SHORT BIT OF FOOTAGE OF THE ENDANGERED RUSTY BLACKBIRD FORAGING

As I was filming a Great Blue Heron, and standing as still as a tree, the beautiful Rusty Blackbird flew on the scene, not four feet away! My heart skipped a beat and I quickly turned my camera on the little blackbird. It’s foraging habit of flipping leaves to uncover insects and plant matter was fascinating and my only wish was that he stayed longer than a brief minute.

Scientists only relatively recently became aware of the dramatic decline of the Rusty Blackbird. Reports show that the population of the RB has plummeted between 80 and 99 percent.

As is the case with so many creatures the whole earth wide, two of the greatest threats facing the Rusty Blackbird are loss of habitat and climate change. The birds are elusive, nesting in remote areas of the great northern boreal forest and wintering over in the wet woodlands of the southeastern United States. Over 80 percent of their winter habitat in the southeast has been lost to development. Changes in the ecosystem of the boreal forests has affected nesting and foraging.

Without doubt, global climate change is the greatest challenge of our day. All living life as we know is in danger. Millions of human lives have been directly impacted by the Earth’s warming temperature. We are at risk of losing thousands of species of flora and wild creatures.

Read more here.

Non-breeding Male Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)

LEARNING TO FLY!

Three days after hatching the Rosetti’s Least Tern parents moved the chicks further down the beach and deep into the roped off sanctuary. Tiny gray and white speckled fluff balls well-hidden amongst the rocky shoreline became increasingly difficult to see.

Well-camouflaged and nearly impossible to see one-week-old Least Tern chicks.

Every now and then though I would catch a glimpse and one of the best moments was watching both chicks test their wings in short little take offs. Stretching wide their wings and in little fits and bursts, the flights lasted about two- to three-feet in length, and equally as high. After witnessing the tremendous hardships the Least Tern colony at Winthrop had undergone this nesting season, I was over joyed to see at least one family hit this milestone.

One-week-old Least Tern chick feeding.

 

Two-week-old Least Tern chick

Eighteen-day-old Least Tern chick taking shelter under beach vegetation on a scorchingly hot day in July.

Eagerly waiting to be fed.

Airborne!

 

Winthrop Shores Reservation Beaches

MARTIN DEL VECCHIO VIDEO OF RIGHT WHALES FEEDING OFF OF LONG BEACH

Many thanks to Martin Del Vecchio for sharing his video and still images (see photos here) of the spectacularly beautiful pod of North American Right Whales feeding off of Cape Ann shores yesterday, May 4, 2018.

CHANNEL 5 WCVB STORY WITH RIGHT WHALES ON LONG BEACH

WCVB reporter Duke Castiglione was on Long Beach yesterday for the following story. Click on the link below to see Cape Ann locals and Castiglione at Long Beach!

http://www.wcvb.com/article/noaa-extends-emergency-bans-to-protect-endangered-right-whales/20181874

NOAA extends emergency bans to protect endangered right whales

WCVB: Federal authorities have extended a ban on trap gear closures for part of Cape Cod Bay to reduce the risk of right whales becoming entangled in trap gear.

Right whales are critically endangered and scientists say their population has been decreasing since 2010 due to continued mortality and low birth rates.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, recent aerial surveys have observed upward of 100 right whales — about 25% of the known population — within Western Cape Cod Bay.

Officials said high plankton counts indicate the whales will likely remain in the bay into next week.

The whales have also been spotted off the coast of Cape Ann.

The Salem News reports Marblehead has been treated to some rare sightings of right whales over the past several days.

Right Whales are feeding along the Massachusetts coastline on their northward migration to feeding grounds off the coast of Nova Scotia, amongst other northern locations.

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR OBSERVING EXTREMELY ENDANGERED RIGHT WHALES OFF THE CAPE ANN COASTLINE

Jennifer Goebel from NOAA writes,

It looks like the whales will be in town over the weekend and I was wondering if you’d be willing to remind people to watch out for them, report sightings to our hotline 866-755-6622, and to remind everyone about the 500-yard rule, which applies to everyone– swimmers, drones, boaters of every kind including kayakers, paddle boarders.

We have some info up here:

https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/stories/2018/05/03_watch_out_for_whales_.html

Thanks,

Jen

STUNNING CLOSEUP PHOTOS RIGHT WHALES FEEDING OFF LONG BEACH FROM MARTIN DEL VECCHIO

Martin writes, “The North Atlantic Right Whales that have been spotted around Gloucester spent the morning feeding just off Long Beach.  And I mean just off; in some cases, within 20 feet of the rocks.

There were at least four of them, which represents 1% of the global population of this extremely endangered species, which has been described as “on the brink of extinction” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/amp-stories/right-whales-are-on-the-brink-of-extinction/).  This past year has been a tough one, with no confirmed live births, and more than a dozen deaths due to boat strikes and entanglements.
They seemed to my untrained eye to be adults, much larger than the juvenile who visited Bass Rocks in 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJVnGpiwigY).  And unlike that whale, which seemed to be exploring and playing, these whales were feeding systematically.”
All photos copyright Martin DelVecchio
See Marty’s flicker album here for more North Atlantic Right Whale photos: