Saturday, October 29, 2011

Birding the Cape

I decided to head out to the Cape with my friend Steve yesterday after getting an invitation to join him to search for the Townsend's Solitaire in Chatham as well as looking for Sea Ducks at First Encounter Beach and Yellow Rail's at Nauset Marsh as it had something to do with the new 11.7 moon tide, a canoe, wader boots and extra clothing in case we fell into the marsh which all sounded fascinating so off we went at first light!

The first stop we would make (besides Dunkin's for our 2nd coffee of the day) would be Chatham for the TOSO. There would already be a few birders there trying to locate the bird so we all joined forces in hopes for success. There would be many Yellow-rumped Warblers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Song Sparrows and a lone Orange-crowned Warbler which was an added bonus but after much searching, no Towsend's so off we went to check out a few other places as the day was still young.

With one of those stops being the Chocolate Sparrow above where I had one of the tastiest coffees ever which was a cappuccino with their home made chocolate sauce which was out of this world.

After being sufficiently "lit" with all the coffee we consumed it was off to First Encounter Beach to check out the Sea Ducks. Flocks of Common Eider and Black Scoters would be in flight everywhere and I'm talking flights in the hundreds so it was almost too much to take in as once you watched one flock go by, another very large flock would do the same so it was fascinating to see. We'd also get a distant look at a Northern Gannet and despite how far out it was, you could still clearly see those black wing tips which is always a treat.

After that it was off to Nausett Marsh to take in the glorious frigid, fall air and look for rails! Canoe's would be parked in front of the marsh which was an encouraging sign, but there wouldn't be any of them in the water as who the hell would be crazy enough to be out there in 40 degree weather. US, that's who!!

We'd get in and make out way along the marsh and the first thing we'd see was an American Bittern.

And it would be in its classic pose! Now I've seen photos of this bird doing it, but to see it up close enough for a photo with my crappy camera is a totally different experience and was seriously awesome as not too many people are lucky enough to experience so its pays to be in the right place at the right time at times.

These bitterns seemed to be everywhere (I never thought I'd ever say that, HA) and we'd continue to flush them out of the marsh at Steve paddled away and I stood watch with my camera ready for pictures whenever the opportunity struck!

But soon enough I'd have to help so Steve gave me a refresher course on how to paddle considering I hadn't done it in over 10 years and I was afraid I'd screw us up and we'd somehow wind up in the Atlantic Ocean which surely wouldn't be good!

We'd finally make our way to an area with beautiful, calm water and the warm sun and poke around there in hopes for rails, but all would be fairly quiet except for a lone gull here and there.

It seemed the perfect place to get out and stretch our legs and try and pish out some seaside sparrows.

And there would even be a cute little bench nearby for resting should one chose to. We never did see any rails, but it was seriously a very neat experience. I've often wondered what it would be like to bird by kayak or canoe so was looking forward to this despite the wind and cold and I was not let down one bit. It's really neat and something I'm looking forward to doing again.

We decided to head back to Chatham to look for the TOSO and there would once again be birders there. We'd spend a considerable amount of time searching for it and were just about convinced we heard it a little before dusk, but never got a visual on it so who knows! The coolest thing would be seeing an immature Red-tailed Hawk who had captured a rabbit and was just preparing to eat it for dinner. It first I couldn't watch as the poor bunny was still alive and I'm too much of a softie for that, but soon enough, the bird was able to end its suffering and enjoy it's meal which was very interesting to see and a great way to end the day.

And speaking of dinner, we would be pretty cold by now and very hungry as all we had all day were rice crackers, pomegranate juice and coffee so we'd end the day at the Lost Dog Pub in Orleans where we had great beer, fresh shell fish and lobster bisque which really hit the spot after a nice, long day of birding.

Take care all

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