CAPE ANN WILDLIFE 2018: A YEAR IN PICTURES AND STORIES Part Two: Spring

Go Here For Part One

Mama (left) and Papa (right) return to Good Harbor Beach on a bitterly cold day, April 3, 2018. 

Part Two: Spring

By Kim Smith

The return of Mama and Papa Piping Plover to Good Harbor Beach filled our hearts with hope and heartache. Although not tagged with a definitive id, we can be fairly certain they are the same because the pair attempt to build their nest each year within feet of the previous year’s nest. Not only did our returning pair try to nest on Good Harbor Beach, there were two additional pairs of Piping Plovers, and several free-wheeling bachelors.

The GHB Bachelors

Papa guarding all-things-Mama

Papa and Mama courting, building a nest scrape, and establishing their territory on the beach.

The PiPls are forced off the beach by dogs running through the nesting area. They begin building a second nest in the Good Harbor Beach parking lot.

Each spring the Good Harbor PiPl have returned earlier than the previous, which show us that the pair is gaining in maturity, and in familiarity with the area. Tragically, at the time of their arrival in April, dogs are permitted on the beach. Dog traffic running through the Piping Plover nesting area was unrelenting, despite signs and roping. The Plover family never caught a break, and were soon making overtures at nesting in the parking lot.

Even with desperate calls for help and repeated warnings from the Piping Plover volunteer monitors, owners continued to allow off leash and on leash dogs to run freely through the PiPl’s nesting area, daily forcing the PiPl off the beach. They were at first torn between maintaining the territory they had established on the beach or establishing a new territory on the white lines in the parking lot. After one particularly warm sunny Sunday in April, they gave up completely on their beach nest scrape.

We learned that during the month of April, dogs at Massachusetts barrier beaches, such as Good Harbor Beach, not only endangers the lives of threatened Piping Plovers, but many species of migrating and nesting shorebirds.

On May 5th, the first egg was laid in the parking lot. Thanks to Gloucester’s amazing DPW crew, a barricade around the nest was installed within hours of the first egg laid. Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer soon followed to install a wire exclosure around the parking lot nest.

Four!

No shortage of vandals.

Garbage left on the beach brings predatory gulls and crows and they, too, became a serious threat to our Piping Plover family after the chicks hatched. The lack of a common sense ordinance to keep dogs off Good Harbor Beach during the month of April, the unaware dog owners, the garbage scavenging gulls and crows, and the vicious vandals are absolutely our responsibility to better manage and to control. For these reasons, and despite the kindness and care of dozens of PiPl volunteer monitors, as well as good people from around the community (and beyond), the Piping Plovers face terrible odds nesting at Good Harbor. 

Scroll down to the end of the post to find links to some of the dozens of stories that I have written about the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers. Many communities throughout Massachusetts and coastal New England have in place common sense management rules and are successfully fledging chicks. I wrote about that extensively during the summer months and you will find a list of the posts regarding that topic in Part Three: Summer.

Most of the Snowies from the great Snowy Owl irruption of 2017-2018 had departed for their Arctic breeding grounds by the time the Piping Plovers arrived to Cape Ann beaches. This was a relief as I imagined that the Piping Plovers might make a tasty meal in the mind of a Snowy Owl. Thinking we’d seen the last of Hedwig and all Snowies, Bob Ryan called to let us know there was a Snowy Owl hanging around the distillery. I jumped in my car and raced right over. She appeared in good health and stayed for a day.

We did learn weeks later that during July and August there were still a few Snowies remaining on Massachusetts beaches and, from examining their pellets, it was clear they had been eating Piping Plover adults.

I was deeply honored to receive Salem State University’s Friend of the Earth Award.

and to give my conservation program about the Monarch Butterflies as their keynote speaker.

In May, three Wilson’s Plovers were spotted briefly on Good Harbor Beach. This was a very, very rare northern sighting, especially so as there were three.

The Young Swan of Niles Pond was released by Lyn and Dan, only to lose his life later in the spring.

Amelie Severance sent us a lovely and detailed drawing of the Young Swan.

A fabulous Green Heron was photographed and filmed on an area pond–signs of a great summer season for all species of herons, yet to come.

For the past several years, at least, Killdeers, which is another species of plover (although not endangered) have been nesting in the dunes at Good Harbor Beach. This year we had, at a minimum, two successful nests!

All four chicks hatched and, at only one-day-old, made the epic journey to the beach. Miraculously, four teeny tiny mini marshmallow-sized baby birds, led by Papa and Mama, zig zagged across the parking lot, trekked through the dunes, and landed within feet of the parent’s original nest scrape.

Only one chic, the one PiPl volunteer monitor Heather names Little Pip, survives into summer.

 

Piping Plovers Return to Good Harbor Beach!

Kim Smith to Receive “Friend of the Earth Award” and Keynote Speaker Salem State earth Days Week

Piping Plovers Driven Off the Beach

Monarch Butterflies at Salem State University

Fencing is Urgently Needed for the Piping Plovers

Check Out Gloucester’s DPW Phil Cucuru Showing Extensive Storm Erosion

How You Can Help the Piping Plovers

Gloucester Celebrates Earth Day With Great News: Lyn and Dan Release the Young Swan Back to the Wild

Piping Plovers Forced off the Beach By Dogs for the Second Weekend in a Row

Piping Plovers and Thoughts About Signs, Dogs, and Why We are in This Predicament

We Need Volunteer Piping Plover Monitors Saturday at the PiPl Nesting Area #3

Heartbreaking to See the Piping Plovers Nesting in the Parking Lot

Snowy Owl at Ryan and Woods Distillery

Breaking: Plover Egg in the Parking Lot at Good Harbor Beach

Breaking: Two Eggs in the Nest: Shout Out to Greenbelt for Installing the PiPl Wire Enclosure

PiPl Egg #3

Swan Crisis

Rarest of Rare Visits from Wilson’s Plovers

Vandals Harming the Piping Plovers

Four!

Tonight on Fox See Our GHB Piping Plovers

Debunking Piping Plover Myth #1

Amelie Severance’s Lovely Drawing of the Young Swan

Debunking Piping Plover Myths #2 and #3

More Shorebirds Nesting at Good Harbor Beach!

Angie’s Alpacas

So Sorry to Write Our Young Swan Passed Away this Morning

Beautiful Shorebirds Passing Through

Debunking Piping Plover Myth #4, Winthrop Beach is Amazing, and Lots of Sex on the Beach

Our Good Harbor Beach Killdeer Chicks

Breaking News: Our Piping Plover Good Harbor Beach Chicks Have Hatched

Piping Plover Makes the Epic Journey to the Beach

Good Harbor Beach Two-Day Old PiPl Chicks

Good Morning! Brought to You By the Fiercely Patient Green Heron

We Lost Two Chicks Today

Shout Out to Gloucester’s Animal Control Officers Teagan and Jamie!

Our Third Piping Plover Chick was Killed This Morning

Debunking Piping Plover Myth #5: Piping Plover Volunteers Are NOT Calling for and Outright Ban of Dogs on the Beach

What Do Piping Plovers Eat?

Happy Father’s Day, Brought to You By Papa Plover

SO SORRY TO WRITE OUR LITTLE SWAN PASSED AWAY THIS MORNING

Sending heartfelt condolences to Lyn Fonzo, and to all of the Young Swan’s and friends and caretakers. The little Swan’s leg injury became deeply infected, all the way into the bone.

If you see Lyn Fonzo, please thank her for all that she has done over the past year in caring for our Young Swan and in trying to rehabilitate him to Niles Pond. Please thank and support Dr. Cahill, too, who generously donated his services.

AMELIE SEVERANCE’S LOVELY DRAWING OF THE YOUNG SWAN

GMG FOB Jennifer Cullen shares this beautiful drawing of our Young Swan by Amélie Severance. Jenn writes the following, ” I told Amélie (9-years old) the story of Young Swan and Mr. Swan and showed her a few of Kim Smith’s pics from GMG…next thing you know, she drew this for me. Well done, Amélie!”  

UPDATE ON OUR YOUNG SWAN AND HUGE SHOUT OUT TO LYN FONZO, DR. CAHILL, AND SKIP HADDEN

Our Young Swan, or Schwan as Lyn calls him, is resting comfortably at Lyn’s home. Lyn and Skip (Lyn’s neighbor and longtime caregiver to Mr. Swan) brought Schwan to see Dr. Cahill at Seaport Veterinary Hospital this morning. Dr. Cahill’s diagnosis is that his foot most likely sustained only a soft tissue injury. He is on both antibiotics and pain medicine. After a week of rest, Dr. Cahill will decide if he needs an X-ray.

Many, many thanks to Dr. Cahill for generously donating his services.

After recovering, Schwan may be heading to North Carolina. Lyn has a friend with a farm and a pond. The pond even has a floating raft for ducks and geese!

Lyn Fonzo Photo

DR. RAY CAHILL

SEAPORT VETERINARY HOSPITAL

100 EASTERN AVENUE

GLOUCESTER, MA

978-283-8883

 

 

Our Young Swan Suffers a Second Attack

The Young Swan has survived a second attack by Mr. Swan, but only barely. He is injured and needs veterinary care.
The Young Swan is temporarily back at Lyn Fonzo’s swan sanctuary, until a forever home can be found. Photo courtesy Lyn Fonzo.
Katia Mason shares the following, “Tonight the Young Swan was being chased then attacked by the Senior Male Swan in the Harbor. The neighbors at Hawthorne Point ran into the harbor and broke up the attack and protected the young swan.  Thank goodness for Jodi Swenson at Cape Ann Wildlife who got their message and came to help complete the rescue before the tide came in and it got too dark.
Thanks to the Good Morning Gloucester Blog, neighbors had been following the story and knew what was happening. “
Katia Mason Photos

YOUNG SWAN UPDATE

The beautiful Young Swan that was recently taken from his home at Niles Pond and deposited in Gloucester Harbor is so far managing to survive.

As he cannot, or will not, fly we do not know how long he can live without drinking fresh water. Lyn is feeding him romaine lettuce daily and he appears to be eating some seaweed, but that is not enough food.

The Young Swan stays tucked in around the seawall by the old Bell House, swimming in circles of only a several hundred feet radius.

If we could only see him maintain a sustained flight!

SWAN CRISIS

Our Young Swan was badly injured today.

As you may recall, the rescue cygnet was deposited at Niles Pond about ten months ago. Local residents Lyn Fonzo and Skip Hadden had been watching out for him and feeding him regularly, when he became frozen in the ice last fall. Lyn and Dan Harris rescued the Young Swan, and Lyn cared for him all winter long, feeding him and providing fresh bedding and water daily in a custom-made swan sanctuary.

Several weeks ago the Young Swan was released back to Niles Pond. Lyn has not yet seen him fly, not because of injury, but we think he simply does not know that he is a swan. Many species of birds imprint on the first thing they see upon hatching and when this little guy was found he was without parents.

The Young Swan has not been adapting well, and has been seen wandering around the Pond, by foot, and sitting quietly in the yards of neighboring homes.

Mr. Swan gave the Young Swan a tremendous thrashing today, as witnessed by several people, pounding his head against the ground and causing him to bleed. We can’t hold this behavior against Mr. Swan, he is just doing what swans do naturally, and that is to defend their territory, especially from other males.

Lyn volunteered to take the Swan back to her swan sanctuary while a new home is identified. Very unfortunately, it was determined that the Young Swan be placed in the OCEAN. The Young Swan has never swam in, or for that matter even seen, the ocean, and he cannot fly well. The excuse was that Mass Wildlife rules state that if an animal is not visibly injured it has to be returned to the wild. However, our understanding is that Mass Wildlife guidelines do not pertain to non-native species and to pets. The Swan’s caretakers were begging to keep the swan safe and not dump him on the beach, repeating that the swan would be cared for, yet, despite their pleas, he was taken to Niles Beach and released there. 

He is currently swimming around and around in circles off of Niles Beach, in the harbor. We hope at some point tomorrow he will come to shore, where he can be recaptured and placed in a safe environment.

Please write and let us know if you know of a swan rehabilitator or potential long term swan caretaker.Alone in the harbor with no ability to escape danger or to defend himself.

We hope he stays close to shore and out of the path of boats.

MR. SWAN AND THE YOUNG SWAN UPDATE -By Kim Smith

Mr. Swan is back to frequenting both Niles and Henry’s Pond. He’s reveling in the return of warmer temperatures, which with it bring access to his preferred freshwater nesting sites. As I was walking alongside the pond at twilight, he suddenly flew overhead. I wish I had a better photo, but here you can see he is flying well, and it was wonderful to see him looking so full of vigor in the fading rosy light.

The Young Swan is also faring well this winter. His kindhearted caregiver Lyn has taken to calling him Thomas, after Farmer Thomas Niles, who at one time owned all of Eastern Point, and for whom Niles Pond and Niles Beach are named.

WHAT TO FEED SWANS IN WINTER?

Mr. Swan heading to Rockport Harbor for the winter.

Cape Ann Swan Update: Our little rescue swan, which Lyn has been valiantly and lovingly taking care of in her new winter quarters fit for a princess swan, is doing beautifully. Mr. Swan’s winter headquarters when the freshwater ponds are in a deep freeze is mostly Rockport Harbor to Front Beach and Lois reports he is doing fabulously as well, too!

Mute Swans in our region need our help to survive the winter. There simply isn’t enough wild food available, especially in a brutally cold winter such as the one we are currently experiencing, with freshwater ponds frozen solid. The very best thing to feed swans is whole corn and cracked corn. You can try greens such as washed and undressed romaine lettuce, spinach, and kale, but they will mostly go for the carbohydrate rich corn. What is the worse and most deadly food to feed swans, causing long term health problems? You guessed it–junk food and white bread. Please don’t give our local birds and wildlife human junk food, it’s a killer! This includes but not limited to chips, cheetos, crackers, and stale bread.

Be safe when feeding swans and don’t get too close.

We purchase our corn in bulk from the Essex Bird and Pet Shop, located at 121 Essex Avenue. In a pinch, Stop and Shop also carries small bags of cracked corn.

Two tips from Mr. Swan’s caretakers: 1) When feeding swans, feed at the water’s edge. Swans like to swallow water while they are eating. 2) Mr. Swan usually has a bevy of quwackers in tow and they so vigorously try to eat the corn, and there are so many of them, there oftentimes isn’t enough food for Mr. Swan. Mr. Swan’s caretakers will throw a scoop of food in one direction to distract the ducks and at the same time toss some down directly in front of Mr. Swan. This distraction technique works for a bit of time before needing to be repeated.

Mr. Swan and the Young Swan were just beginning to warm to each other when the pond froze up.

OUR HAPPY SWAN SWIMMING!

Lyn set up a tub in the Young Swan’s winter home. It’s quite nice, and she loves it. Her first order of business was to wash her neck, and then she jumped in!

If you would like to help with the expense of taking care of the Young Swan this winter, please send a check (tax deductible) to:

Cape Ann Wildlife

P.O Box 405

Essex, Massachusetts 01929

Or you can donate online at: http://www.caw2.org/

Be sure to include in the memo that your donation is for the Young Swan.

Thank you!

Lyn Fonzo Photo

THE YOUNG SWAN LOVES HER COLLARD GREENS!

Not only collards, but kale, spinach and, Lyn reports, she is extra bananas for romaine lettuce, even trying to take them from Lyn’s hand! Lyn has added a fantastic improvement to the swan’s winter sanctuary and will update tomorrow when not so tied up with Christmas-making 🙂

Lyn Fonzo Photo

 

THE YOUNG SWAN GETS A SANCTUARY FIT FOR A PRINCESS (Or Prince?)

Joel and Skip Munroe arrived yesterday morning at Lyn’s home and the three spent the day continuing to modify the chicken coop-turned swan house-turned fantastic sanctuary (Joel is one of Mr. Swan’s caregivers and a carpenter). Lyn has generously added her dog’s run to extend the swan’s home, providing room enough for the Young Swan to stretch her wings and walk around within the enclosure.

Increasing the size of the enclosure. 

Today, the very awesome landscaper Patrick Low, owner of JPL Landscape Solutions spent the morning modifying and attaching the (former) dog run to the chicken coop and securing the entire structure from predators such as coyotes and racoons. Pat, Joel, and Skip have very generously donated their time and services to creating the winter swan sanctuary.

Pat Low, creatively solving potential predator issues.

A friend of Lyn’s is donating three bales of hay. To supplement the pellets and corn Lyn has been feeding the swan, yesterday she purchased collard greens (which the Young Swan loved), spinach, and kale (yet to try).

We still do not know whether the Young Swan is male or female. Jodi Swenson kindly paid for the swan’s checkup at Dr. Cahill’s (with funds provided from her recent fundraiser) and Lyn has volunteered to pay for the DNA test. We should have the results back from the DNA test in several weeks. The Young Swan has a temporary name, TOS, an acronym for The Other Swan, but perhaps when we determine whether male or female we can give her a gender specific name, and possibly tie in a naming contest with a mini-fundraiser, to help defray the unexpected cost of taking care of her for the winter.

Success! Photo courtesy Lyn Fonzo

THE YOUNG SWAN GOES TO SEAPORT VETERINARY HOSPITAL

The Niles Pond Young Swan, rescued by Lyn Fonzo and Dan Harris on Friday, was taken to SeaPort Veterinary Hospital Saturday morning for a wellness checkup and because it is thought she may have contracted round worm at the shelter from where she originated. Dr. Cahill gave her a complete physical, checking on wings, feet, degree of fat on her bones, took an xray, and drew blood for a blood work up. His assistant also plucked a few feathers to send off to a lab to determine the sex of the young Mute Swan. It will take several weeks for the results of the tests, but based on Dr. Cahill’s visual assessment, she appears to be in excellent health!!

Swans can become very defensive when they feel threatened however, the Young Swan has a relatively speaking mild temperament. Lyn and Dan handled her with lots of tender care and caution and no one was bit during during transport and during the exam.

While we were at the vets, Joel Murnroe, one of Mr. Swan’s loyal caregivers and a fine carpenter, was back at Lyn’s home modifying Lyn’s chicken coop, with a larger entryway door and swan-sized rebuilt ramp.

The Young Swan has had an eventful and productive first day in captivity. With much gratitude and thanks to Lyn for taking on the tremendous responsibility of caring for a wild swan for the winter. Our hope is that the Young Swan is a she, and that she will be re-released to Niles Pond this coming spring.

1) Lyn Fonzo and Dan Harris, 2) Joel Munroe, 3) Dan Harris and the Young Swan

BREAKING: THE NILES POND YOUNG SWAN RESCUED BY LYN FONZO AND DAN HARRIS

Eastern Point residents Lyn Fonzo and Dan Harris discovered the Young Swan frozen in the ice at Niles Pond early this morning. Dan reached into the water and scooped her up. She seemed relatively tame and did not try to bite Dan as we had imagined would happen. Dan and Lyn carried her to Lyn’s home, where she is currently living in one of Lyn’s chicken coops. Plans are underway to modify the chicken house to make it a bit more swan friendly. Joel Munroe, one of several of Mr. Swan’s caregivers, is also a carpenter and she is planning to help Lyn.

Tremendous shout outs to Lyn Fonzo, Dan Harris, Skip and Joel Munroe, and to Michelle Smith. West Gloucester resident Michelle formerly raised swans and emus on the family farm and she is providing excellent advice on how to care for swans in our New England climate.

Photos and video courtesy of Lyn Fonzo.

New digs for the Young Swan

Frozen!

 

IS MR. SWAN TRYING TO SCARE THE BEJESUS OUT OF THE YOUNG SWAN?

Doesn’t this scene look deadly brutal? It is a photo of Mr. Swan chasing the Young Swan.

The thing is, we think that this may be Mr. Swan’s way of encouraging the Young Swan to fly. If she is going to survive a New England winter in the wild, she has to move to saltwater coves and harbors. Niles Pond resident Skip Hadden has seen her fly but she seems to have no interest in leaving the Pond. Niles Pond is freezing over, and unless the Young Swan follows Mr. Swan’s lead, she will have to be relocated.

TOGETHER AGAIN

Mr. Swan and the Young Swan were seen again at Niles this past week, without incident, and seemingly quite comfortable with one another. I wish we could see the Young Swan take a sustained flight; she (or possibly he) will have a chance of surviving the winter if she can.