Ma Audubon’s Chris Leahy retirement party May 21

It’s not a surprise party, but it is limited in size. Invitations will go out in April. Mass Audubon is hosting a special retirement tribute for Chris Leahy in celebration of his remarkable career –45 years of “impact and success”. How nice to see a Gloucester naturalist treasure being recognized in the spring –(bird-a-thon season!)– at Joppa Flats Education Center, Parker River National Wildlife sanctuary.  Folks and fans can also swarm cards and MA Audubon gifts as a great way to acknowledge this milestone. Chris’s astonishing powers of observation and communication skills can make anyone care about birds, nature, and place. Within a mere twenty seconds of conversation he can capture history and immediacy in such an affable and effortless manner. What an ambassador.

“If I said, ‘Are there more birds around in the summer or the winter?’ most people would say the summer, and that’s right. But not by much,” said tour leader Christopher Leahy of Gloucester, who holds the Gerard A. Bertrand chair of natural history and field ornithology at Mass Audubon. “Actually almost 50 percent of the 300 bird species that occur in Massachusetts occur here during the winter.”– Chris Leahy  from Boston Globe article Thrills and Chills: Birders Brave the Cape Ann Cold and Find What They’re Looking For by Joel Brown, published February 5, 2009 

Congratulations, Chris

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Just announced: Gloucester author Deborah Cramer wins major awards for The Narrow Edge! National Academies of Science Best Book Award and Society of Environmental Journalists Rachel Carson Book Award

Congratulations Deborah Cramer!

Remember her request to share horseshoe crab reports and memories

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National Academies of Science Best Book Award 2016 

National Academies of Sciences press release: “The winning entries represent science communication at its finest and exemplify the ability of science writers to engage, inform, and inspire the public.”

Society of Environmental Journalists Rachel Carson Book Award 2016

15th Annual awards for reporting on the environment press release excerpt:

Judges were impressed by the painful beauty and eloquence of Deborah Cramer’s writing; one saw “The Narrow Edge” as a story of loss and hopeful restoration while another said the book “represents everything about Rachel Carson’s legacy that the book award stands for.” In her book, Cramer follows the 19,000-mile migration of an endangered shorebird called the red knot, which depends on horseshoe crab eggs for survival. So do humans:

Continue reading “Just announced: Gloucester author Deborah Cramer wins major awards for The Narrow Edge! National Academies of Science Best Book Award and Society of Environmental Journalists Rachel Carson Book Award”

Author Deborah Cramer asks were there plentiful horseshoe crabs in Gloucester? Leads to Winslow Homer, John Bell, and Cher Ami

Deborah Cramer thanks Good Morning Gloucester for mentioning her book and asks for photographs and stories about horseshoe crabs, otherwise known as the nearly scene stealing co-stars from her inspiring book on red knots (sandpiper shorebirds), The Narrow Edge.

“I’m in the midst of a project right now trying to uncover the almost forgotten history of the whereabouts of horseshoe crabs in Gloucester.  I’ve heard some fantastic stories, like one from a man who used to go down to Lobster Cove after school and find horseshoe crabs so plentiful he could fill a dory. Do you think there’s a value to putting up a few pictures on GMG and asking people to send in their recollections of beaches, coves where they used to see them in abundance?”

We do. Please send in photos or stories if you have them about horseshoe crabs in Gloucester or the North Shore for Deborah Cramer’s project. Write in comments below and/or email cryan225@gmail.com

Here’s one data point. Look closely at this 1869 Winslow Homer painting. Can you spot the horseshoe crabs? Can you identify the rocks and beach?

Winslow Homer Rocky Coast and Gulls (manchester)
Winslow Homer, Rocky Coast and Gulls, 1869, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, installed in room #234 with so many other Homers (Fog Warning, All’s Well, Driftwood, …)
zoomed into horseshoe crabs (detail )
(zoomed into horseshoe crabs)

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While reading The Narrow Edge, and looking at Kim Smith’s Piping Plover photographs, I thought about Raid on a Sand Swallow Colony (How Many Eggs?) 1873 by Homer and how some things change while much remains the same.When my sons were little, they were thrilled with the first 1/3 or so of Swiss Family Robinson.  As taken as they were with the family’s ingenuity, adventure, and tree house–they recoiled as page after page described a gorgeous new bird, promptly shot. They wouldn’t go for disturbing eggs in a wild habitat. The title ascribed to this Homer, perhaps the eager query from the clambering youngest boy, feels timeless. Was the boys’ precarious gathering sport, study, or food? What was common practice with swallows’ eggs in the 1860s and 70s? Homer’s birds are diminutive and active, but imprecise. Homer sometimes combined place, figures, subject and themes. One thing is clear: the composition, line and shadow are primed and effective for an engraving.

 

Homer watercolor 1873

Harper’s Weekly published the image on June 13, 1875. Artists often drew directly on the edge grain of boxwood and a master engraver (Lagrade in this case) removed the wood from pencil and wash lines.

Winslow Homer

 

2016. Wingaersheek dunes and nests 140+ years later.

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Continue reading “Author Deborah Cramer asks were there plentiful horseshoe crabs in Gloucester? Leads to Winslow Homer, John Bell, and Cher Ami”

Did You Know (Kingfisher)

belted kingfisher resting on a pier in annisquam
Photo by E.J. Lefavour

That the Belted Kingfisher is a common waterside resident throughout North America,  often seen hovering before it plunges headfirst into water to catch a fish. It frequently announces its presence by its loud rattling cry. It is a medium-sized bird with a large head and shaggy crest, large, thick bill, bluish head and back, white throat and collar, white underneath with blue breast band.

I have seldom seen one sitting quietly like this, and generally only know one is around when I hear its raucous cry and then see it flying by or diving into the water.

From allaboutbirds.com

E.J. Lefavour
www.khanstudiointernational.com