Winter Wildlife on Cape Cod
Explore the great outdoors this winter and catch glimpses of wildlife
Winter Wildlife on Cape Cod
The departure of summer crowds offers adventurous visitors a unique opportunity to encounter the Cape’s wildlife. The region’s forests and shoreline are teeming with different animal species during the winter, providing patient visitors with an incredible opportunity to catch a glimpse of seals, deer, and other creatures. This season, bundle up, grab a camera, and track down some of Cape Cod’s animal inhabitants.
An estimated 50,000 gray and harbor seals inhabit the waters off the coast of Cape Cod, an extraordinary rebound for a species nearly exterminated in the region by the 1960s after centuries of seal hunting. During the winter months, these playful creatures dot the craggy shoreline, particularly off the coast of Chatham and in Nantucket Sound and Buzzards Bay, where food is plentiful.
Mid-day low tide is the best time of day to see seals. Stick to rocky, sheltered beaches, such as Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, Chatham Light House Beach, and Chatham Fish Pier. Or join a guided excursion, such as the Seal and Seabird Watches organized by the Buzzards Bay Coalition throughout the winter. Just be sure stay at least 150 feet away, as it is illegal to feed, touch, or disturb the seals.
Winter is often a Cape Cod birder’s favorite time of year. From the peace and quiet to the season’s unique avian visitors, birding is an excellent way to explore the great outdoors during the winter months. Spot seasonal migrants, including the dark-eyed junco, surf scoter, red-throated loon, and snowy owls, at locations throughout the Cape.
Prime winter birding locations include Scusset State Reservation in Sandwich, Corporation Beach in Barnstable, and Chatham’s Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. Grab some binoculars and embark on an independent adventure or join a local group excursion—both the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History and the Cape Cod Bird Club host meetings, classes, and field trips throughout the winter.
Deer, Foxes, and More
With a pair of warm boots or snowshoes, visitors can access Cape Cod’s innumerable parks, conservation areas, and hiking trails. Patient hikers frequently spot deer, foxes, turkeys, and rabbits, especially in the early morning. Nickerson State Park in Brewster, Fort Hill in Eastham, and Callery-Darling Conservation Area in Yarmouth are among the top locations for viewing winter wildlife.
Just be sure to dress for the weather and respect the animals’ habitats. Park rangers are on duty during the winter at the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham and can provide advice about trails and current conditions.
-- By Ettractions Digital Content Editor EMILY JARMOLOWICZ
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