Sampson Cove is on the south side of Marshall Point and is surrounded by a narrow band of saltmarsh habitat with few pools and pannes. Upland areas include pockets of shrublands and pitch pine. Sampson Cove is a popular place for shorebirds at low tide and for Buffleheads in winter. The area off of Cape Porpoise is dotted with islands, many of which are under conservation ownership.

Ornithological Summary

Sampson Cove is a highlight of this IBA and hosts a great variety of bird life despite its small size. American Oystercatchers were spotted here for several weeks during the breeding season of 2004. Large flocks of peeps, mostly Semipalmated Plovers and Semipalmated Sandpipers, feed here at low tide. At higher tides, this site is visited by terns and is a traditional wintering area for large numbers of Buffleheads.

Conservation Issues

A little over half of the Sampson Cove area is under permanent conservation protection by Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. However, other areas remain vulnerable to additional development. Disturbance by human activities such as kayaking is a threat, but at current levels is not believed to be significant.


Ownership of the marsh and surrounding uplands is a mix of private, non-profit conservation and federal (Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge) holdings. Lands managed by Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge are generally closed to public entry to protect wildlife from undue disturbance. There are some public use trails and public uses that could be permitted. Please consult the Refuge Manager for current regulations (207) 646-9226 or stop by the refuge headquarters and visitor center at 321 Port Road in Wells.

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