Photos from 10:00 this morning, about half an hour before high tide.
My fingers froze and I had to call it quits yet despite the bitterly cold five degree temperature and biting wind, day break brought blue skies and beautiful sea smoke all along the backshore, from Gloucester’s Ten Pound Island Lighthouse to Rockport’s Twin Lighthouses.
Take heart friends -today is the last day of January- only 48 more days until the spring equinox!
Fresh wild animal tracks crossing Niles Pond
Snapshots from a brief tour around the back shore while out doing errands this afternoon. With temperatures hovering at 5 degrees, Cape Ann was blanketed with a thick layer of impenetrable ice, snow squalls, and sea smoke.
Happy to see the temperatures are heading towards the forties after Tuesday!
The beautiful newly constructed causeway that separates Niles Pond and Brace Cove, which was rebuilt several years ago, is now a jumble of rocks and boulders. Niles Pond Road is narrowing from the sea water surging into the Pond. The water has nowhere to go. The road to the Retreat House is impassable. The destructive force of climate change is rearing its ugly head in our own backyards and a fifth super high tide is expected again tonight.
Popples and debris are littering Atlantic Road, the footbridge sustained damage to the last half, fences and trees are down throughout the neighborhood, and the seas are gaining in ferocity, with the third of the super high tides expected at noon. Please be safe, the wind is mighty powerful this morning and their are potential projectiles everywhere.
Extensive damage to the railings at the Ocean House Inn, our Snowy Owl Hedwig’s current favorite perch. No sign of her the past few days, but Hedwig is so resourceful, we are hoping for the best.
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!
Bluenose II is operated by the Lunenburg Marine Museum Society on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia. Read about Bluenose II here.
The Tall Ships Drop Anchor in Canada and the US
More than 40 Tall Ships will be sailing Canadian waters to honour the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation in 2017. They are scheduled to stop at host ports in Ontario, Québec and the Maritimes, giving thousands of people the opportunity to admire the majestic beauty of these cathedrals of the seas.
Last Tuesday was a photographer’s magical dream morning. After photographing and filming December’s “Long Night’s Moon” descending over the Gloucester city skyline, I turned toward the east to see a peaceful daybreak scene over Rocky Neck. Perhaps the sun hadn’t fully risen I thought and hurried to Brace Cove. The sun had rose behind Brace Rock with just enough clouds that it was still pretty, not blasted out by too much light.
I then walked along the edge of Niles Pond, meeting up with Mr. Swan who was occupied with his morning swim, which often indicates he is readying to take flight. He did, and with movie camera in hand, he circled the Pond before landing at Brace Cove, near the breakwater.
Eerily, the coyotes were howling in the distance, actually howling, like wolves, and for quite a long while. I often hear their meet-and-greet yipping and socializing barks that they make shortly after sunset, and too the terrible sound they make when killing a creature, but I have never heard them howling in the morning. I wonder if it had something to do with the full moon? Do our readers hear coyotes howling regularly?
Further along the Pond walk there was a large flock of American Robins and they, along with a lively group of Blue Jays, Tufted Titmice, Song Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, and Cardinals were hungrily eating every berry in sight, so much so that when I returned to the same spot a few days later, there wasn’t a berry or fruit to be seen. A magical morning at a magical place we’re fortunate to call home.
December Long Night’s Moon
Exciting news–the Schooner Lynx will be returning to Gloucester next year for the Schooner fest! The captain of the Lynx, Donald Peacock, wrote the following, “Thank you for noticing Lynx in your harbor. Gloucester Marine Railways have been most hospitable and we look forward to returning for Lynx 2017 yard period and the 2017 Gloucester Schooner Race and Festival.”
A magnificent ship under sail, she was a joy to watch and to photograph as she moved through the Harbor, setting course for Saint Petersburg, Florida, via Portland, Maine. You can see in the last photo that by the time she was passing Brace Cove she was under full sail with her square sail hoisted too. Safe travels Schooner Lynx and crew!
Today at 9:30am while out doing errands, I stopped by Niles Pond to see if I could find my brand new glove, which was lost the morning previously. That Monday, the day after the weekend storm, the mergansers had moved overnight to Niles Pond to escape the wind and waves on the harbor and I had captured footage of Mr. Swan with the Red-breasted Mergansers. Last I saw him, he was alone and circling the pond, plaintively calling.
Just as I got to the spot where filming yesterday I looked up and flying overhead were not one, but two swans! They were flying towards Brace Cove. I hurried back to my car to get cameras, checking all the while to see if the pair would stay at Niles or continue up the coast. They circled back around Niles before landing on the far side of the pond. The large pure white male looks like Mr. Swan and his girlfriend appears to be much younger as she is comparatively smaller and still has some brownish-gray cygnet feathers.
I immediately called my friend Lyn to let her know about the swan pair swimming at her end of the pond. There was a large patch of ice that prevented the swans from coming closer to where she was calling them from shore but we did have a good long look and we both agree it could very well be Mr. Swan (Lyn calls him Poppa Swan and in Rockport he’s known as Buddy).
The pair of swans stayed, feeding on pond vegetation and moving slowly through the icy waters. Swans use their powerful breast muscles in a lifting and lurching movement to break up ice. It takes a great amount of effort to cut a path through the ice and Mr. Swan is much more adept at ice breaking than is his new girlfriend.
By a swan’s second summer (in other words two years of age) it will have lost all the characteristics of an immature. The brown feathers are gradually replaced with the white feathers. The last thing to visibly change is the color of the swan’s bill. A cygnet’s bill is blue/grey changing over the two year period to pinkish and then orange. Swans can breed as early as two years of age although most don’t begin until three years.
I can’t saw with 100 percent certainty that this is Mr. Swan because I didn’t get a close look at the distinguishing marks on his bill however, all signs point in this direction.
Note the young swan’s brownish feathers and greyish-pink bill (left). This tells us that she is not quite two years of age.