Despite the winds whipping chills of almost zero degrees, we braved the dunes and sand of Sandy Neck Beach in Sandwich to find the elusive Snowy Owl. Bundled and leaning into the wind, we kept our eyes to the horizon, the tall grass, and the water, hoping to see a flash of white.
Though no Snowy Owl appeared, we were able to pick out new dark forms on the slate waves, their orange bills prominent through the binoculars. It was pretty easy to identify the surf scoter.
Still, we kept marching down the beach, not wanting to return face first into the wind. Instead, we found a trail and began winding through the dunes, confident there was an owl in there. And as the trail exited the dunes and turned along the marshes, we saw a flash and ran. But as the angle changed and the legs came down, we knew it wasn’t the snowy we were looking for. It was a Snowy Egret, which was a good find in itself, considering that long-legged bird should have migrated south a long time ago.
Later, as we neared the exit, we also spotted a Northern Harrier cruising the marshes for prey.
At this point, some of us were too cold to continue on. However, others decided to trek to McMillan Pier in Provincetown. Here, those hardy ones were rewarded with some new finds, including the Brant and Northern Shoveller, as well as some beautiful eiders.
It had been another long day of birding. Another day of adventure. Another disappointment. And yet there were many more unexpected finds.