Recreation: Rarae Aves

Sand and a fine salt spray sliced into the open Jeep, and the driver and three passengers scrootched deeper into their parkas. A voice cried "Onward!" And the Jeep scuffed up Cape Cod's North Beach. The leader's black-gloved hand shot up, and the Jeep stopped. He aimed a long-lens camera out to sea as the eyes of his companions followed. One man fumbled with a fowling piece, then dropped it when the leader mumbled something. Another scribbled on a tiny note pad.

These people were birders—a flinty-eyed, cold-tailed breed whose normal habitat covers...

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