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Hog Island Hard Sell

Thursday, January 5, 2012

nice shot, Zick! If a monkey taps on the shutter button long enough...

 All right. Enough of the soft sell. Ima beat you over the head with some alcids, make you want to sign up for Hog Island Audubon Camp's "Joy of Birding" session taking place June 24-29, 2012.  Bill and I are teaching there, so come see us! We saw these incredible sights aboard The Puffin, on our field trip to Eastern Egg Rock to see my  LIFE ATLANTIC PUFFINS.

I know. A reasonably well-traveled birder oughta have seen a puffin by the time she hits the mid-century mark. I'd tried twice, in Newfoundland, but fog socked us in both times. This was a mighty, mighty fine way to see one's life puffin--right alongside husband and kids and a bunch of like-minded souls on a nice little boat on the calm seas around Eastern Egg Rock off the Maine Coast. 

  Here is a black guillemot chasing an Atlantic puffin. I don't know what the issue was, but they gave quite a show, looping and dodging all around our boat, thrilling birders to the core. It was incredible to see alcids, usually just specks in a freezing cold winter spotting scope, up close and doing outrageous birdy things.

We dosed our little Shoomie up with Benadryl, and he had to be awakened to see his life Atlantic puffin. We wouldn't have needed the Benadryl; the seas were fine.  Next time, Bonine. It's a nicer, fuzzier pill. 
I sure love this photo, though. Sleepy lil' Liam.

Black guillemots are splendid little birds, with their brilliant orange-red gapes and feet and that lovely oval patch of shining white on the wing. Like puffins, they nest on rocky islets on the Maine coast.

 and must patter over the water to gain the air.

There wouldn't be puffins nesting on rocky Maine islets but for Project Puffin, spearheaded by Steve Kress. He comes to our session and tells the astounding story of transplanting puffins from Newfoundland to Maine, putting them in artificial burrows, drawing companions in with recordings and's incredible. And thanks to this Herculean effort, we can putter around Eastern Egg Rock and witness a thriving breeding colony of Atlantic Puffins in the Lower 48. It is a beautiful thing.

I squealed like a pig when I saw my first puffin. So much cuter and rounder and more droll even than imagined. But you can't see them just anywhere. You really need to be on a boat, to circle their nesting islands. One good reason to sign up for Joy of Birding!

Atlantis fritillary on tasselflower, right outside the Hog Island dining hall. Lifer butterfly for me!

 And a lovely little Long Dash (skipper) on white clover. Ditto on location.

 The field trips are delicious. This is Harbor Island, with one picture-postcard view after another, happy birders trekking around botanizing and butterflying to their hearts' content.

There are dreaming rocks on Harbor Island.

 Gazing rocks, too.

And fields of Rosa rugosa, a rugged import from Asia that I nevertheless love dearly for its attar-of-rose scent and splash of color in seaside landscapes.

Curious myrtle warblers trill on every side.

and the stunning little northern parula zips away in the treetops.

I don't know about you, but just the sun and those clear blue northern skies are bewitching me, locked under thick gray flannel in January in Ohio, watching the juncos that may  breed there sort around in the new snow...

Signing up by Jan. 15 gets you an early bird discount of $25 off! Reason to smile!

When I think of Hog Island, I think of how relaxing it is--even when I'm "teaching." I can't help but teach, wherever I go. Nothing different there. Same with Bill. 

Seals, both harbor and the big gray or "horsehead," haul out on the seaweed-covered rocks.
Taking their lead, Bill found time to kick back, but Liam kept peeking to make sure his Hotdog Brother was really asleep and not just faking it. I loved finding this photo in my archives. Not much has changed except Liam's height and weight...he's still keeping close tabs on Daddy.

The sun and sea worked its magic on other class participants, as well. This is known as the Lizard Effect.

It could just as well be called the Hog Island Effect.

Brother and sister explore the mysteries and abundant life of the tide pools

 and talk about this and that as they gaze into gently waving kelp.

The Puffin comes in to pick us up from our noontime sojurn on Harbor Island. When we get back, dinner will be waiting. Just having someone cook for us for five days....I can't tell you how nice that is. And it's especially nice when it's Yanni.

 So please consider doing yourself a big favor and joining the little flock at The Joy of Birding. We'll keep the light on for you.


I love your photography! The first image caught my eye and the rest held my interest. Beautiful!!!

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Beautiful place. I think puffins are the cutest little birds! In fact they look like a stuffed toy. That would be an amazing place to spend the summer!

Your passion draws us in to experience. You will be drawing people who love it like you do. I can't imagine anything more delightful than to join you.

Oh, my sister made several pilgrimages to Egg Rock, all seeming to involve ice and wind and tippy boats, and it was all worth it for her totem bird. I know the territory well. I really should go. Hmm.

PUFFINS!!! Sigh, passed the century mark without seeing puffins. Every time someone mentions visiting Maine I say not to miss the Puffins!

You are going to have a very busy summer! Don't you forget to go to North Dakota!

Wish I could be in your class in Maine.
Kathy in Delray Beach

Posted by Anonymous January 5, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Kathy, you're pretty sharp for a centarian. You meant to write, "Passed the quarter-century mark..." right? So did I.

Quarter Century? Ha! Must be feeling my age tonight. Mid-century, I left out the mid....I guess that means I passed the quarter century mark too.

Gosh, I hope I get to see Puffins before I get to the century mark!!! I am going to have to make some plans.
(Last time I was in Maine was 1976)

Kathy in Delray Beach.

Posted by Anonymous January 5, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Excellent photo of the Atlantis Frit. My first view of that species was also in northern New England- the parking lot of the ski area of Mt. Cranmore in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Speyerias rule!

I'm trying to get my family to let me go to camp:)

Oh, you hold nothing back, tease and tantalize with the most heart and soul-tugging images and words, holding up delicious morsels just out of reach... until we lunge! Ah, yes! Kim and I are registered and paid and planning the trip. Can't wait to be there. Thanks for the hard sell!

Posted by Amy Girten January 7, 2012 at 6:58 AM

Way to make my day!! Big Woo Hoo's going on in the kitchen this morning! We have a stellar lineup, heavily salted with friends and we are SO looking forward to hanging with Amy, Kim, Anne and (dare I hope), the Ultimate Alcid, Murre? No pressure, Murre. It'd be good for you, though.

REALLY looking forward to this. And so is my very good friend (and new-to-birding) and Hog Island roommate Michelle!

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