Lloyd Center Walks Highlight Spring Biodiversity

great horned owl fledge; click to enlarge

From the Lloyd Center property to the tip of the Cape and on to Stellwagon Bank, Lloyd Center walks and trips provided a snapshot of the region’s various biodiversity with a focus on spring migrant birds, and another spectacle, the whales that feed off Cape Cod.

Starting with the three spring bird walks on the Lloyd Center property, forest birds were seen before leaf-out, when visibility to the treetops is still high. Species commonly seen included the Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, and the most abundant and familiar warbler species, the Yellow Warbler. Baltimore Orioles quickly overtake the treetops each season, and these birds with bright orange plumage and a highly musical song were present, including individuals dining on the suet feeders. Also at the feeders was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, which passed through on its annual brief visit.

baltimore oriole; click to enlarge

Other less visible species that were seen included the Great Crested Flycatcher, the Carolina Wren, and the White-eyed Vireo, which offered stunning close-up looks in the Lloyd Woods. A special treat also seen in the Lloyd Woods was a fledgling Great Horned Owl (pictured) which stood cooperatively on a perch close to the nest for a number of days. On the final walk, a Black-Throated Blue Warbler was also observed in the Lloyd Woods.

On the first walk when the forest was quieter, participants observed activity along the Little River estuary, including a Greater Yellowlegs in the salt marsh foraging, and a Willet calling from further off. The osprey pair was also seen looking after its platform nest.

Back at the Lloyd Center causeway, Bufflehead and Red-breasted Merganser, two winter waterfowl species that remain in small numbers well into spring, were seen up close, and impressive views of a Common Loon in breeding plumage was also offered. Participants received amazing looks at the osprey incubating their nest along the Lloyd Center shoreline near the dock, at a relatively new platform occupied for only the second year. As of May 9, four eggs were present! Across the Slocum River estuary near Demarest Lloyd, pairs occupied two platforms which were repaired or replaced, and contained at least three eggs each.

bufflehead; click to enlarge

On a special excursion, a small crew ventured out to the Cape for a glimpse at migrant birds and whales. At Pilgrim Heights, where we stopped for warblers, the birds were quiet, but to our surprise multiple whales were seen in the distance over the massive, pristine dune system from the lookout.

Then at Beech Forest, the only remnant mature hardwood forest on the Cape, and a known stopover for migrant songbirds, the forest was bustling with avian activity. Black Throated Green Warbler, Northern Parula, and the exquisite Blackburnian Warbler were seen. Other birds included a Kingbird out over the Kettle Pond, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher flitting through the trees, and stellar views of a Baltimore Oriole feeding on blueberry. On the boardwalk before leaving the site, in addition to the obligatory hand feeding of the Black capped Chickadees that wait for a handout, great looks at a White-Crowned Sparrow, an uncommon species, were offered.

On the whale watch vessel the Dolphin Fleet, while getting drenched by the only rainfall of the day while waiting for the boat, nice views of White winged Scoter and Common Eider were offered in the Provincetown Harbor.

Out at Stellwagon, numerous active Humpback Whales were viewed up close, along with a Finback and large numbers of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. In addition to learning about and seeing up close views of whales feeding, breaching, and diving, nice looks at seabirds, including Northern Gannets and Shearwaters were offered. See you on the next Lloyd Center walk or trip!

by Jamie Bogart, Research Associate