August 24, 2020

Nantucket - August 2019

Early Thursday morning Max, Michael, and I headed down to Hyannis to board the earliest ferry to Nantucket. We tried birding on the ferry, but didn't get too much apart from the occasional jellyfish in the water, although the boat was moving too fast to photograph them. When we reached land, we were greeted by Skyler and Will. Those of us who hadn't met previously shook hands and started to get to know each other. Old friends picked up where they left off.

Eventually we headed out of town towards the West side of the Island. En route to Jackson Point, we talked and listened to songs from countless different musicals, everyone just happy to be in the company of each other. When we arrived at Jackson Point, there wasn't much in terms of Passerines, so we headed out to Esther Island. There were some decent species of shorebird including Whimbrel and Western Willet. A Peregrine was also flying around looking for a meal. Some Tiger Beetles scurried along the beaches as we walked further along the island. Huge numbers of Black Tern flew around and rested on the flats. Sanderlings, Semipalmated Plovers, Piping Plovers, and other shorebirds added to the numbers. Later on, we got to the ocean-side of the beach. The waves were bigger there and a thick layer of fog could be seen. Soon after we arrived on the ocean-side, Michael shouted out "Cliff Swallows!" We all looked as quickly as possible and could spot 5 individuals darting off into the fog. I quickly snapped a photo of the last one before it too, was consumed by the fog. We rested for a few minutes near the roaring waves, and waded in a bit, enjoying the cool water as it rushed in and out.

After Esther Island, we headed North to Eel Point. There wasn't too many species of note at this location apart from the Jellies that we had to watch out for while wading through the water. On our way back to the car, the sand was extremely hot and burned our feet. There was no alternative route, so our only option was to fight through it, because it was too far to run the entire way.

A few minor stops later and we had made it to the Serengeti. Although quite far away from its African counterpart, Nantucket's "Serengeti" greatly resembles the landscape of the African Savannah, hence how it got its name. Apparently in the 1800s, the Serengeti was more or less a shortgrass prairie. It's very different in the present, with the ground covered in scrub oak and trees dotted around the area. This prairie-like habitat was perfect for Eskimo Curlew and, unfortunately, Eskimo Curlew were perfect for hunters...
We checked a large area of the Serengeti thoroughly in an attempt to locate Ring-necked Pheasants, but only found a couple of Merlin. After walking through brush for an hour and a half, we decided to take a break at Skyler's house for a while.

It was getting late in the afternoon, so we decided to head for Milestone Cranberry Bogs. We searched for rails and anything else we could find, but to no avail.

In the middle of the cranberry bogs, we talked and just had a wholesome hour or so watching the sun set together. On our walk back to the car, the calls of Helmeted Guineafowl echoed through the bog.
We got into the car and headed to a few pull-offs to listen for Barn Owl. We didn't end up hearing any, but at our last stop the sky was in clear view, and with our windows open I could look straight up at the stars. Due to light-pollution and/or a cloudy sky at most places I'd been throughout my life, I'd never payed much attention to the stars, and never got a good view. That is, until that evening. Thousands and thousands of bright stars dotted the sky, thicker in some areas than others. Something about them attracted my gaze, and I just couldn't pull my eyes away. I was staring straight up at the sky, but I was perfectly content, more content than I can ever remember being. I had just spent the day exploring this beautiful island with some amazing people, and now we were sitting in what seemed like perfect silence on the side of a road. It felt like an eternity that I stared up at those stars, but I wanted to remember that moment. It was the perfect evening to a perfect day at the end of the summer, and I didn't want to forget a second of it.

We got back to Skyler's house soon after that last stop. We said goodbye to Will since Skyler would be driving him back to where his family was staying on the island. For some reason it felt like I wouldn't see Will again, even though we'd just met that morning, and I'm sure our paths will cross again at some point. It was a bit sad because I knew our time on Nantucket was ending, and we'd be leaving early the next morning, but I was still extremely content with our time there, and happy to spend it with friends. Skyler drove Will home and Michael, Max, and I went to bed. I didn't sleep well that night but it didn't matter, as I still felt that strange indescribable tranquility.

In the morning, Skyler saw us off at the ferry. And again, for some reason, it felt like I wouldn't see him again, even though we'd definitely go birding together in the future. As the boat drove off, I stared back at Nantucket, happy to be going home, but sad to be leaving it behind. Eventually, the island disappeared into the distance, but I'm sure I'd be seeing it again soon.

Posted on August 24, 2020 18:20 by francistbn francistbn | 4 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

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