Wildlife in Wellfleet

White fox, Truro, by Desmond  Tetrault

White fox, Truro, by Desmond Tetrault

We’re fortunate in Wellfleet to have frequent interactions with wildlife.

We’ve always had many birds around the house, but are now likely to have more since we just set up a bird feeder. Even though it’s late in the season, some chickadees and American goldfinches have been happy to discover that. The goldfinches seem like a different species from the bright yellow ones we saw in the spring mating season.

Birds that live near the water here, such as loons, mergansers, gulls, and gannets have also been feasting. Last week the water temperature dropped suddenly, resulting in the stunning of many small fish. The birds were happy to scoop up the unexpected bounty, so they’re very visible near shallow waters.

Blurry fox, Wellfleet marina

Blurry fox, Wellfleet marina

A more unusual visitor is the white fox. We know of two now, one residing in Wellfleet and one in Provincetown. We saw the Wellfleetian at the pier last night. It was as interested in us as we were in it. The quick smartphone photo doesn’t show much, but at least you can see that the eyes are not red as they would be for an albino fox. This condition is called leucistic. See also A fox of a different color in Provincetown – Gate House.

Turtle rescue at Mass Audubon

Turtle rescue at Mass Audubon

The same cold snap that stunned the fish and pleased the birds was a disaster for the sea turtles. Hundreds of turtles in Cape Cod Bay have been washed ashore. Most are endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles or leatherback turtles, and one is the largest loggerhead turtle ever to come ashore in Massachusetts (300 pounds, 3 feet long). About a thousand have been rescued and taken to the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, and later to the Animal Care Center in Quincy.

4 thoughts on “Wildlife in Wellfleet

  1. Hey there! I found your blog by searching for more information about white foxes in the Cape. I snapped a couple of clear images in Truro this evening, if you’d like to give me your email I’d be happy to forward them along to you. Cheers, Des


  2. I think you’re right about the reflections being different. Despite the blurry photo, we had many good views of the white fox and never saw the red eye characteristic of albinos. Others have reported the same about the Cape white foxes, all consitent with leucism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leucism. They seem curiously unafraid of people. What are your fox’s eyes like?

    There are also just more foxes in general on the Cape and apparently fewer coyotes and coywolves.


  3. Nice to see some (albeit blurry) pics of your non-human animal neighbours. Coincidentally, we also recently discovered a white fox hanging around the property. We think it may be an escaped wildlife refugee. I have a question regarding your fox photo. Is it possible to tell the colour of the fox’s eyes in this kind of night shot? My understanding was that the eyes of all of these night-vision-enhanced creatures — who have a tapetum lucidum tissue layer behind their eyes (as our dog also has) — tend to reflect light rather differently than our own eyes do. The colour of the reflected light may change just based on the angle of the beam of light hitting the eyes.


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