From Salt Island side walked the beach and circled round Thacher Road at the back of Good Harbor Beach, about 6:30-6:45am. Photos possible from the safe and great new walkway (thanks Gloucester DPW)
HERE’S TO A HAPPY NEW YEAR AND A HAPPY NEW DECADE!
In spending the afternoon reflecting on the past year’s wildlife stories and photos, I have been thinking about what an extraordinary place is Cape Ann. How fortunate we all are to see amazing and beautiful wildlife stories unfolding in our own backyards each and every day! I am planning a Cape Ann Wildlife 2019 Year in Pictures and hope to find the time to post that this week.
News this year of an increase in Monarchs at the butterfly’s overwintering sites in Mexico, as well as strong numbers during the summer breeding season and fall migration, gives me great hope for the future of this beautiful species, and for all wildlife that we take underwing.
Our community has taken under its wings a pair of Piping Plovers. The two began calling Good Harbor Beach home in 2016. Because the community came together and worked as a team, this year we were able to fledge three tiny, adorable marshmallow-sized fluff balls at Gloucester’s most well-loved and populous beach. Thank you Piping Plover friends and Community for all that you did to help these most vulnerable of shorebirds successfully reach flying age.
Another definition of “underwing” – three nearly full grown PiPl chicks, all determined to nestle for warmth under Papa
I asked the UMASS surf club how the Lake Atlantic Invitational competition fared on November 16, 2019 at Good Harbor Beach. The ocean was rather “lake” in the morning and the air a brisk 22 degrees.
“The competition was a huge success! The waves got better throughout the day, and we had a lot of creativity with crossstepping, handstands, and laying down backwards almost like a coffin.” The final results:
John Lane (3rd place from last year) in first
Colby Kelly (last year’s winner) in second
Juliet Dodson of UMass Surf Club in third
“We’re not sure yet if we’re going to try to do these competitions annually or biannually, but keep an eye out for another competition in April, most likely still somewhere in Gloucester. And yes it was chilly, but most of us are used to that weather having grown up in the area, and even the competitor from California did a good job overcoming the cold with help from a nice winter wetsuit.”
UMASS Surf Club https://www.facebook.com/umasssurfclub/
photo caption: “On the left is Myles Wrinn, the Forecaster for the club for the last 2 years and on the right is Peter Roy, current President of Surf Club. The club was founded by alumni in 2014.”
Beautiful day! Conditions now
UMASS Surf Club https://www.facebook.com/umasssurfclub/
11/26/19 – 10-2pm Lake Atlantic Invitational
The first competition was held back in April 2019. “Colby Kelly, 18, of Gloucester, was named the competition’s first champion. Rhodes Cole, of Rockport, came in second and John Lane, of Yarmouth, Maine, came in third.” read more here and scenes below setting up the first time.
Friend Jennie writes that she was able to take a photo of the dead young fox at Good Harbor Beach this morning before Animal Control arrived. This is the third dead fox found in Gloucester recently. Such beautiful creatures and so heartbreaking to see.
Although Gloucester does not do autopsies unless rabies is suspect, the ACO believes that the foxes were mostly likely killed consuming rat poison.
In the graphics below you can see how rat poison kills not just rats, but all that come in contact. Fox and raptors, such as owls and hawks, hold a similar position in the food chain. Rat poison also sickens and kill dogs and cats. Here is a link we posted a while back about alternatives to deadly rat poison:
Last night, the Gloucester City Council voted unanimously to make permanent the ordinance change disallowing dogs on the beach after March 31st. A sunset clause had been added to the ordinance when the ordinance was passed last April. The sunset clause was expected to expire at the end of this year. The vote keeps in place the new regulation, which is that dogs are allowed on Good Harbor Beach from October 1st through March 31st.
The permanent rule will help all wildlife at Good Harbor Beach, but most especially nesting Piping Plovers (and Killdeers). We had a wonderfully successful year fledging three Piping Plover chicks, due we think to the cooler spring weather, the ban on dogs after April 1st, increased enforcement, and to the over 1,000 man hours donated by a group of 45 super dedicated Piping Plover volunteer monitors.
An extra huge shout out to two very special people– Ward One City Councilor Scott Memhard, who is also our new councilor liaison to the Animal Advisory Committee. He has been providing excellent, clear, non-combative, and non-prejudiced advice and is truly committed to assisting the committee positively, with an open and fair mind. Our deepest thanks to Heather Hall, who has spent the past month exhaustively combing through documentation to create a spreadsheet compiling the monitors report’s throughout the summer–that’s how we know there were 45 monitors total and 1,00 plus hours spent volunteering with the PiPls.
Thank you Scott and Heather ❤
Thanks to my friend Heidi Wakeman who texted to let me know there was what she thought a trio of Black Skimmers down the creek at Good Harbor Beach. I raced over and sure enough there were three Black Skimmers, as well as several Laughing Gulls, resting on the creek edge along with a flock of gulls.
You could tell they were weary and wind tossed so we observed from the far side of the creek so as not to disturb the little travelers. Heidi and I enjoyed watching for a bit. A Great Blue Heron briefly flew on the scene, joining a mixed gathering of herons and egrets. Heidi stayed awhile longer and got to see them fly and skim-feeding.
Southern Massachusetts is at the very northern range of the Black Skimmers breeding range. I imagine they have been blown off course by Humberto’s wildy winds.
Black Skimmers are not all that Hurricane Humberto delivered to our shores. The surf was tremendous Friday afternoon, with long lovely rolling waves that towered and crashed ashore. The late day softening light and a fine mist from the heavy amounts of moisture in the air lent an atmospheric light to all.
Here are some photos I took of Black Skimmers two years ago at Cape May, New Jersey, while documenting the Monarch migration along the southern New Jersey coast. Just as do Monarchs, Skimmers gather in great numbers at Cape May in late summer and early autumn, waiting for the right conditions to cross the Delaware Bay.