While filming PiPls, from high overhead came the shrilly distinct call of an Osprey. As majestic in flight as a Bald Eagle, he perused the beach and then circled back several times more. I wondered, is he coming for Piping Plover chicks or possibly the creche of Common Eider ducklings that was sweeping the shoreline for sea lettuce.
Creche of Common Eiders foraging for sea lettuce.
When I returned home I read Osprey pose very little threat to baby birds. Ninety-nine percent of their diet is fish and only rarely do they hunt other creatures, mostly when fish are not available. Commonly called Fish Hawk, Sea Hawk, and River Hawk, Osprey have evolved with such highly specialized physical characteristics to aid in hunting fish that they have been given their own taxonomic genus and family (Pandion haliaetus)
To learn more about Osprey, you may find John J. Audubon’s life history super interesting: Fish Hawk, or Osprey
Link to Essex Greenbelt live osprey cam: https://ecga.org/Osprey-Cam
Piping Plover chicks make easy targets for avian predators, but not Osprey 🙂
Had a great time photographing these beautiful ducks on Friday. They are so cute and unusual.
Brace Cove at dawn, a great place for bird watching
Please join me Thursday night at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center where I will be presenting a brand new illustrated talk “Beautiful Birds of Cape Ann.” The program covers the gorgeous migrating and resident birds that we see in our neighborhoods, as seen through the seasons, and includes such beauties as the Snowy Owl, Brant Geese, Snow Goose, Redheads, a rarely-seen-in-our region White Pelican, egrets, herons, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, songbirds, and some life history of Cape Ann’s resident swan family. The program begins at 7pm and is part of the RNCC and Mass Audubon ongoing exhibit “For the Birds.” I hope to see you there!
Pair of Male Redheads, the Dynamic Duo
Common Eider Gloucester Harbor
Niles Pond and Gloucester Harbor are both excellent for viewing water birds
Also too, if any of our readers live in the Rye, New Hampshire area, I am giving my illustrated talk on the Monarch Butterfly tomorrow morning, Tuesday the 16th, at 10am. Please email me if you would like more information.
Finishing up filming cygnets and ducklings for the morning, I noticed a Great Blue heron swoop onto the shore. I got my gear back out and headed over to where it appeared to have landed along the rocky coastline. With eyes peeled for the heron I nearly tripped over the female Common Eider. Literally. Oval-shaped and seemingly immobile, the eider looked just like another rock on the beach. She didn’t budge while I kneeled down on the sand and photographed and filmed her, cameras positioned no more than a foot away. I only stayed close for a few moments and then moved further away and watched for awhile as she thoroughly oiled her feathers. She didn’t appear to be injured. Concerned as I was that she could easily become a coyote’s breakfast if she wasn’t able to fly, still I thought it best to leave her be. As I returned to my car and turned for one last look, she was flying straight up, helicopter fashion, and then forward towards the sea.
Female Common Eider
Friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.
In case you were unaware, The Audubon Society is not a restricted organization. It is comprised entirely of people like you and me. Massachusetts alone has over 100,000 member citizens that belong to the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Here is a link to get you started: Get Involved.
Particularly for Massachusetts residents, the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s website is especially helpful in identifying birds observed locally; see the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas Find a Bird Page. The Common Eider seen on Rogers Street, and guided to safety by Thomas Donahue, is on the Mass Audubon Find A Bird page and you can read more about this interesting bird here: Common Eider.The atlas isn’t always helpful, for example, GMG contributor Donna recently spotted a Horned Grebe. That particular species is not included on the page however, it was easily identified by looking at other sources, including books and websites such as Cornell’s All About Birds website.
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Reminder: Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend, a program sponsored by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Massachusetts Audubon Society was rescheduled for the weekend of February 27 through the 29th. Click here for details.
Robert Chem Sanderlings painting currently on view at the Trident Gallery
Robert Chem Northern Shrike
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Additional information about Mass Audubon membership:
Members of the Massachusetts Audubon Society enjoy the following benefits:
Free Places to Explore, a full-color guide to Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries, nature centers, and museums.
Free one-year subscriptions to Connections, our member newsletter, and our new annual publication (first issue will be sent in February).
Member-only discounts on hundreds of exciting programs, camps, courses, and most special events.
Savings on purchases and access to member-only sales at our gift shops.
Member-only access to:
Savings on green auto insurance (10%) with the Environmental Insurance Agency (EIA).
Migrate to Explorer level or higher for even more benefits. Learn about our different membership levels.
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us.
I shot this video out the window of my office here at the dock. Talk about a birds eye view!
Thanks to Jim Barber for helping me identify these Common Eider Young. I had to slowly walk up so they wouldn’t fly off.
The baby ducks are in the middle.
Ducks on A Camel, originally uploaded by captjoe06.
From Jim Barber, resident bird expert-
“Common Eider with young. Common Eider breed on Ten Pound Island but they just started doing so about five years ago. Their range is expanding. I took some of the first photos of Common Eider young in Gloucester harbor at the time and they were published in Bird Observer magazine.
They are source of “eider down”. In Greenland they have vast farms of eider nests and the down is collected from the nest under strict government regulations.”