Monday, June 29, 2015

View from the coast #4: Triumph, tragedy, more travel, and even a drawing or two.

Unbelievable. Four weeks gone, just like that. We said goodbye to our fourth session of campers on Friday afternoon and have slowly been transitioning to two weeks without the flat-out pace we've been accustomed to.

I even took time to join the bees in admiration of the rose bush in the middle of camp.

Before our campers left we celebrated International Guillemot Appreciation Day. I bet you didn't even know that such a day existed. It does! And you should definitely celebrate it next year, because after all... it's not ALL about puffins. Mark your calendars now: June 27.

FOHI (Friends of Hog Island) volunteer Betsy adorns boots with red guillemot
feet for the IGAD celebration.
At breakfast our festively decorated (white, black, and red, of course) dining hall
was the site of a dramatic reading of "A Visit from the Guillemots."
That's me in recitation mode.
It's always hard to say goodbye at the end of a session, but our own Eastern Egg Rock-ettes help to ease the separation anxiety as campers get on the boat for departure.

All this silliness was unfortunately followed by solemnity and disappointment. Right in the middle of camp is an active osprey nest, the residents of which are internet superstars. (Hog Island osprey cam) Two osprey chicks hatched during the second camp session, but even here in paradise life can be dangerous. Last week a bald eagle started rushing the nest, but was driven off each time by the osprey parents. Unfortunately, on Friday afternoon the eagle succeeded in snatching both nestlings, to the shock and dismay of online nest-watchers worldwide. If you think you're up for watching the clip of the raid, you can find it here, with commentary by Dr. Steve Kress.

But now I turn my attention from seabirds and Maine, because tomorrow I'll be headed to the other side of the Atlantic. For the next two weeks I'll be visiting friends and colleagues in the Netherlands and France, returning to Maine midway through July. In preparation for that different mindset I took a little time to make a couple of sketchbook drawings of specimens in our camp bio lab. I felt a little rusty, but it was good to move pencil across paper for while.

Snowy owl skull.

Woody, twisted stick collected from the Bahamas.
Not sure if I'll be able to post anything from Europe while I'm away. Last time I was able to do a bit via my phone, but no promises! In the meantime... try to imagine either of these sketches as part of a future linocut and let me know what you come up with. ;-)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

View from the Coast #3: Birds and boats

Woohoo! Week three is almost over! Time is zooming, as I knew it would.

But I'm finally getting to the point of having a few hours here and there to do something other than wrangling campers and their paperwork. Last weekend I went to New Harbor with friend and colleague "Puffin Pete" who is, among other things, the narrator on Hardy boat Puffin Watch tours. I tagged along on a trip out to Eastern Egg Rock, where I took a bunch of rotten photos in the rain but still had a great time being out on the bay.

Rainy evening leaving New Harbor
The next day our new camp session started, so things went back to their "usual" busy pace. We've a full house this week: 44 adult and 16 teen participants, plus about two dozen instructional and island staff. The weather pattern keeps improving, but certain themes are repeating: rain Monday and Tuesday, sun Wednesday and Thursday.

Today was a sparkling Wednesday and lo and behold there was space on the Snow Goose, headed out for another tour to Eastern Egg Rock. I got everyone situated here, got campers headed where they needed to be for the morning, and then hopped aboard for the trip.

Harbor seals loafing in the bay.
It turned out to be a great decision. The weather was perfect, the birds cooperative, and the company entertaining. I even scored at least one, but possibly three life birds! The definite lifer was parasitic jaeger, but I couldn't remember if I'd seen great cormorant or white-winged scoter before. I definitely saw them today!

Of course I took a bunch more bad bird photos. These were bad with a blue background, as opposed to the weekend birds, which were bad with a gray background. I suppose we could call that an improvement.

Linocuts come to the camp store.
There IS a little bit of lino-related news from camp. Long-time readers may recall that last summer my work was featured at the Project Puffin Visitor Center in Rockland last summer. A few framed pieces remained there in inventory, and we decided to bring them over to the island and share them in the camp store. Eric and Juanita oversaw the installation.

One more day of this session and then it's prep time for the last session of my tour as Program Manager. Three days after that session ends I'm off to another adventure.... in which I will be looking at the Atlantic ocean from the opposite coastline. Stay tuned!