Cape Ann’s visiting Black Vulture Hector was recently spotted in Gloucester. He is enjoying reader Nancy’s food treats and her geese 🙂
Over the winter, a Black Vulture has been calling Cape Ann home. My friend Lois first alerted me to this back in December where he has been seen quite often in Rockport. I have been trying to capture some footage of him/her but only ever saw him soaring high above. The Black Vulture in flight is stunning and you can recognize the bird by its distinctive white wing tips.
As luck would have it, East Gloucester resident Larry shared a photo recently and his friend Frank generously allowed me to stop by and take some photos and footage!
Being found mostly in South America, Central America, and the southern US, the Black Vulture’s range does not historically include Cape Ann (nor anywhere in Massachusetts). The bird’s range has been expanding northward since the early decades of the previous century and it is safe to say there may even be a few pairs breeding in the furthest most western regions of Massachusetts!
Black Vultures feed primarily on carrion. They fly high above on thermal winds looking for dead creatures, and also follow Turkey Vultures, which reportedly have a better sense of smell and can more easily locate carcasses. Black Vultures also kill skunks, possums, Night Herons, turtle hatchlings, chickens, young livestock, and sickly small pets. And, too, they pick through dumps and dumpsters, and even wade into water for small fish and floating carrion. It’s no wonder their range is expanding!
The Black Vulture visiting Frank’s yard appeared to be communicating with Frank. Black Vultures lack a voice box; instead of singing, one of the sounds they make is a low ruff sort of bark. Frank can imitate the bark perfectly, and the bird barks back!
Black Vulture Historic Status in Massachusetts, from Mass Audubon:
The first Black Vulture identified in Massachusetts was shot in Swampscott in November of 1850. The second appeared in Gloucester on September 28, 1863, where it, too, was killed (Howe & Allen 1901). Throughout the next century, the bird was considered an accidental straggler in Massachusetts; and, by the middle of the nineteenth century, the species was on the move from its deep Southern roots, breeding in southern Maryland for the first time in 1922 (Court 1924) and in Pennsylvania by 1952 (Brauning 1992).
If you see Cape Ann’s Black Vulture hanging around your property, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much!
Seaview Farms in Rockport has great food but also visiting the horses and goats is one of my favorites.
Sorellanza Concert New Year’s Eve!
Rockport Congregational Church
Shows at 6 & 7 PM
Join us for an eclectic a cappella journey of inspiration, ferocity, wonder
and a bit of reverie, too! Patti Pike, Musical Director.
Click to Purchase Buttons, Volunteer
or see Rockport New Year’s Eve Schedule
They lighted candles in the winter trees.
They hung their homes with evergreen.
They burned beseeching fires all night
long to keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake they shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them echoing behind us – Listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight, this Shortest Day, as promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
On my way to Ace hardware in Rockport this morning, I passed Rusty and Ingrid’s beautiful print shop and noticed a very cool Rusty and Ingrid graphic in their front window–about a new holiday festival called the Rockport Makers’ Market. I just had to stop in and find out more.
Rusty took a few moments from his super busy morning to explain. “This is the first event of its kind in Rockport. We are creating an on-trend holiday market (like the one’s we sell at in Boston), and we are combining it with a town-wide festival in Rockport. Ingrid and I designed the concept of the event and we are doing most of the production. We are even hand printing much of the event decor in our shop.
WOW, JUST WOW!!!
Rusty shared the press release (see below) and you can find out more here:
Phone: (978) 491- 9632
Event Website: www.rockportmakers.com
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2143538435913075/
Making a Trendy New Holiday Festival in Rockport!
Friday afternoon, after the nor’easter, the sun came out just barely before the skies again darkened with a brief snow squall. I was driving along Atlantic Road during those fleeting in between moments when way off in the distance I spied a flock of birds, with the distinct shape of swans in flight. Swans fly with their long necks extended, unlike herons and egrets, which fly with their necks tucked in. What is Mr. Swan doing out in this wildly windy weather I thought. But it wasn’t Mr. Swan, it was an entire family of Swans! There were two adults and four cygnets. Stunning to see and very uplifting. They flew over the Twin Lights and then further and further until I could not see them any longer.
The first and third swans are the adults, the second, fourth, fifth and sixth are the cygnets, or first-hatch year juveniles.The young swans will retain their grayish brown feathers until their second summer.
Please write and let me know if you saw the Mute Swan family on Friday afternoon. They were flying along the backshore at about 2:15. Or, if you live on the Northshore and know of any swan family with two adults and four youngsters, I would love to learn more about them. My email address is email@example.com. Thank you so much for any leads!
A few more of the Mute Swan family flying toward and over Thacher Island
Rockport’s quaint Lattof Farm has expanded to include Lattof Farmhouse Kitchen. I have been trying to get there for weeks to try their avocado toast, the quiche, or their sweet salad but I haven’t been able to make it yet. My boys are dying to try their smoothies….Strawberry Banana, PB Rescue, or Seasonal Splash.
I just missed the kitchen hours the other day, but I stopped to browse their gorgeous produce and snapped photos of the Farmhouse Kitchen menu for keeping. I am hopeful that tomorrow will be the day I can stop by on the way to work and you can bet I’ll update you on how delicious my breakfast was….and, I know it will be because I’ve heard so from many a townsfolk!
For now though, check out their farm stand and menu!
Lattof Farms is definitely a Rockport treasure and we’re so lucky to have them conveniently located on the way in and out of town on Main Street!
The first 6 photos are from their Facebook page…and are the reason that I can’t wait to get back to the Farmhouse Kitchen.
The other photos I snapped in the farm stand while admiring the abundance of fruits and vegetables.
Lattof Farmhouse Kitchen is located at:
205 Main Street, Rockport
It is open Monday-Saturday, 7:00-2:00
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.
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
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.
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.
Rockport’s Annual 4th of July bonfire is pretty special. We almost didn’t go this year. I’m glad we decided to stick with tradition and keep the party bus rolling.
Thank you to the firefighters who helped keep the towering flames in check to keep everyone safe!
Small dragon comes out of the outhouse. Becomes much bigger and rids Rockport of arm hair.
So sorry this PiPl update is so terribly brief but I am leaving shortly to go film Fiesta.
On the evening of the day our GHB Piping Plover Family were terrorized off Good Harbor Beach (between Tuesday 9:30 pm and Wednesday 4:40am), two were seen at Cape Hedge Beach by Rockport resident Gail Borgman.
The following morning, Thursday, I met Boston PiPl monitor Laurie Sawin at GHB. She had come all the way from Boston to check on the Cape Hedge report. We headed over to Cape Hedge to check on the sighting and met Gail and her husband there. Sure enough, a PiPl was going back and forth between the sandy beach and rocks at Cape Hedge! We didn’t stay long because of the downpour.
This morning, I met Essex Greenbelt Dave Rimmer’s assistant, Dave McKinnon. We were contemplating removing the symbolic fencing, when one, and then two PiPl entered the roped off nesting area. At first we thought it was the Mama and Papa, but it could also have been two males.
The symbolic fencing will remain at least for another few days. Although it is late in the season for nesting there is the possibility that the PiPl will re-nest. I guess we will all just stay tuned as to what our remarkable PiPls will do next!
We don’t know what terrorized the PiPl Tuesday night. There has been a great deal of dog tracks around the nesting area , as seen by all the morning volunteers, over the past week, as well as evidence of a party Tuesday night. A hypodermic needle was found on the beach by one of Coach Latoffs players early Wednesday morning. Friends, it is going to take a village if the PiPl re-nest. Please, please, if you see anything suspicious at GHB–bonfires, dogs, heavy drinking, and anything else along those lines, please, please call the police. Thank you!
Thursday night lights. Rockport Little League Play-offs, Major B. Game One.
A sweet little Thursday night game under the lights at Parisi Field with the High School field of dreams looming in the background.
National Anthem, 6 innings, team BBQ (for both teams of course), laughter, running, more laughter, and then ice cream over at the Dairy Train.
Quintessential small-town Little League and the stuff that childhood is made of.
Please join us for an informative presentation and discussion regarding the Eastern Coyote facilitated by Conservation Biologist and Wild Canid Ecologist Christine Schadler, MS, MA.
While wolf recovery was the focus of her early work, Chris’ attention shifted to the eastern coyote when she moved to New England. Using sound livestock management and non-lethal predator control, she prevented predation for two decades at a sheep farm with known coyote problems. Chris has provided talks to livestock growers and the general public for 30 years on living with coyotes.
Chris is now the Representative for Project Coyote in NH and VT and co-founder of the New Hampshire Wildlife Coalition. She divides her time between teaching, giving talks, and working on her book Becoming Wolf: The Eastern Coyote in New England. Between presentations, she can be found at camp in northern New Hampshire researching coyote feeding patterns and responding to the occasional wolf. She is also the Chair of the Webster Conservation Commission.
Chris earned her MS at Antioch University Graduate School. She has taught Conservation Issues, Dendrology, and Wolf Ecology at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), and is now an Adjunct Professor at Rivier University.
Brought to you by the Friends of the Rockport Public Library
The beautiful collection of ducks currently migrating along our shores could also be called ‘A Study in Black and White,’ with a touch of orange, too.
Swimming inshore with the diminutive, albeit more ubiquitous, Buffleheads are Common Goldeneyes. Both sea ducks are members of the Bucephala genus; their name is derived from the ancient Greek word boukephalos, which means bullheaded and is in reference to their bulbously-shaped heads. During courtship rituals, male members of the Bucephala genus puff out their head feathers, making them appear even more buffalo-headed.
How can you tell the two apart when side by side? Goldeneyes are larger than Buffleheads and they have a circular white patch on their cheek, behind the bill.
Female (left) and Male Buffleheads
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has re-vamped their website. From here you can read more about Long-tailed Ducks, but I thought the following was particularly interesting while learning how to distinguish the different plumages. “Unlike most ducks, which molt twice per year, the Long-tailed Duck has three distinct plumages each year, achieved in a complex series of overlapping partial molts. The Definitive Basic Plumage is never worn in its entirety, as portions of Alternate are retained through the summer and elements of the Supplemental are acquired before all of Basic Plumage is obtained. Therefore change in plumage seems continuous from April to October. Unlike other waterfowl, the Long-tailed Duck wears its “breeding” or Alternate Plumage only in the winter. It gets its “nonbreeding” or Basic Plumage in the spring and wears it for the breeding season. Most other ducks wear the nonbreeding plumage only for a short period in the late summer.”
Male and Female Long-tailed Ducks in nonbreeding plumage.
The male Surf Scoter’s well-defined stark white patches against ebony feathers lends this sea duck its common name, “Skunk-headed Coot.” But it is the scoter’s bulbous-at-the-base orange, black and white patterned bill that I find interesting and almost comical. The female is a plainer dull blackish-brownish with light colored patches, one behind each eye and at the base of the bill.
The number of, and locations of, Brant Geese appear to be increasing as they are readying for the long migration to the Arctic breeding grounds. Brants migrate the greatest distance of any North American goose.Brant breakfast.
A lone Canada Goose joined the scene for a moment, but his presence was not welcome by the Brants. His appearance provided a terrific opportunity though to compare the size difference between the Brant and the Canada Goose. You can see in the photo below, the Brant is quite a bit smaller, but that didn’t prevent one from chasing away the Canada Goose.
Police, fire, and rescue vehicles are stationed around the Pebble Beach-Cape Hedge-Penzance Road area, with rescuers combing the beach.
Reader Rick shares the following from the Gloucester Daily Times online edition this morning; “Theresa A. Coen, 52, of Penzance Road in Rockport and also of Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood, was last heard from on Saturday evening” Is there a connection here?”
The avian northward migration is heating up! The following are just three of the fascinating species of wild birds readily seen at this time of year, found all around Cape Ann. Look for Brants, Scaups, and Ring-necked Ducks at coves, bays, ponds, quarries, and marshes.
Currently migrating along Cape Ann’s shoreline is a beautiful brigade of Brant Geese. They usually turn up at about this time of year, late winter through early spring, and I have been looking for them in all the usual places. Brants thrive in Cape Ann coves, devouring sea lettuce while riding the incoming and outgoing waves. I see them eating and pecking for food atop barnacle-crusted rocks and am not sure if they are eating seaweed caught on the rocks or tiny crustaceans.
Brants eating bright green sea lettuce.
In the 1930s a terrible disease devastated eel grass and the Brant population plummeted. Surviving Brants adapted to sea lettuce and as the eel grass recovered, so too is the population of Brants recovering.
Brants are wonderfully vocal, making a funny “cronk” sound. I was walking past a flock of geese off in the distance and wasn’t paying much attention. Thinking they were Canada Geese, I ignored them until hearing their vigorous cronking.
They fight with each too, over rocks and food. Tomorrow if I can find the time I will try to post photos that I took of a Brant scuffle.
Brants feeding on the rocks are knocked off by the incoming tide, but then quickly get right back up again.
Brants migrate the furthest north of any species of goose, as far north as Hedwig territory.
The Greater Scaup breeds as far north as Snowy Owls and Brant Geese, and Ring-necked Ducks are also passing through, not traveling quite as far, but on their way to the Alaskan and Canadian boreal forests. Greater Scaups travel in flocks, sometimes forming rafts of thousands. You can see why in the photos Greater Scaups are colloquially called Bluebills.
Three male Scaups and a Red-breasted Merganser
The most significant threat to Greater Scaups is habitat loss, oil, and sewage pollution. Nearly eighty percent winter over in the Atlantic Flyway where they are subjected to heavy metals in foods and habitat.
The two species are closely related (Aythya collaris and Atythya marila); both are small diving ducks and both are vulnerable to becoming poisoned by lead from diving for food and incidentally eating the lead shot and lures that continues to cause problems in our wetlands.
READ MORE HERE
Instead of once a week I’ve been hitting the Brothers Brew Coffee Shop more frequently. My favorite donut, the Butternut Crunch was not running out by 9AM anymore. I figured maybe everyone is on a diet but since my 11 AM purchased Butternut Crunch was fresh and warm I realized that they are just making more of them since I moved to town.
Today, after having a Butternut Crunch yesterday I thought I should slow the pace down and I accidentally stumbled upon the perfect donut. There are some very good fresh donut shops on Cape Ann but hear me out. Or just look at it:
Brothers Brew is known for their bacon donut. A donut with a big piece of bacon on top. Rubber Duck reviewed that for Good morning Gloucester several years ago. An excellent donut but not one you can pack away every day unless you want to do a Shamoo the Whale act in Sandy Bay. But the threeway can be your daily go-to donut if you bring two friends.