Bay View Trail
The Bay View Trail is the longest trail on the Sanctuary. It is a great trail for experiencing pine/oak woodlands. It also winds along the edge of a salt marsh, leads you to Fresh Brook in the northeast corner of the Sanctuary, and takes you by a sandplain grassland.
Highlights of the Bay View Trail
Birds through the Seasons
At dusk during the spring, American woodcocks might be seen and heard performing their courtship flights here. As the weather warms, the woodcocks become silent and ospreys begin to spend time on the pole at the top of the hill. After the ospreys head south, great horned owls may perch on the pole. The deep hooting echoes throughout the woodlands on calm, clear nights during the winter. Great horned owls nest regularly and, if you are here at sunset during the spring and early summer, you have a good chance of hearing the loud shrieking of the owlets.
The pines, which you see almost everywhere on Cape Cod, are called Pitch Pines because of the pitch, or resin, that used to be obtained from their trunks for the production of turpentine. Pitch Pines are well adapted to the dry, sandy soils of Cape Cod's outwash plains.
Tides and Terrapins
Twice a day the waters of Cape Cod Bay, which you can see on the horizon, surge forward, inundating the marshes. These surges are created by interactions between the sun, moon, and earth. The highest tides occur during new and full moons. In early summer diamondback terrapins take advantage of "moon tides," swimming up tidal creeks to reach upland areas where they search for places to nest.
Fresh Brook Village
The creek meandering through the marsh is called Fresh Brook. It winds its way out of view, crosses under Route 6, and enters the Cape Cod National Seashore. In the 1700s there was a small village (approximately 50 people) located at the eastern end of the brook. The villagers were mackerel fishermen and traveled in small boats to fishing grounds in Cape Cod Bay.
Sandplain grassland is a very uncommon habitat both locally and globally. This grassland supports several rare plants and animals including Bushy Rockrose, Gerhard's Underwing Moth, and the Northern Brocade Moth. This habitat is dependent upon disturbances such as fire. Without fire it would become overgrown with shrubs and then eventually with trees. Prescribed burns are used on the sanctuary to maintain this open space, which is also favored by many birds including eastern bluebirds and American kestrels. The boxes in the field are put up in hopes of encouraging the nesting of these two species.