On prolonged NE winds, seabirds are pushed from the open Atlantic Ocean into Cape Cod Bay, particularly during late autumn when birds are migrating south in big numbers. On the heels of a nor'easter, like the one that affected the area on 7-8 Nov, winds usually turn out of the NW as the low pressure system moves away. When this happens, those seabirds that were pushed into Cape Cod Bay are directed to the southeastern corner of the bay as they work their way back toward open ocean. This is where First Encounter Beach is located, and it is these NW winds that can make for an outstanding flight of seabirds as a nor'easter exits the region.
|the location of First Encounter Beach as indicated by the arrow|
We arrived soon after first light to find many birds moving. We had our first Dovekie after about 30 seconds of watching, the first of about 400. Large numbers of sea ducks, gannets, Red-throated Loons, and kittiwakes filled the stat sheet. Less common species included Cory's, Greater, and Manx Shearwaters, Leach's Storm-Petrels, several dozen Red Phalarope, nearly 50 Pomarine Jaegers in flocks as large as 10 birds, Thick-billed Murre, and a late juvenile SABINE'S GULL. All from the warm comfort of the car, with hot chocolate in hand!! Below are some photos/highlights from the morning.
|God-awful shots of the Sabine's Gull|
|Dovekie (right) and Leach's Storm-Petrel|
|various Pomarine Jaegers|
|flock of Black-legged Kittiwakes|
|immature Black-legged Kittiwake|
|Thick-billed Murre migrating with scoters|
|Cory's Shearwaters, several of which made surprisingly close approaches|
|large numbers of Common Eider were on the move|
|Pomarine Jaeger (center bottom) and Common Eider|