Heading out toward the Cape, the forecast determined that we would not be starting at Race Point, rather flipping the initial plan and starting low on the National Seashore and working our way up, ending the day there.
On the way out, we decided to make a quick pit stop at Marston's Mills Pond and were lucky enough to have a male Northern Shoveler point blank in front of us, affording great looks of the bird's massive bill, brilliant green head, and chestnut sides.
We began our ocean birding venture visiting Nauset Beach, which was recommended to us by a fellow SSBC member because there had been a lot of birds moving there recently. This is where we hit a stroke of luck; there was a gazebo which provided us with shelter from the rain. Peeking over the dunes we were able to tune up for the day to come, with species such as Baccaloo (Razorbill), Coddy Moddy (Black-legged Kittiwake), Bauk (Great Shearwater), and Gran Fou (Northern Gannet) all making appearances. Since this was such a prime location to be in the rain, we spent quite a bit of time there before continuing on our journey. Rain was forecast until about noon, so we took our time working our way up to Provincetown, making several stops along the National Seashore along the way. Along our drive the skies cleared and the sun made an appearance, giving promise that the rain was coming to an end.
Arriving in Provincetown, we grabbed some lunch to go and ate at Macmillan Wharf where five Razorbills were feeding right off the piers along with several eiders and a lone White-eye (White-winged Scoter). Turning around to the car, the weather suddenly turned what I referred to as "apocalyptic". Dark clouds filled the sky, and the winds howled. Luckily, this was merely a front passing through and the sun shone again shortly after.
Refuelled, we made our way to Race Point. Our first stop here was Race Point Beach parking lot, where we stood from atop the entrance of the beach and saw many Common Shearwaters (Manx Shearwaters), several Sea Swallows (Common Terns), and a Boatswain (Parasitic Jaeger) fly by.
|The crew hiking the long haul out to the rip|
|Gulls over Race Point Light|
After this we drove to and walked the fire road. Along the way we saw several White Martins (Tree Swallows) flying over, huge flocks of Arctic Sparrows (Snow Buntings), and hundreds upon hundreds of gulls taking shelter in the dunes. Arriving at the rip, the ferocity of the surf had us in awe. Huge whitecaps lined the proximity of the beach, shearwaters swiftly wheeling through them and gannets plunge-diving into them. Although there were not huge numbers of birds here and what was sitting on the water was difficult to see due to the massive waves, we felt as one usually does when at this beach; that we were witnessing a true spectacle of nature. As we walked the fire road back to our car, the sunset over the dunes bode us farewell.
|Waves at Race Point Beach|