May 24, 2013 § 2 Comments
Rockport Festivals is pleased to announce that two films received the inaugural Motif 1 Short Film Fest People’s Choice award(s):
Wow! What a great first year for the first Motif 1 Short Film Fest! We had some great submissions, ranging on topics from the launch of an Essex-built schooner to the legend of the Gloucester Sea Serpent. The following eight short films were chosen for the first Motif 1 Short Film Fest:
Launch Day of the Schooner Ardelle
by Len Burgess
What do You Love About Cape Ann?
by Mike Kelly
by Kim Smith
Gloucester Sea Serpent
by Doctor Colonel Gonzo
No More Gloomy Sundays
by Robert Newton
New England Blood
by Emile Doucette
Thacher Island Nature Reserve Sunrise
by Ron Rismen
Two screenings were held at the annual Motif No.1 Festival in Rockport, one on Friday, May 17th and another on Saturday, May 18th, with Twin Lights soda courtesy of Rockport’s own Thomas Wilson Beverage Co. at both screenings. Viewers were asked to vote for their favorite film (if they felt so inclined — voting was entirely optional). Across the ballots all the films received great feedback, with one voter checking off every single option with the comment that each one was a favorite. But in the end, two films emerged as the front runners with both receiving the same number of votes.
Read more about the event at Rockport Art Festivals
May 21, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The Cape Ann Monarch Milkweed Project was positively a resounding success. Thank you to everyone who ordered and picked up your milkweed plants. Thank you to Joe Ciaramitaro from Good Morning Gloucester who turned my small seed of an idea into a fabulous community-wide project and who also very kindly offered Captain Joe and Sons for mug up and pick up. Thank you to Felicia for taking valuable time from writing the world’s-greatest-cookbook-ever and spending the entire morning making and serving coffee and Sicilian gigilani cookies (I know that is totally misspelled) and for helping with the plants and for just being a great friend. Thank you to all my GMG fellow contributors and all the FOBs for coming, and for everyone’s enthusiasm in the project.
And, most importantly, the Monarchs thank you!!!
We have exactly fourteen plants remaining and all fourteen are spoken for. After all the plants are picked up and the money totaled, we will have enough to make a donation to the Rocky Neck Cultural Center. So thank you again. I am very inspired by the success of the program and plan to later in the summer have a Cape Ann Monarch Aster and Goldenrod Program.
Monarch Butterflies at Eastern Point
How to Plant and Care for Your Milkweed Plants
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) has a taproot. Plants with taproots do not like to be disturbed once established so it is best to plant your Common Milkweed seedlings as soon as possible. Common Milkweed is not too fussy about soil and is the milkweed we see growing in fields, roadsides, dunes, and meadows. It can reach up to six-feet in height, but more commonly grows two- to four-feet. Common Milkweed spreads by underground shoots and by seed dispersal.
The Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) are well-rooted year-old plants and can be planted in the garden now, or within the next month or so. Marsh Milkweed grows best in good garden soil and/or moist areas. Marsh Milkweed is clump forming and does not spread by underground shoots.
Both milkweed species prefer full sun, but will take some slight shade. Plant with the soil line equal to the soil line in the pot. Place a stake nearby so that you do not step on your little milkweed seedling. Water gently. Check frequently on your milkweed plant until it is fully established. Water when dry, but do not over water. Monitor for milkweed aphids. Milkweed aphids are tiny soft-bodied orange insects. If you do see any aphids, gently wash them away with water; no soap or strong pesticides needed!
May 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Hooray–our milkweed plants shipped from Missouri Monday and should arrive to Gloucester by Thursday!!!
Plants will be available for pick up at Captain Joe and Sons, 95 East Main Street, Saturday morning at 9:00am and we will be there all morning until noon. Felicia is helping and we will have coffee for everyone. Written instructions will be provided on how to take care of your plants. Looking forward to seeing you all at the first ever Monarch~Milkweed Mug Up!
I did not collect the funds ahead of time. Please everybody, if you ordered plants, be sure to pick-up Saturday morning. I am counting on you!! If the project is successful, we will do this again later in the season, with Seaside Goldenrod and New England Asters, but we can only have another plant sale if everyone honors their commitment. Thank you!!
For more detailed information, see previous posts:
WOW and WONDEFUL—150 milkweed plants ordered!!! (Actually, 190 plants were ordered!!)
May 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
May 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Thank you to everyone participating in the Cape Ann Milkweed Project!
Monarch Butterfly Nectaring at Common Milkweed ~ Good Harbor Beach
Milkweed may not be for everyone’s garden; even if you did not order plants, you are welcome to come on down to the dock Saturday morning, the 18th of May, and learn more about the Monarch-milkweed connection. The plants are being shipped on Monday the 13th and I will keep you updated on their progress.
April 30, 2013 § 1 Comment
Order Your Milkweed Plants Today!
In case you missed the details see Sunday’s Post: Cape Ann Milkweed Project
Tonight I am placing the order for the milkweed plants. Please get your orders in.
Thank you, thank you to Everyone participating in our Cape Ann Milkweed Project!!!
Newly Emerged Monarch Butterflies. I called these two butterflies the” Twins,” because they completed every stage of their life cycle within moments of each other, including pupating and emerging from their chrysalides.
April 29, 2013 § 1 Comment
Order Your Milkweed Plants Today!
Monarch Chrysalis on Rib of Common Milkweed Leaf
Everyone who wrote in yesterday and placed an order has been recorded. Anyone interested in ordering either Common or Marsh Milkweed today, please place your order in the comment section of this post or yesterday’s post, which explains the project, and includes all details. Don’t forget to specify whether you are interested in Common or Marsh Milkweed and how many plants you would like.
Thank you so much to everyone who is participating. Keep the orders coming!
Monarch Caterpillars Feeding on Milkweed in the Summer…
Equals Millions of Monarchs in the Fall!!!
April 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
Order Your Milkweed Plants Today!
In March I shared an article about bringing back the Monarch Butterflies. Great interest in planting milkweed was expressed by many. The way to bring as many Monarchs as possible to our region is to help recreate the butterfly’s habitat in our own gardens. The number one way to do this is by planting native wildflowers, milkweed for the summer caterpillars, and asters and goldenrod for the fall migrants. Number two is to make a commitment not to use pesticides, which will indiscriminately kill all the creatures that your milkweed plants invite to your garden.
Milkweed is the only food plant of the Monarch caterpillar and the flower is a fantastic source of nectar for myriad species of bees and butterflies.
So many readers wrote in requesting milkweed plants that my friend Joey from Good Morning Gloucester blog has very generously offered his place of business—Captain Joe and Sons—as our go-to-place for picking up plants!! It’s going to be a super fun morning–stop by with your coffee, visit, learn about milkweed and Monarchs, and pick up your order.
Please place your order today or tomorrow. I am not pre-collecting the money and am fronting the funds to purchase plants. I don’t want to have dozens of homeless plants, so I am asking everyone to please be on the honor system.
We are ordering two types of milkweed. The cost is 7.00 per plant, which will come in a 3.5 inch square pot. The plants are on the smallish side however, that is the ideal size for shipping and transplanting milkweed. I am writing instructions for planting and they will be provided at the time of purchase.
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is the milkweed we see most typically growing in our dunes, meadows, roadsides, and fields. It grows quickly and spreads vigorously by underground runners. This is a great plant if you have an area of your garden that you want to devote entirely to milkweed. It prefers full sun, will tolerate some shade, and will grow in nearly any type of soil. The flowers are dusty mauve pink and have a wonderful honey-hay sweet scent.
Marsh Milkweed (Aclepias incarnata) is more commonly found in marshy areas, but it grows beautifully in gardens. It does not care for dry conditions. These plants are very well-behaved and are more clump forming, rather than spreading by underground roots. The flowers are typically a brighter pink than Common Milkweed.
Monarchs deposit their eggs readily on both types of milkweed and in my garden I grow Common Milweed and Marsh Milkweed side-by-side.
The cost of the plants includes shipping from Missouri. Hopefully everyone will be good and if they place an order, will honor their commitment. If there is any money beyond what was spent on plants and shipping we will donate it to the ongoing fundraising drive for the Rocky Neck Cultural Center purchase of the beautiful center on Wonson Street.
Plant pick-up is at Captain Joe and Sons, 95 East Main Street, Gloucester, on Saturday, May 18th from 9:00am to 12noon. If you cannot pick up your plants at that time, please ask a friend.
My order to the nursery is being placed on Tuesday night, so please get your orders in asap. Place Your Milkweed Order in the comment section of this post. Be sure to indicate which type of milkweed, Common or Marsh, and number of plants.
Our deepest thanks to everyone who is participating.
Rain date pick up: Sunday, May 19th from 9am to 12noon.
April 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
COMING SOON! WORLD PREMIER at the
CAPE ANN COMMUNITY CINEMA
FRIDAY JUNE 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm
ADVANCE TICKETS available at Cape Ann Community Cinema
Come celebrate the premier of my film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, on the Summer Solstice, Friday, June 21st at 7:30pm, at the Cape Ann Community Cinema.
As everyone who knows me knows, I have been working on developing this film for nearly two years. It is the first to be completed in the trilogy and I am overjoyed to announce the premier will be held at the Cape Ann Community Cinema. Many thanks to Rob Newton for inviting me to have the premier at his wonderfully unique and super fun movie theatre. I hope everyone will come celebrate this special night with me. I think you will love seeing scenes of our native flora and fauna, filmed all around Gloucester and Cape Ann, on the Big Screen.
The Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated film. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is for adults and for children so that all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. Filmed in Gloucester.
Note ~ The beautiful music that you hear is my daughter Liv singing and friend Kathleen Adams on the accompanying organ. The song is their improvisation of the Quaker dance song “Simple Gifts.” The soundtrack was recorded at the Annisquam Village Church on the organ built by Gloucester’s own Jeremy Adams. Thank you Liv and Kathleen!
ADVANCE TICKETS available at Cape Ann Community Cinema
Light refreshments, including wine, and beer will be served. I hope to see you there!
April 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
To celebrate Earth Day (Earth Week-Earth Month-Everyday is Earth Day!), I am beginning a new series on both my blog and on Good Morning Gloucester titled Habitat Gardening 101. The series is based on the lectures that I give to area conservation groups, libraries, garden clubs, and schools and is designed to provide information on the relationships between our native flora and fauna, and how to translate that information to your own garden. You will find in this series information on how to support and encourage to your garden a wide variety of wildlife, including songbirds, butterflies, bees, moths, skippers, hummingbirds, and small mammals, and the trees, wildflowers, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers that sustain these beautiful creatures.
This series could just as well be titled Beauty in Our Midst because there are so many gems to be found along our shoreline, meadows, fields, wetlands, dunes, woodlands, and roadsides. Although the series will cover a wide array of flora and wildlife, the first posts will be about several butterfly attracting trees and shrubs because they are currently in bloom. Coming Wednesday, the North American native Pussy Willow will be featured. For today, the following is one of my Top Ten Tips for Attracting Lepidoptera to Your Garden.
Habitat Gardening 101 Tip #1: Plant Caterpillar Food Plants
So you want to attract tons of butterflies to your garden and you plant lots of gorgeous, colorful nectar-rich plants—and that is wonderful. To your garden will come many beautiful, albeit transient, butterflies, along with an array of many different species of beneficial pollinators. However, if you want butterflies to colonize your garden, in other words, to experience the grand beauty of the creature through all its stages of life, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult, you must also plant caterpillar food plants.
Black Swallowtail Butterfly Egg on Fennel (the pinhead-sized golden yellow dot)
Each species of butterfly caterpillar will only eat from a family of plants it has coevolved a relationship with over millennia. We call this a caterpillar food plant, host plant, or larval food plant.
Perhaps you may recall that the Monarch Butterfly only deposits her eggs on milkweed plants. The Black Swallowtail Butterfly deposits her eggs on, and the caterpillars feast on, members of Umbelliferae (Apiaceae), or carrot family of plants, including carrots, parsley, fennel, dill, and Queen Anne’s Lace. Some caterpillars, like the stunning Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feed from several plant families, like those of Magnoliaceae and Rosaceae, which species include the Wild Black Cherry, the Tulip Tree, and the Sweet Bay Magnolia.
If you see a green, black and yellow striped and spotted caterpillar munching on your parsley plant, it is not a Monarch caterpillar; it is a Black Swallowtail caterpillar (I am often asked this question). Monarch caterpillars are striped yellow, black, and white, always. You will never find a Black Swallowtail caterpillar munching on milkweed; likewise you will never find a Monarch caterpillar eating your parsley and fennel.
Another question frequently asked is, if I invite caterpillars to my garden, will they devour all the foliage. The answer is, for the most part, no. The damage done is relatively minimal, the plant generally recovers quickly, and bear in mind too, that plants have evolved with many mechanisms to discourage their complete destruction. Remember, the plant was responsible for inviting the butterfly to its flower in the first place!
Note too, that if you invite butterflies to your garden to deposit their eggs, please don’t turn around and spray pesticides, which will kill all, indiscriminately. A habitat garden, by its very definition, is an organic garden, which means no herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.
Feel free to send any and all questions, suggestions for a topic, or curiosity, to the comment section under each post.
Cape Ann Milkweed Project Update: Because of the chilly spring weather, milkweed shoots are slow to emerge.
Link to a list of lectures and workshops at Kim Smith Designs
April 18, 2013 § 2 Comments
Over the weekend and next several days, when you have a moment, please watch my newest video. I have submitted it to a video contest sponsored by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis from their debut album The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis created the beautiful “Same Love” video that I posted previously. The winner will be announced after April 8th.
March 30, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Lecture Tuesday night, April 9, at 7:30 at the Manchester Community Center: Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden.
Cabbage White Butterflies Mating in the Native Flowering Dogwood Foliage
The lecture tonight is based on the book of the same name, which I wrote and illustrated. In it I reveal how to create the framework, a living tapestry of flora, fauna, and fragrance that establishes the soul of the garden. Using a selection of plant material that eliminates the need for pesticides and herbicides, and guided by the plants forms, hues, and horticultural demands, we discuss how to create a succession of blooms from April through November. This presentation is as much about how to visualize your garden, as it is about particular trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, and annuals. Illuminated with photographs, and citing poetry and quotations from Eastern and Western cultural influences, this presentation engages us with an artist’s eye while drawing from practical experience.
For a complete lit of my 2013 – 2014 programs and workshops, visit the Programs and Lectures page of my blog.
The Cecropia Moth, or Robin Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is the largest moth found in North America, with a wingspan of up to six inches. He is perched on the foliage of our beautiful native Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay Magnolia), one of several of the caterpillar’s food plants. You can tell that he is a male because he has large, feathery antennae, or plumos, the better for detecting scent hormones released by the female. This photo was taken in our garden in early June.
The Manchester Community Center is located at 40 Harbor Point, Manchester.
March 30, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Are Coyotes the Cause of an Increase in Lyme Disease?
Struck by the recent interest in coyotes after the fascinating video Two Coyotes Versus One Deer by Shawn Henry was posted on GMG, I became interested in reading various studies and reports about coyotes, wolves, and foxes in Massachusetts and the Northeast. My primary interest at the onset was of concern for the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), which has seen a tremendous decline in numbers. I wondered if the presence of coyotes (Canis latrans) was negatively impacting the Red Fox. In the past, I often saw a Red Fox in the early morning hours trotting along the shoreline at Brace Cove. I wish so much that I had filmed the last that one that I saw because it was a gorgeous scene; a strikingly beautiful creature so completely unaware of my presence and so at home in its realm, investigating rock and seaweed, pausing to sniff the air, and then resuming its journey. The last time I saw a Red Fox in our neighborhood was over three years ago. As I was reading about coyotes I learned the findings of some of the most recent studies indicate that because Eastern Coyotes out-compete the Red Fox, the coyotes are the cause of an increase in Lyme disease. More on that in a moment.
The coyotes that now inhabit every region in Massachusetts are an invasive species. They are a hybrid cross species of the Western Coyote (found west of the Mississippi) and Red Wolf (Canis lupus rufus). “Researchers now believe that the Eastern Coyote is a hybridization between the Western Coyote and Red Wolf many generations ago in the upper Great Lakes region of the United States. It is theorized that as populations of the Western Coyote increased, they were forced to move east and north in search of food. As they moved into Minnesota they crossbred with Gray/Red Wolves and produced a genetically hardy animal able to sustain itself through New England winters.” (Mass Audubon)
Coyotes are not “re-populating” this region because this new species was never in our region.
Eastern Coyotes have extremely broad food habits and many factors affect the coyotes’ diet, including competition with other mammals, abundance of prey, season, and weather. In the Northeast, their diet consists of shrews, rabbits, voles, woodchucks, mice, deer, beaver, muskrat, weasels, squirrels, and carrion. And according to Mass Audubon, “They eat ground-nesting birds and their eggs, as well as reptiles and amphibians. When other prey is scarce they will eat a variety of insects including grasshoppers, beetles and cicadas. When animal matter is scarce, they will eat available fruits including apples, cherries, grapes, and strawberries.”
The rapid invasion of the alien Eastern Coyote has negatively impacted many sympatric native species, as the coyote has assumed the role of top-order predator. The coyote has fundamentally altered the existing ecosystem and various species have experienced population declines as a direct result of their role as coyote prey or from direct competition for food. “Culturally and ecologically significant species including Red Fox decline dramatically in response to increasing coyote populations. Eastern Coyote and Red Fox share many common habitat requirements and occupy overlapping niches. Through time, the larger and more resilient coyote is able to out-compete and displace resident fox populations.” (Department of Natural Resources, Maryland.)
Studies have shown repeatedly that Eastern Coyote predation on deer is minimal. Most herds can handle the coyotes. Typically coyotes have success with fawns that are 4-5 weeks old (after they have become more active and are not by the mother’s side), weakened and sickly adults, and deer separated from the herd. These targets represent approximately one or two percent of the total deer population. While coyote diet studies show consistently the use of deer for food, it does not appear that coyote limit deer population on a regional scale.
Although the population of White-tailed Deer has stabilized, Lyme disease continues to increase. In June of 2012 researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz published their findings from the study “Deer, Predators, and the Emergence of Lyme Disease.” (Taal Levi, lead author.)
The study found that once where there was an abundance of Red Foxes, there is now an abundance of Eastern Coyotes. Even more significantly, fewer coyotes will inhabit an area once populated by more foxes. The greater number of foxes would have consumed a larger number of small tick-bearing animals, primarily White-footed Mice, Short-tailed Shrews, and Eastern Chipmunks, all of which transmit Lyme disease bacteria to ticks. It appears as though it is the Red Fox that once kept the population of these smaller rodents under control.
Even when there is a threefold rise in deer population, study after study now shows that the strongest predictors of a current year’s risk of Lyme disease are an abundance of acorns two years previously. How does that work?
Many acorns = many healthy mice and chipmunks.
Many healthy mice and chipmunks = many tick nymphs.
The following year when it may not be a bumper acorn crop = fewer mice.
Fewer mice and chipmunk = dogs and humans become vectors for the ticks.
While acorns don’t serve as a universal predictor because Lyme disease can be traced to forests where there are no oak trees, the data suggest that food sources and predators of small forest mammals are likely to be valuable in predicting Lyme disease risk for humans.
To summarize, multiple studies suggest that the invasive Eastern Coyote out-competes and kills the native Red Fox population, which leads to a rise in the number of small animals particularly the White-footed Mouse and Eastern Chipmunk, which in turn leads to an increase in ticks that carry Lyme disease. The impact of the Eastern Coyote on native deer population is negligible. And, as many family’s can attest, the impact of the Eastern Coyote on populations of domestic cats and small dogs has been devastating.
Typically the excuse given for unwanted encounters with wildlife is that people are encroaching on the animal’s habitat. That simply is not the case with the Eastern Coyote. The Eastern Coyote is advancing on humans–and they like what they see; no large predators, a reluctance on the part of people to hunt and trap, and an abundance of food. The environmentally and culturally destructive chain reaction caused by the Eastern Coyote invasion is taking on added urgency as the coyote strikes closer and closer to home.
If confronted by a coyote, make as much noise as possible, if attacked, fight back aggressively.
Images courtesy Google image search.
March 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
I am going to look into purchasing a large quanity of milkweed seedlings at wholesale prices for anyone in our community interested in cultivating milkweed. If interested, please leave a comment in the comment section, which will help give me an idea, very approximately, on how many plants to order. You can also wait until the fall and sow ripened milkweed seedpods. (Note: Please do not dig up any wild milkweed).
The following timely news release was in my inbox this morning!
MONARCH WATCH ANNOUNCES
‘BRING BACK THE MONARCHS’ CAMPAIGN
“In real estate it’s location, location, location and for monarchs and other wildlife it’s habitat, habitat, habitat”, said Chip Taylor, Director of Monarch Watch. Monarch Watch (www.MonarchWatch.org) started in 1992 as an outreach program dedicated to engaging the public in studies of monarchs and is now concentrating its efforts on monarch conservation. “We have a lot of habitat in this country but we are losing it at a rapid pace. Development is consuming 6,000 acres a day, a loss of 2.2 million acres per year. Further, the overuse of herbicides along roadsides and elsewhere is turning diverse areas that support monarchs, pollinators, and other wildlife into grass-filled landscapes that support few species. The adoption of genetically modified soybeans and corn have further reduced monarch habitat. If these trends continue, monarchs are certain to decline, threatening the very existence of their magnificent migration”, said Taylor.
To address these changes and restore habitats for monarchs, pollinators, and other wildlife, Monarch Watch is initiating a nationwide landscape restoration program called “Bring Back The Monarchs.” The goals of this program are to restore 20 milkweed species, used by monarch caterpillars as food, to their native ranges throughout the United States and to encourage the planting of nectar-producing native flowers that support adult monarchs and other pollinators.
This program is an outgrowth of the Monarch Waystation Program started by Monarch Watch in 2005. There are now over 5,000 certified Monarch Waystations – mostly habitats created in home gardens, schoolyards, parks, and commercial landscaping. “While these sites contribute to monarch conservation, it is clear that to save the monarch migration we need to do more,” Taylor said. “ We need to think on a bigger scale and we need to think ahead, to anticipate how things are going to change as a result of population growth, development, changes in agriculture, and most of all, changes in the climate,” said Taylor.
According to Taylor we need a comprehensive plan on how to manage the fragmented edges and marginal areas created by development and agriculture since it is these edges that support monarchs, many of our pollinators, and the many forms of wildlife that are sustained by the seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, and foliage that result from pollination. “In effect,” Taylor argues, “we need a new conservation ethic, one dealing with edges and marginal areas that addresses the changes of the recent past and anticipates those of the future.”
The above photo of a male (right) and female (left) Monarch Butterflies on Marsh Milkweed is part of the GMG/Cape Ann Giclee photography show, currently on view at Cape Ann Giclee.
March 2, 2013 § 1 Comment
An embarrassment of riches ~ Whether dawn or dusk, when standing on the footpath between Niles Pond and Brace Cove, sometimes I can’t decide which direction to point my camera. When that happens I focus the video camera in one direction and turn and face the opposite direction with the still camera.
This batch of photos was taken on a chilly afternoon in early January, looking first toward the pond, and then heading down to the beach at Brace Cove after a wedge of eight Mute Swans flew overhead and landed in the cove.
The bevy was comprised of six cygnets and parents. The bill of the adult Mute Swan is vivid red-orange whereas the cygnet’s bill ranges in shades from dark gray through muted browns. A black knob at the base of the cob’s (male) bill bulges prominently during mating season; the rest of the year it is often difficult to distinguish pen from cob. Anyone who has ever encountered a hissing, snarling, gnarling, and whistling Mute Swan wonders why they are called mute. Mute Swans lack the vocal trumpeting when compared to other members of the genus. The most beautiful sound the Mute Swan makes is the vibrant throbbing of their wingbeats in flight. I believe this sound is unique to Mute Swans. Click photos to view larger.
Eight Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) at Brace Cove, Gloucester
March 1, 2013 § Leave a Comment
In several places along the footpath, there are cuts clear through the granite dune and a sandy beach is forming on the Niles Pond side. Shrubs, wildflowers, and ground covers that help retain the sides of the causeway have been uprooted and washed away.
To read more about what makes this narrowest strip of land dividing Niles Pond and Brace Cove so unique, see JoeAnn Hart’s beautiful story about Niles Pond.
Niles Pond and Brace Cove Footpath Storm Damage
February 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Last night I gave a talk on Fragrant Gardening at a sportmen’s club in Plymouth. In looking through images to update my presentation, I found two photos that had previously been overlooked. The first photo is of a Painted Lady nectaring at the sweetly scented butterfly bush ‘Nanho Purple,’ which blooms continuously throughout the summer. You can see she is a Painted Lady because of the four concentric circles, or “eyespots,” on the underside of her hindwing.
The second photo is of a Monarch nectaring at New England Aster ‘Alma Potchke,’ taken at a friend’s garden on Eastern Point. Our native New England asters have a wonderful spicy sweet earthy fragrance and are one the most potently fragrant asters found. New England asters bloom typically from late August through September.
The third photo I’ve posted before and it is of an American Lady nectaring at Korean Daisies. You can tell she is an American Lady by her two comparatively larger eyespots. Unlike hybridized chrysanthemums, which are usually bred for color, Korean Daisies are the straight species and are fabulously fragrant. Their period of florescence is from September through October, oftentimes into early November; only a hard frost stops their bloom power.
With just these three beauties, one could have a staggered and continuously fragrant garden in bloom from July through November–and create Mecca for butterflies on the wing.
February 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I thought everyone would like to know that a photo of mine, Gloucester’s First Wind Turbine, has been licensed for a million-run children’s textbook on wind farming. I think its pretty exciting that our turbine and Gloucester Harbor will be featured not only in one million textbooks, but in the electronic version of the book as well. Upon publication, the publisher is sending a copy of the book and I plan to donate it to the Sawyer Free Library. This photo was shot at daybreak last October while filming the barge transporting the wind turbine through Gloucester Harbor.
Thanks to a google search, I found this very handy Stock Photo License Pricing for Editorial Use chart and it really helped to negotiate a fair price: Photographers Index
February 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I have posted many more photos on my friend Joey’s blog, Good Morning Gloucester, where you will also find tons more photos and videos of local storm coverage by GMG contributors.
February 10, 2013 § Leave a Comment
What do you give your lover for Valentine’s Day?
Why, a Shaque D’Amour, of course!
Where can you purchase your Love Shack?
Gloucester’s Nichols Candy House, naturally!
December 31, 2012 § 1 Comment
December 20, 2012 § Leave a Comment
JoeAnn Hart is the author of the novels Addled and the forthcoming Float (Ashland Creek Press, February 2013). Float, set in coastal New England, involves the fishing industry, conceptual art, jellyfish, marital woes, and plastics in the ocean.
Folklore has it that Niles Pond was once in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the closest body of fresh water to the ocean, but I can’t verify it. No matter. Not only does it seem true, but as with other Guinness records, such as the heaviest weight lifted by tongue (27.5 lbs.), it also seems impossible. Yet there it is. This 38 acre pond is separated from the salty Atlantic by a causeway just wide enough for a footpath. There is Niles on one side, neatly defined and calm, and on the other, the pounding surf of Brace Cove. To stand between the two is to feel washed in conflicting emotions. I walk this route with Daisy, my fuzzy mutt who believes herself to be a famed hunter of ducks and likes to splash into the dark pond up to her sternum to stir them up.
Niles is named after the farmer who once owned Eastern Point, the small spit of Gloucester land where I live. Of the many unique features of the intertwined land and waterscapes here, Niles is nature’s odd duck. It is a Massachusetts Great Pond, meaning that it is like a Common, where citizens have the right to graze their sheep, except this Common is made of water. Instead of grazing, it is reserved for hunting, fishing, ice-making, and recreation. Duck hunting is no longer feasible because of all the homes built up along the shore, and fishing is also a moot point because the perch have been eaten by the snapping turtles. As for ice, Cape Pond Ice (“the coolest guys in town”) churns it out for the fishing boats these days. That leaves recreation. I’ve never seen anyone but Daisy swim in the pond, what with those snappers, but there are skaters when there is ice. There was no ice last winter, speaking of breaking records, but that is a topic for another time. The point is, Niles is left mostly in the hands of wildlife, as nature intended.
Phragmites at Niles
But what does nature intend? Does it intend for the pond to be choked by phragmites, the feathery reed that is prowling along the perimeter? In geologic time, Niles was once part of the ocean, an extension of Brace Cove. Over the years, rocks rolled to shore, sand accumulated, and the dune got higher until one day it was shut off from the sea. A natural spring bubbled up and slowly replaced the salt water with fresh. In the 1830’s, sensing that the ocean might want to stake a claim again, Farmer Niles reinforced the 400-foot dune with granite to preserve the pond for ice-cutting and “ornament.” It remains a prime resting place for migratory seabirds, and a source of fresh water for the stealthy mammals of the land, including fisher cats and raccoons. At any given time, grebes, cormorants, and ducks float on the surface, while herons and egrets stand around on one leg pretending to be reeds. The mute swans are probably a human introduction, but they are hardly mute. They hiss and snort and otherwise act aggressively because people feed them, which confuses wild animals and makes them testy. That, and the fact that the turtles pull their cygnets from below and eat them. But the phragmites are more aggressive than either swan or snapper.
According to Fish and Wildlife, non-native phragmites appeared in coastal ports in the eastern United States in the 19th century, probably as seeds clinging to the hulls of ships. Maybe humankind’s natural purpose on earth is to help immobile species move around the globe. It is hard to figure out where we fit in, but in this aspect, we’ve succeeded. The rapid spread of phragmites in the 20thcentury is attributed to habitat disturbance and eutrophication. Raise your hand if you know what that is. It’s over fertilization from the nitrates from lawn fertilizers and phosphates in laundry detergent seeping into the pond. Phragmites are usually an indicator of a wetlands system out of balance. Well, aren’t we all?
Daisy on the path
Niles Pond wants to grow up to be Niles Marsh. Humans want it to stay a pond, as, I’m sure, do those migratory seabirds. A group of residents is working to have the phragmites dredged. But they’re tenacious plants, with stolons like bullwhips. The upside of this tenacity is that they might hold the earth in place when the Atlantic comes calling for the pond. But, again, that is a topic for another time.
Mallards and Cormorants
Daisy and I do not think of all this when we walk. Her mind is on ducks, mine on “ornament.” It’s particularly hard getting out of the house this time of year. I have to leave unfinished work behind in order to beat the early-setting sun, but Daisy and I need the exercise and the mental cleansing. When we get to the causeway, she scrambles down the steep bank of Farmer Niles’ stones in search of her ducks, while I, shedding myself of the day’s challenges, walk that narrow path between internal calm and unleashed energy.
Sunset at Niles
Reblogged from Newfound, the online journal about place for which JoeAnn is a monthly contributor.
November 22, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Tuesday, while filming beautiful B-roll ay Captain Joe’s dock, for my Monarch butterfly project, my friend Joey suggested I ask each lobstermen what they were thankful for. It was alot of fun, as you can see, and although I made this video for Good Morning Gloucester, I thought my readers would enjoy. And as you can see, I also got lots of gorgeous B-roll of lobstermen in action and lobster boats, which will help establish a wonderful sense of place for my film. You can watch the video on Good Morning Gloucester if you’d also like to read all the great comments.
Wishing everyone a happy and joyful Thanksgiving filled with lots of yummy food.
Brought to you by Good Morning Gloucester and the crews of lobster boats The Lady J and The Degelyse, and Brian O’Connor. Thanksgiving interviews with, in order of appearance, Joey Ciaramitaro, Ryan, Skipper Dave Jewell, Brain M O’Connor, Michael, Skipper Tuffy, Sean, and Frankie Ciaramitaro.
I’ve Got Plenty to Be Thankful For, sung by Bing Crosby and How Sweet It Is by Marvin Gaye.
Once again, a million and one thank yous to Joey and Frankie for allowing me to film and photograph from the dock at Captain Joe and Sons.
November 8, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Superstorm Sandy Gloucester ~ The Morning After
Filmed on October 30, 2012, the morning after Superstorm Sandy, at Brace Cove, Gloucester. We were very fortunate to miss the brunt of the storm; Gloucester survived with relatively minimal damage. A heavy, thick steely-gray bank of clouds dominated the sky and the sun broke through for only a brief period. The streaming shafts of sunlight created a beautiful ethereal glow filtering through the atmosphere. The wind was very strong and caused a good deal of camera shake.
Music composed by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Opus 46: Morning Mood.
October 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Highlights from The Open Door Autumn Breakfast ~
My friend Joey Ciaramitaro received the “Outstanding Community Builder Award”–so well-deserved, as anyone who reads or is involved with Good Morning Gloucester knows. His love for the people of Gloucester and for our community is evidenced a hundred times a day through his commitment to the stellar community blog Good Morning Gloucester. We who are GMG contributors are so fortunate to share in his passion.
October 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Filmed on October 15th, 2012. I began filming the barge carrying Gloucester’s first wind turbine at daybreak, from Niles Beach, as as it was being prepared for transport through the inner harbor. Leaving Niles, I jumped in my car and raced over to Rocky Neck to catch the barge as it was rounding the Paint Factory jetty. The barge moved slowly and majestically through the harbor, dwarfing the wooden clapboard homes and working waterfront buildings. The sky was mostly overcast, and when the sun shone briefly, the metal siding of the tugboat Orion and the steely gray cylinders shimmered in the early morning light.
I then zoomed back to my car and drove to the Jodrey Fish Pier, which was a great vantage point to film as the barge was approaching it’s destination, the Cruiseport launching site.
At the State Pier, many people were photographing and marveling at the enormity of the wind turbine. The largest turbine section purportedly weighs over a million pounds. Shree Delorenzo, co-owner of Cruiseport, reports that she had to engage a structural engineer to ensure that her dock could withstand the weight of the turbine, along with the two cranes, and the counter weights.
The London Symphony Orchestra performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Opus 21.
Created for Good Morning Gloucester
Special thanks to Joey Ciaramitaro, Mayor Carolyn Kirk, Sheree Delorenzo of Cruiseport, and Mark Baldwin, Baldwin Crane.
October 21, 2012 § Leave a Comment
New England Premiere for the documentary film Liv and Ingmar at the Cape Ann Community Cinema, Saturday October 27th at 7:30 pm. Tickets for the Ullmann event are $20.00 ($17.50 for Members), and benefit the Cinema. More about the film can be found at www.LivAndIngmar.com, tickets atwww.CapeAnnCinema.com.
Liv and Ingmar is an affectionate yet truthful account of the 42 years- and 12 films-long relationship between Ullmann and Bergman. It is a rollercoaster journey of extreme highs and lows, constructed as a collage of images and sounds from the timeless Ullmann-Bergman films, behind-the-scenes footage, still photographs, passages from Liv’s book ‘Changing’ and Ingmar’s love letters to Liv. Ultimately, this film is a homage – a candid and humane look – not only at two of the greatest artists of our time, but also at two wonderful human beings, two inseparable friends and soul mates.
Ingmar Bergman is the legendary Swedish master filmmaker, and their incomparable relationship is told entirely from Ullmann’s point-of-view.
October 14, 2012 § 1 Comment
Stills from my B-roll. Click images to view larger.
One of the most gorgeous, interesting, and enjoyable aspects of filmmaking I find is shooting B-roll. I am swamped with design work, organizing lecture programs, and hoping to finish the edits on my Black Swallowtail film very soon, but there is no better time of year to shoot B-roll for my Monarch film than autumn in Gloucester; the light is simply stunning, and what I like to refer to as “atmospheric.”
B-roll further tells the story in a beautifully subtle, and alternatively not so subtle, manner and gives the project a sense of place. While filming and waiting, for example, for birds to take flight (whether swans or homies) I have my still camera readily available.
The most extraordinarily beautiful things occur spontaneously. I feel so very fortunate to see, and in turn share, the natural world through the camera lens. Only several weeks ago while filming a spider’s web in a tree, capturing the filaments of silky webbing dancing in the light of the setting sun (with the pinky schooner Ardelle and the Dog Bar Breakwater in the background!), the web’s maker came cavorting through the scene, with a capture of her own!
August 13, 2012 § Leave a Comment
In full bloom this month at the Harbor Walk is the fabulous North American native ‘Baby Joe’ (Eupatorium). While maintaining the Harbor Walk gardens, Jay Ramsey of Farm Creek Landscaping reported seeing no less than half a dozen species of butterflies nectaring simultaneously at the ‘Baby Joe’ on a warm sunny morning this past week. Given your average warm sunny summer day, butterflies are typically on the wing throughout the day; I find the very best time of day to see the very most is between 10:00 am until 12 noon.
August 5, 2012 § 1 Comment
For Devera, who wrote in asking how to tell the difference between a male and female Monarch Butterfly ~
Click photos to view large.
The first photos shows all male Monarch Butterflies necatring at Seaside Goldenrod. Notice the pair of little black pockets, or dots, on the inner vein of the hind wings. These are pockets of pheromones, or what scientists actually refer to as “love dust,” which the male sprinkles on the female during courtship.
The female Monarch Butterfly lacks the the black pockets on her hind wings. Notice too that her wing veination is thicker and smokier.
During courtship, male and female join, and he carries her to higher ground. This photo shows the male and female mating, with the male above.
August 1, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Look what Fred Bodin from Bodin Historic Photo shared!
Julia Lane, later Julia Wheeler, posed for Alice M. Curtis on August 12th, 1915, in Gloucester.
Fred read my post about Dutchman’s Pipevine and Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies that originally appeared on Good Morning Gloucester, titled Plant, and They Will Come! I mentioned in that post that the Dutchman’s Pipevine had it’s heyday in gardens in the previous two centuries. Pipevine was planted to climb porches and arbors in pre-airconditioning days, providing shade and cooling the rooms within. The Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly is rarely seen in our region today because the Dutchman’s Pipevine is rarely planted.
Thank you Fred for taking the time to find this delightful vintage photo showing the Dutchman’s Pipevine growing on the porch in the background!
Dutchman’s Pipevine is the host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly and makes a wonderful addition to the garden. Back when it was in vogue (and practical) to plant Dutchman’s Pipevine, Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies were a regular occurrence in the northeast.
Note: the flower in the second photo of the Dutchman’s Pipevine is a Rose of Sharon, not the flower of the vine.
July 31, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Nearly five years ago in late September 2007, I photographed a male Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly (Battus philenor) nectaring in my garden. I found mesmerizing its dark beauty, with black wings punctuated by brilliant orange spots and shimmering iridescence. The wings flashed electric blue in the fading late day sunlight and I became completely captivated!
Although the Pipevine Swallowtail is not rare in its southern range, this exotic looking butterfly is an unusual occurrence in the northeast, and even more rarely found on the eastern outer reaches of Cape Ann. Mine was a stray, carried in on a southerly breeze. I imagined that if a male can drift into our garden, so can a female. And if a visiting female found in my garden her caterpillar food plant, she would deposit her eggs. The following spring we planted the Dutchman’s Pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla). Four years later, and our pipevine has grown well. With emerald green enormous heart-shaped leaves, she is quite a showstopper clambering over the back fence. The plant is named for its flower, which resembles a Dutchman’s pipe, although when ours flowers, the blooms are so small, so few, and so lost in the foliage, I barely know when it is in bloom. Our pipevine took several years to become established, but once firmly rooted, it grew vigorously, but not invasively. At the end of the growing season, or the beginning of the next, I cut the vine hard, down to the ground. Dutchman’s Pipevine grows in full sun and partial shade and is hardy in zones 4 to 8.
Aristolochia macrophylla had its glory days in gardens during the two previous centuries, prior to the invention of air conditioning. It was planted to cover porches and treillage; cooling and shading the rooms within. When looking through old photos you can easily spot the porches and arbors that are embowered with pipevine because of the distinctive heart-shaped foliage. I imagine Fred Bodin may even have a few pictures of pipevine shrouded porches in his treasure trove of vintage photographs.
While doing chores in our backyard, about a week ago Saturday, I noticed the rapid movements of a dark butterfly investigating the pipevine. I immediately paused because say, for example, if it was the more common Eastern Black Swallowtail, which deposits eggs only on members of the carrot family, it would not show the least bit of interest in the pipevine. Upon close investigation, it was a Pipevine Swallowtail and, without doubt, it was a she! After first zooming in and out of the house to grab my camera, I observed her as she fluttered from tendril to tendril. She deliberately chose the tenderest leaves, pausing briefly several times to curl her abdomen to the underside to deposit her eggs. After she departed I ran in the house to tell anyone who would listen of the Great News. In our household my butterfly news is pretty much the family joke, although my husband kindly offered to get the tallest ladder from the basement. He held tight while I climbed to the top rung in search of eggs. I struck gold! Unlike the female Monarch and Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies, which deposit eggs singularly, the Pipevine Swallowtail oviposits eggs in clusters. I counted somewhere between 25-30 eggs (very approximately) in the clutch we cut from the plant. I hope we have enough pipevine to feed this many hungry Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars!
~ Map courtesy NABA
June 27, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The beautiful double rainbow late Saturday afternoon had faded, but I did see this on my way home.
Click photos to view larger-more dramatic looking!
June 26, 2012 § 4 Comments
Perhaps you may recall the photo of the wild silkworm cocoon that was posted back in April. I was becoming a little discouraged at the lack of activity and wondered if we should place the cocoon, which was housed in a terrarium and protected from the sun by our shaded porch, into full sun. My worries were for nothing because during the heat wave Thursday, sometime in the mid-morning hours, a gorgeous female Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus) emerged from her cocoon.
The Polyphemus Moth is so named because of the giant eyespots ringed with yellow, blue, and black on the hindwings. In Greek mythology Polyphemus is the one-eyed Cyclopes and son of Poseidon and Thoosa; the name means “much spoken of” or “famous.”
The Polyphemus Moth has also transparent spots on the forewings. Antheraea polyphemus is one of North America’s largest moths with a wingspan of four to six inches. Like the Luna Moth and Cecropia Moth, the Polyphemus Moth belongs to the Giant Silkworm Family or Saturniidae.
Male Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus). Note the comb-like feathery antennae of the male, which are nearly double the size of the female. The large antennae can more easily detect pheromones released by the female.
I was hoping a female would emerge, knowing that she would release pheromones, which would attract a male. Thursday night we set up the terrarium outside in a sheltered area around back. The following morning, sure enough, I discovered a perfect male specimen clinging to the back door. They don’t fly very well when their wings are not warmed sufficiently so he was easy to capture. I placed him into the terrarium with the female. Her abdomen is bursting with eggs and she had already begun to deposit unfertilized eggs everywhere—on leaves, her old cocoon, and the glass walls of the terrarium. That night I woke up every hour on the hour to try to photograph their mating, but I don’t think a pairing took place.
She is continuing to deposit eggs each evening. Her abdomen is still quite swollen. I am keeping my hopes up that they will get it together so the male will fertilize her eggs and we can then rear the caterpillars! Both male and female emerge without mouthparts; they do all their eating in the caterpillar stage.
June 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
What more could one ask for in a fine dining experience–inviting location and ambience, beautifully prepared food, and welcoming service. A recent trip to enjoy The Seaward Inn’s Sunday brunch provided all of the preceding, and then some.
The Seaward Inn is located on Marmion Way, which runs along Rockport’s picturesque shoreline. Sunday brunch is served from 10:30 to 1:30. The cost is 18.95 per person--really quite reasonable considering coffee, juice, freshly baked breads and croissants, organic yogurt, and homemade granola are all included with the three course prixe fixe menu.
For starters my husband had the exquisite wild mushroom, caramelized onion, goat cheese, and watercress Savory Tart Tartin and I had the Roasted Beet Salad with spring greens, blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette. We were both hard-pressed to decide which was the more fabulous. Cheese blintzes, with citrus ricotta and seasonal fruit, as well as the classic Caesar salad are also offered for the first course.
The entrees were equally as difficult to chose between. Roasted breast of chicken, pan-seared salmon, grilled flank steak, waffles, French toast, and quiche of the day were the entrees to which we had to say no. Tom had the Omelet to Order with a wonderful medley of fresh veggies and I had their gorgeous Eggs Benedict with exquisitely creamy, lemony Hollandaise and perfectly cooked spinach. I am looking forward to another visit soon to the Seaward Inn for brunch as every item on the menu sounded irresitible. Guinness Chocolate Cake Tom loved the homemade basil ice cream with fresh strawberries and I had the simply divine Guinness chocolate cake–the cake’s texture was amazingly light and perfectly sweetened. Key Lime pie is another favorite offered–I guess the next visit won’t come soon enough!
Tom loved the homemade basil ice cream with fresh strawberries and I had the simply divine Guinness chocolate cake–the cake’s texture was amazingly light and perfectly sweetened. Key Lime pie is another favorite offered–I guess the next visit won’t come soon enough!
The Seaward Inn opened for its 68th year in business in May of this year, and has been continually in operation under the same family for all these many years. Nancy Cameron Gilsey, the youngest daughter of the original proprietors Roger and Ann Cameron, has partnered with the renowned chefs of Beach Gourmet Catering for their brunch menu, special events, and continental breakfast; their weekly continental breakfast is also open to the public.
See Joe Ciaramitaro’s Good Morning Gloucester video posted earlier this year for a first look with John Lamarinde at the new Savour Wine and Cheese and Beach Gourmet Catering, opening very soon, and located at 76 Prospect Street, across from St. Ann’s School.
June 17, 2012 § Leave a Comment
June 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I never know what interesting species I am going to encounter when at Willowdale– usually tending to find more of the native variety–
From wiki: Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, is a resident breeder in South Asia. The peacock is designated as the national bird of India and the provincial bird of the Punjab. The term peafowl can refer to the two species of bird in the genus Pavo of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. Peafowl are best known for the male’s extravagant tail, which it displays as part of courtship. The male is called a peacock, and the female a peahen. The female peafowl is brown or toned grey and brown.
Come join us tomorrow evening in the garden at Willowdale.
June 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
3 minute video featuring the Eastern Carpenter Bee. The music is the opening movement of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
The Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) is an important pollinator for many open-faced spring flowers including the blossoms of fruiting trees—crabapple, apple, pear, peach, plum, and wild cherry—as well as holly and brambles. X. virginica has an especially bad reputation with blueberry growers because they have strong mouthparts (capable of boring into wood), which will easily tear flowers with a deep corolla—blueberries and azaleas, for example. In the video you can see the bee probing into the sides of, and in some instances tearing, the petals to gather nectar from the blossoming Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica). The damage done to wood is usually minimal and cosmetic.
Carpenter Bees are regularly mistaken for bumblebees. Their shiny black abdomen most easily distinguishes them. Male and female carpenter bees can easily be differentiated at a glance. The male has a patch of yellowish-white cuticle at the top its head; the females face is entirely black.
Male Eastern Carpenter Bees are aggressively territorial. They will fly at you noisily and vigorously when in their territory, but it is all just show—they are incapable of stinging!
May 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I am receiving a mountain of emails about the beautiful butterfly with underwings of mottled brown and upper surface banded brilliant fiery orange-red.
The Red Admiral butterfly is having an “irruptive” year and millions are streaming northward through gardens from Texas to Canada. An irruption for a species of butterfly can best be described as a sudden sharp increase in the relative numbers of a population.
This has been an amazing spring for butterflies, not only because they emerged earlier, but because they are present in much greater numbers than is usual. I have also been filming many more Question Mark and Painted Lady butterflies than is typical for this time of year.
The following is excerpted from an article about the Red Admiral that I wrote several years ago. Click here to read the complete text.
Red Admirals are Holarctic, a term used by zoologists to define the ecozone covering much of North America and Eurasia, which share many faunal characteristics. In our region Red Admirals are a migratory species that cannot withstand cold winter temperatures. Their numbers in any given year vary, from uncommon to abundant, and their abundance depends on the nature of that year’s migration and the success of the resulting breeding season. In the first week of May, Red Admirals begin to appear from overwintering populations in North Carolina and southward. Males perch from advantageous lookouts and will dart out to investigate passersby— prospective mates, other insects, and humans. Famously friendly, the Red Admiral readily alights on people, attracted by the salts in perspiration. They are on the wing almost continuously from May to October. The second, and quite possibly third generation, from the initial spring flight, begins the southward migration in late August to October.
Red Admiral Nectaring at Common White Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
The caterpillar’s primary food source is nettles—in New England these include Stinging, Tall, False, and Wood Nettles, all of which are unsuitable for the garden, particularly a small garden. The caterpillars “sew” the edges of the nettle leaves together with their silk and feed from within the shelter. The adults nectar at a wide variety of plants and are attracted to sap flows, rotting fruit, bird droppings, and wet soil.
Nabokov referred to V. atalanta as the Red Admirable and they appear several times in his novels to foreshadow death. “Its coloring is quite splendid and I liked it very much in my youth. Great numbers of them migrated from Africa to Northern Russia, where it was called ‘The Butterfly of Doom’ because it was especially abundant in 1881, the year Tsar Alexander II was assassinated, and the markings on the underside of its two hind wings seem to read 1881.”
May 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
May 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Video Walking Tour of Gloucester Harbor Walk with Good Morning Gloucester creator Joey Ciaramitaro
May 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Chris Muskopf and the newly planted Tulip Trees at St. Peter’s Square
Friday late afternoon I took a stroll along the Harbor Walk to have a look at the newly planted gardens. I heard a friendly hello from behind and there was Chris Muscopf, primary architect and project manager for the Harbor Walk, stopping by to check on the gardens, too. Chris was later meeting JD MacEachern and they were on their way to a running race at Good Harbor Beach.
Chris Muskopf and JD MacEachern
Chris lives in Jamaica Plain with his wife and young daughter Beatrix and rides his bike, or runs, to his job at Cambridge Seven Associates nearly everyday, rain or shine. I’ve gotten to know Chris a little bit over the past year and he is an all around great guy, with a wonderful sense of humor. Chris is working tirelessly, and always with much enthusiasm, to make the Harbor Walk a success. Stop in and see the work in progress. I think you’ll agree, the Harbor Walk is coming along beautifully!
May 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Welcome Tulip Trees!
The magnificent Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), also called Tulip Poplar or Yellow Poplar, is named and noted for its tulip-shaped flowers. Tulip Trees are native to the eastern United States and are relatively fast growing, without the problem of weak wood strength and the short life span typical of fast growing trees.
The foliage of the Tulip Tree has a distinct four lobed shape, with a beautiful fluttering habit when caught in the wind. Come fall, the tree is ablaze in brilliant clear yellow. Rich in nectar, Tulip Trees are a major honey plant of the east. In our region the tree typically flowers in June. The nectar also invites songbirds Cardinal and Gold Finch, as well as Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
Liriodendron tulipifera is one of only two species in the genus Liriodendron in the Magnolia Family.
Fun fact from wiki: Native Americans so habitually made their dugout canoes of its trunk that the early settlers west of the Appalachian Mountains called it Canoewood.
May 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Monday the Tulip Trees were planted at St. Peter’s Square and Tuesday was devoted to Whale Watch and General Store planting areas. Today we are tackling Gus Foote Park. You may notice a few bare spots; not all plants have been delivered. We’ll be adding more to the gardens as they arrive.
Jay Ramsey and his crew from Farm Creek Landscpaping are doing a top-notch job—professional and so enthusiastic. We are all so excited to see the installation of the city’s Harbor Walk gardens underway. I’ll be bringing you information on some of the native beauties we have planted and their value to the landscape and to wildlife. People often ask me why they have so few bees in their garden and I respond, “What have you planted for the bees and for all the pollinators?” When you plant for the pollinators, they will come!