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Mark Faherty

Mark Faherty writes the Weekly Bird Report.

Mark has been the Science Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary since August 2007 and has led birding trips for Mass Audubon since 2002. While his current projects involve everything from oysters and horseshoe crabs to bats and butterflies, he has studied primarily bird ecology for the last 20 years, working on research projects in Kenya, Florida, Texas, California, Arizona, Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest. He was a counter for the famous River of Raptors hawk watch in Veracruz, Mexico, and has birded Africa, Panama, Belize, and both Eastern and Western Europe. Mark is an emcee and trip leader for multiple birding festivals and leads workshops on birding by ear, eBird, birding apps, and general bird identification. He is past president of the Cape Cod Bird Club and current member of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee.

  • I’ve been getting a lot of mixed signals from Mother Earth lately. On my early morning walk yesterday I saw an optimistic chipmunk, then a freshly dead garter snake that probably should have stayed in bed another two months.
  • As I write this, Red Knots feel very far away. To be more precise, 7000 miles and three months away. These Arctic nesting shorebirds are marathon migrators, traveling from well above the Arctic circle to wintering areas at the other end of the planet each year.
  • It’s Valentine's Day, which means it’s time to sort through the picked over remains of the greeting cards to find the least groanworthy one. But us people aren’t the only ones suffering though – I mean reveling in love this time of year – it’s also courtin’ season for many species of birds.
  • This past weekend I was tasked with leading a duck and eagle safari on behalf of the remarkable Harwich Conservation Trust. With a full roster of 15 hopeful birdwatchers, my plan was to check various spots around the big pond complex in Harwich and Brewster, a great area to see winter ducks and the eagles that eat them.
  • Yesterday was a typical Tuesday. I was working at my desk at Wellfleet Bay sanctuary, while trickling through the back of my mind was that little stream of anxiety about what this week’s bird report should be about.
  • This time the snow stuck. It was the perfect snow – not enough to shovel but enough to fuel a weekend of sledding and several days of successful wildlife tracking.
  • Yesterday morning I thought I might make this week’s piece about birding in snow, then, in true Cape Cod fashion, that lovely snow was gone within a few hours.
  • On a frozen morning last week I stopped to sort through ducks at Town Cove in Orleans, a place that accumulates all sorts of waterfowl when other spots start to freeze.
  • Every year around this time I can be heard carrying on about the Christmas Bird Counts – which rare birds were seen where, what count had the most species, and so on. This “sports page” account of the counts is fun way to look at it, but it doesn’t mean much in the big picture.
  • While this is the season of Christmas Bird Counts, wherein highly trained hit squads of birders comb all the birdy hotspots and seldom visited back roads of the Cape and beyond, it is not correct to think of one of these counts as a complete census.