June 2021

Vol. 49, No. 3

Birding the Eastern End of Nantucket

Nantucket—my home birding patch—is the name of the county, the island, and the town—which comprises all of the island’s villages and hamlets. The two offshore islands of Tuckernuck and Muskeget also fall under the jurisdiction of Nantucket.

The Steamship Authority, the island’s main lifeline to the rest of the world, provides ferry service to Nantucket. In 2021, a round-trip ticket between Woods Hole and Nantucket Island costs $19.00 for adults and $10.00 for children 5–12. Between Hyannis and Nantucket, the fare is $39.00 per adult and $20.00 per child. If you are looking to cover Nantucket on a budget— whether you are trying to pick up Barn Owl for your state list or chasing some far-blown vagrant—taking your bike is definitely the way to go. You can stow your bike for $8.00 from Woods Hole and $14.00 from Hyannis. In-season round-trip rates for automobiles are $192–$250 from Woods Hole and $492–$600 from Hyannis; reservations fill early, and standby is not guaranteed. Off-season rates are lower, and bringing a car is less of a hassle. Nantucket via bike is an appealing mode of transportation and gives you the ability to explore more of the island. Birding on foot is another option. Nantucket is at its best when enjoyed at a leisurely pace with the wind at your back. This mentality is best reflected in some of the bumper stickers you are bound to see, such as “20 is plenty in ‘Sconset” and “What’s the rush? You’re already on Nantucket.”

“East or west?” is a question familiar to every Nantucket birder. To the west is the tiny seaport of Madaket, with the associated neighborhoods of Dionis, Fisher’s Landing, and Jackson Point. To the east, one finds the historic beachfront hamlet of Siasconset or ‘Sconset—few locals actually refer to this place by its full name—and the villages of Wauwinet, Quidnet, and Tom Nevers. My answer is unwaveringly “east.”

Map of Eastern Nantucket.

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