Sunrise Birding, LLC - Birding & Wildlife Tours
Home | Tours | News | Calendar | Links | Sightings | Contact | Store | Mailing List

Red-necked Stint.  Photo by Gina Nichol.CAPE COD

August 28 - 30, 2009

Cape Cod and specifically South Beach in Chatham is synonymous in the birding world with the best of shorebird migration. At high tide in July and August thousands of southbound migrants roost on the isolated barrier beaches at South Beach and Monomoy Island as they wing their way south for the year. The numbers (sometimes up to 20,000 individuals) and variety of birds (up to 25 shorebird species) make this a wonderland for those that love shorebirds and the perfect open air classroom for these miraculous birds. Shorebirds are one of those groups of birds that offer a real challenge to birders of all calibers but they need not be feared and their amazing migrations, incredible adaptations and ability to provide impressive spectacle are a great reason to delve deeper into their world.

This ‘workshopping’ opportunity is aimed at all levels of birders in order to help you approach shorebird identification with less trepidation. Whether you just want to know whether you are looking at a Least or a Semipalmated Sandpiper, what makes a particular individual a Western Willet, or why a Dowitcher is a Long or a Short-billed then this trip is for you. Similarly if you are one of those people who just enjoys a few days wandering some of the east coasts most beautiful beaches, taking in the wonder of migration, then there is plenty to enjoy here as well.

Can you identify the peeps in this photo by Julian Hough?  (Scroll down for the answers!)

Can you identify the peeps in this photo?

Tour leader for this trip will be Frank Mantlik, ably assisted by Sunrise Birding staffer Luke Tiller. Frank is one of Connecticut’s foremost birders and has an infectious passion for shorebirds. Amongst his many claims to fame, was the discovery of one of the East Coasts first records of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, a mainly Asian species, in a small puddle on a community park in Norwalk. Frank is celebrated in Connecticut birding circles for his great leadership and teaching skills as well as good humor and kind, patient demeanor.

Trip Cost and Travel Planning  |   Registration Form

Day 1
Marbled Godwit.  Photo by Gina Nichol.Today we will depart from Connecticut early in the morning heading north toward our destination for the day, South Beach in Chatham. After arriving in town we will hot foot it by private skiff to the isolated tip of South Beach. Here we will find a wealth of migrant shorebirds including many that are uncommon on the East Coast generally but that can be somewhat expected on South Beach including such specialties as Hudsonian and Marbled Godwits. The mix of different species and different ages will make for a fine classroom (we targeted this trip slightly later in the season to allow us to see a mix of adult and immature birds as plumages of both can often be quite markedly different). As well as studying the birds on the island we will marvel at their sheer numbers and delight in the fact that they can be approached often down to just a few feet, atypical to ones experience in Connecticut where one is generally forced to study these birds on distant, heat-haze filtered sandbars.

We will also keep our eyes peeled for interesting rarities including shorebirds from Eurasian climes as well as terns (which may include Arctic, Sandwich or Black). Pelagic species sometimes course over or around the islands, - including jaegers (mainly Parasitic) and shearwaters. There is also the possibility of a few stray landbirds that sometimes drop onto the beaches on their way south.

This evening we will retire for an early dinner and participants will have the evening to themselves or to spend with the group perhaps for a walk on the beach or a refreshing beverage watching the sunset.

Day 2
Is this Willet a western?  Find out how to identify shorebird forms as well as species!This day we will start with an early morning explore of a few of Cape Cods excellent mainland beaches. This will give us the opportunity to view some of the Capes many fine beaches before they are overtaken by hordes of tourists. Sites will include a pick of the best sites and here we will encounter more great shorebirds, some interesting land birds as well as the opportunity to look out for pelagic bird species and perhaps a Humpback or two frolicking off of the coast. After breakfast we will once again return to South Beach to see what the night and tide has brought us in terms of new migrants. Leaders will be using their years of experience to help you become more confident identifying these birds with the help of aspects of plumage, shape, bare part coloration and behavior, all of which can help a birder when identifying one of these birds. We will enjoy another exciting and informative day on the island before settling in for a relaxing evening.

Day 3
Day three will see us up and out early to enjoy another morning of Cape Cod birding. This morning we will have the optional activity of joining one of the Capes many seasoned Whale Watch boats (price $40 additional, not included in tour). Depending on the year's show, we may be afforded great looks at Humpback, Minke and Fin Whales among others. While out looking at whales, dolphins and seals, it is often a great opportunity to look for pelagic bird species, as they pass close to the tip of Cape Cod. Here birds that usually range way out to sea can often be found close to shore including four different species of shearwater, a jaeger or two as well as the diminutive and appealing Wilson’s Storm Petrel.

If you would prefer to stay on dry land, many of these same birds and animals can be scoped for from shore at the tip of the Cape. We will want to be on our way fairly early in the day to avoid the worst of the traffic (although some will be almost certainly be inevitable) but we will spend some time exploring some of the Cape's other fine birding sites such as Fort Hill and Wellfleet where a mixture of shorebirds and passerines can be seen. If we haven’t already, we will almost certainly stop in at the Bird Watchers General Store for a chance to pick up gift or two or to just hanker after a new piece of birding equipment before we wing our way back to Connecticut.

Yellowlegs, but which one?  CAPE COD
Shorebird Workshop

August 28 - 30, 2009

TOUR PRICE:  $750.00 per person from New Haven, Connecticut based on double occupancy

Full payment of $750.00 due at time of booking.    
Single Supplement: 
$175.00 per person
(subject to availability)
Maximum Group Size:  14 plus leaders

Included in cost:  Pickup in New Haven or enroute to Chatham; guided ground transportation; accommodations; meals beginning with the first night of the tour through lunch on Sunday, August 30, and services of expert birding guides. Tour price is based on double occupancy. Cost of the tour is based on a minimum of 6 people, with fewer a small group surcharge may apply.

Not included:  Transportation from your home to the pick-up and return drop-off location. Whale Watch Boat Fees, personal items such as laundry, telephone calls, bottled water, alcoholic beverages, other drinks, individual transfers, trip insurance.  

RESERVATIONS: To reserve your place on this tour, complete the Registration/Release Form and mail it with full payment to Sunrise Birding, LLC.   >Download and print the Weekend Tour Registration Form.  Reservations are held with full payment on a first-come, first-served basis.

Full payment is required to secure your registration. You may phone or email Sunrise Birding to hold a place on this tour.  This must be followed up within two weeks with the completed registration form and full payment. If a minimum enrollment is not met, Sunrise Birding, LLC reserves the right to levy a small group surcharge for this trip. 

Cancellations and Refunds:  Refunds, less a cancellation fee of $200 per person will be made only if Sunrise Birding, LLC is notified in writing of intent to cancel on or before June 30, 2009.  All cancellations must be made in writing.  No refunds will be made after June 30, 2009.  There are no refunds for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. 

Insurance:  The purchase of trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended.  Sunrise Birding, LLC can not accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour. 

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at  Phone: 203.453.6724

Shorebird photo by Julian Hough.

For photo information and credits, mouse over each photo.

Home  |  Tours  |  News  |  Calendar  |  Trip Reports  |  Team  |  Mailing List  |  Links  |   Sightings
© Sunrise Birding, LLC.  All rights reserved.
PO Box 274, Cos Cob, CT 06807 Phone 203.453.6724
Contact Gina Nichol at