Sunday, February 27, 2011

61a. Barnstable: Skunknett River Wildlife Sanctuary

I ran into my own best laid plans today. I promised myself that I would walk every publicly-accessible Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuary this year, even if it meant walking in two places in one town. For the second time so far, I came across that situation.

Barnstable, though, is an odd duck, as far as towns in Massachusetts go. It's actually seven commmunities that are better known on their own than as individuals. Take Hyannis, for instance. It's as recognizable a village as any in Massachusetts, and probably more well-known than some towns. Yet, when you look at a map of Cape Cod, Barnstable is the town, and Hyannis, West Barnstable, Centerville and all the rest are swallowed up by the whole.

So here, in Osterville, I walked the Skunknett River Wildlife Sanctuary. The river is not the main feature of the sanctuary, at least to the trail walker. Nope, it's the pond, West Pond, to be precise. And today, the main feature on that pond was an odd duck, a northern pintail. The pond was being used as a feeding ground by several dabblers, including green-winged teals, American black ducks, hooded mergansers and a mallard. I saw them from every angle as I circumnavigated the pond, without even breaking out my sextant.

In all, I counted 11 species of birds on my walk, which wasn't bad for a cold, windy day in February. It's always good to have company on the trails.

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