CAPE ANN WILDLIFE 2018: A YEAR IN PICTURES AND STORIES Part Two: Spring

Go Here For Part One

Mama (left) and Papa (right) return to Good Harbor Beach on a bitterly cold day, April 3, 2018. 

Part Two: Spring

By Kim Smith

The return of Mama and Papa Piping Plover to Good Harbor Beach filled our hearts with hope and heartache. Although not tagged with a definitive id, we can be fairly certain they are the same because the pair attempt to build their nest each year within feet of the previous year’s nest. Not only did our returning pair try to nest on Good Harbor Beach, there were two additional pairs of Piping Plovers, and several free-wheeling bachelors.

The GHB Bachelors

Papa guarding all-things-Mama

Papa and Mama courting, building a nest scrape, and establishing their territory on the beach.

The PiPls are forced off the beach by dogs running through the nesting area. They begin building a second nest in the Good Harbor Beach parking lot.

Each spring the Good Harbor PiPl have returned earlier than the previous, which show us that the pair is gaining in maturity, and in familiarity with the area. Tragically, at the time of their arrival in April, dogs are permitted on the beach. Dog traffic running through the Piping Plover nesting area was unrelenting, despite signs and roping. The Plover family never caught a break, and were soon making overtures at nesting in the parking lot.

Even with desperate calls for help and repeated warnings from the Piping Plover volunteer monitors, owners continued to allow off leash and on leash dogs to run freely through the PiPl’s nesting area, daily forcing the PiPl off the beach. They were at first torn between maintaining the territory they had established on the beach or establishing a new territory on the white lines in the parking lot. After one particularly warm sunny Sunday in April, they gave up completely on their beach nest scrape.

We learned that during the month of April, dogs at Massachusetts barrier beaches, such as Good Harbor Beach, not only endangers the lives of threatened Piping Plovers, but many species of migrating and nesting shorebirds.

On May 5th, the first egg was laid in the parking lot. Thanks to Gloucester’s amazing DPW crew, a barricade around the nest was installed within hours of the first egg laid. Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer soon followed to install a wire exclosure around the parking lot nest.

Four!

No shortage of vandals.

Garbage left on the beach brings predatory gulls and crows and they, too, became a serious threat to our Piping Plover family after the chicks hatched. The lack of a common sense ordinance to keep dogs off Good Harbor Beach during the month of April, the unaware dog owners, the garbage scavenging gulls and crows, and the vicious vandals are absolutely our responsibility to better manage and to control. For these reasons, and despite the kindness and care of dozens of PiPl volunteer monitors, as well as good people from around the community (and beyond), the Piping Plovers face terrible odds nesting at Good Harbor. 

Scroll down to the end of the post to find links to some of the dozens of stories that I have written about the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers. Many communities throughout Massachusetts and coastal New England have in place common sense management rules and are successfully fledging chicks. I wrote about that extensively during the summer months and you will find a list of the posts regarding that topic in Part Three: Summer.

Most of the Snowies from the great Snowy Owl irruption of 2017-2018 had departed for their Arctic breeding grounds by the time the Piping Plovers arrived to Cape Ann beaches. This was a relief as I imagined that the Piping Plovers might make a tasty meal in the mind of a Snowy Owl. Thinking we’d seen the last of Hedwig and all Snowies, Bob Ryan called to let us know there was a Snowy Owl hanging around the distillery. I jumped in my car and raced right over. She appeared in good health and stayed for a day.

We did learn weeks later that during July and August there were still a few Snowies remaining on Massachusetts beaches and, from examining their pellets, it was clear they had been eating Piping Plover adults.

I was deeply honored to receive Salem State University’s Friend of the Earth Award.

and to give my conservation program about the Monarch Butterflies as their keynote speaker.

In May, three Wilson’s Plovers were spotted briefly on Good Harbor Beach. This was a very, very rare northern sighting, especially so as there were three.

The Young Swan of Niles Pond was released by Lyn and Dan, only to lose his life later in the spring.

Amelie Severance sent us a lovely and detailed drawing of the Young Swan.

A fabulous Green Heron was photographed and filmed on an area pond–signs of a great summer season for all species of herons, yet to come.

For the past several years, at least, Killdeers, which is another species of plover (although not endangered) have been nesting in the dunes at Good Harbor Beach. This year we had, at a minimum, two successful nests!

All four chicks hatched and, at only one-day-old, made the epic journey to the beach. Miraculously, four teeny tiny mini marshmallow-sized baby birds, led by Papa and Mama, zig zagged across the parking lot, trekked through the dunes, and landed within feet of the parent’s original nest scrape.

Only one chic, the one PiPl volunteer monitor Heather names Little Pip, survives into summer.

 

Piping Plovers Return to Good Harbor Beach!

Kim Smith to Receive “Friend of the Earth Award” and Keynote Speaker Salem State earth Days Week

Piping Plovers Driven Off the Beach

Monarch Butterflies at Salem State University

Fencing is Urgently Needed for the Piping Plovers

Check Out Gloucester’s DPW Phil Cucuru Showing Extensive Storm Erosion

How You Can Help the Piping Plovers

Gloucester Celebrates Earth Day With Great News: Lyn and Dan Release the Young Swan Back to the Wild

Piping Plovers Forced off the Beach By Dogs for the Second Weekend in a Row

Piping Plovers and Thoughts About Signs, Dogs, and Why We are in This Predicament

We Need Volunteer Piping Plover Monitors Saturday at the PiPl Nesting Area #3

Heartbreaking to See the Piping Plovers Nesting in the Parking Lot

Snowy Owl at Ryan and Woods Distillery

Breaking: Plover Egg in the Parking Lot at Good Harbor Beach

Breaking: Two Eggs in the Nest: Shout Out to Greenbelt for Installing the PiPl Wire Enclosure

PiPl Egg #3

Swan Crisis

Rarest of Rare Visits from Wilson’s Plovers

Vandals Harming the Piping Plovers

Four!

Tonight on Fox See Our GHB Piping Plovers

Debunking Piping Plover Myth #1

Amelie Severance’s Lovely Drawing of the Young Swan

Debunking Piping Plover Myths #2 and #3

More Shorebirds Nesting at Good Harbor Beach!

Angie’s Alpacas

So Sorry to Write Our Young Swan Passed Away this Morning

Beautiful Shorebirds Passing Through

Debunking Piping Plover Myth #4, Winthrop Beach is Amazing, and Lots of Sex on the Beach

Our Good Harbor Beach Killdeer Chicks

Breaking News: Our Piping Plover Good Harbor Beach Chicks Have Hatched

Piping Plover Makes the Epic Journey to the Beach

Good Harbor Beach Two-Day Old PiPl Chicks

Good Morning! Brought to You By the Fiercely Patient Green Heron

We Lost Two Chicks Today

Shout Out to Gloucester’s Animal Control Officers Teagan and Jamie!

Our Third Piping Plover Chick was Killed This Morning

Debunking Piping Plover Myth #5: Piping Plover Volunteers Are NOT Calling for and Outright Ban of Dogs on the Beach

What Do Piping Plovers Eat?

Happy Father’s Day, Brought to You By Papa Plover

Kim Smith keynote and ‘Friend of the Earth’ award from Salem State University Earth Day 2018

Kim Smith - Amanda Madeira photo
courtesy photo by Amanda Madeira: Kim Smith receiving Salem State University ‘Friend of the Earth Award’ April 12 2018

The 2018 week-long Earth Day events at Salem State University culminated with an evening awards ceremony on April 12th. Kim Smith was the invited 2018 Keynote Speaker, and Friend of the Earth Award recipient! It’s an extraordinary fit as Kim Smith’s life’s work across media –whether its her acclaimed and award-winning films, photography, landscape design, art, or writing– calls us to marvel and commune with nature. She’s a champion Friend of the Earth.

Kim Smith is henceforth included in this distinguished Salem State University Friend of the Earth list, an ambassador for the natural world, our region and Massachusetts!

 

Earth Days at Salem State University – Past Friend of the Earth Award Recipients:

*2001-2017 list- Compiled by Prof. John Hayes, Geography, and co-chair, Salem State University (SSU) Earth Day Planning Committee

  • 2018 – KIM SMITH award winning photographer, filmmaker, landscape designer, artist, and writer. Author of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden
  • 2017- 
  • 2016: Naomi Oreskes, Ph.D.—(Professor, Harvard Univ.), co-author, Merchants of Doubt, …….
    Bob Prescott—(Exec. Director, Wellfleet Ocean Sanctuary)…..
  • 2015: Larry Chretien—(Executive Director, Energy Consumers Alliance of New England and of Mass Energy – for his advocacy and leadership for over 20 years to champion the benefits of renewable energy alternatives in the New England region for our states, cities and towns, and our utility companies that provide us electricity and energy; as Executive Director of Mass Energy and the Energy Consumers Alliance of New England – he demonstrated how consumer-oriented non-profit organizations can lead the way in promoting affordable and environmentally
    sustainable energy resources.)
  • 2014: Gerard (Jerry) Bertrand (Environmental Adviser, Permian Global – for his enduring commitment to preservation of land and habitat; for his past service as head of international affairs for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
    Service, his chairmanship of BirdLife International, his service as president of Massachusetts Audubon Society and cofounder of World Land Trust, and his service at Permian Global and its efforts to protect natural forests globally to
    sequester carbon, mitigate climate change, and preserve habitat through investment.)
  • 2013 Frances Moore Lappe – (co-founder of Small Planet Institute and author of 18 books including the landmark Diet for a Small Planet, World Hunger – Twelve Myths, Food First – Beyond the Myth of Scarcity, Hope’s Edge, and EcoMind – Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want.) Marc Rodgers – (Communications Director, Cape Wind Associates – for his continuing efforts for more than ten years to communicate and educate about the proposed Cape Wind wind farm project on Nantucket Sound and for his efforts to help shepherd the project through the long-lived environmental review process.)

Continue reading “Kim Smith keynote and ‘Friend of the Earth’ award from Salem State University Earth Day 2018”

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES AT SALEM STATE UNIVERSITY! -BY KIM SMITH

Please join us on Thursday evening at Salem State University for Earth Days Week celebrations and awards ceremony. I am giving the keynote address.

This event is entirely free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

I have been pouring through photos from this year’s past late great Monarch migration to create the new “Beauty on the Wing” program that I am giving Thursday evening at Salem State.

My favorite thing to do photographing butterflies is to capture them mid-flight.  Working on landscape design projects and film projects back to back I only had time to upload and didn’t have a chance to look through the film footage and photos daily. I discovered a bunch of photos that are worthy of adding to the presentation–a photographer’s idea of finding buried treasure–and these are two of my favorites.

Kim Smith to Receive “Friend of the Earth” Award and Keynote Speaker Salem State Earth Days 2018 Week

Please join me on Thursday, April 12th, at 5pm at Salem State University. I am being honored with a “Friend of the Earth” award and will be presenting my lecture “Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,” with newly added photos, and a new focus reflecting the Monarch migration at risk. This award is so meaningful to me and I am deeply touched and honored.

The Salem State Earth Days Committee has done an outstanding job organizing a week of exciting and relevant programming. The full schedule is posted here for Salem State’s Earth Days 2018 Week and you can also learn more at dgl.salemstate.edu/earthday/

My lecture, and all Earth Days 2018 programming, is free and open to the public!