At the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, you can take a hike from the museum building along a trail that leads across a salt marsh, up onto an island, back down into a sliver of the marsh, and into the dunes and out onto the beach on Cape Cod Bay. The island in the middle of the marsh is called Wing Island. It used to be covered with scrub oak, white pine, and red cedar. This year we were surprised to discover that only the front half of the island is wooded. The trees have been clear cut from 10 acres on the back side of the island. Not for timber. The Cape Cod Conservation Trust, which owns the land and lets the museum use it, decided it wants to bring the land back to grassland in hopes of attracting more birds to the island. The Trust also wants to grow native wildflowers there. The guy at the museum who explained this to me didn’t know which birds the conservancy hopes will move in or what wildflowers are native to the Cape or how they’ll keep intruders out. But that’s the plan.
The next step now that the trees have been cut down is to burn off the scrub.
The Trust did this to some land it owns across the marsh in Dennis. It seems to have worked, although mostly what the guy at the museum has observed it’s accomplished is clear the way for 4 wheel drive vehicles to make their way down to the beach where they hadn’t been allowed before.
It’s not as though the land around the museum has been lacking in birds. We always see a good number every year when we visit. This year, though, we saw one who definitely wasn’t there the last time we hiked the trail.
The museum put a platform out in the middle of the marsh and the osprey came along, decided it liked the look of the place, and built its nest there. It was perched out there as if waiting for us.
I’d never gotten a good look at one before today. At a nature preserve back in Syracuse the rangers had put up platforms along one side of the lake, but far away from the hiking trails, and even with my binoculars I couldn’t get a good look at the birds who’d nested there. From the distance they might as well have been gray crows.
Ospreys do not look like crows.
Ospreys look like ospreys and there’s hardly a higher compliment you can pay to a bird than that.