If you’re a bird watcher and nature lover then few places in New England can compare with Cape Cod. A rich habitat for wildlife it attracts seasonal residents and migratory birds of all types.
Here are five of my favorite destinations for bird-watching on Cape Cod along with what to see and expect.
Sandy Neck, Sandwich:
Sandy Neck is a barrier beach system formed in the last few thousand years. The parking and entrance area is at the end of Sandy Neck Road in Sandwich.
The trail system at Sandy Neck allows both pedestrian and regulated vehicle traffic. As you walk the trails be on the lookout for vehicles, and stay on the trails as the dunes are fragile and erode quickly when the beach grass is damaged.
In summer the Beach Point and Little Neck sections provide fertile nesting and staging grounds for piping plovers, teens and terns. During the fall and winter you’ll see migratory birds such as scoders, grebes, eiders, mallards and black ducks.
Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary, East Falmouth:
The Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary in East Falmouth is a nature reserve owned and operated by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. This sanctuary is most well-known for its many varieties of holly trees – no surprise there – and in the summer months for its resident barn swallow colony which always seem to be willing please visitors with their flights and swoops.
This 49-acre sanctuary includes rare wildflowers and plenty of exotic shrubs and tress that attract a large number of bird species. A bird checklist and trail map is available for a $3 admission fee.
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Chatham:
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1944 but its landscape has changed remarkably since then. The Monomoy Islands are designated as wilderness by congress which means humans may visit the islands – but they can’t stay.
Shorebirds you can spot in July include turnstones, sanderlings, sandpipers, plovers, red knots, terns and American oystercatchers. Later in the season you’ll see buff-breasted and western sandpipers, long-billed dowitchers and American golden-plovers. And during the fall migration it is not uncommon to spot birds of prey including northern harriers, peregrine falcons, hawks, and yes – bald eagles.
Fort Hill in Eastham is on National Seashore property and provides trails through Nauset Marsh and woodlands with great opportunities to view birds and plants.
The trail is only about 1.5 miles round trip but it passes through such a diverse landscape teeming with birds and life. Birders enjoy this walk year-round as there is plenty of opportunities to spot marsh birds such as the Great Blue Heron and not so easily spot the birds using the dense swamp as their refuge.
Fort Hill can be reached off Route 6 just a few miles from the Orleans rotary on the right – it is sign posted.
Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet:
The Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellfleet is one of Massachusetts Audubon Society largest sanctuaries. There are 5 miles of nature trails and over a 1,000 acres where you can explore the varying habit of salt marsh, pine woods, heathland, and freshwater ponds that attract an array of birds for your spotting.
As soon as the shorebirds return from their breeding grounds in July you’ll get to see egrets, terns, sandpipers, plovers and herons. During migration season the habitat attracts yellowlegs, godwits, warblers, orioles and wrens among many others.
For more details on these and other attractions to see during vacations on Cape Cod and to pick up your free trip planner package go to Cliff’s New England Vacation Guide at: http://www.new-england-vacations-guide.com