Monday, February 11, 2013

Outer Cape Cod - 1/5/2013

About 20 people attended Wayne Petersen's annual Outer Cape Cod "Death March" on a fair, but windy day with temps in the 30s and low 40sF. The group met at the Sagamore Rest Stop and carpooled directly to Provincetown. While gathering and discussing our "game plan", a Merlin and a Cooper's Hawk made brief appearances. In recent years, this has been a reliable winter spot for Fish Crows, no doubt attracted to food scraps from the fast food resturants. No sign of them today however.

Race Point - Provincetown

Upon arrival at Race Point Beach parking lot, we embarked on the "Death March"! This has been a traditional walk out to Race Point, which is approx. 1.5 miles from the parking lot. A walk down the beach side followed by a hike back through the dunes makes it about a 3 mile trek through soft sand. Highlights on the beach side included a modest number of Alcids, including Razorbills, 2 Dovekies, 1 Common Murre, and 1 Black Guillemot. Sea ducks were in short supply, but we had a nice variety of Gulls, notably 1 Glaucous, 4 Iceland, 1 Bonaparte's, and several Black-legged Kittiwakes. About half way down the beach, we happened upon a decomposing marine mammal. Several gulls were feeding on it, including the Glaucous Gull. The consensus of the group was that this was the remains of a Pilot Whale.
Decomposing Pilot Whale - Race Point Provincetown

Glaucous Gull - Race Point, Provincetown

There are mudflats (Hatches Harbor) past Race Point where we cut through to head back along the dunes. There were a high number of shorebirds working the flats here, mostly dominated by Dunlin and Sanderling, with 8 Black-bellied Plovers mixed in. The group had great looks at a Peregrine Falcon on the wing here and it was later seen being harassed by a Merlin.
Our walk back through the dunes to the parking lot was mostly quiet, but we had nice, close looks at a small flock of Horned Larks. The group arrived back at the parking lot at about 2PM and just as we were loading up, a flock of Common Redpolls were moving down the beach and ever so briefly alighted on the dunes in front of our vehicles.
McMillan Wharf, Provincetown

Next stop was at McMillan Wharf in the bustling center of Provincetown, where we hoped to get closer looks at Alcids. Often times these smallish black and white seabirds can be right off the wharf at point blank range. We had wonderful looks at Long-tailed Ducks and spotted a few Ruddy Turnstones on the breakwater, but no alcids in close. We picked up a Harlequin Duck and another distant Black Guillemot from different vantage point in Provincetown Harbor.
Later in the afternoon we headed down to Coast Guard Beach in Eastham to look at Nauset Marsh. There were 1,000+ Dunlin on the mudflats and a few more Black-bellied Plovers among them. A couple Gadwall were spotted among the Mallards and Am. Black Ducks.
Nauset Marsh, Eastham

We made a late run down to Nauset Beach in Orleans for Harlequin Ducks and Scoters, but it was getting too dark, so we focused our attention on the dunes to the south towards Pochet Island in the hopes of seeing Short-eared Owl, which is possible at this spot. A few people in the group had distant, unsatisfying scope views of one in the waning light.
Traditionally, this trip has gone out to a resturant, and part of the group did just that, followed by some owling at Nickerson State Park in Brewster. Eastern Screech and Great Horned Owl rounded out the trip on a high note.
*Thanks to Steven Whitebread, Mary & Ashley Keleher, and Jude Griffin for providing these wonderful pictures.

Complete list:

3 Brant (Atlantic)
110 Canada Goose
2 Gadwall
405 American Black Duck
7 Mallard
175 Common Eider (Atlantic)
1 Harlequin Duck
1 Surf Scoter
3 White-winged Scoter
40 Black Scoter
12 Long-tailed Duck
67 Bufflehead
10 Common Goldeneye
100 Red-breasted Mergansers
Red-breasted Merganser
6 Red-throated Loon
16 Common Loon
9 Red-necked Grebe
31 Northern Gannet
1 Great Cormorant (very low)
3 Great Blue Heron
1 Cooper's Hawk
2 Red-tailed Hawk
11 Black-bellied Plover
3 Ruddy Turnstone
119 Sanderling
1300 Dunlin
13 Black-legged Kittiwake
1 Bonaparte's Gull
105 Ring-billed Gull
133 Herring Gull (American)
4 Iceland Gull (Kumlien's)
1 Glaucous Gull
58 Great Black-backed Gull
2 Dovekie
1 Common Murre
27 Razorbill
3 large alcid sp.
2 Black Guillemot
80 Rock Pigeon
1 Eastern Screech Owl
1 Great Horned Owl
1 Short-eared Owl
2 Merlin
1 Peregrine Falcon
10 American Crow
15 Horned Lark
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Northern Cardinal
5 American Tree Sparrows
22 Common Redpoll
10 House Sparrow

Race Point, Provincetown

This trip summary was created using the BirdLog app for iPhone and iPad.
See BirdLog for more information.

Vin Zollo

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