Saturday, July 1, 2017

Still on the road... or on the sea... or in the woods...

Picture a window seat long enough to sleep on, one that looks out into the thick and richly textured green of the Maine woods. Now picture me, cozy under a puffin-themed quilt, laptop perched across my legs. Rough life, ain't it?

Ah, but it gets worse.

Atlantic puffin on Eastern Egg Rock, Muscongus Bay, Maine

We've been on break this week at Hog Island Audubon Camp, so I've been spending some time with my friend Sue, who is the Assistant Manager of the research islands maintained by Project Puffin. Some of our time has been spent picking up, dropping off, and provisioning researchers, who spend two weeks at a time living and working on one of seven small islands where seabird conservation projects are underway.

Eastern Egg Rock on a calmer, sunnier day

On one of these days we made the logistics run to Eastern Egg Rock, home to the southwest-most Atlantic Puffin colony in the US, and site of Project Puffin's first restoration success. The way it usually works is that we pile people and supplies into a motorboat, make our way out about 9 miles to the Rock. There is no dock and no way to get a large boat close to the island, so we pick up a mooring and someone from the island rows out to us in a small rubber boat. Personnel and supplies are shuttled back and forth, then we drop the mooring and head back to the mainland.

On this day, however, the island personnel had reported a problem with their electrical/solar system, so we were going ashore. Their problem became my gift, as I got to spend about an hour in an observation blind while they worked on the system.

The trip out had been a wet and wild adventure. The seas were very choppy and we were surrounded by rain squalls. We arrived at Eastern Egg Rock soaking wet and very cold... but who cared? We were surrounded by nesting terns, puffins, guillemots, and gulls!

Another rain squall approaches Eastern Egg Rock.

Panorama from my perch in the west observation blind, click to embiggen

Common Tern eggs

Tern chicks demanding a meal

Adult tern responding to the call for food

Laughing gull pair

Black guillemot showing off its bright red feet.

Speaking of guillemots.... this past week we also celebrated International Guillemot Appreciation Day! The endearing faces of puffins attract a lot of attention and adoration, but what about its equally important and intriguing cousin? Mark your calendars and join us next June 27 by donning your black, red, and white attire and whipping some some treats like this 7-Layer Guillie Dip.

Check out that stunning beak interior! Guillemots are something to shout about!

Up Nest... I mean Next.
Some of this seabird ogling will have to stop soon, but other adventures will soon appear. I'm off to Massachusetts on Wednesday, gearing up to present a 2-Day Reduction Linocut workshop at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton, and then it's back to Hog Island for Educator's Week. Wheeeeeee!


  1. I'm very jealous, sounds like a fun but busy time :)

    1. Precisely right: fun but busy! Busy but fun!

  2. Love this description of your adventures to Egg Rock. I will use it when teaching my class about them. Thanks for the amazing time at the Educator's Camp!