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Birds of a Feather

In the autumn, Cape Cod is a birdwatcher's paradise.

Last September, Mike O’Connor’s endless curiosity about the bird world and hunger for surprise sent him to Sandy Neck Beach in Barnstable, a birding locale that rarely disappoints. What winged creatures on this fall day would be making their way along the long stretch of sand as they eventually head further south, like so many (human) snowbirds? Read more…

A Happy Haul

A surging seal population take up residence off Truro

The line of hulking creatures along the J-shaped sandbar just off High Head Beach in Truro is at first deceiving: Their round, shiny bodies are reminiscent of large, dark rocks, giving the peninsula the look of Maine’s rugged coast rather than Cape Cod’s sandy shore. But when the wind dies down, the rocks can be heard moaning. Those rocks, it turns out, are gray seals.

A Happy Haul

“It’s just fascinating to sit and listen,” says Sue Moynihan, chief of interpretation and cultural resources management for the Cape Cod National Seashore. “There are all these vocalizations they are making, and we really don’t know what they mean.” When visitors step closer to the shore, the seals swimming by themselves stop their acrobatics to stare. Their heads are the size of a horse’s, their eyes black.

A Happy Haul

This is at least the fifth year that seals have congregated off Truro. Jeremy Point off Wellfleet, Chatham Harbor, South Monomoy Island, and Muskeget Island off Nantucket are also home to gray seal haul-outs, but for humans, the Truro gathering spot is probably the least remote, making it a popular place to observe seals in their element. Read more…

Snapshot of a Stranding

Cape Cod sees more marine mammals wash ashore than anywhere else in the country. Now all that’s left is to figure out why.

Snapshot of a Stranding

Marine mammal strandings have mystified humans for centuries. Last winter on Cape Cod, they continued to capture imaginations and national attention when a record 179 common dolphins stranded on Cape Cod Bay beaches from Sandy Neck to Wellfleet over 36 days between January 12 and February 16. The strandings continued later into the spring, marking 214 and counting this year, compared to an annual average of 38.

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Endless Cycle

Not long from now on a Friday morning in August, Kevin Leach will climb on his bike in Plymouth and pedal 100 miles to Provincetown. Stacey Hedman

He and a few friends will cycle hard for six or seven hours. They’ll cross the Bourne Bridge, traverse the Service Road, follow back roads to the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Dennis, and pass Cahoon Hollow Beach in Wellfleet.

From there, the group will take the back roads in Truro and finally get into Provincetown, feeling like kings of the road as they breeze down Commercial Street. There, they will stop for lunch—and a quick change of clothes—at the Crown & Anchor.
“That’s a great day,” Leach says of this trip he makes every August, usually on a Friday because the bike paths are less crowded. “The whole thing is great. It’s so different throughout. … Probably the most memorable part is the end of the bike path all the way to Provincetown. The scenery and the whole idea of being out on the Outer Cape and then heading into Provincetown and being on Commercial Street is fun.” Read more…

Nantucket

Terry Pommett

Things to do

Nantucket Whaling Museum Nantucket has a rich history: From its prominent role in the whaling industry, to the Great Fire of 1846 that destroyed 300 town buildings, to its status today as a beautiful vacation destination, the island has much to celebrate and preserve. The Nantucket Whaling Museum  at the Nantucket Historical Society (www.nha.org, 508-228-1894) offers an extensive whaling exhibit and a 46-foot skeleton of a sperm whale that looms overhead.

The Mariah Mitchell Association (www.mmo.org, 508-228-2896), named in honor of the Nantucket astronomer who discovered a comet in 1847, runs two observatories,  an aquarium and natural science museum, and preserves her birthplace.

At Bartlett’s Farm (www.bartlettsfarm.com, 508-228-9403), the Bartlett family has been working the same land since the 1800s. Today, in addition to finding fruits and vegetables here, you can attend a farm or chef talk, or enjoy a First Friday dinner: a four-course meal featuring farm-grown foods.

Beach it

Nantucket’s southside beaches, with their strong rip currents and high surf, are popular with those who love to catch a wave. At Cisco Beach, surfers of all abilities can take lessons through Nantucket Surfari (www.nantucketsurfari.com, 508-228-1235). If surfboarding seems too complicated, body surfing is an easier alternative at this beach, which is four miles outside of town. Arrive early because parking is limited.

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