Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

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In our never-ending quest to find new places for our guests to explore, we meandered down to Wellfleet a couple of weeks ago. We wanted to scope out the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Having recently joined Mass Audubon, we are on a mission to visit as many of their properties as is humanly possible for during the spring, summer, and fall.

What we found at Wellfleet Bay is 1,100 acres of conservation land consisting of salt marsh, a sandy beach, pine woods, freshwater pond, and a wide array of wildlife, including song and shorebirds. The Nature Center is a tribute to green technology, featuring passive solar heating, composting toilets, and graywater planter beds. The building hosts a variety of local plant and animal displays, plus two 700-gallon aquariums that captured Rich’s attention. I, of course, was drawn to the gift shop and was pleasantly surprised to see a healthy collection of natural history books for both adults and children, plus the usual selection of note cards, posters, jewelry, toys, and tools for exploring nature.

We chose the Goose Pond Trail for our first expedition of the sanctuary. We were told that it is the most popular trail and the best introduction to what lies within. The trail took us through pine and oak woods, along Goose Pond, and out to the edge of a salt marsh. It was quiet and peaceful, and easy to navigate…a gentle walk for a summer day. Along the way we spied an unusual bird wading in the pond. It is not something we have seen before, and we are hoping to have one of our birdwatcher friends identify it for us.

At the end of that trail we followed the Boardwalk Trail across the salt marsh to a sandy beach and the tidal flats of Cape Cod Bay. Everywhere we looked we saw fiddler crabs and periwinkles scavenging among the mud flats. The tide was incoming, so getting out to the beach itself was not possible due to the large channels that cut through the marsh and the swiftly running current. It was nearly deserted, though and I could envision a wonderfully private picnic someday when we were more prepared.

All-in-all our afternoon at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary was well-spent. We ended the day at Wellfleet Harbor, watching the pleasure boats returning from an afternoon at sea, and enjoying a soft-serve ice cream from Mac’s on the waterfront.