Thursday, July 26, 2018

Cape Cod, July 15-16

Hi all. Here is a quick post from a recent overnight jaunt to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I've copied and pasted my post to Massbird, plus an addendum for Sedge Wrens in CT:

On Sunday 7/15 Allison Black and I kayaked from the Morris Island causeway to South Beach via North Monomoy. We paddled out on the rising tide and back on the falling tide. On the way back we paddled via the east side of North Monomoy, which left us having to drag our boats over sand on a few occasions. Apparently a large amount of sand, presumably from the extensive breaching of South Beach over the last few years, has been pushed westward. The route formerly taken by Outermost Harbor and Rip Ryder to drop birders off at South Beach is no longer navigable because of this, at least on the lower end of the tide cycle. It is fascinating how quickly and drastically things can change out there.

The shorebird numbers were very modest for the date, at least as compared to the glory days of South Beach some 10 years ago. There wasn't much of a shorebird roost at the traditional area of South Beach down to the connection with South Monomoy. Particularly, dowitcher numbers were low, and we saw no godwits. Most dows were actually seen on the flats NW of North Monomoy on the rising tide.

The terns were a highlight, as several thousand were commuting between South Monomoy and the ocean by flying over South Beach. Many were using the sandy washes and flats on South Beach to roost. Highlights were a ROYAL TERN and 7+ ARCTIC TERNS (two adults, one second-summer, and 4+ first-summer).

Arctic Tern (adult)

Arctic Tern (adult) - likely same individual as above

Arctic Tern (first summer)

Arctic Tern (adult)

Arctic Tern (first summer)

Arctic Tern (first summer) - same individual as above

Royal Tern

American Oystercatcher nest, found quickly by Allison

"Eastern" Willet defending a nest/young


There were a few Gray Seals along our paddle between South Beach and North Monomoy, which always makes me a bit nervous given the numbers of White Sharks just on the other side of the dune, but no sign of anything scary in those shallows there. I've no idea how often, if at all, sharks get into that area in its current state. The Sharktivity App doesn't seem to show any sightings in that sheltered area, for what that's worth.

On Monday 7/16 we took an 11am whale watch to Stellwagen Bank out of Barnstable. It was foggy on the bank. Wildlife was sparse. We had one Humpback Whale for cetaceans. Seabird numbers were very low...we only hit one decent little pocket in Cape Cod Bay on our return trip, which included one LEACH'S STORM-PETREL.

immature Northern Gannet
On our way home Monday afternoon we took a short detour to the Connecticut Audubon Society property in Pomfret, where a pair of SEDGE WRENS is breeding. Within minutes of our arrival on this warm evening we had one of the wrens singing and another calling from the fields on each side of the road. After a bit of waiting, one of the birds popped into the open and remained perched long enough to allow for prolonged scope views.

The place was quite birdy otherwise, particularly around the freshwater pond/marsh down the hill from the road. Orchard Orioles, Green Herons, and Wood Ducks to name a few. A staging swallow flock held a CLIFF SWALLOW. Nice place for sure.

 - NB

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