NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

January 31, 2014

A weekend for the birds

Sketch classes, art show, live owls and tours on tap on Cape Ann

The fifth annual Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend promises to provide bird enthusiasts of all kinds with tours of local hot spots with expert guides, a boat cruise, talks, a live owl demonstration and other programs — even an art exhibition.

Bird-watchers from New England and beyond flock to Cape Ann, known for its concentrations of winter seabirds, to take part in the event, which runs today through Sunday. This is an opportunity to view certain Arctic species that may not be encountered farther south.

“The guides who are leading the tours know the most likely place to find rare and interesting birds that winter here on Cape Ann,” said Peter Webber of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber, working with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, has organized the event, which continues to grow each year. The event headquarters is at The Elks at Bass Rocks on Gloucester’s scenic Back Shore, with events at other venues, including the Trident Gallery in Gloucester, which is mounting a special exhibition with works on loan from the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon.

This year’s program includes bus tours of Cape Ann’s birding hot spots led by some bird experts from the Brookline Bird Club, founded in 1913, which is the largest and one of the oldest bird clubs in Massachusetts. The club’s website notes that Harlequin ducks have returned to Halibut Point in Rockport.

Some of the club’s best birders will take part, including Jim Berry, Susan Hedman, Jim McCoy, Sue McGrath and John Nelson. Berry will present a slideshow on Cape Ann’s winter birds today at the Elks. Tomorrow afternoon, Nelson, the director of the Brookline club, will give a lecture and slideshow on “Capt. John Smith’s Eagles: Birds and Cape Ann Cultural History.” Sunday, weather permitting, features the boat trip on the Privateer IV, skippered by Jay Frontierro.

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