Sunday, November 28, 2010
First Encounter Beach. The winds have continued to be wrong (west component) so the logic was to bird the inside of the Cape hoping to get birds that were trapped in the bay.
From the warmth and comfort of the car, more of the same. Razorbills by the dozen, but no little black-and-white twerps. The flock of Dunlin was easily the largest I have ever seen in my life – 250 easily.
After perhaps an hour, Race Point was next on the agenda. Again. More of the same. Again. Oh, wait a minute! Yup, Greater Shearwater! Sweet! Beyond that, yup, more of the same.
By this time, bellies (I’m a ruminant) were growling. I shot off to Provincetown for lunch and warm drinks. The dog outside one shop was clearly a brutal killer. Chunks of human flesh and clothing littered the street around him. Actually, upon approach, he just rolled over on his belly looking for attention. What a complete dufous.
A quick run through the harbor turned up Common Goldeneye and Long-tailed Ducks, among the usual. The Razorbills at your feet can't be passed up, either. The Seal (presumably a Harbor) peering up through the water looked so damned intelligent. At any minute, it appeared as if it would climb up on the dock, and start a conversation about coffee prices in Vietnam or something. What a cool animal.
Realizing that winds are no good for much of anything, the Head of the Meadow Beach was next on the agenda.
You can't wrong with any location at this point, right?
This site is quite a bit different than the others. You can be in your car and above the surf. Easily a few hundred feet off the crashing waves and 50 feet up off ocean's level, birding here is convenient. Razorbills,blah, blah, blah...you know the birds at this point.
Woah! Those appear pretty damned small! Yeah, black and white. Distance from me? 1.9 lightyears. Yeah, they were probably my life bird Dovekies, but too far to call. That distance distortion issue is the plague – again. Is it big and far away or is it small and up close? Dammit!
Hey, this gull is not like the rest. Even at great distances, the pale primaries with black tips, whitish underwings and smudge on the back of the nape were a perfect match for an adult Black-legged Kittiwake. A trip bird. Awesome!
Of course, seeing the whale makes up quite a bit more missed birds. As I was scanning the waters for twerps..uh, I mean Dovekie, the unmistakable vision of a whale rolling back in the water was right there. With the ocean shelf a few hundred yards offshore, the fellow was easily as close as the water allowed. Any closer and he would have been beached. No tail fluke. No blow. But the color, shape, and dorsal fin were a perfect match for Minke Whale (Min-kay). Very damned cool. In just that split second viewing my heart raced. I can only imagine how the whalers would have felt in 1851. Their hearts must have jumped quite a bit, too. I saw the same creature, but my excitement was clearly for another reason…
Sadly, too late in the date to manage anything, word came of a Northern Lapwing in Connecticut. Three hours (by GPS) could not overcome the cycle of the sun. Nothing could change that! It was not possible to be on-site before sunset. It just couldn't happen. Plus, driving three hours in the dark hoping it would be there at dawn made no sense whatsoever. Noting the mega-rarity status of this bird, if it was there at dawn, the word would get out. The plan for tomorrow? Stay the course on the Cape and check the internet every 15 minutes. If it shows, drive like hell.
With the plan to head off to First Encounter Beach...again...for a dawn flight, lodging was in Orleans (right the road from the Beach). Dinner was at Land Ho. Two new beers were sampled along with my salmon. The Cape Cod Ale (#871) from the Cape Cod Brewing Company was a solid beer from start to finish. The Lost Sailor IPA (#872) from the Berkshire Brewing Company was every bit as delightful. Both were damn good and I look forward to having more!