Just north of downtown Boston and reachable by subway, this beach is one of the most reliable places we know of for Manx Shearwater. Also go for Piping Plover and other shorebirds, gulls, loons, Common Eider, and more.
By Soheil Zendeh | Published: 2/15/2011
Here’s a wilderness for you: Guys with bulging muscles driving bulging muscle cars, families picnicking on the beach, old folks sitting in the shade of the bandstand. And birds — lots of birds. I love being here on a hot August night with the tide falling and flocks of Bonaparte’s Gulls, Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, Short-billed Dowitchers, and Semipalmated Sandpipers milling about, roosting or feeding along the shore.
The best place to see all this shorebird activity is the north end of the beach at Point of Pines. But no matter where you stop at the beach, depending on the season, you can see waterbirds and shorebirds; the waterbirds often are close to shore. In summer, Manx Shearwater has become a regular along the shore, best seen from the “pink apartments” — you can’t miss them. Piping Plover began to nest along the northern stretch of the beach a few years ago. Begin looking for sea ducks in October. And check the breakwater at the southern end of the beach. Scanning with a scope turns up Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, and Sanderling at high tide. At low tide, look for hauled out harbor seals. — Soheil Zendeh
Soheil Zendeh began birding at Revere Beach in August 1975 and almost immediately found a pair of Marbled Godwits. He’s been hooked on the place ever since.
At a Glance
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Sandy beach, mudflat, open ocean, rocky outcrops, some beach grass.
Flat sandy beach. At low tide, be prepared for mucky walking if you venture out on the mudflat.
Spring: Manx Shearwater, Piping Plover. Summer: Double-crested Cormorant, Sanderling, Semipalmated and White-rumped Sandpipers, Bonaparte’s Gull, Common Tern, Horned Lark, Song and Savannah Sparrows. Fall and winter: Red-throated and Common Loons, Horned Grebe, American Black Duck, all three scoter species, Common Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Dunlin, and Laughing, Bonaparte’s, and Iceland Gulls. Rarities: American Avocet, Bar-tailed, Hudsonian, and Marbled Godwits, Mew, Little, and Black-headed Gulls, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, Ipswich Savannah Sparrow.
When to go
Spring and summer for Manx Shearwater and Piping Plover, fall for shorebirds and gulls, winter for sea ducks. Low tide best for shorebirds, high tide best for sea ducks.
Public restrooms accessible during summer months. Kelly’s Roast Beef sidewalk stand popular with locals. Other restaurants on strip.
State beach. No fees, parking free and usually plentiful. Some of the beach and the ocean can be scanned from a car or a van. North end of beach (Point of Pines) has “Private Beach—No Parking” signs, but you can walk there from the public beach easily.
Bring a spotting scope. The beach faces east, so afternoon and evening light is best. If you arrive at or close to low tide, plan on walking out to Point of Pines. Wellies are useful. No shade.