In addition to following through with a number of critical issues related to the Piping Plovers at Good Harbor Beach, Scott has printed up educational USFish and Wildlife brochures, and other handouts, for the PiPl monitors to distribute to beach goers. We are so grateful to Scott and just want to give him a huge shout out!
The PiPl volunteer monitors are also deeply appreciative of all the good will and work done by many of Gloucester’s City Councilors including Melissa Cox, who along with Scott, introduced the ordinance change to the Council when it had been stalled, and to Paul Lundberg, Steve Leblanc, Jamie O’hara, and Sean Nolan for pushing the ordinance through when not much time remained to get it done before April 1st. Also, thanks to Jamie O’hara who checks in regularly with the PiPls progress. Thank you to all the Councilors for voting for the ordinance change.
Throughout the day, a threesome has been actively feeding, battling for territory, and two of the three, displaying courtship behavior.
Often times I have read that Piping Plovers in Massachusetts do not begin to actively court until mid-April. That has simply not been the case with our Good Harbor Beach pair. As soon as they arrive to their northern breeding grounds, they don’t waste any time and get right down to the business of reproducing! Last year, the PiPls were courting within a week of arriving, and this year, on the first day.
I only had brief periods of time to visit the beach this morning, but within that window, FOUR separate times the male built a little scrape, called Mama over to come investigate, while adding bits of dried seaweed and sticks, and fanning his tail feathers.
Tossing sticks and beach debris into the scrape.
Papa high-stepping for Mama.
It was VERY cold and windy both times I stopped by GHB and the PiPls were equally as interested in snuggling down behind a clump of dried beach grass as they were in courting.
Mama and Papa finding shelter from the cold and wind in the wrack line.
Good Harbor Beach was blessedly quiet all day. Our awesome dog officer Teagan Dolan was at the beach bright and early and there wasn’t a single dog in sight, I think greatly due to his vigilance and presence educating beach goers this past week.
Saturday we had the pleasure of meeting Katharine Parsons, Director of the Mass Audubon Coastal Waterbird Program. She gave an outstanding program to a crowd of Piping Plover advocates and interested parties, which was held at the Sawyer Free Library. Katharine covered everything from life cycle, management strategies and tools, habitat conservation, and the fantastic role Massachusetts is playing in the recovery of Piping Plovers, Least Terns, Roseate Terns, and Oystercatchers. We are so appreciative of Alicia Pensarosa and Gloucester’s Animal Advisory Committee for sponsoring Katharine!
Fun Fact we learned from Katharine’s presentation–a Piping Plover chick weighs six grams at birth. In comparison, and after consulting Google, a US nickel weighs a close 5.5 grams.
We Piping Plover volunteer monitors are grateful for the time and effort Ken has put forth in helping to protect our threatened Piping Plovers. We’re especially appreciative of the time he spent coordinating the volunteer monitors–not an easy task! We wish Ken all the best in his retirement.
Ken and Jim Destino introduced Adrienne Lennon, Gloucester’s new conservation agent. We had a few minutes after the introduction to speak with Adrienne. Her experience includes working for seven years at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, located in Ipswich on the Plum Island causeway, adjacent to the infamous Pink House. While there, Adrienne gained extensive knowledge in Piping Plover conservation. She is especially interested in preserving and protecting our beach dunes. Adrienne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of success to Adrienne in her new position as Gloucester’s Conservation Agent!
Photos of Ken and Adrienne at City Hall courtesy of City Council Vice President Steve LeBlanc
During Piping Plover nesting season, I have visited the public beach at the northern end of Plum Island, Newbury Beach. I believe the PiPl nesting areas at Newbury Beach are monitored by Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center. Newbury Beach is similar in several ways to Good Harbor Beach in that it is a popular town beach in a residential area with many access points and nearby hotels. Last year the beach and dunes were extremely hard hit by late winter storms, just as was Good Harbor Beach.
About Joppa Flats Education Center: Overlooking the Merrimack River and near the entrance to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, the Joppa Flats Education Center offers unique educational opportunities for people of all ages. Here, you can explore the region’s wildlife-rich habitats (salt marshes, mudflats, rivers, bays, and coastal waters) through guided tours, marine touch tanks, art exhibits, drop-in programs, and interpretive displays.
Scenes from behind the Joppa Flats Education Center and Plum Island causeway.
Councilors Steve LeBlanc and Melissa Cox wearing Piping Plover monitor hats provided by Ken Whittaker.
Coffins Beach and Wingaersheek Beach are going to be more closely monitored this year for Piping Plovers. The above photo is from 2016 when NINE chicks fledged at Coffins Beach!
Three-day-old Piping Plover Chick, Good Harbor Beach
from Councilor Memhard:
If you missed it, you’re in luck. Busy night of democracy was captured by Dave from Cape Ann TV- direct link if the video isn’t showing below.
The Chair of the School Committee, Johnathan Pope, opened with a power point presentation that went for the first 49 minutes. Questions from the floor began immediately after Pope’s background talk. First question up at minute 50–no surprise –concerned a clarification about the cost of West Parish, quickly followed by Mern Sibley’s remarks at minute 51 which received a large applause as did others throughout the evening. Some residents came prepared to speak. Some were spontaneous. The path to the mike was steady and fascinating. A few residents had more than one take like parent Kylie Mione who is also by profession a teacher at Veterans.
Here’s a link to the Elementary School Plan Proposal August 2016
Councilor Ward 1 Scott Memhard Facebook page has several posts about the school proposal.
The audience numbered less than 100 and included Councilors Memhard, Lundberg, Cox and Ciolino.
There was plenty of excitement at Cape Pond Ice this morning when a swarm of honey bees was discovered on the brick wall at the Ice House alley. Scott called honey bee remover Marty Jessel. Marty is a wealth of information about honey bees, which he shared generously with the crowd that soon gathered to watch him carefully vacuum the bees with a special bee removing technique (do not try this on your own).
City Councilor Scott Memhard and Marty Jessel, honey bee remover
Watch in action and listen as Marty describes one aspect of bee communication, the waggle dance.
Saving One Bee Hive One Bee at a Time ~ Marty Jessel may be reached at email@example.com
Cape Pond Ice is open for tours seven days a week during the summer. For hours visit the Cape Pond Ice website here. While there check out the Ice House Art House. ART@the IceHouse Gallery is thrilled to be exhibiting wonderful original marine and working waterfront paintings by Gloucester artists Peter F. Vincent ASMA (1946-2012),http://peterfvincent.com, and Capt. Phil Cusumano, http://www.philcusumanoart.com, as well as photography by Eoin Vincent.
ART@the IceHouse Gallery on the Fort is open 7-days a week, Monday – Friday 9-4, Saturday 9-3 and Sunday 9-Noon.