Hoping to capture the Supermoon, in all its huge glory, rising between the Twin Lights last night, but the sky was pink and hazy around the horizon line. Still, I think it’s good to have a record of a rarely occurring full moon on the first day of spring.
Thacher Island Twin Lights, waiting for the Moon to rise, North Light, left; South Light right.
Wild sea and atmospheric light made for some dramatic scenes this morning.
My fingers froze and I had to call it quits yet despite the bitterly cold five degree temperature and biting wind, day break brought blue skies and beautiful sea smoke all along the backshore, from Gloucester’s Ten Pound Island Lighthouse to Rockport’s Twin Lighthouses.
Take heart friends -today is the last day of January- only 48 more days until the spring equinox!
Fresh wild animal tracks crossing Niles Pond
Snapshots from a brief tour around the back shore while out doing errands this afternoon. With temperatures hovering at 5 degrees, Cape Ann was blanketed with a thick layer of impenetrable ice, snow squalls, and sea smoke.
Happy to see the temperatures are heading towards the forties after Tuesday!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much for any leads!
A few more of the Mute Swan family flying toward and over Thacher Island
Late afternoon after last week’s nor-easter, I drove along the backshore to check out the waves. The breakers were only mildly dramatic but what caught my attention were the ribbons and ribbons of migrating birds flying over Twin Lights, heading toward the backshore. They just kept coming and coming and I think they may have been waiting out the storm before setting out on their night time journey. I followed them along the shore and past Eastern Point Lighthouse before losing sight of the travelers as they were crossing Massachusetts Bay and heading towards Boston.
There are six lighthouses on Cape Ann, plus one more imaginative one at Stage Fort Park’s dynamite playground. Recently I hosted a large group visiting from Arizona. They wanted to walk a local history trail and ended up visiting two: the Freedom Trail in Boston and the HarborWalk in Gloucester. Their number one request? They wanted to see lighthouses. Last year, Kathie Gilson and Marie Santos designed this fun shaped brochure for the City of Gloucester. You can find it at the Chamber and the Stage Fort Park welcome center.
Update: we spotted five or six right whales at 6:30AM just off the shore between Salt Island and Thacher. They remained feeding in the area for 11+ hours. Two crossed past the Rockport side of Long Beach, and back again. They were surprisingly fast at times! Post was updated during the day with more photos and videos. I hope some photogs with professional lens will be sharing soon.
30 seconds 4 right whales out of 6 off Gloucester Ma, Long Beach, Twin Lights in backgrounds
1 min video tracking 1 of 6 right whales
How close? This close: here’s another image from an FOB whales out her window!
Is this Atlantic right whale detection app active?
Second post- close up
Third post after work– 3 whales still feeding here 11+ hours later!
A huge shout out to Thacher Island Association and president Paul St. Germain for winning an Essex National Heritage Area partnership grant to restore the elevated pedestrian lighthouse walkway on Straitsmouth Island.
Paul St. Germain writes, “We will restore the original C 1850, 220-foot granite and wooden timber walkway to provide safe and easy access for the public to visit the lighthouse from the keeper house. This walkway has been there since 1854 and was destroyed sometime in the 1930’s. Besides its usefulness it has also been an iconic signature of the island’s profile for over 80 years.”
Facts about Straitsmouth Island Light Station
- First lighthouse was established in 1835 to mark the entrance to Rockport Harbor.
- The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1851 and again in 1896.
- A 6th order Fresnel lens was installed in the lantern in 1857.
- The current Victorian styled keeper house was built in 1878 similar to the one on Thacher Island.
- In 1932 the light was converted from white to green.
- Coast Guard moved the station to shore at Gap Head and sold the island to private parties in 1934.
- Coast Guard continues to maintain the light as an official aid to navigation today. In 1967 the island (except for the lighthouse) was donated to Massachusetts Audubon Society who maintains it as a wildlife sanctuary.
- Straitsmouth Island was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
- In 2010 the lighthouse and 1.8 acres of land was given to the Town of Rockport by the coast guard.
- In 2014 the Town of Rockport signed a long term 30 year lease with Mass Audubon for the use of the keeper and oil houses.
The best wave watching Sunday afternoon was from Atlantic Road, especially when the light turned silver-gray-violet. The mist from the pounding waves filled the air, creating a beautiful diffused quality. It was mesmerizing to see the waves hurling against the rocky coastline. Often the force was so loud, it sounded like a sonic boom had exploded. Atlantic Road was closed to car traffic while pedestrians strolled the road as though a promenade. After watching the full force of the waves during high tide, I headed over to Straitsmouth Island in Rockport. Less in strength, but still spectacular to watch.
Last night’s fourth super high tide in two days again brought an incredible surge of seawater. Gloucester’s DPW Marco Numerosi was working last night at 2am and reports it was the worst of all. DPW crews and GDP Officers were on the job bright and early this Sunday morning, cleaning the roads of hurled rocks, popples, seaweed, and seagrass.
Officer Al D’Angelo and Marco Numerosi
Eastern Point Road, by Bemo Street, still littered with debris at 8am, is closed, and virtually impassable. One driver tried, and then quickly changed his mind.
This morning photographing and filming at 6:30 you would not believe it was dead low tide. There is so much water and I am afraid the next tide will bring with it another round of destruction. The waves are towering; a large ship, the Oldendorff appeared to head straight out and then steered closer to shore. Stay safe and warm friends.