Es-Cape from the City

Each year, without fail, we “migrate” for a time to the open shores of Cape Cod to enjoy the weather, the sea air, and the joys of nature.  Our temporary habitat of choice? Provincetown.   The pilgrim’s real first landing spot in North America, Provincetown has always attracted free thinkers, nature lovers, and artists of every kind…including Tennessee Williams, Jackson Pollock, and Mary Oliver, just to name a few.  And because of its location at the very tip of the Cape, it also attracts a bevy of gorgeous animals on the land and sea.

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We build our annual nest at Surfside Hotel and Suites, on the east end of the main drag, Commercial Street. Suddenly our backyard is the beach where we peacefully watch the tides come and go.

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We also see all kinds of wildlife from gulls who take to the sky in droves at dawn and dusk to hermit crabs jostling about at low tide. Here is a hermit crab who won the competition for a new big shell.  Watch it jump from it’s old “house” to try out the new one.

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We’re used to scanning the sky for soaring hawks and were delighted to see our first juvenile Bald Eagles…

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…a gorgeous Common Eider (what a snout!)…

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…teams of Semipalmated Sandpipers bouncing around and poking their beaks into the tidal flats…

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…the occasional Semipalmated Plover would join them to see what all the fuss was about…

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And we even saw an elegant Long-tailed Duck, who drifted along the water and dove for 30-45 seconds at a time (using the scientific 1-Mississippi, 2-Mississippi counting method).

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On one of the days, we drove out to the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.  The sanctuary is beautiful – offering everything from woods, to ponds, to marshes, to beaches.  And, indeed, we saw all kinds of wildlife. Some of the highlights were a juvenile Great Blue Heron…

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…a Snowy Egret…

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…and hundreds of fiddler crabs who all have one small front claw and one GIANT front claw that makes you wonder how they can move around with an appendage that is the size of their body.

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Amidst all the serenity, we did have one difficult experience.  A Herring Gull drifted lazily up to the shore of the hotel beach.  A brave woman, Diane (another animal lover from Manhattan!), gently scooped it up and we all set out to help it. We put the injured bird in a box and called Provincetown Animal Control and Wildcare Cape Cod, a rescue organization.  Wildcare dispatched a hero named Swede (sp?) who came to pick up the bird and bring it to their treatment center.  Unfortunately, it had multiple broken vertebrae due to blunt force trauma (meaning it hit something or something hit it at a very fast speed) and it couldn’t be saved.  We were heartbroken but so grateful that people like Diane, Ruth Ann Cowing (Provincetown Animal Control officer), Swede and Wildcare Cape Cod are out there to give these animals a chance.

Despite that tough loss, something about the way the tides keep coming and going, the birds flying steadily and confidently, the clouds painting streaks in the sky…made us realize that things will be alright.  

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And the full horizon-to-horizon rainbow didn’t hurt either. 

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