Into The Wild

From Cotchpinicut to Forest Beach, six remote places where one can see wildlife right here in Chatham

Text and Photography by Marcy Ford


Song Sparrow-MBFordForest_029Forest Beach
From the upper lookout you may catch site of a fox or coyote, but you are most likely to see song birds like the Yellow-rumped Warbler or the Tufted Titmouse. A Great Blue Heron or other wading birds stalk the marsh. The beach itself hosts shore birds such as nesting Piping Plovers, while the path beside the marsh is a great place to see butterflies or pairs of Osprey carrying fish back to their nests.


MBFordFPCowYr_009Aunt Lydia’s Cove
You are almost guaranteed to see Grey Seals when you visit the fish pier, but the fish pier is also a great spot for birding. From the upper deck you have a great vantage point to see many species of shore birds gathered or feeding on Tern Island or to watch other birds fishing in the waters around the harbor.


Horsehoe Crab-MBFordMonomoy_001Monomoy
The Morris Island portion of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge is easily accessible to the public and has a great walking trail that winds through coastal habitats. There is a visitor’s center with interpretive information and refuge staff that are very knowledgeable about the wildlife to be found on the main land and island portions of the refuge.


MBFordCockleRidge_008Cockle Cove
On the road to Cockle Cove Beach you can stop off to see herons perched on the dock in Taylor’s Pond or pause to see a Belted Kingfisher balanced on the wire across the marsh. Cockle Cove Beach itself and the marsh behind the dune are great birding spots year round, with the occasional visit from a fox.


Coyote-MBFordHardings_007Hardings Beach
Sunrise or sunset are always the best for wildlife viewing and at Hardings Beach you will be rewarded with a beautiful landscape complemented by a variety of wildlife.


Shore birds congregate in the marsh area behind the old boat house when the tide is low whether they prefer dining on crabs, insects or fish, all of which can be found in the shallows. This landing is also a great view point for seeing Strong Island and the boat and bird activity making their way in and out of Pleasant Bay on their way to the outer beach and fishing spots.