Boston’s Harbor Islands Day 1

One of the things I wanted to do while I was in Boston was go to a Baseball game. But I didn’t just want to go to any old Red Sox game (Sorry, Boston!). I wanted to go to see Civil War Baseball. There is a vintage baseball league that plays on the east coast; a few teams visited Boston’s Harbor Islands to play some games in honor of the War of 1812 and the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Anyway, the teams were playing in an old fort in the Harbor Islands off the coast of Massachusetts; since I had no idea where everything was, I decided to go exploring the day before the game. Also, since I missed the ferry to the island where the games were going to be, I hopped on one to another island, planning to return from my intended island.

The island I wound up going to is called Spectacle Island because it looks like a pair of glasses from the air: two round hills surrounded by a narrow strip of lower land.

I personally think it looks like a demented hadrosaur (the head is at the top facing left), but what do I know? Maybe the islands’ namers needed glasses. Ha!

It wasn’t until I landed on the island that I figured out that it was known for it’s sea glass beaches.

Every time the waves go in and out, it sounds like wind chimes tinkling.

Trails spiral up the island’s two hills, giving you some great views of the other islands. Also, around this corner was a sandpiper. I was so excited because I’d seen it land and knew I needed a picture of it; it had moved right next to the path when I got over there. We were both so surprised at seeing each other that we watched each other for a few minutes before simultaneously moving, him for the brush and me for the camera.

Obviously, since I have no bird picture to show you, he was quicker on the draw. I did, however, get to see myriad common yellowthroats, mourning doves, catbirds, song sparrows, and goldfinches. I was holding out for some other life, but the only other thing I stumbled on were these basking around the island:

Yep, that’s right, más cormoranes. There are so many cormorants in the waters around Boston that it’s hard to see the seagulls sometimes. What isn’t hard to see, though, is a good view of the Boston skyline from almost anywhere in the Harbor.

After I went to Spectacle, I knew I wanted to go to Peddocks Island. It’s one of the more diverse islands, and not many tourists explore it (though it was one of the islands Shutter Island was filmed on). Unfortunately, the last boat to Peddocks leaves just in time for you to spend a galling 40 minutes on the island. I got off the boat, looked around, and set off on the trail that looked most appealing:

I walked for 20 minutes that direction and then turned around; surprisingly, there’s quite a bit to see in such a limited amount of time. The island has an old, decaying fort called Fort Andrews set on beautiful bluffs as well as some nice smaller beaches and several cottages.

The beaches here are actually purple (though you might not be able to tell from the picture), because of the shells on shore mixing with some soft green rock that reminds me of slate.

This was also one of the nicer beaches I saw on the islands; it was clean, there weren’t any people, and you could see all the way to the other side of the island through the scrub brush that covers the center part.

I hitched the ferry back to Georges Island to fulfill my actual mission for the day; since the ferry here ran 2 hours later than the ferries, I wasn’t too worried about getting it done, though.

Georges Island is pretty much taken up by a large lawn and an even larger fort called Fort Warren that was used in the Civil War as a Union prison and was eventually named a National Historic Landmark several years after WWII.

The fort is inhabited by several birds, most of them swallows. Evil, evil nesting swallows. I was exploring part of the fort when I saw a bird nest across the room. My camera has a pretty good zoom, so I used it to figure out what type of birds they were; unfortunately, before I could look through it, something whacked me in the side of the head. I immediately ran for cover through the nearest doorway, which was a room in a corner of the fort that had only one entrance.

Looking out, I saw that my attacker was a mother barn swallow. She perched on a wire just outside my hidey hole, and every time I got within three feet of the doorway, she’d dive-bomb me. After about 10 minutes of this game, I got tired of it and finally ran out flailing my arms above my head, and even then she still got me a good one on the way out.

Fort Warren’s parade grounds is much less covered in nesting swallows than the inside, though you have to keep an eye out for them when going up to the ramparts.

The building in the picture is actually the armory. They kept gunpowder there so it was away from all the other areas of the fort. Just in case.

On the way out, I noticed these gulls lined up and watching everyone head to the ferry.

While not as violent as the swallows, it was still odd to look up and see them all watching us.

During sunset hours, there aren’t that many people on the island; including me, only about 6 people rode the last ferry to Boston. There would have been two less, but some fishermen luckily found brought a couple in. They had missed the last ferry from one of the islands (the ferry will leave people if they’re not on time) and flagged down some nice fishermen who dropped them off on Georges to get back home.

I’m not sure why there aren’t that many people that stay late, because the ride back is like getting a free sunset cruise with spectacular views.

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