Yesterday Stefano and I finally returned to Florence. His family had planned a small gathering at his parents’ house in the Apennines (near Porretta Terme, for those who know the area) the last week in August. We had a very relaxing week—playing cards, eating wonderful food, sharing many good laughs, visiting the area (e.g., the town of Sestola where we bought delicious blueberries from Mt. Cimone and the Parco Regionale dei Sassi di Roccamalatina: http://tinyurl.com/kufy9w), enjoying the cool mountain air…in the evenings, at least (during the day, it was surprisingly hot…)…and sleeping a lot. No computer access, no blog, no e-mail. Total relaxation. Last night, when we got back to Florence, I downloaded more than one hundred messages…eeeek! Well, it will take a while to sort through the mail jumble, but I have plenty of time, as we are staying put in Florence for the foreseeable future…
Speaking of messages, Julie left a very nice comment on my August 23rd post. She forwarded bits of my summer holiday posts to a friend of hers who is planning a visit to Cape Cod. And that is the reason why I thought that I would add a post about our cruise around Nauset marsh…all the way up to the ocean. Julie, if your friend likes stunning views of the ocean/marsh and of shorebirds, ospreys, seals and other creatures…tell her to go on the two-hour Nauset Marsh Cruise.
You have to call the Wellfleet Bay Audubon Society (more info can be had here, see page 10 in particular: http://tinyurl.com/ljpyzn; Stefano and I went on the August 19 10 am-12 pm cruise) to find out when these marsh trips are available and make a reservation. Have a credit card handy. The Audubon Society will give you all the necessary instructions…but, in case you are not familiar with the town of Orleans, just ask for the “Goose Hummock,” which is a well-known fishing (etc.) supply store. You have to park your car in a small public parking lot behind the Goose Hummock, you see. My advice: get there early…we arrived about a half hour early and almost didn’t find a parking spot.
You will cruise around the marsh and all the way out to the ocean (spectacular!) aboard a pontoon boat, which is a fun, flat-bottomed boat…perfect for walking around and observing or photographing birds, scenery and houses (ah, that is the other attraction of this boat trip: you will be able to admire fabulous waterfront houses…and envy their owners!).
We saw and photographed hundreds of birds, including egrets, at least two different types of herons and plovers, sandpipers, kingfishers, cormorants, ospreys, terns (see photo 1) and a couple of Canadian geese. And other birds…I don’t remember their names, sorry (see photo 2). We also came upon a group of seals lazily swimming between the marsh and the ocean.
One of the main attractions of this trip, as far as I was concerned, were the ospreys. We saw three different osprey nests (three different locations). The knowledgeable Audubon Society naturalist told us a few osprey stories. Here are a couple:
- An osprey couple had built their nest on top of a telephone pole. As the years went by, the nest got higher and higher, until one day…several distraught area residents, very protective of their osprey couple, called the Audubon Society, reporting that the enormous nest had fallen off the pole. The problem was soon solved: a nesting platform was built right next to the telephone pole. In my photo, you can see a young osprey perched on a pole close to this particular nest, crying for its mother to come and feed it. Whoah, check out those claws!
- I was astonished to see some sparrows sitting on and flying around the empty-at-the-time ospreys’ home (if you look closely at the nest, you can make out the profile of a tiny sparrow on the top left-hand side). The naturalist explained that ospreys won’t bother the sparrows since they are exclusively fish-eaters. This happens to be THE perfect arrangement for the sparrows, whose nests, under the protection of such a large and powerful raptor, are less likely to be destroyed by egg-eating birds. Now, who says birds aren’t smart???
This will be my final post on our U.S.A. summer 2009 trip. It was a fabulous trip, but I have to say that I am glad to be home again with my parents and cats. Stefano begins work again tomorrow, and I start working next week. Fall is just around the corner, and so are my experiments…my biggest problem now is: which supplement do I try first?