Friends October Meeting: Watching Bird Behavior

Gretchen Moran Towers and Friend

Watching Bird Behavior…and How it Can Help You to Become a Better Birdwatcher is the program at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History on Tuesday, October 9, at 1:30pm.

Gretchen Moran Towers, leader of the popular Tuesday Tweets and Birdwatching for Beginners at the Museum, and Education Coordinator at the Green Briar Nature Center, will be the speaker.

The program, presented by the Friends of CCMNH, is FREE and open to the public. (The Museum itself will be closed on that day.)

If you watch birds, chances are you can tell a robin from a goldfinch by size, color, even shape.  But what about birds that look similar, like a robin and a towhee? A goldfinch and a pine warbler? And what about all those migrating sea birds?

Gretchen will discuss how bird behavior – where they perch, whether they go down or up a tree, if they sit on the tube feeder pulling out seed after seed or scratch through the leaf litter on the ground – provides clues to their identification. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced birder, learning to watch bird behavior can enhance your skills and enjoyment.

Attendees are invited to join the Friends of CCMNH for a Potluck Lunch at 12:30pm.

Want more information? Contact the Friends at fccmnh@gmail.com.


Friends visit Fort Warren

Fort Warren

Twenty-two Friends celebrated a beautiful day at the end of the summer season by catching a ride on the MassDOT ferry from Hingham out into Boston Harbor.  When the ferry stopped at Georges Island, we were the only passengers to disembark.  And we had the island to ourselves!

Awaiting Hingham ferry

Georges Island is the home of historic Fort Warren, a Civil War-era fort known for its graceful granite archways. A National Park Service ranger gave us an excellent tour.  Because Britain blockaded the harbor and invaded cities from New Orleans to Bangor, Maine, in the aftermath of the War of 1812, President James Madison determined to protect the nation’s borders with fortifications.  Fort Warren, one of 42 forts built in the ensuing years, is named for Revolutionary War hero Dr. Joseph Warren, who sent Paul Revere on his famous ride and was later killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Ranger led tour of the fort

Begun in 1833, it wasn’t completed until 1861.  During the Civil War, it was used as a prison for Confederate soldiers (some 2,300 of them) including the Confederate Vice-President and political leader Alexander H. Stephens.  It was decommissioned in 1950 after World War II after 100 years of use.

View of Boston from Hingham Ferry

The glacial action that shaped the Cape also shaped Georges Island.  It created a drumlin, or small hill, which was perfectly situated at the mouth of the narrows to protect Boston. While the harbor has more than 50 square miles and 30 islands, only one narrow channel is deep enough for ocean-going vessels to navigate safely and this was right in front of Fort Warren.

Judy Mereschuk, Louise Vivona-Miller, and Sue & Myles Marcus

Thanks to Myles Marcus for organizing this trip, Bob Smith for photos, and Louise Vivona-Miller for photos and trip report.



Updates for George’s Island Trip

Updates for Boston Harbor George’s Island trip on Wed., Sept. 5

Although there is no required up-front cost, we must make reservations for lunch ASAP.

Please be at the museum parking lot at 7:15 a.m. for possible car pooling procedure.

Boarding for the 10 a.m. ferry starts at 9:30 a.m.

Food truck may be at the pier for coffee, etc.  Snacks available on the ferry as well.

Use your GPS for the destination at 30 Shipyard Dr., Hingham, MA.

Ferry returns from Georges Island to Hingham at 1:25 p.m. DON’T MISS THE BOAT!!

Lunch approximately 2:10 p.m. at The Beer Works



Friends and Frogs

Miles Marcus staffing the Friends’ Frog Information Booth at Brewster Conservation Day

Summertime has been hopping for the Friends of CCMNH! When the opportunity arose for us to represent the Museum at the 7th annual Brewster Conservation Day, we leaped into action. (There was a bonus for the Friends: we could put our kayak on display and sell raffle tickets at Drummer Boy Park!)


Ruth Courtnell began by contacting the Friends membership and asking for help – but not before she went to the CCMNH Gift Shop to collect frog toys, books, and scientific models to include in the booth.

Colorful frog posters by Alison Rilling

Using some rusty science librarian skills, Alison Rilling learned that nine species of frogs live on Cape Cod. Mass Audubon generously gave us permission to reproduce the material on their website https://www.massaudubon.org/, and Alison adapted text and photos (adding a few photos from other sources) for eight 3’ by 2’ eye popping colorful posters.



Meanwhile, Shirley Vautin set to work designing a miniature Frog Pond, complete with lily pads, native plants, twigs and rocks for frogs to hide in – and then proceeded to hide 22 frogs.

Frog pond by Shirley Vautin

A number of CCMNH photographers sent us their own pictures of “Frogs From Around the World” for a display to run throughout the day on a digital picture frame.

The booth even featured a digital frog slide show!

July 14, 2018, the day of the event, was clear and sunny – a perfect Cape Cod day. Bright and early, Jan Evans, Anne Best, and Ruth Courtnell delivered carloads of tents, tables, toys, frogs, posters, easels, and chairs.  Elaine Allard joined in and they set up the tent and display.

Anne Best selling raffle tickets

Fred Budreski picked up the kayak from the Museum and arranged the kayak and raffle setup.  The “mobile merchant” Square electronic sales system from the Museum was used to sell tickets and accept charge cards.





The action after that was nonstop! Myles Marcus, Alice Berry, and Doris Shiffman joined the early birds at our little tent, engaging with the dozens of visitors who toured the exhibit and learned about Cape Cod Frogs. Both children and adults loved seeing the photos and chatting with our volunteers (most of whom hadn’t been frog experts, but by the end of the day were coming close). And everyone loved searching for the 22 frogs hidden around the Frog Pond.

Over $300 dollars worth of kayak raffle tickets were sold!

Stickers were handed out to all visitors

And hundreds of people, both Brewster residents and visitors, were able to get a taste of the vast store of information – and fun activities – that our Museum has to offer.  Marjorie Williams, CCMNH Senior Aquarist, reports that the Museum is home to individuals of six of the Cape’s nine frog species, so Museum visitors can get a close-up view of our native frogs. (Except that the spring peeper rarely shows herself; you probably can’t get a peep at her…)



At the free lunch that was provided to exhibitors and volunteer workers, Dorria Marsh, the event coordinator, told our volunteers, “I’m hearing raves about your booth!”  And what fun we all had!

And no one – even our own CCMNH volunteers – could find all 22 frogs in the Frog Pond!


Bobbie Williams Garden Thriving at One Year

A Museum visitor recently sent the Friends a note saying how much he’d enjoyed seeing the CCMNH gardens.  About the Bobbie Williams Native Plant Garden he said, ​”The potent little garden with all the Columbine and native honeysuckle vine was…spectacular. ”

We think he’s right! Take a look at this mid-July photo, celebrating the garden’s first full year. Better yet, stop by and see the garden in person. It’s…spectacular.


2018 Plant Sale Exceeds Expectations

The 2018 Friends plant sale featured its largest ever variety of native plants

High time for a quick report on the June 2, 2018, Friends’ Plant Sale & Native Plant Marketplace!  With still a few native plants looking for homes, we’re closing in on $6000 in gross receipts.  It’s a record! even after we figure the cost of pots, soil, and extra expenses (yes, we provided a Box o’ Joe and some doughnut holes for Plant Sale Volunteers).

Plant expert Michael Talbot was on hand to answer gardening questions

The turnout was spectacular, and we are pleased to think that we’re helping spread the word about Native Plants for Native Pollinators (and other Cape Cod denizens).

Plant information sheets were posted to help customers make their selections

Alison Rilling tallies up a purchase

Next year, we hope more CCMNH Friends, members, and neighbors will donate plants — native or not — from their own gardens. Keep an eye out for communications from the Gardening For Life volunteers next fall, when our Traveling Garden Party will be available to help you pot up your extra plants for next year’s sale.

Thanks to everyone for your support!


Images from Friends Whale Watch Trip

The Friends had a beautiful spring day for their whale watching trip on the Dolphin Fleet out of Provincetown harbor. Thanks to Bob Smith for taking these great photos!

Be sure to save the date for the Friends fall trip: Boston harbor ferry to Fort Warren, George’s Island, Wednesday, September 5, 2018. Details and reservation info TBA.

Elaine Allard, Claire O’Connor Rice, Myles and Sue Marcus enjoy the day


Potting Day for Native Plants

Potting Day took place May 1 when the Friends gathered under the big tent to repot native plant seedlings for the upcoming plant sale.  Eighteen ladies (yes, all ladies) pitched in and potted up around 1200 seedlings in 3 hours. These plants will be available for purchase at the Friends’ Annual Plant Sale and Native Plant Marketplace, Saturday June 2,  9:00-2:00. Click here for more info.

Front row, l-r: Nancy Wigley, Alice Berry, Pam Turnbull, Shirley Vautin, Betty Pickering. Back row: Ann Harris, Kristin Andres, Helen Gigley, Carol Lucibella, Nancy Hipp, Jan Evans, Lois Katanik, Connie Maney, Kathy Budreski, Alison Rilling, Ellie Johnson, Judy Brister (?), Dee Anson

Connie Maney and Kathy Budreski


Lois Katanik and Dee Anson


GFL Lecture Series Concludes

In Mike Bald’s lecture on invasive species, he emphasized the ongoing nature of eradicating unwanted invasives. Being a good steward, he reminded us, means being present on the land.

This was the final presentation in the Gardening For Life 2018 speaker series.
The annual Friends Plant Sale and Native Plant Marketplace on June 2 will give attendees a chance to use what they’ve learned!

Friends Spring Trip: Whale Watch Cruise

The Friends of CCMNH spring trip will take place on Tuesday May 22, 2018 with a whale watch cruise aboard the Dolphin Fleet out of Provincetown. Cost is $54 per person and includes cruise and lunch at Napi’s in Provincetown.

Click here for details. Deadline for reservations is May 11 so if you are interested in going you should call the museum now at 508-896-3867 x133.