Snappy, Houdini and Van Gogh @ Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Follow the “Yellow Leaf Road” to Wellfleet Bay

If you follow the Yellow Leaf Road off Route 6 in Wellfleet, you’ll discover more than a thousand acres of pristine beauty, preserving natural Cape Cod habitats and vistas, and saving the native wildlife of Massachusetts for generations unborn.  The entrance to this peaceful refuge, Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, lies just off the main highway.  While its rustic trails, many handicap accessible, offer peeks at unspoiled nature in the raw, don’t miss the magical world that resides inside the sanctuary’s new nature center with a cast of incredible creatures that mystify and delight.  We’ve never seen a kid whether three or one hundred three walk away from these exhibits without a broad smile and a look of wonder. 

Director Bob Prescott Examines Cold-Stunned Sea Turtle

There’s always something extraordinary happening around the corner.  First-ever restoration of an oyster reef ecosystem on Cape Cod, conservation of  a rapidly disappearing native heathland, research to save the ancient and noble horseshoe crab, satellite tracking of osprey journeys, study of sudden salt-marsh die-off on the Outer Cape, educating the next generation of young naturalists, and this month, rescuing the world’s most endangered sea turtles from certain hyptothermic death on Cape Cod beaches (see First Cold-Stunned Sea Turtle of 2008 Rescued). 

What’s next to discover?  Walk around the bend and see.

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“Snappy” Twice as Large and Four Times the Attitude

If you read Turtle Journal, then you’ve met Snappy already (see Meet “Snappy” at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary).  When the Turtle Journal team visited East Fairhaven Elementary School on Wednesday to “talk turtle” to fifth graders, a group of boys serenaded us with a rap song featuring … you guessed it … Snappy, whom they had met on the web site.

When we visited the Nature Center on Friday, we noticed that Snappy had doubled in size and quadrupled in personality since late September.  We also heard a rumor that Snappy has been “stepping out” on the Sanctuary staff.  The word is that the juvenile snapper disappeared sometime last weekend.  Staff assumed that someone had taken Snappy “for a walk” to a local school for an educational program and he’d soon return.  By Thursday, concern rose and flashlights came out to search for the AWOL snapping turtle.  He was found hiding in a corner of the wet lab, a bit dusty but no worse for wear. 

By the time we saw him on Friday, Snappy had resumed his King of the World attitude and was plotting his next escape.  So, boys and girls, look carefully in the corner of your rooms before bedtime.  That scratching sound may not be the wind blowing the drapes, but the Return of Snappy!

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“Houdini” and the Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

The Nature Center at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary offers exciting outdoor adventures without the nasty side effects of actually being outdoors.  No, we don’t mean that virtual magic that you get by reading Turtle Journal.  There’s a corner of the center dedicated to quiet observation and reflection … with large picture windows and open vistas of the gorgeous salt marsh beyond and protected bird feeders immediately outside.  We’ve watched visitors spend a hugely satisfying winter day, just sitting by those windows with a book in hand while gazing occasionally at the exquisite beauty within arm’s reach.  And no one has ever watched a winter sunset over Try Island from this vantage without being transformed by the experience.  We even enjoy watching snow showers blow in from the bay to blanket the surroundings in fluffy whiteness.

Friday, we dwelled a moment ourselves in quiet meditation until we burst into raucous laughter at the antics of Houdini.  Cape Codders pride themselves on creating perfect squirrel proof bird feeders … that are never squirrel proof.  Yet, the quest continues.  Houdini, for sure that must be his name; Houdini climbed the center pole and pondered, much like humans on the other side of the glass, which of the three squirrel proof feeders offered the best chance of a good meal.  He decided and sprung into action.

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“Van Gogh” Paints the Tank Red … and Yellow, Too

Finally, on the way out we stopped by the fresh water tank again for a last glimpse of Snappy before he disappeared once more for a weekend adventure.  Instead, we caught sight of Vincent Van Gogh, a juvenile painted turtle, who transformed the tank into museum art with his deep reds and bright yellows.

The Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary has much to offer any time of the year.  A rainy day?  What could be more satisfying than spending time with nature inside a wonderfully designed platinum green building and entertained by the coolest personalities that nature has designed.

One Response to “Snappy, Houdini and Van Gogh @ Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary”

  1. […] For earlier reports on snappy, see Meet “Snappy” at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and […]