A Cape Cod Christmas

by John Briggs on December 26, 2007

in Blog, Weekend Birding

Tiring of the snow and cold here in [tag]Maine[/tag], and wanting to see what grass looks like, we spent our holiday weekend on [tag]Cape Cod[/tag], [tag]Massachusetts[/tag]. With no snow on the ground and temperatures in the 50’s, it felt as if it were the first day of spring. We lodged in Harwich and spent several hours each day [tag]bird watching[/tag] from Chatham to Provincetown. Sharon came down with the flu while we were there and as I write this entry, I myself feel as if I am coming down with the dreaded ailment.

The highlight of our trip was the sighting of a Peregrine Falcon in Provincetown (see photo below). As we rounded the traffic circle at the terminus of Province Lands Road, I spied the Falcon perched on a wire. I parked the car and slowly tried to position myself for a photograph. The sunlight was on the opposite side of the [tag]bird[/tag] from where I was, so I slowly worked my way around to get a better shot. But a jerk in a big dump truck who saw what I was doing decided to make as much noise as he possibly could with the behemoth vehicle and scared the Falcon away. It was Christmas Eve, so I kept my thoughts about this to myself and did not run after the truck shaking my fist.

Saturday afternoon, just before sunset, we were at the lookout parking lot across the street from the Chatham Lighthouse. Sharon was watching for seals and I was watching ducks fly in and out of Chatham Harbor. We saw what looked like rocks on a sandbar, but remembering from other times that we visited the area, there were no rocks at that particular location. We decided to go to a better vantage point. A narrow street took us to a point directly across from the “rocks”, which were in reality seals! There were close to 300 Harbor and Gray Seals hauled out on the sandbars, resting and sleeping, a few of them playing in the surf. Those that were sleeping were lined up in rows and all were facing the water in case a quick escape were imminent. This was, by far, a record number of seals for us.

We visited several lighthouses and a [tag]wildlife[/tag] refuge in Wellfleet. An adult Bald Eagle was soaring over the marsh in the refuge and a Red-Tailed Hawk was hunting over the pine forest at the same location. A couple of hardy Great Blue Heron were seen here and there, and a drake Barrow’s Goldeneye was seen in the Salt Pond. Large numbers of Buffleheads and Red-Breasted Mergansers were seen at just about every location that had water.

The following is a tally of species we recorded while on Cape Cod.

  • Greater Scaup
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Common Eider
  • Long-Tailed Duck
  • Surf Scoter
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye
  • Great Cormorant
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Mallard
  • Mute Swan
  • Canada Goose
  • American Black Duck
  • Bufflehead
  • Common Merganser
  • Red-Breasted Merganser
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Bald Eagle
  • Red Tailed Hawk
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Ring-Necked Pheasant
  • Wild Turkey
  • Black-Legged Kittiwake
  • Mourning Dove
  • Red-Bellied Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Black-Capped Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Red-Breasted Nuthatch
  • White-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Carolina Wren
  • Golden-Crowned Kinglet
  • American Robin
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • European Starling
  • Yellow-Rumped Warbler
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Tree Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Dark-Eyed Junco
  • House Finch
  • American Gold Finch
  • House Sparrow

Not a bad tally with 47 species! I have included some of the [tag]photographs[/tag] that were taken on Cape Cod. A larger view may be seen by clicking a thumbnail. As always, comments and criticisms are greatly appreciated!

Black-Capped Chickadee - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Black-Capped Chickadee - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Blue Jay - Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
House Finch - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. House Finch - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Red-Breasted Nuthatch - Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Tufted Titmouse - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Tufted Titmouse - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Yellow-Rumped Warbler - Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Canada Geese - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Female Bufflehead - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Female Common Eider - Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Male Common Eider - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Great Blue Heron - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Surf Scoter - Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Peregrine Falcon - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Peregrine Falcon - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Red-Tailed Hawk - Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Red-Tailed Hawk - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Red-Tailed Hawk - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Harbor Seal - Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Harbor Seal - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Race Point Lighthouse - Provincetown - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Nobska Lighthouse - Woods Hole - Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Happy [tag]birding[/tag]!

{ 4 comments }

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: