Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Volume and Variety of Birds Highlight Weekend
December 09, 2017
By Steve Grinley

     Strickland Wheelock, together with Kathy Seymour and Leslie Bostrum, led another exciting birding trip for Mass Audubon Drumlin Farm last weekend. This one was a two day trip to Cape Cod and they posted the following report:

     “Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary had a Cape Cod Weekend birding trip Dec 2 & 3rd that was blessed with decent weather and many exciting birds [89 species]. Our trip started in Hingham with viewing the Rufous Hummingbird – what a great start! Next stop was Scusset Beach where we enjoyed many Razorbills at the mouth of the canal among the many Common Eider on either side of the breakwater. On the far breakwater were 7 Purple Sandpipers, several D-C Cormorants, but the highlight was a male King Eider on the far side of the breakwater – some other species in the area were a few Red-throated and Common Loons, Horned Grebe, all 3 Scoter species, Sanderling, Savannah Sparrow. 

     “As we exited the beach area, we stopped along the road in the pine area and were treated to many passerines – Golden-crowned Kinglets, Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Carolina Wrens, Chipping & White-throated Sparrows – plus the normal Juncos, Chickadees, Cardinals, etc. [We] also had a quick fly-by Merlin.

     “After spending extra time on the Cape side of the canal admiring the King Eider, we headed to the Falmouth & Marston Mills area checking out various ponds for waterfowl. [We] had a nice variety ranging from a Kingfisher, 2 Shovelers, many Greater Scaup plus 2 Lesser Scaup, Hooded & Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead, American Goldeneyes, Gadwall, American Wigeon & Mallards. 

     “One unexpected surprise was 5 Wild Turkeys crossing Main Street in the center of Falmouth holding up traffic as they took their time viewing all the onlookers – soon this may not be a surprise. As dusk was approaching we visited Fort Hill where we encountered a Harrier, 6 Greater Yellowlegs, 10 Great Blue Herons, 40 Brant, 80 Black Ducks along with all the expected marsh species.

     “On day two, our day started at Race Point at daybreak only to be blown away with the volumes [thousands] of various species flying past the Point ranging from Gannets, Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Eiders & scoters. With this constant strings of birds moving by us, [I’m] not sure how you would make a good estimate of how many of each we were seeing. As the light got better, you could see all the Razorbills on the water along with the Common Eiders, Mergansers, scoters while the air was buzzing with more Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Gannets, Common & Red-throated Loons, & the 3 common gull species. Out of this excitement, we found a few special birds like a couple of Dovekies, another male King Eider, Bonaparte’s & 2 Iceland Gulls, approximately 20 Manx Shearwaters, 8 Great Shearwater & 1 Sooty Shearwater plus several Seals popping their heads out of the water. It was hard to leave this show but we wanted to cover several other spots before heading back to Drumlin Farm.

     “First spot was Herring Cove where we found many of the same species as the Point but in addition, a Snowy Owl and 3 Red-necked Grebes – excellent viewing of the various other species due to calmer water & excellent light conditions. Next spot was at High Head where we had a nice variety of birds from 3 Virginia Rails, 2 Kingfishers, 1 Cooper’s Hawk. 20 Cedar Waxwings, 1 Catbird, many Yellow-rumped Warblers, 6 Green-winged Teal, American Tree Sparrow, etcetera.

     “Down to Provincetown Harbor where we were treated to a few new species like Great Cormorants, 2 Harlequin Ducks, 5 Long-tailed Ducks and a Peregrine Falcon on the Tower. Always an experience is driving through downtown Provincetown to see the historic buildings [and crowds]. Another few quick coastal beach & dune spots gave us hundreds of Dunlin & Sanderlings with 4 Black-bellied Plovers mixed in. Last spot was at Nauset Beach where we were treated to a pair of Northern Horned Larks and 2 large flocks of Snow Buntings that lit close to us for excellent viewing. One birder who drove his truck down to the end of Nauset Beach counted 4 Snowy Owls – maybe [it will be] a big year for these owls.

     “As I mentioned, we all were blessed with relatively mild conditions & light winds at this time of year and experiencing the shear volume & variety of species that included many rarities from Rufous Hummingbird, 2 male King Eiders, Dovekies, 3 species of Shearwaters & on and on – great trip!”

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
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4 years of service to the birding community! 
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