Please consider the images to be copyrighted and ask permission to use or reproduce any of them. Thank you. David Clapp
As I have mentioned previously Cape Cod is a long sandy arm that sticks into the North Atlantic and then bends northward. The town at the elbow, the southeast corner that is, is called Chatham. Prior to the 1900s it was a hardscrabble fishing town populated by rugged individuals who had essentially no roads to Boston. The glacials left Chatham little but sand; there are sand dunes, sandy barrier beaches, sand cliffs, and sandy beaches. But there is also a great deal of moving water and exposure to those rather unfriendly North Atlantic storms. Sand is much like a liquid. It flows when the wind blows and it flows in the moving water around Chatham.
There have been long sandy extensions running like dreadlocks south from Chatham off and on for thousands of years. During those many years the sandy shoals have also disappeared at times. At the moment the lower corner of Chatham is wasting away very rapidly. I volunteer a bit for the US Fish & Wildlife at their refuge in Chatham called Monomoy. The office sits on a bluff that has lost about 40′ of frontage just this winter. Stairs to the beach go first, then the bluff-top paths and walkways, and the woodlands that (used to) carpet the sandy ground. It has been quite a winter.
Looking through the floating birds just offshore I saw many female eider, a couple Red-breasted Mergansers, and a single Surf and another single Black Scoter. Interesting but not earth-shaking (sorry New Zealand).
There were only a few hundred eider near shore today and I tried to stay in the car as I looked them over. That was soon impossible as I discovered a really cool duck in among the eider – it was a male Harlequin Duck. Soon after I found another, much less gaudy duck but still not an eider, it was a female Harlequin Duck. The three images below show them at rest. The harlequin comics (or jesters) of old Italian theatre were often depicted with masks and fancy headgear. The Harlequin Duck is named after those affectations.