Tag Archives: gloucester

FOUR WAYS IN WHICH WE CAN HELP THE GOOD HARBOR BEACH PIPING PLOVERS SUCCESSFULLY FLEDGE CHICKS: OUR RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE MAYOR

Dear Readers,

Last Tuesday we sent our letter to Mayor Sefatia and the City Councilors with a short list of recommendations, based on the past three years of daily Piping Plover monitoring by myself and our core group of volunteer monitors. We purposefully kept the recommendations modest out of consideration to both the Piping Plovers and to our Good Harbor beach going community. Please find below the recommendations suggested by the Piping Plover volunteer monitors.

July 9, 2018

Dear Mayor Romeo Theken and Gloucester City Councilors,

We, the Piping Plover volunteer monitors, are submitting our short list of recommendations regarding the Piping Plovers nesting at Good Harbor Beach. Our goal is to have in place by next April 1, 2019, measures and ordinances that will greatly increase the likelihood that the hatchlings of this tiny threatened shorebird will have a fighting chance at surviving life on Good Harbor Beach.

Piping Plovers began nesting at Good Harbor Beach in 2016. Each year, the PiPl are coming earlier and earlier. In 2016, they arrived mid-May, in 2017 they arrived at the beginning of May, and this year, they arrived on April 3. It would appear that the same pair is returning to Good Harbor Beach, as the male marks his territory and attempts to build a nest scrape only several feet from the previous year’s nest (at Boardwalk #3 nesting area). More Plovers than ever were seen at Good Harbor Beach this spring, and if not for constant interruptions in the Boardwalk #1 nesting area, we would have had two pairs nesting on the beach.

Why are the birds arriving earlier and earlier? We can presume that the pair are more experienced travelers and that Good Harbor Beach is their “territory.” Does this mean we will eventually have dozens of pairs nesting on Good Harbor Beach? No, because the PiPl are very territorial and they will defend a fairly large area, preventing other PiPl from nesting in their site.

This year the PiPl pair hatched four chicks. All four chicks were killed by crows, gulls, and dogs. All three are human-created issues, and all three can be remedied. The following are the four recommendations and actions we wish to see take place.

Recommendations

1) Change the dog ordinance to not allow dogs on the beach after March 31.

Currently, dogs are allowed on the beach from October 1 to May 1. The Piping Plover volunteer monitor core group, Dave Rimmer from Greenbelt, Ken Whittaker, and Mass Wildlife’s John Regosin, all agree that dogs should not be allowed on Good Harbor Beach beginning April 1, but that it would be safe for Piping Plover fledglings and other migrating shorebirds for dogs to return after September 15.

This new suggested time frame will allow birds to nest on the beach (as opposed to in the parking lot), with far less interruption, shorebirds will nest earlier in the season, which will help with the chicks survival rate, and the chicks will be stronger by the time Good Harbor fills with summer crowds.

This is a very logical and simple solution. Disallowing dogs on Massachusetts coastal beaches where shorebirds are nesting, beginning April 1, is the norm. Allowing them to return after September 15, and in many cases after September 30, is also very common. For Piping Plovers and other nesting shorebirds, protecting their habitat and sharing the shore is a matter of life and death.

2) Rope off the nesting area by April 1.

Poles, with threatened species signs, and a triple row of roping of nesting sites, to be in place no later than April 1. Essex County Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer will assist with this measure.

3) Enforce the existing ordinances regarding dogs (and littering) at all times throughout the year.

Only enforcing dog ordinances at Good Harbor Beach during nesting season is creating hostility toward the Piping Plovers.

Additionally, we do not recommend extremely high fines as we feel that may become an impediment to issuing and collecting the fines. We know of at least one example where the magistrate dismissed the tickets issued to a woman who claimed to have a service dog. This woman was running rampant on the beach and throughout dunes with her service dog off leash throughout the entire time the PiPl were nesting, from April through May. Despite the fact that former dog officer Diane Corliss caught the woman on camera with her dog off leash on the beach, and in the dunes, all her tickets that were issued by the animal control officer were dismissed. This is neither fair to the officers who are working hard to keep the dogs off the beach or to the plover volunteers who are spending inordinate amounts of time trying to keep the PiPl safe.

4). Increase trash collection.

When no barrels are placed at the entrances to the beach, people dump bags of trash there anyway. When barrels are in place, people put trash in the barrels however, when the barrels become full, they again resort to leaving bags of trash behind, only next to the barrels. In either scenario, gulls and crows are attracted to the trash. Both gulls and crows rip open the bags and the trash is blown throughout the parking lot and marsh, soon finding its way onto the beach and into the ocean. Hungry gulls and crows waiting for people to leave their trash behind eat tiny shorebirds.

A friend who lives on a North Carolina beach shares how her community keeps their public beaches looking pristine. Not only do they have barrels, but every few weeks, police patrol the beach and hand out fines for littering. This is taken as a wake up call, everyone is good for a bit of time, but then become slack about littering again. Out come the officers for another round of ticketing.

Thank you for taking the time to consider our recommendations.

Sincerely yours,

Kim Smith

cc Paul Lundberg, Steven LeBlanc, Val Gilmam, Ken Hecht, Melissa Cox, Jen Holmgren, Scott Memhard, Sean Nolan, Jamie O’Hara, Dave Rimmer, Ken Whitakker

Piping Plover chicks coming in for some snuggles.

MORGAN FAUDLS PIKE’S GREAT RED FOX CAPTURE!

Gloucester sculptor and designer Morgan Faulds Pike’s arrestingly beautiful works of art are often inspired by the wildlife and wild habitats of Cape Ann. I love her description of a Red Fox she recently spied. Go here to Morgan’s website to see a collection of her stunning sculptures, carvings for pipe organs, and drawings. And of course, you can always visit her “Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Memorial” on the boulevard.
Thanks so much to Morgan for sharing!!
Hello  Kim,
Heading home Tuesday from an early morning run around the quarries, I saw this fox cross Granite Street toward the Tool Company. She munched on something under a bush in the empty lot while crows, and later mockingbirds, harassed her. I got out of the car and watched her calmly cross at the crosswalk, then head up Curtis street on the sidewalk. A beautiful animal with ink dipped feet and ears and a white tipped fat fur tail. Sorry it’s only iPhone resolution…
Morgan Faulds Pike

Red Fox are so elusive. We used to see them all the time in East Gloucester, especially on the backshore beaches, scavenging early, early in the morning. I see them now much more frequently in West Gloucester (and Gray Fox, too) and Joey recently saw one trotting along in East Gloucester, after years of no sightings.

I read that where you have a greater concentration of Eastern Coyotes there will be fewer Red Fox. I also read that because of habitat competition from the Eastern Coyote, they are now denning closer to people’s homes as these sites are deemed safer from coyotes. Coyotes typically sleep out in the open and don’t usually make a den, unless it’s pupping season, and then they may use a fox’s den.

Generous Gardeners Garden Tour

This years garden tour took place in Lanesville and was a treat for one and all. A huge Thank You to both the Generous Gardeners and to the home owners that allowed us to visit their homes to see their gardens and wonderful views.

Dog poop altars

 

Winter, spring, summer and fall-  beach paths, trails, sidewalks, boulders and streets are not immune to collections of remaindered dog poop bag offerings.

 

I assume this back windshield wiper tie off is temporary. However I’ve seen them on parked cars like this one in the Cape Ann Museum lot.

 

A Gloucester resident writes about this inconsiderate habit common in local…cemeteries. I have seen them there, too. Today’s paper July 9, 2018 Dog Owners should remove waste

IMG_20180710_061359 (1)

Not just Gloucester. Friends are barking mad about dog poop on Manchester Singing Beach. A frustrated Rockport resident penned a letter to the editor May 2018 “The Dog Poop Saga” , Gloucester Daily Times. 

THE DOG POOP SAGA Carrie DeFort letter to the editor Gloucester Daily Times Monday May 14 2018.jpg

and another March 23 2017, this one in the police notes “Owners fined for pet poop on beach” 

Why is Gloucester providing bags at all especially at the newly completed Boulevard? They don’t seem to work.

Around the globe:

  • Cities go to extreme lengths to tackle a dog poop epidemic- excerpt “And so cities, tired of the turd, are devoting precious brainstorming hours to inventing ever-more-novel ways to combat it. The latest is Madrid, which this week announced a “shock plan” to force dog owners in two districts to clean up after their pets: Those caught not doing so must either spend a few days as substitute street cleaners or face a $1,700 fine. The Spanish capital’s city hall said “there is still excrement in the streets, parks and other places” despite “repeated public awareness campaigns” and the distribution of millions of free poo bags, according to The Guardian…In 2013, Brunete, a suburb of Madrid, boxed up dog feces and mailed it to scofflaw owners. For two weeks, volunteers spied on dog walkers, sidled up to those who didn’t scoop and asked the name of the pooch — which, because most were registered with the city, was usually enough information to determine the owner’s address. Mayor Borja Gutierrez told the New York Times that the problem was the No. 1 constituent complaint, and that the mail-bombs had improved things by 70 percent. “It’s your dog, it’s your dog poop. We are just returning it to you,” Gutierrez said. Why are such absurd programs necessary? Fortunately, someone tried to find out. Last year, Matthias Gross, a German sociologist, published an entire paper about it in the journal Environmental Sociology. Its title: “Natural waste: canine companions and the lure of inattentively pooping in public.”
  •  DNA pursuits: “People used to think dog poop was harmless; it was considered fertilizer when in fact it contains more bacteria and chemicals than human poop, spreads parasites and pollutes our water supply,” said J Retinger, CEO of BioPet Labs. “We also have way more dogs in the world. Millennials have dogs before they have children.”… BioPet’s subsidiary, PooPrints, may be the ultimate solution for eradicating dog poop scofflaws. The company, which has grown 40 percent since 2016, provides a DNA testing program to 3,000 clients — primarily homeowners’ associations and building managers — in the U.S., Canada and England, including 250 in Florida. More than 250,000 dogs are in the PooPrints registry. Communities that implement the program require residents to profile and register their dogs. Offending poop gets tested, and the DNA is matched with the offending dog. The owner faces fines or eviction.“Property managers report a 95 to 99 percent reduction in waste,” said Ernie Jones, PooPrints sales manager. “People know DNA testing is accurate and will make them accountable. If you know you are going to get fined $250 to $500 you will take a couple minutes to pick up after your dog.”
  • Japan- (2015)City launched app to report dog poo

Along with consequences (taxes and fines), some communities try incentives beyond bags. New Taipei Taiwan unleashed a dog poop lottery: “Officials in New Taipei City say that more than 4,000 people have collected 14,500 bags of excrement. For each bag they turned in, they were given a lottery ticket. A woman in her 50s won the top prize – a gold ingot worth $2,200 (£1,400). The scheme was due to end in October, but officials said it had been so successful it had been extended…”

The Poop Problem: What to Do With 10 Million Tons of Dog Waste, op-ed, Live Science, April 2014 What’s wrong with scrap paper or newspaper? I used that in New York when Bags were not a thing.

poop graphic.png

PIPING PLOVER UPDATE – WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

 Pip, the day before he was killed.

You may be asking, “where are the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers now?” Surprisingly, they are still around! After the night the last chick was killed (tracks point to a skirmish with a dog and several people in the nesting area), two Piping Plovers were reported at Cape Hedge Beach the following evening. Rockport resident Gail, who first reported the sighting, and PiPl volunteer monitor Laurie Sawin and I, found one at Cape Hedge the next morning, and by the next day, two had returned to the roped off area at #3 boardwalk!

Everyday since, either Greenbelt’s Dave McKinnon, my husband Tom, Deborah Cramer, or myself have spotted at least one in the cordoned off #3.

Recent PiPl sightings at the Good Harbor Beach nesting area.

Our thoughts are to leave some part of the roping up as long as the Piping Plovers are still using it as a sanctuary during high tide when the beach is crowded. For a second and even more important reason, many of us would like to see part of the cordoned off area stay in place for the simple reason it is helping with dune recovery.

You may recall that during late winter we had back to back nor’easters, which had a devastating effect on Good Harbor Beach in that much of the beach’s sand was washed away. The beach dropped about ten feet, which now causes the tide to come up high to the edge of the bluff. Beach grass and beach vegetation will help prevent future washouts. Because the area around #3 has been roped of since mid-April, a fantastic patch of beach grass has begun to take hold!!! If we leave a narrow strip roped off from the public, about ten to fifteen feet wide, running the length of the beach and around the creek bend, this simple step alone will have a marked impact on the overall health of the dune habitat.Beach plants help prevent erosion while also providing shade and shelter for tiny shorebirds.

A pair of one-day-old Least Tern chicks finding shade.

 

GOD BLESS AMERICA

God Bless America – In thinking about our beautiful country of immigrants and wondering, how does it feel to be a new immigrant in the America of today? History is again repeating itself in the horrendous mistreatment of the Central American refugees.

“God Bless America” was written by Irving Berlin one hundred years ago (1918) while Berlin was serving in the Army, but he set the song aside at that time. Berlin, born Israel Baline, was the son of a Jewish cantor fleeing persecution in Russia. With the rise of Hitler, in 1938 Berlin felt the time was right to release “God Bless America,” as a peace song. The backlash was immediate. Critics said a Jewish immigrant shouldn’t get to celebrate America as his (Berlin also wrote “White Christmas,” “Easter Parade,” and the popular Thanksgiving song “Plenty to be Thankful For.”)

In 1940, an American Nazi sympathizer wrote in his organization’s pro-Nazi newsletter “(I do) not consider G-B-A a ‘patriotic’ song, in the sense of expressing the real American attitude toward his country, but consider that it smacks of the ‘How glad I am’ attitude of the refugee horde of which Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘We wish no further additions to the persons whose affection for this country is merely a species of pawnbroker patriotism – whose coming here represents nothing but the purpose to change one feeding trough for another feeding trough.”

Does this response to Irving Berlin’s beautiful, patriotic, and now much beloved song sound familiar? Whether emigrating from Europe to America to escape religious persecution (the Pilgrims), starvation from the great potato famine (Irish), abject poverty, exploitation, and violence (Southern Italians and Sicilians), oppressive legislation and poverty (Eastern European Jews), or gang violence and rape (today’s Central American refugees) America is a country of immigrants and refugees. This is our past, our present, and our future. Irving Berlin arrived in America when he was five years old, the same age as many of the children being torn away from their mothers and fathers, some without any hope of ever being reunited with their parents. Imagine if Israel Baline had been torn from his mother’s arms, would we have the beautiful musical legacy given this country by one of her most famous sons?

God Bless America!, a phrase of gratitude young Israel Baline often heard uttered by his immigrant mother.

DON’T MISS THE DESIGN OF MINE FLOAT TODAY AT THE HORRIBLES!

Design of  Mine float for Gloucester’s Horribles Parade

My friend Melissa is going to be tossing out some lovely gifts to parade goers. If you haven’t been lately, Melissa is carrying several local dress designers, and she still has a few of those wonderful white and red V-neck Fiesta VIVA T-shirts for sale (which btw, were designed by her daughter Bianca!).

Bloopers and Blunders: Greasy Pole Edition

These guys.  All so much fun to watch.  Those winning walkers get lots of press, and rightfully so, but also worth celebrating are some of the Greasy Pole’s unsung heroes. Cheers to those who hit the water with no flag in their hands.

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