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Friday, September 16, 2005

August in Maine

For a week in August, I helped put on an Audubon Chapter Leadership Seminar on Hog Island, Maine. Very cool place, with lots of Common Eider and Black Guillemot swimming around the numerous lobster traps in the bay. The highlight of the week was a daylong boat trip out to Eastern Egg Rock, where Stephen Kress (head of Audubon's Project Puffin) first restored populations of Atlantic Puffin by bringing young birds down from Canada and placing puffin decoys on the rocks to lure adult birds back to breed.

We got great looks at about 40 puffins as they swam around the island, perched on rocks, or flew right past us on the boat. It was late in the season and we were worried about missing them before they head out to the North Atlantic for the winter, but these birds looked like they weren't going anywhere. Very enjoyable to watch as we circled around and around and around the island--getting greener and greener bobbing up and down while trying to look through binoculars. We also saw may terns on the island, and I got a pretty good, though distant, look at one flying Roseate Tern--an endangered species that nests on the island.

Heading back from the island, I told some folks that I really wanted to see a storm petrel, so despite being a little bit queasy from bobbing up and down on the water, I started scanning the water. Within a couple minutes, I was able to spot a small bird flying low over the waves in the distance. It turned just right so I could see the oval white rump on the otherwise dark bird, as well as the characteristic storm petrel shape--a nice Wilson's Storm Petrel.

Great birding, great food (lobster, duck, clam pasta sauce...), good company--a fantastic week.

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