Here are a few highlights from our September 2820 trip to Brewster on Cape Cod.
Salt-water marshes and boardwalks were the main attractions. Here are a few samples.
Sometimes the boardwalk turned into a real bridge across a creek, and sometimes the trails led out to islands in the marsh.
There were also cases where the marshes were only visible through the trees.
The landscape is always changing. The lighthouse that is visible here across the bay a bit to the left of the center of the picture was at the tip of that point when it was built 150 years ago. All that extra sandbar to the right has accumulated since then.
We learned a lot about the pitch pines that, along with oaks, make up most of the forests. Their bark is quite recognizable, made of thick plates, the needles come in bundles of three (think "pitch"), and the cones are shorter than the white pine cones that we're used to in our yard.
Pitch pines are adapted in various ways to their sandy and fire-prone environments. Unlike white pines, pitch pines have tap roots that help them stand up in the sand, as you can see from this picture where severe erosion has exposed the tap root. They also have bud cells under their bark that the tree can call on in bad times as you can see on the trunk in the second picture.
Sometimes their trunks were strangely bent in ways that left us wondering just what they were twisting around as they grew.
White cedars, on the other hand, like damper areas, and the white cedar marsh boardwalk in the national seashore is one of our favorite places on the cape.
There's a museum/aquarium in Brewster, where we saw this diamond-backed terrapin. In addition to the diamond pattern on their shells, their skin has interesting markings the details of which are different for each turtle. These terrapins are mostly freshwater turtles but adapted in various ways to brackish water, so they make out fine in these marshes. One of the local Audubon sanctuaries identifies terrapin nests and fences them to protect the eggs from predators, raises the young turtles and releases them later when they have a better chance of surviving.
At the sanctuary, we saw a number of other birds, including this great white egret in the marsh. Then when we took advantage of the low tide and walked out to the shore end of the sand dunes, we saw a flock of laughing gulls that would be quiet in the water for a while, then they'd get excited and all fly around, calling wildly for a while, until they settled again in a different place.
There were also trails by charming inland ponds.
All in all, a very pleasant pandemic-time long weekend getaway.
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