Birding Coastal Yarmouthport

My family recently sold our home in Cape Cod, one we’ve had in our possession for over seven years now. Personally, I was devastated to see it go, having accumulated so many memories both on the property and in the area.

These memories include becoming terrific friends with our neighbors and the epic adventures we had, enjoying holidays up there as a family, and birding two nearby locations, both within walking distance.

Both of these locations are coastal, each within half a mile of the other and our house. They’re both represented on eBird as hotspots, one known as Hallet’s Mill Pond, the other as Water Street Marsh, Yarmouth. Hallet’s even has its own entry in Birding Cape Cod, written by the Cape Cod Bird Club and Massachusetts Audubon.

Our old house (point A) in relation to Hallet’s Mill Pond (bottom right)

Hallet’s Mill Pond is a tidal pond fed by Mill Creek, which in turn is fed by the waters of Barnstable Harbor. This location is a proven site for winter waterfowl, and is also decent for summer shorebirding at low tide, when a bar is exposed in the center of the pond. During the winter, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, American Black Duck, Mallard, American Wigeon, Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers can all be expected, and a variety of other species are possible. Barrow’s Goldeneye has been recorded at this location previously, including a possible individual of this species I had before my scope-toting days (likely first winter male). Northern Pintail has been an annual winter resident over the past few years, and Northern Shoveler is also an annual visitor, typically occurring in the early spring.

Recent highlights at the pond (seen by other observers) have had a distinct old world flair, and include Black-headed Gull and the Little Egret seen on the Cape recently, which paid a one-day stop to Hallet’s.

The pond is easily scanned and accessed from a variety of points off Mill Lane, including the one-lane bridge linking Mill and Keveney Lanes (both are roads are directly accessible from Route 6A).

A slightly-worn trail leads northeast into the marsh from the aforementioned bridge. While this trail can by muddy in places, one never knows if a surprise or two is lurking for them in the marsh beyond!

And it is this marsh beyond that we will be discussing next, specifically the marsh accessible off of a dirt road off of Water Street.

Our old house (point A), Hallet's Mill Pond (bottom left) and Water Street Marsh (the noticeable sandy indentation to the right of the words 'Mill Creek').

Our old house (point A), Hallet’s Mill Pond (bottom left) and Water Street Marsh (the noticeable sandy indentation to the right of the words ‘Mill Creek’).

Water Street Marsh, Beach, whatever you want to call it, is situated to the east of the Hallet’s Mill Pond. This location is accessible from a dirt road leading off of Water Street, specifically between the patch of phragmites and small freshwater pond.

During the summertime, and especially at low tides, shorebirds might be glimpsed from the dirt road feeding in the marsh, which can also be seen roosting here at high tide. Terns and herons are also noticeable during the summer months.

In the winter, the dirt road offers a terrific vantage point to scan the marsh and waters beyond for waterfowl, including ducks such as White-winged and Surf Scoters, and both species of scaup

I had a lot of wonderful days at this spot over the summers, generating lots of fond memories. I spent many a time when I was younger exploring the marsh beyond the road, returning home utterly filthy, full of muck and grass, much to the apparent dismay of my mother. Friends from my former street and I also used to catch crabs in the marsh, sometimes using bait and sometimes not.

As mentioned above, this spot is accessible off of Water Street, which is in turn accessible from Route 6A from a variety of nearby roads, including Mill Lane. This location is also mentioned in Birding Cape Cod, under the Hallet’s Mill Pond entry.

The thickets in this area are also well-worth exploring, especially in the late fall and early winter.

While I’m pretty bummed about selling the house, we will be renting a home on the street over next summer, so our time in the area is definitely not finished. And although I never would’ve said this upon selling, it is my hope that the new owners get as much out of the house as we did and take away lots of fond memories.


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7 Responses to Birding Coastal Yarmouthport

  1. Helen says:

    Hi, Alex! So glad to see you posting so soon. I am one of your biggest fans. I am sorry your family sold the home on Cape Cod. I understand how you feel about it. It sounds like you may have gotten a great start on birding there. I hope to someday visit that area myself. Meanwhile I must make do with NC and FL both of which offer great birding. God bless and Happy Holidays!

  2. Christopher Brooks says:

    Dear Alexander,

    Superb post.

    Peace & Happy Christmas,
    Uncle Christopher & Jagger

  3. Mary Ellen Clifton says:

    Hello, Alex, How lovely that you have such wonderful memories with which to fill your heart. Thank you for sharing them (especially the part about hands-on muck). I have special memories of a childhood home in Salt Lake City, Revisiting these special places, if only in our hearts, can bring much peace and joy. And it’s great that you will return to this area next summer to continue exploring,birding and building up a store of new memories. Meanwhile, have a wonderful and Blessed Christmas! Mary Ellen (St. Paul’s)

  4. marcy klattenberg says:

    Dear Alex,

    How well I know the feeling when parents sell something near and dear to you and filled with childhood memories. I was devastated when my parents sold our family’s boat that we had vacationed on for 25 years. I too believe that summers on “Storm Child” (like yours on the Cape) helped shape my life long interest in the natural world. We may visit Barnstable next summer on our own boat “Paumanok” – previously we’ve been to Wellfleet & Provincetown. I will be sure to check out Hallet’s Mill Pond if we do stop there. I am so glad that you are back and feeling well enough to start blogging again. Wishing you all the best in 2013, Marcy

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