Yesterday evening (8/31), I made a quick stop at Cow Yard Road in Chatham after work. With the help of a scope, Cow Yard is a good place to observe shorebirds at the right tides (low, and especially, rising and falling). With the virtual disappearance of South Beach as a birding spot (thanks to very limited access), Cow Yard has become one of the better spots to find Hudsonian Godwit on Cape Cod.
Or at least that’s what I’d always heard. But after seven visits to the Cow Yard without any luck, I was starting to become skeptical. Yet, with a couple of hours of daylight left, I made my eighth attempt.
The light couldn’t have been better. The setting sun was at my back, giving a crisp, warm feel to everything it touched. The tides were also perfect: early on a rising tide, thus concentrating all of the shorebirds.
After only ten minutes of scanning, an awesome juvenile Hudsonian Godwit (HUGO in banding lingo) appeared on the flats, foraging amongst Black-bellied Plovers, Short-billed Dowitchers, White-rumped and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Red Knots, Western Willets, and others.
It was my first time seeing my favorite shorebird since 2011, and I took the time to enjoy the godwit as it foraged and briefly took flight. I was even able to capture a few photos of the bird, although the 60x magnification on my scope, coupled with the 105mm of the point-and-shoot, left a little to be desired:
The godwit vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, perhaps headed back to the now-mythical South Beach to roost.