October 2019

Vol. 47, No. 5

Birding Mid-Cape Cod from Barnstable to Orleans

David Clapp

When I started contemplating this article on winter birding on mid-Cape Cod, I began by thinking about and reliving the great advice and information provided over the years by the Bird Observer "Where to Go Birding" articles that gave step-by-step directions necessary to find the location and, with luck, the birds.

Today, eBird hotspots and various forms of instant communication have created a cultural shift in planning birding trips. Every phone and many cars have GPS and directional apps installed. In this article, I do not include turn-by-turn directions in most cases; that is for your phone to do. The emphasis is to provide you with a big-picture sense of the mid-Cape to help you plan the day or think about getting to a specific beach or bird. Birding the mid-Cape is easily done in a single day for many people. This route provides a round trip with stops at salt and fresh water, sandy beaches, and woodlands.

The saltwater shores of Cape Cod— we have a northern, southern, and eastern shore to bird on this trip—are rarely frozen and can harbor lingering seabirds and shorebirds. There are many bay and sea ducks, including Buffleheads, Red-breasted Mergansers, Common and Red-throated loons, Red-necked and Horned grebes, as well as Iceland and the occasional Glaucous gulls that frequent the shoreline throughout the winter. And those few ponds that do freeze late, or not at all some years, are often havens for freshwater ducks such as Common and Barrow's goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Redheads, Canvasback, Ruddy, Mallard, and Black ducks, and lots of Hooded Mergansers.

Fig. 1. Mid-Cape Cod Overview

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