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Hotline Trip to Race Point in Provincetown

Race Point, Provincetown

March 19, 2016

Seth Kellogg

It was a day of daring, as six birders ventured out on the long drive and two-mile walk to this wild beach at the edge of civilization.  We took the inland route, walking through a pitch pine forest, across the dike through the Hatches Harbor marshes and over the dunes to the edge of the Atlantic.  There were a few Horned Larks on the sand among the sparse grasses.  One vehicle was there and a small group of watchers, all seeking the rare seabirds.  With their help, it was not long before the Yellow-billed Loon came into view for us in the heaving waves close to shore.  The bill was dull but huge and so was the body.  The water surface was strewn with Red-throated Loons and a few Common Loons.  The scoters, Eiders and Razorbills were mostly flying by, but some were on the water.  The most abundant bird was the Red-breasted Merganser.  A flock of gulls went up and down just off the beach, swarming at the water’s surface above schools of fish and shrimp.  

Other birders had seen the Common (Mew) Gull on the beach earlier with other gulls, but it was some time, before we picked it out in the swarm that moved back and forth along the beach.  A dozen or more Iceland Gulls were haunting the area along with a few Herring Gulls, one or two Glaucous Gulls, and Great Black-backed Gulls, and many Ring-billed Gulls.  Farther out many alcids were flying past in flocks, almost all Razorbills.  The reported Common Murres eluded our efforts to find them.  One Oldsquaw and one Horned Grebe were noted and three Gannets sailed past.  Two Right Whales were noticed working their way back and forth, most often beneath the surface, but occasionally rising above for a moment or two.  In the search and discovery for the rarer species, we were helped by the birders that were there when we arrived, and we in turn helped those who arrived after us.