Last Chance! These must see 2019 shows are closing soon: Don’t miss ICA Watershed Purple (installation view above) closing September 2; DeCordova New England Biennial and the Provincetown Art Association & Museum’s 1945 Chaim Gross exhibition close September 15; and catch Renoir at the Clark before it’s gone September 22nd.
A few of the listed upcoming exhibitions to note: the NEW building and exhibits at PEM are opening September 2019; Homer at the Beach is on display at Cape Ann Museum thru December 1 (and catch a Richard Ormond lecture on John Singer Sargent’s Charcoals Sept.28 at Cape Ann Museum (ahead of the Morgan exhibition opening October); three new shows opening at MFA; Gordon Parks at Addison; and Alma Thomas at Smith. A Seuss-focused experience was pronounced destined for Boston, ahead of its TBD venue, by the LA entertainment company co-founders. Some shows I’ve already visited and may write about, mostly from a dealer’s perspective as that is my background. Exhibition trends continue to evolve and reveal new directions. A few patterns I see in the exhibition titles: what’s annointed for display and how it’s contextualized (corrective labels); immersive exhibits; revisiting colonial methodologies and themes; major solo surveys; women artists (and this upcoming season boost underscoring womens’ suffrage and 100th anniversary of the ratification of women’s right to vote); illustration; environment; and issues of humanity and migration. The list is illustrated with images of the sites. All photographs mine unless otherwise noted. Right click or hover to see info; click to enlarge. – Catherine Ryan
The guide – Massachusetts Museum Guide, Fall 2019
Note from author: The list below is alphabetized by town, and details upcoming exhibitions at each venue as well as some that are closing soon. Click the word “website” (color gray on most monitors) for hyperlinks that redirect to venues. For a list alphabetically sorted by venue, see my Google Map (with a Candy Trail overlay) “Art Museums in Massachusetts” here and embedded at the end of this post. I pulled the map together several years ago. No apps to download or website jumping. Easy scroll down so you don’t miss an exhibit that’s closer than you think to one that you may already be exploring. A few are open seasonally (summer) or weekends only–call first to check before visiting. Major new architectural building projects are underway at BU (closed) and MIT. The 54th Regiment Memorial on Boston Common will undergo restoration. Get ready for close observation of conservation in process. – Catherine
1. John Greenleaf Whittier historic Home and Museum website
2. Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art website
- September 7, 2019- March 1, 2020 Under the Sea with Eric Carle
- Through October 27, 2019 The Picture Book Odysseys of Peter Sis video of exhibition
- November 10, 2019 – April 5, 2020 The Pursuit of Everything: Maria Kalman’s Books for Children
- Through December 1, 2019 William Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble: A Golden Anniversary
3. Emily Dickinson Museum website ongoing special guided tours through two historic house museums- Homestead and Evergreens, and programs
4. Eli Marsh Gallery – Amherst College website
- September 16-October 11, 2019 Do Things to Images: An Exhibition by Odette England
5. Mead Art Museum – Amherst College website
- Opening September 12, 2019 Rotherwas Project 5 | Christopher Myers: The Red Plague Rid You for Learning Me Your Language
- Through September 11, 2019 Fleeting Nature: Selections from Collection
- Fall 2019 Ten Years of Trinkett Clark Memorial Student Acquisitions
- Opening December 2019 Students’ museum seminar exhibition
- Through January 5, 2020 Constructing Collage
6. Addison Gallery of American Art Philips Andover website
- September 1, 2018- July 31, 2020 A Wildness Distant from Ourselves: Art and Ecology in 19th-Century America press release
- September 1, 2018 – December 15, 2019 The Art of Ambition in the Colonial Northeast press release
- September 1 – November 15, 2019 George Washington: American Icon press release
- October 5, 2019 – January 5 2020 Men of Steel, Women of Wonder press release
- February 1 – April 26, 2020 Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950 press release
7. Cyrus E. Dallin (1861-1944) Art Museum website
8. Attleboro Arts Museum (like NSAA) website
9. The Belmont Woman’s Club & 1853 Winslow Homer (seasonal) website historic house museum
10. Montserrat College of Art website
- Through September 13, 2019 Montserrat Gallery | Julian Howley: Building Better Mobs
- Through September 21, 2019 Ashley Brown Durand: It’s Ok to Feel Things
- Through October 12, 2019 301 Gallery | Adrian Fernandez Milanes
11. Murals, Cabot Street Beverly
12. Beverly Public Library website
13. Long Hill historic home and gardens 114 acres website
14. Boston Athenaeum website
- September 17, 2019 – March 14, 2020 Required Reading: Reimagining a Colonial Library on display in the Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery press release
15. Boston Black Heritage Trail, NPS website
photo info: Visitors will see the Robert Gould Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial undergoing conservation beginning fall 2019
16. Boston Children’s Museum website
- Through September 30th HUMAN GARDEN | Handmade Installation by Lani Asuncion on display in The Gallery
- Through Fall 2019 Pickup Music Project www.pickupmusicproject.com
- iconic permanent public art/architecture, i.e. Hood Milk Carton; mini temporary displays and/or art commissions integrated every floor
17. Boston Freedom Trail website
18. Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park website
(photos show info gateway on the Greenway near the ferry access to Boston Harbor Islands)
- Summer 2019 public art: Boston Harbor [Re]creation The Project: Artists Marsha Parrilla; Robin MacDonald-Foley; Brian Sonia-Wallace more(Jury: Luis Cotto MCC; Lucas Cowan, The Greenway; Celena illuzzi, National Parks; Caroly Lewenberg; Denise Sarno-Bucca DCR; Courtney Shape, City of Boston; Rebecca Smerling Boston Harbor Now; Kera Washingon; Cynthia Woo, Pao Arts Center)
19. Boston Public Library website
- Through November 10, 2019 America Transformed: Mapping the 19th Century, special exhibitions, more
20. Boston Society of Architects website
- Through October 25, 2019 Canstruction 2019
- Through December 31, 2019 2019 BSA Design Awards
- December 6 – January 2, 2019 8th Annual Gingerbread House Design Competition
- January 10, 2020- May 15, 2020 The Architecture of Time
- February 14 – April 5, 2020 Women in Design Award of Excellence 20th Anniversary celebratin and exhibition
- February 21 – May 31, 2020 Durable: Sustainable Material Ecologies Vilna Shul website
21. Boston University BU Art Galleries website
- Reopening Fall 2020 – 808 Gallery (temporary closures)
- Reopening Fall 2020 – Faye G., Jo & James Stone Gallery (temporary closures)
22. Design Museum, Boston website
23. Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway website
- Unveiled 2019 – Super A (Stefan Thelen) Resonance, 2019, latex and spray paint
- Note to Greenway (see photo notes below): food trucks by the stop should be relocated to other food truck areas (and maybe one tree) to optimize and welcome sight line to the Greenway and public spaces from streets, sidewalk, and South Station. There are pauses elsewhere along the lattice park links, and a generous approach past the wine bar. The temporary commissioned mural could extend verso (or invite a second artist) so that the approach from Zakim Bridge/RT1/93North is as exciting as the approach from Cape Cod.
- Skip the app AI download– swamped my phone battery despite free WiFi on the Greenway.
- See complete list of 2019 public art currently on view at The Greenway here
- The Greenway packs a lot of punch in a compressed area; its lattice of dynamic public spaces and quiet passages are an easy stroll into the North End or along the HarborWalk to the ICA, roughly similar in size and feel as walking Battery Park and Hudson River Park in New York City.
24. Innovation and Design building (aka Boston Design Building makeover in process in winter 2016 photos posted here) website
25. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum website
- Through September 15, 2019 BIG PLANS: Picturing Social Reform more
- Through October 20, 2019 Contemporary Art Joan Jonas: i know why they left more
- Through January 14, 2020 Anne H. Fitzpatrick Facade Laura Owens: Untitled
- October 17, 2019 – January 20, 2020 In the Company of Artists featuring Sophie Calle, Bharti Kher, Luisa Lambri, Laura Owens, Rachel Perry, Dayanita Singh, and Su-Mei Tse
26. Guild of Boston Artists website
- Through September 28, 2019 Annual Regional Juried Exhibition 2019 Winners announced September 21, 2019. The 2018 gold winner, Leon Doucette of Gloucester, exhibiting again, and Melissa Cooper. more
27. ICA Institute of Contemporary Art website
- On display at The Water Shed ICA Boston venue
- Through September 2, 2019 at The Water Shed, ICA Boston John Akomfrah: Purple more
- What’s coming in 2020 to The Water Shed? Still TBA
- Through September 22, 2019 ICA Less Is a Bore: Maximilist Art & Design more
Nice installation with a few surprises and thoughtful connection to other exhibtions on view. (The LeWit and Johns selections triggered what about that work or artist? I wish May Stevens and Harmony Hammond were included and my list grew from there. That’s part of the fun of the exhibit.)
- September 24 – February 7, 2021 ICA Yayoi Kusama: Love is Calling more
- September 24 – February 7, 2021 ICA Beyond Infinity: Contemporary Art after Kusama more
- October 23, 2019 – January 26, 2020 ICA When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art more
- Through December 31, 2019 ICA 2019 James and Audrey Foster Prize Boston area artists: Rashin Fahandej; Josephine Halvorson; Lavaughan Jenkins; Helga Roht Poznanski more
- Through December 31, 2019 ICA Vivian Suter more
- January 17, 2020 – March 15, 2020 ICA Fineberg Art Wall | Nina Chanel Abney mural more
- January 20, 2020 – July 5, 2020 ICA Tschabalala Self: Around the Way more
- January 20, 2020 – July 5, 2020 ICA Carolina Caycedo more
- February 26 – May 17, 2020 ICA Sterling Ruby more
- July 1, 2020 – October 18, 2020 ICA Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech more
28. John F. Kennedy JFK Presidential Library & Museum, UMASS Boston website
- Through November 28, 2019 JFK 100: Milestones & Mementos more
- Through December 31, 2019 Freedom 7 Space Capsule more
29. Massachusetts State House art collection website and Boston Commons public arts and spaces
30. McMullen Museum of Art BC – Boston College website
- September 9, 2019 William Trost Richards: Hieroglyphs of Landscape more
- September 9, 2019 Simon Dinnerstein: “The Fulbright Triptych” more
- September 9, 2019 Alen MacWeeney and a Century of New York Street Photography more
- September 9, 2019 Mary Armstrong: Conditions of Faith more
31. MAAH – Museum of African American History, Boston website
32. MFA – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston website
- September 13, 2019 – May 3, 2021 Women Take the Floor (The fugitive textiles and printmaking sections will rotate out Part 1 May 2020) at the MFA more
- October 12, 2019 – August 9, 2020 Weng Family Collection of Chinese Painting: Family and Friends at the MFA more
- October 13, 2019 – January 20, 2020 Ancient Nubia Now at the MFA more
- Through October 14, 2019 Community Arts Mindful Mandlas at the MFA
- Through December 15, 2019 Viewpoints: Photographs from art dealer Howard Greenberg Collection at the MFA more
- Through January 20, 2020 Make Believe: Five Contemporary photographers at the MFA more
- Through January 20, 2020 Kay Nielsen’s Enchanted Vision at the MFA more
- Through February 20, 2020 Hyman Bloom: Matters of Life and Death at the MFA more
- Through February 23, 2020 Jackson Pollock | Katharina Grosse Abstraction on a Massive Scale at the MFA more
- March 1, 2020 – May 25, 2010 Lucian Freud: The Self Portraits at the MFA more
- Through March 8, 2020 Collecting Stories: Mid Century Experiment at the MFA
- Through March 29, 2020 Boston Made Arts and Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork at the MFA more
- Through June 30, 2020 Conservation in Action: Japanes Buddhist Sculpure at the MFA
33. Otis House Museum, Historic New England website historic house museum
34. Paul Revere House website
35. Society of Arts & Crafts, at Pier 4 Boston website
- Sepember 10 2019 – November 10, 2019 Kogei-Kyoto x SA+C, Boston more
- save the date: Society visits Gloucester, Mass
36. USS Constitution, NPS website
37. Cape Cod Museum of Natural History website
- Long term display in the Naturescape Gallery James Prosek and Barbara Harmon (see also Thornton Burgess in East Sandwich)
38. Fuller Craft Museum heads into 51st season website
- Opens September 7, 2019 Striking Gold: Fuller at Fifty press release
- Opens September 7, 2019 Gleam: Golden Selections from the Permanent Collection press release
- Through September 8, 2019 Mano-Made: New Expression in Craft by Latino Artists
- Opens September 28, 2019 Human Impact: Stories of the Opiod Epidemic
- Through October 6, 2019 Brockton Youth Creates
- Opens October 19, 2019 Stitch by Stitch: Activist Quilts from the Social Justice Sewing Academy
- Through October 27, 2019 Take It Outside: Works from the Boston Sculptors Gallery
- Through October 27, 2019 Maine Crafts Association: Ten Years of Master Craft Artistshttps://larzanderson.org/exhibits/goldenage/
- Through November 17, 2019 Elizabeth Potenza: “Look up,” she said, “there is more color than you ever imagined.
- Opens January 25, 2020 Stephanie Cole: Secular Cathedral
- Opens May 2, 2020 Another Crossing: Artists Revisit the Mayflower Voyage
- Through May 3, 2020 Tending the Fires: Recent Acquisitions in Clay
39. Larz Anderson Auto Museum website
- Through mid April 2020 Golden Age – Era of Distinction, Style and Grace 1915-1948 more
- Permanent display – The Anderson Collection
40. Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate website
41. Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon website
- Through September 15, 2019 Under Pressure– Birds in the Printed Landscape: Linocuts by Sherrie York more
- Through September 29, 2019 The Shorebird Decoys of Gardner & Dexter more
42. Harvard Art Museums (Fogg; Busch-Reisinger; and Arthur M. Sackler) website
Why do any of the Harvard museums charge an entrance fee?
- Through January 5, 2020 Winslow Homer: Eyewitness (in conjunction with Cape Ann Museum Homer exhibition) University Research Gallery
- Through January 5, 2020 Early Christian Africa: Arts of Transformation
- Through January 5, 2020 Critical Printing
- Through January 5, 2020 Crossing Lines, Constructing Home: Displacement and Belonging in Contemporary Art
- Through November 14, 2021 On Site Clay — Modeling African Design
43. Harvard – Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts website
- Through September 29, 2019 Anna Oppermann: Drawings
The Carpenter Center was closed for an event on the day I scheduled to see the Oppermann exhibition – good reminder to call first for the must see shows on your list.
- Jonathan Berger: An Introduction to Nameless Love
- Harvard Film Archive weekly film series
44. Harvard – ‘The Cooper Gallery’ / The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art website
- September 16 – December 13, 2019 The Sound of My Soul: Frank Stewart’s Life in Jazz photography, curated by Ruth Fine
- the Gordon Park exhibition that recently closed was on my list of top shows for 2019
45. Harvard – Gutman Gallery website
- Through August 30, 2019 Sneha Shrestha (aka Imagine), Ed.M.’17
46. Harvard – Graduate School of Design Gund Hall Exhibition website
47. Harvard – Ernst Mayr Library website
48. Harvard – Houghton Library website
49. Harvard – Lamont Library (Harvard ID required) website
- Through March 29, 2020 Harvard College International Photo Contest Winners
50. Harvard – Museum of Natural History website
- September 25, 2019 – December 31, 2019 Rotten Apples: Botanical Models of Diversity and Disease at Harvard Museum of Natural History more
- Ongoing, Glass Flowers Gallery
51. Harvard – Peabody Museum of Archaeology website
- Through December 31, 2019 Harvard’s Peabody Museum and the Invention of American Anthropology more
52. Harvard- Pusey Library Exhibition Gallery website
- Through October 31, 2019 Mapping the Moon in Black and White Harvard Map Collection
- Through January 22, 2020 The Rittase Touch: Photographic Views of Harvard in the 1930s
53. Harvard – Widener Library (Harvard ID required) website
- Though September 30, 2019 Colonial North America: Portals to the Past
54. Central Square Murals, Cambridge website
55. MIT Museum website **OCTOBER 2021 MIT Museum moving to KENDALL SQUARE**
- Through September 1, 2019 Arresting Fragments: Object Photography at the Bauhaus more
- Opens October 11, 2019 The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology more
- Opens November 7, 2019 Making Digital Tangible more
- Through May 1, 2021 Lighter, Stronger, Faster: The Herreshoff Legacy design and engineering and the Hereshoff Manufacturing Co. more
- Ongoing Harold Edgerton exhibit; Holography collection; and Gestural Engineering: The Sculpture of Arthur Ganson
- Through September 15, 2019 Student Lending Art program more
- Through October 20, 2019 List Projects: Farah Al Qasimi more
- October 18, 2019 – January 5, 2020 Alicja Kwade: In Between Glances more
- December 12, 2019 – February 9, 2020 List Projects: Becca Albee more
- February 7, 2020 – April 12, 2020 Christine Sun Kim: Off the Charts more
- February 7, 2020 – April 12, 2020 Colored People Time: Mundane Futures, Quotidian Pasts, Banal Presents more
- March 17, 2020 – May 17, 2020 List Projects: Rami George more
57. MIT Hart Nautical Gallery website
58. MIT Museum Studio and Compton Gallery student projects website
59. MIT School of Architecture Galleries website
- September 1 Gallery 9 SA+P Thesis show website
- School of Architecture Dean’s Gallery website
- School of Architecture Keller Gallery website
- Rotch Library Exhibition space website
- Through September 30 GRAND CANYON: Geology, Exploration Tourism and Architecture more
- Through October 4, 2019 A theater without theater on display Maihaugen Gallery and Rotch Library more
- Opens December 9, 2019 ACT Fall Studio Final exhibit
- PLAZmA Digital Gallery website
60. MIT Wiesner Student Art Gallery website Stratton Student Center
- Through September 15, 2019 Surrounded by Digitized Faces and Bodies
61. Mount Auburn Cemetery website
62. Museum of Science, Boston website
- Temporary art and photography exhibitions top floor moments of excellence
- Ongoing George Rhodes 1987 commission, Archimedean Excogitation, mesmerizing audiokinetic sculpture (Relocated to lobby 2015- I prefered lower level.)
- Ongoing Katherine Lane Weems (1899-1989) animal sculptures. MoS is the largest repository of her work.
- Historic Eames installation dismantled 😦
63. Museum of Russian Icons website
- Through October 20, 2019 Wrestling With Angels Icons from the Prosopon School of Iconology and Iconography more
- November 15, 2019 – March 8, 2020 Emil Hoppe: Photographs from the Ballet Russes more
64. Louisa May Alcott Orchard House 399 Lexington Road, Concord, Massachusetts 01742, United States (978) 369-4118 guided tours year round plus special events
65. Ralph Waldo Emerson House (seasonal) website
66. Walden Pond State Reservation – Henry David Thoreau website
67. Concord Museum website
- Opening October 19, 2019 Concord Collects
- February 14, 2020 Beyond Midnight: Paul Revere press release
68. Cahoon Museum of American Art website
- September 6 – October 30, 2019 Through the Looking Glass: Daguerreotype Masterworks from the Dawn of Photography
- October 6 – October 30, 2019 Cahoon Contemporaries: Jodi Colella, Jackie Reeves, Kimberly Sheering
- November 8 – December 22, 2019 Soo Sunny Park: Boundary Conditions installation
- November 8 – December 22, 2019 Gretchen Romey Tanzer Weaver
- Rotating – Highlights from the collection; New Acquisitions; Cahoon studio tours; and historical installation designed by Mary Ann Agresti
69. Crane Museum of Papermaking website Founded in 1930. Mill venue dates to 1844, built after papermaker Zenas Crane’s retirement
70. Cape Cod Museum of Art – 39th year website
- Through October 6, 2019 Milton Teichman sculpture
- Through October 20, 2019 Ship of State…Paintings by Robert Henry
- Through December 21, 2019 Interpreting Their World: Varujan Boghosian, Carmen Cicero, Elspeth Halvorsen and Pual Resika
71. The Art Complex Museum (Weyerhaeuser collection) website
- August 18 – November 10, 2019 Steve Novick: Approximation
- September 15 -January 12, 2020 Draw the Line
- September 15 – January 12, 2020 Rotations: Highlights From the Permanent Collection Nocturne including Lowell Birge Harrison (American, 1854–1929), Suzanne Hodes (American, b. 1939), Kawase Hasui (Japanese, 1883–1957), George Inness (American, 1825–1894), Johan Barthold Jongkind (Dutch, 1819–1891) Martin Lewis (American, 1881–1962), and Henri Eugene Le Sidaner (French, 1862-1939)
- November 17 – February 16, 2020 George Herman Found Paintings
72. Thornton W. Burgess Society Green Briar Nature Center & Jam Kitchen website *may join Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster to combine and become the Cape Cod Museums of Natural History
73. Essex Shipbuilding Museum website
- September 8th and 15th, 2019 Clam Basket Making Workshop
- September 12-13th,2019 The Great Rowing Adventure, the first collaborative rowing program with Lowell’s Boat Shop and the Essex Shipbuilding Museum
74. TOHP Burnham Town Hall & Library, Essex website don’t miss Alexia Parker paper collage
75. Fitchburg Art Museum (FAM) website
- Through September 1, 2019 84th Regional Exhibition of Art and Craft
- Through September 1, 2019 Broad Strokes: American Painting of the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries from the FAM collection
- September 7, 2019 – January 5, 2020 Sage Sohier/David Hilliard: Our Parents, Ourselves more
- September 21, 2019 – November 10, 2019 Adria Arch: Reframing Eleanor more
- September 21, 2019 Daniela Rivera: Labored Landscapes (Where Hand Meets Ground) more
- September 21, 2019 – January 12, 2020 David Katz: Earth Wares more
- Ongoing Evoking Eleanor; Discover Ancient Egypt; Thurston sculpture by Douglas Kornfeld
76. Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham State Univ. website
- September 7 – October 13, 2019 Populux Steven Duede | Sean Sullivan on display in the works on paper gallery
- September 7 – December 30, 2019 Dressed! Exhibiting artists include Catherine Bertulli, Jodi Colella, Merill Comeau, Mia Cross, Nancy Grace Horton, and Marky Kauffmann
- September 7 – May 2020 Highlights from the Permanent Collection
In the span of about ten minutes, fifteen minutes tops, this Little Blue Heron ate a fish and three froglets (froglets are frogs that still have their tadpole tails).
According to Audubon and Cornell’s website, they are scarce breeders on Cape Ann, but I am not so sure about that. Although we are at the northern range of their breeding range, every year we see many first hatch year Little Blue Herons gathering at our local ponds along with other herons and egrets. They are definitely breeding on Cape Ann, despite maps that say otherwise.
The Good Harbor Beach Parking Lot Plovers
The story of a remarkably spirited pair of birds and how a community came together to help in their struggle for survival.
By Kim Smith
May 6, 2019
For the past four years, beginning in May of 2016, a pair of Piping Plovers has been calling the sandy shores of Good Harbor Beach their home. Located in the seaside city of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Good Harbor Beach is the city’s most popular beach. Visitors are attracted to her natural beauty, soft sandy beach, and gently sloping shoreline. Good Harbor Beach provides a beautiful and well-kept location for every kind of fun-in-the-sun activity, and beachgoers can be found swimming, sunbathing, surfing, picnicking, volleyball playing, jogging, strolling, kite flying, and wind surfing. Even weddings take place at Gloucester’s welcoming “little good harbor” at the edge of the sea.
The Piping Plovers arrive from where no one knows for sure. Perhaps they wintered at the wide sandy beaches of North Carolina’s Cape Lookout, or further south at the highly productive tidal flats of the Laguna Madre in Texas, or southwestward at the remote Turks and Caicos Island of Little Water Cay. What we do know is the pair is arriving earlier and earlier each spring. Is it because they are older and are more familiar with landmarks marking the migratory route? Do they arrive earlier because they are stronger flyers, or because they now have a specific destination in mind?
Piping Plovers winter primarily along Gulf Coast beaches from Florida to northern Mexico, along the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to Florida, and at Caribbean Islands.
For whatever reason, in 2018, the male and female arrived at Good Harbor Beach in early April.
That year coastal regions all along the Eastern seaboard had been devastated by four late winter nor’easters and Good Harbor was no exception. The beach had narrowed greatly while great expanses of dune had eroded or simply disappeared.
Soon several more Piping Plovers, and a single Dunlin, arrived to join the scene. The small flock of shorebirds appeared weary after what must have been a wild and windy northward migration, and all spent several days recuperating by resting on the beach and foraging at the tidal flats.
Foraging and flying through spring wind storms and snow squalls.
Despite April snow squalls and a changed landscape, the Piping Plover mated pair set about reclaiming their previous years’ nesting site.
Mama Plover, left, and Papa Plover, right, shortly after arriving in April 2018
Piping Plovers are a shorebird so small you can easily hold one in the palm of your hand. They have a rounded head and rounded body feathered in coastal hues of sand and driftwood. Their jet-black eyes are large and expressive while slender yellow-orange legs propel them around the beach with lightning speed.
During the breeding season, the bill appears orange with a black tip, and both male and female sport a distinguishing crescent-shaped head band and black collar around the neck. All markings may be more pronounced in the male. By summer’s end, the collars and crowns of both male and female fade to gray and the bill becomes a solid black.
The Piping Plover’s (Charadrius melodus) name comes from the characteristic piping vocalizations the birds make. Warning of pending danger, the adult’s calls are sharply rattling. When parents are piping to their chicks, the peeps are softly melodic and barely audible. The most notable of all is the repetitious piping the male makes to the female, calling her to join him in courtship.
Within several days after arriving, the Good Harbor Beach Mama and Papa were courting and making nest scrapes on the sandy beach.
What does Piping Plover courtship look like? The male makes a small nest scrape in the sand about three to four inches in diameter, and only as deep as the saucer of a teacup. The scrape is not often tucked under vegetation or in the dunes, but sited between the wrack line and edge of the dune, open and exposed to all the world.
He pipes his mating call, urging the female to come inspect his handiwork, his mere little scrape. He’ll continue to pipe while tossing bits of seashells, dried seaweed, or tiny pebbles into the nest scrape. If she is enticed, and that is a very big if, she will make her way to the nest scrape.
The male will continue refining the scrape, vigorously digging, with his legs going a mile a minute and sand flying in every direction. If he’s proven his nest building skills, she’ll peer into the nest. With tail feathers fanned widely, he then bows. The female not only inspects the nest, but the male’s cloaca, the V-shaped vent on the underside of a bird that is the opening to its digestive and reproductive tracts. If she decides to stay a moment longer, the male stands at attention with chest expanded while doing a high stepping dance around the female.
When and if satisfied with all her mate has to offer, she will position herself to allow the male to mount her. He dances more high steps upon her back in preparation for the “cloacal kiss,” where they touch cloaca to cloaca. It only takes a few seconds for sperm to be transferred to the female. Up to this point all has appeared rather courtly and refined, so it is always surprising to observe the last bit of the mating encounter where the male holds the female down to the ground with a rough hold on her neck for several more moments, after which she will pick herself up and run off. From separate stances, they end with a round of preening before then dozing off or zipping off to the shoreline to forage for food.
The Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers courtship and mating
Enter the troublesome “Bachelor.” Each year, the Good Harbor Beach nesting pair have an unmated male joining the mating game, and does he ever like to cause trouble. The Bachelor is constantly in the pair’s established territory, not only trying to trick Mama into mating with him, but later in the season will fly aggressively at the young chicks and fledglings.
Countless Piping Plover smackdowns ensue, where the Papa and the Bachelor repeatedly run pell-mell torpedo-like towards each other, then puffing out their feathers to appear larger, brandishing their wings and oftentimes biting, and then retreating. Sometimes the female joins the battle with a flourish of wings and both do figure eight flights and run-abouts all around the Bachelor. At other times, she watches from a distance as the two duke it out. Most often the dual ends with the mated pair heading to their respective corner of the beach, while the lonely Bachelor lays low.
Trouble with unmated males, “disrupters,” so to speak, is not uncommon to the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers. A great deal of time and energy is spent by males defending their territories from other males.
Depending on weather and air temperature, the female begins laying eggs in the nest scrape. In Massachusetts, this usually takes place near towards the end of April or at the beginning of May. Stormy weather, cooler temperatures, and disturbances by dogs often result in delayed nesting. She usually lays four eggs, less typically three. She does not lay all the eggs all at once, but one every day, or every other day, over an approximate week-long period.
Not until three eggs have been laid do the plovers begin continuously sitting on the nest. During daylight hours, both the male and female take equal turns brooding the eggs. The “changing of the guard” takes place in half hour intervals and the nest is never left unprotected, unless a predator is being chased off the scene.
The Atlantic Coast breeding population has more than doubled, from 790 pairs when it was first listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1986. Over these past thirty-plus years, collaborating conservation organizations throughout the bird’s breeding regions have devised a practical way to help keep people and pets out of endangered and threatened shorebird nesting areas. Symbolic areas are roped off, with “keep out” signs that explain to beachgoers about the nesting birds.
DCR symbolic fencing
In 2018, the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover pair arrived on April 3, nearly a month earlier than in previous years. At the time of their arrival, the citywide leash laws allowed for dogs on the beach during the month of April; however, symbolic fencing was installed and a designated area was clearly defined. The mated pair began to zero in on one particular nest scrape only a few feet away from where they had nested the prior two years.
Piping Plover eggs, chicks, and hatchlings are subject to predation, mostly from avian predators, and largely by crows and gulls. Adult Piping Plovers perceive all canids as threats, whether a dog on leash, a dog off leash, fox, or coyote, largely because fox eat Piping Plover eggs and because off-leash dogs chase shorebirds, inadvertently step on the eggs, and with their curious nature, generally disrupt the nesting area.
Vandalism, bonfires and dog disturbance in the nesting area
The Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers were no exception. Because of the constant disruption by dogs running off leash through the roped off nesting area at Good Harbor Beach, the pair were shunted off the beach and began spending their days huddled on the white lines in the adjacent parking lot. After several warm April weekend beach days, when each day there were several hundred off leash dogs, with dozens tearing through the nesting area, on April 22 the birds made their first nest scrape on one of the white lines in the parking lot.
To you and I, nesting in the parking lot may seem like a crazy alternative, but when you think about it, their solution was really quite smart. At Good Harbor Beach during the month of April, there is street parking for beachgoers and few, if any, cars are in the parking lot. Most people are walking their pets on the beach, not in the lot. And the painted white lines provide camouflage in much the same way as does beach sand.
Parking lot nest scrape, 2018
Calls for help were made to the community, urgently requesting that people keep their off leash dogs out of the roped off nesting areas. Many people made an effort to control their dogs, but many did not, and on May 5, the first egg was laid in the parking lot nest.
Within hours after the egg was discovered, Gloucester’s DPW crew, under the direction of Mike Hale and Joe Lucido, erected a barricade around the nest so that the egg would not be run over by a vehicle. Many in the community rallied around the displaced plover family. After the second egg was laid, Dave Rimmer, director of land stewardship at Essex County Greenbelt Association, along with his assistant Mike Carbone, placed around the nest a wire exclosure.
An exclosure is used to protect the eggs of threatened and endangered species. The structure is approximately four feet in diameter, constructed with wire that allows the birds and chicks to run freely through the openings, but is too small an opening to allow most predators to enter.
A group of dedicated Piping Plover volunteer monitors set up camp in the parking lot and began monitoring the nest from sunrise to sunset. It was a highly unnatural situation and distressing to observe the birds brooding the eggs while also trying to defend their foraging territory on the beach. Piping Plover mated pairs communicate constantly with piping calls, and with one in the parking lot sitting on the nest and the other on the beach foraging, they were beyond hearing range from one another.
As the chick’s hatching day drew closer, advice was sought from John Regosin, deputy director of MassWildlife, on how to help the Piping Plover family return to the beach after the chicks had hatched.
Piping Plover chicks are impossibly adorable. Unlike songbirds that hatch blind, naked, and helpless, Piping Plover chicks are precocial, which means that within hours of emerging they are able to move about and feed themselves. Weighing about as much as a nickel, the downy balls of fluff are at first clumsy, falling over themselves and tripping about on oversized feet. Although they can feed themselves, the hatchlings are not completely mature and still need parents to help regulate their body temperature. The chicks snuggle under Mom and Dad for warmth and protection.
Chicks learn quickly, and after the first day, are fully mobile, confidently zooming around the beach. There are few baby birds more winsome at birth than Piping Plover chicks, and that is perhaps one of the reasons so many fall in love with these tiny creatures.
A portion of the parking lot was closed to beach traffic, and as was expected, within hours, the chicks were running in and out of the exclosure. By afternoon they were zing zanging around the parking lot, pecking at teeny insects found between the gravel stones.
Although an elaborate Piping Plover parking lot exit strategy had been devised, the Piping Plovers had their own solution in mind. The following afternoon, Dave Rimmer observed the tiny family of six attempt to depart the parking lot. They at first appeared to be heading to the beach via the marsh creek end, when they suddenly switched direction and started back in the opposite direction towards the boardwalk nearest their original beach nest site. They went part way down the boardwalk, and then headed back toward the parking lot, then back down the walk. The family next began to travel through the dunes in the opposite direction, toward the snack bar. After all the zig and zagging, the little family returned to the boardwalk, and then headed straight through the dunes, in the direction of the originally established beach nesting zone. For a few tense moments all sight of the chicks was lost, but the parents could be heard piping, urging the chicks onward. Suddenly, out they spilled, all four one-day old chicks, down the dune edge, into the roped off nesting area, and miraculously, within feet of where the adults had originally tried to nest.
It’s heartbreaking to write that three of the four chicks never made it past their first week. Volunteers witnessed one carried away by a gull and the second disappeared after an early morning dog disturbance in the nesting area. The third chick was observed taken away by a large crow. The fourth chick, the one named Little Pip by volunteer monitor Heather Hall, made it to two weeks. Both Little Pip and adults disappeared after what appeared to be an extreme disturbance by people and pets within the nesting area, made obvious by the many, many human and dog prints observed within the roped off area.
Much has changed for the better since the summer of 2018. Piping Plover recommendations were presented to the community by the author of this article. Gloucester’s Animal Advisory Committee, under the leadership of Alicia Pensarosa, developed a list of recommendations, which was presented in July of 2018. The Piping Plover volunteer monitors and Gloucester’s Animal Advisory Committee worked with Gloucester’s City Council members to change the ordinance to disallow pets on the beach after April 1. On February 27, 2019, the ordinance was passed with community-wide support and the full support of all members of the Gloucester City Council.
On March 25, 2019, the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover pair returned, a full nine days earlier than in 2018. They were observed foraging at the shoreline, dozing off in the drifts of sand, and remarkably, the male was already displaying territorial behavior. The pair look plump and vigorous, not nearly as weary as the small band of Piping Plovers that arrived the previous year, on April 3, after the four late winter nor’easters.
The symbolic fencing was installed on March 27 by Dave Rimmer and his assistant Dave McKinnon. Despite the ordinance change, come April 1, off leash dogs were still on the beach running through the cordoned off areas. Old habits are heard to change, visitors from out of town were not yet aware of the new rules, and not everyone in the community had received word of the change.
After two weeks of dog disturbance through the protected nesting area, the mated pair began spending all their time on the white lines in the parking lot. Within days, they had made a new nest scrape in the white lines of the lot, very near to the previous year’s nest.
April 2019 – For the second year in a row, the Piping Plovers are again shunted off the beach and into the parking lot. They return to the white lines, make a nest scrape, and are courting
The volunteer monitors worked closely with city councilor Scott Memhard, whose ward Good Harbor Beach falls under, to better educate the community about the ordinance change. Gloucester’s Department of Public Works employees Mike Hale and Joe Lucido provided clear, unambiguous signage, and the mayor’s administration, working with the Gloucester Police Department, stepped up the animal control officer patrols and began issuing and enforcing the newly increased fines.
As a result, dog disturbances through the protected areas greatly decreased during the second half of April, creating the best possible outcome of all, and that is, the Piping Plovers have returned to their beach nest scrape!
We know not what the summer of 2019 holds for the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover family. But by removing needless disturbance from dogs on the beach, we are at least providing the plovers with a fighting chance of successfully nesting on the beach, with the clear goal of fledging chicks.
Learning to fly
Warm weather brings an increased number of human and pet disturbances. People leaving trash behind on the beach attracts a great many crows and seagulls. Feeding the gulls and crows is illegal, but it is difficult to enforce laws of that nature.
Piping Plover eggs and chicks are in grave danger of being eaten by crows and gulls. The adults go to great lengths to distract gulls and crows from the nesting site, including feigning a broken wing and leading them away from the nest, to tag team flying after the much larger birds and nipping at their flight feathers. When the adult birds leave the nest to distract avian and canine creatures, the eggs and chicks are left vulnerable to attacks by avian predators. If the nest is destroyed, during a single season, Piping Plovers will re-lay eggs up to five times. The earlier in the season the birds are allowed to nest without disturbance, the greater the chance the chicks will survive.
A question often asked by beachgoers is why do Piping Plovers make their nest on the sandy beach where we like to recreate? Why don’t they nest in the dunes? The answer to that question is several fold. Piping Plovers evolved over millennia, long, long before there was recreational beach activity and the tremendous crowds seen today on sandy beaches, the preferred habitat of the Atlantic Coast Piping Plovers. The birds evolved with feathers that perfectly mirror the hues of sand, dry seaweed, and dry beach grass, providing camouflage and safety for the adults and chicks. In dune vegetation, their pale color would make them an easy target.
Because Piping Plover chicks are precocial, within days of hatching they feed at the water’s edge. They are so tiny, weighing only 5.5 grams at birth, and they need unfettered access to feed at the water. The hatchlings would surely be lost or eaten if home base were in the dunes.
Another comment heard is, “Well, they are obviously genetically inferior and stupid birds because they are unable to adapt to our human activity, you know, survival of the fittest, and all that.” Nothing could be further from the truth. By the earlier part of the previous century, the plume hunters hired by the millinery trade to provide feathers, and even whole birds, to adorn women’s hats, had nearly hunted Piping Plovers and many other species of birds to extinction. Under the protection of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which prohibits the taking of migratory birds, their eggs, and nests, the Piping Plover population began to recover. Tragically, beginning in the mid-twentieth century the population again plummeted, as habitat was lost to development, recreational use greatly intensified along the Atlantic Coast, and predation increased.
The Atlantic Coast Piping Plovers are slowly making a comeback because of tremendous conservation efforts. Massachusetts is at the leading edge of Piping Plover recovery, and other states and provinces comprising the Atlantic Coast populations are learning from protocols and guidelines established by Massachusetts Piping Plover conservation partners. These partners include the Trustees of Reservations Shorebird Protection Program, MassWildlife, Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program, Essex County Greenbelt’s Land Conservation Program, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MDCR), and communities all along the Massachusetts coastline with burgeoning populations of Piping Plovers.
I am hopeful for the future of our Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers. It takes time and patience to effect change and we have come a very long way in four years. Nearly everyone we speak with has fallen in love with the plovers. Working with our dedicated volunteer monitors, Mike Hale, Joe Lucido, and the entire crew of Gloucester’s Department of Public Works, Gloucester’s Animal Advisory Committee, former police chief John McCarthy, Mayor Romeo-Theken’s administration, animal control officers Teagan and Jamie, Dave Rimmer and the Essex County Greenbelt staff, city councilor Scott Memhard, and nearly all the members of Gloucester’s City Council, I have met some of the kindest and most tender hearted people. Documenting the story of the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers though writing, photographing, and filmmaking, while learning and sharing with my community along the way, has provided a fascinating window into the life story and challenges of this surprisingly tough, resilient, and beautiful little shorebird.
Monday, May 6, 2019. As I write this, earlier today I observed Essex Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer and intern Fiona Hill install a wire exclosure around the Piping Plover’s nest. The nest is on the beach! And very close to where the pair nested in 2016 and 2017.
Last Friday, I noticed the pair had zeroed in on a nest scrape far back in the roped off area, well clear of the high tide line. A stick protruding from the sand adjacent to the nest makes it easy to spot the location. There are bits of shells, dried seaweed, and small pieces of driftwood surrounding the outer perimeter of the nest and it is very well disguised. Nice location Mama and Papa, well done! Mama was in the nest moving her belly and legs, as if turning the eggs. Papa showed up about twenty minutes later and they changed places, he to sit on the nest, and she to forage. They have been continuously sitting on the nest since Saturday.
Dave and Fiona constructed the wire exclosure outside the nesting area to minimize disturbance. With great caution, they approached the nest. It was Papa’s shift and he valiantly tried everything he could to try to distract us from his nest of eggs, piping loudly and running very near to Dave and Fiona while displaying a “broken” wing. It only took the two of them fifteen minutes to place the exclosure around the nest, and within a moment after completion, Papa was back on the nest brooding the eggs.
Papa feigning a broken wing to distract.
The Good Harbor Beach dunes and Piping Plover habitat is recovering from the late winter storms of 2018. Phil Cucuru points to how much of the beach washed away in the first photo (April, 2018). In the next photo, the space between the old dune fencing posts and the edge of the dune show how much of the dune was carved away. The last two photos show the new dune fencing and the natural recovery taking place.
Just some of the many friends of the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers – I wish I had photos of everyone
If you would like to read more 🙂 GO HERE to 100 Plus Articles, Posts, and Stories from April 2018 to May 2019
HAPPY NESTING AND HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY FRIENDS!
Our GHB Piping Plover family is doing beautifully and all appears to be going as expected. It’s almost been a week since the PiPls began incubating the eggs full time. Mama Pippi and Big Papi take turns at the nest, in approximately 20 to 30 minute intervals. The “changing of the guards” happens in seconds, but you can catch a glimpse of the eggs in the nest during the switch.
The Bachelor is still around, and he is clearly unhappy, skulking in sandy depressions, and causing Papa to give him chase down the beach.
I have been filming PiPls at area beaches and our pair is on a similar egg laying schedule as several other pairs. It’s super interesting tracking all and noting the (mostly) similarities and some differences. At one location, the pair are nesting under a stick, just as are the GHB pair.
Our Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers at the nest last Friday, before the wire exclosure was installed. Note what an awesome location they chose this year–it’s behind a rise of sand and is surrounded by plenty of twigs, dry seaweed, and bits of shell to help provide additional camouflage.
The Piping Plovers have a nest and it is not in the parking lot! Four beautiful, perfect eggs are now being tended to by both Mama and Papa Plover on the beach, in the same general location as the 2016 and 2017 nest locations.
Early this morning, Essex Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer, assisted by intern Fionna Hill, installed the wire exclosure that helps protect the Piping Plover eggs from canid, avian, and human disturbance and destruction.
Dave is permitted by Mass Wildlife, and is an expert in, building and installing PiPl wire exclosures. Dave and Fionna constructed the exclosure together outside the nesting area so that when they actually had to step into the nesting area to place the exclosure there was minimal disturbance to the nest. Dave noted that it only took the two of them about fifteen minutes to install the wire structure around the nest, and Papa Plover was back sitting on the nest within one minute of completion.
Gloucester’s conservation agent Adrienne Lennon was present at the onset, but had to tend to issues related to the dyke construction at Goose Cove. Dave’s new assistant, Fiona Hill, will be helping to monitor the Plovers for the summer. She grew up in Newburyport and is a a junior at UMass Amherst. Welcome to Good Harbor Beach Fiona and we look forward to working with you!
Papa feigning a broken wing in a classic diversionary display to distract predators.
So sorry the photos are very much on the pink side. I should convert the whole batch to black and white. My darling granddaughter was playing with my camera over the weekend and all the settings were messed up–the photos from the Cape Ann Museum were taken with the white balance set to underwater, and the beach photos this morning set to nine on the red scale! At least now I know how to fix it if it happens again 🙂
Papa back on the nest within a minute of exclosure installation completion.
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Papa Plover piping to hurry up and finish the installation. It only took @ecgreenbelt Dave and Fiona 15 minutes to set the exclosure around the nest. Papa was back on the nest within a minute of the expert installation! #pipingplover #sharetheshore #endangeredspecies #goodharborbeach #gloucesterma
It’s been another unseasonably cold and wet week for the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers (and all of we humans, too!). This morning, April 29th, at 5:45 am it was 36 degrees, and I nearly lost my balance on the unexpectedly frost-covered footbridge.
Crickly creek frosty morning at Good Harbor Beach
On the few warmer days we’ve had, the PiPls are courting and mating, but on freezing cold, wet, and windy days, they hunker down in divots and behind mini hills in the sand, and that’s exactly where I found them this morning. We should be seeing eggs any day now; perhaps Mama is just waiting for the weather to turn a bit warmer.
Hunkering down in sandy divots during cold, windy weather
The issue of dogs running through the roped off nesting areas has greatly subsided, thanks to the ordinance change, to increased enforcement by our dog officers Jamie and Teagan, to Piping Plover monitor presence over the past month, and to the bold new signage. We can see very clearly how fewer dogs on the beach has affected the plover’s behavior. Unlike the first two and half weeks of April where there were still many, many dogs on the beach, the PiPls are only occasionally seen in the parking lot.
Thank you to Gloucester’s awesome DPW crew, who in anticipation of the past weekend’s running race, encircled the plover’s nesting area with sawhorses and police tape.
We have seen a total of FIVE different Piping Plovers at Good Harbor Beach over the past two weeks, our mated Mama and Papa pair, the Bachelor, ETM (the banded PiPl from Cumberland Island, Georgia that Heather Hall spotted), and a mystery fly-by-night female.
We were hoping the new girl would stay long enough to strike up a piping conversation with the Bachelor, but she flew in for a one night stopover and has not been seen since. She was very distinctly pale, with only the faintest head band and collar band.
There is one bit of troublesome news to share and that is someone had a bonfire within the roped off nesting area. The police chief and and the federal agent assigned to Good Harbor Beach have both been made aware of the bonfire.
We are grateful and thankful to all who are helping the PiPls successfully nest, especially those who are using Gloucester’s alternative locations to walk their dogs.
Photos from PiPl check 4-29-19
Sawhorses and police tape in the parking lot, with thanks to the DPW staff
As you may have read, a banded male Piping Plover was spotted by Piping Plover volunteer monitor Heather Hall late afternoon on April 16th. He was banded on October 7th, 2018, at Cumberland Island, Georgia. (Read more here). ETM has been spotted daily and often at Good Harbor Beach since the 16th.
We’ve heard more from the Virginia Tech Shorebird Program biologists. ETM was last seen at Cumberland Island on April 11th, which means that in five days, or less, he traveled all the way from Georgia to Gloucester, approximately 1,140 miles, if traveling by airplane and overland. If he were traveling along the coastline, that would greatly increase the mileage. It’s no wonder that when we see shorebirds newly arrived at Good Harbor Beach in the spring, they appear weary and ravenous!
Reader Kevin McCarthy from Amelia River Cruises left a comment on our first post about ETM – “I was born and raised in Gloucester and grew up at Brier Neck but moved to Amelia Island Florida in 1968. Amelia Island is just south of Cumberland Island and for 20 years I have been operating Amelia River Cruises with narrative sighting boat tours along Cumberland Island. My wife’s family are among the very first English settlers on the island in 1740. Your plover may have been part of my Tours this winter.”
REMINDER – The Piping Plover volunteer monitor information meeting with conservation agent Adreinne Lennon is this Wednesday, April 24th, from 5:00 to 6:00pm at City Hall at the Kyrouz Auditorium
Our Good Harbor Beach PiPls are waffling between the parking lot and the beach.
Tuesday at daybreak I found them mating and sitting in the nest in the parking lot.
Mama (left) and Papa( right) in the parking lot nest scrape.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the two were this time mating at their beach nest scrape. Throughout most of the day they were seen on the beach!
Aside from some pre- and early dawn scofflaws, along with the occasional visits by dogs off and on leash during the day, the beach appears to becoming less frequented by pets. Perhaps the beach will become the safer of the two locations and our little pair will decide to return for the duration of the season.
HEADS UP – This Sunday is Easter. If the weather is nice there is the strong possibility we will get people from out of town, as well as some locals, who are not yet aware of the ordinance change. The monitors will be on the beach, but we need help from the community in letting people know about the new policy, no dogs on the beach at any time of day or night from April 1st to October 1st. Thank you for any help given!
Thank you again to dog Officers Jamie and Teagan for their continued stepped up presence, and to Mayor Sefatia, Mike Hale and the DPW for the fantastic, clear simple signs. The past few days, the signs appear to really be having an effect!
Banded Piping Plover ETM was observed again Wednesday. You can see his ETM leg band in the photo on the left, but not when he is standing with his left leg tucked up under his belly.
Late yesterday afternoon, our Piping Plover volunteer monitor Heather Hall identified a new addition to the three Piping Plovers currently residing at Good harbor Beach. She observed that he was super hungry and that he was wearing not one, but two identifying bands! The green band is located on his upper left leg and is etched in white with the letters ETM. On his upper right leg is a nondescript aluminum band most likely placed there by USFW.
The little guy was tagged on October 7th of this past year at Cumberland Island, Georgia, by the Virginia Tech Shorebird Program. He is a first hatch year, which means he is not quite yet a year old. ETM was spotted several more times at Cumberland Island indicating that he spent the winter there.
Cumberland Island is a barrier island and is the largest and most furthest south of the “Sea Islands” of the southeastern United States. You may have heard of Sea Island cotton, a very luxurious type of cotton. The fibers of the cotton that are planted on the Sea Islands grow extra long. In spinning and weaving cotton, the longer the fibers, the smoother and more luxurious the cotton feels. The word long-staple is used to describe very fine cotton threads.
Cumberland Island National Seashore sounds like a stunning and fascinating place to visit and I hope to do just that someday soon 🙂
To learn more about the Virginia Tech Shorebird Program:
The Virginia Tech Shorebird Program is a consortium of conservation biologists in the Virginia Tech Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Although our biologists have a variety of interests, we share a common goal of conservation of coastal wildlife resources through transformational research. We work closely with managers and stakeholders to provide research that is timely and pertinent to management. The VT Shorebird Program began in 1985 with a study of piping plovers on the coasts of Virginia and Maryland. Since that time, our biologists have worked up and down the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, along the shores of prairie rivers and lakes, and internationally in the Bahamas, Canada, and China, promoting the conservation of seabirds and shorebirds through research. We have worked with a variety of species, including piping plovers, least terns, snowy plovers, killdeer, spotted sandpipers, red knots, common terns, gull-billed terns, roseate terns, and black skimmers in an effort to conserve our coastlines and the animals that depend on it. Read More Here
And here’s more from Audubon –
Cumberland Island is Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island. It is also one of the oldest barrier islands in Georgia, with rich soils capable of supporting a diversity of plants. It is bordered by the Cumberland River, Cumberland Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean. Three main natural communities are found on the island: extensive salt marshes on the western side comprise almost 17,000 acres; an ancient, mid-island maritime forest of live oak, pine, cedar and saw palmetto covers 15,100 acres; and a narrow strip of dune/beach stretches along the Atlantic Ocean side of the island. Parts of the island have regenerated from use as plantations, when clear-cutting for sea island cotton farming and timber harvests for ship building were profitable. It has several noteworthy features, including 50 miles of shoreline, freshwater marshes and ponds, high bluffs, interdune meadows, tidal mudflats and creeks, and a large, freshwater lake. It is accessible only by ferry, a concession arrangement with the national park service.
As a United Nations-sanctioned International Biosphere Reserve, the wilderness on Cumberland Island protects many threatened and endangered species, including six species of migratory and shore birds and four species of sea turtles. It is clearly a place of global significance.
Cumberland Island is a major stopping point on the transatlantic migratory flyway, with over 335 species of birds recorded. Threatened and endangered species include Least Tern, Wilson’s Plover, and American Oystercatcher. The southernmost point of the island, known as Pelican Banks, is a favorite place for Black Skimmers, oystercatchers, pelicans, and numerous ducks and shore birds. The fresh water ponds provide excellent rookeries for Wood storks, white ibis, herons and egrets. In the forest canopy, warblers, buntings, wrens and woodpeckers abound. On the shores, osprey, peregrine falcons, and the occasional Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle can be seen. CI is a breeding site for endangered/threatened/high priority species such as Wood Stork, GAEA, Least Tern, Painted Bunting. Extensive, regular use by migrants and winter residents (warblers, shorebirds, PE, FA). The habitat is largely undisturbed and the island is one of GA’s largest. Area attracts several rare/accidental species (LBCU, GLGU, WEK). Northern edge for some species (i.e., WIPE winters) = seasonal use and range. Contains steadily increasing population of TUTI (uncommon to rare on many barrier islands). AMWP (winter and a few summer), REEG, etc.
Black Rail, Piping Plover, Saltmarsh sharp-tail Sparrow, Nelson’s sharp-tail Sparrow, Painted Bunting, Cerulean Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Red-cockcaded Woodpecker (Source: Shelia Willis checklist) Read More Here
View back to Market Basket, April 2019. Heading into its third month, Aspen Dental, 501 Gloucester Crossing, Gloucester, Mass, openend January 31.
“we welcome all mouths”
I checked on the PiPls early this morning, or more accurately should write, one Piping Plover. We haven’t seen the second PiPl since Monday afternoon. The beach was quiet, with only two dogs, and they were both on leash. Officer Teagan was also present, walking the length of the beach and keeping an eye out on our singular PiPl.
Mid-morning I returned and the beach was bustling with activity. Dave Rimmer and his crew, Dave McKinnon (the above photo is for Dave’s Mom!), and Mike were installing the symbolic fencing. Gloucester’s Conservation Agent was present as well as volunteer monitor Mary. The group was soon joined by Joe Lucido. Joe was there to check on the signs, which are a work in progress, and a DPW crew was present cleaning up all the winter trash that accumulates and blows into the marsh. Joe has been posting about the PiPls on the Gloucester Beaches facebook page and he mentioned the Plover posts get tons of likes!
Shout out and thank you to Mayor Sefatia and her administration, all our City Councilors, Joe Lucido and the entire DPW, Heather Hall, Mary, and all our volunteers, Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer, Dave McKinnon, and Mike, Gloucester’s Conservation Agent, and everyone who is helping our Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers get off to a great start!
Great foraging in the tide flats for our PiPl. Notice in the super copped photo, a tiny little shrimp!
1) Volunteer to be a Piping Plover monitor. Please contact Alicia Pensarosa at firstname.lastname@example.org. Heather Hall is currently working on a temporary schedule until one is provided by Alicia. Heather can be reached at email@example.com.
2) Please let your friends know the PiPls have returned and please share this post.
3) If you have a dog, and I know this is a great deal to ask, please avoid Good Harbor Beach. There are many other great places that folks can walk their dog. Beginning April 1st, all dogs are prohibited from Good Harbor Beach at anytime of day or night, including early morning and after the life guards leave for the day.
4) If you feel you must bring your dog to GHB, please avoid the No. 3 boardwalk area (their preferred courting and nesting area) and please walk your dog along the shoreline.
5) Join our Facebook page Piping Plover Partners.
6) Come to the Piping Plover Ecology, Management, and Conservation program at the Sawyer Free Library this Saturday from 10am to 12pm. This program is sponsored by the City of Gloucester’s Animal Advisory Committee.
7) Please report anyone harassing the PiPls to the police at 978-283-1212 and any dog harassing the PiPls to Gloucester’s Animal Control officers Jamie and Teagan at 978-281-9746.
THANK YOU FOR ANY AND ALL HELP GIVEN!
TWO GOOD NEWS UPDATES:
A note from Mayor Sefatia – A thirty day waiting period after the new dog ordinance was passed was required prior to any new signs being installed. The thirty days has passed and we will be seeing the new signs shortly!
Dave Rimmer from Greenbelt will be installing the protective symbolic fencing tomorrow, Wednesday!
Look for the Papa doing a fancy goose step during courtship. This is our Good Harbor Beach Mama and Papa courting last spring.
Our beautiful Piping Plovers have returned! This afternoon we observed them foraging at the shoreline, then chased up to the wrack line by a bounding off-leash dog. After the dog departed the area, the two PiPls dozed off in the drifts of sand and dry beach grass.
The pair look plump and vigorous, not nearly as weary looking as the PiPls that arrived last year on April 3rd, after the four March nor’easters.
Unbelievably, the male is already displaying courtship behavior! And even more amazingly so, he was doing it within mere feet of where they have nested for the past three years.
I know I sound like a broken record, but today was an on-leash day. There were at least a half a dozen dogs off-leash in the forty-five minutes Charlotte, Tom, and I were there. I purposefully bring Charlotte to the beach on on-leash days because of the out of control dogs. A forty to fifty pound off-leash Golden Retriever puppy came bounding up to Charlotte, while its owner stood back shouting he’ll slobber all over her. I was more concerned with the oversized pup knocking her over and used considerable force to hold the puppy back, while Tom scooped up Charlotte. Everyone I spoke with was not aware of the dog laws, old laws and the new laws, and the new 300.00 fines. All the ordinances on the books are not going to do a thing, unless they are enforced.
Please help give Jamie a true Gloucester welcome! Jamie hails from Gloucester, England and it is an honor that he chose Gloucester, Massachusetts as his final destination on his 5,500 mile cross country journey.
See Joey’s up-to-the minute schedule of when Adventureman will be arriving to Gloucester, posted at the top of the blog, and for Facebook readers, at goodmorninggloucester.org.
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@adventureman interview with @captjoe06 and @pdalpiaz. Adventure man is going to be arriving in Gloucester on Wednesday!!!! He has run 5,500 miles, along both the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts and across the southern US, raising money for children’s hospitals. Come out and welcome Adventureman (aka Jamie) in true Gloucester style. For all the details, arrival times, etc. go to www.goodmorninggloucester.com. Shout out to @sefi62, Pat, Joey, Maggie Rosa, @beauport_hotel @capeannchamber @capeanngiclee and a host of friends who are welcoming Adventureman and planning to make his stay in #gloucesterma memorable!
Last night’s moonrise over the Back Shore was spectacular. Click on the sequence above to see full size. I don’t know why the Moon has a “neck” in the middle photo, or what that reflective appearance is termed, but it was so interesting to see.
February’s Snow Moon was also a Super Moon. It was the the second of a trio of Super Moons taking place in 2019. The Super Snow Moon was also the largest of the three (closest to Earth). The third and final Super Moon of the year is taking place on March 21st.
Our Charlotte loves looking at the Moon, so when she popped up in bed at 5:30 in the morning and exclaimed Moon!, I bundled her up and off we went to see the Moon setting over the Harbor. I wrote last month that she loves looking up in the sky for the Moon, largely from reading her the story book Good Night, Moon, and now we are reading Buenos Noches, Luna, practicing for an upcoming trip to Mexico.
NASA: When a full moon appears at perigee (its closest point to Earth), it is slightly brighter and larger than a regular full moon—and that’s where we get a ‘supermoon.’ The phrase was coined in 1979.
For the past week or so, a duo of male American Wigeons has been spotted foraging along the coastline. They dip and dabble, close to the shore, and are eating sea lettuce and seaweed.
American Wigeon male eating sea lettuce
Smaller than a Mallard but larger than a Bufflehead, the punky male flashes a brilliant green swath across the eye and has a beautiful baby blue bill. The males were are also colloquially called “Baldplate” because the white patch atop his head resembles a bald man’s head.
Oiling their feathers (called preening) and constantly aligning the feathers keeps the ducks both afloat and aloft.
Notice how the water forms beads on the duck’s breast, a sure sign the feathers are well-oiled. Ducks have a gland at the base of their tail called the uropygial gland (you can also say preen gland or oil gland). The preen oil creates a protective barrier that prevents the feathers from becoming waterlogged.
I like to think of the American Wigeon as both spunky and punky. Spunky because of the way they bounce back after diving in rough surf. Punky because of their occasionally holligan-like behavior.
Last year when first encountering American Wigeons I didn’t understand why the Mallards were so aggressive towards the Wigeons, snapping and nipping at the pair whenever they got too close to the Mallard’s meal. Now I see why. American Wigeons often feed alongside other ducks, especially diving ducks such as Coots. The Wigeons opportunistically snatch away the aquatic vegetation the divers pull up although, our two travelers were quite amicable and while feeding together, not in the least hoodlumish toward each other.