There was excitement, edged with a slight tension, aboard the Charles W. Morgan as she sailed out of Provincetown Harbor on an overcast Friday morning. The first sighting of a whale - a small minke - brought cheers. It was the first time the ship had been next to a whale in almost a century, but a full expression of the sentiment surrounding the ship's reunion with whales came later in the day, as a humpback whale fed off the starboard side. Whoops and one passenger's cry of "I think that was an 'apology accepted'" brought peals of laughter from those nearby.
There is no place like being on the water, on a boat, at this time of year, if you want to see birds - specifically pelagic, ocean-loving birds. While ashore it is hot and crowded, out on the water the cool temperatures and seabirds conspire to make you mellow out and enjoy your vast surroundings. A human never feels as small as when out on, and in, the vastness of the open ocean.
With the Fourth of July just a couple of days way and fledgling “baby” birds seemingly everywhere, there are some not-so-subtle changes going on in the natural world. Most noticeable in fields and woods is the rapid and pronounced decrease in bird song. Recovering from the exhausting ordeal of defending a territory, courting, mating, providing for a brood of young birds all the while on the alert for a wide variety of predators, the adult birds are eating, resting and growing new feathers.
With the arrival of summer, throngs of people escaping the heat come to the Cape and Islands. Beaches are the place to be. Our area has a remarkably varied and long shoreline, with fabulous beaches, adjacent tidal flats and abundant salt marshes. Fortuitously, these are also a great place to look for birds.