Joey calls this my inability to respond to a simple question with a simple answer.) Since I don’t have a long camera lens I can also rely on the kindness of strangers who have good bird blogs.  First up, Harlequin Duck, the premier, cute, winter resident common enough so that all ages of bird can be seen at the same time and the confusion between the juveniles, the one year olds and the female can be sorted out.  I will also stick in “fun facts” that might not be common knowledge but stuff that helps me remember who is who.

Harlequin Duck. Hilke Breder writes a great bird blog One Jackdaw Birding and by clicking the name you go to the post of her Friday the 13th visit this month to Andrews Point. She shot plenty of great photos of the harlequin:

Three males and is that a female or a juvenile male? Answer that in the comments. The one trick to at least keeping scoters, buffleheads and some others that are mingling in out of the picture is that the harlequin always has that one circular dab of white paint behind the eye and the bill stays small.

I sat there for a half hour trying to keep track of a small group of four females and six males. To me it looked like they were very interested in mating. One male would bug the hell out of one female, chasing it relentlessly. But then after giving up, she would follow him! Reading about them, these birds are just being very social (teases) on the winter feeding grounds this time of year. It looked like I was viewing an elementary school playground with hormones on simmer.  Some groping but second base was off limits. (Only over the sweater.)

Fun Facts: Some harlequins have been known to live for 17 years. These data seem very haphazard so the lifespan could be longer for a healthy adult who knows to exit stage right if an eagle shows up. (Eagles eat them, nom nom, crunchy duck.)

Genus Species name: Histrionicus histrionicus  The harlequin common name comes from the Italian jester whose face was painted black and white. After watching them for a while I can see how they were given these weird names. They seem to be goofing on each other with great histrionics.

Mostly monogamous and while they might not go for open marriage like Newt they do seem to follow the “love the one your with” if the old man doesn’t make it back to the same Canadian stream to mate in the summer.

What are they doing on Cape Ann? Harlequins are benthic divers. They dive down using their feet as propulsion and wings out to turn. On Cape Ann they are probably mostly diving down for small mussels but small crabs also get nailed. A scientist with a stopwatch: On average they dive for 26 seconds then pop to the surface for 15 seconds, rinse and repeat. (No, I did not time them, I read it at Cornell’s great website about North American birds.) One last fun fact: Harlequin Duck fossils have been found to be 4.8 million years old. These funny ducks have been here a lot longer than we have.

Check them out now before they all fly to Canada for mating in April. On the other end of Cape Ann right in front of the Gloucester Elks Lodge on the back shore you’ll find some pods along with quite a few other species to confuse you. But you’ll assuredly find a birder out there who will point them out to you. Serious birders are there to spot the elusive King Eider. Approach with caution. Birders also can be full of histrionics. Do you have that memorized yet? You’re welcome.

Steve Borichevsky Gives Some Insider Tips On How To Enjoy Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend

You can check out Steve’s Blog at www.shootingmyuniverse.blogspot.com

For information on what to bring, what birds you may expect to see, and some rcommended reading click the video to hear an insider’s birding take on the Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend-

Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend Info With Judy Caulkette

Click the highlighted text for more info about The Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend

There are a couple of Gloucester photographers that I know who have fantastic sites featuring the local birding scene, check em out if birding is your bag-

Shooting My Universe by Steve Borichevsky

Jim B Media by Jim Barber

Black Crowned Night Heron

Over the past ten years or so we’ve seen a big time increase in the number of strange birds like this down and around the harbor.  I don’t know what to attribute it to but between the egrets, and herons and snowy owl, it’s becoming a bird lover’s paradise.  With my average camera I just didn’t have enough lens to capture this guy from the distance I was shooting with great clarity.  If you are a bird lover or wildlife lover you owe it to yourself to check out Steve Borichevsky’s Shooting My Universe and Jim Barber’s Jim B Media

These guys are pros with great equipment and steady hands to capture some incredible birding shots.

Black Crowned Night Heron, originally uploaded by captjoe06.


February Vacation! Stuff to do with the Kids!

Plenty for parents to plan to do on vacation this month

Parents and caregivers looking for activities for the children during school vacation week can choose from several offerings from local organizations.

Here’s a short list of the activities offered  for the weekend and into next week.

Movies–  Cape Ann Cinema, Gloucester Cinema

Cape Ann Families“Do Something Really Big!”,  Nature Crafts,  Dance Revolution, “Guitar Hero” Tournament

The Trustees of Reservations Winter birding, Snowflake Science, Winter Quest, Hermit’s Tales on the Trails, Cows in their Winter Home, Bluebird Nest Box Building

Manchester Public Library- Make a Bird Feeder  Audubon Ark Museum Passes

Check out Flapping like a Haddock for  more fun things to do!

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Chickity Check It- Jim B Media

All this time I thought I had added a link to the incredible art and photography of Jim Barber, but when I just looked it wasn’t there.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, you owe it to yourself to see some of Jim’s incredible photography. This is how a real photographer takes and displays pictures as opossed to my hack work.

Anyway here’s a link-

Jim B Media