Merrimack River Eagle Festival

Georgetown, Mass.

Become en-raptored

WHAT Merrimack River Eagle Festival

WHEN Saturday, Feb. 8, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WHERE Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, 1 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport; Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters, 6 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport; City Hall and other locations.

INFO Visit

Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge will present the ninth annual Merrimack River Eagle Festival. The event is free.

The Merrimack River Eagle Festival draws thousands of people of all ages to scan the skies for these majestic birds and learn about the habitat that humans and eagles share. This year, a mixture of free indoor and outdoor events held at host sites, in downtown Newburyport, and throughout greater Newburyport include:

n Guided sightings of wintering river birds from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at designated spots along the river, where naturalists will help visitors search for bald eagles (maps are available online and on the day of the tour).

n Van tours with “eagle specialist” volunteer guides, leaving the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce every half hour from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are required by calling 978-462-9998.

n Two raptor demonstrations by Tom Ricardi of the Massachusetts Bird of Prey Rehabilitation Facility at Newburyport’s City Hall, 10-11 a.m. and 1:30-2:30 pm; first come, first served.

Family nature activities including live bird demonstrations, crafts, and games at Joppa Flats Education Center and Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For details about the Merrimack River Eagle Festival and a complete listing of events, please visit the website,

– See more at:

Two Days of Penguin Plunging, Feb 1st & 2nd, 2014, Hampton Beach, NH

2014 Annual Penguin PlungeWhen: Saturday Feb. 1, and Sunday, Feb.2, 2014

Time: Noon

Theme: Zombies

Location: Hampton Beach

What is the Plunge?

The Plunge is a fundraising event that benefits Special Olympics New Hampshire.  Participants (Plungers) raise funds to run (Plunge) into the ice-cold Atlantic Ocean at Hampton Beach.  On February 2nd, why not join the “Walking Wet” and Plunge? You only need to raise $350 (including your $50 non-refundable registration fee) to experience THE PLUNGE!

Why should I Plunge?

People with intellectual disabilities can – and will – succeed when given the chance.  With training and competitions in 14 Olympic-style sports, our athletes push hard and play harder.  They strive to beat their personal bests, defying the odds again and again.  From the local ball fields to the shining stage of the State Summer Games, from swimming to snowboarding, our athletes showcase the talents and triumphs of people with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics is about sports…but ultimately, it’s about so much more.  For people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics is often the only place where they have an opportunity to participate in their communities and believe in themselves.  It is inspirational when you see a father’s pride in his son’s achievement…a mother’s relief when her daughter makes friends…siblings cheering for their brother or sister for the first time.

Your participation provides funding to support he 5,608 participants of Special Olympics New Hampshire!

For more information visit

This date Penguin Plunge is for High School Students. There is also a High School Penguin Plunge on February 1st, 2014 at Hampton Beach, NH. For more information on this event visit

Not interested in Plunging?? Become a

Pampered Penguin

We realize that taking the plunge isn’t for everyone. But, just because you don’t want to plunge doesn’t mean you can’t take part in the festivities and the FUN! You can register as a Pampered Penguin and receive the same benefits as a Plunger, without getting wet!

Day at the Beach

For people who prefer dry land only enjoy the day at the beach.

9 am – 11 am   Check-In

11:30 am         Costume Parade

Noon               Plunge!
12:30 pm         Post-Plunge Lunch & Celebration
1:30 pm           Awards

Award Categories

King Penguin: Plunger who raises the largest amount of money
King Flock: Flock (with a minimum of 5 members) that has the highest dollar average raised per Plunger
Little Penguin: 1st year Plunger who raises the largest amount of money
Adelie Penguin: 5th year Plungers
Galapagos Penguin: 10th year Plungers
Yellow-eyed Penguin: Plunger wearing the best costume
Yellow-eyed Flock: Flock with the best costumes
Macaroni Flock: Flock that raises the most money
Snares Flock: Flock that makes an exceptional contribution to the Plunge through their spirit, loyalty & fundraising

Chinstrap Penguin: Pampered Penguin who raises the largest amount of money

Saving an island landmark

Fundraiser set to help protect Bennett Hill from erosion

From Newburyport Daily News By Dave RogersStaff Writer

Courtesy of Historical Society

PLUM ISLAND — In what could be a last-ditch attempt to save the historic Bennett Hill home before its falls into the Atlantic Ocean, a charity event has been organized to try to protect the fast-eroding dune that home sits on.

Plum Island Beachcoma owner Greg Pugh, who put together the effort, hopes to raise enough funds to purchase and install a rock barrier similar to what other homeowners nearby have built, and claim it has saved their properties.

Bennett Hill, the Victorian-era house built in 1881 and known as a landmark to island residents and visitors, is located just off Plum Island Center and is often the first house seen by those who enter the beach from Plum Island Center. The yellow house with brown trim sits prominently atop one of the highest sand dune peaks on the island.

The dune has taken a steady pounding over the past few years, and last week’s storm tore away so much sand the house now sits on the very edge of the tall dune.

Pugh said the fundraiser is expected to take place Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Plum Island Boulevard restaurant during business hours, 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Pugh said the fundraiser will feature raffles from items donated by residents and local and area businesses. Among the items already donated is a pair of tickets to Saturday’s New England Patriots playoff game at Gillette Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts. The opening bid for the prime location tickets is $600. During the 12-hour fundraiser, 20 percent of all sales will be donated to an account recently established at the Newburyport Five Cents Bank “Save Bennett Hill & Neighbors.” Separate donations can be made to the funds by visiting any of the bank’s locations.

The house has been owned by the Bennett family since 1910 when George Bennett purchased the building before buying the land in 1921. Since then three generations of Bennetts have spent many of their summers inside the house, all along keeping the house as close to its original state as possible.

The current caretaker, John Bennett of Tewksbury, said he is hopeful that the fundraiser and other endeavors will enable him to do what many of his neighbors did last March when they paid tens of thousands of dollars to install a series of large rocks in front of their beachfront homes. The move was done without the approval of the Department of Environmental Protection, which has been against the installation of hard surface barriers, but the state did not interfere.

“I just don’t want to see it go over the hill,” Bennett said, adding the house is filled with so many memories that there is more of an emotional attachment than a financial attachment.

Board of Selectmen chairman Joe Story said the rock barriers helped prevent further property damage after last week’s storm, which brought enormous waves pounding against the beach. Prior to the storm, sand covered the rock barriers, but the covering layer was swept away by the storm.

A walk along the beach demonstrates that the rock barriers protected the dune on which many homes sit. However, in the few spots where homeowners did not erect a rock wall, there has been significant erosion — as much as 20 feet of dune has been scoured away in these areas.

Bennett said while other homeowners were placing rock barriers in front of their properties, he demurred, as he had recently spent $16,000 on massive sandbags only to see them fall apart and disappear into the ocean.

But while Bennett has seen erosion chip away at the massive sand dune that has kept his property perched high above the beach disappear over the years, last week’s storm has placed the home precariously close to the tipping point. Now he believes installing a rock barrier is the only thing that will prevent him from losing his family’s summer home when the next massive storm strikes.

Bennett said nearby neighbors have spent as much as $35,000 on the rock barriers and estimated it will cost him close to that amount to do the same.

Asked what he though of Pugh’s attempt to help him raise they money, Bennett was effusive with praise.

“I can’t say enough about him. I’m grateful that my neighbors are trying to do this for me and the town,” Bennett said.

For Pugh, who has organized many Plum Island-centered fundraisers since opening his popular eatery and bar, he simply called it the right thing to do. As a Plum Island resident, Pugh said it only made sense for him to do what he could.

“This is where I live and this is something that affects all of us,” Pugh said.

Word of the fundraiser has begun to spread through Facebook. Both the Beachcoma’s page and the recently created Save Bennett Hill page have been flooded with comments and offers of donations and help. Pugh is still networking with other Plum Island residents hoping to spread the word and enlist their support.

Both Pugh and Bennett said the need to protect Bennett Hill isn’t just about saving one family’s property, it’s about protecting the entire island’s infrastructure.

“If the beach goes, we all go,” Pugh said.

All too often, Bennett said, the state and others have been merely reacting to Mother Nature’s fury as opposed to thinking ahead and at least trying to stop problems before they creep up. Such a proactive stance may have prevented the loss of so many homes last season.

“It’s unfortunate we’re at this point with the island,” Bennett said.

Trick or Treat for Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury MA 2013

October 30th Downtown Trick or Treat: Join Downtown and Tannery merchants as they celebrate Halloween! Stop by in costume for a trick or a treat! This event is intended for small children accompanied by an adult. October 30, 2013 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Newburyport, MA Trick or Treat:

Trick or Treat will be held on Thursday October 31, 2013, from 5:30pm – 7:30pm in the City of Newburyport.

Residents who want to participate should activate their outside lights during this time. Parents and children should avoid any homes where outside lights are not activated.

Amesbury, MA Trick or Treat:

The annual observance of TRICK or TREAT will be held on October 31st in Amesbury from 5:30 to 7:30 PM.

Salisbury, MA Trick or Treat:

Trick or Treat for Salisbury, MA will be held on October 31st in Salisbury, MA from 5:30 to 7:30 PM.

Plum Island’s Birds of Winter

Every year when winter makes its chilly debut in New England the pristine coast is abandoned until the following summer. Plum Island is one of many communities that, contrary to popular assumption, remain a cornucopia of attractions year round with plenty of winter activities that are too often overlooked. Plum Island is home to the Joppa Flats and Parker River Wildlife Refuge, two prime destinations for any outdoors enthusiast and centers for the island’s animal visitors. During the winter months seals can be spotted along the beach in the Refuge, deer frequent the island when foraging, but the animals most eagerly sought after are those with wings.

Birds are what make Plum Island wildlife stand out, and in the winter as thousands of birds migrate south thousands of watchers migrate to the island as well. The Refuge and Joppa Flats are common stopovers for birds heading south and some birds from northern New England and Canada make it their seasonal home. Among the common waterfowl, some winter residents are the red-breasted merganser, the common eider, white winged scoter, and the grebe. These birds add to the local waterfowl of ducks, teals and loons who reside on the island and in the wetlands surrounding it. There are also a number of finch and ‘bird-feeder’ species that can be spotted on Plum Island during the colder months, such as the pine siskin, crossbills and red polls.

Large birds of prey can be found on the island as food becomes scarce during the winter. Owls are among the most common, with sightings of Snowy owls, short-eared owls, and more rare barred owls and long-eared owls reported each season. Another predatory bird is the rough-legged hawk (also called the rough-legged buzzard) which frequently winters around marshes, making Plum Island ideal. However the most celebrated bird of prey is the bald eagle, a rare and beautiful sight for avian lovers. Sightings have frequently made visitors pull over on the Plum Island Turnpike while they exit their cars to get a better view.

Bird watching culture is so prevalent on Plum Island that it has even inspired yearly events. The Mass Audubon Society at Joppa Flats has created the Superbowl of Birding, a competition between teams to find the most avian species on and around the island at the end of January. The following month is the Merrimac River Eagle Festival, celebrating the eagles returning to the region and filled with bird watching tours and learning activities. This time of year may not be beach weather, but for those who appreciate the beauty of nature and bird watching this is perfect island weather. For those of you who can brave the cold, visit Plum Island for a slice of the New England outdoors.