Endangered Pied-billed Grebe Encounter

In the dim light of daybreak at first glance I thought the diminutive duck was somehow related to the female mallard. Both were inconspicuous and camouflaged amongst the cattails. Mrs. Mallard was preening and standing on one leg, a thing birds do to regulate their body temperature, and Mystery Duck was actively diving all around her. As the light grew brighter with the rising sun it was easy to see that they weren’t at all akin; Mystery Duck’s bill was shorter and chunkier when compared to the Mallard’s bill, Mystery was half her size, and its perky cotton white tail feathers were unmissable. The Mallard flew off eventually and our Mystery then traveled away, deeply diving and then reemerging some distance further, staying close to the shoreline and always well hidden.

Pied-billed Grebe Massachusetts mallard ©kim Smith 2014Side-by-side comparison: Pied-billed Grebe, left, female Mallard, right.

The Pied-billed Grebe is rarely seen breeding in Massachusetts any longer and is listed as endangered in nearly every New England state. Rhode Island considers the Pied-billed extirpated (locally extinct). The reason for their decline is low breeding numbers and wetland degradation. Their feathers are thick and soft and were used to make hats and earmuffs during the 19th century. Wantonly hunted to near extinction, Pied-billed Grebes never fully recovered in our region. As wetlands have given way to development, the Pied-billed Grebe’s numbers continue to decline dramatically. They are extremely sensitive to human disturbances, and, too, are less likely to be seen as it is a nocturnal bird, traveling mostly during the night.

Pied-billed Grebe Massachusetts -2 ©kim Smith 2014Fluffy Cottontail

A fun fact about the marsh-nesting Pie-billed is that both male and female contribute to building what at first appears to be a floating nest in vegetation, near open water. The nest is actually a platform anchored to plant stalks.

I wonder if this Pied-billed is a fall migrant or if on Niles Pond, Pied-billed Grebes were nesting this season. Has anyone else documented or seen a Pied-billed Grebe at Niles Pond during the past few months?

Niles Pond Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014Niles Pond is Ideal Pied-billed Grebe Habitat

See previous GMG post for more information about why birds stand on one leg.

See more photos and audio links here ~

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Hummingbirds are on the Move!

Hummingbird Feeder ©Kim Smith 2014 copyWith the unseasonably low temperatures, the hummingbird exodus from the north will soon follow. Keep your feeders full of sugar water to help sustain the southward migrants on their long journey to winter destinations.

Hummingbird Rose of Sharon ©Kim Smith 2014

Our resident female Ruby-throated Hummingbird was spotted yesterday, making her rounds nectaring at the Rose-of-Sharon, native honeysuckle, hibiscus, and jewelweed.

Hummingbird Feeder Recipe: 1 Cup water to 1/4 Cup pure granulated sugar. Do not add red food coloring or substitute honey for sugar. Replenish frequently, especially during warm weather.

Sleeping Swans at Niles Pond

Sleeping Swans in the Harvest Moon Light ©Kim Smith 2014-1Niles Pond Swans

Sleeping Swans in the Harvest Moon Light ©Kim Smith 2014

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The Ukeladies are learning Harvest Moon–I’d forgotten about this beautiful song and the fairly recent video, released by Neil Young in 2012, is so very sweet.

Berkshire Museum Presents My Butterfly Documentary and Lecture Saturday September 20th

bst_banner_final[PITTSFIELD, MA] – The Berkshire Museum will present a workshop and documentary screening with landscape designer and filmmaker Kim Smith on Saturday, September 20, 2014. Both events are included with regular Museum admission. The slide-illustrated talk, Creating a Bee, Bird, and Butterfly Garden, begins at 10 a.m.and the screening of the film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail, will follow the talk, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Both programs are part of the Museum’s BeMuse program series.

Creating a Bee, Bird, and Butterfly Garden

Saturday, September 20, 10 a.m.

Following the rhythm of the seasons, Kim Smith presents a stunning slide show and lecture demonstrating how to create a welcoming haven for bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Native plants and examples of organic and architectural features will be discussed based on their value to particular vertebrates and invertebrates. Pollinator plant list handout included with workshop.

Black Swallowtail osmeterium ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Saturday, September 20, 11:30 a.m. (time approximate; screening follows workshop)

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated film that takes place in a garden and at the sea’s edge. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is suitable for all ages so all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. The film was shot in Gloucester, Massachusetts. A discussion and Q & A with Kim Smith, the filmmaker, will follow the screening. Life Story of the Black Swallowtail is the first film in a trilogy about butterflies and will be followed next year by Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly.

Black swallowtail Butterfly finger ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

About Kim Smith

Kim Smith is a filmmaker, designer, author, illustrator, photographer, and naturalist who documents, in a variety of media, the world around her. She is the author and illustrator of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden (David R. Godine, publisher, 2009). Kim’s landscape and interior design firm, Kim Smith Designs, works with clientele to create highly individualized homes and gardens, and she specializes in creating butterfly and songbird habitat gardens in public spaces. Smith is a daily contributor to the stellar community blog Good Morning Gloucester. 

 MAP to BERKSHIRE MUSEUM, thanks to Cat Ryan!

About the Berkshire Museum

Located in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at 39 South St., the Berkshire Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $13 adult, $6 child; Museum members and children age 3 and under enjoy free admission. Admission to the Butterfly Pavilion is an additional $2 per person. For more information, visit Berkshire Museum or call 413.443.7171.

In association with the Smithsonian since 2013, Berkshire Museum is part of a select group of museums, cultural, educational, and arts organizations that share the Smithsonian’s resources with the nation.

Established by Zenas Crane in 1903, Berkshire Museum integrates art, history, and natural science in a wide range of programs and exhibitions that inspire educational connections between the disciplines. Butterflies is on view throughOctober 26, 2014. Objectify: A Look into the Permanent Collection is currently on view. Little Cinema is open year-round. Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Worlds in Miniature, Aquarium, and other exhibits are ongoing.

SEE PREVIOUS POST ABOUT BUTTERFLIES! AT THE BERKSHIRE MUSEUM

ZDF Filming at Gloucester’s Eastern Point Lighthouse

 

ZDF Katie FForde film Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014While filming B-roll and “Bee”-roll for my nature documentaries this morning, I came upon the German National television channel’s ZDF cast and crew getting organized for a day of filming at the Eastern Point Lighthouse. They are shooting films based on the Katie Fforde romance novels. Not considered mini-series, four separate films are being shot all around the North Shore and filming will continue to take place in Gloucester this week.

“All of Fforde’s stories-into-movies focus on the lead character (usually a woman) overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream. Each film runs for 90 commercial-free minutes.”

For the past several seasons the show has been filmed in and around Poughkeepsie, New York. This year, the producers wanted to change it up and film north of Boston. I hope they decide to come back next year!

Stills from last night and this morning ~

Beacon Marine ©kim Smith 2014Beacon Marine Basin

Gaura llindheimeri ©kim Smith 2014“Bee”-roll ~ Native Wildflower Gaura lindheimeri — Its Common Name is ‘Whirling Butterflies’

Henry' Allen's sweet coneflower ©Kim Smith 2014Henry Eiler’s Sweet Coneflower ~ Note the Unique Quilled petals

Sunflower ©Kim Smith 2014 copyHelianthus annuus ~ Sunflower

Good Harbor Beach ©Kim Smith 2014Good Harbor Beach Sunrise Today

Schooner Adventure Hyperlapse

View of the Gloucester MA Schooner Adventure at Daybreak

Schooner Adventure Ship's Bell ©Kim Smith 2014 copySchooner Adventure Bell

 

Hyperlapse

My daughter Liv’s new beau, Matt, took this very fun timelapse with the new phone app, HYPERLAPSE, while they were bike riding on Mount Pleasant Street.

Hyperlapse takes only moments to install and you are instantly brought to the record screen. The phone can be held vertically or horizontally. After recording, you are given multiple choices by which to speed up the footage, from 1x to 12x and each can be previewed. After you’ve decided on the speed check the green checkmark. Your video will be automatically saved to your camera roll and you’ll have the option to share it on Facebook or Instagram

A note of caution-be careful how you save the footage. I took a terrific Hyperlapse at Captain Joes and it was unfortunately saved in real time. I am not sure how that happened and hope it was my error and not a kink in the app.