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The Arts of Birding, Hog Island Audubon Camp

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I have an announcement to make.

There are still a few spaces left in "The Arts of Birding," a creativity camp held at Hog Island Audubon  Camp in Maine, from June 23-28, 2013.

Bill and I will join writer and Pulitzer Prize nominee Scott Weidensaul as well as expert bird photographers to shake loose your creative mojo.

Fresh off a Writer's Workshop at Glen Helen in Yellow Springs, Ohio, I have a whole lotta inspirational stuff prepared. I can help you unfreeze your creative side, whether you'd like to write poetry, essays, make a nature journal, field sketch, or paint watercolor.  Bill can talk with you about photography, writing songs and how to best present your creative output for publication.

The camp will be relaxed, superfun, and centered around morning birding and afternoon creating. Nobody's going to demand to see your field sketches, read your poetry or clap for your recital. 
Just birds, fun, thinking, and creating.

Superb looks at grassland and marsh birds guaranteed.

Arctic terns, those graceful long-distance record-holders, practically circumnavigate the globe every year. And they come to coastal Maine to find safe island nesting refuges, thanks to Project Puffin's efforts.

Cool mossy forests beckon, fragrant with spruce and fir, the songs of black-throated green and parula warblers sifting through the needles.

You'll awaken ungodly early to the blub and thrum of lobster boats, but you won't really mind. You'll be starting another day on Hog Island.

Phoebe fell in love with Hog Island. She and Liam will be there, too.

Handsome Eric, who fixes and builds anything that needs fixing or building, will row you where you need to go. Eric rowing a wooden dory does a lot for me.

 Guillemots, an iconic Hog Island species, patter and flap to get out of our way wherever we go. It's good to be in a place where there are small auks everywhere instead of pigeons or starlings, you know?

This is the place to sharpen your photoskills. Bring your best camera and lens and learn from David O. Brownwhose "Fragile Legacy" project was just highlighted in the New York Times two weeks ago. Who spent 7 years with The Cousteau Society. 

To linger in a place where these scenes are your view.

Harbor seals laze on offshore islets, as do the big "horseheads," or gray seals. Seals. I still can't get over it, and I've been there four times.

We learn by seeing why gulls need to be controlled on offshore nesting island. Here, a herring gull takes an Arctic tern chick, while a laughing gull looks on. So far, the laughing gulls, rather recently pioneering in Maine, are behaving themselves. Wish I could say the same of herring and great black-backed gulls.

Birding alongside experts sharpens everyone's skills. Jane and Bonnie home in on a grassland sparrow.

Peter Vickery called in a Virginia rail for everyone to see, and it came out duking. I would not want that rail mad at me. Oink, oink, oink, oink, oink.

I got two life butterflies last year: bronze copper and Harris' checkerspot. This Long Dash was in the camp garden.

What was that about writing and creativity and photography? Pardon me, I'm too busy lolling in soft moss deep in the forest. Creativity will come naturally in a place like this.

A low-hanging northern parula nest woven in the in old man's beard lichen delighted the entire camp. Perhaps the best-documented parula nest ever.

We were there for fledging day. Oh, my. Never thought I'd see THAT.

So. Field trips to amazing habitats all morning, workshops in the afternoon. Free time built in for creating. Janni's amazing cooking. I mean, just having somebody cook delicious things for me three meals a day? On an offshore island in Maine? I'm there.

This just in: I'll hold an afternoon sketching workshop with live raptors brought to the island by my old friend Hope Davis, a wildlife rehabilitator. That is going to be awesome.

Liam, Phoebe and Ayla walk on water.

Lest I forget: We boat to Eastern Egg Rock to see the Atlantic puffins that, but for Stephen Kress' and Project Puffin's ongoing project to restore and manage Maine's nesting populations, wouldn't even be there. It's an amazing story, one he'll tell. We can heal what we've broken. It takes decades and lifetimes of commitment, but we can restore such little particolored miracles to the sea islets. And go see them, and marvel.

I'm hugely looking forward to working alongside Scott Weidensaul again. Here, he's telling what he knows about cecropia moths. Which is a lot. There's pretty much nothing about natural history that Scott doesn't know.

Sit on the porch, breathe the salt air, hear the osprey's sharp whistle overhead.

Watch for the waxwing--they're nesting.

Listen for the sweet song of the yellow warbler--they are, too.

Full steam ahead for Hog Island! Come join Scott Weidensaul, Bill Thompson III and Zick, among others, from June 23-27, 2013, for The Arts of Birding.

If you're willing to share your experience afterward, there are even a few scholarships available to help defray your costs. Check it out here!


OMIGOODNESS! Bucket list!

Truly. Bucket list! I hope to retire in two years--and going to Maine to hang out with such a great group of people would be awesome. Wished I didn't have to wait. Beautiful prose with beautiful photos--so relaxing!

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Julie, you make it sound absolutely, utterly magical.

As much as I need a cheap purple prom dress (not) I need a week like this in Maine more. Alas, I am leading a summer camp for history students that very same week here at home. I will dream of such a camp for another time.

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