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  • Writer's pictureMYBC

Waterfowl Watch, First Beach, Sandwich, MA

Updated: Jul 6, 2022

Young birders take turns looking through a spotting scope and binoculars out at the ocean to get close looks at groups of wintering sea ducks.

Young birders and MYBC coordinators using spotting telescopes and binoculars to view waterfowl at First Beach in Sandwich. Check out our species list from the day!

On Saturday March 5, 2022, the Mass Young Birders took advantage of a Massachusetts winter hot spot for stunning sea ducks, gorgeous geese and other wonderful waterfowl. We met at First Beach in Sandwich, MA where ducks gather in large numbers close to shore. It was a 40 degree sunny day, so luckily we didn't have to bundle up in too many layers.

We used telescopes and binoculars to admire plumage, compare different species, and watch their behaviors. Tree House Brewing Company shares the shore with these waterfowl and graciously hosted us. We enjoyed hot chocolate and snacks on their outdoor deck while we birded.

Young birders and MYBC coordinators stand on Tree House's deck to admire an Alcid in the distance through spotting telescopes and binoculars (Photo 1). It was too far off to tell if it was a Dovekie or a Thick-billed Murre, so the birders led an adventure down the beach to try to get a clearer look (Photo 2).

We saw 23 different species and over 500 individuals during our birding trip. One of our most memorable moments was a flock of Common Eiders ducking a low-flying Northern Harrier who seemed to be picking on them. We also made a Ring-billed gull friend that young birders fondly named Gully. Check out our ebird list for a full list of species seen. Pictured here is, a Ring-billed Gull (Photo 1), Common Goldeneye (Photo 2), hatch year male and female Common Eider (Photo 3), Long-tailed Duck (Photo 4), Brant on the rocks (Photo 5), Brant in flight (Photo 6), and a Yellow-rumped warbler that showed up behind us as we were looking out at the waves (Photo 7)!

We borrowed from duck wing specimens from the University of Rhode Island to practice our identification skills. We can tell what species, sex, and age a duck is by solely its wing, but the tell-tale characteristics are only seen up close. Pictured above from right to left and top to bottom we have a wing from a Lesser Scaup & Greater Scaup (Photo 1), male Bufflehead & female Bufflehead (Photo 2), male Norther Shoveler & male Blue-winged Teal (Photo 3).

We're planning some fun spring activities as birds return from their wintering grounds and start to breed. Be sure to check out our upcoming events page for details!

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