Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter Tram to False Cape

From November 1 through March 31, there are only two ways to get to False Cape State Park - walking along the beach from Back Bay Wildlife Refuge or on a tram which runs every couple of weeks in the winter. Yesterday was one of those days, and we signed up for the trip at $8 each. It is the only way to see the interior of the refuge in the winter and the big concentrations of tundra swans and other waterfowl. It is such an interesting area. As a raptor expert who was one of the guides explained at a stop, within 1/3 of a mile there are seven distinct habitats, each with its own life forms and ecology: the ocean, the beach, the dunes, freshwater marsh and impoundments, grasslands, maritime forest, and Back Bay.

It would have been fun to have the chance to get out more, but the tour guide was an enthusiastic and knowlegeable state park employee. She is leading a three day "Wild Woman Weekend" at this park in a few weeks which I think would be a great thing for any woman who likes the outdoors. Women only, no testosterone allowed. False Cape has to be one of the most remote state parks in the east. It had been 18 months since my last hike to it, 5 miles each way.

The day was cold - upper thirties with some wind - and we got thoroughly chilled after 2 hours in the open air tram. We stopped a few times for wildlife observation. We saw hundreds of tundra swans as they gather energy for their long trip to northern Alaska and Canada. We saw many ducks, some geese, and some great blue herons. But a juvenile bald eagle was trip highlight. Here are a few photos from the day:

Views of the marsh in BBNWR. We watched the large tundra swans coming in for landings here, looking so much like 747's in their approaches.

Impoundment from the dike, with the dune line in the distance

Maritime forest along the road in False Cape State Park

This is the closest we could get to the beautiful tundra swans