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 decoys...it'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.