Thar Be Whales Out thar!

Wednesday 3/30/11

I am still on my quest for National Parks Stamps and stickers. It’s a bit early in the year for me to be running down to the Cape but it’s such a pretty day and the weather is supposed to go back to winter for the end of the week. In fact they are saying we’re going to get an April Fool’s Day Nor’easter. With that in my future I couldn’t pass up a sunny, spring day like today.

I got a late start for a number of reasons and almost changed my mind about taking a drive like that (about 1 1/2 hours) just to turn around and come back but I justified it by promising myself I would stop in Bourne to take some pictures on my way back. As so often happens with my “seat of the pants” plans, that was not to be. But I would not be disappointed either.

The drive down was uneventful, the traffic this time of year isn’t bad and I reached the Salt Pond Visitor Center around 2pm. I was getting my Passport stamped and chatting with the clerk in the gift shop when one of the rangers rushed in with a pair of binoculars in his hand.

He said they were seeing the whales off the coast with the bird spotting scope. He was heading out to the deck to see if he could see them with the binoculars. He said the Right  Whales were in the area and the Humpbacks were just returning. He hadn’t seen them himself yet but one of the other employees had said she was seeing breaching behavior which is typical of Humpbacks.

He suggested I go down to Nauset Light or Coast Guard Beach to see if I could spot them from the shore. He told me Nauset Light was a little higher ground so that was where I headed.

In spite of the sun, it was  pretty brisk with the breeze off the ocean. I layered on a hoodie and winter jacket, grabbed my binoculars and camera and headed to the stairs down to the beach. At the head of the stairs is a landing with a bench so I made myself at home there. I no sooner set my things down and turned to look out to sea when I saw my first “blow”. Another followed and then another! I grabbed the binoculars first as they have more range than the camera. Through those I could see a whale flipper slapping and rolling on the surface. The only whales that I know for sure do that behavior are humpbacks. A few minutes later there was another spout but this one was a definite “V” shape, a trademark of a Right Whale.

A mother and her son came down to join me so I pointed out where I had been watching. The mother was skeptical but it wasn’t too many minutes before the little boy yelled that he could see it, pointing excitedly in the same direction I had been looking. More people joined us adding their opinions as to what kind of whales we were most likely watching. The show went on for probably 1/2 hour, maybe 45 minutes. My co watchers slowly drifted away, I think because of the cold. I tried to get a couple of pictures just to confirm the sightings but I knew it was a long-shot.

I watched as the various spouts worked their way up the coastline eventually disappearing altogether. I packed up my gear, snapped  a picture of Nauset Light and headed home. I made 1 stop at the Christmas Tree Shop in Sandwich where I was finally able to see where the trail goes up over the Sagamore Bridge. I have been saying for ages that I wanted to climb that bridge and get pictures from there. Now I know where to get access.

From there I headed home. I was tempted to make that stop in Bourne but it was too early for sunset shots and I didn’t feel like “hanging around”. I was more than satisfied with my day after seeing the whales.

As a surprise ending I saw a rainbow trying to form as I pulled around the rotary in Taunton. It was very faint but I tried to capture it. It was a great ending to the day.

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