HAPPY AUTUMN DAYS!

Spring Peeper out and about before hibernating for the winter.

Relishing the last of these golden days, we took advantage of Sunday’s delightfully beautiful weather with a hike around Eastern Point. Several female Yellow-rumped Warblers were spotted feeding on seed heads, a lone turtle was basking on a sun-warmed rock, the Harbor Seals were lolling about, and a tiny Spring Peeper was spied in the fallen leaves.

You can see why these sweet birds are called Yellow-rumped Warblers. Note the little flash of yellow on the rump of the warbler flying in the background.

Eastern Painted Turtle

Who me?

Harbor Seals warming in the sun.

Clear Evidence of the Destructive Force of Global Warming on the Massachusetts Coastline and How This Negatively Impacts Local Wildlife -By Kim Smith

Female Piping Plover Sitting on an Egg

The recent winter storms of 2018 have provided empirical evidence of how global climate change and the consequential rising sea level is impacting the Massachusetts coastline. Whether broken barriers between the ocean and small bodies of fresh water, the tremendous erosion along beaches, or the loss of plant life at the edge of the sea, these disturbances are profoundly impacting wildlife habitats.

The following photos were taken after the March nor’easter of 2018 along with photos of the same areas, before the storm, and identify several specific species of wildlife that are affected by the tremendous loss of habitat.

Barrier Beach Erosion

Nesting species of shorebirds such as Piping Plovers require flat or gently sloping areas above the wrack line for chick rearing. Notice how the March nor’easter created bluffs with steep sides, making safe areas for tiny chicks nonexistent.

You can see in the photos of Good Harbor Beach (top photo and photos 3 and 4 in the gallery) that the metal fence posts are completely exposed. In 2016, the posts were half buried and in 2017, the posts were nearly completely buried. After the recent storms, the posts are fully exposed and the dune has eroded half a dozen feet behind the posts.

In the photo of the male Piping Plover sitting on his nest from 2016 the metal posts are half buried.

Although scrubby growth shrubs and sea grass help prevent erosion, the plants have been ripped out by the roots and swept away due to the rise in sea level.

Plants draw tiny insects, which is food for tiny chicks, and also provide cover from predators, as well as shelter from weather conditions. If the Piping Plovers return, will they find suitable nesting areas, and will plant life recover in time for this year’s brood?Other species of shorebirds that nest on Massachusetts’s beaches include the Common Tern, Least Tern, Roseate Tern, American Oyster Catcher, Killdeer, and Black Skimmer.

Common Tern parent feeding fledgling

 

 

Where Have All the Wildflowers Gone?

Female Monarch Depositing Egg on Common Milkweed Leaf

Wildflowers are the main source of food for myriad species of beneficial insects such as native bees and butterflies.

Monarch Butterflies arriving on our shores not only depend upon milkweed for the survival of the species, but the fall migrants rely heavily on wildflowers that bloom in late summer and early fall. Eastern Point is a major point of entry, and stopover, for the southward migrating butterflies. We have already lost much of the wildflower habitat that formerly graced the Lighthouse landscape.

Masses of sea debris from the storm surge washed over the wildflower patches and are covering much of the pollinator habitat at the Lighthouse.

Broken Barriers

American Wigeon Migrating at Henry’s Pond

Barriers that divide small bodies of fresh water from the open sea have been especially hard hit. The fresh bodies of water adjacent to the sea provide habitat, food, and drinking water for hundreds of species of wildlife and tens of thousands of migrating song and shorebirds that travel through our region.

The newly rebuilt causeway between Niles Pond and Brace Cove was breached many times during the nor’easter. The causeway is littered in rocks and debris from the sea.

The causeway being rebuilt in 2014.

The road that runs along Pebble Beach, separating the sea from Henry’s Pond has been washed out.

The footsteps in the sand are where the road ran prior to the storm.

Mallards, North American Beavers, Muskrats, North American River Otters, and Painted Turtles are only a few examples of species that breed in Massachusetts fresh water ponds and wetlands. All the wildlife photos and videos were shot on Cape Ann.

Migrating Black-bellied Plover

Cape Ann is hardly alone in coping with the impact of our warming planet and of rising sea level. These photos are meant to show examples of what is happening locally. Regions like Plymouth County, which include Scituate and Hingham, have been equally as hard hit. Plum Island is famously heading for disaster and similar Massachusetts barrier beaches, like Cranes Beach, have all been dramatically altered by the cumulative effects of sea level rising, and recently accelerated by the devastating winter storms of 2018.

To be continued.

Impassable Road to Plum Island

Snowy Owl Cranes Beach

OF ROCK AND REED, AND SEA AND SUN – MORNING SCENES FROM CAPE ANN’S BEAUTIFUL BACKSHORE

Beautiful, beautiful Cape Ann spring awakening. Photos from today’s fine April morning.

Sing, sing sing Red-winged Blackbird! 

Almost daybreak at Good Harbor Beach

Backshore Sunrise. The sun was rising on the way to Brace Cove

Niles Pond

Painted Turtles and a female Red-breasted Merganser were basking on the warm rocks while a flock of Quarky Pants were roosting in the trees. Happy Spring!

I’ve never seen so many Black-crowned Night Herons–TEN all together in the trees and at the water’s edge.
Salt Island and Thacher Island Daybreak

CAPE ANN WILDLIFE: A YEAR IN PICTURES

snowy-owl-gloucester-massachusetts-c2a9kim-smith-2015My husband Tom suggested that I write a year-end post about the wildlife that I had photographed around Cape Ann. Super idea I thought, that will be fun and easy. Many hours later (not realizing how daunting) the following is a collection of some favorite images from this past year, beginning with the male Snowy Owl photographed at Captain Joe’s last winter, to December’s Red-tailed Hawk huntress.

red-tailed-hawk-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith

Living along the great Atlantic Flyway, we have been graced with a bevy of birds. Perhaps the most exciting arrival of all occurred when early summer brought several pairs of nesting Piping Plovers to Gloucester’s most beloved (and most highly trafficked) of beaches, Good Harbor Beach. Their story is being documented on film.

piping-plovers-chicks-nestlings-babies-kim-smith

Work on Mr. Swan’s film will also resume this January—the winters are simply not long enough for all I have planned!

swan-outstretched-wings-niles-pond-coyright-kim-smith

While photographing and filming Red-winged Blackbirds this past spring, there was a face-to-face encounter with a hungry coyote, as well as several River Otter sightings.

female-red-winged-blackbird-copyright-kim-smitrhFemale Red-winged Blackbird

eastern-coyote-massachusetts-kim-smithThe summer’s drought brought Muskrats out from the reeds and into full view at a very dry Henry’s Pond, and a short film about a North American Beaver encounter at Langsford Pond. Numerous stories were heard from folks who have lived on Cape Ann far longer than I about the extraordinary number of egrets, both Snowy and Great, dwelling on our shores.three-muskrat-family-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith

Three Muskrateersfemale-monarch-depositing-eggs-1-copyright-kim-smithnewly-emerged-monarch-butterfly-copyright-kim-smith-jpg

There were few Monarch sightings, but the ones seen thankfully deposited eggs in our garden. Thank you to my new friend Christine who shared her Cecropia Silkmoth eggs with me and thank you to the countless readers who have extended an invitation to come by and photograph an exciting creature in their yard.

cecropia-moth-caterpillar-copyright-kim-smithPristine beaches, bodies of fresh water, and great swathes of protected marsh and woodland make for ideal wildlife habitat, and Cape Ann has it all. With global climate change pushing species further away from the Equator, I imagine we’ll be seeing even more creatures along our shores. Butterfly and bee populations are overall in decline, not only because of climate change and the use of pesticides, but also because of loss of habitat. As Massachusetts has become less agrarian and more greatly forested, fields of wildflowers are becoming increasingly rare. And too fields often make the best house lots. Farmers and property owners developing an awareness of the insects’ life cycle and planting and maintaining fields and gardens accordingly will truly help the butterflies and bees.

female-mallard-nine-ducklings-kim-smithThank you to all our readers for your kind comments of appreciation throughout the year for the beautiful wild creatures with which we share this gorgeous peninsula called Cape Ann.

The images are not arranged in any particular order. If you would like to read more about a particular animal, type the name of the animal in the search box and the original post should come up.

I wonder what 2017 will bring?nine-piping-plovers-napping-gloucester-copyright-kim-smith

sandpipers-copyright-kim-smith

RUBBERNECKIN’

painted-turtles-niles-pond-gloucester-copyright-kim-smithI laughed out loud when looking through photos from several days ago, not realizing that at the time when taking snapshots of these beautiful Painted Turtles at Niles Pond they were not only basking, but also rubbernecking, and mostly all in the same direction. The turtles were on a rock adjacent to the Snapping Turtle (below), which at first glance looked like two rocks, a smaller stone (its head) and a large stone (body).

snapping-turtle-niles-pond-gloucester-copyright-kim-smithThe Snapping Turtle was about a foot long, unlike the Snapping Turtle furtively gliding through the murky water several weeks ago at Henry’s Pond. The stealthy one in the last photo was huge and appeared to be just shy of two feet!!snapping-turtle-henrys-pond-copyright-kim-smith

Turtles are ectotherms, relying on sunlight to warm and regulate their body temperature.

NEW VIDEO ~ EYE TO EYE WITH A PAINTED TURTLE

In case you were wondering, where do turtles go in winter?

The Eastern Painted Turtle is our most common turtle and this beauty was found at Niles Pond, crossing the road heading towards one of several little babbling brooks that flow towards the pond. Perhaps it was planning to hibernate there as it was the last day of October.

Turtles are an ectotherm, which means that their body temperature mirrors the temperature of the surrounding environment, whether pond water or sunlit rock. During the fall they find a comfy spot in the mud at either a pond or stream and burrow in. The Painted Turtle’s metabolism slows dramatically and it won’t usually come up for air until spring, although even during hibernation they require some slight bit of oxygen, which they take in through their skin. Painted Turtles do move around a bit in the mud during the winter but do not travel far and do not move very swiftly.

Painted Turtle Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2015

 

PAINTED TURTLE RESCUE AT NILES POND

A friendly sort, this little guy was found in the middle of Niles Pond Road headed towards the brook. He posed patiently while I filmed him for the swan film, took his photo, and tested out my new phone 4K video feature. I placed him near the brook but he started to cross the road again and then just plopped there in the middle! I was late getting back to work so I marched him down an overgrown path and positioned him near a rock at the water’s edge. We can only hope. Perhaps he was confused by the gorgeous warm weather this morning.

An exciting turtle instagram 🙂

View this post on Instagram

Painted Turtle rescue at Niles Pond!

A post shared by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Eastern Painted Turtles live in fresh water such as Niles Pond, and hibernate in the mud during the winter months. Painted Turtles are the most widespread turtle species of North America.

 

Turtle Release Update

Diane Lapin writes, “Thank you all for helping us locate the perfect little spot for our Turtle release on Sunday.  Noel, thank you so much for providing access and information and, of course, watermelon! Now it is up to nature!”

Thanks so much Diane for keeping us updated!

See original post:

Help Needed Returning 5 Painted Turtles to Langsford Pond

Mama Turtle

Help Needed Returning 5 Painted Turtles to Langsford Pond

Eastern Painted Turtle ©Kim Smith 2013GMG received the following call for help from Diane Lapin this morning. If anyone living on Langsford Pond can help Diane, please leave a comment in the comment section and I will email you Diane’s phone number. Thank you!!!

Joey,

Kim Smith’s post on the Eastern Painted Turtle is quite timely.  I have a request for help from GMG.Last fall, while renovating an area of lawn that I had torn up in the spring, but never got to finishing, we accidently dug up a clutch (??) of baby painted turtles, destroying their nest.

Long story … they have been cared for a wild life rehabilitator in New Hampshire and are now ready to be released.

My neighborhood is heavily wooded and fairly large, but Langsford Pond is the pond the mother came from.  It is through the woods behind my house and difficult to traverse from here.

The 5 surviving turtles are ready to be released and I need access to the pond (near a reedy part for their protection) for their release.  Chris, the wildlife rehabilitator from NH will  be releasing them.

I know a lot of people in our ‘hood read your blog, so perhaps someone will have and be able to provide that access to us to return the babies home?
The release will be on Friday or Saturday of this week (still awaiting finalization).
As per law, the turtles must be returned to Mass and to the body of water they came from.

Perhaps a helpful GMG reader can help us secure a accessible location with lots of reeds to return the little one’s back to their home?

Warm regards,
Diane M. Lapine

Mama Turtle

The female Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) deposits her eggs in a hole, or nest, which she has excavated with her hind legs. She lays between three and 14 eggs. Depending on soil and air temperatures, the eggs incubate unattended in the soil for six to twelve weeks.  Sex of the hatchlings is determined by the temperatures the eggs were exposed to in the nest. Warmer temperatures produce females. Cooler temperatures produce males. Some eggs are deposited close to the surface and others are laid first and are deeper in the soil. The slight differences in position in the nest produce enough variances in temperature to ensure that both males and females are produced from the same nest.

Filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts, June 2013 with Fujifilm XE-1.

The Gentle Rain ~ Song by Astrud Gilberto