A Cape Cod Notebook

A Cape Cod Notebook can be heard every Tuesday morning at 8:45am and afternoon at 5:45pm.

Robert Finch is taking a year off to work on a project as a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow. In his absence, we hear from guest commentators, with an occasional essay from Finch himself. 

A Cape Cod Notebook commentators include:

Mary Bergman, originally from Provincetown, now lives on Nantucket.  She is a writer and historian, working in historic preservation and writing a novel. 

Dennis Minsky's career as a field biologist began in 1974, at Cape Cod National Seashore, protecting nesting terns and plovers.  A Provincetown resident since 1968, he returned full time in 2005.  He is involved in many local conservation projects, works as a naturalist on the Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch, and tries to write.

Nelson Sigelman is an award winning former reporter, outdoor writer and author. He has been honored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America, the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the New England Press Association. His most recent book is Martha’s Vineyard Outdoors, Fishing, Hunting and Avoiding Divorce on a Small Island. He currently works part time for the Tisbury Shellfish Department and lives with his wife Norma in Vineyard Haven.


For archives of A Cape Cod Notebook, including programs dating from before November 2012, go to the Cape Cod Notebook Archives.

 A Cape Cod Notebook is made possible in part with support from Titcomb’s Bookshop on Route 6A in East Sandwich.

The Peregrine Falcon and the Snowy Owl

Oct 9, 2018
wikicommons / bit.ly/2CwJZ07

The Snowy Owl flew before me, out of the dunes and onto the outer beach, and landed in all its softness.  I had barely a minute to admire the wonder of its plumage, its squat white body, somewhat incongruous on a sandy beach, its large yellow blinking eyes, when out of nowhere a Peregrine Falcon appeared, and, screaming, plunged from the sky to surge and swipe at the owl, again and again and again.  

Golden Hour at Madaket

Oct 2, 2018
Mary Bergman


I was walking out in Madaket, the westernmost end of Nantucket, a few nights ago, when I noticed everything was golden. The sky, of course, with the sun’s last lingering rays. But the beach grass, too, is going to seed. I’m sure it was just yesterday that the grass was a bright, spring green. Now each strand is streaked with golden highlights. 

L. Lerner


It was only a matter of time. With critical masses of seals, sharks and people in the water, it couldn’t not happen. We knew this, yet somehow it was still a shock. People have a great capacity for denial, but there’s nothing like a violent death to make us sit up and take notice.

Our Role with the Swallows

Sep 18, 2018
Lance Asper / unsplash

About a month ago, on the little harbor-side beach we have frequented for over forty years, I noticed a couple of swallows.  Tree Swallows, I thought, or Barn Swallows – the two most commonly seen. But, no, their dingy brown plumage and squared-off tails identified them as Northern Rough-wing Swallows, a species I had never noticed in this particular spot before.

All That Washes Ashore

Sep 11, 2018
Mary Bergman

I spent most of my summers learning to sail at the West End Racing Club in Provincetown. The other kids were all natives of this sandy spit, and they all took to sailing like they had salt water in their veins. Most were the children of fishermen or  the great-granddaughters of whalers who overwintered in the Arctic.

Shellfish Memories

Sep 4, 2018
Matthew Essman / unsplash

Robert Finch was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is taking some time off.  We've gone into the archives, and today we're re-airing one of our favorite A Cape Cod Notebook essays. It's called "Shellfish Memories."

Naming Our Local Humpback Whales

Aug 28, 2018
D. Gordon E. Robertson / Wiki Commons / bit.ly/1kvyKWi



It was coming on evening out on Stellwagen Bank, the red ball of the sun descending through the clouds. It had done its job, though- burning off the lingering fog banks out over the water.  We were surrounded by whales- Humpback Whales- spouting and diving all around our boat.  

Slowing Down for Blackberries

Aug 21, 2018
Mary Bergman

I’m lucky enough to live just over a mile from the beach, a straight shot along the Surfside bike path. If I’m running, which I have been doing to varying degrees of success over the last three years, I can make it to the end of the road and to the mouth of the sand trail that leads to Surfside in 10 minutes. Walking takes closer to 15 minutes. 

What You Discover on the Backshore Beach

Aug 14, 2018
L. Lerner

The Backshore beach is a veritable graveyard.  Littered all about, from the tide line up into the dunes, are bodies and body parts.  Some are fresh, the tide’s latest delivery; others lie, bleached and scoured, as if they had been there for all time. 

A Rare Moment of Weightlessness

Aug 7, 2018
Mary Bergman

Lately I have taken to floating—lying on my back in the bay and letting the water cradle me. It can be hard to make it to the beach, even in the heat of summer, as so many other stressors pull on our time. There are a lot who live on Nantucket that hardly ever get to the beach. As one neighbor said to me: “I live on an island—--the beach will always be there.”

A Summer Beach Without a Plover?

Jul 31, 2018
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


For quite a few years I worked for Cape Cod National Seashore on its shorebird project, studying and protecting nesting terns and plovers.  It was always with trepidation that I stepped inside an “enclosed area”- delineated with “symbolic fencing”-posts and twine lines with surveyor’s tape-the domain of one of our subject birds, the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodius).  

A State of Deep Emotion While Saving a Life

Jul 24, 2018
Evan Kirby / unsplash


This week on A Cape Cod Notebook, we hear from Provincetown resident Dennis Minsky, who shares his experience saving a life.

When the Fish Aren't Biting

Jul 17, 2018


I cleaned the rain gutters on my house this weekend. Which is another way of saying the fishing is slow.

Grappling With Eating Clams and Being Vegetarian

Jul 10, 2018
L. Lerner

During this week's A Cape Cod Notebook, we hear from Provincetown resident Dennis Minsky, who talks about his struggle with being a vegetarian and eating clams.


The Fascinating Past of the Island Fisherman

Jul 3, 2018
Nelson Sigelman


A Cape Cod Notebook, WCAI's weekly essay series about life on the Cape and Islands, continues this week with a piece from contributor Nelson Sigelman. He writes about a friend who is an island fisherman with a mysterious past.